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Stratham’s Serene Veteran’s Memorial Garden

If you haven’t had the opportunity this summer to stop by Stratham Hill Park to spend a few minutes at the Veterans’ Memorial Garden, try to do it soon.  EAGC’s plantings are at peak fall beauty. The sedum is blooming a dusty rose, which is set off by profuse white petunias. The grasses give the garden height and interest, even from the road. Civic Beautification Chair Melanie, along with her team of member volunteers, have worked hard to provide Stratham with a lovely and peaceful place of  remembrance.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Year for the Exeter Bandstand

Nance J and her Civic Beautification committee have outdone themselves this year with the Bandstand plantings. The plant selection was perfect and the flower boxes have remained healthy and covered in blossoms, even into September. The eye-catching chartreuse coleus do a wonderful job of breaking up the greenery at the base of the Bandstand.

Thank you to Nance and her trusty assistants for choosing the flowers and planting them. And thank you to all the club members who volunteered for a week of maintenance.  Your efforts make the Bandstand the most photogenic spot in Exeter!

 

As you can see, even creatures from outer space want to be photographed here!

Tips On Preparing Plants For Auction or Gifting

Here are Becky’s time tested tips for potting garden plants. Start digging!

Potting PlantsIt is a challenge to keep potted plant divisions thriving and looking good until the Garden Club auction in June. This will be especially true this year because our plants are rushing into early growth and we seem to be stuck in an abnormally warm and dry weather pattern. Here are some tips to maximize both your success and the benefit to the club’s treasury.

DON’T DELAY
Plants should be divided before they have put on a lot of new growth. For example, hostas can be most easily divided when their little pointed noses have emerged, but the leaves have not unfurled. If your plants have already put on substantial growth, don’t be shy about cutting back some of the foliage. The goal is to have divisions with a good balance between the roots and the growth above ground. Cutting back foliage reduces stress. Similarly, don’t hesitate to trim the roots. First remove any dead or non-vigorous roots, then cut back the healthy roots to encourage new growth.

WATCH THE WEATHER
Try not to dig and divide on a hot, sunny, windy day. The best weather is cool and overcast with showers or light rain forecast. If you can’t summon up that perfect weather, protect your newly potted divisions from the sun and wind. Some ideas are to place them on the north side of your house, cover them with a bushel basket, shield them with a beach or patio umbrella.

HYDRATE
Water is going to be especially important this spring. After digging your plant soak it for several hours or overnight in a pail or tub of water. I have had good luck adding a couple of drops of Super Thrive to the water. The soaking will hydrate the plant and make division easier.

GROUP OR BURY
Keeping your potted divisions watered can be a challenge. The task is easier if you can keep your plants grouped closely together near your water supply. Plants will also not dry out as quickly if you can bury the pots in a free space in your garden. They will grow happily until you are ready to pop them out in June.

DON’T HESITATE TO ASK
Terri and I are always happy to answer questions if you are unsure about when, how or whether to divide a particular plant. If you look for information on internet, some of the most reliable websites are those connected with botanical gardens or universities.

A FINAL PLEA
Use potting mixtures that do not contain peat. Not only is peat difficult to hydrate, our planet needs those peat bogs to act as carbon sinks. You can make compost in a few months; peat bogs take thousands of years to form.

HORT MOMENT

Ikebana Lessons for Our Gardens

Even if you do not aspire to make arrangements like the ones that Merle Schlesinger created before our eyes there is much to take away from her program.  Whether you draw out a design for your garden or (as is too often the case with me) wander around with pots of new plants in your arms trying to figure out where to put them, your garden will make you happier if you follow some of the ikebana principles.  Here are some I jotted down as Merle spoke:

  • Place your plants to encourage the eye to travel.  This is true whether you are planting a bowl of succulents or an acre.

  • Pay attention to negative space. The space between your plants is part of the design.

  • Plant in odd numbers and slightly off kilter.  Merle demonstrated this by creating a triangle with unequal sides. To use another example, if you are planting   a bunch  of daylily divisions place them in teardrop shape rather than a perfect circle.

  • Place plants with attention to mass, line, color (remember green counts as many colors), shape, and texture.

  • Keep in mind that a pleasing design has elements that advance and recede.  This effect can be created quite literally or more playfully with color and forced or false perspective.

  • With each of her designs Merle was careful to disguise her pin holder.  Similarly in the landscape it is usually a good idea to anchor specimen plants with underplantings.

  • Merle did not mention this but I noticed that she used repetition.

  • Finally, be sure to walk around and look at your garden from lots of angles, preferably with a glass of your favorite beverage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Becky Mitchell