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Summer Happenings

Designing Women Place Second

We’re excited to report that Lee C,, with design assistance from Ann H., placed second at the Ogunquit Art Museum’s Art in Bloom event last weekend. This is even more of an accomplishment since it was Lee’s first time. Lee was happy to receive welcome comments from judges and exhibitors and said, “though it was sometimes a pain, I do appreciate having been given such an interesting and challenging opportunity.”

Photos of other entries, compliments of Ann H.:

Our June Plant Auction and Luncheon was well-attended and festive. Most wore hats to help celebrate the event and hats were the table centerpieces, decorated with live flowers by members of the Hospitality Committee. Max F. made sure the auction was fun and efficient and members enjoyed a tasty meal topped off by a strawberry dessert. We even managed to take care of business: the new Executive Board was sworn in. Many thanks to Jill C. and her Hospitality crew for another perfect Spring celebration. (Thanks to Patti Smith for the photos.)

Have a hankering to see some gardens? The Candia Garden Club invites you to their first Garden Tour on Saturday, July 16, 9 AM to 1 PM. Cost is $15. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Judy at Judyjs3@comcast.net.

Garden weeding is an ongoing task for all gardeners. How do you weed your garden and be kind to your bones, back and joints? How do you avoid a compression fracture? Here’s a video from Melioguide demonstrating how to safely weed your garden. How to Weed Your Garden

To close this Happenings in style, here are more photos of Exeter, perfectly captured by

Lynda B.

March Happenings

It’s safe to say that spring is in the air. Even though that air might feel damp and cold today and snow clouds are hovering overhead, most of us are sensing a certain optimism that we’ll soon be poking around in our gardens again. All we have to do is look for the early bulbs popping out of the soil in our sunny beds for evidence.

James Brewer, our February speaker, showed us what can be achieved in our landscapes this summer – if we are amazingly talented or if we have him design our gardens. Attendees enjoyed slides of his spectacular landscape design work, along with his descriptions of the projects and of his transition from novice English gardener to established New England landscape designer.

In addition to an interesting selection of very healthy houseplants and tempting homemade snacks, Linda S. provided servings of Green Goddess soup for members. She has shared the recipe for this delicious (and very green) soup – it can be found in the Recipe Box on the website. (Thanks to Patti S. & Ann H. for the photos.)

As a followup to his appearance at our meeting, James Brewer sent us this note:
‘Dear ladies / members of the Stratham & Exeter Garden Club’.

I wanted to send you all a huge thank you for making Bill and I feel so welcome and staying awake while I talked to you all today.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a snippet of my story and discuss some of my gardens both large and small.
I wish you well for the coming season and hope you all enjoy your gardens, have good health and bountiful blooms in 2022…

Cheers,
James & Mr. Billster…

Club News:
Our Budget Committee met on March 3rd to draw up a budget for next year. The membership will be voting on the budget at the May meeting. In the meantime, there are a few vacancies on the board for committee chairs for next year. If you are interested in getting to know more members or becoming more involved, please contact Linda S. to discuss the positions that are available. Current and former board members will tell you that being on the board is the “funnest” part of being a garden club member. And if you’re interested in helping out on the Nominating Committee, there is still time to sign up, by contacting Linda S.

Our club is very excited to announce that, in conjunction with the Exeter Library, we’ll be hosting horticulturalist and garden historian John Forti, on May 24th at 6PM in the library’s Meeting Room. He will be giving a talk on heirloom gardening. John has directed gardens for Plimoth Plantation Museum, Strawberry Banke Museum, Massachusetts Horticultural Society, and Bedrock Gardens. He also serves as a regional Slow Food Governor and biodiversity specialist for Slow Food USA. Here is a synopsis of his presentation:

The Heirloom Gardener – Traditional Plants and Skills is John Forti’s newest presentation.  It draws from his new book of traditional plants and skills for the modern world.  Richly illustrated with period images and contemporary woodcuts, his PowerPoint shares inspiration from our long history of heirloom preservation, garden craft and homestead lifeways.  Artisanal gardening lifestyles that are helping us to rebuild vibrant local agricultural economies and celebrate sustainable cottage industries that are contributing to our new, homegrown American arts & crafts movement and backyard environmentalism.  At a time when we could all use a little good news, we hope you will join us for a refreshing look at how you can make a difference and build habitat in your own backyard and community. 

He also has a book. These days, we all need some good news and a way to participate in meaningful change. The Heirloom Gardener-Traditional Plants and Skills for the Modern World is a book for gardeners who want to deepen their knowledge and improve life for families, pollinators and wildlife in their own backyards.  It’s a love poem to the earth; a map to the art of living intentionally and a guidepost for environmental gardeners and artisans.  It unearths old-ways, storied plants and artisanal life-skills; like seed-saving, herbalism, foraging, distillation, ethnobotany and organics which contribute to a new 21st century arts and crafts movement. With woodcuts from Caldecott Medal VT artist Mary Azarian, The Heirloom Garden offers a dose of wild hope for a weary nation. It is available through this link.

“A Garden for Pollinators & Wildlife: Natural Landscaping for a Better Yard” is a program being offered at the Brentwood Library on Tuesday, March 15 from 7 to 8 pm. The talk will be presented by Vicki J. Brown, NH Natural Resources Steward, Pollinator Pathways NH Organizing Founder and Speaking for Wildlife volunteer. She will provide insights on ways to attract butterflies, bees, birds and other wildlife to your yard. You can sign up by clicking here.

Did you realize that saffron, that pricey and difficult-to-access spice is now being grown in New England? Here’s an interesting article, provided by Linda S., that explains the how and the where of local saffron: Why the Most Expensive Spice in the World Is Now Growing in Hundreds of Small American Farms.

November Happenings

The holidays are approaching (very quickly, it seems) and the club calendar is filling up with special activities. Some email information has already gone out – decorating the Historical Society, Holiday Luncheon, and Design Workshop – and more plans are in the works.

But let’s backtrack for a moment. Last month’s speaker, Jeanne Davidson, may win a gold medal for most enthusiastic presentation and best props. She also provided us with loads of advice on how to protect our backs as we garden. Jeanne’s demonstrations were spot on (see photos) and she got members up off their seats to practice her techniques.

The meeting room at the Mogera Library was appropriately fall-like, thanks to the Hospitality Committee’s efforts. The creatively decorated centerpiece pumpkin, provided by Pat Navin, was auctioned off at meeting’s end.

A highlight of the meeting was the return of the Hort Table. Many members scoured their fall gardens for anything beautiful and/or interesting and the result was a surprisingly large, colorful, and varied assortment.

Our November meeting promises to be just as colorful, as we’ll be hearing Jillian Arquette-Gallagher speak on “The Importance of Local Flowers.” Jillian is owner of Fruition Flowers in Newmarket, NH. She has been drawn to flowers from a young age and creates memorable arrangements for a range of events. Her education in color and design lends a unique approach to floral arrangements. Like the bees, she gathers inspiration from the seasonal charm of New England. She uses as many foraged and locally cultivated materials as possible.

The meeting will be this Thursday, the 18th, at the Morgera Room at the Stratham Fire Department; doors open at 9, snacks at 9:30, meeting at 10. Don’t forget to bring your own beverage!

Promise Tree News: There will be a signup sheet at the Nov.18 meeting for a Cookie Swap which is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 20, from 2 to 4pm, at Susan C.’s home. The swap will be limited to 15 members. Participants are asked to bring 60 cookies and an extra container for their take-home cookies. All members of the Ways and Means committee will meet briefly after the Nov, meeting to finalize plans for the Cookie Swap.

Also, club members are asked to “make a promise”. We welcome new leaves on our Promise Tree with “gifts” of your choosing.

The Website Committee is planning an update of the site, with the hopes of making it more streamlined and user-friendly for members. One change you may have already noticed – the “Garden Talk” blog is now named “Happenings”. Everything else about the blog remains the same. In the future, some pages on the site may be eliminated, but advance notice will always be given.

We would love to have more input about how the website should look. If you have suggestions or would like to be involved in this re-vamp, contact LuAnn.

If you are planning to attend the Holiday Luncheon and have not signed up yet, please bring a check for $35 to the Nov. 18th meeting. Jill C. will be collecting them there.

A note from Abbie-Jane about the October meeting:

Enjoyed the program on Thursday. I’ve been practicing on my straight back gardening.
A big thank you to the member who brought in the pineapple vase. It graces my mantle.


June – July Happenings

There are lots of pictures to share in this Happenings, which means we’ve been getting together again as a club. All the big smiles prove that we’re happy to be making up for lost time. Let’s start with the June Luncheon and Auction. The day was beautiful, the Portsmouth Country Club patio was a perfect venue, the auction was a success – a good time was had by all! Many thanks go to Jill C. and her efficient Hospitality committee.

After several rain cancellations, the Promise Tree Garden Tour finally took place on July 12th. Members endured heat, humidity, and the occasional raindrop to take in the beautiful gardens of Pat S., Pat N., and Linda S. Those small inconveniences were well worth it to enjoy and learn from these three very different but well thought-out gardens. Here are some of the floral highlights.

The American Gardener magazine is a wonderful resource for all kinds of gardening know-how. Here are a two articles that I thought were particularly interesting. “Why Wasps Deserve More Praise” discusses how these often hated insects offer many ecosystem and garden benefits. And while on the subject of insects, the article “Get to Know Your Insect Friends and Foes” offers some helpful identification information to help us sort the good guys from the bad when caring for our plants. Click on the underlined link to read the articles.

Pat N.’s 11-year-old grandson has a “play it forward” activity. He makes “Kindness Stars”, small paper Moravian stars with an attached saying. Over the past two years he has managed to make a few thousand and get them to all 50 states and many foreign countries. This boy has networked with family, friends, friends of friends, Scouts and classrooms of kids. Someone posted this on his Facebook page. Pat thought it might be worth passing along…

And finally, the Exeter Bandstand stands ready for Independence Day.

Photo by Ann H

December Happenings

What a busy Holiday month! We had so many opportunities to come together and celebrate, including a cookie exchange hosted by Lee, our Holiday Luncheon, arranged by Lynda and her Herb Committee, Betsy’s famous (or is it infamous?) Swap Shop Yankee Swap, and Susan’s festive and bounteous Holiday Brunch. We hope every member had the chance to participate in at least one of these fun activities.

Thanks to Ann H, we have lots of great photos from those December events — shown here to remind us of what fun we had (and, as always, what wonderful food we enjoyed!)

First, the Luncheon:

There was no lack of laughter or food at Betsy’s Yankee Swap. And Betsy showed her usual impeccable taste in gift selection:

So which of these lovely gifts remained unloved at the Swap’s end?

Amazing, but true. Dianna swapped it for something else.

Members actually did more than party in December. Early in the month, members of Civic Beautification, led by chair Donna W., gathered at the Exeter Historical Society to decorate the building for the holidays. Wreaths and topiaries were assembled, including a wreath for the front door of the Folsom Tavern.

Linda V. has put together an unusual and interesting Horticulture Tip for January. To be sure you don’t miss it, click here.

Backyard Birds” will be the topic of our speaker, Dr. Stephen Hale, at the January 16 general meeting. His presentation will feature common and likely resident and migrant visitors to any backyard in New England. This presentation offers ID tips on some challenging birds that live among us like … for example, Hairy vs. Downy Woodpecker and Purple vs. House Finch. Tips on feeding birds to attract the most diversity will also be provided.

Remember to bring a specimen (or more) from your winter garden for display at the general meeting. We’ve had intriguing and surprisingly beautiful fall & winter stems at the past few meetings — it will be interesting to see what January produces.

Lee has shared with us a photo of her self-pollinating winterberry. A perfectly bright and cheerful image of winter in New England.

And as a postscript, do you ever wonder who looks at this website and learns a little about our club? Maybe not — but as Web Manager, I do. This is what I learned about the past month:

  • 414 people clicked on our website. 21% were return visitors, 79% were new to the website.
  • 279 of them were from the U.S.
  • India, Canada, and the UK accounted for 17, 16, and 13 clicks, respectively.
  • Folks from countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Finland and Nigeria also accessed our website.
  • The most clicked on post on our website was The Language of Roses, from February, 2012.
  • The most clicked on page on our website was our Home Page.
  • The next most popular page was Horticulture Tips.

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