April Happenings

April is National Garden Month

Let’s jump into Spring with some gorgeous floral arrangements, courtesy of our very own designing members. At the March 28th Design Workshop and under the direction of chair, Ann H., members made Easter-themed arrangements, proving once again what a talented group of arrangers we are. Enjoy the results:

And here are some of the creators at work:

These arrangements were made using Sideau, a floral foam alternative crafted from Earthwool, a natural material derived from volcanic igneous rock and fortified with a binder free from plastics and formaldehyde.The floral bricks can be reused or composted, added to the garden soil or as a starter base for seeds. Using this eco-friendly solution to floral foam, we not only reduced waste but contributed to a healthier environment.

In other spring news, our March speaker was Jamie Colen, who has been Garden Director of the beautiful Fuller Gardens for over 20 years. He impressed attendees with his extensive knowledge of soil dynamics and his passionate belief in natural, versus synthetic, soil management.

Jamie Colen

Members brought Spring to the meeting by displaying their first garden blooms on the Hort Table. A surprising number of cheerful flowers made their appearance, including Iris, hellebores, Pieris japonica, pussy willow, Johnny jump ups, and snowdrops.

And of course, the Hospitality Committee, put on a seasonal show at the refreshment table:

The March meeting also featured an Environment & Conservation presentation on ground insects, those little critters who work busily and mostly out of sight on our soil and plant roots. In addition, Patti E. offered members seeds from the club’s Seed Library, which is open for business again at the Exeter Public Library.

Thanks to Ann H for all the wonderful photos!

A great many members participated in the club’s 2024 Member Survey, which was collected at the February meeting. Ginny T., our Treasurer, gave a brief overview of the results at the March meeting. Although opinions and suggestions varied widely, their were some common responses that will help guide the club in a direction that maintains the relevance and value to our members. More information about the survey will be forthcoming.

The Programs Committee hosted a very elegant “Mingle, Munch and Moot” luncheon on March 14 to explore new ideas for possible meeting programs. Ann S. hosted the group in her beautiful home, while Vicky B. and Mary Anne J. helped with prep and refreshments. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon getting to know each other better. And there was actually some serious discussuion about programs!

Several members of the Civic Beautification Committe put together a cheerful spring welcome for anyone visiting the Stratham Municipal Offices. Our club has adopted the somewhat barren entry as one of our beautification projects and our contributions have been greatly appreciated.

Wellington Gardens is open for the season. Their annual PERENNIAL SALE will be from Saturday, April 27 – Friday, May 3 or until sold out. Sale hours: 7 am – 6 pm. All 4-inch Perennials are $3 each.
Their ANNUALS SPECIAL is Saturday, May 4 – Sunday, May 12 or until sold out, from 7 am – 6 pm. Select Annuals 6-packs are $2.50 each. They’re at 89 Rowell Road East, Brentwood.

UNH Extension has published two articles of special interest to spring gardeners. “How to Utilize Raised Beds for Small Space Gardening” explains how raised beds can be be used to grow flowers, vegetables or even fruit. Find the article here.
And UNH Extension’s question of the week is “Which Spring Ephemerals Are Best for New Hampshire Gardens?” Ephemerals emerge early in the spring, flower and go dormant by summer, only to emerge again the following spring. This article describes those that flourish in NH. You can read about them here.

Spring beauty (Claytonia virginiana) image by Ivy Main, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Common

April 11, 12:00 – 1:00pmBuilding Resilient Landscapes” Online, Free
Presented by Dan Jaffe Wilder, Director of Applied Ecology, Norcross Wildlife Foundation
In this changing world, it behooves us to build resiliency into every landscape. The days of landscapes dedicated to beauty alone are passing. People are demanding ecologically sensitive landscapes; they want reduced lawn, reduced maintenance, and greater wildlife value. Register here.

April 16 Traffic Stopping Curb Appeal by Kerry Ann Mendez
Hosted by the Rye Driftwood Garden Club. for info.

April 17, 10:30 AM – 12. Flower Arranging presented by Jayne Densmore
Portsmouth Garden Club, held at the Urban Forestry Center, Elwyn Rd., Portsmouth. They ask that non member guests donate $5 to cover cost.

April 22, 2:00 – 3:30pmEdible Native Plants” Online, Free
Presented by Russ Cohen, Naturalist, edible native plant seed collector, propagator & planter
The fact that many of our native species are edible by people too provides an additional incentive for people to plant them in their yards that might otherwise be insufficiently induced to do so for the ecological rationale alone. Register here.

April 24, 7:00 – 8:00pmRethinking Gardening” Online, Free
Hosted by York Public Library. Presented by Wild Seed Project
Our garden plant choices can determine which species can seek refuge in our gardens, how much species diversity we see in residential areas and help minimize impacts of climate change such as flooding and drought. Register here.

May 8, 7:00 – 8:30pmGardening Among Hungry Mammals” Online, Free
Presented by Nancy Lawson, Author, The Humane Gardener
Discover how a combination of strategies—including mixtures of preferred and unpalatable species, strategic plantings along well-used pathways, and gentle exclusion techniques—can help you trade resistance for peaceful coexistence. Register here.

Lee C. is creating Gnomes again – this time a special Easter Gnome.

January Happenings

Wikimedia Commons

Garlic is on the menu for our January 18th general meeting. Margaret Witham will be speaking about “How to Grow Garlic”. Margaret, along with Rebecca Hennessy, are co-owners of Backyard Garlic. Their business started in 2015 literally in their backyards growing garlic to dehydrate and sell in grinder jars. They wanted to grow and create a product from healthy soil and organic practices for their community.

The business continues to grow. Currently, their garlic grinder jar and refill bags are sold in 45 stores and farm stands throughout New England, and they ship their product all over the country. Margaret will be bringing some of their custom grinders and refill packets, available in local markets, for sale to the membership. Check out their website http//

Join us on Thursday, the 18th in the Morgera Room at the Stratham Fire Station – not only for garlic inspiration, but also for our E&C presentation, sales table, Promise Tree, refreshments, and especially – great company! Doors open at 9 a.m., meeting starts at 10.

As promised in our last Happenings, here are photos from Betsy V.’s rowdy Swap Shop Party. Betsy once again outdid herself, both in her carefully curated “gift” selection and her festive holiday goodies. Every participant left with a big smile, a full stomach, and a priceless artifact from the Candia dump. What better way to celebrate the holidays?

Let’s start with the refreshments…

And how about those gifts?

The gnomes at the Stratham Municipal Center offices decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year, with a little assistance from Lee C. After successfully spreading holiday cheer to everyone who visited the offices, the gnomes have been retired for the season. Once snow season has passed, Lee, Ellen, and Linda S. will be assembling a new seasonal display for the area.

Speaking of gnomes, Lee was inspired to make a mini-gnome table-top decoration for her home. She looking for a few members who can help design a similar gnome for the garden club to sell at the next Yuletide Fair. Contact Lee to share your inspiration!

In Pollinator and Other News…

Flowers are reacting to the shrinking number of pollinators by evolving to self-pollinate, according to a recent study at the French National Centre for Scientific Research. The flowers they studied were saving energy by producing less nectar for pollinators and instead self-pollinating. Scientists are stunned at the speed of this evolution which is disrupting 100 million years of evolutionary history. To read more, go to articles in The Guardian or Science Alert.

The Rye Driftwood Garden Club will be hosting Darcy Boyle, floral designer, on Jan. 16, 9:30 a.m. at the Rye Congregational Church in Rye.

Owen Wormser, author of “Lawns Into Meadows,” will be speaking on “Meadowmaking for Beginners” on February 7, 2024 (Wednesday) from 7:00 – 8:30 pm ONLINE via Zoom Webinar. Sponsored by New England Botanic Garden. Register here.

Happenings – Holiday Edition

We have so many photos to share of our many recent activities that a special Happenings edition became necessary. Let’s begin with a recent and festive event – our annual Holiday Luncheon, held at the warm & welcoming Wentworth Country Club. Our very talented photographer, Ann H., documented the special day…

A big Thank You to our Hospitality Chair, Nancy D. and her committee, for organizing this special celebration!

Doing EAGC’s part to decorate the towns of Exeter and Stratham for the holidays, our Civic Beautification committee worked on wreaths and pots for the Exeter Historical Society and a special arrangement for the Stratham Municipal Center entrance. Jan C. and her crew whipped up some beautiful decorations for the Historical Society and Linda S., Lee C. and Ellen J. (with the assistance of her daughter) created a very charming montage for the Municipal Center. Also in Stratham, Linda S.’s committee prepared the Veterans Garden for the winter.

There have been so many activities lately that it’s easy to forget about our very successful Yuletide Fair fundraiser in November. Thanks to the participation of many members, under the leadership of Johann S. and Lee C., EAGC sold lots of holiday-themed arrangements, wreaths, and decorations – pleasing fair attendees and providing funding for our programs going forward.

In November, our Membership committee tried something new – a New Member brunch. Chairs Nickky J. and Jane J. organized a lovely get-together for new garden club members at LuAnn F.’s home. Also invited were some “seasoned” members, in the hope of making our new members feel welcomed and to acquaint them with others in the club. Judging by the enthusiastic response, this was an inspirational idea that will be repeated in the future.

There’s one more holiday event that always results in some interesting (and sometimes questionable) photos. That, of course, is Betsy V.’s Swap Shop Party. I’m saving those for next month’s Happenings, just to let the anticipation build. Don’t miss it! In the meantime…

September Happenings

EAGC has kicked off its new club season with the exciting results of a new Environment & Conservation project – the beginnings of a Pollinator Pathway through Exeter and Stratham, courtesy of a new approach to our Mini-Grant program. The 2023 mini-grants were awarded specifically to encourage the creation of pollinator gardens, and the recipients’ results were on display at our September general meeting.

Eight grants were awarded to gardeners who were either expanding their pollinator gardens or starting one from scratch. E&C committee members who toured the resulting gardens were encouraged by the pollinator plants established this summer, knowing that these plants will multiply in future years – providing sustenance and habitat for our local pollinators.

At our meeting, E&C chairs Linda V. and Betsy V. assembled a detailed display of the gardens – along with descriptions of each gardener’s plans – so members could better appreciate how the mini-grant funds were used.

More detailed information about the Mini-Grant gardens can be found on the website, on the Community Service Page.

Many of our members have been gearing up for our second annual participation in the GFWC Yuletide Fair on November 18, at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham. Workshops are underway for making our sales items and volunteers are being recruited for all phases of the fundraiser. Johann S. and Lee C. are the organizers and they will be signing up helpers at our October 19 meeting. Last fall many of our members enjoyed gathering to work on projects or to design arrangements – these workshops were perfect opportunities to get to know one another better and to be creative. This year’s biggest workshop will be on November 17, the day before the sale, when the fresh arrangements will be assembled and preparations will be finalized.

Our Awards Committee will be presenting the 2023 Awards for Outstanding Gardens at the Oct. 19 meeting. In addition to residential and commercial awards, a third new award category will be announced. Those attending the meeting will have an opportunity to meet the recipients and learn about their gardening efforts. In addition, our meeting will include the usual Hort Moment and a short E&C presentation, as well as a discussion about a new direction for our Spring Auction and Luncheon.

Linda S. took this photo of our club’s display at the entrance to the Stratham Municipal Center offices. The Civic Beautification committee maintains a display here year-round.


Keep up with the EAGC Board Meetings – the minutes are always posted on the website under Members Only, on the Minutes page.

The Rye Driftwood Garden Club will be hosting Jana Millbocker on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 9:30 at the Rye Congregational Church. Jana will be presenting “Deck the Halls.” More info can be found here.

Have you ever used an app on your phone to identify a plant? Some results can be questionable. Here’s a review of the apps, according to Michigan State Extension. The top performing app in their 2021 evaluation was PictureThis, with 67% of the suggested identifications being correct. Following this, there was a cluster of three apps with about 50% accuracy: PlantNet, Plant Story and LeafSnap. iNaturalist, came in fifth place with about 30% accuracy.

Fall has traditionally been garden clean-up time. But did you know that about 30% of New England’s native bees build nests above ground? The Tufts Pollinator Initiative says a great way to support these above-ground nesting bees is to leave dead plant stems standing in gardens for at least two years. Read the full article, “The right way to leave stems for native bees” here.

May Happenings

Kelly Orzell, author of The Backyard Gardener, was our featured speaker at the April general meeting. She talked about container gardening, which is of particular interest to many members, and shared a number of inspiring and gorgeous floral designs – some in very unlikely containers. As usual, our meeting was full of various activities, sign-ups, and garden information.

Kelly Orzell container designs

Linda V. and Betsy V. discussed the Environment & Conservation Beautification Mini Grants which were awarded this spring. Ten grants, totalling almost $2000 will be used by Stratham and Exeter residents to plant pollinator gardens on their properties, with the hope that a Pollinator Corridor can be created in these two towns. The funds have been disbursed and the gardens are in process. In the fall, E&C will tour the resulting gardens and present the club with photos of the results.

In addition to mini grant gardens, E&C member Jill C. presented members with a “bug challenge.” Each member was given a container and asked to capture one indoor insect from their homes, which will be evaluated at the May meeting. It’s unknown if there will be prizes – biggest bug, most legs, most disgusting? – but the results should be interesting. If you missed the April meeting and would like to participate, bring your entry in a sealed container. It’s suggested that you freeze it so that it doesn’t disintegrate before the big reveal.

Wednesday, June 14, is our club’s big Spring celebration – our fabulous Annual Spring Luncheon and Plant Auction. Luncheon preparations are almost complete, thanks to Paige C. and her creative committee. The deadline for sign-up and payment are fast approaching. Do not miss this fun event! Details about the luncheon can be found here.

Johann S. reminds us that, with nicer weather here and the plant auction approaching, members should pot up their plants with coffee filters in the bottom of the pots, label them, and include any special care information. Becky Mitchell’s very helpful potting suggestions can be found here.

EAGC was asked to participate in the YMCA’s April 29th Healthy Kids’ Day, the Y’s national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids and families. Several of our members spent a few hours helping kids pot up veggies and flowers, hopefully encouraging them to become the gardeners of the future.

The upcoming May general meeting is a special one – some of our own members will be interpreting their favorite books with floral arrangements. “Books Make Me Bloom” has been organized by our Design committee, chaired by Ann H. and Patti S., and shines a light on the talents of our members annually at this time of year. May is also the month that we will be voting on our budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. If you haven’t already looked it over, you can find the budget on the website here.

May is the month to sign up for a week to help with our community service projects. Although our club no longer maintains the Exeter Bandstand, we certainly have a hand in helping to beautify some prominent local spots. The Veterans Memorial Garden in Stratham has some unfilled weeks this summer. Pulling weeds in such a beautiful & peaceful garden is never a chore. Contact Dianna T. if you’d like to take a week.
In Exeter, our club is maintaining the beds in front of the American Independence Museum. We’ve made impressive improvements in the past year and now need more volunteers to stop in a few times a week to pull a few weeds and enjoy the beauty. Linda S. will be happy to find a week for you.
And back in Stratham, we’re maintaining pots at the entrance to the Municipal Center. Contact Linda S. to help out with this project. Sign up sheets will also be available at the May meeting.

Former Award Winner

Our Awards Committee is still on the lookout for special gardens, residential and commercial, to be considered for our Outstanding Garden Awards, which are presented in the fall. Some gardens have been recommended, but more suggestions are welcome. The committee will be touring gardens as soon as they mature, so contact Carmen G. if you’ve noticed a garden that really stands out as special.

So many spring garden opportunities! Here are a some of them:

  • Peggy Moore, an award-winning floral designer, who has entered designs in WAFA (World Association of Floral Artists) meetings numerous times, will share backstories of competing in international floral design circles including some of the mishaps and challenges. Thursday, May 18, at 10:30 AM at the First Parish Church Hall, 180 York Street, York, Maine. This is sponsored by the Piscataqua Garden Club. There is a non-member charge of $5.00 at the door.
  • The Hampton Garden Club is hosting a Plant, Bake, & Shed Sale on Saturday, May 20, 9 AM til noon, at the Centre School, 53 Winnacunnet, in Hampton. For more info, click here.
  • The Great Island Garden Club (New Castle, NH) has invited us to a once-in-400-year event that celebrates the upcoming 400th anniversary of the settling of New Castle, NH in 1623. “The Secret Gardens of New Castle” is a self-guided walking tour of some of the most beautiful home gardens in the town’s Historic District. Friday, June 16, 5 to 7:30 PM and Saturday, June 17, 10 AM to 3 PM (rain or shine). Tickets are now available at $20 advance, $25 day of. More details can be found at

And finally, Lynda B. has gifted us once again with her Exeter photos – Spring in Exeter: