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.
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?
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.
I think most would agree that the highlight of our month was the General Meeting held jointly with the Hampton Garden Club. It was very well-attended by members of both clubs, the speaker was engaging, and we were able to enjoy a number of presentations set up by both clubs.
From Ann H. and Connie, co-chairs of the Design Committee:
With Thanksgiving around the corner, our arrangers at the November Design Workshop created seasonal fall arrangements using fresh and artificial flora and locally sourced dried and fresh materials from plants and tree foliage. Participants mixed and matched flowers in a variety of colors and styles using our provided baskets as containers or their own personal containers. All these lovely arrangement were displayed the following morning at our November general meeting.
Here are the beautiful results:
What would the holiday season be without holly? Learn all about this seasonal favorite in this month’s Horticulture Tips, provided by Pat N. of the Horticultural Committee. Clickhere.
Coming up at our January General Meeting …
Thursday, January 16, “Backyard Birds” will be the topic of speaker, Dr. Stephen Hale.
The fall months here in New Hampshire bring us so much beauty — by way of both fall colors and perfect weather. They also bring us some creepy-crawly roommates. For more about these invaders, check out Linda V’s October Hort Tips.
* * * * *
At our September General Meeting, Betsy, Linda V. and their Environment & Conservation committee gave a short presentation about the 2019 Beautification Mini-Grant award recipients. Seven grants, for a total of $1800, were awarded. The recipients were:
Portsmouth – Greengard Center for Autism, entrance planters
North Hampton – Rye Beach Little Boar’s Head Garden Club, North Hampton Beach parking lot restoration part 2
Exeter – Folsom Acres Condo Association, planting to screen compost area
Exeter – Yoga Life Institute, plant herbs and edibles
Exeter – Intersection of Drinkwater and Hampton Rd., add stone perimeter to garden begun last year
Exeter – Tenant’s Council of the Exeter Housing Authority, add a perennial cutting garden for residents
Isle of Shoals – Star Island Flagpole Garden Sustainability Project
* * * * *
Speaking of General Meetings, Susan has in introduced an interesting new project for our meetings:
* * * * *
How does sipping wine & tasting cheese on a chilly fall evening in a lovely home, surrounded by happy friends, sound? If you’re curious, go the the Promise Tree Page to have your questions answered.
Lee C. has shared some shots of her late season gardens…
* * * * *
* * * * *
And finally, mysterious aliens were spotted admiring our flower boxes at the Exeter Bandstand. Probably snipped some cuttings to take back home with them.
Our garden club year is winding down (already?!) and the calendars for May & June has been filled with Promise Tree parties and field trips, not to mention our regular meetings and the upcoming Annual Spring Luncheon & Auction.
Even though the cool, wet May weather may not have tempted us to tiptoe through the tulips, Max put many of us in the mood to garden with her May Garden Party. Max’s surprisingly lush gardens (Newburyport IS south after all) was a beautiful backdrop for a fun afternoon of refreshments and good company.
Ann H. reports that it was a beautiful mid-May day that we visited Max’s gardens. Following a smorgasbord of treats and delicious drinks on the patio, we were invited to explore her healthy and well-tended gardens. Paths led in several different directions to plant discoveries and wonderful art in all the borders. Every artist has their unique vision and Max’s bright art and whimsey add charm and creativity at every turn. It’s always an inspiration to visit her gardens and fun to return home with new and creative ideas for our own gardens. Thank you, Max, for a wonderful afternoon!
* * * * *
May’s General Meeting featured Speaker, Penny O’Sullivan, who delivered an enthusiastic presentation on “Spatial Garden Design”. She shared some of her extensive knowledge of garden design, along with beautiful slides of some of her favorite garden designs, some of which were surprising.
Also at the May meeting, members voted unanimously to approve our revised ByLaws and our Slate of Officers for 2019-2020. Congratulations to our newly elected Officers: Susan C., President; Linda S., Vice President; Recording Secretary, Lee C.; Corresponding Secretary, Florence W.; and Treasurer, Jill C. The revised ByLaws can be found here.
* * * * *
Upcoming Club Events
Wednesday, June 5, 9:30 AM. Tour of the Woodman Museum in Dover.
Thursday, June 13, 11 AM. Vicki Burns is hosting a Lunch & Landscape Discussion.
Tuesday, June 18, 10:30 a.m. Our Annual Spring Luncheon and Auction.
Please check thecalendar for details about these events.
Looking for a garden tour? 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the Museum of Old Newbury’s (MA) annual garden tour. Dates are Saturday, June 8 and Sunday, June 9, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Start the tour at the museum’s Cushing Garden, then set out with a detailed guidebook and map to see Newburyport area gardens. Details can be found here.
* * * * *
How To Care for the Soil in a Raised Bed
As thoughts of spring enter our minds, many people are starting to design and develop their perfect spring and summer gardens. For many vegetable growers, beds are a great choice because the soil they contain warms up more quickly than ground soil, which can prolong the growing season. Raised beds promote soil drainage, provide adequate space for root growth and they can also be quite beautiful. Lastly, individual raised beds can be managed differently, which allows for growing plants that require specific soil conditions, such as blueberries that need acidic soil.
Temporary raised beds are tilled plots of land that extend 12 or more inches above the ground surface. They are not reinforced, so they must be reshaped over time, especially before each growing season. Permanent raised beds, on the other hand, are boxes made of brick, untreated wood or other safe, rot-resistant material. These beds can be developed to any height, but like temporary beds, they should contain at least 12 inches of soil.
Which choice is best for me? Temporary beds are fitting for gardeners who can easily bend over for prolonged periods and who have plenty of yard space. These also work well where soils are uncontaminated, productive and easy to manage.
Permanent raised beds suit gardeners with limited yard space and soil that contains contaminants (such as lead) or presents challenges like a high clay content, low fertility, poor drainage, compaction and so on. Permanent raised beds are also a boon to those with physical limitations that make bending over a challenge, and those who simply enjoy the look of a contained bed.
Soil Maintenance Once you’ve created your perfect raised bed, it is important that you maintain the health of its soil. The Natural Resource Conservation Service defines soil health as a soil’s capacity to function as an ecosystem that supports plants, animals and humans. Indicators of healthy soil include a loose granular structure, good drainage, moisture retention and a relatively dark color (influenced by organic matter). Here’s how to maintain soil health in your raised beds:
Avoid soil compaction. Compaction is the process of increasing the soil’s density by removing pores and damaging soil structure. This makes it difficult for roots to grow and limits roots’ access to water, air and nutrients. The number-one rule for reducing compaction is to never step or kneel on your garden soil. To reduce this desire, design garden beds that are no more than four feet wide. Also, mulch the paths surrounding your beds. This will highlight their location and will provide padding for the soil.
Promote soil drainage. For both temporary and permanent raised beds, this can be done by digging beds that are deeper than 12 inches. Tilling to deeper depths may prevent water from ponding around the root zone, unless you are already working with very wet soils. (If you’re dealing with contaminated soils, please first seek professional guidance before developing a permanent raised bed.)
Amend your soil with organic matter every spring. Organic matter is a great source of slow-released plant nutrients. It encourages soil structure to develop by holding soil particles together like glue. It also attracts beneficial organisms, which also help develop soil structure. Structural development improves water infiltration, gas exchange and increases soil’s resilience to compaction.
Cover your soil, especially during the off-season. Naked soil is vulnerable to wind and water erosion. Both processes effect soils in different ways, but both lead to loss of soil and organic matter, reduced water infiltration and structural loss. Cover crops are a great solution, as they also provide additional nutrients to your soil when they are tilled into the garden bed before planting crops in the spring. Mulching with leaves or straw is another viable option, as these are easily accessible, decompose relatively quickly and effectively cover soil.
Managing for soil health is one key step toward having a successful garden this summer. Avoiding compaction, digging deep, applying organic matter and keeping the soil covered are simple measures that will reap great rewards.
Soil scientist Mary Tiedeman is a Research Assistant at Florida International University. This article is presented by the Soil Science Society of America. Learn more at soilsmatter.wordpress.com.