Area gardens are flourishing these days – thanks to copious rain and plenty of heat and humidity. We gardeners may not be coping quite as well, due to that same rain, heat and humidity. Early morning gardening seems to be advisable on these 90 degree days, and dealing with this summer’s very happy weeds is a challenge. Nonetheless, our community projects look wonderful. Our volunteers have managed to keep up with the weeding and deadheading despite the heat, and here are the results.
We finished off our 2022-23 garden club year in festive fashion again this year, with our Plant Auction and June Luncheon. Paige Curtis and her committee arranged for a lovely meal and setting, while Johann and her crew put together another fun and profitable plant auction. We have pictures!
Congratulations to one of our gardeners extraordinaire, Patti E, who earned a Certified Pollinator Garden designation. She posted on her Facebook page that the application strictly looked at the number and variety of native pollinator plants in her yard, which has encourage her to add even more natives. She’s seen “an amazing increase in the number of pollinators and birds here compared to the barren landscape that was here just 3 years ago.”
Another of our very talented gardeners, Becky M., was recognized in June by the Stratham Selectboard. The New Hampshire Preservation Alliance has honored Becky, a longtime member of the Town’s Heritage Commission and a community leader in historic preservation efforts, with its 2023 Elizabeth Durfee Hengen Award. The award recognizes Becky’s extensive contributions to preservation planning, advocacy, and education here in Stratham over more than two decades. Congratulations, Becky!
Christmas in July? Plans are underway to begin preparing items for the November Yuletide Fair. Pat N. will be hosting amaryllis pot decorating workshops on July 24 and 26. Abbie-Jane A. is also planning another crafting workshop for this summer. Watch your email for more information on signing up. We want to complete as much of the preparation as possible before the busy holiday season begins.
The Piscataqua Garden Club will be hosting “The Business of Food Waste: Growing, Selling, Composting” on Thursday, July 20, at 10:30 AM at the York Harbor Reading Room on 491 York St., York Harbor, ME. Experts in sustainable food production, waste reduction/composting, and community food service will hold conversations on how to help reduce greenhouse gases through everyday actions. Open to the public. There is a non-member charge of $5.00 at the door.
Independence Day has gone by, but this arrangement by Lee C. deserves to be enjoyed after the fact.
My apologies to members who want to see photos of our Spring Luncheon and Plant Auction held Wednesday, but they aren’t ready yet – tune in to the next Happenings for those. I can report, however, that we had a great turnout – 48 members and guests – and everyone had a terrific time and scored some great plants. Our next regular meeting will be on Thursday, September 21, but watch your email and the calendar for field trips and other summer gatherings.
Our May meeting, presented by Ann H. and the Design committee, was a particularly popular event. Attendees were given the opportunity to appreciate the design talents of nine of our members, while learning a little more about each of them through their very personal floral designs. The presenters were tasked with choosing a favorite children’s book to interpret – and the results were stunning. After sharing their creations at our meeting, the designers displayed them at the Stratham Library.
Thanks to the Stratham Library for some of these photos.
The busy May meeting also included E & C’s Bug project. Members were asked to bring a bug found in their home for display. Many predictable household insects turned up – no scorpions or tarantulas, fortunately.
The flower design exercise this spring was to build an arrangement and incorporate wood in any form. The results were varied and creative and fun. Some used wood containers, others used stems, branches, roots, and even decaying wood found on the forest floor. This group was the first to experiment with Agra Wool, a natural floral foam that is 100% biodegradable.
Spring is a busy time for EAGC’s community service volunteers. Civic Beautification members raked, weeded, and planted at our two major sites, the American Independence Museum in Exeter and the Stratham Veterans Memorial Garden. Both areas cleaned up nicely and were readied for summer visitors. Weekly volunteer schedules have been arranged to maintain the gardens into the fall. Our communities surely appreciate our efforts.
Another beautification effort EAGC has undertaken is at the entrance to the Stratham Municipal Center Offices. These pots are updated seasonally and certainly help cheer up the entry for residents and employees. Thank you to all our hard-working volunteers!
It’s not too late to add another container to your deck or patio. There are still plenty of plants available at local nurseries. For some professional tips on container plant selection and care, check out a recent article in AHS’s American Gardener magazine by Mary-Kate Mackey, Pro Tips for Container Gardening in All Climates.
Lynda B. has shared more of her photos of Exeter’s beautiful and historic spots. Enjoy…
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.
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 www.portsmouthnhtickets.com. $20 advance, $25 day of. More details can be found at www.greatislandgardenclub.org.
And finally, Lynda B. has gifted us once again with her Exeter photos – Spring in Exeter:
Our March meeting was all about verticality, tarragon, and St. Patrick’s Day. Andi Ross, who is a landscape designer, garden coach, horticulturalist, oil painter, and founder of “It’s Nature’s Way” gave an informative talk about going vertical in our gardens. She accompanied her talk with inspiring photos of vertical garden elements which lead the eye upwards and save space.
Carol C treated us to another one of her wonderful Herb presentations – this time featuring tarragon. We learned so much about the herb, it’s history and uses, while learning how Carol incorporates tarragon into her cooking. If you missed the meeting or didn’t get a chance to read Carol’s tarragon information in the March Hort Tips, you can find it here.
Our Hospitality Committe came through again with a very St. Patty’s-themed table and refreshments – always a highlight of our meetings! In addition, Johann updatated us on our upcoming Yard Sale (more about that later) and our Promise Tree table was busy.
As of April 15, all ten of the vendor table spaces at our Yard Sale have been rented. We’re down to the wire now – set-up for the sale at the Stratham Municipal Center is this Friday, the 21st from 2 to 5, and the sale will open the next day at 8 a.m. Be sure to have your donations of plants, baked goods, and garden items delivered to the municipal center on Friday between 2 and 5 or before 8 a.m on Saturday. Lee C. hosted a “potting party” at her home on Friday the 14th, where a small team dug and potted up some of her happy & healthy plants for the sale.
Kelly Orzell, one of our favorite speakers, will be discussing Container Gardening at the April 20 meeting. here’s what she has in store for us: “Hit me with your best pot! Whether you have a patio garden or acres of land, container gardens are flexible while adding a bit of intimacy to your outside space. You can grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers in pots and yes, even small trees! New and old container ideas will be showcased. Then I’ll talk about which plants are best suited for this type of life, as well as introduce you to unique plant varieties, topiaries, and planting recipes to try. And I’ll tell you my grooming and other maintenance tips to keep your container garden blooming all season long.”
If you’d like to learn more about Ikebana, the Rye Driftwood Garden Club is hosting Elaina Hatsis on Tuesday, April 18. She will be discussing “Japanese Flowering Arranging.” More details can be found here.
EAGC’s Design Committee has scheduled a members’ Design Workshop for Thursday, May 25, 2-4 pm, at the Stratham Municipal Center. We will be building arrangements incorporating wood as a natural and organic element to our designs. Details and sign-up will be available at our April 20 meeting.
The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is presenting their Art in Bloom on Friday, June 23, through Sunday, June 25. Interested in tickets? Or maybe in competing? Go to ogunquitmuseum.org.
Our club has been focusing this year on planting more native plants for the benefit of our pollinators. The American Horticultural Society published an article recently about native groundcovers and the invasives we should avoid, entitled Go Native with Groundcovers. Check it out here.
Members generally agreed that our March meeting was one of the more informative and helpful meetings we’ve had recently. The topic, presented by our Environment & Conservation committee, was “Water: Drought Tolerant Plants for a Drier Future – An Interactive Discussion” and focused specifically on native species. Each member of the committee addressed a different aspect of the topic, with Betsy and Linda V. summarizing and wrapping up the presentation.
Helpful lists were assembled of native plants, including their drought tolerance and attractiveness to pollinators. These lists can be found on the Speaker Notes page of our website, here. Members who had completed a list of the plants in their own gardens, were able to make note of how many of those plants were native. Pat N. impressed us with the highest percentage of natives, winning a prize of flower seeds (natives, of course.)
Two books highly recommended for info on native plants
At the meeting, Johann S. discussed our upcoming Plant, Bake and Yard Sale, scheduled for April 22 at the Stratham Municipal. Members are encouraged to start some plants now to bring to the sale. Details and information on volunteer sign-ups have been emailed to members.
Here are a few garden-related online and in-person activities to check out:
March 10–19: The Great Grow Along Online at greatgrowalong.com. A free, 10-day virtual festival connecting and inspiring gardeners worldwide with the influencers, taste-makers, and cutting-edge content of today’s gardening world.
March 21, 2023 Tuesday, from 9:45-11:15. The Rye Garden Club presents Margaret Witham with topic “How to Grow Garlic”. At the Rye Congregational Church.
The American Horticultural Society has an article in this month’s edition “Gardening for Native Bees”, that is available to the general public. Find it here.
And of course, our own general meeting on March 16 featuring Andi Ross with topic “Let’s Go Vertical”. This talk will give ideas for adding height to your gardens. Andi is a landscape designer and lecturer. 9:30-11:30 in the Morgera Room of the Stratham Fire Station.
Dianna T. was kind enough to share a photo of her Clivia in bloom this month. It’s no doubt a first cousin of many other club members’ clivias. This one is certainly a very healthy & happy speciman!