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Dear Friend and Gardener

Small Change on a Summer Night

Small Change quartet

Small Change 

Our friends (L-R) Dick Bohme on the one-string bass, Dennis Avery on the dobros , Al Canali on guitar and Karen Hogness  on mandolin comprise Small Change.  One of the great benefits of living in Greenfield is the concert series held in the Energy Park on Miles Street  which  is only 5 minutes from our house. We found out about this concert series the morning that Small Change was to perform. Of course we were there. But we learned pretty quick after our arrival that it is wise to bring your own lawn chair.

Small Change with an admirer

Small Change with an admirer

These concerts are a great evening event, and particularly attractive to families. There were a number of young girls, fleet of foot,  who must have been training for a marathon, they ran from one end to the other. There were short breaks for somersaulting, including the four year old. But one young man was transfixed by Small Change’s music. Over the course of their set he drew closer and closer to the bandstand. Once in a while he’d try out a few dance steps, but more frequently his little arms were moving – we couldn’t tell if he was conducting, or trying to imitate the musicians’ strokes.  Either way, when the performance was over and his mother came to take him away he kept turning back to look at the musicians. He was reluctant to let the magic of the music go.

 

Bridge of Flowers Gains New Fame

 

Bridge of Flowers

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, MA

This post is a little off the subject, but as a member of the Bridge of Flowers committee I can’t help blowing the Bridge’s horn. The famed magazine Architectural Digest has opened their on-line article about elevated gardens around the world  with our beautiful Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. They even noted that our Bridge is probably the first renovated Bridge in the United States. Our Bridge of Flowers now attracts thousands of visitors every year and sends each one home with new inspiration for their own gardens.

Tokyo’s Bridge is already in place, but we’ll have to wait a couple of years more before the Bridges in London, Rotterdam and Washington D.C. are planted. I am so glad we inspired all these other grand and green Bridges. Surely we can take credit, can’t we?

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass by Maria Colletti

REMINDER – There is still time to leave a comment here and win a copy of Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass as well as my own book, The Roses at the End of the Road, when I have the Giveaway Drawing on Monday, December 14.

 

The Roses at the End of the Road by Pat Leuchtman

The Roses at the End of the Roa

Greenfield Bee Fest #5

The Fifth Annual Bee Fest will be held at the Second Congregational Church on Bank Row in Greenfield on Saturday, June 6 at 10 am.  The event includes the Langstroth Lecture from 10-11 m – honoring the Reverend Lorenzo Langstroth who once served at the church and who discovered ‘bee space’ and created the modern bee hive with movable frames. There will also be activities for children including a Honey Bee Tea Party and  a Bee Parade through the Farmer’s Market. Bee sure to wear your very best bee outfit!  There will be workshops and face painting. Don’t miss a minute!  There will also be a workshop from 11-11:30 am for those considering a backyard bee hive. The Bee Fest is a great opportunity to learn about this valuable pollinator and have a good time. Be sure to buy a raffle ticket for one of the Bee Baskets with donated prizes worth $100-$200. All proceeds go to benefit SNAP or the Heifer Project.  Pollinators are vital to our nation’s health and  economy and President Obama has established a Pollinator Task Force to help us all help all the pollinators. We all need to protect our honey bees and all the other pollinators that turn flowers into food.

Raffle Bee Fest BAsket #2

RAffle Bee Fest Basket #2

Raffle Bee Fest Basket #1

Raffle Prize Bee fest Basket #1

Greenfield Garden Club

 

Greenfield Garden Club members

Greenfield Garden Club members: Lynda Tyler

Who wouldn’t want friends who like to play in the dirt? Who are always learning new things? Who like to get out and about and see new beautiful places? Who everyday notice and appreciate the glorious world around them? Who are always thinking of ways to make their community more beautiful?

A group of people who all wanted friends like that decades ago and formed the Greenfield Garden Club and happily had their regular meetings in the afternoons. But we all know that time inevitably brings change. It was the change in women’s lives that brought about a re-formation of the Club in 1991. More and more women were working and afternoon meetings were no longer feasible. And more men wanted to join too.

So it was that in 1991 Richard Willard, Debran Brocklesby, Judge Alan McGuane, Margareta Athey and Jan (McGuane, as she was then) Adam, were among those who  reorganized the group. The first rule was the installation of evening meetings.

Jan Adam told me that the new Greenfield Garden Club got off to a slow start, but by the end of the first year it had over 100 members. “The mission of the club was to provide education for the gardeners, and to the community, and to work to improve and beautify community spaces.”

I can tell you that a lot of happy and friendly education takes place on field trips to nurseries and flower shows. Lots of comparing of notes and experiences, lots of new creative ideas are born at meetings and on trips.

The new Club has also seen changes over the past 24 years. A newsletter was born and mailed to members, with news of the club’s events, garden reminders, short garden features, and a list of vendors who give discounts to members. Nowadays that newsletter is emailed. There is also a Facebook page, and a website, www.thegreenfieldgardenclub.org, that lists meeting dates with program information, and information about the School and Community Grant program including a list of this year’s awards.

I have served on the grant committee and it is wonderful to see the great projects that teachers are creating to teach their students about botany (at an appropriate level) growing food, the deliciousness of fresh vegetables, and the ways plants affect the environment including pollinators. The goal of these grants is to engage the children in gardening, and eating fresh vegetables, and give them a better awareness of the natural world in the small space of a garden. When I read those grant applications I cannot help harking back to my days at UMass where there was emphasis on teaching skills like math, reading and writing through projects like gardening, cooking, wood working and other kinds of practical projects. It is a joy to see it happening.

Adam explained that while the Club did have its own town beautification program for a time, it involved so much work that now the club partners with other organizations to make and keep the town a beautiful place.

Because gardening is so closely allied to cooking, members volunteer at the August community meal at the First Congregational Church. “The club has so many good cooks, and we always bring bouquets of flowers which people really enjoy,” Adam said.

In order to pay for these programs the club has two fundraising events every year, the Extravaganza Plant Sale will be held Saturday, May 23 from 8 am to 1pm. “There are big changes this year because the sale will be held at St. James Episcopal Church on Federal Street which will make it much easier for people to find parking. In addition to all manner of plants, perennials, annuals, herbs and houseplants, there will be baked goodies, and a tag and book sale. For the first time we will also have vendors selling garden related products,” Adam said.

Fabulous garden on the 2014 Greenfield Garden Club  tour

Fabulous garden on the 2014 Greenfield Garden Club garden tour

The second big fundraiser is the Annual Garden Tour which gives gardeners the opportunity to visit some really stunning, and very different private gardens in the area, not only Greenfield. This year that tour will be on Saturday, June 27 from 9 am – 4 pm. Tickets ($12) to this self-guided tour will be on sale at the Trap Plain garden at the intersection of Silver and Federal Streets. Tickets will be on sale all morning. It is best to leave pets at home.

The gardens on the tour are always a surprise. Some are small and amaze me by their artful use of so many common plants, and so many unusual plants that are as stunning as a piece of art. The tour is a place to learn about plants, but also about how to arrange a landscape. Sometimes, a farm makes it into the tour. There is always something for everyone.

Even though it is the GreenfieldGarden Club, membership is open to anyone who wants to join the fun. I have been a member for years.

Between the Rows   May 16, 2015

Greenfield’s Winter Fare – February 21, 2015

Winter Farmers Market

Winter Farmers Market

Greenfield’s Winter Fare is more than a Farmer’s Market. Last month I attended the first  Winter Farmers Market of the year, held at the Greenfield Middle School. I came home with two heavy bags full of apples, winter squash, watermelon radish, golden beets, bread and frozen ground lamb.  And wonderful bread from El Jardin bakery.  Walking into that space was like walking into Ali Baba’s cave full of jewels. A little brighter, but with so much wealth spread out before us – and all local. Greenfield’s Winter Fare is more.

On Saturday, February 21 I will be at the 8th Annual Greenfield Winter Fare which started the whole Winter Farmers Market project rolling. Now Winter Fare is more than the Market, although the vendors will be there in force with vegetables, meat, fruit, honey, cheese and bread, etcetera. There will be the Soup Cafe which opens at 11 am and workshops – and visiting  because everyone will be there. At 1 pm there will be a Barter Fair led by the Valley Food Swap, swapping home-grown or home-made food.

Workshops:

10 am  - Secrets of Winter Garden by Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm

11 am  - Seven Class Culinary Herbs: Harvest, Cultivation and Medicinal Use with Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk & Honey Herbs

Noon – Simple Dairy Ferments, with Aaron Falbel, fermentation enthusiast

For other events during the week click here.

It seems to me that the success of Greenfield’s Winter Fare and the Farmer’s Markets is one measure of our community’s interest in good food, and the health of our environment. In the last few years the number of CSA  (Community Supported Agriculture) farms and other small farms has grown as has the number of farmstands and farmers markets. The Community Development Corp has a busy food processing kitchen available to entrepreneurs to make their products.   CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)  is helping farmers with business training and marketing; and Greenfield Community College has instituted a course in Farm and Food Systems. That is a rich bouquet of services to farmers, and those who enjoy good, healthy food.

Will you be shopping at this year’s Winter Fare?  I will.

Winter Fare 2013

Winter Fare 2013

The Roses at the End of the Road – on Sale

The Roses at the End of the Road

The Roses at the End of the Road

The Roses at the End of the Road is a collection of essays written about our life at the End of the Road. We found our way to Heath in 1979 and located a tumbledown farmhouse at the end of a town road. My husband checked that fact many times. What people think is our driveway is nearly a quarter mile of town road, plowed and maintained by the town. After the big snowstorm in 1982 when the town plow, and the town bucket loader broke down trying to remove the drifted snow off the road so that we could leave the hill, we planted a snowbreak. I figure we and the town are about even on this one. No more broken machinery. Other adventures include tales of neighbors, our daughter’s wedding, the night lightning struck – and what we learned about roses and gardens during our two years in Beijing.

I began the commonweeder blog in December seven years ago. Now, during the month of December I sell The Roses at the End of the Road for only $12 with free shipping. for full ordering information click here. If you can’t wait to read the book it is also available as a Kindle version on Amazon.com for $3.95. This is a great gift for rose lovers, and those who enjoy tales of living in a small town.

School Gardens – Innovation and Discovery School

 

Discovery School Garden

Discovery School Garden

When I arrived last Thursday afternoon the scene at the school gardens of the  Discovery School at Four Corners were enjoying controlled chaos. Several teachers were staying after school to divide and pot up perennials from the butterfly garden.

“Is this Echinacea or a rudbeckia?” one teacher asked and her spade bit into the center of the clump.

“Don’t pot the dill! It an annual,” another shouted.

“Are you sure these are all bee balm?” another asked looking at a huge clump of wilted and frost-blackened stems.

All of the newly potted plants, as well as kale and potatoes from the garden, were to be sold at the Harvest Sampler the following day. Funds raised would go to the school gardens.

I have visited many school gardens, but never have I visited a school where the garden was a driving force in the curriculum. The DiscoverySchool at Four Corners (K-3) was one of the first Innovation Schools created by a program instituted by Governor Deval  Patrick in 2010. Innovation schools have a theme; the teachers and parents who came together to design this new program chose gardening, with a broad environmental focus.

Kathy LaBreck, one of the teachers who was a moving force in getting the Innovation designation said that the nine acre site of the school was a big inspiration. “We thought the kids would be very interested in plants and that would be a great benefit. We see the children are so proud of their very concrete achievements, and their pride is a validation of the program.”

On the day I visited several of the raised garden beds were nearly finished and ready for the final harvest. Others already showed a sturdy growth of winter rye, a cover crop that will be tilled under in the spring to fertilize the soil and add organic matter.

My neighbor, and teacher at Four Corners, Kate Bailey told me the kids love the gardens, and the harvest. She has her own reasons for loving the gardens. “It is very easy to integrate the gardens, and cooking the produce, into the curriculum. When we planted the rye we talked about grains. When we cook, and we’ve made a lot of muffins with our harvest, we need many skills. To cook you need to read, follow directions, and of course handle lots of fractions,” she said.

For the Harvest Sampler Bailey said each grade made dishes with their own vegetable. She had to explain that the kindergarteners had been studying apples in particular so they made apple recipes. The school also has a dehydrator and making dried apple rings has been very popular

The first graders have been studying tomatoes. Lots of salsa has been made.

The second graders have been studying carrots which leads to carrot salads, muffins and cakes.

The third graders have been studying potatoes. Potato chips!

Bailey explained that volunteers from Just Roots, the GreenfieldCommunityGarden who helped set up the garden in the beginning, have been coming in every week to talk about Healthy Snacks.

In fact the desire to teach children the importance of a healthy diet was one of LaBreck’s goals. “Children who work in the garden, and grow their own vegetables are more willing to try new foods,” she said.

Teacher Anne Naughton stopped potting up plants long enough to tell me how excited she is about working with children in the garden. “The kids love the gardens, and they love the butterflies, and all the insects. They are so curious and interested. Their curiosity leads us into our lessons. We follow life cycles of plants and insects, and seasonal cycles. The first scientific skill is careful observation,” she said.

Suzanne Sullivan, the school principal, said the whole nine acres are used for instruction. The vegetable beds are producing, as is the strawberry bed, apple and pear trees have been planted, and pollinator plants help provide the insects needed for study. There is even a nature trail created by an Eagle Scout Patrick Crowningshield in 2011. “The goal is to foster an environmental awareness in the children, even beyond the gardens, she said

“The teachers have been very collaborative,” Sullivan said. “The students have been responsive and are so engaged.  We do focus on very hands-on learning.”

At Friday night’s Harvest Sampler, held in the school yard near the gardens, it was clear that there is great support for the program. A huge turnout of parents arrived bearing their own contributions to the Sampler, more apple, tomato, carrot, and potato dishes. Who imagined learning could be so delicious?

The Massachusetts School Report Card shows students the DiscoverySchool at Four Corners have high levels of proficiency or better English Language Arts and Mathematics. It’s clear the teachers at the DiscoverySchool at Four Corners all get high marls themselves.

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The 2015 UMass Extension Garden Calendar is now available. This excellent, and beautiful, calendar contains excellent information about plants and garden chores throughout the year.  To order send $12 payable to UMass, to Garden Calendar, c/o Five Maples, 78 River Road South, Putney, VT 05346. Add $3.50 for the first calendar and $2.00 for each additional calendar. Think of all the gardeners in your life you could make happy.

UMass Extension Garden Calendar 2015

UMass Extension Garden Calendar 2015

Beetween the Rows   October 25, 2014

Bridge of Flowers in August

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

I was walking across the Bridge of Flowers this morning and it is clear this is high Dahlia season. I don’t know the names of these varieties, but I am going to look through the  Swan Island Dahlia catalog and see if I can get names for some of these.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Pink Dahlias on Bridge of Flowers

Some dahlias have a more tender hue.

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll Dahlia

China Doll is a dahlia that everyone loves.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Dahlias come in so many forms and sizes.

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shaggy Dahlia on the Bridge of Flowers

Do you think ‘Shaggy’ is a dahlia class?

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Stone Fountain at Bridge of Flowers

After all the fire of the dahlias it is nice to have a cool place to sit .

Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls

Shade garden on the Shelburne side of the Bridge of Flowers

Leaping Fish sculpture

Leaping Fish sculpture

Before I left the Bridge I had to go and take another look at the new school of fish leaping up river on the Buckland side. Thank you John Sendelbach. 

The Bridge hosts what is essentially a joyful garden party every day of the year from April 1 to October 30. Visitors from all over the country – yea all over the world – come here to enjoy the flowers, tended by a gardener, assistant gardener, many volunteers and overseen by the Bridge of Flowers committee, a part of the Shelburne Falls Area Women’s Club.

Full Weekend Monday Report – June 1, 2014

Nasami Farm Plant Swap New England Wildflower Society

Nasami Farm Plant Swap

On this Monday morning I can report on a full weekend beginning with a New England Wildflower Society member Plant Swap at Nasami Farm. I brought waldsteinia and tiarella and came home with Jacob’s ladder, an unusual epimedium, more tiarellas, a spicebush plant (very tiny) and an unusual native sedum.

Greenfield Community College Graduation

Greenfield Community College Graduation 2014

There  was a big crowd and a big tent for for the Greenfield Community College graduation Saturday afternoon. Granddaughter Tricia was graduation with honors and an Associate Degree in Accounting. She is very smart, and encouraging to all the students she has been tutoring over the past two or three years. She has been working at a bank while working on her degree.

Tricia in line for her diploma

Tricia in line for her diploma

Tricia and the young woman in front of her are wearing gold stoles to denote their entry into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

Tricia and  her fiance Brian

Tricia and her fiance Brian

Tricia and her fiance Brian are both so proud of each other’s academic achievements. He graduated from UMass-Amherst with a psychology degree three years ago, and just finished the pre-requisites he needed to apply for a Physican’s Assistant program which will begin in January. He has been working at the Brattleboro Retreat to pay off student loans since graduation, and trying to save money for the new program.  These two are so smart, and disciplined. They will go far, but a first stop is a September wedding.

Chris and Bibi at work

Chris and Bibi at work

Son Chris stopped by over the weekend to  congratulate Tricia and to help us in the garden. Mowing, raking AND picking up the grass for the compost pile. What a guy!  Bibi, the elderly French bulldog, still has enough energy to supervise and cheer him on.

A great weekend! The garden is starting to look good too.

Plant Sale Season is Upon Us

Van Sion daffodils

Van Sion daffodils

These Van Sion antique daffodils are strong growers. So strong that they persist in blooming in a rose bush no matter how many time I try to dig them out.

No matter. I am glad to see them blooming. They are the earliest of my daffs, but a few others are coming into bloom. And if daffodils are blooming in Heath it must be time for plant sales.

The first plant sale is organized by The Greenfield Garden Club and will be held at the Trap Plain Garden at the intersection of Federal and Silver Streets on Saturday, May 10 from 8 am – 1 pm.  Perennials from members gardens will be on offer, as well as annuals from Spatcher’s Farm, a garden tag sale  and a raffle with wonderful prizes like this set of heavy duty hand tools.

DeWit hand tools

DeWit hand tools

Bring a soil sample from your garden and have it tested by a Master Gardener!  This annual Extravaganza sale raises money to fund grants that the Garden Club awards to schools in their area.  This year they funded garden projects at the schools in Buckland, Leverett, Shutesbury, Gill, Conway, Colrain, Heath, Leyden, and Greenfield High School as well as the Wheeler Library in  Orange. The Club is also funding the  containers that will be planted and placed on the median on Main Street, Bank Row and Deerfield Street. If you buy plants or other items at this sale you’ll be beautifying your garden, while you beatify the  community.

Next week, Saturday May 17, the Bridge of Flowers will hold its Annual Plant Sale from 9 am – noon at the Trinity Church’s Baptist Lot on Main Street in Shelburne Falls. Perennials off the Bridge, annuals from LaSalles, and many  beautiful and useful things brought by vendors like OESCO which sells sturdy useful tools.