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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.

Christmas Trees Thirty Times Over

Fruit ornaments on Christmas tree

Christmas trees were the hit of the Christmas party held by the Greenfield Garden Club.  We have the best meetings and parties! Our hostess has dozens (I lost track) of themed Christmas trees as well as the big gorgeous fabulously ornamented tree in the living room. I cannot show them all here.

Teddy bear Christmas tree

Christmas shoe tree

A shoe tree!

A quilting Christmas Tree

Our hostess is a mistress of every type of needlework including quilting.

Feather Christmas tree

Admittedly a faux feather tree, but a style all its own.

Christmas bird tree

When I saw a version of this tree many years ago, I was inspired to create my own bird garland.

My bird garland

This garland tops our 8 foot window wall.

View from the bedroom 12-17-13

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! It’s almost Christmas.

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Greenfield Garden Club Extravaganza

Plants ready for Greenfield Garden Club Sale

The Greenfield Garden Club Extravaganza is a wonderful plant sale and is held annually on Trap Plain at the corner of Federal and Silver Streets, Greenfield  on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 8-1.  Hardy perennials from members’ gardens, annuals, herbs, and hanging plants for Mother’s Day will be sold.  There will also be soil testing by the WM Master Gardener volunteers, a Green Thumb Tag Sale, and a Garden Gift Drawing. The Garden Club members have potted up lots of interesting and useful plants from their gardens. This year I am sending the purple campanula ‘Joan Elliot’ which is a wonderful spring bloomer and good at increasing – but not a thug in any sense. I’m also sending an unusual artemesia. Artemesia lactiflora is not silver; the fine foliage is a shade of blue green and it sends up spires of tiny white flowers, kind of like the way coral bells do. I’m also sending a purple leafed coral bells, ‘Terra Cotta’ yarrow, pink chelone (turtlehead) and the wonderful pink Sheffield daisy. I first saw this late summer-fall bloomer at the Smith College Botanical Garden and was lucky that when I bought a pot of ‘pink daisies’ at Wilder Hill Gardens it turned out to be Sheffies. They also propogate nicely, which is why I have some to share. This sale is a good place to do some Mother’s Day shopping.

The Greenfield Garden Club sale is a great chance to get some bargains, of plants and other plant and garden related items at the tag sale, and a great chance to get a soil test. You can’t help loving those Master Gardeners!  All proceeds support the many community projects of the Greenfield Garden Club.

I Made This Christmas Wreath

My Christmas Wreath

One of the pleasures of belonging to the Greenfield Garden Club is the November meeting at Chapley Gardens where we have help and materials to make our own wreath.  This year I did pretty well. At least better than I did before.

weeds and hips in winter

Mother Nature decorates like this.

For more Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Fish and Flowers

Barton Cove Ice Fishing

The sky was blue and the ice was thick. I did not see any fish being harvested, but the fisher folk looked pretty happy and relaxed.  I peeked at them on my way to the Greenfield Garden Club Annual Meeting, this year at the French King Restaurant.

There was a good crowd. The room buzzed with the happy chatter of frustrated gardeners. The food was good and the conversation even better. The Greenfield Garden Club is a terrific organization of gardeners who put their enthusiasm for plants at the service of the community. Their fundraising events like the Plant Sale Extravaganza in May and the Garden Tour in July fund grants for area schools including a pizza garden at Frontier Regional, school gardens at Holy Trinity, Whately,  Greenfield Center School, and Erving Elementary, and a mushroom garden at Buckland Shelburne Elementary. That’s just for starters. The sponsor the Barrel Contest to encourage the beautification of the town, maintain the Trap Plain garden at the corner of Silver and Federal Streets, and prepare a beautiful exhibit for the Franklin County Fair.

Marie Stella of Kirin Farm Enterprises

Marie Stella, a landscape historian and designer, was our featured speaker. Her topic was Responsible Gardening for the 21st Century: The Sustainable Landscape. It was clear to me that as much as I already do along these lines, there is always room for improvement. It is easy to manage one’s one property responsibly, but it takes a little extra gumption to tell a nursery that if he doesn’t stop selling burning bush, or any other invasive plant you see on his plant list, you will not shop there – and you’ll tell all your friends not to shop there either. Still, it is something we can and should do. Businesses are more likely to respond to economic incentives than altruism.

For more information about the Greenfield Garden Club click here. You could have fun like this too. And maybe you’d win a flower arrangement like this at the next Annual Meeting.  That John LaSalle!  He is a Master of Flowers – and he supports the Garden Club – and other plant loving organizations.

Christmastime is Wreathtime

The Greenfield Garden Club held its wreath-making workshop last evening at Chapley’s Garden in Deerfield. Linda Tyler knew what she was doing and helped all the rest of us who didn’t.

Chapleys provided all manner of greenery from blue spruce to euonymus, rose hips, pine cones and I don’t know what all – except that a lot of different and unique wreaths were being created all around me.

Karen Helbig and I were working side by side. She was a novice, like me, but somehow her result was more impressive than mine.

Karen was a good sport and took this photo of me, trying not to laugh or look too embarrassed.

I did get some good tips for improving my second wreath which I will form on a wire coathanger.

* Make a generous ‘hand’ of greenery, the handfuls of green branches that will be wired tightly, hand by hand around the wire form – or coathanger.  The ‘hands’ don’t have to be long, but they should include several small branches.

* Different types of greenery can be used in a single ‘hand’. The differing textures can make the wreath more interesting and attractive.

* You can use the greenery right side up, or occasionally turn a branch over for a contrast in color.

* Pine cones can have a wire twisted around the base of the cone, as low as possible, and these can be wired onto the wreath for decoration.

* Essential note: make sure you tie a colored string or ribbon around your finishing loop, or you will never find it again!

I’m so happy to be a member of the Greeenfield Garden Club, where I find friendship and information, and a way to provide service to the community. For more information about the club logon on to the website which includes beautiful photos from last year’s garden tour.

Jane Markoski’s Garden

“I guess you can see I like water,” Jane Markoski said as she gave me a tour through her gardens. There was a birdbath in the shady entry garden, a trickling fountain as you turned the corner of the house, a bubbling faux millstone fountain at the corner of the barn, a lotus tub in the middle of a mixed shrub and perennial border, a small fish pond with a waterfall, and a larger fish pond with a little waterfall.

The piece de resistance, however, is the 40 by 18 foot lotus pond where dozens of lotuses were about to start blooming.

The lotus pond was the attraction for me as it will be for many of those who attend the Greenfield Garden Club Tour today, July 11. Tickets ($12) will be on sale at the Garden Club’s Trap Plain garden at the corner of Federal and Silver Streets between 9 am and 1 pm. The tour will end at 4 pm.

Two years ago I first heard about Markoski’s lotus pond. I couldn’t believe that they would survive in our climate, but they continue to thrive and multiply right there in Greenfield.

We first saw lotus growing during our years in Beijing. Unlike waterlilies lotus plants send their huge leaves high above the water on strong stems. In Asia the lotus is an iconic plant, symbolizing the purity that can come from the mud. We enjoyed seeing lotuses blooming in many of the parks and museum gardens. Even when not in bloom the enormous leaves are a stunning sight, held so sturdily above the water as they are.

Markoski grew her first lotuses in large tubs that were about 44 inches across. She had such success and enjoyed them so much that she felt confident enough to try a large pond. They excavated to a depth of about two feet and lined the pond. Then they refilled that space with 18 inches of soil and good compost. The pond water is only about six inches deep. “It really is more of a bog,” Markoski said.

Most of the lotus plants we saw in China were pink, but there are several varieties, available at Chapley’s in Deerfield where Markoski gets hers. Pekinese Rubra is red, Angel Wings is smaller and white. Mrs. Perry D. Slocum is a double lotus with petals that are a different color over the three days of bloom, first pink, then peach, then yellow. Each flower lasts about three days, closing in the afternoon the first two days and then remaining open and finally falling apart.

Markoski said that it is vital not to damage the growing tip from the roots. It is that tip that will produce new plants. That is why a fairly large tub is required if a lotus is to grow in a container.

Of course there are many other treats in the Markoski garden where there is “a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I don’t have a formal garden,” she said.

There is a bench for resting in the shade of a weeping cherry. The view from there of the daylilies, Asiatic lilies, astilbe and a dozen other perennials is breathtaking.

In shady parts of the garden Markoski has a varied collection of hostas, big ones, little ones, green and variegated ones. The effect is very cool and soothing. A lesson for all of us.

I was particularly taken with the dry rocky stream bed that even has a little arching bridge. The stream bed does handle run-off, but Markoski likes it just for the effect. So do I.

The advice she has for new gardeners is to prepare the soil. “If your soil isn’t good, you are always going to have problems. Good soil equals a good garden. Even if you put six inches of good loam on three feet of sand you’ll never be able to keep the garden watered.

She said she rarely waters her own garden, and admits she started with that good valley soil, but ads compost annually.

The Markoski garden, where refreshments will be available, is just one of 8 gardens on the self-guided tour which will run from 9 am to 4 pm. There will also be a daylily sale at the Glenbrook Gardens site. All proceeds from the tour go to fund the Greenfield Garden Club’s civic and local school projects.

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For many of us the harvest is starting to come in. I’ve gone through one whole bed of lettuce, now replanted which some new basil seedlings I got at the Farmer’s Market. Most of my own basil died with all the cold and wet. I think I’ll be harvesting broccoli in the next few days and I’ll be donating a couple of heads to the Center for Self Reliance in Greenfield.

The Center is one of several food pantries that is participating in the Plant a Row program, accepting any extra produce that gardeners might have. We all know that sometimes the harvest comes in so thick and fast that we can’t process it all. It’s just too much all at the same time. I have been assured that no amount is too little for the pantries and food sites to accept.

If you have extra produce, or have planted a row specifically to donate, you can find a list of food pantries and their hours on the website, www.plantarowwmass.blogspot.com. This is a great opportunity to do our bit to ameliorate the effects of these difficult economic times.

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