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Long Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

The stony beach at the North End

The stony beach at the North End

Our visits to the Cousins always include a few hours at the North End Beach (at the North End of my uncle’s farm) which is covered with smooth lake stones. The pier was not there when I was a child. The cousins, my brothers and I didn’t need any refinements to swim and have a wonderful time. We used those stones any number of ways, including hitting them together while we were under water. Our first experience with ‘sonar’.  And of course, these stones were perfect for skipping.

Henry at the North End

Henry at the North End Beach

Something else has been added to the beach – zebra mussels. In spite of the waves Henry was able to bring back a couple of these tiny fragile mussels that are the scourge of Lake Champlain. Since 1993 “the mussels have spread throughout the lake and their effects have been well chronicled. They kill native mussels; coat surfaces with razor-sharp shells; foul anchor chains; block water intake pipes; and steal plankton and other food from native fish. (Burlington Free Press)”. Now visitors to the Lake have to wear water shoes because stepping on the zebra mussels break and the sharp shells cut up your feet. They have now spread to over 29 states.

Marina on Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT

Marina on Lake Champlain in Burlington, VT

Fortunately, there have been happier changes. The Burlington lake front looked nothing like this in 1947.  The Coast Guard also has a post in this bay.

Me on a Lakeside Park swing

Me on a Lakeside Park swing

I enjoyed the swings at the Lakeside Park, which also didn’t exist in 1947. The large lawns provide venues for many events.

Larson dinner at the Lakeview House

Larson dinner at the Lakeview House

Of course, there was lots of eating, and talking, and turning to Aunt Doris and Uncle Mike (about to celebrate 90th and 91st birthdays) for the final word on family stories.

UVM Horticultural Research Center

UVM Horticultural Research Center

Before we left we visited the University of Vermont Horticultural Research Center which was just about 1/2 mile from our hotel. This photo is of some of the vegetable trials.

Jessica Foster, Research Technician

Jessica Foster, Research Technician

We spent time in the apple research area talking to Jessica Foster, a Research Technician who has been on the job for a year and a half, as well as Sarah Kingsley-Richards who has worked here for 20 years.



We also got to meet Eduardo, from Italy who is now studying at the University of Vermont. I will be writing more about the Center soon.

But after our long weekend with the cousins, and my brother and his wife – it was time to go home. The only stop was at the Curtis BBQ for ribs.

Horticultural Society Memberships Make Good Gifts

American Gardener Magazine

American Gardener Magazine published by the American Horticultural Society

Being surrounded by books makes me feel secure and comfortable knowing that I have information or entertainment at hand whenever I need it. However, my bookshelves also hold magazine holders where I store the magazines like Fine Gardening and the magazines and newsletters from horticultural societies like the American Horticultural Society, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the New England Wildflower Society. I am a member of all three. Memberships in horticultural and plant societies make a great gift.

Membership in the American Horticultural Society ($35 annually) includes a subscription to The American Gardener, a bi-monthly magazine that includes information about the doings of the Society, and articles about plants and gardeners, expert and amateur. Last year, as part of a series on gardeners in the community, they even included an article about me, and the Bridge of Flowers. Previous issues are also available online to all members.

As rich and useful as The American Gardener is, that is only one of the membership benefits. Members also get reciprocal entry to 300 public gardens nationally, a seed exchange program, and discounts at the Garden Shop.

What the AHS gets from our dues is support for programs like the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium for teachers and those creating school and other gardens for the young. Dues also support the AHS headquarters which includes the 25 acre River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia with its varied gardens. There are perennial borders, a meadow, an orchard and 13 small imaginative gardens that make up the whole of the Children’s Garden. We are all invited to visit.

Weezie's Children's Garden

Whimsical Tower in Weezie’s Children’s Garden at the Elm Bank garden

A bit closer is the Massachusetts Horticultural Society ($55) with its headquarters in Wellesley. The ElmBankGardens include Weezie’s Garden for children, a trial garden for All-America seeds, the Garden to Table vegetable garden, and gardens planted by the Daylily Society and the Rhododendron Society. The Italianate Garden was originally designed by the Olmstead Brothers, and renovated in 2001. A Masshort membership gives you unlimited access to all these gardens, as well as reciprocal admission to public gardens across the country, discounts at 70 nurseries and garden centers, and discounts on the many educational programs and events presented every year. And, of course, a ticket to the Boston Flower and Garden Show.

Membership in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society will also give you a subscription to Rodale’s Organic Life and borrowing privileges at the Society’s library.

Even more locally is Nasami Farm in Whately, the propagating wing of the New England Wildflower Society ($55) founded in 1900. Membership in this Society gives you unlimited visits to the Garden in the Woods in Framingham with admission for one guest each visit, subscription to all Society publications, plus monthly e-newsletters, and discounts at a number of regional and mail order nurseries through the Nursery Partner Program.

With all the growing information and appreciation of the benefits to the environment of using native plants, and eradicating invasive plants, I find it a pleasure to support the oldest plant conservation organization in the United States. And a real pleasure to shop for native perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and trees at Nasami Farm.

I must mention that all three societies have beautiful websites, full of information, and all free. Among other things the AHS has a full list of plant societies like the Daylily Society with full information about joining them.

The New England Wildflower Society’s website includes Go Botany which will help you identify plants, but of course, you need to observe and describe them carefully. Go Botany is a great place for adults and children to work together to identify plants and have fun while learning about the anatomy and life of plants.

For those who wish to specialize there are plant societies devoted to a specific plant. There are many iris enthusiasts in our area and the American Iris Society ($30 annually) produces a 65 page Bulletin four times a year with all the latest information about iris cultivation and new cultivars whether they be Japanese, Siberian, dwarf or any other type of iris. There will also be news about iris tours, auctions and exhibitions.

The American Rhododendron Society ($40) produces a quarterly Journal with Society and plant information, information about conferences, lectures and tours, discounts on books, and local chapters where rhodie lovers can meet others of like mind.

There is also the American Rose Society ($49) which will give you 5 issues of American Rose magazine, the American Rose Annual, a handbook for selecting roses, online quarterly bulletins, advice from consulting rosarians, discounts at rose nurseries, free or reduced admission to many public gardens and arboreta, and a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

A gift membership in any one (or two) of the societies that gives information about the favorite plants of the gardener in your family is bound to be a hit. The cost is modest, and you can do all your shopping on line.

Between the Rows   December 19, 2015

Amherst Orchid Society – Spring Orchid Show

Dendrobium sanderae orchid

Dendrobium sanderae ‘Tunxis Road’ orchid

On Sunday I drove down to Northampton and the  annual Orchid Show put on by the Amherst Orchid Society. I do not grow orchids because I always think they require a greenhouse. However, anyone who has ever received a phaleanopsis orchid as a gift knows that it will live happily on a bright, but not sunny, windowsill.  I walked through the orchid show with Bill Benner, a member of the Amherst Orchid Society, who has about 100 orchid plants on his windowsills.

small orchid

Small orchid

I did not get the name of this orchid but it won Best in Show of the small orchids.

small orchid

small orchid

A shower of old on these snowy frigid days w as a great joy.

Cymbidium King Arthur 'Green Giant'

Cymbidium King Arthur ‘Green Giant’

I was particularly taken with this large, about 2 feet tall, cymbidium. Bill said this could be grown on a windowsill, but it is so large that not many people grow them at home. I could see him thinking he could fit three or four smaller orchids in the same space.

I took away the little pamphlet put together by the Amherst Orchid Society which said: “Orchid plant range in size from creeping plants no larger than a patch of moss to 30-foot giants with a 6 foot flower spike. . . . There are approximately 20,000 species of orchids in the world. It is the largest family of flowering plants. . . . There are around one dozen species of orchids native to Western MA. Some of them are very rare and others are fairly common.”

Bill told me that some orchids need sun but others require light, but no sun. Most prefer temperatures of 70 degrees or more during the day but cymbidiums are hardier and need cooler temperatures to initiate flower spikes.  An essential concern is to never overwater. While there are terrestial orchids, most orchids do not grow in soil. Orchid planting medium is a bark mix that drains quickly.

The Amherst Garden Society is a member of the American Orchid Society. The AOS website has a lot of information for  orchid growers, and would-be orchid growers including Culture Sheets for the many types of orchid.

Phalaenopsis ing. 'Pink Butterfly'

Phalaenopsis ing. ‘Pink Butterfly’

Dues for the Amherst Orchid Society are $20 annually and should be sent to Marion Jackman, PO Box 92, Leicester, MA 01524. Among the benefits is a monthly newsletter.

Gifts for the Gardener

Potted plants can be a good gift

This post is a reprise from last year and has some really good ideas, so I am repeating, but I will have some new ideas next week.

What gifts for the gardener are on your list? In the ‘olden days’ garden catalogs did not arrive until after the new year, the first sign that spring will eventually return. Now my mailbox is already full of garden catalogs describing all kinds of plants, books and tools, every company hoping for some of those holiday dollars that are so important to business in these difficult days. The catalogs are really tempting because many gardeners are like me, greedy for a new plant, or a new book and new information. The trick is to find the right plant, book or information.

Sometimes you know a gardener has a particular passion. I have one friend who always welcomes a handsome pot for her container plantings. However, unless you know that a gardener has a particular enthusiasm a gift certificate is a great way to make sure the gardener in your life gets exactly what she, or he, really wants. Over the years I have gotten a few lovely plants as gifts, and enjoyed them for a while, but chosen as they were by non-gardeners, they were not as hardy as they needed to be for the gardens at the end of the road. I have gotten tools as gifts, but again, non-gardeners are not always able to assess the quality or utility of a given tool. In the case of plants and tools, gift certificates make the perfect gift. And think of the pleasure the recipient will have considering the possibilities before it is actually time to acquire the item itself.

New information can come in a variety of ways. Books, of course. Our local book shops have a good supply of dependable and beautiful garden books. I have written in this column over the past year about many excellent books I have found from Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon and 50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants: The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat by Ruth Rogers Clausen to the Encyclopedia of Container Plants: 500 Outstanding Choices for Gardeners by Ray Rogers. I might even mention my own book, “The Roses at the End of the Road.”

Some of us will think of magazine subscriptions that bring us loads of new information and inspiration every month. I have long been a subscriber to Organic Gardening, Horticulture Magazine and Fine Gardening. Over the years it has been nice to see how mainstream magazines have been paying more attention to organic methods. I have a new subscription myself to Green Prints: The Weeder’s Digest, a quarterly magazine that is a family operation with Pat Stone at the helm and wife Becky handling circulation. You can log on to for sample articles, and the monthly electronic newsletter.

Another way to gain new information, support important garden and educational activities, and gain a variety of benefits is by giving a membership to a horticultural or plant society. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society  membership will give a free ticket to the Blooms! Garden show in Boston in March, free or discounted tickets to many botanic gardens across the country, free subscriptions to magazines, discounted workshops and programs at the Elm Bank Gardens in Wellesley.  They also have a research and circulating library at Elm Bank which is a wonderful resource.

Right in our own backyard we have Nasami Farm which belongs to the New England Wildflower Society. Nasami’s many greenhouses propagate thousands of native plants for sale in spring and fall. NEWFS members get discounts on plants, programs and free admission to the beautiful Garden in the Woods and a subscription to the Society’s publications.

I also belong to the American Horticultural Society because it means I get their excellent magazine The American Gardener, but there are other benefits like discounted admission fees to many botanic and public gardens across the country, seed swap, and discounted publications and programs. Their extensive website contains information for members only, but even non-members will find a great deal of useful advice on this site. All these organizations provide education for children and adult gardeners, helping us all to be better stewards of our land.

There are also special plant societies from the African Violet Society of America to the American Hosta Society and American Rhododendron Society. There are even more specialized groups like the Historic Iris Preservation Society. What plant is your gardener passionate about? There is bound to be an appropriate plant society.

Consumables make great gifts. We gardeners can use up fertilizers and potting soil at a great pace. I think my container loving friend would be thrilled to find a pot filled with potting soil, perlite, organic fertilizers like Neptune’s Harvest or Espoma Rose Tone under her Christmas tree. So would I. This may not seem glamorous, but it is such a useful gift, acknowledging all the gardener’s needs and desires.

One of the best garden gifts I ever received was a load of rotted horse manure for my first garden. I was so grateful. Nowadays we don’t need to count on a friend with a farm. We can order, or get a gift certificate for a load of rich compost from Bear Path Farm or Martin’s Farm. The need for compost never ends.

This bag of gifts may not contain much glamour but it sure contains the promise of many pleasures all year long.

Don’t forget, you can win a gift for yourself by leaving a comment here . You could win a copy of Beautiful No-Miow Yards and The Roses at the End of the Road.

Between the Rows  December 10, 2011

Massachusetts Horticultural Society

Massachusetts Horticultural Society - Wedding Garden

After I gave my talk about my roses, and other disease resistant roses, at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society last week, I  took a brief tour around the gardens. I can just imagine what this Wedding Garden must look like in June!

Weezie's Garden

Weezie’s Garden is the children’s garden at MHS. It is a charming space with a sand pit for the very youngest, a tower for the most adventurous, shade and sun and place for conversations. Lots of benches everywhere.

Water is an important element in ever garden. Even at this time of the year.

Lots of excitement coming up at MHS. Their third annual Festival of Trees complete with a gingerbread house competition, a raffle – and beautifully decorated trees opens on November 23.

Viewing Days: Wednesday, November 23 thru Saturday December 10 (open Thanksgiving Day)

Hours: weekends and the day after Thanksgiving: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Other days: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Note: On December 10th the Festival will close at 7 p.m.

General Admission: $8 for Adults, Children under 12 FREE!
Children age 14 or younger must be accompanied by an adult.

AND on Wednesday, December 7, my friend Jane Roy Brown will be giving an illustrated talk about One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Homeplace which I wrote about here.


Yesterday and Today

Maureen Horn of MHS and me

Yesterday was a gray day at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, but all was sunny in the classroom where I talked about hardy and disease resistant roses to an enthusiastic group of gardeners. Maureen Horn, MHS librarian, introduced me in this, the first of a series of Meet the Author talks.

7 am November 18, 2011

This morning we woke up to snow. Again.

Three Societies for Thursday

It’s time to renew memberships!  What are you a member of?

My most local membership is in the New England Wildflower Society because their propagation operation and nursery are so close by. An individual membership is only $50, for which you get free admission to the famous Garden in the Woods in Framingham, discounts on workshops and lectures, discounts at Nasami Farm and in the Gift Shop. NEWFS also participates in a Reciprocal Admissions Program that will give you free or reduced admission to over 200 botanic gardens, arboreta and conservatories. For full information click here.  I haven’t yet gone to the Garden in the Woods, but more and more is happening at Nasami Farmb where the new LEED Gold Native Plant Center is now open. Very exciting.

My national membership is in the American Horticultural Society. My main benefit from the AHS is their magazine, The American Gardener. I mine the magazine for ideas for my garden and for my garden column.  My November/December issue just arrived with articles by Rosalind Creasy on edible landscaping for small spaces, Carole ottesen on growing moss, Rita Pelczar on outstanding conifers, Kris Wetherbee on a new view of garden cleanup, and Karen Bussolini on winter perennials. Even in cold zones. Of course there is also lots of information about all the good work that the AHS does in so many different areas.  An individual membership is only $35. The AHS website has lots of information for all gardeners, but members have a special section and special services.  Click here for more information on membership.

My third membership is the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I do get subscriptions to Organic Gardening and Garden Design with my individual $50  membership, as well as the Leaflet newsletter and a ticket to the Boston Flower Show. Reciprocal admission benefits, too.  MHS maintains the beautiful Elm Bank Gardens bordering the towns of Wellesley and Dover. For full membership information click here.

Obviously, all of these memberships provide me with benefits, but my membership benefits each society in supporting their gardens, The Garden in the Woods, River Farm, and Elm Bank, in the work they each do in conservation, volunteer projects, and education. And that work is a support to me as well. Hard to tell where the benefits begin and end.  If you haven’t joined a plant society before, consider it now. There are many state horticultural societies, and individual plant societies. These societies are a great fund of information and put us in touch with other gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

Give yourself, or a gardening friend, the gift of a membership. It’s value and pleasure will last all year.

Visit Cindy MCOK at My Corner of Katy to see who else has Three for Thursday. You never know what will turn up.