L etter from the Interim President



Dear Members,

The vibrant days of summer are upon us. The gardens are gorgeous, and we have a number of fun, educational, and relaxing events on tap for August.

First, a big thank-you to the staff and volunteers that made Free-Fun-Friday a huge success on July 26. A thousand guests joined us that day, many visiting The Gardens at Elm Bank for the first time. And, from the conversations I overheard, they were impressed.

Next up is Great Gatherings, our final Second Saturday program for the summer on August 10. The program celebrates the goodness of the earth with educational programs on growing, storing, and preparing food, games, and wonderful tastings.

This is followed closely by the 5 th Annual Arts on the Green on Thursday, August 15 – a free evening of art and food, wine and beer, and music in the gardens to support local artists. Bring a picnic, chairs, or blanket, take a garden tour, and maybe even dance a little.
(rain date: August 22) 

The gardens are vibrant, the water features are cooling, and the wildlife is fascinating. 

I hope to meet you in the gardens. Wednesday evenings, when we are open til 7:30 pm, and the gardens are especially lovely. 

Suzanne Maas
Interim Director and President
Upcoming Classes
& Events:

Saturday, August 10
10 a.m - 4 p.m.

Thursday, August 15
5:00 - 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 22
11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Tuesday, August 27
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Thursday, September 19
6:30 - 9:00 pm

Thursday, October 3
6:00 - 8:30 pm
Artists in the Garden
On Friday, July 19, The Gardens at Elm Bank provided a get-away for a special group of artists - Priscilla Alpaugh Cotter, Carla Dipasquale, Jannie Ho, John Lechner, and Katia Wish.

“We are all children’s book illustrators,” says the group’s coordinator, Katia Wish. “We tend to work alone. But once a month or so, we get together as a group to sketch, paint, and just be together.”

Ms. Wish had been to The Gardens at Elm Bank before and thought it would make an ideal location for one of the group’s outings.

“The Gardens at Elm Bank are much more than just plants and flowers,” says Wish. “You have a variety of colors, strong contrast, and structures that add shape and three-dimensional subjects. And, the gardens are peaceful, quiet, too - inspirational, re ally. We will be back.”
Summer Children's and Family Programs
This summer, drop in for family programs in Weezie’s Garden for Children at The Gardens at Elm Bank. Mass Hort offers many programs designed to delight and teach visitors about the natural world.

Now through August, each Wednesday, starting at 11 am, explore the wildlife and plants growing in the garden with garden educator, Kathi Gariepy, who uses stories, puppets, and activities during Caterpillar Club . Each Thursday at 11 am, Dover Town Library will bring their Super Awesome Fun Time , or a special story time will be led by Mass Hort Staff. All ages are welcome!

Additionally, Mass Hort educators lead seasonally-themed programs each Friday to Sunday, now through Columbus Day Weekend. Starting at 11 am, educators guide hands-on activities to help visitors of every age connect to the science of the garden. Themes include pollination, backyard birding, and the plant life cycle.

Come, learn, and grow in the gardens!
Plants Go to War:
A Botanical History of World War ll
by Judith Sumner
McFarland & Company, 2019

Reviewed by Patrice Todisco
Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II considers military history from a botanical perspective, providing insight into the relationship between plant products and the war effort. From the victory garden movement, which transcended social class, to the strategic use of plant products including rubber, coal, paper, timber and fibers, plants were integral in assuring military success.  

A botanist who specializes in ethnobotany, the "scientific study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses," Sumner is uniquely qualified for the task. An author and teacher, she has taught medical botany and written two previous books, The Natural History of Medicinal Plants and American Household Botany. In June I heard her speak, to a full house, on "Garden Herbs: Their Cultivation, Cookery, Cures, and Caveats," at the Lexington Historical Society. 

Exhaustively researched (there are extensive chapter notes and a lengthy bibliography) Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War ll contains twelve chapters, each with sub-sections. It is described as "an encyclopedic synthesis of civilian and plant uses and botanical connections as they relate to World War ll" and, much like an encyclopedia, chapters and sub-sections can be read independent of each other. 

Both a social and political history Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II, links events with outcomes and provides insight into how issues, such as the impact of the Great Depression on nutrition, were alleviated through plant-based scientific advancements such as the development of vitamins. By 1937, one third of Americans were nutritionally deficient and prone to a range of diseases, potentially rendering them unfit for military service. With war looming, a healthy population was critical. Again, plants were part of the solution, providing the bulk of the wartime diet in both the U.S. and Europe. 

While much of the book is devoted to growing and gathering plants for food and medicinal purposes, Sumner includes chapters on more obscure topics. Botanical fibers used for counterfeit currency. The invention of duct tape. Mosquito bombers. Camouflage techniques. Barrage balloons. Who knew? Over and over, a lack of available resources during the war bred creative reinvention and adaptation with plant-based products necessary for successful outcomes.

Included are stories that are difficult to comprehend. In a section on paper, books, and balloons, Sumner shares how paper became a precious commodity with unique military uses. In one instance, the Japanese (mainly schoolgirls) assembled more than 9,300 balloons from botanical materials (including paper made from a native shrub) and launched them across the Pacific to North America where, loaded with incendiary materials they were intended to ignite forest fires. It is hard to visualize or imagine such a plan. 

During World War ll plants were also used for symbolic purposes, most notably by the Germans whose forestry practices were both economic and philosophical. Hitler, promoted the planting of oaks, admiring their straight growth, strength and resistance. Along with lindens, they were planted throughout rural villages and oak saplings were presented to medalists during the 1936 Olympics. His goal was to spread German oaks worldwide. One tree, received by Jesse Owens, survives at a high school in Ohio. 

The concluding chapter, "Botanical Gardens, Herbaria and Plant Science in Wartime" charts how botanical collections were imperiled, preserved and, on occasion lost, during World War ll. While many botanical gardens remained open, and contributed their expertise to the war effort, collections including those of Carl Linnaeus were evacuated to safer locales. While it is hard to imagine German bombs dropping on Kew Gardens, they did, and it is with good fortune that its iconic Pagoda survived. 

In writing Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War ll, Sumner has achieved her admirable goal of documenting and describing the myriad connections among World War II and the plant kingdom. As such the book is a valuable addition to the garden/landscape history genre. While it ends rather abruptly (I do wish Sumner had provided a summary that tied these disparate chapters into one thematic conclusion) one is left with the understanding of how valuable and necessary plants were during this unique historical period and the obvious concern of how, with climate change and the loss of plant species, we will fare in the future.

Join Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War ll author Judith Sumner for a special presentation and book signing at The Gardens at Elm Bank on Thursday, October 3 from 6 – 8:30 pm. (Additional information about the book signing will be published in the September Leaflet)

Patrice Todisco writes about landscapes and gardens at the award-winning blog, Landscape Notes.  
Upcoming Education Classes - August/September 2019
Our summer classes are filling up! Details for each class are listed in our digital course catalog . A few highlights are:

Eco Printing: Botanical Prints on Dyed Fabric , on Tuesday, August 13 , at 9am. Mary DeLano is a fiber explorer who loves eco printing, natural dying, stitching, wool applique, and rug making. She teaches throughout New England, including at Fiber College of Maine, where she also serves on the organizing committee. Record your visit to Mass Hort by printing our plants on fabric! Learn how to combine eco printing with natural and synthetic dyes to create amazing botanical image. Pre-registration is required. $140/member, $200/general admission.

Stroll through the garden afterhours with David Fiske, Mass Hort’s Garden Curator. During this Morning Garden Tour, David will introduce you to the garden beds, and open your eyes to design elements that you could adopt in your own landscapes. This is a great way to see the gardens through a different eye. Thursday, August 22 at 11 am. $5/member, $15/general admission.

Thursday September 5, 6 – 7 pm, Join Donna Lane, past president of the New England and Rhode Island dahlia societies, for an informational workshop where you will learn the ins and outs of dahlia care and take a guided tour of the gardens dahlia collection. Donna will help to answer any questions you may have about these bold beauties in All About Dahlias . $5/member, $15/general admission.

Thursday September 12, 7 – 8:30 pm. Larry Simpson of Simpson Garden Design will describe trees, shrubs, vines, perennials and annuals that you can grow for food, a more sustainable garden, and a healthier life. Learn to incorporate unusual, low-maintenance plants that do double duty by providing beauty and food at the same time by Incorporating Edible Plants into the Landscape   $12/member, $20/general admission

Increase your perennial collection, replace mature plants, grow varieties that may not be offered for sale, and even produce new hybrids! Learn different propagation skills including growing from seed, cuttings, and divisions of a wide range of perennials in this combination lecture and demonstration. This lecture/demo is only available in spring and early fall so join us for Propagating Perennials on Saturday September 14, 10 am. $35/member, $50/general admission
Volunteer Opportunities
We’ve had a terrific volunteer corps in the gardens this summer. Thank you to all of our volunteers who so meticulously care for the plants. 

If you haven't volunteered in the gardens, we invite you to spend a few hours in the gardens, get your hands dirty, and learn about plants with our hands-on horticulture opportunities.  It’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and enjoy the great health benefits of gardening. Your work helps us to fulfill our mission and maintain a large landscape enjoyed by so many for education, recreation and reflection.  If you have a few hours to give, we hope you will consider signing up to join us in the gardens. Check out all of our volunteer opportunities here and join us! 

Arts on the Green volunteers

Help out as an event volunteer at Arts on the Green  and get a behind the scenes look at the beauty of the Art Walk! Sign up here.

If you have any questions about volunteering, please contact Allison Dush at adush@masshort.org or 617-933-4934.
Weeds!

By R. Wayne Mezitt
Trustee Chair
Ask any gardener, and it’s likely you’ll hear that the single most common mid summer garden challenge is management of weeds. A weed is generally considered to be a plant that grows aggressively and reproduces quickly where it is not wanted. In fact, many plants considered weeds in some regions are valued as desirable food, wildflower or ornamental plants in other areas. Dandelion, teasel, purslane, goldenrod, Euonymus, sweet-fern and sumac are several examples.

Gardeners are intent upon eliminating weeds, and rightfully so: weeds crowd-out desirable plants, hoard moisture, nutrients and sunlight needed by garden plants, host pests and diseases and look unsightly.

Weeds can be categorized as annuals , biennials or perennials ( see Sidebar).  All weeds germinate from seed when conditions are right and grow quickly, potentially dominating a previously pristine patch of ground. The best weed control is to eliminate them at first appearance (pull them out while they are small!), or better, to prevent germination by mulching or applying pre-emergent weed control. Particularly with perennial types, once weeds become established in the ground, management becomes more difficult. The fundamental principle is to control weeds before they begin producing seed.

Perennial weeds re-grow from their roots and underground stems. Herbaceous perennials die back to the ground in winter, making them difficult to spot until their new growth appears, while the stems of the woody types are visible year round. 

Some perennial weeds have stoloniferous roots that run in the ground and tend to break off when pulled, each root piece potentially growing into a new plant. Perennial vines attach themselves to desirable plants, often winding and climbing in ways that make their removal very challenging. Some established perennial weeds require chemical herbicides to eliminate them completely. Many of these are now classified as “invasive” which designates them as a serious threat to native plants in natural areas. 

Mulching with 1 to 2 inches of loose organic matter like bark mulch, ground-up leaves or wood chips helps discourage weed germination. Some gardeners use plastic or fabric mulches and chemical herbicides to prevent germination. Weed management choices depend upon a variety of style and plant-type considerations, and many people prefer to limit chemical techniques. 

Effective weed management requires planning, persistence, monitoring, and often a good measure of sweat in the summer. But the reward of an attractive, well-managed garden is worth the effort. 

R. Wayne Mezitt is a 3 rd generation nurseryman and a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist , now chairman of Weston Nurseries of Hopkinton and Chelmsford, MA , and owner of “ Hort-Sense ”, a horticultural advisory business. Wayne currently serves as Trustee chairman for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society at The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley MA
5 th Annual Arts on the Green
Thursday, August 15, 5 - 7:30 pm
Save the date for this popular annual event!

Wander the gardens, enjoy live music, and stroll through our Art Walk. Support local artists showcasing and selling their work throughout our grounds. There will be activities for kids and tours for all! Bring a picnic, and chairs or blanket. Food, wine and beer will be sold. This is a FREE event for all!

Music by: What's Goin' On
jazz and blues
 
This event is generously sponsored by: Murphy Insurance 
Let's Look Around - Dragonflies

By Kathi Gariepy

It zips! It dives! It’s a dragonfly! 

Little ones love to look for bugs and dragonflies are one of the best bugs to have around. They eat hundreds of mosquitoes, can fly straight up and down, fly forwards and backwards and even hover like a helicopter. And although they are sometimes called a Darning Needle and they come from the family Odonata, which comes from the Greek word tooth, they don’t bite.
 
Dragonflies were one of the insects that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs- 300 million years ago. Their wingspan back then was up to two feet as opposed to their two to six inch wing span we see today.

These interesting insects lay their eggs in water and then hatch out into their larval or nymph stage. They can stay in the water, in that larval stage, for up to two years. As they grow, they molt, by slipping out of their exoskeleton up to fifteen times during this stage of their lives. During this water-bound stage they eat mosquito larva, tadpoles or even fish. As they transition to the air, they crawl out of the water, split their exoskeleton down backside and emerge with wings. It can take days for the new adult dragonfly to plump out, dry and harden in to the insect we know. The exoskeleton they leave behind is called exzavia, which is a fun word for children to learn. Some dragonflies live for a few weeks and some live for a year; the dragonflies in the New England area generally live for only a few weeks. You might have noticed the different colored ones during the summer; there are green, blue, red, mustard yellow, brown, grey and black dragonflies. They have names like Twelve-Spotted Skimmer; the 12 spots are on their large wings, the Blue Dasher, the golden Wandering Glider, the green Eastern Pond Hawk, and the last of the summer, red Autumn Meadow hawk. 

Adult dragonflies are wonderful fliers and hunters. Their head is made up mostly of their huge compound eyes. They can keep track of their prey with nearly 360 degrees of sight. They must eat their prey, other insects like mosquitos, as they fly and they’re very good at it. A recent study stated that dragonflies caught around 90% of the prey. Look out mosquitos! 

So as you are out with your little ones, look around and find some dragonflies. They are fun to watch and great to have in your yards!
From the Stacks:

By Maureen T. O'Brien,
Library Manager
Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.

Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857)
The fall harvest is your reward for all your work during the past year―planning, ordering, tilling, seeding and tending your garden. No matter how successful your harvest is, be thankful for whatever you reap despite the challenges nature presented you. 

Featured Collection ― Plans

The Library maintains 512 plans, blueprints and drawings in its Collections. Most of these plans relate to the Society in some way, although a few relate to area gardens and the Greenway. 

The Library has the plans for the beautiful Horticultural Hall on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston designed in 1901 by architects Wheelwright and Haven. We also have plans for the historic Elm Bank Manor House, its outbuildings and Olmsted landscape. Today, these documents provide valuable information to our staff for preserving, restoring, and maintaining the property.
 
When the Society moved to Elm Bank at the end of the last century, it needed to make changes and updates to the former Cheney Estate. At that time a detailed Master Plan was created, supported by numerous and detailed plans of the property. Those plans include site plans, infrastructure improvements, building renovations, garden restoration and garden creation. The Library maintains those plans, readily available for research by staff, volunteers and the public

In the Windows – Books on the Harvest

The term ‘harvest’ originates from the Old English word hærfest, meaning ‘autumn.’ Historically cultures celebrated hærfest as they prepared for the long, bleak and barren winter. It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other products grown on the land. Harvest festivals are held around the world and typically feature feasting, both by the family and the public, with foods that are drawn from crops that come to maturity around the time of the festival. Our Thanksgiving originated as a harvest festival, a tradition the early settlers brought from their native England.

On Thursday September 19, 2019, Mass Hort will be hosting its own – Harvest Celebration!  To get you prepared for the harvest and inspire you to make the best of what you reap, this month we will have books relating to the harvest in the windows.

Our Collections are Growing…

The Library relies on the generosity of its members to build and preserve its Collections. This month we thank Alyce Tangerini for her donations in kind that enrich our Library. Do you want inspiration for donating to our collections? Consider donating a book from the Society’s Amazon Wish List.

Come Visit the Library…

Drop into the Library when the lights are on to browse or go shopping. The Library has a section with horticulture books for sale at bargain prices. Although some of the books are old, the information in the books rarely get dated. Reusing books is more eco-friendly than buying new or even recycling. 

The Library is open on Thursdays from 9 am to 1 pm, at other times by chance or appointment. Before you venture over, we suggest you email mobrien@masshort.org or call 617-933-4912 on days the Library is not scheduled to be open. A benefit of Society membership allows members to borrow our most of our recent books. Have a book and cannot come in when the Library is open? You can leave it at our new Gatehouse when the Gardens are open to the public.  
A Groaning Glut of Green Beans


By Neal Sanders,
Leaflet Contributor
In our 600-square-foot vegetable garden this year we are growing corn, lettuce, chard, dill, carrots, summer squash, winter squash, eight varieties of tomatoes, fennel, cucumbers, peppers, basil, leeks, beets, spinach, amaranth…. and green beans.

I have no argument with the first 16 items on the list. There is nothing as flavorful as sweet corn eaten minutes after it was picked or a salad topped with tomatoes still warm from the vine. These are the reasons we garden. Even when there is excess (think zucchini), there are neighbors with whom to share the bounty. And, if your friends begin avoiding you because they know you come bearing suitcases full of the stuff, you can dispose of the surplus on National Sneak Zucchini on Your Neighbors’ Porch Night (which falls on August 8 th this year).

Zucchini, though, is a vegetable that must be eaten fresh. No one would ever think of canning or freezing summer squash, because they’d find nothing but mush when they sampled it in January. Not so green beans. Green beans effectively have the same taste and texture whether they’re eaten fresh or frozen.

For reasons known only to her, this year Betty planted two ‘wide rows’ of green beans with the idea we would freeze what we didn’t immediately eat. To add color to the garden, one of those plots is planted with a bean that is picked when purple, though it disappointingly reverts to green when cooked. We picked our first green bean in mid-July and are now picking upwards of a pound of beans from the garden every other day.

The first week was wonderful. The yield was maybe 20 or 30 long, luscious beans a day, perhaps ten minutes worth of picking in the cool, late afternoon. Once home, we pinched off the ends, threw them in a dish, steamed them for three minutes and we had fresh, delicious green beans; high in vitamins and good for us to boot.

Then the yield bounced up to about 60 green beans a day. Fifteen minutes of picking and ten minutes of snipping ends. OK, we cooked half and froze half (two minutes in boiling water, then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking, arrange the beans on a tray, stick them in the freezer for an hour, then bag them and return them to the freezer until needed). I could cope with that. One reason is that, in earlier years, our green bean season could last as little as two weeks. Mexican bean beetles would discover the garden and begin chomping on everything in sight. We would come out one morning and find leaves reduced to skeletons and the beans are half-eaten by voracious beetles.  

Then, Betty discovered the virtue of floating row covers. From planting until picking time, the plants were swathed in white tents that thwarted even the most vigilant bugs. The beans, which are self-pollinating, thrive under the row covers. Worse, this year, the second plot is about to come into full production.

Soon we will be spending half an hour stooped over picking under a blazing sun with suffocating August humidity, pinching ends for another 45 minutes, and then lining up green beans on trays for half an hour. First, it was one double-decked tray of beans to blanch and freeze and then two double-decked trays. Did I mention we still have green beans from last summer?

Dealing with the excess will require a plan I have not yet devised. Before we moved, we lived next door to a family of vegetarians that gladly took our excess. Our local Food Cupboard also takes fresh vegetables on the day of their distribution, but there’s only one in August and it’s not until the 21 st . Unless I can come up with something, I’m doomed to eat green beans with every meal, and I do not look forward to a green bean omelet.

There is joy in seeing plants first emerging from the ground in May and flourish in June. Alas, the mind does not contemplate the work that will be involved when, as in the ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’, the green beans keep maturing by the hundreds every day, demanding to be picked. The great gardening guru Roger Swain calls one of the joys of summer the ‘wretched excess’ from the garden. This August, being a grower of green beans makes it easy to understand the ‘wretched’ part of that statement.
August Horticultural Hints

by Betty Sanders,
Lifetime Master Gardener
What’s with the pine needles?   Does it seem as though an unusually large normal number of pine needles are falling on your property this summer? Global warming may be affecting our gardens and forests in yet another way. According to the UMASS Extension Service, the unusually frequent rainfall we received in May, June and July, along with the warmer temperatures, has given a boost to an existing pathogen that causes pines to shed needles early.  Not only does the tree lose the food normally produced by the needles, it also robs the tree of nitrogen that it would have held onto over the winter. While there is currently no practical way for homeowners to attack the pathogen, you can help your trees by providing a light nitrogen feeding now, and again in the early spring. If you have a dense stand of pines on your property, consider thinning the trees to reduce the spread of the disease.

In the flower garden.  By mid-August you should no longer be fertilizing any perennials, trees or shrubs. The new growth the plant has put out this year needs time to harden off before the cold weather begins. However, for annuals and plants in containers, keep fertilizing: you want them to bloom and grow until they’re hit by frost.

In the vegetable garden.  Keep sowing fresh crops of lettuce, spinach, beans, beets and peas for fall harvest. While it is hot now, as the weather cools, all of these will thrive and extend your garden-fresh food until Thanksgiving – or beyond. When you have harvested your corn, pull up and chop the corn stalks. They should be put in your composter or buried in the garden where they will break down over the winter releasing their load of nutrients back into the soil.

Houseplants’ season in the sun.  If you moved houseplants outside for the summer, start moving them into shadier areas now in preparation for the move indoors (where light levels are lower) in September. Before the final move, spray plants (and their soil) to eliminate any “guests” that might also like to winter indoors.

Herb advice.  Begin harvesting herbs for drying on sunny days. Cut herbs in the morning after any dew has dried off for maximum flavor. Dry the herbs where they get good air circulation but out of direct sunlight. Place the dried leaves or seeds in sealed containers to maximize freshness.

August is when fungal diseases become a nuisance . The downside of this summer’s wet weather is that you need to be extra vigilant in scouting out fungal diseases. These plant diseases can spread rapidly as they are propelled from one leaf to another and from one plant to another by insects or during rain or watering. Whether you choose organic or inorganic methods of treating diseases, best results occur when you begin as soon as the problem appears and continue until you are certain it has been eliminated or you have disposed of the plant. If a plant can’t be saved, cut it, bag it and put it in the trash. Don’t compost it (the disease may survive the process) or throw it into the woods. 

Sometimes a bargain isn’t one.   In August, nurseries begin cutting the prices on their unsold stock. It can be a great time to add to your garden, but be cautious of late summer sales of woody plants. Particularly at ‘big box’ stores and discount houses, they may have been sitting in their small pots, suffering from the heat all summer long. They also will not have much time to replace the roots they are missing. Remember: a healthy tree is as large below the ground as it is above.

You can read more of Betty’s horticultural advice at www. BettyOnGardening.com
Announcing this Year's Presenters
at the Northeast Region Perennial Plant Symposium
The Northeast Region Perennial Plant Symposium will be held Tuesday, August 27, 9 am – 3 pm at The Gardens at Elm Bank.
 
Presented by Massachusetts Horticultural Society & the Perennial Plant Association, the symposium is open to all levels of gardeners and professionals.

This year’s symposium includes four presentations:
Selecting Sustainable Roses
Mike & Angelina Chute of RoseSolutions

Cutting Edge Perennials, No Bandages Provided!
Stephanie Cohen, Author, Gardener, and Perennial Diva

Beyond Black-eyed Susan’s and Border Phlox:
Exceptional Native Perennials for Creative Gardening
William Cullina, Author, Lecturer

For Us and Them: Perennial Edible Plants for Pollinators and Ourselves

Pre-registration required
Early Bird: $99
After August 18: $125
www.MassHort.org - 617-933-4900