April 2017

Ah! Spring! The season we have all been awaiting. And time to get back in gear--by cleaning up our gardens, by attending the 88th Annual Meeting, by boning up at Flower Show School. Also the ideal time to pass on our love of nature to the children in our communities, as suggested by our Youth Chair, Ann Germano.

It is also time to say thank you to our outgoing president, Jane Waugh, for all her good work the last two years, as well as to other Board Members who are completing their productive terms.

It has been my pleasure to edit this newsletter for the past five years, working with the wonderful accomplished women (and one man) of The Federation. It is not without regret that I leave this post to pursue my new life in Florida, including my new membership in the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs! Thank you for your help and cooperation and my best wishes to the new President and her administration, and all the members of The Federation.
For the Calendar, click here.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor
President's Message
Happy Spring!

As I write on the final day of winter, the world outside seems to be covered in meringue with a few pieces of glass sprinkled on top.   Even the paw prints of the beautiful red fox, which has a regular path through my yard, don't show on the glossy surfaces I see from my windows.  But spring is here as you read this and the crocuses and snowdrops are re-appearing as are all the other signs that make April a month of hope and renewal. Buds on the trees are ready to burst, we hope not too soon to harm all the delicious crops we anticipate this summer. It is a glorious time of year in Connecticut.

The last Friday in April is always the official Arbor Day in Connecticut. So as part of my last message as your Federation President, I urge you to celebrate this day and Earth Day in your communities and to encourage the continual planting of trees.  The Arbor Day Foundation can provide inexpensive seedlings as gifts for children to turn the day into a great celebration in your neighborhood. I still get much satisfaction checking out the
growth of the white pine seedling given to me in Pittsburgh on the very first celebration of Earth Day (I date myself!). It stands regally where it was planted at my family's summer cottage on Chautauqua Lake in western New Your State.   And nearby are the many trees my dad and brother and I dug in the woods and planted in the yard.  Inspire your children to become involved with nature.  It can have a lasting impact on them, as these activities had for me in years past. Their interest in the environment is important for their future.

I'm so pleased that so many of you have taken up the offer of planting a native oak tree during my two-year term.  We have planted a forest of oaks across the state.  Final numbers cannot be determined now since the deadline is just as this letter must be sent, but I will report on the totals in a few weeks at the Annual Meeting. A lot of tiny acorns are on their way to becoming mighty oaks!

It has been a pleasure and honor to serve as your president these past two years. Our organization has real impact on our communities and I'm always proud to represent The Federation wherever I go or to whomever I speak. And it's a joy to spend time with all of you.
We share such rich experience and commitment to improving our world: aesthetically, environmentally, and by encouraging our youth. Thank you for allowing me to lead this fine group and for including me in so many of your activities. We have had a wonderful time "growing together"!

* Jane


In October, 2016, students in the Period 5 Environmental Science class at Stonington High School planted a white oak tree (Quercus alba). The tree was donated by members of The Stonington Garden Club under The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc., Native Oak Tree Project.  With the help of their teacher, Elisa Whitman, the students researched the historical and environmental significances of the tree, methods for planting and care, and spent a class preparing the hole for the tree. On the day of planting, Stonington Garden Club horticulture committee members were on hand. Working together, taking turns with the shovels, students set the tree, back-filled the hole and covered the base with a layer of mulch. Materials for the project were donated by the Stonington Garden Club. The tree is located in front of the school and visible from South Broad Street.
Submitted by Barbara Deysson
State Project Chair

88th Annual Meeting

Our Annual Meeting is soon! - Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Join us at our Federation's 88th Annual Meeting and Luncheon at Aqua Turf Country Club, Plantsville, CT, on April 19th.  Registration begins at 9:00 am.  Reservations must be received by Friday, April 14th.  Click here for the Registration Form.

This promises to be a wonderful day. President Jane Waugh will give her final report as Federation President.  New Officers and Committee Chairs will be elected and installed.

To add to the enjoyment of the day, designer extraordinaire, Jeanne T. Nelson, will present "Symphony of Colors," creating gorgeous floral designs right before you. Jeanne is President of National Flower Arrangers, a former President of NYSFGC and former Director of Central Atlantic Region, a NGC Accredited Master Judge, the NY State Awards Coordinator and the NGC Flower Show Achievement Award Chair.  Two of her designs appear in the WAFA book, "Flower Arranging...The American Way."

We have a superb group of vendors who will be selling their products before the meeting and during breaks.  Several are new this year and many are offering show specials!  You can see a complete list of all our vendors and a description of what they will be offering by clicking here.

As you arrive, please make sure you come by the Drawings Table and purchase your tickets, so you will have a chance to win during the drawings that will take place during dessert.  Each of our vendors will donate one of their products and Jeanne Nelson's designs will be included in the drawings as well.

Also, if you're looking for the latest NGC Handbook for Flower Shows, a book for your next class, or a gardening book to give a friend, make sure to come by the FGCCT Books table.

Lastly, if you or your Club won a Silver Award at the October 2016 Awards Meeting and you wish to return it, you may do so at this meeting.  Look for the Silver Returns table at the back of the banquet hall.

Make your reservation soon for this lovely day.  Click here for the Registration Form. If you have any questions, please contact me.

* Nan Merolla
Meetings Chair


Option for Returning Silver Awards Won in 2016

If you or your Club won a Silver Award at the October 2016 Awards Meeting and you wish to return it, you may do so at the upcoming Annual Meeting on April 19th to be held at Aqua Turf.

We trust you will find this arrangement convenient--it will save money and relieve you of concern about its safety.  Otherwise, the silver will
need to be returned via U.S. Priority Mail, insured, to P. O. Box 812, Cheshire, CT 06410.

* Carol Goertz
Silver Manager


Youth Activities in the Spring

April is the perfect time of year to introduce children to the wonders of gardening and nature.  Nearly all children enjoy watching something grow and bloom.  Look around your community, find a group of children and design a project to engage them in a gardening or nature experience.  Remember, you do not need to have a large group of children or a large number of volunteers or even a large block of time.  And your project need not be expensive.

Contact a local pre-school or nursery school and volunteer to supply some pots and soil and seeds.  Help the children each plant a seed or two in their pots, to be given as a Mother's Day gift.  The children will have such fun planting the seeds and then watching them sprout and begin to grow.  If you don't want to do seeds, schedule your session later in the month and fill the pots with small plants. This project only needs a few volunteers, some trowels or scoops and usually less than an hour in time.  But don't forget a plastic tablecloth; clean up will be much easier!

If you prefer to work with older children, look for a Boys and Girls Club or a Community Center with after-school programs.  Suggest a program to teach children how to plant container gardens.  Offer to donate pots or planters and the soil and plants to fill them.   The pots can be used at the entrance to the building or in other public areas.  This program can be done in two sessions, if you want to have the children help decide on what containers and plants to use and where they should be placed.  Only one session is needed if you have already purchased plants and containers. The children will be so proud of their contribution to the space.  Again, this project will only need a few volunteers and should take no more than one or two hours of time.

It's also a great time for exploring the growing gardens.  Many nursery schools are held in church buildings and many churches have gardens.    Offer to lead a short "Tour of the Spring Garden."  Twenty to thirty minutes is more than enough time for this age group.  Plan two sessions: the first when things are just beginning to pop out of the ground or perhaps budding and then a second trip when everything is in bloom.  If you would rather work with older children, think about offering a "field trip" to one of your members' Spring gardens or to a local town garden.  This would work for a scout troop or a small private school class.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

* Ann Germano 
Youth Chair
  [email protected]    
(203) 261-3945

Old-fashioned Peonies in June Staunton's garden.


We thank the following Garden Clubs for their recent contributions to the FGCCT Scholarship Fund:

Bristol Garden Club  $100 
Cheshire Garden Club  $50 
Greens Farms Garden Club   
Haddam Garden Club  $50 
Kensington Garden Club  $25 
Manchester Garden Club  $100 
Garden Club of New Haven   
Norwalk Garden Club  $500 
Old Saybrook Garden Club   
Orchard Valley Garden Club    
Wallingford Garden Club  $50

* Judy Joly 
Scholarship Chair


The April Garden

Like last Winter, this past Winter was relatively mild and one can only hope we don't have a repeat of the April snow storm that robbed much of Spring's beauty. Spring is my favorite season. The beauty of the Spring-flowering trees and shrubs cannot be rivaled. The cheerfulness of Spring-flowering bulbs is invigorating and the fresh new growth of perennials not yet damaged by insects or drought is pure perfection.

However, all admiration aside, much still needs to be done in the April garden.  
One of the first chores I tend to every spring is to remove the spent leaves and stems of my Epimediums. Epimediums look great and hold their color well into early winter, so I do not cut them back during fall cleanup. Come Spring, they tend look a little ratty. Their stems will need to be cut to ground level as early as possible, before new growth begins to emerge. The new flowers will start to grow on wiry stems early in the season, and if you wait too long it will be impossible to cut the dead stems back without lopping off  the current year's flowers.   
Epimedium x. versicolor 'Sulphureum' at the end of winter, left, and in spring bloom at right.

Epimedium is a stoloniferous plant that is great used as a ground cover in shady areas. Hardy to zone 4, it will tolerate dry conditions and full sun but will be more luxuriant if given the rich soil and light shade it prefers. Commonly called Bishop's hat or Barrenwort, one of my favorites is an older variety called E. x versicolor 'Sulphureum.' It has 10-20 pale yellow flowers per stem that delicately nod above the red-tinged graceful, green foliage. I find it a refined alternative to Pachysandra.

Many exciting new varieties have been introduced. Breeders have done amazing things with them. Some of the new varieties have elongated, extremely serrated leaves that look like thorns. Some varieties have unusual splotchy coloring on the leaves. Flower colors range from yellow, pink, purple, white, to coral orange. There are even minute alpine varieties. Most are hardy here in Connecticut and make a great addition to the Spring garden.

As I stated earlier, the only fault I can find with these Spring beauties is that the removal of the spent foliage must be one of the first chores on your "to do" list. Once this is done, there is nothing else required by them but to admire their beauty and to proceed to step 2 on your list.       

* Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair                


Thinking about becoming a Flower Show Judge? Course I is now a prerequisite.
It's not too late to register for Flower Show School, Course I, which will be offered April 11-13 at the Kellogg Environmental Center in Derby, CT.  According to the 2017 Revision of the Handbook for Flower Shows, Course I will now be a prerequisite for taking any of the other three courses in the Flower Show School curriculum.

NGC instructors Dorthy Yard and Mary Huntoon will be teaching Course I, which focuses on the Principles and Elements of Design. These Principles and Elements are foundations for all of the arts, not just floral and landscape design. The featured plant types are Spring bloomers and the design type is Traditional design.

You can download your registration form today by clicking here, and email it to [email protected] and then follow it with a hard copy and payment via regular mail to our registrar: Lisa Stackpole, 44 Farm Hill Road, Orange, CT 06477.

We hope to see you on April 11!

* Patricia Dray
Flower Show School Chair

Succulents from the garden of June Staunton.
New Federation Website!

A Website Task Force, made up of a combination of Federation Board members and others with knowledge and interest in the project, has been working to develop a new website for The Federation.  Some of the objectives are to improve the usability for our members and clubs, to encourage increased usage, to modernize the image of The Federation, and to make it easier to be used on phones and tablets. Ease of maintenance is important in order to keep the site current at all times.  Some exciting new functions will be added.
A contract has just been signed with a developer to begin the work of building a design which the team has already spent over a year considering. However, there is still time for your input. The Task Force would welcome your comments on additions and improvements to the current website.  You may have ideas that we have not considered. So please be in touch.

* Jane Waugh
Website Task Force


It's that time of year again when we are asked to complete and submit our Annual Reports to The Federation to document our activities and accomplishments in the past year and become eligible for FGCCT awards.

The interactive forms for your 2016-2017 reports are posted on our website. Go to www.ctgardenclubs.org, Click the Club LogIn page, and click on "Click here for Annual Report Forms for 2016-2017" at the top of the page. You may type directly into the page and then print your completed form to send in to our FGCCT Office by April 1st.

Technical Tips on Opening Annual Report Forms: Occasionally, forms cannot be filled out in a browser window, so it is always better to download the form and save it to your computer.   You should not have trouble filling it out there, saving it, and then sending it as an attachment to an email.  If you use Internet Explorer, make sure it is the latest version.  Older versions are not always compatible with our forms and/or documents.

Also, make sure your Adobe Reader is the latest version!  Updates are free.

* Inge Venus
Headquarters Director and Website Chair

 Meet Gini Mita

FGCCT's Program Chair, Gini Mita, has been doing programs herself for many years. "I've been doing presentations for clubs for a long time, " she says. "I had no intention to do it, but I had developed my own methods for sprouting seeds, and my husband said, 'Your garden club would like to see what you are doing,'" she remembers. So, a long-time member of the Wallingford Garden Club, Gini gave a talk there, which was well received. She brought her own paraphernalia to demonstrate how she made her own pots out of newspaper and more.

"People wanted me to come back, so I developed a talk on cooking, baking and garnishing with herbs and flowers-I LOVE to cook! Then I learned how to do Power Point so I could make my presentations more portable," says Gini.

When The Federation's listing of Programs got her information wrong, Gini tried to get it fixed and offered to help the Program Chair. The next thing she knew, she was asked to be the Program Chair! For the last two years, Gini has been updating and revising the FGCCT Programs listing for publication this Fall, with help from her grandson on the Power Point program.

A Connecticut native, Gini taught grades 4-6 in the Hamden schools, raised three children and has five grandchildren, "all taller than me!, Gini says. "We come by gardening naturally, she says. "My father gardened, my husband's father gardened...And I learned a lot being in the Wallingford Garden Club;" where she has held many positions including President of the club. "I got tired of buying the same stuff from the garden centers." So she started reading catalogues and growing heirloom vegetables from seed. "I like to grow things that are different, like white, black and green tomatoes."

Gini has quite a large vegetable garden at home, with different colored eggplants, special pumpkins, chocolate peppers, and French fillet beans, to name a few. She also grows roses, perennials and berries. She uses organic, homespun methods of planting-in newspaper pots, which she says attracts worms--pest control, placing pinwheels among the plants and mulching-with grass, which she grows without pesticides. She even makes mini-greenhouses for her herb seeds out of rotisserie chicken containers.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor



  This Award is presented by the Gardening Consultants Council to a Gardener who has shown a Love of Gardening. Open to all garden club members who have created and maintained their own gardens. The deadline for applying is June 15. Click here for more information and the application form. Summer Visits will be made by the Committee. The award is presented in October.

A Fond Farewell -

You will all agree that receiving our monthly CFNEWS in full color via Constant Contact since 2012 has indeed been a wholesome experience.   Even more meaningful for me, as Website Chair, has been the professional yet very cordial relationship that I have developed over these years with our Newsletter Editor and Webmaster Lynn Hyson.  And didn't we especially enjoy the many articles clubs and Board members have contributed, including the Horticulture reports, as well as her well written Member in Focus articles?

A couple of years ago we learned that Lynn might be moving to Florida to establish a permanent residence there.  Of course, we put that in the back of our mind until the day actually arrived in November of last year.    Now what?   Lynn agreed to continue with composing and helping to publish  the CFNEWS and to make numerous postings on our website for a little while longer.

Today I have to reluctantly report that the April issue will be Lynn's last contribution.    You only realize how much someone's association with you has meant to you until it is no longer there.  We will miss her dearly.

On behalf of our Federation Board and our Connecticut garden clubs we wish Lynn all the best for her future endeavors.

* Inge Venus
Website Chair and President-nominee

Share your garden
If you have a particularly nice photo of your garden, we'd love to share it. Email a .jpg file of your picture to [email protected] and we will try to include it in an upcoming issue of the CF News

Think Summer! A lush view of June Staunton's garden in South Glastonbury. June is a member of the Hartford Garden Club. See other images from her garden in this newsletter. 


Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.
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