December 2016

As the year comes to a close, we have recognized the hard work and creativity of FGCCT members in 2016. Read on to learn about the awards presented at the Annual Awards Luncheon on October 26 and the special Judges Council Flower Show. Hear some parting words from our outgoing Meetings Chair, Margaret Hopkins. Thank you, Margaret, for organizing another successful event.
Though we may bestow laurels, we do not rest on them. We move forward to the 2017 Connecticut Flower and Garden Show, a wonderful FGCCT Tour of the Southwest and an Idea Exchange Symposium for the southeast corner of our state.

As we prepare for a happy holiday season, we have much to look forward to in The Federation's New Year.

For the Calendar, click here.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor

President's Message
Dear Garden Club members,

As we spend time with family and friends during this holiday season, we give thanks for them and for our garden club family, so important in the lives of so many of our members.   As winter approaches, we can help some of our members traveling to meetings or with shopping.  Gifts of our time are invaluable at this time of year.  This applies to all ages.  Our youth need our guidance and encouragement to be creative and to enjoy the natural world. This might mean the gift of a trip to a nature center, a botanical garden, an aquarium or simply a walk in the winter woods.

Another option is to make a plan to carpool with family or friends to the Connecticut Flower Show, "Woodland Enchantment" at the end of February.  There you can dream of your spring garden Don't forget that The Federation has arranged for our Connecticut Garden Club Members to be able to purchase discount tickets so long as they are purchased by February 6th.  See a link to the flyer in the marquee to our website at for details. And don't forget that if you volunteer at the show, your admission is free on that day. Or if you enter your horticulture, design, artistic craft or photography, you will be rewarded with a free ticket. We especially need your horticulture in February.  It, too, can be carpooled!  See if one of your members couldn't take entries for several of you.

"I took a walk in the woods
And came out taller than the trees."

Henry David Thoreau

I'm happy to announce two new additions to the Federation Board. Carol Lubus, President of The Danbury Garden Club, has joined us as Corresponding Secretary, an Officer of the Federation and member of the Executive Committee. Also, taking over as Meetings Chair is Nan Merolla, a former president of the Wilton Garden Club. We welcome them to their new responsibilities in support of our member clubs.

I wish you all the healthiest and happiest of holiday seasons,

* Jane Waugh,


Westbrook Garden Club planted a Red Oak ( Quercus rubra) on October 8, 2016 at the entrance to Salt Island Overlook south of Boston Post Road between the Post Office and Oxford Academy.
Pictured are members of Boy Scout Troop 38,WGC members Deb Rie, Cathy Curt, Mindy Gordon, Rosemary Enismann, First Selectman Noel Bishop and Conservation Commissioner Randy Beil.

* Priscilla A. Sisk
Westbrook Garden Club

A Bur Oak (
Quercus macrocarpa) was planted by the Orchard Valley Garden Club on September 28, 2016 in Panthorn Park on Burritt Street in Southington, CT.

Those at the planting were:  Christie Kuriger, Katy Hanlon, (OVGC members), Mike and Kevin from the Southington Parks Department, and Marge Muzyczka (club president).

The Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa).

* Katy Hanlon
Chair Oak Tree Project
Orchard Valley Garden Club

*Barbara Deysson
State Project Chair



From the Meetings Chair

I hope everyone enjoyed the Silver Award Meeting at Aqua Turf on October 26th.
As I leave this position of Meetings Chair, I would like to answer a few questions that have been asked.

Aqua Turf only provides me with four tables that will hold 12 people.  All the rest of the tables in the facility hold 10 persons. The Aqua Turf will not allow me to squeeze 13 persons onto a 12-person table.  Therefore, any club sending in the names of more than 10 members to attend will be placed at oneof the four12-person tables until they are filled.  All remaining clubs with 12 or more members attending will be separated with half the members at one table and the remaining half at the adjoining table.  If this happens to your club, you may move members from one table to the next but the number allotted for each table must be kept.  It will then be important to be certain that you have your food choice visible at your place as you will have thrown the food count for each table off.  The Meetings Chair tries to fill the remaining places at the ten person tables with clubs that have three or four members registered to attend.

Another problem the Meetings Chair faces is the way the names are spelled on the registration form.  If you sent your own check, your name will be spelled correctly on the list submitted for the meeting day.  If the club sent the money for you, the person sending the registration form filled in your name to the best of their ability.  The Meetings Chair types the name as it appears to her on the registration form.  In several cases I have called the club for the correct spelling since I could not figure out the last name at all.  In the end, I feel we had hundreds of the 395 members' names correct.  I apologize if your name was not. 

I have enjoyed meeting so many of you and speaking with you during my term.  Nan Merolla has consented to become the Meetings Chair in 2017. She will do an excellent job and you will enjoy working with her.

* Margaret Hopkins
Meetings Chair




Southwest Garden Delights
May 17-23, 2017

Santa Fe, Taos and Albuquerque

Featuring extraordinary gardens,
museums, culture and cuisine.

The FGCCT week-long tour to lovely Santa Fe, historic Albuquerque and ancient Taos will showcase the delights of the southwest. With New Mexico's sunny, clear weather, this promises to be a refreshing spring sojourn. 

Wed. May 17 Day 1  Albuquerque
Coach transportation is provided to United Airlines LaGuardia flight at noon from: Cromwell, I91, exit 21; New Haven, RR station;  Westport, exit 18 off I95.  You arrive Albuquerque at 4:45pm and check in at the historic landmark Hotel Albuquerque Old Town for 2 nights.  At dinner a local expert introduces you to the unique geology, topography and biological ecosystems of the region. (d)

Thurs. May 18 Day 2, Albuquerque
Tour the 36-acre Biopark Botanic Garden which showcases New Mexico habitats, including desert, grasslands, lava flows and sand hills.   There is a conservatory and themed gardens including one featuring xeric plants from North American deserts.  Medicinal plants are highlighted in El Jardin de la Curandera.   After lunch you are hosted at private gardens including a cactus garden and a  Xeric Garden.  You will learn how New Mexico gardeners are dealing with a growing need for water conservation.  (b/l/d)

Fri. May 19 Day 3        Santa Fe  
Enjoy a scenic drive along the high desert plain to Santa Fe. On a guided walking tour you see the distinct architecture of New Mexico's capital city and the Loretto Chapel with its mysterious "miraculous staircase."  After lunch you go "Beyond Adobe Walls" to tour Santa Fe Garden Club members' homes and gardens.   Spend 4 nights at Inn of the Governors, near the Historic Plaza and a wonderful collection of shops, museums and restaurants. Daily tea and sherry reception and a pool add to the hospitality. (b/l/d)

Sat. May 20 Day 4    Taos
On a day trip to historic Taos you take the scenic road through the Rio Grande valley, past tiny Spanish and Indian villages. Tour Taos Pueblo to learn how the community has maintained its indigenous identity for almost 1,000 years at the foot of Taos Mountain.  In the afternoon enjoy the annual Taos Lilac Festival.

Talented artisans display work ranging from ceramics, fiber, wood, leather and metalwork to jewelry and art pieces.  Complete the day with a visit to a private garden. On the way back to Santa Fe you have dinner at a historic hacienda.  (b/d)

Sun. May 21 Day 5    Santa Fe
Spend the day at SantaFe's Museum Hill. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture presents the art and history of Native America.

The Museum of International Folk Art houses the world's largest collection of traditional folk art.  The Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill displays a collection of native and adapted plants sure to thrive in the arid climate. Dinner is on your own. There is a dazzling array of restaurants to choose from!  (b/l)

Mon May 22 Day 6      Santa Fe 
Tour El Rancho Las Golindrinas, a living history museum in a rural farming valley.  The Museum is dedicated to the history, heritage and culture of 18th and 19th century New Mexico.
Then explore The Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, a 35-acre nature preserve adjacent to the ranch. This rare natural cienega, or "marsh" in Spanish, hosts a bountiful diversity of plants and wildlife.

The afternoon is free. Why not visit the Georgia O'Keefe Museum or explore the many art galleries along Canyon Road?  Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight.    (b/d)

Tues May 23 Day 7   Depart
Depart Santa Fe after breakfast. Your United flight departs at noon from Albuquerque and arrives LaGuardia at 6:10pm. Your coach will return to the Westport, New Haven and Cromwell stops.   (b)

TOUR COST * per person.
  $2700. (share) $525 single supplement
   *cost based on minimum of 20 persons
*     LaGuardia/Albuquerque flight
*     Breakfast daily, 5 dinners, 3 lunches
*     Cromwell,  New Haven & Westport /LGA coach
*    Tours and transfers as per itinerary
*     6 nights accommodations
DEPOSIT:            $500 due with reservation
BALANCE:           Due prior to March 10
$100.00 fee for all cancellations.  In addition:
January 1- March 10 additional $400.00
After March 10 No refund; insurance recommended
Contact the FGCCT tours coordinator with questions:

* Donna De Simone
FGCCT Tours Coordinator

[email protected]

Southeast Idea Exchange Symposium

Based upon the success of the symposiums held in 2015 and 2016, another is scheduled for March 16, 2017 at Mercy By The Sea in Madison.  The Southeast Idea Exchange Symposium provides a forum for clubs in the southeast area of our state to come together to share ideas and discuss topics ─ all with the goal of helping to make our clubs as good as they can be.  Details will be provided as the date draws closer.

* Arlene Field
Second Vice President and Symposium Chair

The December Garden
I love pine cones. I think they are one of nature's masterpieces. With their beautiful shapes which  can vary greatly, from the tiny cones of Hemlocks to the giant cones of the southern pines, they are all perfect in my eyes. I am drawn to anything pine cone--candles, wreaths, napkins and towels embellished with them, anything. They are a staple of holiday decorating, but I think we take them for granted. We even refer to them as "pine" cones when actually they are the seed bearers for all species of conifers. How wondrous is it that the simple adornment on our holiday wreaths once encased the hope of future generations of conifers? I do love to decorate with them. However, I find them the most beautiful when still attached to the tree.

I have an interesting cultivar of Norway Spruce that originated from a witch's broom. To put it simply, a witch's broom is an abnormal abundant growth of shoots which may appear as a ball-shaped dwarf plant growing in a tree. Witches' brooms have been propagated into many dwarf cultivars of conifers. Several different factors can cause a witch's broom to form, anything from an infection of fungi to a genetic mutation.

Picea abies 'Pusch' is one such plant. With fascinating cones, it is a slow growing dwarf. Growing only 1-2 inches per year, it may attain a height of 1-3 feet and a spread of 2-3 feet in a 10-year period. It has an attractive dense, mounding shape with semi drooping branches covered with small green needles. It prefers well-drained, average soil in full sun and is hardy in zones 3-7.
I can't say enough good things about it. Deer resistant, it has no real pests or problems other than it may require additional watering during extended dry spells. Mine is planted near the front walk where every winter it is covered with shoveled snow and every spring it looks as good as new. The spring is when 'Pusch' puts on a great show. The new growth consists of bright green needles with tiny bright red cones on the terminal ends of the branches. At first glance it appears as though the conifer has flowered! The effect is stunning and unexpected. Even very young trees will put on this show. The red cones will eventually get larger and will turn a light brown and will remain on until late winter. I find that many of the previous year's brown cones are still remaining when the current year's red ones are forming, adding even more interest.

I am sorry to say that I did not take a picture of my tree while the cones were red so I recommend you do an internet search. I found many good examples there.

Picea abies
'Pusch' is an interesting little specimen that will fit nicely into most gardens and whose unusual cones will greatly help satiate any desire you may have acquired for this masterpiece of nature.

* Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair


An Advanced-Standard Flower Show 
CT Convention Center 
February 23 - 26, 2017 

Special Exhibits - Beyond the Woods

Did you ever wonder what makes the Special Exhibits Division so special?   Well, it is another way in which you can be a part of the action and show off those floral design, craftsmanship and visual composition skills.  In addition, it provides more areas of interest to the many people who attend the show.  
In our state show there are three special exhibit sections:  Educational, Artistic Crafts and Photography.   
Educational exhibits provide critical outreach to our community.  They inform the public on issues such as conservation, civic beautification, the study of horticulture, floral design,
landscape design and environmental sciences to name a few.   Our show features five classes of Educational Exhibits and offers many awards including the National Garden Club Educational Top Exhibitor Award.  All classes are filled for this show but there is always next year.   If you'd like more information, contact educational consultant Maureen Carson at [email protected] or at 203-324-2224.

Artistic Crafts is a crowd favorite offering a unique outlet for you to let those creative juices flow.  The jewelry class always amazes and this year will be filled with Magic Circle floral bracelets.  In addition we are looking for eggs created out of all natural plant material and mailboxes decorated in the Invitation to the Ball class.   The National Garden Club Artistic Craft Award will go to the best crafter in the section!   The Artistic Crafts consultant Margaret Colby can be reached at [email protected] or at 203-314-9512.

Photography was added in 2012 and has steadily grown in popularity.   Through photographs of our gardening world we capture the moments that matter.  What matters is your vision -- and in that world, there is no such thing as an amateur.    This year's photographs will showcase sunlit gardens, trees, creatures of the woods, children at play and more.   Share your vision of these worlds and compete for the CT Photography Award and Cheryl Collins Photography Award.  Only a few openings remain so please contact section consultant Renee Marsh at [email protected] or at 203-926-0021.
Why are  Special Exhibits so special?   Like the understory shrubs and groundcovers of the woodland, they offer another layer of beauty and enchantment to our show.

* Maureen Carson
Special Exhibits Chairman

Meet Karin Pyskaty
Karin Pyskaty has taken on the unsung but critical role of Recording Secretary and Historian on
The Federation's Board. A native of Wallingford, she "grew up in an agricultural family. My uncle, William Ohr, was a Landscape Architect at Yale; my sister, Joan Bravo, earned her degree in Environmental Horticulture at UConn and works for CAES. My father, Andrew Ohr, was a bee keeper who had 15 hives in our backyard," she says. Her grandfather had a poultry farm and her father actually raised a steer, when she was a child, to maintain the agricultural zoning on his property.

When Karin married, she and her husband, Jim Pyskaty, settled in an area of dairy farms and have always had a vegetable garden and bee hives.  They have two daughters, Anna Hladky and KC Pyskaty, and five grandchildren.

Karin earned a degree in textile chemistry from UConn and received her teaching credentials at St. Joseph's in West Hartford. She has a Masters from Southern Connecticut State University in Public Health and pursued her interest in textiles at the University of Rhode Island. Pyskaty taught Home Economics in both Wethersfield and Wallingford, though the name of her field was changed to "Family and Consumer Science" during her last 20 years.  Karin retired three years ago and says, "I loved every minute in the classroom!"

At retirement, Pyskaty says, "I had three goals. 1. To join a Garden Club; 2. To stay healthy and, 3. To help my daughter with the grandchildren." "The Wallingford Garden Club is such a nice environment, and The
Federation, too." Everyone is so kind and welcoming." When she joined the WGC, she knew no one, but "within one meeting I had a whole new group of friends," she recalls fondly. The members also remembered Karin's great aunt Evelyn Walters, who had been a club President in 1960.

As soon as she joined, Karin was asked to co-chair the plant sale, and two months later, she had to take it over by herself.  Then Barbara Bruce encouraged her to do a mass floral design for the CT Flower Show, "and I got a red ribbon!" She is serving as Vice President as well as producing the Wallingford Garden Club Yearbook with her Federation colleague Shirley Hall.

For The Federation, "Arlene Field took me under her wing and taught me how to handle the Recording Secretary job," says Pyskaty. "The process is wonderful, " she explains, "everyone sends in a report and I plug it into Jane Waugh's agenda. I make notes about any additions and highlights." Then she sends it to Inge Venus, whom she calls "an amazing editor." The hardest part of the job is paring 20 pages down to six. Karin has also chaired the Painting Committee for the CT Flower Show for the last two years.

When she substituted for a Consumer Science teacher and was asked to stay,  Karin declined, saying, "I have a life!" She didn't want to miss her garden club meetings. And her children and grandchildren carry on the love of gardening and the environment. Her granddaughter Evy Hladky (named after her great-great-great aunt Evelyn) won the Woodsy Owl Poster contest two years ago.

"People involved in garden clubs are just nice, good, kind, hard-working people," says Pyskaty.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor

Calling all painters!!

The 2017 Flower Show, "Woodland Enchantment" is just around the corner and as chair of the Painting Committee I'm looking for club members who are good with a paint brush and willing to get dirty with something other than garden soil!  We will need close to 25 painters to get the job done!  We will be painting staging on Saturday February 18, 2017, from 10AM until we are finished, which I suspect will be in the vicinity of 2PM depending on the number of painters.  We will meet at the Convention Center.   For those who have not helped in the past I will give specific directions at a later date.  I look forward to hearing from lots of volunteers.  My email address is [email protected] and my home phone number is (203)265-1898 cell phone is 203-915-1980  Thank you.

* Karin Pyskaty
Painting Committee Chair 


Here is an opportunity for you to join the Board of The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc. in an area of interest to you.
1.  Garden Therapy/World Gardening
2. Historic/Memorial/Public Gardens
3. NEWS Editor
4. Scholarship
5. Webmaster
Nominations for any of these positions are currently being accepted and candidates will be officially elected at the Annual Meeting in April 2017.

Ronnie Schoelzel, Nominating Chair [email protected]
Donna Nowak, [email protected]
Pat Dray, [email protected]
Rodney Hayes, [email protected]
Carol Steiner, [email protected]

* Ronnie Schoelzel
Nominating Chair


Publications Awards
Deadline December 15

The deadline for submitting your club's publications for consideration of an award is rapidly approaching.   You will need to submit the following by the December 15th deadline:

1. Three different issues of your newsletter, either as hard copy or electronically.  Winning ones go to National Garden Clubs (NGC) by January 15th.   Awards Year is January 1st to December 31st.

2. One original copy of the following:  Blogs; calendar; club history; cookbook; educational pamphlets; Facebook page; manuals; newspaper columns; power point presentations; scrapbook of special events; videos; websites.

Your submissions will be judged and may be forwarded to the National Garden Clubs for consideration for one of their awards.  Please submit any of the before-mentioned publication items your club has developed during the year.

The only exception to the December 15th deadline is the Publicity Press books covering your club's publicity from January 1st to December 31st. These are not due until January 25th in order to be submitted to the New England Region (NER) for their February deadline.

We are hereby directing our Clubs to the AWARDS MANUAL posted at   This manual provides deadlines as well as the Scales of Points to judge items.

* Barbara Bosco
Public Relations Chair
24 Old Still Road, Woodbridge 06525
 Publicity for Club Events in 2017
I'm pleased to report an important policy change offering clubs the opportunity to publicize significant club events at the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show.  The updated policy is detailed below.  

Clubs shall notify the FGCCT Second Vice President one month in advance of an upcoming event they would like to publicize.  Space will be available in the area of the FGCCT Membership Table to display printed materials no larger than an 8½x11" sheet of paper, tri-folded, for distribution to visitors to the show. The materials must be provided to the Second Vice President either by U.S. mail one week in advance of the show, or on site at the Flower Show.  (Publicity for Plant Sales and May Markets is excluded, except if included as part of publicity for a significant event.)
Please contact me if you have any questions.

* Arlene Field
Second Vice President 203-268-6541


Colors of Connecticut Judges Council Flower Show

By all accounts, the JC Flower Show was given "flying colors."  Many thanks to the Flower Show Committee:
Kristine Urbanik, Design Chair, Design Classification/Admin.;
Margaret Colby, Consultant, Design Section A;
Jan Broome, Consultant, Design Section B;
Maureen Carson, Horticulture Chair;
Cindy Marien, Horticulture Entries Chair;
Patricia Dray, Judges Chair;
Diane White, Special Exhibits Chair;
Barbara Bosco, Publicity and Photography;
Mary Ellen Unger, Staging Chair/Signage;
Alice Luster, Signage;
Cheryl Damiani, Awards Chair;
Carol Steiner, Clerks Chair.  

In an amazing two hours, the staging arrived, was set up, entries accepted, things tidied up and judging began!  Special thanks to Peter Urbanik, Peter Manfredi, and  Lesya Bellino,  who volunteered to assist with the heavy lifting of staging properties.   Jessica Fischer stepped in to assist with horticulture entries, and Deb Vallas once again contributed boxes for horticulture staging,  

And a HUGE thank you to FSS student Larry Huzi, who not only clerked, but at 8 a.m. created a design on the spot to fill a no-show in a design class.  Talk about getting your feet wet fast!

All the entries were exceptional; one class of design had a blue and three 90+'s!  Horticulture was pristine and varied.  Thank you to everyone who entered Horticulture, Design and Special Exhibits!   The addition of Educational exhibits helped the show meet the criteria for a Standard Show rather than the small standard show of previous years. 

Congratulations to the winners of section and division awards: See photos here.


Award of Merit, Fruits and Vegetables: Ronnie Schoelzel
Arboreal Award, Cut Branches: Maria Nahom
Grower's Choice Award, Flowering Container Grown: Ginni Donovan
Grower's Choice Award, Foliage Container Grown: MaryEllen Unger
Award of Merit, Flowering Annuals: Maureen Carson
Award of Merit, Flowering Perennials: Peggy Townsend
Award of Merit, Challenge Chrysanthemums: Ronnie Schoelzel
Award of Merit, Herbs: MaryEllen Unger
*Award of Horticultural Excellence: MaryEllen Unger

MaryEllen Unger, Bethany Garden Club - Grower's Choice and Horticultural Award of Excellence for Container Grown Foliage plant.


Designer's Choice Award, Section A: MaryEllen Unger
Designer's Choice Award: Section B: Maria Nahom
*Award of Design Excellence: Mary Ellen Unger

Special Exhibits:

*Educational Top Exhibitor Award: Trish Manfredi

*Trish Manfredi
Judges Council Chair

Images from the Westport Garden Club Annual Luncheon.

Two table arrangements from the Westport Garden Club's Annual Luncheon on October 13 at the Patterson Club in Fairfield.

One example of arrangements made to interpret children's books. At right,  members Kathy Oberman Tracy, who did the arrangement in the gourd,  and Bev Hennemuth, who was in charge of the book representations.


Barbara MacDonald 

Barbara MacDonald was an expert at growing Delphiniums from seed. 
Barbara MacDonald, president of the Litchfield Garden Club, passed away on October 31, 2016 after a short illness.  A "dirt gardener," as Barbara described herself, loved horticulture and especially enjoyed starting plants from seeds.  A longtime resident of Litchfield, Barbara served as Horticulture Chairman for the club several times, and became president in 2015.  She will be greatly missed for her enthusiasm, humor, and dedication to her community and garden club.

* Ronnie Schoelzel

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

Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.
[email protected]

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