CFN Masthead

Volume 77, Number 4 *  MAY 2014   

In This Issue
President's Message
Bee Kind to Pollinators
Plant Native Trees
Create Backyard Habitats
Garden Therapy Workshop
Meet Dottie Fox
Annual Meeting
Scholarship News
Eye on Horticulture
2015 Flower Show
State Awards Applications
Flower Show School
Share Your Garden
Contact Links
Information Links
Join Our Mailing List

Support Our Advertisers!

Adv. Manager
for guidelines.


5.5"W x 4"H      
 $ 120.

3"W x 4"H  
$ 60.

3"W x 2"H  
$ 30.

MAY 10 
is the deadline for the JUNE     

Mt Laurel

Now that we finally have gardening weather, find inspiration in this issue. Plant a tree--learn all the benefits of the Hawthorn; feed the Swallowtails, the honeybees and the hummingbirds in your yard. You might work with the Girl Scouts on a Native Plant badge or assist seniors with Garden Therapy. And don't forget to submit your application for the State Award you so richly deserve!


Lynn Hyson, Editor
President's Message 

"The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit."
                                                                                               Nelson Henderson

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just issued its latest finding.  The work of over 1000 experts, the report warns that we must act faster to slow global warming by reining in greenhouse gas emissions.  It also says that one of the simplest methods to do this is to plant trees.  Through photosynthesis, trees devour carbon dioxide and give us oxygen in return.  The average tree takes in approximately one ton of carbon dioxide in its lifetime. Some of the best trees for carbon sequestration (carbon dioxide absorption) are poplars, sweetgums and oaks.

Trees cool our homes, our communities and the planet.  Moreover, planting trees has an economic bonus.  The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates homeowners can save up to 40% in energy costs by planting trees around the house.  Deciduous trees on the south and west sides provide shade in summer but let the light in during winter months.  Evergreen trees planted on the north can serve as windbreaks against frigid winter winds. See "Plant the Right Trees in the Right Places" at  The Arbor Day Foundation notes trees around your home can raise its value up to 15%.

In our communities, trees and woody agriculture tame storm water, protect soils, keep rivers and streams clean, provide wildlife habitat and fight climate change.  In cities and towns, trees shade buildings and pavements, conserving energy and reducing the heat-island effect.  So please stress planting native trees at home and as part of your clubs' civic beautification projects.  Offer native plants at Plant Sales and participate in our Native Tree Contest (go to

School Garden Projects - Protect Our Friends The Pollinators 
NGC Girl Scout Badge - Nurture the Earth, Plant Natives 

May is the perfect month to begin gardening with youth groups. The National Garden Clubs, Inc, sponsors several youth programs, and two of them are directly aligned with our state project on Pollinators, Native Trees and Habitats. 

The aim of the NGC 2013-2015 School Gardens Project, "Protect our Friends the Pollinators...They are Plants' Best Friends," is to educate school children in how to create native gardens on school grounds to emphasize the importance of pollinators.  Working with children, clubs emphasize using native plants that attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other native pollinators to the garden.  Monetary awards are available from NGC. See

Girl Scouts are encouraged to Discover, Connect, and Take Action by earning the National Garden Clubs Native Plants Badge.  Local garden clubs serve as project sponsors as girls learn about native plants in their area and plant a native beauty spot in a public garden, church, park, school, town or community. Learn more and how to obtain the badges at
We know a lot about gardening, let's pass it on to the next generation.  

Happy Spring -- Happy Gardening!   
* Jacqueline Connell


Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Just as the Monarch butterfly has a special relationship with milkweed, the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (Papilo troilus) has one with our native Spicebush.  What is special about the Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), a member of the Laurel family?  The Spicebush, also known as Northern Spicebush or wild allspice, is a medium-sized deciduous shrub, normally growing 6-12 feet high.  The leaves are very aromatic when crushed, giving rise to the common and species names.  Benzoin is a resin that can be used in the creation of perfumes and expectorants.

The Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies are unique in several aspects - they flutter their wings even while feeding and fly low to the ground, instead of at great height as do other swallowtails. P. troilus seem to require a positive stimulus from a host plant that confirms its identity as a Spicebush or Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), another of our native shrubs. Because of this specificity, the Spicebush Swallowtail feeds more efficiently than any other Lepidoptera.  Egg-laying by female Swallowtails is stimulated by an extract of Sassafras leaves. The females determine acceptable leaves for egg laying by "drumming" with their forelegs to assess the chemical makeup of a leaf. 

Predator avoidance is accomplished by way of mimicry through the stages of larval development.  Early-stage larvae are dark brown in color, and resemble bird droppings.  By the time the larvae are nearly ready to pupate, they develop large dots that look like "eyes" at the rear of the abdomen, creating the illusion of a snake.  Adults continue this habit of mimicry in their resemblance to the Pipevine Swallowtail, which is a foul-tasting butterfly. 


If you want to provide a habitat for this unusual creature, consider planting several  Spicebush shrubs in a border or at the back of a perennial bed.  The small, fragrant yellow flowers appear along the branches before the leaves emerge in the spring.  The leaves are a vivid yellow in the fall.  Bushes that have overgrown their area are easily pruned back in the spring.

* Lois Nichols 
State Projects Chair 


The Hawthorn, the May Day Flower

Hawthorns are small native trees that, while adaptable to a wide range of conditions, grow best in open, sunny sites with well-drained soils.  For backyard habitats, they are a host plant for several butterfly species including eastern and pale tiger swallowtails, gray hairstreaks, white admirals, red spotted purples, and viceroys.  According to the Audubon Society, the Hawthorn fruit is favored by 18 varieties of birds, especially cedar waxwings.   Their dense cross branching foliage provides nesting cover for robins, blue jays, cardinals and others.  Because most varieties have sharp thorns, they can be grown as an impenetrable hedge, although they would not be suitable where children or dogs play.

The Latin name for Hawthorn is Crataegus oxyacantha,  which comes from the Greek kratos (hardness), oxus (sharp), and akantha (a thorn).  Haw is an ancient word for hedge, and in the British Isles and Germany it was often planted between fields.  In England it is known as the May Tree, and boughs were used to decorate the top of the May pole. 

Hawthorns can be long-lived and reach a height of 30 feet.  A member of the rose family, the hawthorn blooms in pink, white or a deep red, usually in May, and produces red pome fruits.  The wood of hawthorn is very fine grained and was traditionally used for inlays and delicate carvings.  The root wood was used for making boxes and combs.  The wood burns very hot, and hawthorn charcoal was said to be hot enough to melt pig iron.

The most popular hawthorns for American gardens are the Washington Hawthorn, Crataegus phaenopyrum, the Cockspur Hawthorn, Crataegus crus-galli, and 'Winter King,' a superior clone of Green Hawthorn.  Hawthorns provide a consistent display of four-season interest with flattened clusters of flowers in spring or early summer, bright red-orange autumn leaves, orange-red fruits from early autumn often into winter, and interesting bark and twig formations for the winter landscape.

* Jacqueline Connell


Buzz, Buzz, Buzz

As you may have guessed, this month I would like to write about honeybees (genus: Apis).  In fact, after researching, I know I would like to have a hive (box) or two in my backyard.  

At one time, honeybee colonies could be found on almost every farm and in the backyards of many homes.  Through the years, interest in beekeeping declined.  However, with the discovery of Colony Collapse Disorder and the loss of honeybee colonies, this trend has started to change.  People have become concerned about the plight of the honeybee and want to do something about it.  Hence, the resurgence of beekeeping as a hobby.  It would be a wonderful hobby and so worthwhile.

I have always believed that in order to attract bees, your garden should have lots of flowers--not true.  Honeybees can normally forage at distances of up to four miles from their hive, giving them a huge area in which to locate nectar.  Once good nectar sources are located, foragers can recruit other hive members to the site to improve nectar collections.  Honeybees have a highly evolved dance language that allows them to communicate both direction and distance to food sources.  Also, honeybees can get nectar from flowering trees and shrubs.

I met a woman yesterday who is beekeeping, and she said it was so rewarding--not time consuming--and after an initial investment, the costs are low.  One thing she did say was that you must never deplete the honey from the hive.  The honeybees need it for nourishment over the winter.  Depleting the honey might be a reason for the death of bees during the winter.

There are so many articles and books on bee care.  In fact, there are two wonderful articles in the Winter 2014 issue of The National Gardener. Give them a read.

Don't forget to get your backyard habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation and send me your certification number. (Go to Our contest will last another year, but you know how time flies - buzz, buzz, buzz.

* Anne Harrigan
Danbury Garden Club



Gardens by the Sea
Garden Tour in Madison, CT.
June 1st 12-4pm
$15 Advance sale in May at RJ Julia Booksellers
$20 Day of tour: Madison Visitor Information
Madison Town Green
7 private gardens near Long Island Sound
Including a rare salt marsh garden
Sponsored by Women's Club of Madison
Proceeds to benefit the Land Conservation Trust


The second Garden Therapy Workshop will be presented on May 7, 2014, at the Whitney Center, New Haven, from 10-12 noon by Dottie Fox, Garden Therapy Chairman.  We will review active/passive types of programs, who is eligible to receive a program, how to start a program, how often to do a project, annual reports, sharing therapy projects/ideas via "the garden therapy email," and pitfalls to success of your efforts. 

HURRY - TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO REGISTER FOR THIS PROGRAM. Please click here for the registration form and send in or email Dottie at [email protected]. Please list club members who will be attending so we have enough refreshments and chairs.  Bring samples of your therapy projects if possible.

Reminder: Garden Therapy annual reports are due!

* Dottie Fox
Garden Therapy Chair

Meet Dottie Fox

When Dottie Fox was nominated for Garden Therapy Chair, she was the second longest-standing member of the Kensington Garden Club, but she didn't know anything about The Federation. "I never realized the scope of what FGCCT entails." Now, after attending the Board meetings, she says, "The purpose of the Federation is education, not just lunches."

In that vein, she found the 1st Idea Exchange Symposium valuable. And she says, "I try to go back to my club and say, 'Did you know?'  I pass on the information I get from the Board meetings."

As a retired nurse, who still keeps her hand in with per diem work, Fox is a natural fit for Garden Therapy. Arlene Field mentored her and she held a workshop two years ago. This May 7, Fox will run another Garden Therapy Workshop (click here for registration form). "We are trying to get more clubs to do it...I don't know who gets more out of this. I think we have more fun than the patients! Everyone benefits."

On May 7 at the Whitney Center, "We will explain how Garden Therapy can increase cognitive, emotional and motor skills. People get self-esteem back by doing arrangements," says Fox.

"The best project we did was making bird feeders from big Virginia pine cones," she says. "I thought, 'who wants to get dirty?' But you should have seen everyone roll their pine cones in peanut butter and seed. Then they hung them outside their windows at the convalescent home and enjoyed watching the birds."

"I've learned so much with the Federation. I never realized we could exchange ideas and learn from each other. We don't all have to reinvent the wheel." Which is why she started a Garden Therapy email list to pass ideas along among different clubs.

Dottie loves Hellebores, Roses and Hydrangeas and has a Hosta garden in the shade. She learned her love of flowers from her parents, and her sister and brother-in-law and nephew started Kensington Gardens. Helping out there, Fox says, "is my favorite job. I get paid in plants."

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor


Report:  85th Annual Meeting

The 85th Annual Meeting of The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc., was held at Aqua Turf on April 16, 2014.  More than 250 members were in attendance.

President Jacqueline Connell introduced New England Region Director, Maria Nahom, who gave a brief address about upcoming NER events.  Connell then presented presidential citations to Becky Paul for having chaired the CT Flower Show for the last three years;  to Corresponding Secretary, Theresa Waltz, for having located alternative sites for our four NGC schools and FGCCT Board meetings; and to outgoing Tours Coordinator, Joan Cox, for having planned so many adventurous trips.

President Connell's annual report was full of praise for the many members who contributed to the success of projects and events held during her first year.  She also complimented Dottie Fox and her Kensington Garden Club for the beautiful Mason bee boxes and hummingbird feeder arrangements they made for the Annual Meeting.  She also recognized Carol Hamby and the Thames River Garden Club for the attractive table centerpieces made from plant material from their gardens. For a collage of photos from the meeting,  click here.

Parliamentarian Inge Venus handled the adoption of the Amendment to the Bylaws and then proceeded with the  presentation and election of the 2014-2016 Nominating Slate.

Program Chair Maria Capella introduced noted master floral designer, Tony Todesco, who fashioned eight beautiful designs, including three armatures, a multi-line design and three parallel designs. 

Guests in attendance were able to enjoy several display posters, including one prepared by 2015 CT Flower Show Chair, Barbara Bruce, for next year's show entitled, "Ports of Call."

* Inge Venus


We thank the following clubs for their generous contributions to the FGCCT Scholarship Fund.

Branford Garden Club  $35 
Bristol Garden Club  $100 
Greens Farms Garden Club  $300 
Haddam Garden Club   $50 
Hubbard Heights Garden Club, New 
    Canaan  $50 
Litchfield Garden Club  $150 
Garden Club of Madison  $1000 
Norwalk Garden Club  $1000  
Town and Country Garden Club of  
    Newtown  $450 
Woman's Club of Greenwich 
    Gardeners  $500

Also a welcome to Jane Brady of the West Hartford Garden Club and Margareta Kotch of the Town and Country Garden Club of Newtown for joining the committee.

* Judy Joly 
Scholarship Chair


The garden is jumping and so are we. During May and June, my family used to ask "Any clean socks, Mom? ... "Where's the clean underwear?" Regular life almost stopped as I weeded, planted, planned and dreamed of my garden.

Those hectic days with a young family are long gone, but I continue to weed, plant, plan and dream of my garden!

Plant a Hummingbird Caf�

Last year I potted up some cupheas to attract hummingbirds to my garden. That was so successful that I'm going to plant a Hummingbird Caf� this year.

Over 150 different flowering plants attract hummingbirds, especially those with trumpet-shaped flowers. Hummers have no sense of smell and depend on colors to bring them to their nectar sources. Red and orange flowers are most appealing to them.

The term "Hummingbird Caf�" is the invention of garden designer (and former FGCCT Horticulture Chair and Eye on Horticulture columnist) Kathrine Neville.

Kathrine uses a container about the size of a half barrel and fills it with the following annuals:

    Red Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
    Lantana (Lantana camara)
    Scarlet Sage (Salvia 'Lady in Red')
    Amethyst Flower (Browallia)

"Keep the container in full sun and give it plenty of water, " she says, "and fertilize every week.  I have had as many as 11 hummers at once at the caf�." Kathrine also provides a birdbath where the hummers drink (along with other birds).

She also grows several annual morning glory vines (Ipomea spp.) and cardinal vines (Ipomoea sloteri), which the hummers enjoy until there is room at the caf�.

Hummingbirds eat an incredible amount of insects, especially when they are feeding their young. Among their favorites are aphids, spiders and ants. It's important not to use any chemicals in your garden, because when the hummingbird eats an insect that has been touched by insecticide, the insecticide accumulates in the hummingbird's system and can be lethal.

Container Gardens/Window Boxes
The latest horticultural information is that plants in pots don't need several inches of drainage material (such as rocks or pot shards) in the bottom of the pot. Instead, cover the drainage hole with a piece of window screen. This gives more room for the plant's roots.

If you use a packaged potting soil, add some good garden topsoil or compost - about one-third topsoil or compost to two-thirds potting soil. Potting soil is usually high in peat, which is difficult to moisten once it dries out and doesn't contain any nutrients. Adding garden soil makes the potting soil easier to wet after drying out and provides some nutrients.

What do you do it you've forgotten to water and the potting soil is rock hard? Put some ice cubes on top and allow them to melt. They will slowly remoisten the soil. You will need to apply ice cubes several more times to thoroughly remoisten the soil.

If you must fertilize your lawn, Memorial Day should be the first feed of the year. Use a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) with a slow-release nitrogen. Fertilize at the rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Mowing high (3 to 4 inches) will shade out many weeds. Leaving the clippings on the lawn to decompose will provide fertilizer for the lawn.

From now through July, apply one cup of fertilizer per large bush per month, lightly scratched into the soil. Water before and after fertilizing. If you can't give roses two inches of water per week, then either fertilize less or not at all.

Scratch in one heaping tablespoon of Epsom salts around each plant in May and June to promote basal shoots.

If your garden is just too alluring and you don't keep up with clean socks, I understand!

* Pam Weil
Horticulture Chair

Ports of Call

Want to hop all over the map without ever having to pack?  Around-the-world cruises are very lavish and expensive.  Yet, you can sail through with no effort, using your imagination and The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc.'s upcoming Flower Show schedule: PORTS OF CALL.

Our first stop is "Islands of the Mediterranean." This is a section of Table Designs eligible for the Table Artistry Award.  We all do Table Designs when we set a table at home, coordinating the tablecloth, napkins, and dinnerware and then adding the flowers.  So, let's dock in "Enchanting Sicily" and create an al fresco picnic.  Then, travel on to "Aphrodite's Cyprus" and set an elegant table for two.  The final stop is "Glittering Corsica," a land of sparkling beauty. Here you can fashion an Exhibition Table, Type II, using a frame.

This is just the first segment of our around-the-world cruise.  There are five more exotic locations to see and help create.  Be sure to look in the next issue of the CF NEWS.

Remember: PORTS OF CALL, a Standard Flower Show, presented by The 
Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc., February 19-22, 2015, at the CT Convention Center.  The schedule for the show will be available soon.  More to come...

* Barbara Bruce 
2015 Flower Show Chair


If your Club is finishing up a project by May 31st, you may apply for a Connecticut State award.  Please use this interactive Award Application (click here), which permits you to complete it online by typing directly into the document and then printing it out. This application form is also posted on our FGCCT website it by clicking on "Forms" on the left side of our home page. This form is an adaptation of the NGC form.  Please note that we no longer require Books of Evidence. Send your completed three-page Awards Application to the appropriate committee chairmen, as follows:

Civic Development
, Maureen Carson, 1335 Shippan Avenue, Stamford 06902.
Environmental Concerns/Conservation, Louise Weber, 9 Manor Rd., Old Greenwich, CT 06870.
Garden Therapy, Dottie Fox, 48 Taft Circle, Watertown, CT 06795.
Historic/Memorial/Public Gardens, Nancy Lenoce, 59 Spinning Wheel Rd.,   Trumbull, CT 06611-2674.
Pamela Weil, 67 Quinlan Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06605.
Youth Activities, Ann Germano, 30 Natalie Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.

* Please send a duplicate copy to Awards Chairman, Janet Spaulding,  9 Applewood Lane, Glastonbury, CT 06033.

Note: Although you can complete the PDF form on your computer, you will NOT be able to save the completed form; instead, please be sure you PRINT IT as soon as you complete it. Caution: Stay with the document by completing the entire page and printing it before moving away from it!!  
Flower Show School

Have you ever thought about being a judge at a flower show or has your club thought about having a flower show but felt more information was needed?

Get started by attending Flower Show School Course I, which is taking place September 10-12, 2014.   Plan on saving the date. Scholarships are available from FGCCT and from your local club. Any questions, contact Jessica Fischer at [email protected].

* Jessica Fischer, 
 Flower Show School Chair


Share Your Garden

CFNews is asking members to submit a favorite photograph of their gardens to share with our readers. A special spot, an unusual design, any image from your garden that you think is distinctive is welcome. We will publish them in the color Constant Contact version of the newsletter as space permits. Simply email a .jpg file to Lynn Hyson by the 10th of the month at [email protected]. Thank you.

A picture of the spring/early summer garden that Renee Marsh of Olde Ripton Garden Club created from an area that was turf.  There is a Korean lilac, ferns, hostas, heucheras, filipendula, Siberian iris, ladies mantle and more happily crowded into an area that deer won't visit.   

Cheryl Pedemonti of Tolland Garden Paths photographed her garden in late May when the giant alliums were in bloom. She used other purple flowers to compliment them, such as 'May Night' salvia, lilacs, chive allium, and irises.  The maroon foliage of heuchera with early daisies and white allium make a nice contrast.

From Mary B. Lyons, a member of Country Gardeners of Glastonbury and Woodside Garden Club, comes this view of her garden highlighted by painted palm fronds used as garden art.


MAY 10:

Deadline for JUNE 2014 ISSUE


Email Articles and Photos to    

                                 [email protected]

Email Advertising to

                                 [email protected]


Email Calendar Items to

                                 [email protected] 


FGCCT Web Site:



CT Federation NEWS

Published monthly except January/July


Direct Articles/Dates/Events to:   Lynn Hyson, Editor    

49 Seventy Acre Rd., Redding, CT  06896     203-431-0613


Direct Advertising Queries to: Diana Abshire, Advertising Manager

26 Diamond Hill Rd., Redding, CT  06896    203-938-1114


Direct Circulation Queries to:  OFFICE SECRETARY, FGCCT

P.O. Box 854, Branford, CT  06405     203-488-5528



Our Mission Statement 

To coordinate, stimulate and encourage higher standards in all aspects of Garden Club work


To protect and conserve our natural resources, preserve our heritage and promote civic beauty.   Federation logo


6,817 Members


131 Clubs


15 Affiliates 

Mt Laurel