CFN Masthead

Volume 77, Number 2 *  MARCH 2014   

In This Issue
President's Message
Love-Ly Garden Award
Create Backyard Habitats
Landscape Design Study School
Scholarship News
Eye on Horticulture
Garden Therapy Workshop
Share Your Garden
Contact Links
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Our Federation has another fine achievement to its credit with the success of February's State Flower Show, "Backyard Paradise." We should all take pride in the contributions we made to this important event. But that does not mean we can rest on our laurels (even if they are our state flower!). We have Annual Reports to submit, Landscape Design Study School to attend, and our Annual Meeting to enjoy in April. Information and forms can be found below and on our website. And let's not forget our ongoing contests, Plant Native Trees and Create Backyard Habitats, which continue till 2015.

If we keep moving, surely we will reach Spring!


Lynn Hyson, Editor
President's Message 

"Backyard Paradise"--A Spectacular Success

Greetings, Fellow Gardeners!

The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut staged a magnificent flower show at the CT Convention Center February 20 - 23. After our challenging winter, it was a breath of spring air to be surrounded by the beauty, the colors and fragrances of nature's bounty so delightfully and thoughtfully arrayed. 

From the central fire-pit with its warm flame and Kip the dog peacefully on his pillow, the show radiated out in fascinating splendor. We received kudos from everyone at the show.  Out of state judges, including the MA State President, and with her, the MA Dean of Floral Design, and the past President of the American Horticultural Society, each said the show was outstanding and that FGCCT members should be very proud of our accomplishment.    

CT Group Horticulture Award was given to Milford GC for garden entry of native plants. 

Horticulture Award of Excellence and Collector's Showcase Award were both earned by Ronnie Schoelzel for arboreal display. 
It took an army of volunteers to mount The Federation's Show: We would like to send out a hearty thanks to all the FGCCT members who planned, entered, judged, served on committees or helped with hospitality.   The flower show committee chairs deserve our special thanks.  Please see the list below of these very dedicated folks. They and their committees have been working quietly behind the scene for months.
Club Competition and Nell McGuinness Awards went to Long Hill GC for vignette "The Potting Shed."
Tricolor Award and Design Excellence Award were won by Cathy Ritch for Underwater Design "Down the Shore."
Congratulations to our Show Executives: Chairman, Becky Paul, and Co-Chair and Liaison to North East Expos, Jane Waugh.  Barbara Bruce wrote an outstanding schedule which brought out the best in Floral Design, Horticulture, Special Exhibits and, for the first time, Photography.  These dedicated folks are already beginning to plan next year's show. The flower show is a wonderful way for all FGCCT members to get involved.  Please consider participating in the flower show next year when we will celebrate, "Ports of Call," and another inspirational schedule by Barbara Bruce.  

Maureen Carson won the Top Educational Award for "Call of the Wild" Special Exhibit.

The Photography blue ribbon was
awarded to Nancy Lenoce for "single
flower" in color.
Lois Nichols earned the Artistic Crafts Award
for "Monarch Madness."

President - Jacqueline Connell
General Chairman & Publicity - Rebecca Paul
Northeast Expos Liaison - Jane Waugh
Design Coordinator - Barbara Bosco
Horticulture Coordinator - Kathrine Neville
Special Exhibits - Maureen Carson
Design Classification - Terry Stoleson
Horticulture Classification - Rodney Hayes & Felise Cressman
Design Entries Facilitator - Jan Hickcox
Horticulture Entries - Ronnie Schoelzel
Painting - Linda Cronan
Design Quality Control - Ellen Clarke
Horticulture Entries Facilitator - Cordalie Benoit
Judges - Trish Manfredi
Awards - Alison Feaster & Kathie Skinner
Walk-in Horticulture Entries - Ellie Tessmer
Membership and Judges Clerks - Leslie Martino
Books - Nancy Cebik
Horticulture Placement - Ginni Donovan
Staging - Bill Connell & Pat Dray
Hospitality - Sophie Kelley
Hostesses - Ellen McFarland
Administration & Formatting - Donna Nowak
Schedule & Signs & Treasurer - Barbara Bruce
Entry & Comment Cards - MaryEllen Unger
Floor Plan - Alice & Duane Luster
March is for Mentoring
Many clubs will be changing administrations at their Annual Meetings in the spring or summer.  If you are leaving an office or committee chairmanship, please help your successor get off to a good start.  Training is part of effective leadership. 

Begin by getting your paperwork and materials in good order and up-to-date so you can hand them over in a timely fashion.  Do a thorough assessment of the skill set needed for your job.  Think about what you wish you had known before and learned along the way.  Present this in a straightforward, clear and concise way to your successor. 

Those of you being mentored, please accept advice with an open mind.  It is a privilege and an honor to be nurtured on your path to leadership. Enthusiasm and kindness on the part of the mentor and mentee will go a long way to a smooth transition.

State Annual Meeting at Aqua Turf: April 16 
Don't miss the presentation by nationally acclaimed Floral Designer, Tony Todesco, at the FGCCT Annual Meeting, April 16 at Aqua Turf in Plantsville.  Tony is National Garden Clubs' Premier Design Consultant.   For several years he has been the dynamic formulator of NGC's new designs including mono-botanic, tapestry, and armature.  We are in for a treat! To register for the Annual Meeting,  click here.

Please all stay warm and cozy for the rest of winter and welcome spring with a song in your heart.

* Jacqueline Connell

Photos by Barbara Bosco, Nancy Lenoce, Trish Manfredi, Ronnie Schoelzel
and Inge Venus.

Even as the snow falls, it is time to think about our gardens and the possibility of entering them for the Love-ly Garden Award.  This award is in honor of Penny Jarvis, who loved to garden, as we all do. 

The application and directions are available on the FGCCT website under "Awards."  The deadline is June 15, but there is a CHANGE to the judging times.  The committee realized that some of the gardens would be better judged earlier in the season instead of mid-summer as has been the practice in past years.  Therefore, if you would like the judges to visit your garden in May or June, submit your application early and we will accommodate a Spring judging. 

* Mary Sullivan
GCC Chair   


  Meet Ellie Tessmer

How did Ellie Tessmer become one of the pillars of our Federation? First, she was brought up on a farm in Wallingford, where she still lives. Her family raised cows, chickens and horses. She remembers when the horse pulled the tractor. Her father would take their fruits, vegetables and eggs to sell in nearby New Haven. "That stays with you," says Tessmer, "you have to preserve the earth to farm successfully."

While working as a Special Education teacher, she used the garden as a teaching tool with her students and joined the North Haven Garden Club, which has evening meetings, to decompress after work. As Ellie says, " I knew the hows, but not the whys." So when she retired from teaching in 1980, she began volunteering at the Southwestern Conservation District, which covers the 43 towns of Fairfield and New Haven Counties. The SWCD advises towns and private residents about land development and issues such as erosion. Ellie soon became an employee.

About the same time, Tessmer took UConn's Master Gardener course, and was inspired by her mentor, Mira Schachne. As an MG intern, she learned about community outreach and served as a resource for residents with gardening concerns.

Then Ellie joined The Federation and attended Flower Show Study School to learn about horticulture. "I'm not into design," says Ellie. When she went to Gardening Study School, and was taught by Donna Schumann, the editor of Living With Plants, "something clicked," she says. She has gone on to take the Environmental Studies courses and is now our Environmental Council Chair. In this role, she communicates with Council members about environmental and conservation issues and runs educational visits and events.

Ellie Tessmer is also on the Board of Directors at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and serves as liaison between them and the Federation, keeping us informed on the activities of the scientists there and timely issues.

While still an active member of the North Haven Garden Club, Ellie also joined the Wallingford Garden Club after her retirement. She stays involved with the Study Schools as a proctor and photographer of classes. If that were not enough, she currently serves as our Calendar Manager, collecting and editing the calendar listings to be published in the CF News. And she continues to garden, growing flowers and vegetables in raised beds and containers.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor


Deer, Oh Dear!

No one knows better than I what a wonderful sight it is to see deer walking through the backyard. They are elegant creatures, a thrill to watch leaping, tail high.   It's breathtaking.  They are like very large pets that you don't have to walk; you just enjoy seeing them.

However, along with their beauty, deer pose many problems.  Deer may (and I stress, may) be a host of the ticks that carry Lyme Disease.  That is why it's important to shower and wash the clothes that you were wearing to garden that day.  Doing this immediately after gardening is a good way of avoiding Lyme Disease. 

Also, deer enjoy eating things in your garden, and who wouldn't?  Think about deer resistant plants when you are planting.  And I always keep my spray bottle of deer repellent at the ready when I walk the garden.  It's so easy to spray before the deer spy that luscious bed of tulips.  You don't have to spray everything, just the plants that you know the deer have their eyes on.

I recently received information from Melanie about a study prepared by Rolf Peterson, a research biologist at Michigan Tech.  Peterson studies large carnivores.  He and scientists like him are finding that as the number of big predators dwindles, everything around the animal changes.  It's called the "trophic cascade" -- trophic being a term to define any particular level in nature's food chain.  When the predators of deer diminish, the deer multiply.  More deer, which are plant eaters, means more plants get eaten.  And everything that depends on those plants, from birds to butterflies, is affected. 

So, as you can see and as you know, deer pose problems in our backyards and in our forests.  We have answers for some of the problems, but not all.  Let's hope all the problems can be solved one way or another.  And that we can "just all get along."

Hope you are all getting your backyards certified and that I will hear from you soon.If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected].

* Anne Harrigan


Landscape Design Study School

Landscape Design Study School, Course IV, Series 9, will be held at Elizabeth Park in West Hartford, from Tuesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 27.  For more information, contact LDSS Chair Carol Beerbaum. Email [email protected] or phone 860-248-5460. Click here for the Registration Form.
Scholarship News

The FGCCT Scholarship Committee is pleased to report the following recent donations:

West Hartford Garden Club:   $1500

Glastonbury Garden Club:  $100

Green Fingers Garden Club: $150

* Judy Joly
Scholarship Chair


DUE by APRIL 1st!

Please be sure you fill out and return your Club's Annual Reports to our FGCCT Office at
P. O. Box 854, Branford, CT 06405,
by April 1st. 
Our Office Secretary, Barbara Romblad, will then forward them to the respective FGCCT Committee Chairs.
If you prefer, you may also send your completed report directly to the respective FGCCT Committee Chair, with a copy to Awards Chair,
Janet Spaulding, 9 Applewood Lane, Glastonbury, CT 06033.  
Please know that it is the individual FGCCT Committee Chairs who review your reports first for consideration of an award.  


Usually in March I will do some basic pruning and apply an organic or slow-release fertilizer. However, as I write this in mid February, the snow is too deep to even think about fertilizing or pruning. But we will hope for a break in the weather when the gardening year can begin.

Snow as the poor man's fertilizer

We can be grateful for the snow because it protects our plants from low temperatures and excessive winds--and snow contains nitrogen. I wondered just how much nitrogen is in snow and if it would suffice for fertilizer this spring. So I did a little Internet digging.

I found out that not only snow, but rain as well, contains some nitrogen and other elements as it falls through the air. It is estimated that 2 to 12 pounds of nitrogen are deposited per acre as a result of snow and rain. (I wasn't able to find out how much snow-one foot? two feet?--equals 2 to 12 pounds of nitrogen.)

Plants can use the nitrogen in snow only if the ground is not frozen and the snow can melt over an extended period of time. The nitrogen in rain is of little use as it is carried away in the runoff.

Apply a slow release fertilizer in March (if you can)

I like to fertilize my garden in March with a slow-release fertilizer. By the time plant roots begin to grow later in the spring, the fertilizer has percolated down though the soil and is available for the roots to pick up.

Organic fertilizers are excellent slow-release products. However, because they lack some added ingredients to slow the nutrient release, these products may have to be applied more frequently.

Synthetic fertilizers containing fast-release (ammoniacal) nitrogen should not be applied in March. Wait until the soil temperature rises and plant roots are actively growing.

Choosing a slow-release synthetic fertilizer

Look for words on the granular fertilizer label such as slow-release, controlled-release, or delayed-release.     
Look at the nutrient label on the back of the fertilizer box/bag for the kind of nitrogen the fertilizer contains. These are all slow-release forms of nitrogen: IBDU (Isobutylidine diurea), urea-formaldehyde, sulfur-coated urea, polymer-coated (or poly-coated) urea.

Most synthetic fertilizers contain both fast- and slow-release nitrogen. Read the label to find out what percentage of the nitrogen is in slow-release form.

How do you do this? Let's use this fertilizer label as an example. It contains 16.3% slow-release nitrogen. Divide the 16.3% by 24% (the total % N in the product) and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of nitrogen that is in slow-release form. In this example it is 17.8/24 x 100=68%.

Nutricote´┐Ż 13-13-13 contains 51% nitrogen in slow-release form. Osmocote´┐Ż contains 47% nitrogen in slow-release form. Both products can be applied in March because all of their nutrients are coated and will be released (slowly at first) according to the weather.

Important: Slow-release fertilizers must be irrigated (by you or by rainfall) within 2-3 days or 15-20% of the nitrogen can be lost through volatilization.

Planting next to the ocean

Hold on, you may be thinking. I don't live on Long Island Sound...what use is this information to me? Well, perhaps you're planning to landscape along your city street, your driveway or even your walkway where salt (sodium chloride) products may be used to melt ice and snow. If so, salt tolerant plants are advisable in these areas.

Recently, The University of Connecticut's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources launched a new website (, Coastal Riparian Landscaping Guide for Long Island Sound.

There are fact sheets and three easy-to-use tables that list native Connecticut plants depending on salt tolerance. The list includes both botanical and common plant names, required sun to shade exposure, soil preference, availability and wildlife value.

Before planting in any wetland or tidal area, you must check with your town's Inland Wetland Commission and also, if your property is on the Sound, with the Connecticut DEEP Office of Long Island Sound Programs at 860-424-3034.

It reached 50 degrees today. Let's hope for an early end to this white, snowy winter!

* Pam Weil 
Horticulture Chair


Dottie Fox, our  Garden Therapy and World Gardening Chair, will give a workshop at the Whitney Center in Hamden on Wednesday, May 7, from 10 AM to Noon. If you are interested in learning about Garden Therapy for the benefit of your club, click here for the registration form.

FYI:  Printing the Text Version of the News

I was having problems again with garbled characters when printing the News, but found a solution online.  I switched my browser to Internet Explorer (from Firefox) and then when I printed, I was able to click on Advanced Properties and check Print as Image.  I was not able to do that in Firefox.
So it printed perfectly.  This may help others.

* Theresa Waltz
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.

George Jones and Dean Delgiudice have been working on their gardens in Plantsville, CT, for 10 years. They are members of the Suburban Garden Club and open their gardens for tours. Above is the boxwood garden; below is a view of the cottage garden. For more information, visit    




Deadline for APRIL 2014 ISSUE


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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



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