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* Lynn Hyson
News Editor


MAY, 2016
It has been an exciting year, GROWING TOGETHER, as I proudly serve this fantastic, creative and energetic organization. The Federation Board and I have initiated a number of activities, but it is the projects and programs completed by you that make a difference in our communities. We simply try to give you the support and knowledge that you need to make your jobs easier, more efficient, and hopefully more fun.

For those of you unable to attend the April 20th Annual Meeting, where the Annual Report for the past year was distributed, you may find it   here. It's an impressive list of accomplishments, including ways in which we have met the objective of GROWING TOGETHER. See Inge's report on the Annual Meeting below for more detail.

I'm very glad that so many of you heard and enjoyed Doug Tallamy speak. I don't recall ever having one of our speakers receive a standing ovation, as he did, for his extremely informative, yet humorous presentation on "A Chickadee's Guide to Gardening." And we had great attendance, more than last year when we had a wonderful floral designer. This does not mean that we will permanently change to an environmental speaker instead of a design demonstration.  But it does suggest that you may like some variety. We always welcome your suggestions on speakers, topics and procedures for these meetings - YOUR meetings!

Hearing Dr. Tallamy speak makes us realize more than ever the value of including plants in our yards and community gardens that help to support a variety of wildlife. Doug said he dislikes the term "Backyard Habitat" because there is nothing wrong with planting an oak in the front yard, as he has done. Plants that provide good habitat are not unattractive! He has rated the value of certain plants and trees based on the habitat they support, and the white oak tops the list.

I want to quote an excerpt from his book, Bringing Nature Home. You may recognize one sentence (underlined below), which is included on my President's Project Display on oaks.

The value of oaks for supporting both vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife cannot be overstated. Acorns fill the bellies of deer, raccoons, turkeys, mice, black bear, squirrels, and even wood ducks. Cavities that develop in living and dead oak giants supply vital nesting sites for dozens of species of birds, including chickadees, wrens, downy and hairy woodpeckers, flickers, owls, and bluebirds. What we have underappreciated in the past, however, is the diversity of insect herbivores that oaks add to forest ecosystems. From this perspective, oaks are the quintessential wildlife plants: no other plant genus supports more species of Lepidoptera [insects including butterflies and moths], thus providing more types of bird food, than the mighty oak.

As Doug emphasized, young birds do not eat seeds; they need soft food such as caterpillars and moths, which are attracted to no other tree more than the oak. Second and third after oaks, in terms of wildlife support, are native willows and cherries. The National Wildlife Federation has agreed to place Tallamy's lists on its website soon, likely to be called the Native Plant Finder.  So look for it as you are making choices for new or replacement plants in your yard or your club's community gardens.

Knowing all this, how can your club possibly pass up the opportunity to plant a native oak in your community, funded by The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut?! Click here for more information.

I can't tell you what a pleasure it was to host Doug Tallamy, picking him up at the Stamford train station and visiting with him back and forth to The Aqua Turf Club for his presentation. We had an extra hour before his train departure, so toured my neighborhood a bit including my back yard, where he kindly did not comment on a few of my foreign (non-native) plants. Originally he was growing a few oaks from acorns with a plan to present one to me at the meeting, but alas the mice got them. I said that I, too, had tried unsuccessfully and showed him the large pots in which I had planted and scattered many acorns. He immediately pointed out that I had quite a few sprouting which I hadn't seen. Subsequently, I dug out and replanted probably 100 oaks, which my Garden Club will sell at its May Market.  Thank you, Doug!

GROWING TOGETHER is not all work. It means playing together and enjoying each other's company - at schools, on council trips, at lunches and taking tours. So don't miss out on the fun of GROWING TOGETHER even more in the year ahead. I look forward to it.

* Jane Waugh

Highlights of the
87th Annual Meeting
President Jane Waugh welcomed all to The Federation's 87th Annual Meeting held at Aqua Turf on April 20th, with 250 garden club members in attendance. She read a tribute, prepared by Leslie Martino, to the late Barbara Bruce, and asked for a moment of silence to commemorate this highly talented and active Federation Judge and Board member.


President Waugh gave a most informative Annual Report, recognizing the many contributions that garden club members have made to their communities.   Her theme of "GROWING TOGETHER: Tiny Acorns to Mighty Oaks" has been met with enthusiasm. Her Native Oak Tree Project, encouraging garden clubs to plant oak trees in their communities funded by The Federation, has resulted in 28 oaks planted to date with many others on order.

The GROWING TOGETHER theme includes the goal of achieving better communications with clubs. President Waugh spoke of three specific ways that she has worked to meet this objective. Firstly, two Idea Exchange Symposia were held, with 160 participants from 53 clubs.   She has also introduced a new email "Update to Club Presidents" on a regular basis to keep all clubs better informed.   And she has established a website task force to plan an improved site for The Federation. In the meantime, specific items that clubs have requested have been added to the current website such as Federation Bylaws, Board Minutes and the Budget.  

Waugh called attention to the printed Federation Annual Report handed out to each member in attendance, which described in much greater detail the successful flower shows, schools, youth contests, Blue Star Markers, as well as National, New England Region and State awards won by clubs and individuals recognizing diverse projects throughout Connecticut. This President's Annual Report may be found on our website's Login site for those who missed the meeting.

Presidential Citations:

TO Arlene Field
For planning and chairing the FGCCT Southwest Idea Exchange Symposium in Fairfield, Connecticut on March 30, 2016 in such a well-organized manner. This was our second event where 70 participants from 24 clubs shared ideas and enjoyed the fellowship of fellow garden club members. Thanks for assuring that we continue to GROW TOGETHER!
TO Kathy Kobishyn

In recognition of your term on our Board of Directors as Tours Chair.  Your high spirited demeanor was truly infectious. Thanks for planning wonderful trips and assuring that club members enjoyed their travels from Italy to South Carolina, from the Brandywine Valley to the Hudson Valley, and finally to the Chelsea Flower Show.
TO Mary Sullivan

For your dedicated service to our Board of Directors and to the Gardening Consultants Council for the past six years. Your leadership and creativity in planning and organizing activities for over fifty council members have been outstanding - especially the selection of the Love-ly Garden Award during the summer months from widespread areas throughout our state.
National Garden Club Recognition:
Barbara Deysson has received the NGC Five Star Certificate of Merit in acknowledgment of completion of Master Status in all four NGC Schools. Very few others in Connecticut have reached this status, so we congratulate her for this achievement.


Inge Venus, Parliamentarian, presented the Proposed Amendments to the Bylaws for a vote by the membership, which were adopted without objection. Revisions include wording suggested by National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC)  related to dues and a shortening by one month of the timeframe for clubs to pay dues to The Federation.

Nominating Chair Ronnie Schoelzel presented the Nominating Slate, which was accepted and elected. She then installed the elected Officers, Treasurer Shirley Hall and Assistant Treasurer Jane Polacco.

Newly elected Committee Chairs include:
Tours Coordinator Donna DeSimone and Environment/Conservation Chair Ellie Tessmer.
Continuing Chairs elected include Jan Hickcox as Civic Development Chair, Margaret Hopkins as Meetings Chair, and Ann Germano as Youth Activities Chair.

Presidential appointments since the last annual meeting include:
Blue Star Chair Krista Swanson Fiorini; Corresponding Secretary Stella Elbaum; CT Flower Show Chair Cathy Ritch; and Protocol Chair Becky Paul.  

New Council and School Chairs (which are selected by the Councils) were also announced, namely, Gardening Consultants Council Chair Katherine Patrick; and Judges Council Chair Trish Manfredi ,who will also chair the 2018 Flower Show Symposium. All newly elected and  appointed chairs were asked to come up and receive their new name badges from Inge Venus.

Program Chair Gini Mita then introduced nationally acclaimed Naturalist Dr. Douglas Tallamy who gave a hilariously funny yet thought-provoking power point presentation, entitled "A Chickadee's Guide to Gardening."   Members in attendance lined up afterwards to have him sign his book Bringing Nature Home

Following social time and shopping, lunch was served.    
Meetings Chair Margaret Hopkins then conducted the raffle, which included a donation from each of the 10 vendors as well as the beautiful centerpiece on each of the dining tables.Centerpieces were created by three garden clubs, Colchester, Kensington and Manchester, and coordinated by Trish Manfredi.

In reiteration, this Annual Meeting certainly goes down as one of the more eventful affairs.

* Inge Venus
Website Chair and Parliamentarian

This fall, the North Stonington Garden Club planted a lovely native Northern Red Oak tree at the town-owned Hewitt Farm on Route 2. The tree was planted in time for a special community event, the North Stonington Harvest Festival held on September 26th, 2015. The property itself is 104 acres of forests, fields, wetlands, streams and a pond; it was North Stonington's first major purchase of open space, made in 2008. It is deeded to remain in perpetuity as parks and recreation.

The area in which we located this quercus rubra is next to a successful community garden and a meadow. The soil conditions seemed particularly right for this variety of oak and there is water on-site in the area. We did this project in collaboration with the town-appointed Hewitt Farm Committee and they have agreed to be responsible for the care and maintenance of the tree.

For the event, the club provided a sign next to the oak tree which described the tree and indicated that the funds were provided by The Federated Garden Clubs of CT as part of the native oak tree NSGC members, Nita Kincaid and Karen McGee.

* Nita B. Kincaid
NSGC Membership Chair

The Manchester Garden Club planted a White Oak Tree (Quercus alba) in Robertson Park Skate Park at 115 School St., Manchester, CT, on October 16, 2015. Lauren Pliska was the Committee Chair and Committee Members were Deb Flower, Lynda Brown, Linda Snyder, MaryAnn Sartor and Dru Shearer. Permission to plant the tree was coordinated with Manchester Town Tree Warden, Mike Tupper.

Since this is tree was planted in a town park, the Town of Manchester will water and maintain the planted tree for its long life.  In times of drought like this summer, the town tree warden assured the garden club by stating that they were watering all their plantings every 2 days.

* Gail Secchiaroli
President, Manchester Garden Club

I wish to correct the April article about the Native Oak Tree Project in Greenwich: The six trees were planted in Byram Park, not Binney Park.  The picture I submitted and which was printed correctly shows Byram Park.
* Jane Marsh
Green Fingers Garden Club

FGCCT Welcomes a New Garden Club
I'm very pleased to report that the Board of Directors of The Federation, at its March meeting, voted to recognize as a member of The Federation, The Gardeners of Stony Hill, who function as a committee of the Bethel Women's Club.  The Town of Bethel must be very pleased to now have two active garden clubs located within its boundaries.  

I'd also like to report that the Woodstock Area Garden Club, a longtime member of The Federation, has fittingly changed its name.  They are now the Quiet Corner Garden Club.

* Arlene Field
Second Vice-President and Membership Chair
The May Garden
In order to have an article appear in our monthly newsletter it must be in to our editor roughly one month prior to its publishing. For the May article I fully intended to write about some native ferns that are great for our shade gardens. But, as I sit down to write, my concerns are elsewhere. It is currently 26 degrees outside and four inches of snow blankets the ground. This in itself would not be a problem.  Early April snow is common here in many parts of our state. However, it is the unusually mild winter and the several days of near 70 degrees in March prior to this snowfall that is a concern. This very early warm-up has resulted in plant growth nearly one month ahead of "normal."

By April 1st I reluctantly took advantage of the warm weather--preferring it to stay cool for I knew that frost is a possibility in my growing zone through the middle of May, and if plants bud out too early they can be blasted by the cold. Nevertheless I still cut my Clematis vines back to two lush buds, trimmed the dead stems from the Epimedium because I could see the flower buds starting to unfurl (if you wait too long to cut these back it is almost impossible), watched the Crocus come and go and was enjoying the many varieties of Daffodils that were in full bloom and anticipating the many other varieties with plump buds ready to pop. Star Magnolias in the area were just approaching full bloom and my garden club's Civic Development Committee had already planted pansies in the town planters and gardens. A friend had noted if the warm weather persisted there wouldn't be any Daffodils blooming for the Daffodil Festival held the last week in April. Well that may be true but for a different reason.  The Daffodils are now completely flopped over and covered with snow. I've seen spring bulbs recover before, but with the extended cold spell they are predicting,  I'm not so sure they will. The Star Magnolias are done. I did enjoy them for the two days we had them. I know the pansies will be just fine.

It is the perennials that I am most concerned about. The Tree Peony buds were plump and round. I had never seen them this advanced so early in the season. Now they are limply hanging to one side. The early blooming Herbaceous Peonies had poked their heads up about six inches and are now barely trying to stand tall amidst  the snow.

I had noticed the little hairy leaves of the Astilbe unfurling and now I'm wondering how they will fare. I can't even see them under the snow. The Astilbe have been set back by hard frosts before, but this? I just don't know. Three-inch spikes of Hosta leaves were showing their colors as well as the Solomon's Seal.  I know nature is unpredictable, but I have never seen this particular scenario before.  Perennials are generally a hardy bunch and, ever the optimist, I am hoping they will still be able to put on their spring show. I could not bear a spring without them. It will be interesting to see what ensues. Time will tell and I'll keep you posted.

April Snow Storm Update

Three weeks have passed since the early April snow storm and the damage or lack thereof is now apparent. The good news is my concern for my beloved peonies both herbaceous and tree species was unwarranted. Both came through unscathed. Other plants did not fare as well.

I noticed a very poor showing of blooms on the Epimedium. The tips of the Hosta spikes that were over three inches tall at the time of the storm have turned into a twisted, mushy mess. They look rather unsightly now, but as the season progresses I anticipate they will put out new growth that will hide the damage. Daylilies have just a slight "freezer burn" on their strappy leaves and the spring bulbs recovered nicely for the most part.

Some of the Daffodils that were in full bloom were broken by the snow and their leaves have "freezer burn," too. However some of the late-spring bloomers, 'Thalia' (a fragrant pure white variety with two blooms per stem) for example, is in full bloom now and looks gorgeous. Amazingly the Astilbe that had been damaged far  worse by late spring frosts in the past have a few spongy leaves but appear to be fine for the most part.

The most devastating damage was done to the Magnolias. As I stated above, the Star Magnolias ( Magnolia stellata) that were approaching full bloom were immediately blasted into brown mush.  The remaining unopened buds did manage to put on a second, albeit much weaker, show. The heartbreaking realization is that this will be a spring without the beautiful show of the Saucer Magnolias ( Magnolia x soulangeana). I was hoping that the large buds, which were not showing any signs of blooming, would be okay. This was not to be. They, too, were blasted by the freeze and as I drive around here in Litchfield County, all I see is the beauty that should have been. Hundreds of dry brown buds cover the trees. We won't even catch a glimpse of their beauty. 

It is still too early to tell just how much damage was done to the fruit trees. Thankfully, I think we weathered this little drama with only a few minor hitches. It could have been worse and possibly could still be. After all this is New England we are gardening in.

*Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair

April 1st was the deadline for your Annual Reports. They help us to know what our members want and need from The Federation. If your club (and that's about half of them) has not turned in its annual report, we would still request that you do, so that we may take action on your suggestions.  
Also, the awards committee has not yet met, so if you didn't tell us about a project you completed this past year, we will still accept your input...but only if gets to us very soon.

 DUE MAY 31st
If your Club is finishing up a project by May 31st, you may apply for a Connecticut State award.   The application form can be found on our FGCCT website www.ctgardenclubs.org. Find it by clicking on "Forms" on the left side of our home page. This FGCCT form is an adaptation of the NGC form.  Also posted on our website is the Awards Manual for a detailed description of the Connecticut State awards. Click on the Awards page.  Please note that we no longer require Books of Evidence. Send your completed three-page Awards Application to the appropriate committee chairs, as follows:
Civic Development, Jan Hickcox, 148 Keeney Avenue, West Hartford 06107
Environmental Concerns/Conservation, Ellie Tessmer, 115 Cheshire Road,
Wallingford, CT 06492-3334
Garden Therapy, Dottie Fox,  99 Cole Lane, Kensington 06037
Historic/Memorial/Public Gardens, Nancy Lenoce, 59 Spinning Wheel
Rd., Trumbull, CT 06611-2674.
Horticulture, Liz Rinaldi, 59 Neill Drive, Watertown 06795
Youth Activities, Ann Germano, 30 Natalie Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.

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

Gardens make a positive difference in the environment and in the wellbeing of the gardener.  

Have you created a garden you love and enjoy? If so, I invite you to apply for the "Love-ly Garden Award."  We are interested in a garden that expresses a love of gardening.  We'd like to know the "story" of the garden and the gardener.  Our overall impression is important and we will consider design, flow, distinction and creativity within the garden space.  Landscape challenges and changes to enhance the property will also be considered, so tell us the dirt!  We do not expect a specimen garden with perfect plantings, but rather a welcoming environment created to be enjoyed.

Please consider entering for the "Love-ly Garden Award."  The Award is open only to Garden Club members!  It is in honor of Penny Jarvis, a lady who created gardens with love.  The application form and information is on the Federated website under Awards and also under Forms. (http://www.ctgardenclubs.org/forms/awards/2016Love-lyGardenform.pdf).  Judging will be scheduled during the summer.  The judges are members of the Gardening Consultants Council.  

See you in the garden!

* Joanne McKendry
Love-ly Garden Award Chair

On a beautiful Spring day, Sunday, April 24th, five Connecticut students who entered the National Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl Poster Contest and placed first among a total of 40 posters submitted, were invited together with their parents to a formal Recognition Ceremony in Cheshire organized by our Federation's Poster Coordinator Inge Venus.  

The winners were: Sophia Saldomarco with Wallingford Garden Club sponsor Linda Miller; Second Grader Geetha Benzy with Cheshire Garden Club sponsor Inge Venus; Third Grader Flynn Carney with Roxbury-Bridgewater Garden Club sponsor Adrienne Caruso; Fourth Grader Aidia Peterson with Roxbury-Bridgewater Garden Club sponsor Adrienne Caruso; and Fifth Grader Devan Fernando with Cheshire Garden Club sponsor Inge Venus.

Many of the students were also accompanied by their grandparents and their siblings. Also in attendance were the Youth Chairs of the three garden clubs whose students took first place.  Guests of Honor were Federation President Jane Waugh, Burnham School Principal Cathy Corello from Bridgewater, and Cheshire Garden Club President Ginni Donovan.   All attendees gathered in the Gazebo across from Cheshire High School for the recognition ceremony.

Inge gave a brief overview of the significance of the National poster contest the students had entered and then let it be known that the winning posters were sent on to the New England Region's awards committee, thereby competing with the five other New England States.

Connecticut received the highest scores for Grade 2 and Grade 5 and their posters were further forwarded to the National Garden Clubs in competition with 49 other states.   Each of the five students received a framed Certificate of Participation and the two high scorers from Connecticut also received a $25.00 check.

Inge then called upon each of the students to step forward, presented them with their certificate as well as a nature book given to them by The Federation's Youth Activities Chair Ann Germano.

First Grader Sophia Saldamarco with Wallingford GC sponsor Linda Miller.

Third Grader Flynn Carney with Roxbury-Bridgewater GC  sponsor Adrienne Caruso.

Fourth Grader Aidia Peterson with Roxbury-Bridgewater GC sponsor Adrienne Caruso.

Second Grader Geetha Benzy with Cheshire GC sponsor Inge Venus.

Fifth Grader Devan Fernando with Cheshire GC sponsor Inge Venus.

A group picture was taken of all the students, parents and Wallingford Garden Club Youth Chair Linda Miller, Roxbury-Bridgewater Garden Club Chair Adrienne Caruso, Cheshire Garden Club Youth Chair Inge Venus (serving a dual function at this event); FGCCT President Jane Waugh; Principal Cathy Corello, and Cheshire Garden Club President Ginni Donovan.

* Inge Venus
Cheshire Garden Club Youth Chair
Federation Poster Contest Coordinator

With the sad loss of The Federation's Treasurer, Barbara Bruce, our Assistant Treasurer, Shirley Hall, moved up and we now have a new Assistant Treasurer: Jane Pollaco. "It's pretty exciting," Jane tells me, about joining The Federation's Board. "I'm really looking forward to working with the other Board members!"

Jane has been a member of the Watertown Garden Club for five years and still serves as their Treasurer. She and several other members got together, wondering, "Why aren't we getting involved with The Federation? Why aren't we winning some of their awards?" Jane took on the task of applying for FGCCT awards and their club began to win-more awards each year. That brought her and Liz Rinaldi (Horticulture Chair) and Sally Kuslis (Books Chair) to the attention of Inge Venus.

Jane is well qualified for her new position after 30 years in the accounting field. She worked for a company until 7 years ago, when she established her own firm, Pollaco Accounting. With some free time as she built up her business, Jane went back to school and earned a 2-year degree in Horticulture from Naugatuck Community College. It was also seven years ago that she remarried after raising an adult son and daughter. Jane says now, "I feel extremely lucky and very blessed. I've got a new profession and a great hobby."

At home, Jane's yard was old and neglected. "I got rid of almost everything and started fresh. It's a work in progress-it will always be a work in progress."  She's built raised beds to grow vegetables, does her own composting and collects rain water to water her garden. "I really enjoy propagating plants. Now is the time to dig up and make baby plants. I try not to buy a lot of plants-this is a hobby and I want to enjoy it." So she has bought a few shrubs but most of her perennials she has propagated or exchanged with other garden club members.

The Assistant Treasurer's job involves keeping books, reporting the numbers, making deposits and filing the tax returns. She helps member garden clubs with filing their taxes. "We provide a lot of support to garden clubs; I'm the interface with the treasurers." Jane puts money in the account and the Treasurer reconciles it. "We keep these duties separate so no one is solely responsible for it all," says Jane.

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor
Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc.
[email protected]