In this issue we are engaged on many fronts--with member clubs at the Southwest Idea Exchange Symposium, with Youth, with the state of Connecticut through our Native Oak Tree Project and with flower arrangers through the Beyond Beginnings Workshops. We are proud to announce generous activity on the FGCCT Scholarship front. Our Horticulture Chair, Liz Rinaldi, is writing about native plants for our gardens, and you can get to know her through my interview.

Do you know a garden (including your own) that should be nominated for a Love-ly Garden Award? Submit your information to Joanne McKendry by June 15. Then take a moment to think about members in your club who deserve Tribute Awards. Nominations are due by August 15--see the article below. Last but not least, our President, Jane Waugh, represented us at the National Garden Clubs Convention.

Click here for the Calendar (or scroll to the bottom of this email).  For the printer-friendly, text-only black and white CF NEWS, scroll to the bottom of this email.


* Lynn Hyson
News Editor


Greeting Gardeners,

I have just returned from the National Garden Club's Annual Convention in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I was pleased and proud to report on Connecticut's activities during the past year and to accept awards from the New England Region and National Garden Clubs given to the Federation and our clubs for work this past year. The awards will be announced at our October Awards Luncheon. What an impressive group of men and women there are in our international organization, the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world!  Our own former Connecticut Federation President, Sherri Sanelli, presented the designs at the Convention's design banquet. It was lovely to see her.

FGCCT President Jane Waugh with Suzanne Bushnell, President of Garden Club Federation of Maine, and Vera Bowen, New England Region Director.

Jane Waugh receiving her National Garden Club Life Membership from President Sandra Robinson.

Keynote speaker at the Convention was Doug Tallamy, a pleasure to hear again. Another featured speaker was Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association. Her message was appropriate as this August marks the 100th anniversary of The National Parks Service.

The parks themselves were begun earlier, with the first, Yellowstone, being created in 1872. The Park Service, with its rangers recognizable in their flat-brimmed hats, was established on August 25, 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that mandated the agency "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.". As citizens we are fortunate to own these gems, our many parks and monuments, and to have them cared for by the National Park Service.

As you may know, the only site run by the U.S. Park Service in Connecticut is the Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, a great place to visit if you haven't. But the summer allows time to travel a bit further afield to explore parks throughout the country. While I've done a lot of international travel, I'm ashamed to say I probably haven't been to even a dozen of our National Parks YET!

With my interest in trees, top of my list are Yosemite and especially Sequoia National Parks (both established in 1890) to see the giant sequoia trees, Sequoiadendron giganteum. The earth's most massive tree, named the General Sherman, is there, at 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter at the base. The second largest tree in the world, named The President, also grows nearby at 247 feet. And they are still growing larger! I look forward to craning my neck to view their magnificence and wonder at how they have survived the snow and fires of over 3,200 years.

If you thought Connecticut's acorns were plentiful last fall, you will be amazed to know that scientists estimate that one of these giant trees in one year produced more than 82,000 egg-sized cones, each of which holds about 200 seeds.  That's a lot of wildlife food!

So consider visiting one of our National Parks this summer.  And don't forget to take some photos to enter into the 2016 NGC International Photography Competition with exhibits featuring USA National Parks. The contest runs from May 1 - August 1, 2016; details are on the NGC home page.

Wishing you a wonderful summer as we continue Growing Together.

* Jane Waugh

President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

"There is nothing so American as
our national parks.... The
fundamental idea behind the that the country belongs
to the people, that it is in process of
making for the enrichment of the
lives of all of us."

Southwest Idea Exchange Symposium

Following the hugely successful Idea Exchange Symposium held last September in Glastonbury for clubs located in the northeast area of Connecticut, a second symposium was convened in Fairfield on March 30th. 

Garden club members from across the southwestern part of the state came together with Federation board members to participate in a half day of stimulating discussions on a variety of topics concerning their respective garden clubs.  

Chaired by Second Vice-President Arlene Field, the symposium afforded participants the opportunity to learn about all the Federation and National Garden Club resources that their clubs can take advantage of to help achieve club goals.

Seated at tables of 10 at two different thought-provoking sessions, participants talked through subjects that affect their respective clubs--ranging from membership and club management to fundraising and developing ideal programs.  Participants came away from the symposium invigorated about taking ideas gleaned from the roundtable sessions back to their respective clubs.

Based upon the continued positive feedback coming out of both symposia, plans are in place to hold another symposium to engage clubs that are located along the eastern shoreline area of our state. 

Our thanks go out to all the clubs who took the time to participate:

Black Rock
Greenfield Hill
Long Hill GC of Trumbull
New Milford
Old Greenwich
Olde Ripton
Rowayton Gardeners
Shippan Point
Town & Country of Newtown

* Arlene Field
Second Vice-President and Membership Chair

Go to our website's Special Events page for images of this event.


Youth Program of the Month
Waltersville School Flower Garden
Westport Garden Club  
Ellen Greenberg, President

In the past few issues, you have learned about a variety of garden projects for children.  One created several raised vegetable gardens outside a Boys and Girls Club, one included raised gardens in a school courtyard that are used as part of the curriculum, and another prepared small raised gardens in a pre-school yard that produces food for the lunches served.  Each of these projects was done by a garden club in their own town.  This is a totally different project, which involves a garden club and a community group from one town working together with teachers in a school two towns away.

 It started when a friend of Ellen Greenberg asked her about cuttings from a butterfly bush.  She told Ellen that a teacher from Waltersville School in Bridgeport was looking for some cuttings to plant in front of the school. The school has vegetable gardens on the grounds and wanted to attract pollinators. A visit to the school showed that the fenced-in area at the front of the school would work well for flower gardens.  The Westport Garden Club had some leftover plants from their recent plant sale.  Here was a perfect home.

The Westport Garden Club has partnered with Pivit Ministries of Westport in the past, especially during plant sale time. In August, 14 members of the garden club, a group from Pivit Ministries and two teachers from the school worked together to develop flower gardens at the front of the school. The Westport Garden Club members had designed the gardens.
The men from Pivit dug the ground and prepared the soil.  The garden club members and the teachers planted.  They used leftover plants from the plant sale as well as plants freshly dug from the members' gardens. 

At the end of the day, there were four new gardens:  a shade garden, a full sun garden, an afternoon sun garden and a morning sun garden.  They also provided and planted container gardens to flank the front entrance of the school. 

In the fall, Westport Garden club members returned to the school to plant daffodils and peonies.  Seventh and eighth grade students are responsible for watering and weeding the new flower gardens as well as the vegetable gardens.

Be open to opportunities and needs in other towns.  Your club can make a difference even if your club is small and your members older and finding that gardening has become challenging.  Look to partner with other community organizations.  You can provide the experience, advice and plants; the younger groups can do the more active work.

* Ann Germano
Youth Chair



In November, the Branford Garden Club participated in the Connecticut Federation's project to plant oak trees around CT. The public location chosen was the newly constructed Branford Department House located at 45 North Main Street, which was built in September of 2012.
The native Oak selected was the Pin Oak ( Quercus Palustris) and it was planted on November 30, 2015. Maintenance will be provided by the Public Works and Fire Departments for the first two years.

Inspired by the FGCCT Native Oak Tree Project, the Burlington Garden Club contacted our Public Works Director in late winter to determine his interest in this effort and subsequent location.  Together, we determined that the lawn of our Town Hall would be the ideal site to plant a native oak and in early April we received a quote from the town's landscape supplier, Site One of Windsor.   The town crew agreed to pick up the tree and also decided to add to the project and purchase two additional trees to be planted at the Burlington Town Hall!

Pictured in photo l-r: Scott Tharau, Director Public Works, Donna Twardy, Diana Rudzinski and Linda Rachielles, Club Officers.

On Monday, April 25th in cooperation with the Public Works Department, members of the Garden Club gathered for the planting of three Quercus rubra.

* Mrs. Linda Rachieles

The Duck River Garden Club planted a swamp white oak ( Quercus bicolor) in the Town Park in Old Lyme.  This is one of four trees planted in the park working in conjunction with the local Junior Woman's Club and the tree commission. The trees border a playground, which was in need of shade.


This year, the Redding Garden Club celebrated Earth Day 2016 with the planting of Connecticut's state tree, a White Oak, at the Lonetown Farm Museum in Redding. Flo Vannoni, RGC Conservation Chair, gave a brief presentation about the importance of Earth Day. Jim McNamara of Redding Nursery was able to locate a White Oak tree. Members of the Redding Historical Society and Town staff assisted in determining the location and worked out the logistics for the event.

Planting a white oak on Earth Day at the Lonetown Farm Museum in Redding.

* Barbara Deysson
Native Oak Tree Project Chair


The June/July Garden
Gardening trends come and go, and it seems that the current trend is using natives whenever possible. I attended the Master Gardener Symposium this past March at Connecticut College. Reincorporating natives and creating meadows were definitely the main themes at most of the seminars. We heard a wonderful lecture by Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home, at our Annual Federation Meeting this past April. Doug has a way of cleverly and logically getting his point across. If you love our native wildlife, then give them what they need to sustain themselves ... native plants.

All this makes good sense to me. But I love all plants and a June without Peonies or Roses would just not be the same. However, I have always had a deep appreciation for nature, and a June without Chickadees, Catbirds, Wrens, Robins and a host of other native fauna would not be the same either. So, I now make a conscious effort to incorporate as many of our native species as possible. The following are a few examples of native ferns suitable for a shade/partial sun garden that can add interest beginning in the late spring.

In my opinion Adiantum pedatum is the most beautiful of our native ferns. Commonly known as maidenhair fern, it brings an unmistakable air of beauty to the garden. It features finely textured fronds that are palmately divided atop wiry, shiny black stems. It is easily grown in average, well-drained garden soil. It prefers, however, to be grown in moist, humus-rich acidic soils in full
shade. Over time, it can form sizable clumps by its creeping rhizomes. Hardy in zones 3-8, it can reach a height of 2 feet. It has no serious disease problems but may require additional watering during dry spells.

I find it belies its frail beauty. I had originally planted a clump with some Hosta under a weeping cherry tree. The cherry tree died several years ago, leaving the fern exposed to full sun. I did give it some water during last summer's drought and, despite the harsh treatment, it has continued to put on a wonderful show for the last few years. I can only imagine how great it will look whenever I get around to transplanting it to its preferred conditions.  

Another little beauty similar to Adiantum pedatum is Asplenium trichomanes.  It also is a native fern commonly called maidenhair spleenwort. It's hardy in zones 2-9. It is low growing and has shiny evergreen pinnate fronds on black wirelike stems. It spreads by rhizomes and spores. It resembles a maidenhair fern in miniature, growing only to a height of 3-6 inches. However, the growing requirements differ. Maidenhair spleenwort is native to rocky habitats, growing on mossy boulders. Asplenium trichomanes adds a beautiful softness to the crevices on a stone wall or rockery. It prefers limestone soil with constant moisture and good drainage. Not readily available in local nurseries, it can be found in mail-order catalogs.

Another of my favorite native ferns is Matteuccia struthiopteris, commonly known as Ostrich fern. If you want to add some bold lushness to a moist, partial-sun-to-full-shade garden, then this is the plant of choice. This is a large fern that forms beautiful vase-shaped clumps attaining heights of 3-6 feet. It thrives in average to wet soils in zones 3-8. It can spread aggressively by the roots, so be mindful of planting it near delicate plants.

We are fortunate here in Connecticut to have a good variety of native ferns, something for everyone. As the "gone native" way of gardening takes hold more and more, retailers and mail-order houses are offering great selections.  In time I think adding natives to our gardens will become second nature to us.

* Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair


A lifetime resident of Connecticut, Horticulture Chair Liz Rinaldi has had " a lifelong interest in
gardening and nature." She began perennial gardening in the 1990's when she read Fred McGourty's book, The Perennial Gardener. "The book spoke to me," says Rinaldi, " I read it so many times!" Then she went to see the author's Hillside garden in Norfolk and was "totally inspired. Meeting McGourty was like meeting Paul McCartney, I couldn't speak," Liz remembers.

Married and the mother of two adult children, Rinaldi worked in the banking industry until 10 years ago. "That's when my gardening really took off. It's my hobby, my exercise and therapy all rolled into one,"  she says. When she moved into her home in Watertown in 1981, the yard had nothing growing in it. Now she has over 200 types of Hostas--"They blend so well with everything and they are easy to grow and easy to divide," she notes-plus many peonies and daylilies.

Rinaldi became a Master Gardener in 2011 and has been Treasurer and President of the Watertown Garden Club. She is currently the co-chair of their Civic Development Committee which maintains a pollinator garden at the Welcome to Watertown sign, among others. Inge Venus learned about Liz through Jane Polacco, who is Treasurer for the Watertown Garden Club and Assistant Treasurer for The Federation. "I was honored when they asked me to join the Board," she says.

You wouldn't know by her informative monthly Horticulture columns in the CF News that Rinaldi has never written before. "I had a secret desire to write," Liz says, "I try to do what I admire in other writers and go by what inspires me in my own garden-the issues I'm looking at, the things that I love."

Another of her duties on the Board is to review the candidates for our Federation's top Horticulture Award of Excellence. "I have many more applications this year. I think the Idea Exchange Symposia have really helped members understand the process better," Rinaldi says.  "It's great what the Federation tries to do-the President's Oak Tree Project, etc. There are a lot of smart and capable women on the Federation Board: I'm proud to be among them."

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor


Wallace Stegner, 1983:

"National parks are the best idea we
ever had. Absolutely American,
absolutely democratic, they reflect
us at our best rather than our worst.


Several Connecticut municipal leaders have taken the National Wildlife Federation's "Mayors Monarch Pledge" - committing to creating habitat for the monarch butterfly and educating their citizens about how they can help.
They have chosen from a list of 25 possible measures to improve habitat in cities for monarchs and other pollinators; these include: creating a monarch-friendly demonstration garden at city hall, converting abandoned lots to monarch habitat and changing mowing schedules to allow milkweed to grow unimpeded. If your garden club works closely with the municipal leaders in your town, make them aware of this initiative and encourage them to join the 100 mayors nationwide who have signed up. See

Participating CT Mayors/Selectmen:

Mayor Ernest Eldridge
(Windham, CT)
First Selectman Art Shilosky
(Colchester, CT)
Mayor Deberey Hinchey
(Norwich, CT)

An important study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, released in March and available in the journal Scientific Reports and online at, concludes that there is an 11-57 % chance of quasi-extinction of the Eastern North American monarchs over the next 20 years. A quasi-extinct population is one with so few remaining individuals left that recovery is impossible. This is serious stuff! See

* Marty Sherman
National Project Chair

MOST IMPORTANT: PLANT (don't pull!) MILKWEED ( Asclepias). A. incarnata and A. tuberosa are beautiful additions to perennial gardens (put the incarnata in the back!) A. syriaca is perfect if you have a "back forty" or an area that is more naturalized than a perennial bed. If you don't have a garden but you have a condo with a deck or patio or balcony - put a pot of milkweed on it!  If female monarchs can navigate to Mexico, they can navigate to the milkweed pot on your deck!

Young milkweed emerging. Don't weed this!

Floral Design Workshops
Beyond Beginning (Series 3)

For lifelong learners, there is always something new to learn.  For those of us in The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc., we might learn through Gardening Study School or perhaps Flower Show School.  In either case, you might discover a new love by combining those two interests in floral design.  Floral design is simply and creatively "the result achieved when arranging with plant material" (HB, pg. 335), which means using branches, leaves, flowers, and moss as well as many other non-plant materials.  The plant material might be from your yard or garden, found on a walk in the woods, or purchased in a store.

Cathy Ritch with a design from a previous Beyond Beginning workshop.

Another design from the workshop.

Beyond Beginning (Series 3) are design workshops funded by the FGCCT Judges Council through the Marita Wezowic Fund.  They build on intermediate skills in design that you already have.  If you don't have intermediate skills (yet), we welcome you to enroll in the workshops as an observer (no charge).  The workshops feature selected Creative Designs including several that will be in the 2017 Connecticut Flower Show as well as design techniques and creative use of components.  Series 3 will be held in the Fall at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's Jones Auditorium in New Haven.

Sessions will be taught by accredited judges Leslie Martino, Trish Manfredi, and Cathy Ritch.  Included in each 2.5 hour session is a lecture followed by a hands-on workshop and critique. Critiques are done in small groups by the instructor and other accredited judges to help participants improve their design skills.  The cost per session of $30 covers materials; $5 for 'Create your own' session on November 4.

Creative design workshops for Series 3 (10 am-12:30 pm) are scheduled:

o  Sept 9 (Creative Containers 101 & Secrets of Easy Floral Mechanics),
o  Sept 30 (Leaf manipulation),
o  Oct 14 (Weathered wood),
o  Nov 4 (Create your own/design interpretation), and
o  Dec 9 (a Creative Holiday design, suitable for home use).  The Dec 9 workshop is suitable for beginning designers. 

If you have any questions, email Cathy Ritch at   [email protected].  To register, send a check made out to FGCCT ($30 per class you wish to take, $5 for November 4) to Cathy Ritch, 11 Old Fire Rd, Trumbull, CT 06611.  Include your name/email/garden club/phone number/class dates desired.  Space is limited.  Priority will be given to new enrollees whose checks are received before July 1st.  E-mail confirmations will be provided.  Overflow enrollments will be placed on a wait list with an option to audit/observe for no charge.  You WILL learn something even if you audit/observe.

* Cathy Ritch
CT Flower Show Chair


Consider recognizing and showing appreciation to the people who do the work in your club.  Whether they're a club leader or someone who works hard to get a job done, let us know!  We are accepting nominations for TRIBUTE AWARDS in the following categories:

*    Civic Development
*    Conservation
*    Design
*    Garden Therapy
*    Horticulture
*    Landscape Design
*    Youth
*    All-Around Excellence

Tribute Awards are different from the state awards that clubs have applied for this year.  They are distinct awards determined by the Federation's Second Vice-President as a way to honor individuals who have made a real impact on your club, the Federation and/or the community, through their efforts.  Individuals can be nominated by anyone in the Federation. To nominate a club member, submit a letter explaining who the candidate is and list all of their contributions that make them worthy of this distinction. 

The letter may be submitted by email to [email protected] or standard mail to Arlene Field, Second Vice President, FGCCT, Inc., 105 Meadows End Road, Monroe, CT  06468-1705. Be sure to include your contact information in the letter. The deadline for submissions is August 15, 2016.  Recipients will be honored at the Annual Awards Luncheon at Aqua Turf on October 26, 2016.

Another way to recognize individual accomplishments and dedication to your club is to honor an individual with a Connecticut Life Membership in the Federation.  Contact Arlene Field for details ─ [email protected] or (203) 268-6541.

* Arlene Field
Second Vice President

The spring garden of our Parlamentarian and Website Chair, Inge Venus, of the Cheshire Garden Club.


We are pleased to report a generous outpouring of donations to the FGCCT Scholarship Fund! We send our gratitude to the following clubs and encourage other clubs to join in.

Branford Garden Club  $35
Bristol Garden Club  $150  (courtesy of Ronnie Schoelzel speaker fee)
Connecticut Valley Garden Club  $50
Farmington Garden Club  $50
Guilford Garden Club $100
Haddam Garden Club  $50
Hortulus $100
Leete's Island Garden Club  $500
Garden Club of Madison $1000  
Garden Club of New Haven   $100
Garden Club of Newtown   $100
Olde Ripton Garden Club  $50
Garden Club of Old Greenwich  $200
Riverside Garden Club $100
Sasqua Garden Club  $100
Thames River Garden Club  $200
Town and Country Garden Club  $200
Wallingford Garden Club  $50
Wilton Garden Club  $200  (Ronnie Schoelzel speaker fee donated)

* Judy Joly
Scholarship Chair

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