CFN Masthead

Volume 79, Number 1 *  FEBRUARY 2016    

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It's warm and bright with blossoms inside the Connecticut Convention Center this February 18-21 for the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show. See below for all the info on how to help and how to enjoy this annual treat.  And there are more opportunities to stretch your creative muscles with Landscape Design Study School, NER Design Awards, Flower Show School and Floral Design Workshops.

But we don't forget our conservation efforts, either. Read on for the latest about planting native oaks and protecting Monarch butterflies.

Learn who was named a Connecticut Life Member for her long-term contributions and sign up for a brilliant tour of English gardens.

For the Club Calendar, click here.

Lynn Hyson, Editor
President's Message

In the Spotlight!

The Movies, The Opera, The Circus, and Broadway are only a few of the venues inspiring creative displays "In the Spotlight" at the 35th Annual Connecticut Flower & Garden Show. Opening Thursday, February 18 at the CT Convention Center in Hartford, the show continues until Sunday February 21, 2016. See the form below to order discount tickets available only to CT Federation garden club members; Ticket orders must be received by mail or phone by February 5th, so don't delay.

Brighten your winter by enjoying over 60 creative designs plus photography, artistic crafts, educational exhibits and lots of horticulture to motivate your gardening next season. Barbara Bruce, Show Chair, and her team have worked diligently to prepare what I know will be an exciting show. Don't miss the special "movie theater", showing a marvelous film, right in the middle of it all.  Hope to see you there.   

Next on the horizon, and further preparation for your spring planting plan, is the National Garden Clubs' Landscape Design Study School sponsored by our Federation. Two days at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station are packed with valuable information on March 22 and 23, 2016.  The third morning is the VERY un-intimidating test which leads to eventual membership in the Landscape Design Council, a group that offers a number of interesting group tours during the year.

Finally, I'm very excited to announce that our speaker at this year's Annual Meeting on April 20 will be Douglas Tallamy, Professor at the University of Delaware and author of "Bringing Nature Home", the award winning book about why you should plant native to maintain wildlife diversity. Doug will be the keynote speaker at the opening of the National Garden Club's Annual Convention in May in Michigan. But we are lucky to have him first, and without the need to travel so far to hear him.  He is one of the inspirations for our native oak tree project, since he constantly proclaims the benefit of oaks, especially our State and National tree, the white oak. In this era where gardeners and garden clubs are seriously concerned about the environment, it seems more than appropriate to have such a well known environmentalist join us as our Annual Meeting speaker. Please don't miss this opportunity to hear him.

With a warm heart, on a cold February day, I wish you a healthy and happy New Year and Happy Valentine's Day!

* Jane Waugh


A Standard Flower Show
CT Convention Center
February 18-21, 2016

Well everyone, this is the last article I'll be writing to you for our 2016 Flower Show, "In The Spotlight." By the time you read this there will only be a few weeks left until the show.  

The Design Division is full - it was full before Christmas.  One of the best gifts I could have ever received!  

But, we still need help - we need people to volunteer to paint our staging properties on Saturday, February 14, 2016.  We do the painting at the CT Convention Center. There's a lot to paint  - all the pedestals, frames, back boards - all need a fresh coat. Supplies will be provided.  Please contact Karin Pyskaty, our Painting Chair, at 203-265-1898 or email her at [email protected] to sign up.   

We are also in need of someone to be our Hospitality Chair or Chairs.
This position is responsible for having coffee ready and some snacks for the Flower Show committee and hostesses.  It's a private conference room set aside for us. We need help for February 16-21, 2016.  Free entry to the show is a bonus.
Please contact me if you or your club is interested.

And, the last thing we are in need of is Horticulture Entries.  So far (I'm writing this in January), the weather has been very good for walking around your yard and cutting specimens to enter.  Evergreens to be entered as Arboreals can be cut now and kept in water in your garage until the show.  How about those beautiful house plants? I'm sure many of you have award worthy items you can enter!

I hope to see you all in Hartford.  It's going to be a great show!


* Barbara Bruce
2016 Flower Show Chair



Scholarship News

This month we want to thank the Country Gardeners of Glastonbury for their generous donation of $400 to The Federation's Scholarship Fund.


It's that time of year again when we are asked to complete and submit our Annual Reports to The Federation to document our activities and accomplishments in the past year and become eligible for FGCCT awards.

The interactive forms for your 2015-2016 reports are posted on our website. Go to, Click the Club Log-In page, and click on "Click here for Annual Report Forms for 2015-2016" at the top of the page. You may type directly into the page and then print your completed form to send in to our FGCCT Office by the April 1st deadline.

Technical Tips on Opening Annual Report Forms:

Occasionally, forms cannot be filled out in a browser window, so it is always better to download the form and save it to your computer.   You should not have trouble filling it out there, saving it, and then sending it as an attachment to an email.  If you use Internet Explorer, make sure it is the latest version.  Older versions are not always compatible with our forms and/or documents.

And, as always, make sure your Adobe Reader is the latest version!  Updates are free.

2016 UConn Garden Conference
A conference for the home gardener!
Friday, March 18, 2016 at UConn, Storrs, CT
This all-day conference offers exciting educational opportunities for gardeners from the casual to the Advanced Master Gardener. The 2016 conference features a mix of top national speakers and local experts, including:
* Artist and writer Andrew Keys, who will present a talk on Uncommon Plants for Northeast Gardens: Book Favorites and B-Sides
* Ruth Kassinger, science writer, speaking on A Garden of Marvels
* Lynn Felici-Gallant, designer and writer, talking about Slow Containers: Rethinking Annuals-Only Design
* UConn Plant Diagnostician Joan Allen, speaking on Organic Pest Control in the Vegetable Garden
* Smith College Assistant Professor Jesse Bellemare, talking about Horticultural Insights into Plant Conservation in the Face of Climate Change

Program and registration information available at or contact Joan Allen at 860-486-6740; [email protected]
Landscape Design Study School

Save the dates:  
March 22-24, 2016

 Location:  New Haven, CT
 Course includes 2 days of speakers March 22-23, and an optional exam on March 24.
 Course fee - $120 (includes lunch for both days)
This course is for the everyday gardener and for those who wish to provide input to projects in their community.  Courses may be taken in any order, March is Course II of IV.  Taking two course exams results in "Provisional Membership" and four exams obtains "Certification in Landscape Design."

The Brochure and Registration forms are available online at under "Education/Schools" or by contacting Susan Laursen at 203-415-2077, [email protected].

*     Susan Laurson
Landscape Design Study School Chair


Our New England Region offers two awards for floral design, both created by former region directors from Connecticut.  

The first one, established in 2004, you may be familiar with.  It is THE DEANA J. MOZZOCHI CREATIVE DESIGN AWARD for the best Creative Design of the year exhibited in a Standard or Small Standard Flower Show.  A Traveling Sculpture and $50.00 are awarded annually to the winner.

THE MARIA J. NAHOM TABLE DESIGN AWARD was established in 2015 and is awarded to the best Table Design, any type of Table Design, exhibited in a Standard or Small Standard Flower Show.  A certificate and $75.00 will be awarded annually.   

The designs for both awards must have been created during the NER Awards year of June 1st-May 31st.  A 4x6 photograph, or digital photograph, minus ribbons or people, must be sent to our Federation's Judges Council Chair by August 1st.  A panel of three Accredited Judges will select the state's winning exhibit, which will be sent to the New England Region Awards Chair by September 1st.  The NER Judges Council Chair and two other Accredited Judges will then select the NER winner, using the Scale of Points for Design listed in the current Handbook for Flower Shows.  

For applications, contact our FGCCT Judges Council Chair Becky Paul at [email protected].

* Maria Nahom
Former NER Director 2013-2015

Mark your Calendar for
Flower Show School, Course III
It's not just for Judges.

Flower Show School Course III will be held at CAES in New Haven from May 11-13. Our two NGC approved instructors, Darlene Newell and Mary Huntoon, will be sharing their knowledge of horticulture, design, and flower show procedure.

Darlene, who is an NGC Master Judge, Landscape Design Consultant, Master Gardener, and a National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC) Instructor, will be teaching the horticulture and flower show procedure curriculum. She serves on the NGC Board of Directors on the Flower Show committee as an Accrediting Committee chair for the Northeast and Central Atlantic regions and on the state level as Flower Show and Symposia chair.

Mary is an accredited Master Judge for National Garden Clubs, Inc., and is also an Accredited Judge for Garden Clubs of America in both Design and Horticulture.  She currently serves on the NGC Flower Show Accrediting Committee and also serves at both the Regional and State level.

Remember, you can attend one or both days of Course III, but must have attended all sessions to take the optional exam.  Accredited Judges Level 2 may also take Course III as a refresher. To do so, you are required to submit Form 13E to our Credentials Chair a minimum of 4 weeks in advance of the course.

We are also offering a special "bring a guest" discounted fee of $25 (no exam--and the "host" must pay the full registration fee). This is truly an opportunity to learn from the best! Registration forms will be available online in the near future.

* Pat Dray
FGCCT Flower Show School Chair

Meet Pat Dray

Pat Dray's father was a builder with a certificate in Landscape Design and he always had a vegetable garden. A Connecticut native, Pat learned to garden at a young age, starting with carrots and radishes. When she married and had her first home it was natural for her to plant a flower garden. Then  she and her husband moved to their current home in Orange, where they established their own vegetable garden. After battling "the critters--raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer," Pat finally gave up on the vegetables, saying, "With all the farmers markets around here, I may as well buy my fresh produce."

She does still maintain both a sun garden--with over 20 different day lilies, peonies and ornamental grasses--and a shade garden featuring Hostas, Heucheras and Solomon's Seal.

Pat's career began with a degree in nursing and she worked in Public Health until the field went through a period of rapid change. So she earned her MBA in Finance and went on to work for 3M for 26 years. She handled sales and marketing in the area of health care reform and payment reform, nicely combining her two strengths.

It was attending the Arts and Flowers Show at the Wadsworth Athenaeum that inspired her to join the Garden Club of Orange. Pat took the Flower Show School series and became a judge. She is also attending Landscape Design Study School, which she will complete this March. "It's so interesting and I learn so much," she says, "the only down side is that I want to rip out my foundation plantings and start again!"

Through Judges Council, Dray met Jacqueline Connell, who asked her if she would like to revive the Blue Star Memorial program for The Federation. Pat jumped in with enthusiasm and served one term before being asked to chair Flower Show School. "I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to pay back the people who helped me through FSS, to help the students and to work with the instructors. I was thrilled to be asked," Pat remembers.

This year she is running two Flower Show School courses instead of the usual one so that the students will be able to finish their certificates before the new flower show handbook comes out in mid-2017. Course III will be held at CAES from May 11 to 13 with another course coming in the Fall. Pat says, " I have a fantastic team in Flower Show School that does all the hard work: Cindy Marien chairs Horticulture; Carol Steiner chairs Design;  Jessica Fischer is proctor; and Lisa Stackpole is the registrar."

Flower Show School, Pat says, "comprises four courses that cover three topics: Flower Show Procedure, Design--including principles, elements and types--and Horticulture--plant groups, container grown plants and combinations. To become a judge, one must win a minimum of 5 blue ribbons between the Design and Horticulture categories.

Pat's favorite aspect is Creative Design. "I'm surprised to see how many "techy" people like me come to design."  Pat has belonged to the Creative Arrangers of Connecticut, where she "learned a tremendous amount," and she has won blue ribbons for her arrangements. "Though I still consider myself a novice compared to some of our designers!"

* Lynn Hyson
News Editor

Flowers in a Teapot

Each year, Town & Country Garden Club members donate flower arrangements in teapots for an annual Victorian Tea in Edmond Town Hall, in Newtown.  The tea is part of a town-wide celebration day and the arrangements add a holiday look to tables in the Alexandria Room, the building's Victorian-style ballroom. The flowers are also sold that day -- with proceeds donated to Newtown Youth & Family Services.
The tricky thing is figuring out how to make an appropriate-sized arrangement in the tiny teapot opening.

* Jane Sharpe
Town & Country Garden Club

EYE ON HORTICULTURE: The February Garden

In November, I sang the praises of two trees that I thought could add structure and interest to the garden. I was hoping that when the time came for me to write this February article we would have snow covering the landscape, and, indeed, Mother Nature cooperated, thus enabling us to ascertain another perspective of our gardens' bones.

I've stated before that I love weeping trees in the landscape and this month I'd like you to consider the following two needled weeping evergreens. Both have interesting forms that look great all year but are especially enhanced by the winter snow.

Pinus strobus, more commonly known as Eastern White Pine, is native to eastern North America.  The cultivar 'Pendula' is a semi-dwarf, needled evergreen with weeping, trailing branches. It reaches a height of 6 to 15 feet with a larger spread. The shape may vary depending on how it is pruned and trained. The soft 5-inch -long needles are a blue green and the slender, tapered cones are 4 to 8 inches long. Growing best in full sun to part shade, this conifer prefers moist, well-drained soil in zones 3 to 8 and is usually trouble free. Depending on the shape it can be used as a screen or a specimen.  Though very hardy, it provides a delicate graceful accent.
Pinus Strobus 'Pendula'

Picea glauca 'Pendula'

Picea glauca 'Pendula' is more commonly called Weeping White Spruce. It is very hardy in zones 2 to 6 and is best grown in moist, well-drained soil in full sun, tolerating some shade. This tree prefers to be sited in areas with good air circulation that aren't subject to salt spray. 'Pendula' will grow 12 to 40 feet tall, but retains a narrow shape of 5 to 8 feet wide. It has sharp ¾-inch-long needles that are blue green with a glaucous (waxy white) coating, hence its name.  It too has no serious insect or disease problems.

This is a great tree for smaller spaces since its vertical height is far greater than its width. Although it is called a weeping white spruce, it is only the branches that droop down, giving it a layered look. The effect is very different from that of Pinus strobus 'Pendula,' whose main leader tends to weep. Picea glauca 'Pendula' is very erect.  It looks great where a vertical accent is needed and can even be used as a foundation planting providing there is enough head room.   

I find the serenity of the winter garden allows me to better assess where some additional structure may be needed. So, on a warm winter's day, take a stroll in the garden and see if you have a place for one of these two beauties. If you do find a place for either of them, come the first snowfall of the following winter you'll be doubly glad you did.

* Liz Rinaldi
Horticulture Chair


So far, 11 native oak trees have been planted by garden clubs around the state for The Federation's State Project, "Growing Together." Pin oaks, northern red oaks, a scarlet oak, a swamp white oak and a white oak are now growing in parks, along streets, in school yards and at public historic homes in North Haven, Middletown, Madison, Newtown, Stamford, Brookfield, Wethersfield, Danbury, Litchfield, Wallingford and Branford.

If your club has not yet participated, please consider planting a native oak tree. The Federation will reimburse your club up to $200 toward the purchase of the tree (not toward the planting). It is easy. Here's how:

1.     Choose a public site in your community and get permission to plant.
2.     Purchase the tree and get it planted.
3.     Email me at [email protected]:
               1. the type of oak tree
               2. the location of the tree
               3. the receipt
               4. the name to which the check should be written
               5. the address to which the check should be sent
  6. a digital picture of the tree, including club members and/or  others involved, if possible.

Although Fall tree planting is ideal, trees can be planted in the early Spring (March and April). It is important to get them in early enough so that they can benefit from Spring rain.

If you need nursery suggestions, please let me know.  I can share with you the names of places where other clubs have purchased their trees.

One last thought is that, although pin oaks are the most readily available and widely planted of the oak trees, it would be nice to plant some of the other native oaks. Scarlet oaks have gorgeous Fall color. White oaks, although hard to find and difficult to transplant, are the best trees for wildlife. The swamp white oak is also a good choice. Although it thrives in moist areas, it also does well in dry areas or along streets. The two in the complex where I live are doing extremely well and still retain their leaves in January, making them a nice addition to the stark winter landscape. And finally, the northern red oak is a stately, fast growing tree that would be a perfect choice for lawn, park, street, golf course or campus. If you would like to talk about it, feel free to call me at 203 249-0199.

The Bud and Blossom Garden Club of Wethersfield planted a white oak at the Solomon Welles House at 220  Hartford Ave. in Wethersfield. Pictured from left to right are Mary Young, Project Chair, Pat Pope, Pat Mulrain (Club President) and tree warden Corey Christmas.

* Barbara Deysson
State Project Chair

Floral Design Workshops...
Beyond Beginning (Series 2)

The Connecticut Flower & Garden Show is almost here and floral designers from around the state are busy putting the final touches on their designs.  Would you like to be one of the designers at the Show next year?  If so, you might be interested in Beyond Beginning (Series Series 2).  Funded by our FGCCT Judges Council through the Marita Wezowic Fund, this series builds on intermediate skills in design that you already have or developed in the Fall 2015 Beyond Beginning workshops.

The workshops are Creative Design Types including several that will be in the 2017 Hartford Show.  Series 2 will be held in the Spring/Summer, Series 3 in the Fall.  All sessions will be held at CAES (New Haven) Jones Auditorium.

Sessions will be taught by accredited judges Barbara Bruce, Leslie Martino, Trish Manfredi, Maria Nahom, and Cathy Ritch.  Included in each 2.5-hour session is a lecture, followed by a hands-on workshop, and a critique.  Critiques are done in small groups by the instructor and other accredited judges to aid participants in improving their design skills.  The cost per session of $30 covers materials ($5 cost for "Create Your Own" session on July 29).

Creative design workshops for Series 2 (10am-12:30pm) are:
April 29 (Flower Show-from concept to design including  a
workshop on Stretch Designs),
June 10 (Color-including a workshop on Capsule Table Design),
July 8 (The key to Creative Design, the Principles and Elements concentrating on Creative Line Mass Design),
July 29 (Create your own (bring your own components) for the Class:   "Into the woods," a creative design using all fresh materials).

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 July 29) to Cathy Ritch, 11 Old Fire Rd, Trumbull, CT 06611.  Include your name/email/garden club/phone number/class dates desired.  Space is limited.  E-mail confirmations will be provided.  Overflow enrollments will be placed on a wait list with an option to Audit. 

Above are scenes from Beyond Beginnings, Series 1.

* Cathy Ritch

FGCCT Tour to England

Act now to secure your spot, registration is filling up!

In the Countryside and London
Featuring the Chelsea Flower Show
May 20-28, 2016

Spend a week experiencing the garden treasures of Kent, considered the "Garden of England," and London, where you have tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show.


This engaging experience includes:
    ◦    JFK/London Virgin Atlantic non-stop flight
    ◦    Breakfast daily, 5 dinners, 3 lunches
    ◦    Cromwell, New Haven & Westport /JFK coach
     ◦    Tours and transfers as per itinerary
    ◦    7 nights accommodations
    ◦    English speaking  tour guide    

Tour Cost per person:
$3500 (share)
$625 single supplement

For  information contact:
FGCCT tour coordinator - Kathy Kobishyn
203.915.6017   [email protected]

Carew Travel  - tour operator
800.621.1113.   [email protected]

For registration form,   click here.

* Kathy Kobyshin
FGCCT Tour Coordinator

Looking for Candidates for the Following Federation Board Positions:

The Nominating Committee is actively searching to fill a number of Federation Board positions as follows:
1.  Environmental Concerns/Conservation Chair
2.  Newsletter Editor
3.  Website Director (Webmaster)
If interested, please contact me.

* Ronnie Schoelzel
Nominating Committee Chair
Clubs Honor Special Members

Congratulations to those who were honored with Connecticut Life Memberships during 2015.  

Inge Venus    Cheshire Garden Club
Betty Gosselin    Greens Farms Garden Club
Gerry Shaw    Bethany Garden Club
Rosemarie Hohman    Bethany Garden Club
Yvette Audet    Bristol Garden Club
Joan Nyerick    Bristol Garden Club
Carmelita Valerio    Bristol Garden Club

A Connecticut Life Membership is a distinct way to recognize a worthy and special club member.  National Garden Clubs Life Memberships may also be presented.  Think about paying tribute to your special members this year.  Contact me for details.

* Arlene Field
Second Vice-President and Membership Chair
105 Meadows End Road
Monroe, CT 06468-1705
[email protected]

Monarchs, Milkweed, and Pollinators...

I am pleased to report that I shipped more than 2.5 POUNDS of milkweed seeds donated by FGCCT members and clubs to Monarch Watch headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas, this fall, including seeds from A. syriaca, A. tuberosa, and a few A. incarnata seeds. Thanks to all who participated!


On January 6, 2016, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  (USFWS) over its failure to protect the monarch butterfly under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The groups petitioned for the monarch's protection in August 2014. In December 2014 USFWS issued an initial positive decision on the petition and launched an official review of the butterfly's status. The agency is now more than one year late in issuing a legally required "12-month finding" that will determine whether to protect the charismatic large orange and black butterfly under the Act.  The groups' lawsuit will force the agency to commit to a legally binding date to issue a final decision on the monarch's protection.

The "12-month finding" will either propose protection under the Endangered Species Act, reject protection under the Act, or add the butterfly to the candidate waiting list for protection. [Note: The petitioners requested that if the monarch is protected as a "threatened" species, USFWS enact a special rule that would still allow households and classrooms to collect wild caterpillars and rear them through metamorphosis.]


National Garden Clubs (NGC)  is an "Inaugural Network Partner" of the National Pollinator Garden Network, the collaborative effort behind the "Million Pollinator Garden Challenge." From the NGC website: "This is an unprecedented collaboration and our members will be providing food and habitat for pollinators in our home gardens (can even be a container on a deck or a condo window planter), as well as our public garden projects, youth garden projects, nursing homes, botanical gardens, business areas, and government offices. Monetary awards will be available for our member clubs, and we plan to coordinate grants to clubs that will plant pollinator gardens with our youth!"

If you or your club has established a pollinator habitat, you can register it as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge at For more information, see

* Marty Sherman
National Project Chair

Share Your Garden  
Diana L. Ferrari of the Suffield Garden Club submitted this view of her garden, which she titles "Winter Solstice." 





To maintain your garden club's Tax Exemption status, your club MUST file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) EVERY YEAR. You must file a form 990, 990-EZ, or 990N (the e-postcard).


Clubs that fail to file an annual 990-series return or notice, for three consecutive years, will AUTOMATICALLY lose their tax-exempt status.



o r Go To, then click link for "Charities & Non-Profits."




Deadline for MARCH 2016 ISSUE  


Email Articles and Photos to:
[email protected]
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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



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


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