December 2022/January 2023
President's Message
“Golden the light on the book on her knee
Finger-marked pages of Rackham’s Hans Andersen
Time for the children to come down for tea.”
 John Betjeman

This is the time of year the winds funnel up the leaves from the ground and try to put them back on the trees, every tree drawn by Arthur Rackham, the time we need soft lamplight in the afternoon, coupled with the instinct to curl up with a good book… if only our overbooked holiday season calendars would allow it.

I’ve been instructed to keep this short and sweet. The “book” I suggest to you
is the schedule for our February Flower Show, “Gateway to Springtime.” Surely you know to go to to download it.

Why? I hear the Design classes are largely spoken for. However, however,
in the Horticulture Division, there are Sections to investigate. Look at Section H -
Wicked Tulip Flower Farm (Preston) FORCED BULBS, TUBERS, RHIZOMES.
Check out Section K - Marsh Botanical Garden at Yale (New Haven) - ARBOREALS - Forced or Winter Blooming Branches.

You’ll need more time to try and fail and try again than a suggestion February 1, 2023, (the next CFNews) will give you.

Are you a Novice? (The schedule defines that.) Google "Forcing Branches to Bloom." There are YouTube videos, too. Perhaps your club has a Hortie who will mentor you. Suggestion: do not choose a branch which looks as though Arthur Rackham drew it.

Pore over the Schedule. Enter. Ooooh. You just earned a ticket to the show!
Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Healthy New Year!

Polly Brooks
Thank you, Barbara Romblad!
It is with regret we accept the resignation of Barbara Romblad. For twenty-three years, Barbara served as the Office Administrator for The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. That’s over twelve administrations. Whether you called or emailed the office, Barbara cheerfully directed you to the appropriate Committee Chair of Board member. Individually and collectively, we thank Barbara for her many years of service.

Continue to reach out to us via [email protected] or call 203-488-5528. You can always drop us a line through P.O. Box 854, Branford, CT 06405.

*** Important Notice for FGCCT Clubs ***

Beginning with this issue of CFNews, subscribers to the CFNews will receive a "digest" for each issue. This "digest" will give you a brief summary of each article and a link to the complete article on the website.

We are making this change in an effort to provide a better experience for subscribers. Some email providers are "clipping" lengthy, image-heavy messages like the CFNews. When this happens, the CFNews may not open in its entirety, or may be blocked from delivery entirely. By sending an abbreviated "digest" format (with links to all articles in their entirety), we hope to reduce delivery issues and encourage readership.

There is so much going on — we don't want you to miss a thing!
Upcoming Events
"Gateway to Springtime" ~ the 41st Annual CT Flower Show!

An NGC Standard Flower Show

Thursday, February 23, Friday, 24 & Saturday, 25, 2023
10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, February 26, 2023
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It seems like February is far away while we plan activities for the upcoming holidays. However, you may want to consider how you will be participating in the Flower Show and in and what ways you will represent your garden club.
November 20 was the final date to purchase horticultural specimens that you may want to submit for a Horticulture Award. “All Entries must be fresh, grown by the Exhibitor and have been in the possession of the Exhibitor for at least ninety (90) daysYou should also know that “exhibitors may make more than one entry per class provided each is of a different cultivar, color, or type.” The Horticulture Division is open to members of NGC and amateur gardeners. Please refer to the General Rules and additional information regarding Horticulture Rules in this year’s Gateway to Springtime Schedule and refer to this year’s Horticulture Sections and Classes. There are many opportunities to win awards for your garden club. Pre-registered entries will be accepted on Tuesday, February 21 from noon – 7 pm and on Wednesday, February 22 from 8 – 10 am.
If you have any questions, please contact Horticulture Entries Chair Pam Wright at [email protected].

Awards Reminder: Deadlines for Yearbook, Public Relations Entries

Public Relations Award Entries Due Jan. 1, 2023

It is that time of year for your garden club to send in your submissions for this year’s Public Relations Awards! (January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2022)

January 1, 2023 is the NEW deadline for:

  • Digital Media Presentations
  • Promotion of National Garden Week
  • Publications; i.e., Newsletters and Bulletins
  • Publications created to Increase Membership; i.e. 6-sided folded Brochures, two-sided Rack Cards
  • Social Media and Websites

All submissions must first be sent electronically to both:

Vonice Carr, FGCCT Awards Chair at [email protected] and
Linda Kaplan, FGCCT Public Relations Chair at [email protected] or

Additionally, please send paper copies to: Linda Kaplan, 14 Norman Hill Road, Woodstock, CT 06281. 

Yearbook Award Entries Due Feb. 1, 2023

This year’s yearbook entries with the theme “We Grow Gardens & Gardeners” are due on February 1, 2023.

Questions? Contact Susan Mayne
DEADLINE is Now Dec. 21!
And for 2023, there are still a few spaces available for:

Check the website for more information on all these tours, including full brochures and current status.

And looking to 2024, please register your interest for the following tours in 2024—Galapagos, Scotland, Glacier National Park and Japan—by emailing [email protected]

— Kathy Lindroth, FGCCT Tours Coordinator ~ 860.836.3407 or [email protected]
Horticulture: Deck the Halls (with Holly!)
By Renee Marsh, FGCCT Horticulture Chair
Deciding what to write can be a torturous task. As you may have noticed, I like to explore the often overlooked parts of the garden world. This time however, I decided to be conventional (yawn) and chose the most obvious plant for December, holly.

Sounded like it would be easy but nope, I soon found that Ilex is a very large genus. Even narrowing it down to the major ornamental species that thrive in Connecticut, left way too many plants.  There are natives species: Inkberry (I. glabra), American holly (I. opaca), and winterberry (I. verticillata).  Then there are the non-native species: Japanese holly (I. crenata) and the myriad hybrids. Ironically, the species that epitomizes Christmas, English holly (I. aquifolium) with its deep green, vicious spiny leaves and red berries, is marginally hardy to zone 6b. Not relevant for those of us up in the hills. 
To keep this article from being unbearably long — we all have holiday shopping to do — I decided to focus on the non-natives species. Yes, yes, I know this will offend the nativists but, as we are steeped in the European holiday tradition, it’s only fair. No one ever sang “deck the halls with boughs of winterberry.” And as it all traces back to the Druids who believed that holly offered protection against evil spirits, evergreen holly with red berries it is.   
Big animal picture … these evergreen hollies prefer sun with some moderate shade tolerance, prefer acidic soil, don’t like it too cold or too hot but in general, they aren’t overly fussy. One notable characteristic of holly is that it is a dioecious plant which means the male and female reproductive parts are on separate plants. The flowers are white and not of much interest unless you are a bee, in which case you are happy to gather the pollen of the male flowers. Any male plant can pollinate any female plant IF the flowering time overlaps. Most holly plants are paired (boy & girl) to ensure that happens. If it does, the resulting fruit is botanically speaking a drupe - not a berry - but I will just call them berries.
The freewheeling exchange of pollen is why there are many hybrid hollies which are crosses of different species. It is these hollies we will explore here starting with the Blue or Meserve hollies. Here is a great story of a woman in horticulture. Kathleen Meserve, an enthusiastic 20th century amateur gardener on Long Island, wanted to create cold hardy hollies with red berries. She crossed a Japanese species (Ilex rugosa) with the English holly and created a hybrid called Ilex x meserveae which is hardy to Zone 4. The foliage of this hybrid is so dark green it looks bluish, thus the name, Blue Hollies. There is ‘Blue Prince’, 'Blue Boy', 'Blue Stallion', ‘Blue Princess’ and ‘Blue Maid.’ You need one male for every four to five females to get a bumper crop of red berries. Cultivars vary in size but, by and large, they are sizeable shrubs growing to 5 - 12 ft. tall and 6 ft. or more across. They can be used as a foundation plant if you don’t mind pruning.  Luckily they take to pruning very well and also make awesome hedges (take that, boring Arborvitae).

Ms. Meserve continued her matchmaking and crossed Chinese holly (I. cornuta) and English holly producing ‘China Boy’ and ‘China Girl’ (Ilex x meserveae 'Mesdob' & 'Mesog'). They have a rounded, dense form growing to 7-10 ft. tall by 5-8 ft. wide. They too are hardy to Zone 4.
Then a German nursery man, Hans Hachmann, crossed ‘Blue Prince’ and English holly.  The resulting blue hollies were trademarked with “Castle” names.  They are smallish for hollies, hardy to zone 5 and best of all, way less spiky with softer deep green foliage. ‘Castle Spire’ (I. x meserveae 'Hachfee') has bright red berries, dark glossy foliage and a narrow, pyramidal form reaching 8 - 12 ft. tall and 3 - 4 ft. wide.  The male, ‘Castle Wall’ (I. x meserveae 'Heckenstar') is a bit shorter at 5 - 8 ft. tall.  An even shorter guy is ‘Castle Keep’ at 3 - 5 ft. tall and wide; he has a rounded habit that needs no pruning to keep it shape.  
Then there is my favorite, ‘Dragon Lady’ (Ilex x aquipernyi 'Meschick'), a cross between English and Perny holly (I. pernyi).  She is a looker with a narrow pyramidal form, 20 ft., tall but only 4 - 5 ft. wide.  She has the deeply spiked, glossy leaves and bright red fruits of her English parent in a hardier, leaner package.  Also on the smaller side is ‘Red Beauty’ holly (I. 'Rutzan') who hails from Rutgers University and is a cross of Blue and Perny holly.  She is the same width as ‘Dragon Lady’ but half the height at 7 - 10 ft. tall.     
Lastly, the grand dame of the hybrids is ‘Nellie R. Stevens,' a cross of English and Chinese holly. She is monumental and will quickly reach a mature height of 15 - 25 ft. and width of 8 - 15 ft.  She tolerates drought, air pollution, and heat but is only cold hardy to Zone 6. She will produce large, bright orange-red berries without a male pollinizer but a male Chinese Holly will increase the berry set.

Beyond being decorative, hollies provide protection for nesting birds and the flowers, though small, are loved by pollinators. In Celtic mythology the revered holly tree is considered the evergreen twin of the oak. The oak is the controller of the light half of the year and the holly controls the dark, winter months. Happy winter solstice!
Legislative Update

The following list of Bills and Acts were passed into Connecticut law in October 2022.

  • PA-22-29 HB 5201:  An Act concerning public health concerns in the acquisition of water companies. (16 pages)
  • PA 22-143 SB 238: An Act concerning revisions to certain Environment related statutes. (9 pages)
  • PA 22-144 SB241: An Act concerning Boating safety. (1 page)
  • PA22-83 SB116: An Act concerning notification of pesticide applications near lakes and ponds. (1 page)
  • PA22-51 HB5141: An Act concerning the protection of certain Fish species. (1 page)
  • PA22-142 SB 120: An Act concerning the use of Chlorpyrifos on golf courses.
  • SB#00120: Passed to prohibit use of chlorpyrifos on golf courses and for nonagricultural use and to restrict the use of neonicotinoids for nonagricultural use.
  • SB#00241: Boating Laws
  • SB#00004: Reduce carbon emissions
  • PA 21-58 SB 1037: An Act concerning solid waste management. (Will be effective Jan. 1, 2023) (19 pages)
   Gerri Giordano, FGCCT Legislation/Government Action Chair
FGCCT's 93rd Awards Meeting & Luncheon — A Beautiful Event!

The 93rd Annual Awards meeting and luncheon was held Wednesday, October 26, 2022, at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT. Over 300 members attended this year. 

Many attendees arrived early to socialize, browse the vendor booths, and buy drawing tickets. Vendors sold beautiful handmade totes and handbags, silk scarves, jewelry, and other lovely accessories. Also being sold were skillful bees wax candles, “must-have” handmade pottery and spectacular plants.
The tables were set beautifully with fall-themed floral arrangements donated by the Arbor Garden Club of Clinton, Evergreen Country Gardeners, Glastonbury Garden Club, Hill and Dale Garden Club, Leete’s Island Garden Club, and The Quiet Corner Garden Club.

The meeting was called to order by Awards Chair Vonice Carr. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Polly Brooks, our Federated President, welcomed everyone. Polly announced Susan Quincy, DEEP Environmental Educator, as the winner of the Bronze medal, and extolled her accomplishments. Susan Quincy then gave an inspirational acceptance speech. 

Shirley Gironi, Guilford Garden Club, received The Federation’s highest Award to an individual, the Lillian Rathbun Award. The Wilton Garden club received the Lucille Schavoir Award, the highest Award given to a member club.

National Garden Club Awards were announced, as were New England Garden Club Awards. The presentation of our Federation’s Awards followed.

Many clubs were recognized for their outstanding work in civic development & community beautification, conservation, environmental concerns, floral design, garden therapy, historic, memorial & public gardens, horticulture, public relations, scholarships, yearbook, and youth activities.

As we close this year, we continue to recognize and thank the outstanding our clubs for their dedication, hard work and creativity.  

— Linda Kaplan, FGCCT Public Relations Chair
SPOTLIGHT on our FGCCT Affiliates!

The Greenwich Botanical Center
The Greenwich Botanical Center, formerly known as the Garden Education Center of Greenwich, is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting horticulture, conservation, and the arts through educational programs, outreach activities and special events. In 2022, we celebrate our 65th year of operation.

For people who appreciate horticulture and nature in a social setting, the Greenwich Botanical Center, or “GBC,” is a resource for environmental connection. We are a member-based organization with a rich local history rooted to our past as we forge into the future connecting our community to nature.

The GBC is based in the Montgomery Pinetum in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich. The Pinetum is part of a town-owned preserve that was deeded to Greenwich as a park for recreational use and the appreciation of nature and art by Colonel Robert Montgomery’s wife, Nell, after his death in 1952. Colonel Montgomery and Nell had owned the property since 1922 and collected 850 tree and shrub species, establishing the Pinetum during their tenure.

In 1957, Jane Duff, a local gardening enthusiast, spearheaded an effort to found the Greenwich “Garden Center” to “inspire and foster interest in better gardening and horticulture in all phases of and related aspects of nature.” The name was changed to “Garden Education Center” in 1993 and then again to “Greenwich Botanical Center” in 2017.

The GBC consists of two buildings: a main building with offices, a reception gallery, classroom, meeting room and store; and a horticulture building which serves as a teaching greenhouse for demonstrations, workshops and host to specialty plant sales. Future GBC plans include the restoration of a two-story historical greenhouse built by Colonel Montgomery to house his palm trees in the winter. An active volunteer Board of Directors oversees a full-time Executive Director and much of the programming and event activity at the GBC. We have 8 part-time employees who help run adult and youth programming.

The GBC offers classes, lectures, trips and workshops for adults on a range of topics related to horticulture, botany, art, and environmental stewardship. Forest Days, our forest-based nature immersion program for children, is the mainstay of our youth program. We conduct outreach classes at local senior centers and run a high school extern program every spring. We host six major fundraising events per year: the Grandiflora Garden Tour: the longest running garden tour in the area; the Dazzling Dahlia Show: an amateur grower competition and show; The May Gardener’s Market: a spring plant sale; Ghouls in Garden: a Halloween event for families; Twilight in the Garden: a reception honoring a local citizen who has positively influenced the community in the spirit of our mission; and Frolic in the Forest: a woodland fairy and forest celebration for families. We are a vibrant meeting place for local garden clubs, organizations, and civic groups.

Please visit our website to join and learn more about how we celebrate the beauty and power of plants in our community! We would love to welcome you here!
The "Dazzling Dahlia Show"
The May Gardener's Market
"Forest Days" camp
Club Corner
"Club Corner" is designed to be a place where clubs can showcase recently completed club achievements and activities. Visit "Club Corner" on the FGCCT website for more of the latest news from— and for—our member clubs! (Please note that this area is not for upcoming events. We encourage you to post those on the FGCCT Club Calendar.)

Send photos, along with a very brief writeup (200 words or less) and detailed photo captions, to [email protected] to be considered for inclusion. Please ensure you have appropriate permissions for all photos. We reserve the right to edit copy and select photos for inclusion.

Check out the CFNews Featured Club on our website!
FEATURED CLUB: The Westport Garden Club Honors its Founder in a Modern Way

In April 1924 eight women and two men met at the suggestion of Nevada Hitchcock (1863-1937) to form a Westport Garden Club. Nevada was a respected reporter who moved to Westport in 1922 and became a columnist for the Bridgeport Sunday Post (today’s Connecticut Post). Her column, “Your Own Garden” was one of the Post's most popular features. During Hitchcock’s tenure in the club, she actively worked on projects to benefit the town including improving the landscape of the Saugatuck Fire House, the development of native tree and shrub plantings along the Merritt Parkway and further afield at the Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) where an Arboretum was established that remains a valuable resource for field studies today. In 1929, the club became a charter member of The Federation.
Upon Hitchcock’s death in 1937, the club voted unanimously to establish a memorial garden to honor her. 137 Dogwoods were planted along Cross Highway from Compo Road to Sturges Highway. Today, most of the trees have succumbed to age and disease, however, a plaque and a garden remain.  That garden has been lovingly maintained by WGC members for over eighty years. 
Flash forward to one of the club’s more recent projects, working with town partners and H2H (Hudson to Housatonic) to establish a Pollinator Pathway. On Earth Day 2019, a Proclamation was issued by the Westport Board of Selectman to “encourage private landowners and businesses to take cognizance of this initiative and to participate as means allow in avoiding harmful pesticides and creating containers, gardens, and properties featuring native and pollinator-friendly plants, trees and shrubs that can provide food and habitat for threatened species.” Committed to putting these words into practice, the club has evaluated its existing civics gardens and made many changes. In 2022, the club undertook a major renovation of the Nevada Hitchcock Garden to make it an important part of the Pollinator Pathway under the leadership of the club’s Civics Chair and UCONN Advanced Master Gardener, Nathalie Fonteyne. Out with the Vinca and the Irises, in with Goldenrod, Amsonia, and Fothergilla. Anise hyssop, Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’, ‘Blue Fortune’ Agastache, and Baptisia alba with a dash of Asclepias tuberosa. Spring-blooming daffodils were preserved and re-planted to offer a little early-season color. Despite the challenging Summer with so little rain, the garden has thrived and as it settles in for a long winter’s nap, mulched leaves will protect the plantings and encourage beneficial insects to nest and prepare to do their job next Spring.
As the club approaches its 99th birthday, the legacy of Nevada Hitchcock lives on in the Westport Garden Club’s commitment to beautification and education.
Fothergilla species — deciduous Eastern US natives — are spectacular 4-season shrubs.
An original Nevada Hitchcock Dogwood
Donations by Garden Clubs to FGCCT's Scholarship, Garden Therapy and World Gardening Funds
We thank the following Garden Clubs for their recent donations to the FGCCT Scholarship Fund.* For almost 40 years, the Federation has awarded scholarships to college and university students who major in Agronomy, Botany, City Planning, Conservation, Environmental Studies, Floriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Land Management, Landscape Design, Plant Pathology, or allied subjects. We welcome donations of any size. Our appeal is ongoing to give all of our clubs the opportunity to make a contribution in the amount of their choosing.
Scholarship Donations since the last issue of CFNews
Connecticut Valley Garden Club   
Olde Ripton Garden Club
West Haven Garden Club
$ 50.00
$ 50.00
There were no Garden Therapy or World Gardening Donations since the last CFNews.
Please send all Scholarship Fund donation checks to the appropriate chair (see below). Make checks out to "FGCCT" with the appropriate Fund listed on the memo line.  

*Please note that due to the deadline for articles and information for the CFNews, some donations may not be received and deposited in time to be included in the bi-monthly donation acknowledgement, but will be included in the next issue of our newsletter. 

For World Gardening & Garden Therapy:

Peggy Lajoie
12 Eastview Rd
Southington, CT 06489
For FGCCT Scholarship Fund:

Deborah Osborne
25 Zoar Rd
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
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FGCCT is on Facebook and Instagram and we love to post your news and photos! Please send upcoming events, club activities, civic projects, milestones, and hort tips. Include photos and a brief writeup of the news your club would like to share. The best format is text in an email with jpg photos attached. Take active photos showing members at work or showcasing beautiful gardens, flowers, and plants (please name the flower if it is a hort only photo). Let’s follow each other! Send submissions to [email protected]
Deadline to submit articles/photos, ads and calendar events for the June/July 2022 issue of The Connecticut Federation News is January 10, 2023. Please submit to:

Marty Sherman

PO Box 854, Branford, CT 06405
Ellie Tessmer

Direct Circulation Queries to: Office Administrator, FGCCT, PO Box 854, Branford, CT 06405
Reminder from NGC: The National Gardener is ONLINE (and free!)

The official publication of the National Garden Clubs, The National Gardener appears quarterly, and highlights articles of interest to environmentalists, gardeners, landscapers, floral designers, educators and nature photographers. Subscribe here.
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