February 2023 / March 2023
President's Message
This is not the “quiet” time of year for your Federation. “Gateway to Springtime,”
our 41st Annual Connecticut Flower Show, opens in a few short weeks, Thursday, February 23rd. Discounted tickets for $14 are available until February 10. After that, tickets are $20. (Ask your President. We sent all Club Presidents a form…)

If you volunteer, admission is free. Whoever drives and volunteers receives a parking voucher good for 4 hours. Do come! Do thank the Flower Show Committee, early and often!

Our federation has a new administrative office, #8, upstairs at 5 North Main Street, Wallingford. May Comcast bring us wi-fi soon. It is a welcome change to have our own meeting space.

Roughly half the members of your Board of Directors joined within the last two years. That speaks to the health and energy of The Federation. May it encourage you to join us. That old song “Make new friends, but keep the old?” You will keep friends from your club, and add new ones from all around our wonderful state.
Positions opening in April include Assistant Treasurer, Garden Therapy and World Gardening, Historic/Memorial/Public Gardens, Legislation, Meetings, Programs, Social Media.
At your request, Nominating Chair Arlene Field will send you detailed descriptions of these open board positions.

Polly Brooks
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.


Discounted ($14) tickets are available to members of FGCCT clubs only if purchased (by mail or online) by February 10, 2023. Please note: you will need a special FGCCT discount code to get this discount if you order online. Your club president has all the details. 

(Important: Mail orders MUST be received by Feb. 10 to receive the discounted price.)

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. (Please note: ONLY Pre-Registered Horticulture will be accepted on Wednesday, February 22.)
If you have any questions, please contact Horticulture Entries Chair Pam Wright at [email protected].

And while you're at the Flower & Garden Show, don't miss these two great presentations! They're included in the price of admission!

"Easy Floral Designs"
A Program by FGCCT Judges Council Chair Trish Manfredi
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2 pm in Room 11
"Spring Floral Designs with PAZAZZ!"
A Program by FGCCT Judge Larry Huzi, Branford Garden Club
Friday, Feb. 24, at 4 pm

Space will be available at The Federation’s Membership Table for you to publicize your Club or upcoming events. Printed publicity pieces must be no larger than a trifold. Please note: Plant Sales and May Markets are excluded, unless part of a trifold. You may drop off your publicity pieces at the Membership Table while you are at the Flower Show or send them in advance to Nan Merolla: 4 Heron Court, Norwalk, CT 06855.  Questions:  [email protected]
Treasury Notes

Tax Time!
For Club Presidents and Treasurers – those of you whose club uses a calendar year fiscal year are probably thinking about filing your club Tax Exempt Organization tax form. If you’re not – you should be!  If your club enjoys its Tax Exempt Status under the FGCCT umbrella, AND files the 990 N for organizations with less than $50,000 in total annual receipts, we’ll do it for you! Please see the Finances and Taxes section under "Tips for Clubs" in the Club Corner of the FGCCT website for more.
Club Annual Reports due April 1

Annual Reports are due on April 1. You may begin to submit them now, while we dream about the promise of spring and returning to our gardens. The forms are available here (member login required).
As you begin to prepare your club’s Annual Reports, may I offer a suggestion? Meet with your club committee chairs at a coffee shop or other easy to use gathering space to review your club’s activities for the past year. After reviewing your activities, it will be easy for the committee chairs to ‘claim’ the activities that they will add to their Annual Report. A project on invasives, birds, butterflies, or bees all are reported on Conservation and Environmental Activities. Did your club plant a tree or several trees? That is added to the Arboreal section of the Conservation and Environmental Concerns report. A garden project may be reported in Horticulture or on Historic Memorial and Public Gardens. Let your club committee chairs choose which one to use. Did your civic activities include a project at a senior center or other care facility? Then that is Garden Therapy. Projects and activities involving youth are always reported on the Youth Annual Report. Blue Star and Gold Star Memorial projects might be Civic Development or Historic Memorial and Public Gardens depending on the scope of work accomplished. Participation in community activities might be Civic Development or another committee depending on your perspective. 

We just ask that you don’t duplicate the activities that you report. We as a committee meet in June and review all your submissions and often trade reports among committees. There is no exact answer to which activity belongs on which report; it all depends on how you describe it and the details you provide that give us some insight. Please provide details. It is tremendously uplifting and exciting to read about your club’s activities and your fantastic members. Brag a bit and let us know that your garden club really is award worthy!

I hope to see all of you at the October Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.
— Vonice Carr, Awards Chair
Space is available for this amazing tour!
Gardens of the Hudson Valley
June 6-9, 2023

Come view the Hudson Valley at peak bloom including a "Private Tour at Stonecrop with the Director," a Gourmet lunch at Boscobel, beautiful Innisfree Gardens as we stay in historic Rhinebeck...  and much more. 

Enjoy our famous wine and snack service on the deluxe coach — sit back and enjoy!  
And for 2023, there are still a few spaces available for:

  • April-May: Madrid y Andalusia
  • Late October/Early November: South Africa Garden Tour with Safari Extension (Spaces available for Main Tour Only - Safari Extension is Sold Out)

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—Scotland, Glacier National Park and Japan—by emailing [email protected]

— Kathy Lindroth, FGCCT Tours Coordinator ~ 860.836.3407 or [email protected]
Horticulture: What GALLS!
By Renee Marsh, FGCCT Horticulture Chair
Weird and abnormal things fascinate most of us … I think … at least they do me. So whenever I am out in the garden and see something “different,” I just have to go investigate. The most amazing and oddly beautiful things to me are galls. Galls are abnormal growths that can occur on any part of a plant —leaves, stems, twigs, branches or flowers. They can be caused by various organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes and mites but most are caused by insects. Insect galls occur in many forms, colors and shapes from bumps and warts to spiny projections and woody structures. They can be beautiful, like the wooly oak leaf gall, or downright alien, like the horned oak gall.  
Each insect, be it a wasp, midge, moth, fly, aphid or beetle, attacks specific tissues on a specific plant producing a unique and distinctive gall. They do this by secreting chemicals that cause rapid cell multiplication in the affected area of the plant tissue. The insect, known as a gallmaker, essentially reprograms the plant growth, transforming ordinary plant parts into fantastical structures. Galls can only form on growing tissue so gall-making activity occurs in the spring or early summer. Mature plant tissues are usually not affected by gall-inducing organisms. Interestingly, of the more than 700 species of gall-forming insects in the United States and Canada, nearly 80% form galls on oaks.

The gall serves several important purposes for the gallmaker. It shelters the egg, larva, pupa and emerging adult from the weather and predators, and provides food for the larva. Eventually, the mature insect emerges, usually through a small exit hole made through the wall of the gall. After the gall-making insect leaves, the gall can remain on the plant through the season. Other insects and beneficial organisms, such as beetles or caterpillars, may move into the abandoned gall for shelter or to feed.
A common gall for those who grow roses is the mossy rose gall aptly named because it occurs on roses and looks like moss. The gallmaker is a cynipid wasp. These tiny wasps are the largest group of gall- making insects, and produce most of the galls on oak trees and plants in the rose family. In the spring the female looks for new leaf tissue on which to lay eggs. The eggs hatch and the feeding of the larvae induces the gall to form around it. The wasp overwinters as a larva in the gall and in early spring, the adult wasp matures and chews out of the gall. If you want to let nature do its thing, you can leave the galls on the rose bush over the winter. Gall-making insects have their own biological controls in the form of parasitoids and predators which will maintain balance in your ecosystem.
Most insect galls do not seriously affect the vigor of healthy plants so control measures are not necessary. They can be less than aesthetically pleasing for garden perfectionists but they do not directly kill the plant. It would be virtually impossible to time an insect application to prevent the insect from laying the eggs and once a gall begins to form, nothing can stop its growth. It will continue to form even after the insects die. Remember the gall is a part of the plant itself so spraying with insecticides will not make it go away. Leaf galls will fall off in autumn and woody stems can be pruned out if you find them objectionable. And yes, there are plants that don’t get galls, but what is the fun in that? 
Two galls that I commonly see on my winter walks are the oak apple gall and the goldenrod ball gall.  The oak apple galls look like brown ping-pong balls hanging from oak branches. They have paper-like, firm outer skins and are soft on the inside. The gallmaker is a small wasp and there is usually a small hole in the gall made by the adult wasp when it emerged in the summer.  
Now the goldenrod ball gall is caused by a tephritid fly which completes its entire life cycle only on goldenrod. There are distinct races of this species that are specific to different species of goldenrod. The fly larvae lives inside the gall all winter and emerges in the spring. Even within their galls, the larval flies are not always safe from harm. Two species of chalcid wasps are parasitoids of the larvae. The adult female wasp deposits her eggs into the interior chamber with a long ovipositor and after hatching, the wasp larvae feed on the fly larvae. The following spring a tiny black adult wasp will emerge instead of a fly. There is also a tiny beetle whose larvae will feed on the fly larvae inside the gall. Finally birds, especially Downy Woodpeckers and Black-capped Chickadees, will break into the galls to get to the fly larva. So much for all the best laid plans of gallmakers…

Much goes on in our gardens that we never see. Galls are a reminder of the complexity and interconnectedness of life — and our calling as gardeners is to appreciate it and let it be. I am inspired by this thought from Howard E. Evans, a Connecticut-born author and entomologist who was a specialist on wasps... “I do believe that an intimacy with … their kind can be salutary — not for what they are likely to teach us about ourselves but because they remind us, if we will let them, that there are other voices, other rhythms, other strivings and fulfillments than our own.” — Renee Marsh, FGCCT Horticulture Chair
Legislative Update:
HB5050, An Act Prohibiting the Release of Helium Balloons

In the new legislative session, 2023, there is another bill meant to protect birds and other wildlife creatures from a slow and panful death calling for banning the intentional release of even one lighter-than-air balloon.
The existing law limits releases to fewer that 10 per person in one day. Violators may be fined $35 plus fees that bring the total cost per violation to $75. They are talking about increasing the fines. We want them stopped.
Representative Irene Haines, co-sponsored by David Michael, has introduced a bill HB 5050 that would ban ALL releases. HB 5050 is an act Prohibiting the release of Helium balloons. That is section 26-25 of the General Statutes be amended to prohibit release of ANY lighter-than-air balloons. 
This bill has been introduced many times and has failed to make it out of committee, partly because some legislators believe it is not enforceable. Businesses that sell balloons and promote balloon releases have stymied the proposal.
Let’s bombard the Environmental Committee with phone calls, emails and letters. Let them know how we feel for the sake of our wildlife and for our Long Island Sound and waterways.
Please contact the Environmental committee or Irene Haines at [email protected] and ask them to pass HB 5050.
I need your help getting this bill passed. It only takes an email and if we all send one….well…we can only hope it will pass.    Gerri Giordano, FGCCT Legislation/Government Action Chair
SPOTLIGHT on our FGCCT Affiliates!

The Connecticut College Arboretum
The Arboretum, established in 1931, is a signature feature of Connecticut College. Today it encompasses 750 acres, including the landscaped grounds of the College campus as well as the surrounding plant collections, natural areas and managed landscapes. The Arboretum offers visitors a chance to explore a diverse collection of native plants and natural habitats or simply wander and enjoy the beauty of this precious natural resource. The Arboretum is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from sunrise to sunset.

[At right, the Laurel Walk,
part of the Native Plant Collection]

The Arboretum has three major plant collections: the Native Plant Collection, 30 acres of woody plants and wildflowers indigenous to eastern North America; the Campus Landscape, with 120 acres of trees and shrubs from around the world; and the three-acre Caroline Black Garden, with a diversity of woody plants, many quite mature, in a garden setting. Professional curatorial techniques, such as mapping, inventories, plant labeling and computer databases, are used to keep track of the thousands of specimens now part of the Arboretum plant collections.

Taking a self-guided tour is an excellent way for first-time visitors to experience many interesting features in the Native Plant Collection. Brochures are available in a small box on the notice board inside the entrance on Williams Street or online. Approximately 2,500 trees, shrubs and vines native to eastern North America and hardy in southeastern Connecticut are labeled with scientific names and accession numbers. The various species take turns displaying their beauty throughout the seasons: shadbush and willows in April; dogwood and azaleas in May; mountain laurel and magnolias in June; giant rhododendron, sourwood and sweet pepperbush in July; Franklin tree in September; brilliant autumn foliage in October; evergreens and conifers year-round. Spring blooming wildflowers and late summer blooming perennials add color and pollinator habitat across the landscape.

Several hundred acres of the Arboretum are dedicated as Natural Areas. They include diverse habitats such as red maple swamps, bogs, restored meadows, oak-hickory forests, abandoned farmlands reverting to woods, a wooded island in the Thames River, and a salt marsh. These lands are kept as free as possible from human disturbance and are specifically available for observational research, teaching and connecting with the natural world.
The Arboretum Pond in autumn.
The Azalea Garden
The Caroline Black Garden
The Arboretum is an integral part of the New London community, offering an extensive array of walking trails for education and passive recreation, programs for local schoolchildren, as well as public tours, workshops and conferences with a focus on ecological landscaping. In addition to education and research missions, the Arboretum provides stewardship of College lands and leadership on conservation issues locally and statewide.

Come visit in person and online, check out the many tours and programs conducted throughout the year and learn more about what the Arboretum has to offer! Our website has interactive trail maps, detailed information about gardening with native plants, and digital versions of our bulletins. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see what’s in bloom.

Public program annual highlights:

  • Free guided tours of the Native Plant Collection: the first Sunday of each month, May through October, at 10 a.m.
  • Music in the Meadow on the grassy lawn of the outdoor theater in June
  • Native Plant Sale in September
  • SALT (Smaller American Lawns Today) Conference in November
  • Landscape, Ecology & Culture Symposium in partnership with Landscape Designer, Larry Weaner, in January
  • Free programs for elementary school children led by Connecticut College students
  • Garden club members of the Arboretum ($50) are entitled to one free private tour per year
In the Club Corner
"Club Corner" is designed to be a place where clubs can showcase recently completed club achievements and activities. Has your club done something unique (or uniquely successful?) that you'd like to share? 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—you can post those on the FGCCT Club Calendar.)

Send photos, along with a 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 all our Featured Clubs.
FEATURED CLUB: The Kensington Garden Club
This active club loves to honor Veterans and beautify the town during the holiday season. Each year they decorate two trees for the Town Library, one with personalized ornaments honoring Veterans, both past and present. They also make wreaths for the town buildings and the Berlin Senior Center, create exquisite holiday displays for the Town Hall's glass display case, and design an elegant floral arrangement for the town Library.
The club's Veteran Tree is located in the town Library.
A beautiful floral arrangement greets library visitors.
Ornaments honoring local Veterans, past and present, decorate the tree.
Members decorate wreaths for town buildings and the Berlin Senior Center.
Bringing holiday cheer to the town Library!
Vicki Griswold (left) and Kim Ferraguto with a beautiful winter display at Town Hall.
A Busy Fall for The Garden Club of Woodbridge!

From its first meeting of the 2022-2023 season in September to a year-end "warm winter vibes" event in December, the Garden Club of Woodbridge has been busy! This active club began its year in September, with members sharing some of their special gardening tools — a Fiskars serrated pruner, described as the best dead-header; a hand sickle to cut down spent day lilies; and a spear-headed spade.

In early October, the club held its fall plant sale, which featured perennials donated from members' gardens and contributions from area businesses. Later in the month, club members were guests of the Garden Club of Orange, where they saw guest speaker Lisa Oberholzer-Gee demonstrate creative autumn floral designs.

Civic Beautification chairperson, Nancy La Bianca, and her gardeners wrapped up the 2022 season. Meeting for 1 hour every Thursday morning from April through the first frost, members spruced up, cleaned up and planted at the town library, the Adella Baldwin Stewart Garden and the Darling House.
At its November meeting, co-sponsored with The Woodbridge Land Trust, members heard guest speaker Mary Hogue discuss “The Pollinator Pathway.” Mary is a member of the Pollinator Pathway Steering Committee and spoke about Woodbridge connecting to Pollinator Pathways in Canada and nine US states. Integral to the Pollinator Pathway plan: rethinking your lawn, reducing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, planting native plants, and providing fresh water. 
Club members Mary Ann Tyma, Mary Leigh Sabshin, Maria Kayne, Cindy Marien and Debbie Schlegel participated in designing the Philippines room feast for the Osborne Homestead Museum holiday tour “Holiday Feasts around the World,” was held from November 25 to December 17. Nine area garden clubs participated in decorating the Museum for this annual event.

[At right, the Club's Philippines Room at Osborne House]

Wrapping up 2022, the club held a “warm winter vibes” holiday party in December. Lunch was followed by a viewing of floral arrangements “depicting warmth” made by designated club members. Horticulture participants were challenged to share “arboreal winter interest” specimens with specific measurements. 

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
Marana "Polly" Brooks   
Jane Waugh
Litchfield Garden Club
Enfield Garden Club
Haddam Garden Club
Essex Garden Club
CT Life Membership Fund donation to Scholarship
$ 500.00
$ 500.00
$ 150.00
$ 100.00
$ 50.00
$ 100.00
$ 600.00
Garden Therapy Donations since the last issue of CFNews
Haddam Garden Club   
$ 50.00
$ 50.00
World Gardening Donations since the last issue of CFNews
Haddam Garden Club   
$ 50.00
$ 50.00
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
Don't Forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

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 April/May 2023 issue of the CFNews is March 10, 2023. Please submit to:
Marty Sherman

5 North Main Street #8, Wallingford CT 06492
Ellie Tessmer

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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