October/November 2023
President's Message
“See You in September” was so very true this year! It was a time to visit clubs, attend schools, enjoy club celebrations, attend presentations, and visit a prospective club.

Presidents’ Day came back in person this year, after a two-year hiatus. We were pleased to have 34 presidents join us for a morning of sharing and great refreshments, thanks to the amazing organizational skills of Karen Grava and Carmelina Villani. Members of the FGCCT Board of Directors presented 3-5 minute overviews of what each can do to help your club thrive! John Davis and MaryAnn Lynn announced a virtual treasurers’ workshop to be held on November 8, 2023, at 2 pm on Zoom. Invitations will be sent directly to treasurers. Please make sure your treasurer’s email is up to date. There were so many questions for Vonice Carr with regards to Awards that Vonice has agreed to host a virtual Awards workshop in January.

Our Schools are known across the country to be among the BEST. Gardening School 4 drew students from across the country as did Environmental School 2. Those California students had to get up with the chickens! Both schools went off without a hitch. Special thanks to Cheryl Cappiali, Cindy Eadie, Millie Legenhausen and Ginny Casanova, Gardening and Environmental School Chairs.

My theme, “Care for Our Air,” has been echoed across the state. The Yale School of the Environment offered an all-day symposium, “Urban Forests.” Google it … you’ll be amazed. There were speakers from around the world expounding on the need for more GREEN in our environment. I enjoyed a program presented by American Society of Landscape Architects at the University of the Connecticut, “Ecological Approaches to Landscape Design & Green Infrastructure,” with the emphasis on the need for more GREEN to manage our physical and mental health. 
Visiting clubs is one of my favorite activities! Goshen Garden Club invited me to take part in their 90th anniversary celebration. It was held in a wonderful barn in Goshen. Susan DeMuth posted a few pictures of the party. I joined the North Haven Garden Club for their first meeting of the year and enjoyed a speaker on Rain Gardens. We all needed that information this year! On the 21st Lynda Brown and I visited a prospective club, the Garden Gate Garden Club of Mansfield, who invited us to share the benefits of joining FGCCT. On the 28th eight members of Judges Council and I had the pleasure of judging a first-rate flower show, “The Great American Flower Show.” The designs and horticulture were all perfection. 

I hope to visit with many of you at our Awards Meeting on October 25, 2023, at the Aqua Turf. Great food, camaraderie, and retail therapy opportunities! 
All my best,
"Care for Our Air"
We challenge each club to donate to the National Garden Club "Penny Pines" project. Visit the NGC website at National Garden Club “Penny Pines” or use the QR code at the right to go directly to the Penny Pines project!

We also encourage individuals to Care For Your Air — Grace Your Home With Houseplants. Certain plants have been found to purify our indoor air and provide allergy relief as well as improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels.
Upcoming Events
Registration DEADLINE is October 18, 2023.
(Cancellations after this date will not be refunded.)
Questions? [email protected]
"Bursting into Spring"
An NGC Standard Flower Show
February 22-25, 2024
CT Convention Center, Hartford, CT

While you are preparing your gardens for fall, dividing, transplanting, planting, potting, and so many other chores, it feels as if February is far away. But soon the days will get shorter, nights will come earlier, and, after a while, we will be longing for spring.
Do you want to volunteer, be an exhibitor, or be an attendee? You can get involved individually or with your garden club. The Show Schedule is out! Look it over. Each division has incorporated the theme into its schedule. 
You might have houseplants for the Horticulture Division, or treat yourself to a new plant before November 22 and enter it in the show. The Design Division offers opportunity for creativity. Take a chance. Anyone can enter! Do you enjoy taking photographs of gardens and plants? Enter the Photography Division.

Click here to learn more. And join us as we celebrate Spring!
— Linda Kaplan, Public Relations Chair
Treasury Notes

Virtual Workshop for Club Treasurers Nov 8

A virtual Garden Club Treasurers’ Workshop hosted by John Davis, FGCCT Treasurer, and MaryAnn Lynn, Assistant Treasurer, is scheduled for 2:00 pm on November 8, 2023 using ZOOM. Treasurers and Presidents should have already received a “Save the Date” email which went out the week of September 25. If you didn’t receive it or are a club member interested in learning about how to be a club Treasurer, please contact the Federation office: [email protected]g to be added to the invitation list. An email invitation with registration instructions will be sent in early October.
Public Relations Awards Deadline is January 1, 2024
January 1, 2024 is the deadline for Public Relations Awards. Please do not wait for next year to enter your application for the following: Digital Media Presentations, Membership Awareness; Newsletter, Social Media and/or Website, and the observance of National Garden Club Week.

The time frame for these applications is January 1 to December 31, 2023. Please contact Public Relations Chair Linda Kaplan at [email protected]. Each nomination requires an FGCCT Award Application included with the email. Send an electronic copy to Linda and a copy to Awards Chair Vonice Carr at [email protected].
Unfortunately, no applications will be accepted after January 1st.
President's Day 2023

On Tuesday, September 26, 2023, Jones Auditorium in New Haven was filled with club presidents from all over the state. The presentation began at 10 am, when FGCCT President Karin Pyskaty called the meeting to order. Nan Merolla, 1st VP, talked about the new headquarters and National Garden Club resources. A little excitement occurred in the middle of 2nd VP Kelle Rudin’s talk when a fire alarm sounded and everyone had to leave the building. Fortunately, it was a false alarm!

Lifetime Memberships were explained, as were Tribute Awards. Award Chair Vonice Carr reminded everyone to sign up for the Awards Meeting and Luncheon on October 25, 2023. Programs, National Garden Club Schools and Councils were discussed as well as youth programs. Treasurer John Davis Club discussed finances, grants and scholarships, and Flower Show Chair Lynda Brown introduced the 2024 CT Flower Show at the Hartford Convention Center in February.
Following the presentations, attendees had an opportunity to network over lunch. “Today’s program was very informative and short and concise. This year’s presentation was the best one I have attended,” said one attendee.

— Linda Kaplan, Public Relations Chair [Photo: Linda Kaplan]
More 2024 Tours: 
January 13-23, 2024 ~ Galapagos and Equador (SOLD OUT)
 June 23-July 7, 2024 ~ Scotland with Yorkshire Extension (2 spaces left!)
July 21-23 ~ Cape Ann
August 10-17 ~ Glacier National Park
Oct. 24-Nov 2 ~ Sicily
Keep checking the website for new tours!   

— Kathy Lindroth, FGCCT Tours Coordinator ~ 860.836.3407 or [email protected]
From NGC: Plant America, Feed America
Articles of Interest
Horticulture: An Unwelcome Native Tree, Catalpa
By Renee Marsh, FGCCT Horticulture Chair

I have this irritating (to my mate) habit of going over to make the acquaintance of any member of the plant kingdom I do not know. I am endlessly fascinated by new plants and will dive down the online rabbit hole for hours until I know the plant’s entire life history. So it was this summer with me and Catalpa.  In a landscape of maple and oak, Catalpa looks practically tropical with its giant heart-shaped leaves, orchid-like flowers, and dangling seed pods. When I saw one at Harkness Memorial Park standing majestically in the lawn, I wanted to know more. What I found is that Catalpa requires one to consider a more nuanced understanding of “native” and begs the question, native to where? So, to Catalpa or not to Catalpa? That is the question and here is the story.

Catalpa is a member of the Trumpet-creeper family, Bignoniaceae, and native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of North America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. In our world that means Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri as well as southern Indiana and Illinois. It has many colorful common names including cigar tree, Indian bean tree, catawba, and caterpillar tree.  There are two North American species, southern catalpa (C. bignonioides) and northern catalpa (C. speciosa). They are very similar in appearance, but the northern species has slightly larger leaves, flowers, and bean pods and is a zone hardier than southern catalpa.
Northern catalpa is hardy to Zones 4–8 and grows to 40–60 ft. tall, with branches spreading to a 20–40 ft. oval shape. It has a fast growth rate, 13 to 24 inches per year, and a sapling can reach 20 ft. tall in ten years. It is very adaptable, handling full sun or partial shade, a wide range of soil types, and moisture conditions from occasional flooding to extremely hot and dry. The wood, though soft and brittle, is resistant to rot and was used for fence posts and railroad ties.
It is easy to spot with leaves that are up to 12" long and 4–8" wide. It is sometimes confused with princess tree, Paulownia tomentosa, a non-native invasive tree from China that has a similar large leaf.  Around late June, clusters of large, showy, trumpet-shaped, flowers cover the tree. It is quite a show in an exotic way.  In late summer or autumn the fruit appear. Starting out green then turning brown, the bean-like seed pods are about 8–20 inches long and full of small flat seeds, each with two thin wings to aid in wind dispersal. This explains the tree’s name, which derives from the Muscogee name for the tree, "kutuhlpa" meaning  "winged head." 
The flowers of the catalpa are favored by pollinators like hummingbirds and bees. Most importantly, the leaves are the sole food source of the caterpillars of the catalpa sphinx moth, Ceratomia catalpae. The moth is a bit nondescript but one can’t miss a fat, juicy two-inch caterpillar. In a boom year, the caterpillars can completely defoliate a tree but the Catalpa seems to take it in stride and produces new leaves readily. The caterpillar does have one major predator: fishermen. Apparently the caterpillars make an excellent live bait and in some southern states, anglers plant Catalpa just to have a source of "catawba-worms". The caterpillars can even be preserved by placing them in cornmeal in an airtight container and then freezing them. When thawed, they will become active again. Pretty neat trick.

Alas, this striking tree is not one to welcome into our gardens. The University of Connecticut Plant database warns that it “has demonstrated an invasive tendency in Connecticut, meaning it may escape from cultivation and naturalize in minimally managed areas.” “Native” is no longer a free pass and the term should have a geographic qualifier, like native to New England or even native to a specific ecoregion. Even if you get past that issue, there are the other less-than-stellar traits, like wide-ranging, invasive roots and a messy nature. Catalpa likes to rain down soggy flowers, pointy seed pods, large leaves and finally twigs, branches and limbs. Some folks find this annoying.

In the end I was sad that there would be no friendship with this tree but I will still give a nod of recognition next time I pass one.

P.S. If you want to debate this at cocktail parties, use Doug Tallamy’s definition of a native as a guide: “a plant or animal that has evolved in a given place over a period of time sufficient to develop complex and essential relationships with the physical environment and other organisms in a given ecological community.” Good luck!
Protecting Our Watersheds, Our Aquifers, Our Water and Livelihoods
By Holly Kocet, Garden Club of Newtown & Co-Chair, FGCCT Conservation Committee

A watershed is an area of land through which rainwater drains above or below ground to a common low point, be it a stream, river, lake, or ocean. Since all land is part of a watershed, we all live on a watershed. Therefore, the actions we take on our land can impact (positively or negatively) the quality of water that flows from our watershed. And, as water flows through this system, the impacts are cumulative. This means that everything one does on one's property can impact the water that flows to a neighbor downstream. Likewise, everything landowners do above you will impact the quality and quantity of water flowing through your land.

Most of Connecticut’s rivers eventually flow into Long Island Sound. According to Save the Sound, nitrogen is the primary pollutant threatening the Sound. Sources of nitrogen include waste treatment plants, septic systems, burning of fossil fuels, and fertilizers used on lawns and crops. Excess nitrogen robs the waters of oxygen, a serious concern for fish, lobster and other aquatic animals that need oxygenated water to breathe. High nitrogen levels also lead to harmful algae blooms that cause fish die-offs and destroy coastal marshes. Marshes are not only important to many wildlife species, they also help protect our coastal communities from flooding during storms.
Within watersheds are our aquifers. These underground areas are empty spaces in rock, sand or gravel. They are natural holding tanks and the source of the water for both wells and a public water supply. Aquifers are recharged when water is absorbed and collected from permeable land surfaces. It’s easy to take our water for granted. When we turn on a faucet, our expectation is for plenty of fresh water. But with more and more land being developed, there is also increased demand on our aquifers. Protecting and preserving this precious water source is of highest priority.

Our freshwater ponds and lakes are also impacted by high nutrient loads from detergents and lawn chemicals. Easily dissolved and held in solution by water, these substances impact all forms of life. Native bunch grasses, plants, and trees that grow naturally along ponds, lakes, and streams trap and filter runoff before it enters the water. But where lawn is maintained to the water’s edge, there is no natural buffer, so fertilizers and lawn chemicals find their way in. Creating buffers with native plantings, (a.k.a. riparian buffers) is effective in filtering pollutants. Buffers also keep the waters cool, reduce bank erosion and prevent silt from muddying the waters. Buffering can also be effective in preventing large gatherings of geese. Fearing predators, geese won’t walk through high grasses and plants to access water after grazing. Their droppings and those from other animal grazers are filtered by this buffer. This is extremely important because E-coli bacteria in water is a serious health risk. It has been traced to animal feces as well as leaking septic and sewer systems.

I am stunned by how many homeowners maintain huge lawn areas, which often means the use of pesticides including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (known to be hazardous to children, pets and the environment), as well as chemical fertilizers. A staggering 67 million pounds of pesticides are used on lawns each year. And, according to the EPA, as much as 60% of nitrogen used to fertilize lawns ends up in surface and groundwater. Pesticides and fertilizers are major contributors to decline in water quality for streams, rivers, and well water.

Road salt, while necessary for public safety, finds its way into the aquifer and well water. Each winter, it is estimated that more than 20 million metric tons of salt are poured on U.S. roads, according to the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York. High salt levels are already found in waters of some Connecticut locations.

Another serious health risk is Polyfluroralkyl substances (PFAS). Also known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS compounds do not readily break down. They accumulate in the body and are associated with certain cancers, prompting the EPA to set new standards for drinking water under the Clean Water Act. Most recently brought to public attention when used in firefighting foams, PFAS are also found in non-stick cookware, stainproof carpets and fertilizers.
Wetlands and swamps are considered by some to be waste areas, but nothing could be farther from the truth. They are hugely important for recharging our aquifers. As water demands increase, we need to be preserving wetlands, not diminishing them, and we need to keep them free from pollution and waste. Wetlands and swamps should never be filled in or used as dump sites. Not only are wetland areas important habitat for many birds and mammals, they are critical for storm flood control.

Ways to protect our watershed
There is much that can be done to protect our watersheds and aquifers. Towns and cities need requirements for development plans that provide the lowest negative impact on the environment to ensure a stable and healthy water supply. Designs should limit impervious surfaces that prevent water absorption needed for recharging aquifers. And better solutions need to be found for the tons of salt spread on our roadways each year, threatening to contaminate our wells.
Individually, homeowners need to rethink their lawn practices and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are often applied where no problem actually exists. Chemical companies are pretty good at promoting their products and we consumers make them very rich. I especially love the 4-step programs offered by lawn companies that only serve to make lawns more chemical and water dependent, contaminating our water sources in the process. It bears repeating that pesticides and fertilizers contribute to the decline of water quality in a major way. Other important considerations:
  • Septic systems are generally out of sight, out of mind, however they need to be properly maintained. If a home is not on a town/city sewer line, a septic tank should be pumped every 3-5 years.
  •  Our wetlands need to be respected, preserved and protected for the valuable benefits they provide.
  •  Ponds, lakes, streams, wells and water sources need to be buffered against runoff containing harmful chemicals, fertilizers and other contaminants.

The best time to protect our watersheds is while our water supply is still healthy. Preserving the quality of our aquifers and their capacity to recharge will ensure a safe, clean and abundant water supply for years to come.
SPOTLIGHT on our FGCCT Affiliates!

Connecticut Master Gardener Association
CMGA is the alumni association for graduates of the Connecticut Master Gardener program. Graduating members provide opportunities to share their knowledge and love of gardening with others. Through sponsorship of events and leadership of volunteer projects throughout the state, CMGA members are helping to educate and beautify our communities. The Master Gardener program is a national program with chapters in every state that includes both classwork and field experience.
A core commitment of the CMGA is mentoring the interns enrolled in the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. One of the ways the CMGA supports the program is by assisting the interns with the required “Tree, Shrub, & Vine” (TSV) project.
In the Spring of 2022, CMGA launched our first TSV I.D. Walk program exclusively for the Master Garden interns. CMGA tailored the program to emphasize native trees, shrubs, and vines of Connecticut, offering these walks in different locations of the state to accommodate interns from all five Branch Extension offices. The program featured visits to Connecticut College Arboretum in New London; Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford; Sherwood Island in Westport; James L. Goodwin Forest in Hampton; and Edgerton Park in New Haven. Each tour was facilitated by an experienced arborist or distinguished plant expert. At several locations, the interns were allowed to collect samples for their TSV project.
CMGA subsequently offered a Winter Walk at the Marsh Botanical Garden in New Haven and has continued the five Spring Walks. The 2023 venues included Elizabeth Park, Connecticut College Arboretum, Sherwood Island, James L. Goodwin Forest, and a second visit to the Marsh Botanical Garden. 
The CMGA is doing our part to “grow gardens and gardeners” and is pleased to be a FGCCT Affiliate. Registration is now open for the 2024 Master Gardener Program!
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 writeup (200 words or less) and 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.
Greens Farms Garden Club:
Women Helping Women

Growing For Good, our largest current project, grows and donates organic vegetables to women and families in our neighboring community of Bridgeport, which is a fresh food desert. During the pandemic our club researched and created this project to help needy people eat healthily by growing and donating vegetables to a local food bank. Our recipient is Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport, CT. The women there are so thankful for fresh organic vegetables, which make such a difference in their lives. To begin, we were able to procure growing space at St. Timothy’s Church in Fairfield and at Wakeman Town Farm in Westport. The first year we had 28 members involved, 345 volunteer hours, 23 weekly harvests, and donated 745 bags of fresh produce. Last year we doubled our growing space when the owners of Westport’s Prospect Gardens offered us two large plots.

That second year saw 34 members involved, 633 volunteer hours, 23 harvests and almost 1600 pounds of organic vegetables donated. This third year we were given the entire vegetable garden at Prospect Gardens. This doubled our growing space. We continue to have one plot at Wakeman Town Farm. The 2023 GFG season is well underway with succession plantings of several crops. We were the recipient of the Plant America Grant from the National Garden Clubs in February of 2022, which gave us monies to purchase a LED seed starting system to grow our plants from organic seeds. This year we received the AMES Companies Tool grant of $250; an Espoma Co. grant of $250; and the Coast of Maine Co. donated $250 of their products. Ganim’s Garden Center of Fairfield and Gilbertie’s Herbs and Garden in Westport continue to be involved. 
Crops this third season are tomatoes, kale, radishes, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchini, carrots, onions, garlic, chard, peppers, rhubarb, scallions, beets, beans, basil, eggplant, thyme and lavender. We have community friends donating peaches and apples. Our largest weekly donation in mid-August was 52.5 pounds and aiming for more! We welcome the help of community members who grow and donate vegetables and fruit to Growing For Good.

Prospect Gardens participates in the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program, with over 200 appreciative visitors in 2022. The local Pollinator Pathways group also toured. Other visitors to our garden include Lee Ganim of Ganim’s Garden Center, Chairwoman Tammy Barry and Board Members of Mercy Learning Center and Nan Merolla, 1st Vice President of Federated; all tending and harvesting with us.

Growing For Good has been a tremendous success in its first two years, thanks to the hard and diligent work of our volunteers. Our GFGC members are a dedicated group that enjoy tending and harvesting, sharing garden skills, learning about growing vegetables, camaraderie and fun in the garden over the summer months. Their hard work results in great fresh vegetables for women in need. We look forward to increasing our donations of fresh organic vegetables to Mercy Learning Center this year and in the future. Women helping Women! 

Check out our project at www.greensfarmsgardenclub.org or visit our Facebook Page for more information.
Would you like to see your club recognized in the CFNews Club Corner? Let me know what you are excited about! [email protected]
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
Evergreen Country Gardeners
Fairfield Garden Club
Garden Club of New Haven
Garden Club of Orange
Goshen Garden Club
Leetes Island Garden Club
West Hartford Garden Club
$ 200.00
$ 500.00
$ 250.00
$ 150.00
$ 50.00
$ 100.00
$ 250.00
Garden Therapy Donations since the last issue of CFNews
Garden Club of Orange
$ 50.00
World Gardening Donations since the last issue of CFNews
Garden Club of Orange
$ 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:
The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc.
Attention: Rosemary Bonaguide
PO Box 902
Wallingford, CT 06492
For FGCCT Scholarship Fund:
The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc.
Attention: Deborah Osborne
PO Box 902
Wallingford, CT 06492

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]
Just a reminder …

Please send all correspondence to the new FGCCT office:
The Federated Garden Clubs of CT, Inc.
P.O. Box 902
Wallingford, CT 06492
Did you recently elect new officers? Email their names and contact information to us at [email protected] so they will receive Federation correspondence. If you need assistance, please contact FGCCT Office Administrator Joan Lenart at [email protected] or by phone at 203-488-5528 on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 10 am to 2 pm.
Deadline to submit articles/photos, ads and calendar events for the December 2023/January 2024 issue of the CFNews is November 10, 2023. Please submit to:
Marty Sherman

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 features articles of interest to environmentalists, gardeners, landscapers, floral designers, educators and photographers. Subscribe here.
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