May 2019
Spring is here!
Please consider a gift to
help our gardens grow! 
L etter from the Interim President

Dear Members,

Today, Friday, May 3 is Opening Day at The Gardens at Elm Bank! There are exciting changes being implemented in the coming weeks.
First, we are extending our perimeter fencing. It has always been difficult for members of the public to differentiate between the Elm Bank Reservation and The Gardens at Elm Bank. This new arrangement will more fully define the boundaries of our leased property. It will have a positive impact on the gardens by keeping cars off of the grass and tree roots, and it will be a much more pleasing environment. The change will affect parking for everyone. There will be no parking or driving within the gardens. All vehicles will remain in the parking lots.
Second, everyone visiting The Gardens at Elm Bank this season will enter through the main gate and pay admission or show their membership at the Gatehouse. For those of you who attended 2018 Festival of Trees, you will recognize this process. The Visitor Center will not be used for Admissions. Memberships will also be available for purchase at the Gatehouse, along with information, maps, directions, bottled water and snacks.

Third, the Visitors Center has been transformed into an Exhibit space for botanical art, photography and community art. Our first exhibit opens May 3 from 10:00 to 4:00 showcasing Wellesley College’s Botanical Art and Illustration: 2019 Graduating Artist Exhibition. Check it out!

All of these changes are made with the intent of improving the guest experience while visiting The Gardens at Elm Bank.

One thing that has not changed, is our Gardeners’ Fair! We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday, May 11 for our annual plant and garden sale. Read on for details.

As we make these changes, we would love your feedback. To that end, we have a survey for you to complete at The Gardeners’ Fair. Tell us about your experience and be entered to win a new grill!
We hope to see you at The Gardeners' Fair and in the gardens,

Suzanne Maas
Interim President and Executive Director
Upcoming Classes
& Events:

Sunday, May 5
10 a.m. - noon

Tuesday, May 7
1 - 3 p.m.

Saturday, May 11
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Members' Hour 8 - 9 a.m.

Saturday, May 11
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Tuesday, May 14
10 - 11:30 a.m.

Thursday, May 16
7 - 8:30 p.m.

May 21 - June 25; 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 2
10 a.m. - noon

Wonderful Water
Saturday, June 8
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Tuesday, June 11
10 a.m. - noon

June 12 - June 26
7 - 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 20
7 - 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, June 27
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

July 10 - 24
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Special Members' Hour 8 - 9 a.m.

The Gardeners’ Fair has everything you need to plan, dig, plant, and enjoy your home garden space! Find rare and unusual perennials, trees and shrubs; ready-to-plant herbs and vegetables; tomato varieties by the dozens . The Gardeners’ Fair has everything you need for your home garden!

Allandale Farm will bring a wide selection of vegetable plants, and local plant societies including The New England Unit of the Herb Society will be selling a wide variety of specialty plants. The Herb Society will also be leading tours of the Herb Garden, and Massachusetts Master Gardeners will be hosting an info booth and collecting soil samples .

Enjoy the day-- we'll have a Pangea Cuisines food truck, an afternoon bar cart, the Wellesley Town Band , and family activities celebrating International Migratory Bird Day. Get your gardening questions answered at the Ask the Master Gardener booth, or sit in on a talk highlighting: best practices for vegetable growing and plant choices for birds.

Admission is $5 per car for the general public, free for Mass Hort members.

Vendors from around New England will be selling anything you can think of to help you plant your dream garden.  Click here  to see a list of last year’s vendors.
Bird Bonanza!
Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Enjoy family activities throughout the gardens celebrating International Migratory Bird Day! Kids can fill their garden passports as they complete different bird-themed activities, crafts, and games to learn about the life of a bird and what people can do to help them live. For all ages, there will be talks on gardening for birds, the life of owls, and attracting hummingbirds to your garden.

Activities will be throughout the gardens along with the Gardeners' Fair.
Admission: Members: Free; General Public: $5 per car
Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners
By Vanessa Berridge
Merrell, 2019

Reviewed by Patrice Todisco
For one hundred years, Heather Muir, her daughter Diany Binny and her daughter Anne Chambers, have gardened at Kiftsgate. None were writers or prone to self-promotion. Each gardened as a personal passion building upon the legacy of the previous generation. The result is one of England's finest country house gardens.  Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners tells their story.
A garden of "many moods and many aspects," Kiftsgate was laid out in the 1920s and 1930s by Heather, described as a woman who lacked horticultural training but was "gifted with rare imagination and an intuitive feeling for plants." In this, the golden era of English gardening, she befriended and corresponded with many of the gardening greats, not the least of which was her famous next-door neighbor, Lawrence Johnston of Hidcote Manor.        
Within this rarified circle of gardeners, Helen's talents as a plantswoman were widely admired. Vita Sackville-West, who visited Kiftsgate several times, was entranced by the garden and sought Helen's advice. The rosarian Graham Stuart Thomas praised the garden's "magnificent artistry" above that of Sissinghurst. In a 1953 article in Country Life, eminent horticulturalist A.G.L. Heller described Kiftsgate as one of the loveliest rose gardens in England.
In 1954, Diany assumed responsibility of Kiftsgate. Like Helen, she was a passionate and intuitive plantswoman, despite her lack of formal horticultural training. Eschewing books and unimpressed by television gardening programs, Diany believed the best way to learn about gardening was by doing it. At Kiftsgate she tackled a daunting catalogue of projects including the redesign of her mother's White Sunk Garden, the planting of the North Border, and the creation of a half-moon swimming pool on the lawn of the lower garden.
As a privately-owned estate garden, Kiftsgate was not immune to social change. Heather had first opened the garden in 1938 through the National Gardening Scheme. Diany, despite her belief that gardening was both a personal and private endeavor, began to consider schemes to enhance revenue. These included selling plants propagated at the garden to the public, converting the walled kitchen garden for that use, and adding a car park in part of the forecourt. By 1980, the garden was being used as a film location and featured on Gardener's World, despite Diany's aforementioned disdain for televised gardening shows.   
Kiftsgate's current owners, Anne and Johnny Chambers, continue to balance the realities of maintaining a private country house garden, both respecting its historical pedigree and adding their own imprint on the landscape. A water garden, the heart of Kiftsgate, has replaced Heather's 1930s tennis court with a distinctive design that is simple, elegant and an "other-worldly" reminder of the timeless continuum through which the garden has evolved. An avenue of tulip trees, designed to highlight a dramatic leaf-shaped filigree sculpture has been added, to provide a vantage point from which to view the structure of the garden. 
Using family archives and recollections of its current owners, Kiftsgate Court Gardens: Three Generations of Women Gardeners is both a social history of an era and the story of a garden. Both narratives provide insight into the motivations of the women who gardened here and their creative processes. Individual chapters are devoted to each, followed by a tour of fifteen garden spaces. 
A chapter is devoted to the white rose 'Kiftsgate', the symbol of the garden. Described by Jane Owen in the recent Financial Times piece, "Jungle Warfare" , as the aggressor of the rose world and by Robin Lane Fox as a monster, it is also, by dint of its volume and beauty, a key feature of the garden. Signage and promotional literature promote the garden as 'Home of the Rosa Kiftsgate' and grafts of this namesake plant are popular purchases at Kiftsgate's plant stand.     
Diany's motto proclaims, "The art of gardening is to notice." And notice they did, boldly, yet reservedly charting their own course. "We have never been followers of fashion throughout this garden" Anne told host Rosemary Verrey in the 1995 BBC series, The English Country Garden.  Fashionable or not, Kiftsgate, described as the ultimate Englishwoman's Garden, remains. 
This is the first book about Kiftsgate. As such, it provides entrée into the world of one of England's great private gardens. If overlooked in the past, Kiftsgate is now firmly established as a must visit garden destination. Just turn left at the top of the hill leading from the village of Mickleton.
The exhibit "Kiftsgate Court Gardens: 100 Years of Women Gardeners" is on display at The Garden Museum in London through June 9th. A visit to Kiftsgate and Rockcliffe House is planned for June 7th.  

Patrice Todisco writes about parks and gardens at the award-winning blog, Landscape Notes.
Upcoming Education Programs
There's so much to learn with Mass Hort! To see a full list of classes and programs, check out our website and the digital course catalog . This month we have incredible classes led by field experts, check them out:

Create your own potted herb garden at The Portable, Potted Herb Garden workshop on Tuesday, May 7, 1 - 3 p.m. Betsy Williams will help you create an herb garden that can be moved from place to place to take advantage of available sunlight. Each participant will plant six culinary herbs in a 14“ container to grow on a sunny porch, patio or doorstep. Materials provided. $65/member, $80/general admission. Must pre-register here.

Go on a tour of the 'Ouch House ' on Tuesday, May 14, 10 - 11:30 a.m. Visit a desert landscape under glass in New England, and see the private collection of Marc Raibert, member of the Cactus and Succulent Society of Massachusetts. We'll tour his greenhouse and a talk about how this house came to be. $12/member, $20/general admission. Space is limited, register here .

Find how you can have Success with Hydrangeas with Hydrangea Guy, Mal Condon. Thursday, May 16, from 7 - 8:30 p.m., he will share details on his ‘Seasonal Step Approach to Pruning’— focusing on specific new understandings worth applying to your plants. $20/member, $30/general admission. Sign up here.

Learn the art Japanese Flower Arranging in this spring's Ikebana Course . Joanne Caccavale, Komon, Sogetsu School, will instruct this six-week course in the basics of Ikebana. Students will receive a certificate from Tokyo upon completion of each course book Tuesdays, May 21 - June 25, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. $250/member, $325/general admission. Must pre-register here or by calling 617-933-4973.

Finally, on Sunday, June 2, discover Totally Terrific Tomatoes from 10 a.m. - noon. Join Senior Horticulturist Hannah Traggis as she demonstrates how to handle, transplant, and care for tomato seedlings early after transplanting to ensure season-long success! She will also discuss suitable varieties and types, trellising, pruning, and mulching. Each registrant will go home with an assortment of 6 healthy tomato plants. $25/member, $35/general admission. Sign up today.
Spring Volunteer Opportunities
Here are all the ways to get involved with us this spring:

Spring Gardening: Get your hands in the dirt and learn with us! No green thumb needed. Sign up here.

Plantmobile/Children's Outreach Opportunities: Help cultivate the next generation of gardeners! Mass Hort Plantmobile volunteers work with kids to help them explore the plant world through activities at The Gardens at Elm Bank, at schools, and at community events.  Volunteer here.

Gardeners' Fair: Event volunteers are needed on Saturday, May 11 at our annual Gardeners' Fair. Join us as a volunteer and kick off your gardening season on this fun day! Sign up here .

Art Docents in the Visitors Center: We are excited to welcome artists from the Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens for an art exhibit that will run from May 3 - May 12. Art docent volunteers are needed to welcome visitors, answer questions, and provide general information about the gardens and Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens. Learn more and sign up here .

Stay tuned for more spring opportunities in the gardens. Or, contact Amy Rodrigues at to set up a spring or summer corporate volunteer day. Details and opportunities are also listed on our Volunteer Webpage.

Thank you for donating your time to our mission! 
Let’s Look Around: Frogs and Toads

By Kathi Gariepy,
Leaflet Contributor
In the springtime you can hear them. It’s the spring peeper or, if you’re your little one wants to be very specific and likes big words, the Pseudacris crucifer . The little, about an inch long, frogs with the big voice are brown with a darker brown “X” on their back. They like to be near wet areas of the forest floor and this year they should be very happy with the approximately 6 inches of rain we have had. Spring is the perfect time to put on the rain boots and go out for a walk to look for frogs and toads with your little ones. Frogs and toads are amphibians. The word amphibian means two lives; they all start out in the water with gills and then go on land to breathe the air with lungs. They also lay eggs and are cold blooded. Now is the time to carefully look for the egg masses and look for the developing little frogs. Frogs go through quite a change from eggs in the water- dozens to hundreds of nearly see-through gelatinous eggs, to tadpoles swimming around in the water-developing their back legs first, to froglets- front and back legs developed but it still has a tail, to the adult frog- no tail, breathes air through its’ lungs but still likes to be near water. Some frogs go through this cycle to adulthood in one year and others like bullfrogs can take a couple of years. If you see a very big tadpole it will be a very big bullfrog!

When you are out and about with your little ones looking for frogs and toads please remind them of the wonders of nature-from egg masses through a transformation to amazing creatures. Everything in nature works together and makes a wonderful circle of life. Some amphibian eggs are eaten by fish, frogs and toads are eaten by other creatures and frogs and toads eat insects like flies, mosquitoes and moths; everything has a place in nature. Please remind them of the fragility of nature. Vernal pools edges house many different creatures; they are especially fragile areas. Be on the lookout for these necessary spring areas that by mid-summer have dried up to become just another part of the forest floor. These amphibians are indication of healthy woods and yards. The frogs and toads doing their job in the ecosystem, keeping insects at bay are giving you an indication of how well your little world is doing. Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin of the amphibian things like lawn fertilizers and pesticides from the garden will do damage to the delicate creatures. Even sunscreen or hand sanitizer can impact the cute little brown toad with the darker brown spots- the American toad and other toads and frogs, adversely. As hard as it might be, try not to pick up the frog or toad. Let your little ones look for big, green hopping frogs, listen for the sounds of spring peepers and the song of the ting grey tree frog and enjoy the wonders of spring outside.    
From the Stacks:

By Maureen T. O'Brien,
Library Manager
 “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
April showers and warmer days awaken our gardens and the weeds! Weeds are inevitable and one of the first signs of spring. Emerson takes a romantic view of weeds as does Winnie the Pooh who says “Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” They can also be a nemesis that can consume you and your garden! Many weeds look like flowers. In fact many of the weeds we loathe today started out as imported ornamental plants. It is important to identify the unwanted plant and then how to safely and sustainably control or eradicate it. Books can help you do that.

Featured Collection

The oak filing cabinets that once graced the Library on Massachusetts Avenue are in the Library at Elm Bank. We call these our vertical files. Inside are folders filled with historic and contemporary horticultural information. Two drawers in the cabinets contain files with articles, brochures and ephemera on domestic and foreign gardens and parks. . Library volunteer Iva Hayes has been working on updating these files.

Why do we collect this information? It provides a valuable snapshot of the garden at a point in time and is also a resources for contemporary information. For instance, it can be used to plan garden visits during your travels, supplemented by internet research for fees opening times and directions.

In the Windows – Books on Weeds

Our Collections are Growing…

The Library relies on the generosity of its members to build and preserve its Collections. This month we thank Heidi Kost-Gross for her donations in kind that enrich our Library. Do you want inspiration for donating to our collections? Check out the books on the Society’s Amazon Wish List ―we’ve added some new titles we would love to add to our Collections!

Come Visit the Library…

Drop into the Library when the lights are on to browse or go shopping. The Library has a section with horticulture books for sale at bargain prices. Although some of the books are old, the books rarely get dated. Reusing books is more eco-friendly than buying new or recycling. We will have a used book sale table at the upcoming Gardeners’ Fair on Saturday, May 11.

The Library is open on Thursdays from 9 am to 1 pm, at other times by chance or appointment. Before you venture over, we suggest you email or call 617-933-4912 on days the Library is not scheduled to be open. A benefit of Society membership allows members to borrow most of our recent books. Have a book and cannot come in when the Library is open? You can leave it in the box outside the second floor office at the Education Building. After May 3, when the gardens open to the public, you may return your borrowed books at the new Gatehouse.

Image: Hedge bindweed ( Convolvulus sepium ) is one of five portraits of this plant from our Edwin Hale Lincoln Collection online gallery at Digital Commonwealth. This image provides a whole new perspective of the plant that displays its gracefulness and beauty and proves the old adage “one man’s weed is another man’s flower.” It is easily mistaken for its cousin the ornamental morning glory ( Ipomoea tricolor ) from the same family, Convolvulaceae .
Announcing a New Way to Help Mass Hort!
We have partnered with Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS) to help people turn their unwanted vehicles into cash for the programs at The Gardens at Elm Bank. This program provides an easy way for you to donate your car, receive a tax deduction, and have the funds flow back to Mass Hort.

For more information on this exciting new program, visit our website: car donation information or call Elaine at 617-933-4945.
2019 Is Leap Year

By Neal Sanders,
Leaflet Contributor

The gardening world is rich with mnemonics; simple rhyming catchphrases that help you remember important rules. How much sunlight does a vegetable need? “Leaf, root, flower, fruit” tells you everything you need to know. ‘Leaf’ vegetables like lettuce need the least light, ‘fruit’ ones need most.
The one I’m pondering at the start of the 2019 gardening season is “sleep, creep, leap”. It’s a powerful truth: yielding to the desire for ‘instant gratification’ is never in a gardener’s best interest. Instead, cultivate patience. If you plant a tree, shrub, or perennial, expect that its first year will be one of little apparent growth – it sleeps. Whatever you put in the ground is busy establishing a root system and acclimating itself to a new, alien environment.
Twelve months pass. That yearling plant creeps. It almost grudgingly displays a modicum of visible growth, but there is still a painful, yawning space between it and its nearest brethren. It is not until the third – or even fourth year – that the plant begins to fill its appointed space, and a garden begins to look like, well, a garden.
It is also in that second year that Type-A-personality gardeners fall into the trap of overbuying and over-planting. If a rhododendron’s tag says to plant specimens four feet apart, the impatient gardeners shrinks that spacing to three or even two feet. For a year or two, the homeowner achieves the illusion of an ‘instant garden’. By the third year, plants are getting in one another’s way. By the fifth year, shrubs that ought to be healthy are instead dying of diseases that should be collectively be labeled, ‘willful ignorance’. (Several decades ago, we acquired a house with such a landscape. A year into our ownership, we pulled our hundreds of dollars of yellowing shrubs with underdeveloped roots starved for space.)
Betty and I moved into our new home in early April 2015. Our intention had been to quickly install some 200 perennials lovingly divided and potted up from our ‘old garden’ and bring in a full retinue of new trees and shrubs perfect for the site. Long before the first frost, we would have the elements of our new garden on the half-acre (of our one-and-a-half acres) we planned to cultivate. 
Instead, in mid-April, we discovered we had no viable soil in the area we intended to make our garden. A year of construction vehicles on the site, the dispersal of ‘spoils’ from digging the foundation and basement, and the removal of some 40 end-of-life pines meant that gardening would have to be preceded by the  removal of 950 cubic yards of what we came to call ‘builders’ crud’ and replace it with a like volume of loam.   Moreover, moles and voles had consumed the roots of three-quarters of our transplanted stock.
It took until mid-summer to complete the site preparation; nothing went into the ground during the critical April through June period. By the end of September, we had planted just eight trees, 50 or so perennials, and perhaps a dozen shrubs. We added 1800 bulbs in late October. Our start was so late that 2015 didn’t even merit being called the ‘sleep’ phase; most of the plants we wanted were still in nurseries.
In the following two years we added more trees and several dozen shrubs. We began planting ground covers, added plants – primarily native perennials – to the spaces between trees and shrubs. And, yes, more bulbs went into the ground, bringing our total to more than 4,000. Those were our ‘sleep’ years. I remember looking out on our back patio where we had planted more than a hundred native perennials a year earlier. I kept thinking that, by now, it ought to be a scene of riotous color and texture. Instead, it was a series of discrete, small plants. Nothing touching, much less overlapping.
Our ‘creep’ year was 2018. The ‘ephemerals’ – especially the Virginia bluebells – flowered and proliferated. Our hostas unfurled their first leaves before the end of April. The dicentra bloomed prolifically and flowered into July. Our shrubs – notably the small iteas and fothergillas – put up exuberant spikes of white flowers, and our leucothoes nearly doubled in size.
This spring we are seeing the telltale signs that 2019 is our ‘leap’ year. The dozen plugs of bearberry we planted in 2016 merged over the winter into a continuous cover that will help keep weeds under control in one section of the garden. Eight, gallon pots of chrysanthemum daisies planted on three-foot centers in 2017 will merge this season into a continuous mass of long-blooming color. A handful of native asters we planted in 2016 to help keep soil in place at the edge of our wetlands have proliferated to the point we now need to stop their plan for world dominance.
It is the trees and shrubs, though that provide the greatest satisfaction. Only a year ago, our yellow magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ had scarcely two dozen blooms in late April. This morning I stopped counting at a hundred. We planted many of our native shrubs in groups of three, typically on four-foot centers. As they begin greening up this year, it is growing difficult to know which branches below to what shrub.
The best news is that the ‘leap’ phase is not just a one-year event. Rather, it is the first tangible – and continuing – evidence of our land’s evolution from a ‘collection of plants’ into a coherent garden.

Neal Sanders’ 13 th mystery, ‘ Never Too Old to Lie ’ was published in March 2019 and is available on Amazon and in bookstores.
May Horticultural Hints

by Betty Sanders,
Lifetime Master Gardener
Tread Lightly All the rain we received in April means some garden chores should be delayed until the soil dries out. If you find you are leaving impressions in the lawn or footprints in the garden, stop. Compacting soil is a bad idea because you are pushing out the air roots need to breathe (and yes, roots breathe) and preventing water from flowing through. It is very hard to get rid of footprints (or cart and tool tracks) once they have been made.

Plain brown cardboard (your Amazon boxes?) placed on the paths of your vegetable garden will reduce soil compaction and keep weeds from germinating in the aisles. The cardboard will break down by season’s end and, as it does, it adds carbon to the soil. 

First Strike Early May is the right time for a second application of horticultural oil to manage pests on trees and shrubs. Horticultural oil is not a pesticide—it works by smothering eggs so they cannot hatch

Teach your pests to go away May is also the time to educate the deer and bunnies that your garden is not their cafeteria. Apply foul smelling sprays containing putrefied eggs and garlic oil. These sprays quickly lose their scent to human noses, but leave a bad taste in the mouths of those who try to eat them. Do not apply them to food crops!

Garlic mustard is an invasive weed that chokes out native plants and spreads wildly. Look for its small white flower and light green leaves, in your garden and along streets and roadways. In early May, it pulls out easily. Bag it and send it to your transfer station to be incinerated.

As your bulbs finish blooming , you should deadhead the flowers, but leave the foliage alone. Those bulb leaves are working hard to store nutrients in the bulb for next year’s flowers. If you cut foliage off now, the bulb may not reappear next spring. Leave foliage alone until it has turned completely yellow (and that means ­ no braiding or tying it up). Not thrilled with the look of that yellowing foliage? Plant annuals between the bulbs and enjoy their display this summer.

As spring flowering shrubs and trees finish blooming , prune them. If you wait until summer, you may be pruning off next season’s flower buds. Didn’t get as many blooms as you hoped from those shrubs? Scratch a light application of fertilizer into the soil now. It is not necessary to buy a special fertilizer for acid-tolerant plants such as rhododendron, azaleas and blueberries; our New England soil is naturally acidic. 

Peonies are up and growing now . When the rains stop, don’t let the plants dry out or you will risk losing the flowers. And, for larger (show worthy) blooms, pick off the side buds on each stem leaving only the terminal (main) bud.

Include herbs such as thyme, sage, oregano and dill in your vegetable garden and flower beds. Many herbs repel foraging animals. Dill attracts a number of butterflies, so be prepared to sacrifice a branch or two of the vigorous plant to their caterpillars in exchange for their beauty. Thyme makes a great ground cover for hot dry area, especially on slopes where mowing may be tricky. 

In the vegetable garden When you thin beets, replant the seedlings. Unlike other root crops (e.g. carrots and turnips), they take well to the process. And as you harvest lettuce, start another patch for a late spring crop, growing it where it will be shaded later by taller or bushier companions. The lettuce will thank you as temperatures rise.

Plant onions in triple rows. As they grow, remove the ones in the middle to use first, giving the others more room to grow.

Betty Sanders is a widely known speaker and writer on gardening topics. You can read more of her horticultural advice at - 617-933-4900