October, 2009

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President’s Message

Greetings from the North

The light has changed—somehow it’s thinner and gloomier.  The trees are putting on their fall colors (early this very cool year), the deer have donned their winter colors and are skittish, the wild turkeys have disappeared, the chipmunks merrily continue saving seeds and nuts, the last of the hummingbirds stop just briefly by now scant flowers.  I am putting my gardens and tools away.  Zone 4 gets ready for winter.  We leave next week for warm, sunny Florida.

We have put together a great slate of officers for 2010--thanks to all of you for agreeing to serve.  We’ll announce new officer candidates at the October meeting, and give you one last chance to run for any position.  Elections are at the November meeting.

I hear Andreas Daehnick delivered a terrific program—sorry I missed it.  I’m looking forward to Shawna Price’s October 13 program on container gardens.  Shawna always has the most fun and inventive ideas for containers--see you there.

Nancy Cohen

Next Meeting

Meeting, Tuesday, October 13, 7 p.m.  Note the meeting is on Tuesday because Monday, October 12 is Columbus Day, and the county buildings are closed.

Speaker: Our own Shawna Price will do another one of her very creative programs on container gardening.

Raffle Table: Cathy Burger

Badge Plant: Doris Happel

Exchange Table: Bring a nice, healthy plant that you are proud to share with others, not necessarily a begonia.  Take a ticket and get another plant from the table in the order tickets are drawn.

Around the Garden

We have been blessed with abundant rain.  It is wonderful to see all the canals and lakes full.  All the moisture has led to some rotting of leaves that touch the rim of a pot or plants in pots where the drainage holes got plugged.   I have heard from many of you that I am not alone with a plague of snails.  I am still pursuing them with all ammunition available, now also including beer.  It may take several cases of cheap beer if that turns out to work.  Last night for the first time I placed beer in a few shallow containers and did not get a single snail.  However, my landscaper neighbor said he caught hundreds with beer.  I'll let you know.

In the meantime, my nightly flashlight searches have given me a whole new perspective and appreciation of the garden.  Toads are everywhere -- they like all the moisture too.  Best of all are the cute little tree frogs with their big toes, bright eyes, and mouths that appear to be smiling.  There are many varieties of tree frogs, and I usually see them clutching vertical stems of plants, and they stay in place when I shine a light on them.  The toads are usually hunkered down, but hastily leave when they sense my presence.  Snakes are not around at night; they like warm sunshine to be active.  I frequently hear the beautiful, ethereal trill of little screech owls.

The rain has caused everything to grow like crazy.  I have had to concentrate on the nursery plants so I could be ready for the Shady Affair sale last week, and the November plant sale which is just weeks away.  I have repotted many begonias in the shallow bowls, and they seem to do very well.  The shallow planters use less potting mix and do not get as soggy as deeper pots.  Now I am spending some time each day back at garden chores: pruning, mulching, weeding.  My goal has been to plant begonias densely enough to crowd out weeds.  In all the areas where the big landscape begonias have been in place for awhile, the weeds do not come up at all.  Begonias are the lowest maintenance plants in the garden.  They just get bigger and better.  The canes need drastic pruning regularly to remove old, tall stems; the big rhizomatous just need removal of the old leaves on the bottom.  If you don't get around to it, they disappear into the earth.  Eventually the rhizomes will creep out into a path or crowd out something else.  Then you have to pull them out and plant them elsewhere or share them with your friends.

The snowbirds are coming back, human and avian.   Early in October the hummingbirds and painted buntings will be back.  Migrating warblers are everywhere now as well as the little blue-gray gnatcatchers with their very high-pitched call.  I also had a rare glimpse at a pileated woodpecker; that's the big one with the big crest like Woody Woodpecker.  Watch and listen as you work outdoors and your enjoyment of garden will increase.

Doris Happel


We would welcome articles for this newsletter.  If you have something you’d like to write about, send an article to Lynda Evans, lynda@leftatsea.com.

Minutes of Meeting of September 14, 2009

Vice President Doris Happel began the meeting at 7:30 p.m. with a welcome to members and guest Larry Davis.  She thanked volunteers contributing to the meeting: Elaine McKelvey for the badge plant, B.  ‘Maggie Nodal’, (beautiful bright green buds will open to white flowers standing well above the leaves) and refreshment volunteers: Hillary Berman, Norma Grimm, Ed Whalen, Vivian Schwartz and Brenda Skaggs.  Candy Curran answered the call for one more refreshment volunteer for next month.

Treasurer’s Report was given by Maria Mitsinicos.

Old Business
The issue of security in the Mounts Building after 5 p.m. continues to be a problem.  Volunteers are needed to keep the building open from 5 p.m. until the meeting begins most months.  Toni White will help next month.  December and January will probably be taken care of by early preparation for the holiday party and annual auction, but volunteers are needed to help out in November and other months.

New Business
There was no new business.


Speaker  Andreas Daehnick, Director of McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach spoke about McKee Botanical Garden and about water lily culture and cultivars at McKee.  McKee is the oldest botanical garden in Florida.  It was a secret project of William Lyman Phillips who also designed Fairchild and Bok Tower Gardens.  The garden was closed for more than 20 years and 18 of the original 60 acres were then redeveloped.  The garden reopened in 2001 with a reconfigured water system of ponds and streams which wind throughout the Garden.  McKee is concerned not just with its plants, but on “how you feel when you are in the garden.”

The water lily collection at McKee is considerable, containing both tropical and hardy specimens.  In addition to noting which cultivars thrive at McKee, records on their performance are being kept and some research is being conducted.  Andreas emphasized the many qualities worth noticing including the leaf texture, shape and size which (like begonias) help one to recognize the different varieties, plus the stunning colors of their flowers, relative abundance of petals, the availability of both day and night boomers, and for some varieties, fragrance.

The presentation was completed with the premier showing of a new video produced by McKee to enhance one’s appreciation of the water lily.  The video showed beautiful photos and was accompanied by soft classical music.

McKee is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from noon until 4:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Sandy Sklar, Recording Secretary

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