Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NARGS national going electronic

From Dick Bartlett, NARGS President:

We all know the current times are difficult right now and changes have to be made. We in the leadership of NARGS know making changes are hard when we have been doing things the same way for many, many years. If you think about it, and many of us have, the most influential change in our lives has come about because of the Internet. It is very important for all of us to realize, if we want our Society to survive and grow, it will be because the younger generation has shown us how to use the Internet. For us older people, and I am one of them, we must adapt to it to be current. We also need to pay close attention to announcements concerning the electronic changes to our Society.

An example of these electronic changes was a valuable announcement mentioned on the inside front cover of the Fall Quarterly effecting how we will be replacing inserts. Jane McGary, the Quarterly editor, very distinctly explained the reasons for the changes which comes down to the normal bottom line of cost. If we fail to pay attention to these significant notices we will possibly miss out on our favorite features such as the Seed Exchange. In the Fall Quarterly, there is an electronic change in the Seed Exchange mentioned on page 242. "NARGS Seed List will not be mailed out to all members this year." For further details read your Quarterly or look at "Seeds" on the NARGS website. In other words, the seed list will be on the Internet.

Likewise, there is a different procedure for learning about our upcoming meetings and applications for registration. On pages 309 to 312 of the Quarterly are the announcement and forms for attending "Some Like it Hot!" This is the January 30-February 1, 2009 Eastern Winter Study Weekend held in Reston, VA. The NARGS website also has information on this meeting. As you can see, these pages replace the old color inserts. On the following pages are the same sort of announcement and forms for the Western Winter Study Weekend hosted by the Columbia-Willamette Chapter. "Revitalizing the Rock Garden" is the title of this meeting held in Portland, OR on March 13-15. And it will also be our annual business meeting so it should be an important one.

As President, I cannot take all this space up in giving you all the details about how these changes work or just why we must do them. The important point is that I let you know that they are here or soon to come about. This Extra President column is one example of only many changes we must adjust to. The chapter Chairs and Editors have been informed about the President column on the website and that in about 45 days there should be an additional one. It is hoped the Chairs pass the word about these announcements on to the membership, and that the Editors publish them in their newsletters. But if we are going to bring about these changes smoothly, it is important that everyone spreads the word by mouth. Talk about these alterations with your fellow chapter members. Tell your gardening friends and neighbors about our NARGS website.

I am pleased to announce we are making great progress on a new NARGS website, and hope it will be operational shortly after the end of March. We have a "pre-prototype" at http://planethugh.com for people to view. There will be a lot of text to be filled in, but as can be seen we will be able to have color photographs. Hugh MacMillan (CO) is the website designer with a great deal of experience having created the Penstemon Society Internet site. We recommend you visit that site to see his work. But remember, our website is much larger. And so it is, that change comes, ready or not; but that hopefully our electronic foot print is much improved.

Seed exchange list online

From Grazyna Grauer via Bobby Ward via Carol Eichler. (Whew!)

Note: Deadline for orders is Feb. 11

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my GREAT pleasure to inform you that the Seed Exchange 2008 - 2009 is OPEN and the Seed List is ON - LINE!

Please follow the nifty trail of links to see how it works: http://www.nargs.org/index.html

We owe this intelligent debut to the NARGS Seed Intake Manager, Laura Serowicz and
the Programmer -Par-Excellence (at the same time a NARGS Member in BC), Chris Klapwijk. MARVELOUS job Laura and Chris!

It was a VERY intense week or so for Laura and Chris when they were perfecting the way the Seed List should be offered to our members.

You'll notice, for example, that there are several formats in which the Seed List can be downloaded. Why? It is mostly in deference to many of our members who frequently have outdated operating systems and something like the "pdf" version simply does not work for a number of them.

So why am I so happy about having the Seed List on-line? Here are the reasons: less paper used - fewer trees wasted, future savings on printing and shipping costs, and, finally, fewer complaints from people who got the Seed List late or not at all.

Finally, for you who are concerned about people without computers, Laura is mailing Kinko's printed paper copies to them, and as of today, there were 190 requests for those.

Best regards,

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stipends available for Western Winter Study Weekend

From Carol Eicher:

Interested in going to the NARGS combined annual meeting and Western Winter Study Weekend in Portland, Oregon? National offers a $300 stipend to any first time chapter member who has never been to a National meeting. Only 10 stipends are available and now is the time to put in your request.

Awardees need to be a National NARGS member (you can join at the time of the request) and an active member in the Adirondack Chapter. Our Chapter also requires that you report back to us either through writing about your experience in our newsletter or sharing slides from the trip.

Beyond that, all that is needed is for the Chair (Billie Jean Isbell) to approve our nominee for the stipend and pass that person's name and mailing address to National President Dick Bartlett.

Here's more information about Western WSW, hosted by the Columbia-Willamette Chapter:

Get a jump on spring! Why wait for the greening of central New York. Check out NARGS 2009 Annual Meeting combined with Western Winter Study Week-end being held this year in Portland, Oregon March 13th-15th.

“Revitalizing the Rock Garden” is the overall theme. Whether you want to build a new garden or re-make an old rock into something exciting again, a full slate of lively, informative, and varied talks and exhibits will inspire you not to mention the pleasant venue, spring gardens and wildflowers in bloom to visit, and a great plant sale.

This meeting has also been designated the 2009 Annual General Meeting and is being offered at the Winter Study Week-end price.

Feature speakers include Ian Young from Scotland, Carlo Balistrieri, curator of the Gardens at Turtle Creek and formerly with the New York Botanical Garden, Rex Murfitt and David Sellars from British Columbia, Fred Weisensee and Leonard Foltz, proprietors of Oregon’s Dancing Oaks Nursery, David Mason of Hedgerows Nursery, Rebecca Lance of Sonora, California, and John Lonsdale, who spoke recently at our own Chapter.

For more information visit www.nargs.org/meet/west09home.html

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November newsletter

Read the November 2008 newsletter in printer-friendly .pdf format.

Next newsletter is in Feburary. Have a good holiday season.

Ellen Hornig, Seneca Hill Perennials, to speak on South African Plants Nov. 5

As part of the Cornell Plantations fall lecture series, Ellen Hornig, horticulturist and owner of Seneca Hill Perennials will speak on "Out of Their Element: South African Plants in a Northern New York Garden," November 5, 7:30 p.m., at the Alice Statler Auditorium, Statler Hall, Cornell University.

From Cornell Plantations' description:

Gardeners are notorious for experimenting with improbable plants. The wonder of it is not that so many plants die in this process, but that so many live. How do plants not only survive, but even thrive, in garden conditions totally unlike the plants' wild habitats? Taking this question as her underlying theme, Hornig will present some of the less likely inhabitants of her garden, the South African species from the Eastern Cape region. She will compare their garden conditions with their wild habitats, offer some possible explanations for her success in growing these fantastic plants in upstate New York, and encourage all gardeners to be more adventurous.

2008 Treasurer's Report

From BZ Marranca, treasurer:

We met or exceeded all of our budgeted projections as far as plant sales went. (See David Mitchell's plant sale report.) We did really well at the Garden Fair this year. We brought in nearly double the amount for which we had budgeted. Dues, however, fell a little short of projection. But we haven't spent as much as projected (yet). I'll have a spreadsheet available later.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 plant sales report

From David Mitchell (plant sales co-coordinator) and BZ Marranca (plant sales co-coordinator and treasurer):

It was another good year in plant sales. Although our April seedling exchange is free, side sales totaled about $200. The May sale at the high school brought in a record $2,955. (Special thanks to all who helped in my absence.) Our members-only sale in August raked in $592, bringing the total for the year to $3,747.

Thank you to all who donated quality plants, bought plants and pitched in to help run the sales.

Chapter to coordinate Round 2 Seed Exchange

From Carol Eicher, chair:

After much deliberation, our Chapter has committed to coordinating NARGS’ Round 2 Seed Exchange Surplus Distribution which takes place over two to three weeks in March.

We have found vacant lab space at Cornell where we can set up and a number of you have expressed interest in helping. We will need more helpers and we’ll be putting out the call when we establish our work dates.

We’ll be filling orders – generally about 250 –coming from all over the world. It should be fun and a great opportunity to socialize at a time of year when we’re itching to get outdoors and garden.

We’ll need someone to step up to coordinate this project. Might that be you? Stay tuned.

Sneak peek at 2009 program plans

Plans are well underway for our 2009 programs. Here's a sneak peek at the tentative schedule:

Feb. 21: Members share meeting will feature Barb Hamlin who attended her first NARGS National Conference in Ottawa and is eager to share photos taken from the field trips in natural areas offering great biodiversity and presentations by other Chapter members.

March 21: Rock Garden Basics workshop. Learn the basics of soil mixes, construction and plants from Chapter experts and invited guests.

April 25: Michael Shadrack will speak on Miniature Hostas. Michael has been a member of the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society for twelve years and is currently their Chairman and Bulletin Editor. He is also a member of the American Hosta Society. His interest in photography has led to a library of nearly 3,200 hosta images, many of which have been published in books, magazines and catalogs. He has co-authored with Diana Grenfell two wonderful Timber Press books: The Color Encyclopedia of Hostas and The Pocket Guide to Hostas.

May 16: Plant sale at Ithaca High School

May TBD: Tour of Ithaca gardens.

June TBD: 2-night trip to the Philadelphia area to visit Chanticleer and private gardens.

Aug. 15: Members-only plant sale and tour of Cornell Plantations.

Sept. 19: Michael Loos, horticulture educator with Ohio State University Cooperative Extension, Cuyahoga County and active NARGS member on What's Wrong with my Plants? Rx for Ailing Plants and Best Cultivation Practices. We plan to meet at Billie Jean Isbell's garden for some hands-on troubleshooting.

October: Program TBD.

Nov. 14: Annual meeting, dish-to-pass and presentation by Donald J. Leopold on Native Plants for the Naturalistic Garden. Leopold has been studying native plants for nearly 30 years. In 1985, he joined the Faculty of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Currently, he is Distinguished Teaching Professor at SUNY. Dr. Leopold has published five books, including Native Plants of the Northeast, Trees of New York and Landowner's Guide to State-Protected Plants of Forests in New York State co-authored with D. J. Raynal.

From the chair

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Fall is a good time for taking stock. As I walk about my garden this time of year I’m taking notes about what worked, what didn’t, what things I need to address in the spring. Everything is so lush and full it’s hard to imagine the transformation that comes with winter or to remember, come spring, this moment in time.

So too, it’s time to take stock of our Chapter’s year. It has been a busy one – and a good one. If I were to describe the year, what stands out for me is the addition of a greater-than-average number of new members. Wow! It was also a stellar year for our plant sales. This issue includes a report from our various Board members and serves as our annual report. This a very hard-working, dedicated group so please take a moment to thank them for all that they do. I know I am eternally grateful for the privilege of working with them all.

I hope their reports will invoke memories of your gardening year and ways in which our Chapter enhanced your knowledge and experience. For my part I am reporting that this year ends my second term as Chair and so I am stepping down or should I say Billie Jean Isbell is stepping up, with your vote at the annual meeting in November, to serve as Chair for the next 2-year term. Many of you know Billie Jean. She has wonderful ever-evolving gardens including several rock gardens, water features, and wonderful mixed border plantings. The Chapter will be in very capable hands.

This issue of GD also offers a preview of our coming program year. You will get a chance to see Billie Jean’s garden, in fact, if you attend our September 2009 program.

Please come to our November meeting, scheduled on the third Saturday of the month, November 15th. We are breaking with tradition by offering a speaker program. Tony Reznicek will present two talks sandwiched (no pun intended) between our traditional dish-to-pass luncheon. It should be a great way to end a great year.

Happy gardening,


Sunday, October 5, 2008

October newsletter

The printer-friendly .pdf of the October 2008 issue of Green Dragon Tales is now online.

Ginseng workshop in Norwich October 16

Growing Ginseng in Central New York
Presented by Bob Beyfuss, Cornell Cooperative Extension Specialist for American Ginseng Production
October 16, 2008, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
Cost: $15 per farm/family- Includes The Practical Guide to Growing Ginseng, by Bob Beyfuss
At DCMO BOCES Norwich Campus

Ginseng is a native herb that has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine. This forest grown crop has been harvested and exported since the 1700’s and continues to be a cash crop today. Growing Ginseng in Central New York will review the process of cultivating ginseng, as well as site selection, harvesting and marketing cultivated ginseng, and the rules and regulations of harvesting wild ginseng. This workshop will not include medicinal uses of ginseng.

If you’re interested in growing ginseng in your woodlot for income or pleasure register today by calling 607-334-5841. Please register by October 15, 2008. (There is a field and a classroom portion of this class- rain or shine :)

Contct info:

J. Rebecca Hargrave
Community Horticulture and Natural Resources Extension Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County
99 N. Broad St.
Norwich, NY 13815
607-334-5841 x 16
fax: 607-336-6961

Norman Singer Endowment

From Beverly Shafer, Norman Singer Endowment Fund Chair (via Carol Eichler):

The Norman Singer Endowment Fund is requesting applications for grants for 2009. Next year NARGS will be celebrating it's 75th anniversary. The Endowment Fund was begun by Norman Singer on the occasion of the 50th year of the American Rock Garden Society. The Fund "is intended to be a resource in support of special, one-time projects that advance the art and science of rock gardening." Many types of projects have been supported - from publications, rock garden construction and preservation, public education, and seed collection.

Please make your members aware of the Fund and encourage anyone with an appropriate project to apply. The guidelines are on the NARGS website (http://www.nargs.org). If you have any questions please contact me. Also, please note that the application deadline is January 16th due to the early date of the Annual Meeting.

Thank you,

Beverly Shafer
Norman Singer Endowment Fund Chair
Box 428
Etna, CA 96027

Reminder: NARGS 2008-2009 Seed Exchange

From John Gilrein, Plant of the Month Coordinator:

If you are a member of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS, the national organization of which our Adirondack Chapter is a part), then this article is relevant. NARGS normally has a seed exchange every winter, which is a great opportunity to obtain seed of plants from around the globe, some of which would not be available through any other means. This year NARGS is not mailing out a Seed List to all NARGS members; instead, NARGS will have the Seed List posted on its website: http://www.nargs.org by December 15, 2008. NARGS members should have gotten a postcard advising of the change in routine.

NARGS will have a limited number of printed copies of the Seed List for those with no (or slow) internet access. For a printed copy of the seed list, email your request to seedintake@twmi.rr.com, or mail the request to:

Laura Serowicz
NARGS Seed List
15411 Woodring
Livonia, MI 48154-3029

Requests for a printed copy of the seed list must be received by November 15, 2008.

Please note: this opportunity is only available to NARGS members. If you are a member of the Adirondack Chapter, but not a NARGS member, this is a perk that will make it worth joining.

National meeting canceled

From Dick Bartlett, NARGS (national) president:

The Calgary 2009 Annual meeting has been canceled. Therefore, it is urgent that the following announcement be included in your next newsletter:

Since the NARGS' Annual 2009, Calgary meeting has been canceled, the NARGS annual business meeting has been moved to the Western Winter Study Weekend in Portland, Oregon. This WWSW will be held on March 13-15, 2009. Because the meeting will be in March, all proposed awards and business reports need to be prepared earlier.

It is very important that this information get out to all those people who may be considering attending the Annual meeting so they do not make travel plans to the wrong location.

Proposed 2009 Chapter Officers

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Our by-laws state that the Nominating Committee will designate its nominees for officers at the October meeting. Additionally nominees may be taken from the floor at the October meeting. Our Chapter has four officers, Chair, Vice Chair/Program, Secretary, and Treasurer. Only the Chair and Vice Chair/Program Chair are up for election this year.

Billie Jean Isbell has agreed to run for Chair and Donna Kraft to serve as the Vice Chair/Program Chair. Our membership is welcome to nominate other candidates. Elections will take place at the annual meeting which will be held on the 3rd Saturday of the month, November 15th.

From the chair

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Here are some thoughts for a gray day.

As I was weeding my driveway this summer, more than once the thought came to me that I might be at best a little fanatical, at worst – do I dare think that I could be – crazy? Well, it seemed like I had a good reason – the weeds from the driveway spoiled the effect of my tended areas that met at the driveway’s edge. All I could notice were those nasty, uninvited dandelions, knotweed, purslane, spurge, plantain and more. My eventual solution? I decided to top sow white clover along the edges, which is not nearly so offensive to my sensitive eye and I fully expect it to be a solution I will live to regret. Anyway, it did raise a question: When do I stop weeding?

Living in the country as I do, my gardens are defined more by own limitations, rather than by property boundaries. In fact, much of my maintenance efforts seem to be aimed at trying to keep the wildness of forest and field from infringing. Every spring when everything seems to need attention at once, I say to myself, “This is too much, something has to give.” When do I stop developing new plantings?

Then there is the maintenance issue – mulching, edging, weeding, then edging again. At some point in my day what I consider “that which I do for fun” becomes tough-it-out work, as I drive myself to come to some closure at day’s end. The heat, the bugs, the dirt (I am not a neat gardener) all start to get to me. When do I call it a day?

The fall is another time when the garden places its extreme demands. I’m torn between enjoying the last of the lush growth and straggling blooms with tackling garden clean-up before cold temps make the task miserable. When do I put away the tools and call it a season?

When does a gardener say when?

See you at the October meeting!


Species tulips October Plant of the Month

From John Gilrein, Plant of the Month Coordinator:

For our October plant of the month, we will have bulbs of two species Tulips, T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ and T. linifolia. Both are small enough for the rock garden.
  • T. clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ has delicate two tone flowers, rosy red outside and white inside. Height 12 inches.
  • T. linifolia has narrow leaves with red edges and scarlet red flowers with black bases. Height 6 inches.
Plant species tulips 4 to 5 inches deep in well drained soil. Both are hardy to zone 4.

Heucheras: September 'Plant of the Month'

From John Gilrein, Plant of the Month Coordinator:

Our September 2008 plant of the month was hybrid Heuchera (Coral Bells). Heuchera is a genus which includes at least 4 species native to the U.S., including H. villosa native to the Southeastern U.S., and H. sanguinea, native to the Southwestern U.S.

The 4 cultivars we purchased are: ‘Caramel’, ‘Miracle’, ‘Obsidian’, and ‘Hollywood’. ‘Caramel’ and ‘Miracle’ are hybrids of H. villosa by Thierry Delabroye. ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Caramel’ are hybrids created by Terra Nova nurseries. Since our plants did not sell out at the September meeting, we will have all 4 cultivars for sale at the October 18th meeting.

Heucheras have a long season of interest, with the colorful foliage carrying the show.

  • ‘Caramel’ has leaves of a golden caramel color with red undersides with cream flowers. Height 8 inches, 24 inches in flower, width15 -18 inches.
  • ‘Miracle’ has leaves that emerge chartreuse that mature to brick red with a chartreuse edge and silver undersides, with pink flowers. Height 8 inches, 15 inches in flower, width 12 -14 inches.
  • ‘Obsidian’ has smooth, dark purple leaves with ivory flowers. Height 10 inches, 24 inches in flower, width 12 – 18 inches.
  • ‘Hollywood’ has maroon tinted foliage mottled with silver and coral pink flowers, and is a rebloomer. Height 8 inches, 16 inches in flower, width 10 -15 inches.
Heucheras are easy to grow, and well adapted to our climate. They should be planted in full sun to part shade, in well drained, moisture retentive soil. The pink flowered cultivars will be attractive to hummingbirds.

Trillium expert to speak at Native Plant Society

From Rosemarie Parker:

John Geyer will be speaking on trilliums to the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society (FLNPS) on November 20th, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, 615 Willow Ave., Ithaca. All are welcome!

John is known to many in our ACNARGS chapter, and so many of us enjoy trilliums. I understand that John spoke at one of our meetins a few years ago, but it was on a different topic. Contact me for more information: gardener.parker@gmail.com

Welcome to these new members of our Chapter!

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Debra Brock
Robert Dean
Carol Anne Gallagher
Linda Levine
Cindy Lion
Emily Makepeace
Harold Peachey and Marie Greener
Giselle Schatz
Debra Statton
Lynn Yenkey

Saturday, September 27, 2008

News from National: Seed exchange changes

From Carol Eichler, chair:

The 2008-09 Seed Exchange is coming with some important changes! The Seed List will not be mailed this year. Rather it will be posted on the NARGS website: www.nargs.org on December 15th. You will be able to download and print out the plant list and the order from from the website.

All orders will still need to be mailed in to the Main Distribution Chapter (address will be on the mail form). Printed copies will be available on request to those who do not have internet access. Request a printed copy to Laura Serowicz, NARGS Seed List, 15411 Woodring Livonia, MI 48154.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wurster work party

Can you give an hour or two? Come join in on Saturday, October 18 from 10 a.m. on – immediately preceding lunch and our speaker program. Help us put the Wurster Rock Garden to bed for winter.

We’re planning a general clean-up, creating a to-do list for next season, and may tackle the bog area which has some assertive plants that should be culled. This is a great opportunity to spend time in this garden, gain first-hand experience and to appreciate how truly fabulous this rock garden is.

Conveniently, Wurster Garden and the venue for meeting are both at the Tompkins County Office of Cornell Cooperative Extension, 615 Willow Ave., Ithaca, N.Y. (where Dey St., Willow Ave. and Rte. 13 meet). See this google map.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cornell Plantations fall lecture series

Cornell Plantations has lined up another fine group of speakers, including ACNARGS member Ellen Hornig of Seneca Hill Perennials.

The remaining lectures are at 7:30 p.m. in the Statler Auditorium on the Cornell Campus. More info: http://www.plantations.cornell.edu/education/lectures.cfm

October 8: Bringing Nature Home
Doug Tallamy, author and professor of entomology and wildlife ecology, University of Delaware

October 22: The Truth about ‘Deer-Resistant’ Plants
Mark Bridgen, professor and director, Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center

November 5: Out of Their Element: South African Plants in a Northern New York Garden
Ellen Hornig, horticulturist, owner of Seneca Hill Perennials

November 19: Gardens of the Gods
Ellen Zachos, author, photographer, instructor, and coordinator of the Gardening Department for Continuing Education at the New York Botanical Garden

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Photography workshop canceled

The September 20 Garden Photography Workshop with local photographer Julie Magura (www.juliemagura.com) has been canceled, but we may try again next spring. If you are interested in such a workshop, email Susanne Lipari: sel3@cornell.edu.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Top 10 Reasons for Having a Nursery Bed

From Carol Eichler, chair:

  1. Evaluate a new plant; what is its growing habit? will it be invasive?

  2. Provide extra attention for an ailing plant

  3. Serve as a placeholder until a more permanent spot can be prepared

  4. Propagate cuttings or divisions (for our plant sales)

  5. Tend young seedlings

  6. Hold divisions until our plant sales

  7. Overwinter late acquisitions

  8. Carol recommends it.

OK, I lied. I only came up with 8, but maybe someone else can suggest some other reasons to make it 10.

Frederick Heutte Rock Garden dedication

From Carol Eichler, chair:

A drizzle of rain didn’t keep over 100 people away from the White Pine Camp Centennial celebration on Saturday, August 10th. The day kicked off with the dedication of the historic rock garden, not quite a 100 years old and nearly lost to obscurity but for the efforts of a determined group of people, spearheaded by Dick and Mary George.

The Green Dragon’s July-August issue chronicled our Chapter’s late contribution to the rock garden – a weekend of planting. When I returned on August 10th to participate in the dedication, I was anxious to see how everything fared. Fortunately, it had been a wet summer assuring the survival of almost everything we set in the ground. A couple choice shots are offered here to illustrate how well the plants have adapted as well as a photo of the ribbon-cutting. The garden herein is known as the Frederick Heutte Rock Garden to honor the man who designed the original garden in so many years ago.

Left to right, Dick George, Carol Eichler, Mary George, and Howard Kirschenbaum. Photo courtesy Ann Mullen.

Planting at Heutte Garden in an old stump.

More plantings at Heutte Garden.

From the chair

From Carol Eichler, chair.

As much as I hate to see summer end, there are always many things that I anticipate about the fall - cool crisp days, the angle of the sun in the early morning, and the transformation of our landscape from greens to golds, reds, and oranges.

September, too, means the resumption of our speaker programs and, trust, me, there is much to anticipate here this season. Robin Bell has lined up 3 excellent speakers in a row. You can read more about them in this newsletter and at our website. (Another eagerly awaited event is the start of the Kitchen Theatre Company’s new season, but that’s a topic for another time – and yes, a merciless plug for another of my passions.)

It has been a busy summer in the garden and there are still projects on my list that I haven’t gotten to and more busy days ahead – pushing well into November - before I put the garden to bed, if Mother Nature is kind to us. I admit that sometimes for a moment I’m almost relieved when I put my hand tools away for the last time. No more aching back, dirty knees, and calloused hands.

Give me a week and an uncertain restlessness begins to overcome me knowing it will be a long dormant season. Longing to get back to the garden. I’ll try to content myself with the garden catalogs that start to arrive (earlier each year it seems) until at last it’s time to sow seeds from the NARGS seed exchange and, like the seeds themselves, a part of me comes alive and I am again in my element among my friends in the plant world.

Back to the present, I look forward to our September meeting and seeing you all again.

Good gardening,


2009 NARGS Eastern Winter Study Weekend

The Potomac Valley Chapter will host the 2009 Eastern Winter Study Weekend January 30 through February 1 at the Sheraton Reston Hotel, Reston, Virginia.

Featured speakers include:

  • Tony Avent, proprietor of Plant Delights Nursery, North Carolina.
  • Peggy Olwell, Bureau of Land Management and Plant Conservation Alliance, Washington, D.C., on how climate changes may affect gardeners.
  • Judith and Dick Tyler, Pine Knot Farms, Clarksville, Virginia, on their experiences collecting, propagating and growing hellebores.
  • Mark Bridgen, Cornell University, New York, on his experiences collecting and breeding Chilean geophytes.
  • Nick Turland, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis, Missouri, on Mediterranean plants.
  • Richard Critz, former editor of the Primrose Journal on maintaining primulas in warmer gardens.
  • J.P. (Koos) Roux, Curator of the Compton Herbarium, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa, on South African Flora.
  • Bill McLaughlin, curator, United States Botanic Garden, on mid-Atlantic and other natives for rock and dry gardens.
  • Richard Olsen, researcher at the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., on new plant introductions, particularly woodies.
Breakout sessions include:
  • Plant photography in the digital age.
  • Current issues in plant and seed importation.
  • Gravel gardening in hot and humid areas.
For more info and to register, visit: http://www.pvcnargs.org/ewsw09home.htm

Metal artist to speak on Wrought Iron in the Garden

Durand Van Doran, Trumansburg, N.Y. metal artist, will speak at our fall kick-off program September 20 on Wrought Iron in the Garden. One of Durand's most recent works is the gate at the west end of Minns Garden outside the Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus. (View images.) The meeting will be held in the Whetzel Room, 404 Plant Science Building, Cornell University. Brown bag lunch at noon. Program starts at 1 p.m.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

News from National

NARGS National is seeking a Chapter to assume the responsibilities for Phase 4 of the Seed Exchange. This part of our fabulous international seed exchange involves packaging 2nd round requests for surplus seed, a much, much smaller group by far than those in the initial round. The overview of what this entails is outlined below.

Your Chapter Chair, Carol, is putting out the call to you - the Adirondack Chapter - to solicit interest in assuming this important role for National. Please respond to Carol if this looks like something that you would be willing to volunteer for. I know that you've had great participation and in fact enjoyed helping out with Phase 1 which is much more tedious (counting, packaging and labeling seeds).

Also, there's need for a place to set up and for several large tables. If you have a space, again, please contact Carol. It may be possible with enough volunteers to compress this operation into fewer days. Carol's contact info: ceichler@twcny.rr.com or 607-387-5823. Thus far leads from other Chapters had led us to dead-ends. Thank you for your consideration.

Description of Phase 4, Seed Exchange

Surplus Seed Distribution (aka Second Round) takes place in mid- March, working a few hours to set up, three to four full days (depending on number helping) filling orders, a couple hours distributing the remaining seed to chapters, and, lastly, dismantling. The Great Lakes Chapter worked one Sunday at the beginning for set up and started processing orders, then two to four weekdays (~1-8pm) the first two weeks-with most volunteers working in four hour shifts. The last week they worked one weekday to finish orders and the final day (a few days after the deadline for orders) was for any late orders, dividing the remaining seed among the requesting chapters, and dismantling and storing supplies till next year.

This project can be done by 10-12 volunteers working multiple shifts, or up to 25 individuals. Our set up was ideal for 3-6 people each shift to avoid getting in each others way - but the optimal number can vary considerably based on your set-up. Approximately 33 table feet is required (for ex. 5 six foot tables and a card table - enough tables to hold the seed trays, 1 table for preparing orders for shipping, 1 table for repacking, and the card table for logging orders as they arrive. More tables would allow you to spread out the work more and would help accommodate more volunteers.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

June garden tour

From Pat Curran.  See images below text.

About 12 to 15 chapter members and friends met at the garden of Louise Lutz and Joe Zader to begin the garden tour on June 21. On a very hot day, the lovely shade garden on Tully Lake was a welcome respite. The Hostas were magnificent, mature clumps at the peak of perfection without a sign of deer damage. Interesting stonework, paths, water features, a variety of groundcovers, and the view of the sunny lake all contributed to a fine tour.  

In the sunnier portion, I was especially interested to see the lush ornamental grasses. I had seen these the previous summer when they were so dense as to tempt one to play hide-and-seek, and Louise had told me she was planning to reduce their width. It turns out she had divided them in early May, and rescued a stone path they had hidden, but if one hadn’t known they had just been divided, one would never have guessed.

Next we went onto Donna Kraft's garden on the west side of Crooked Lake, a kettle lake. Donna has both sun and shade and many fascinating and unusual plants, such as ladyslippers. The Japanese iris and clematis, two of my favorites, particularly caught my eye, along with the large Hosta growing under the deck, the stonework, the waterfall, and the views from the hillside and the deck, and the courtyard plantings. Donna also has large flowerbeds near the road for passersby to enjoy. 

Our last garden stop was a tour of Dr. Mango's garden in Solvay, created by the designer Diana Smith. Diana is also the owner of Topiary Gardens in Marcellus. There we got to explore this multi-level garden "off the beaten path" as Diana led us on a behind the scenes tour using the stepping stones she had placed for access. This stunning garden features dozens of mature Japanese maples, unusual conifers, lots of ponds and water features, hardy cactus, and incredible stonework. Dr. Mango has over 5 acres in his landscape, quite a jewel in an urban setting. I was particularly struck by the magnificent Japanese maples, mostly in full sun (and we were there during the hottest part of the day), and receiving no supplementary water. The soil must be good, and the microclimate milder than most of Tompkins County, because at Cooperative Extension, we see many samples from unhappy Japanese maples suffering from marginal scorch and/or twig dieback from drought, too hot an exposure, winter cold, or winter wind and sun.

Some folks may have gone on to Watson’s Greenhouse, but we made a little side trip to the Rose Garden at Thornden Park, and then it was back to the air conditioned car with a sigh of relief.

A big thank-you to the organizers of this great garden tour!

Ed note:  Here are pictures from the June garden tour, courtesy Nigel Dyson-Hudson and Pat Curran

Donna Kraft’s garden on Tully Lake

Dr. Mango's garden

At Louise Lutz and Joe Zader'a garden on Tully Lake

News from National

Some of you may have heard, and it is correct, the Calgary Chapter has canceled their offer to host an Annual 2009 meeting and that Columbia-Willamette Chapter has consented to encompass the Annual Meeting with their Western Winter Study Weekend in Portland in March.

Second, we have the opportunity now to nominate private gardens you think are great for the NARGS Linc & Timmy Foster Millstream Garden Award. (See http://www.nargs.org/info/awards.html.) NOW is the time to gather your photos of your candidate's garden while they look good.

Program Thoughts for 2008

From Carol Eichler, chair:

OK members, it’s time to hear from you. What program would you like to see presented in the coming months? What are your burning questions? What are your plant interests? Where do you feel your plant knowledge could be bolstered? If you are a new member or a new-to-rock gardening member what do you most want to learn about?

Alternatively, have you heard a garden presenter that we should try to book? Note that we pay our speakers and cover their travel costs too.

Here are just a few ideas the committee has had so far:
  • A workshop on Photoshop basics – enhancing your photography skills
  • Hands-on recipes and tips for alpine soils (favorite mixes, different mixes for different plant types, troughs versus gardens, local sources of materials, etc
  • Dwarf and miniature conifers for the garden
Please take a moment to contact our new program committee as they begin planning year’s programs. Donna Kraft will be fielding your responses at dkraft@twcny.rr.com or 315-696-8626.

Trip to Chanticleer

Carol Eichler, chair

While I’ve heard this second-hand that Chanticleer is considered one the country’s best gardens, after a recent visit to this “pleasure garden” with Billie Jean Isbell, in this writer’s humble opinion, I’m inclined to agree. I always have such an enjoyable– or one might say “pleasurable”- time there.

While it had been several years since my last visit, there were certain areas that I made a bee-line for. It’s amazing how much is packed into this 30-acre garden. First stop, and the place where I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time at, is the Teacup Garden. While an Italianate fountain is the design focal point, my eyes focus on the myriad selection of exotic and tropical plants. Their website describes as a “seemingly chaotic opera of scents and sounds, colors and textures.”

Tea garden.

Of course, the Ruin Garden is a “must-see” with its Great Hall, Library, and Pool Room, all displaying a stone-cold sense of humor. Note a past issue of Green Dragon featured a few photos I took on an earlier visit. Wishing I had taken more, I made certain this time to shoot plenty of photos. I didn’t seem to recall the extensive terraced rock garden immediately below resembling more an alpine meadow that mountainside. There were some well-placed and very large planted troughs among the plantings.

Beyond the rock garden (or Gravel Garden so-called at Chanticleer) meandering ever downhill is the Minder Woods and beyond the Ponds Garden (it was too early for their showy display of lotus) and Asian Woods Garden, noted for its collection of woodlanders native to Korea, Japan, and China – not however in its prime in early June. One notable addition (at least I don’t recall) was a tea house comfort station tucked away amidst the rhododendrons and conifers.

Meadow garden.

Lastly, Billie Jean and I visited the House Garden with the estate home, inviting lawn chairs, and welcoming shade for us to relax and enjoy still more plantings and planters at poolside, terrace and sun porch featuring a mix of tropicals and year-round plantings.

Poppies in all their brilliance were at peak bloom throughout the grounds and one could anticipate the next show emerging in the large drifts of crocosmia, kniphofia, lillium and much more. The estate, originally noted for its wonderful tree and shrub plantings, are in themselves worthy of a focused visit, and which I confess I could only take in appreciatively but peripherally. This is a great place to come simply to relax and have a picnic and several visitors seemed to be doing just that.

To quote again from the Garden’s website, “Chanticleer is indeed a pleasure garden, offering an escape from the rush of every day life and a place where one can feel like a personal guest of the Rosengarten family [its former owners].” If you go, Chanticleer is located north and west of Philadelphia, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-476, and about a 4-hour drive from downtown Ithaca.

Carol posted more pictures at flickr.

The Adirondack Chapter (Finally) Goes to the Adirondacks!

From Carol Eichler, chair

It took a little help from members Dick and Mary George to finally live up to our name as the Adirondack Chapter of rock gardeners.

On June 14th a small group of us spent a good part of the day in the Adirondacks near Paul Smiths, preparing the historic rock garden at White Pine Camp for it’s dedication in August. Mostly we placed and planted tray upon tray of saxatile perennials (from the nearby zone 3 nursery and the hopefully hardy contributions brought from our home gardens) to nestle among the 14 or more stone mounds created by landscape designer Frederic Heutte many years before.

Dick and Mary and any friends they could rally over the last two years had literally unearthed the garden from the surrounding forest and forest debris that had reclaimed it. The 12-inch plus diameter stumps among the mounds and pathways were testament to the success of nature’s progress. It was a far cry from the garden’s glory days in the 1920’s when Grace Coolidge (yes, wife of President Calvin Coolidge) took her daily stroll there. The Georges equated digging into two feet of forest litter akin to an archeological excavation – and definitely, to my thinking, an immense labor of love given the extensive size of this garden.

As mentioned before, the rock garden was designed by Frederic Heutte, while serving as estate gardener for then owner of White Pine Camp, H.W. Deforest. President Coolidge honored Heutte with a presidential commendation in 1926 helping to launch his illustrious career. Heutte eventually worked his way south to Norfolk, Virginia where in1936 he founded and was director of the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Back at White Pine Camp our group got to do the fun part of gardening – planting! With the bones of the garden at last revealed, we, as a group, made short work of setting in plants - something that would surely have taken Dick and Mary the best part of their summer weekends to complete. Of course, we couldn’t resist resetting some of the stonework and chopping out stumps and roots that had invaded the pathways. Lastly, we set in a background planting of shrubbery to transition from the forest backdrop to the intimate garden space that lay nestled within.

With the August dedication of the so-named Frederic Heutte Alpine Rock Garden in conjunction with the White Pine Camp Centennial celebration on August 10th (see the open invitation to Chapter members to attend below), I’ll be most eager to see how our plantings have fared. And no doubt, observe the work that lies ahead to make the garden even better next year.

Geoffrey Charlesworth's passing

From The Semper Vivum, the Genesee Valley Chapter newsletter:

We are saddened to learn that Geoffrey Charlesworth has died. If you don’t know of Geoffrey Charlesworth, he was one of the stalwarts of NARGS and with his partner, Norman Singer, produced beautiful gardens in Sandisfield, MA. His book, "The Opinionated Gardener," is a wonderful read, full of information and humor. You may remember his whimsical poem, “Why Did My Plant Die?” which was featured in our April 2007 newsletter. This exceptional man, generous with his time, talents and garden, will be greatly missed by everyone in NARGS.

And here is Geoffrey's poem:

Why Did My Plant Die?
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You hoed it down. You weeded it.
You planted it the wrong way up.
You grew it in a yogurt cup
But you forgot to make a hole;
The soggy compost took its toll.
September storm. November drought.
It heaved in March, the roots popped out.
You watered it with herbicide.
You scattered bonemeal far and wide.
Attracting local omnivores,
Who ate your plant and stayed for more.
You left it baking in the sun
While you departed at a run
To find a spade, perhaps a trowel,
Meanwhile the plant threw in the towel.
You planted it with crown too high;
The soil washed off, that explains why.
Too high pH. It hated lime.
Alas it needs a gentler clime.
You left the root ball wrapped in plastic.
You broke the roots. They're not elastic.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.
You splashed the plant with mower oil.
You should do something to your soil.
Too rich. Too poor. Such wretched tilth.
Your soil is clay. Your soil is filth.
Your plant was eaten by a slug.
The growing point contained a bug.
These aphids are controlled by ants,
Who milk the juice, it kills the plants.
In early spring your garden's mud.
You walked around! That's not much good.
With heat and light you hurried it.
You worried it. You buried it.
The poor plant missed the mountain air:
No heat, no summer muggs up there.
You overfed it 10-10-10.
Forgot to water it again.
You hit it sharply with the hose.
You used a can without a rose.
Perhaps you sprinkled from above.
You should have talked to it with love.
The nursery mailed it without roots.
You killed it with those gardening boots.
You walked too close. You trod on it.
You dropped a piece of sod on it.

August 16 Annual Picnic and Member-Only Plant Sale

Plans are set for this year’s member picnic and plant sale on Saturday, August 16th to be hosted by Judy Fogel at her home and gardens at 12 Waterview Circle, off Route 34 along the east side of Cayuga Lake just a short distance out of Ithaca. (See directions below.)

The schedule:
  • 10:00 a.m. Arrive promptly, get your plant sale number and help with sale set-up and pricing.
  • 11:00 a.m. Plant sale begins outdoors rain or shine. Buy, buy, and buy some more.
  • 12:00 noon-ish Dish-to-pass picnic lunch (drinks will be provided). We'll eat outdoors weather permitting. Bring a lawn chair.
  • 1:30-ish p.m. Tour Judy's extensive gardens.
As in past years, we'll very democratically allow those who arrive first to get "first dibs" at purchases. So it pays to arrive early. For the treasured and special plants, we will have a silent auction table. Note this is our only members-only sale and we should have some real gems. Not yet a member? We welcome you to join for 2008 at this meeting for $10 ($15 for families). It's still a great value since we have half of our program year ahead of us.

Our Chapter has plenty of good cooks. Simply bring your appetite, along with your dish-to-pass, and your own table service in addition to plants you want to donate for the sale. To speed things up, please try to label your plant contributions in advance. We have accommodations for rain or shine so don't let the weather discourage you. Our sale will be outdoors but partially sheltered. And of course, if you need further incentive to come, this will be a great opportunity to see Judy's extensive gardens as previously featured during a recent Garden Conservancy Open Day.

Here’s what the Garden Conservancy website says about her garden:

This is a nine-year-old garden overlooking and sloping toward Cayuga Lake. Conifers, ornamental trees, nut trees and shrubs (many started as saplings), and meadows border the two-acre property. Next to the house are a thyme and flagstone patio, roses and clematis on trellises, shrubs, and flowering trees in the front of the house and flowering plants in containers on the rear patio. An herb garden backs up to a rugosa rose garden which is situated adjacent to a cutting garden. A pergola draped with hops and clematis borders the enclosed potager for vegetables and flowers. The long, mixed-border cottage garden is filled with flowering shrubs, perennials, and annuals. A waterfall behind the mixed border leads to the pond and a burning pit/sitting area which is planted with small trees, grasses, and shrubs. A small wooded area is the site of a future shade garden. Completing the gardens are a small grape arbor and a rock garden.

Directions: From Ithaca, go north on Route 13. Take exit for Route 34/East Shore Drive and drive north on Route 34 for 4.4 miles, then turn left onto East Shore Circle. Stay on East Shore Circle for 0.2 mile then turn left onto Teeter Road. After 0.2 mile turn right onto Waterview Circle Road. Number 12 is on left. Please park on street.

Rock garden dedication at White Pine Camp

Dick and Mary George, AC-NARGS members and White Pine Camp Associates, have extended an invitation to our membership for the dedication of the historic and recently restored Frederic Heutte Alpine Rock Garden at the camp in Paul Smiths, N.Y., August 10. Our membership has been involved in consulting, contributing plants and in offering a hands-on work session. Carol Eichler, Chapter Chair, has been invited to participate in the ribbon-cutting and would love to share driving with anyone interested in attending. Contact her at carol_eichler@excite.com or 607-387-5823.

If you go, this website (visitadirondacks.com or www.saranaclake.com ) will help you plan your visit. Here are some nearby things to do:

  • On-the-way edducational excursion: a stop at the WILD Center in Tupper Lake (www.wildcenter.org) open daily
  • Nourishment: many choices however if you like Mexican, as recommended by Carol Eichler recommends a must stop at Casa del Sol but plan to arrive early for supper or expect to wait; also check out Donnelly's Ice Cream offering their famous 2-flavored twist ice cream cone, located at the intersection of Routes 86 and 186
  • Culture: The Pendragon Theatre in Saranac Lake (www.pendragontheatre.org)
  • Adirondack Wildlife Festival at Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (also nice hiking) also on Saturday August 10th; www.adkvic.org
  • Saturday, August 9th,Olympic Center, Lake Placid, Nordic jumping (www.orda.org/newsite/togo/skijumps.php) and ice show performances (www.lakeplacidskating.com/newsite/programs/summer/events.php). Admission charged.
  • Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing (Adirondack Outfitters www.adirondackoutfitters.com/), Saranac Lake

Thanks for a great plant sale!

Thanks to all who volunteered to help make our May Plant Sale at Ithaca High School a success. We took in a record $2975.15 plus 6 new memberships and two renewals.

Coming Soon: A New Public Rock Garden in Corning

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Congratulations are in order to the Spencer Crest Nature Center (http://www.spencercrest.org) in Corning for receiving a Norman Singer Endowment Grant from NARGS National to build a rock garden on their premises. The grant was submitted by Bill Plummer and endorsed by our Chapter’s Board of Directors.

Bill, because of his extensive gardening experience, was asked to do the landscaping around a Pavilion at the nature center. The pavilion was just constructed in 2007 and dedicated to Bob and Hertha Rockwell. He proposed that a rock garden be constructed featuring plants endemic to Colorado, because that is where Bob spent his childhood before moving to Corning and where he took his family each summer. Bob and his wife have been lifelong collectors and have donated their collection of natural objects, including a mounted Passenger Pigeon, to the nature center’s museum.

Site preparations for the new rock garden have already begun and will continue through the summer. The hope is to have the structural phase completed in time to plant dwarf conifers this fall thanks to a grant awarded by our Chapter. A planting of alpines next spring will complete the construction phase.

Volunteers are providing the muscle behind this project with ongoing maintenance being offered by Spencer Crest and Corning Rotary. This is an exciting outreach project that will not only educate the visitors to the Nature Center about rock gardens but also honor a great man and woman. The Adirondack Chapter is pleased to be able to offer our support. Hopefully we’ll be hearing more about this garden from Bill in the future.

If you want to get involved, please contact Bill Plummer at remmulp@stny.rr.com or 607-962-2640.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May/June newsletter

The May/June issue of GreenDragon Tales is available online in printer-friendly .pdf format.

Plant of the Month Program

From John Gilrein, plant of the month coordinator:

Through our plant of the month program we hope to expand the horizons of our members, as well as provide appealing plants. We like to coordinate the plant of the month with out speaker’s talk when this is possible. When we can’t coordinate the plant of the month with the speaker, like last month when our speaker’s topic was snowdrops, I try to get something else with appeal. If you have any suggestions about future plants of month, let me know:  base_camp@verizon.net 315-492-0844

Plant of the month will start up again at our September meeting.

Warm April brings a Cool May in the Rock Garden

From member Nari Mistry (May 1):

Saxifraga ‘Allendale’

In March I wondered whether we could have garden visits in April and I was hoping to lure ACNARGS members with some pictures of early blooms in my rock garden. April started out cold and I gave up the idea.  

But then we had those very warm dry sunny days! Plants woke up and many of my little alpines leaped into bloom and were rapidly setting seed, while I worked madly to move and transplant all the mis-sited (non-alpine) plants on my list before they grew too big . Meanwhile, several little draba cushions flowered and faded in a few days.  Pulsatilla haleri bloomed and went to seed.

Now with the rain finally helping the season along, there are more flowers coming every day. So I have revived my hope to invite members to stop by any time and look at what’s showing.
All the Primulas are blooming well of course, starting with P. Juliae species which started in March and ending with the few named specimens.

We have yellow Draba siberica and Potentilla nana blooming with blue-flowered Veronica armena mats in the background, Aubrieta & Arabis blooms in purple, red and pink, and Armeria cushions are poised to be covered completely in pink. Although the double-flowered Sanguinum has come and gone, there are swaths of double white Anemone nemorosa and a few delicate violet colored A. 'Ginny' and a lot of A. blanda still blooming in the shade as well as a Corydalis flexuosa (violet-purple). Also a brilliant yellow Hylomecon japonica.

Please stop by anytime at 1159 Ellis Hollow Rd., Ithaca. The sunny rock garden is in the side yard on the left (East), the shady garden behind the house. Feel free to walk around. If you want to call, it’s 272-7496.

Want to share a ride to Ottawa?

Member Bill Plummer is looking for folks to share the road to the NARGS national conference June 12-15 in Ottawa:
I will be driving to the Ottawa meeting passing through Ithaca on the way.
Would anyone like to drive with me?

There are no single or double dormitory rooms available. However, there is a
2 bedroom suite that goes for $99. Is there someone who would like the second bedroom and share the cost?

Bill Plummer
Painted Post, New York

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wurster work day Saturday

From Carol Eichler:
David and I are planning to work awhile on Saturday May 3 beginning at 10 a.m. provided it isn't raining too badly. The garden needs some attention before it goes into peak bloom. Hope to see some of you there on short notice.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 17 Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale

From ACNARGS member and Tompkins County CCE horticulture educator Pat Curran, here's an overview of the Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale at Ithaca High School where we have our own table. If you haven't attended before, you really should check it out.

April's flowers are giving way to May showers. Though the summer-like weather in April has made planting tender plants very tempting, the seasonal weather is back and reminds us that the average date of our last spring frost is May 14. One sure sign that spring is really here is the Annual Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale taking place this year on Saturday, May 17 from 9 am - 1 pm at Ithaca High School. Mark your calendar and plan to attend!

This event is the largest plant sale in central NY and will feature over 50 area plant growers and prominent gardening groups with a huge plant selection. Garden groups include the Tompkins
County Master Gardeners, Adirondack Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, Finger Lakes Native Plant Society, and Auraca Herbarists. Plants to be featured include flowering annuals, herbs, perennials--many choice selections, rock garden plants, native plants, small flowering shrubs and trees, vegetable transplants, asparagus and raspberries. Everything any gardener could want and more! By coming to the Plant Sale, you are supporting local family greenhouse businesses and garden groups. Local plants, local experts, local color!

Plan to arrive before 9 am if you can, in order to park closer to the action. Sales start promptly at 9 am, and choice plants sometimes sell out fast. Free pH testing by the Master Gardeners (two samples per person limit, please). Consider bringing your wagon so you can pull your purchases around comfortably.

For information about the event, call 607-272-2292.

June 21 day trip to 3 Syracuse-area gardens

Prepare for a full day and an eyeful of inspiring gardens in the Syracuse area starting bright and early on Saturday, June 21 with the gardens of Louise Lutz and Joe Zader located on Tully Lake. These folks really know how to build with stone!

Then on to Donna Kraft’s garden on the other side of Tully Lake where you’ll see some rare treasures in a magnificent setting and pause for bring-your-own lunch.

Lastly, guided by designer Diana Smith, owner of Topiary Gardens (http://www.topiary-gardens.com - note the garden pictured on her home page is a portion of the garden we will see) we will visit the showplace gardens of Doc Mengel. Diana’s specialty is Japanese maples and she will bring some choice potted specimens available for purchase.

A side trip to Watson’s Greenhouse in LaFayette before heading to our respective homes is highly recommended, if time allows. They carry lots of rock garden plants and display inspiring sculptural hypertufa pieces created by Art Friedl.

If you plan to join us, please contact Donna Kraft (dkraft@twcny.rr.com or 315-696-8626) for the itinerary and directions as well as to arrange carpooling. As a courtesy we also need to let our hosts know how many guests to expect.

Water feature and wall at Donna Kraft's garden.

Lutz-Zader garden.

August 16 Annual Picnic and Member-Only Plant Sale

Judy Fogel has graciously offered to host our August 16 meeting, which includes as the top order of the day, our very special member-only plant sale, followed by a dish-to-pass and guided garden tour. Mark you calendar now. Our July-August newsletter will have full details. Judy lives in Lansing and her home offers magnificent views of Cayuga Lake.

You’ll have a chance to view Judy’s garden earlier in the season since her garden is among those offered by the Garden Conservancy Ithaca Open Days on June 14. Here’s what their website (http://gardenconservancy.org/opendays/index.pl) says about her garden:

This is a nine-year-old garden overlooking and sloping toward Cayuga Lake. Conifers, ornamental trees, nut trees and shrubs (many started as saplings), and meadows border the two-acre property. Next to the house are a thyme and flagstone patio, roses and clematis on trellises, shrubs, and flowering trees in the front of the house and flowering plants in containers on the rear patio. An herb garden backs up to a rugosa rose garden which is situated adjacent to a cutting garden. A pergola draped with hops and clematis borders the enclosed potager for vegetables and flowers. The long, mixed-border cottage garden is filled with flowering shrubs, perennials, and annuals. A waterfall behind the mixed border leads to the pond and a burning pit/sitting area which is planted with small trees, grasses, and shrubs. A small wooded area is the site of a future shade garden. Completing the gardens are a small grape arbor and a rock garden.


From Ithaca, go north on Route 13. Take exit for Route 34/East Shore Drive and drive north on Route 34 for 4.4 miles, then turn left onto East Shore Circle. Stay on East Shore Circle for 0.2 mile then turn left onto Teeter Road. After 0.2 mile turn right onto Waterview Circle Road. Number 12 is on left. Please park on street.

From the Chair

From Carol Eichler, chair:

Our April19th meeting day dawned as one of the first of the spring that was both warm enough and dry enough to work out in the garden – the sort of day this rock garden chair dreads. Why? I feared your garden and its alluring demands would be far more attractive than attending our talk.

So it was with great surprise (a good thing) that I saw so many people turn up for Hitch Lyman’s presentation on snowdrops. It was a near record crowd with many unfamiliar faces, attributed in part to the current snowdrop “craze” that Hitch mentioned. Of course, the great publicity provided by both the Ithaca Journal and Elmira Star Gazette and other informal word-of-mouth avenues helped to quickly spread the word that we were offering a program by a foremost galanthus grower.

My day proceeded to get even better. Our seedling exchange – and somewhat impromptu ephemerals sale (because technically, they weren’t seedling and besides they wouldn’t hold until our May sale) offered plants, plants, and more plants galore. Had I realized beforehand the extent of what had been brought in, I probably would have had difficulty focusing on the talk. Thanks to the generosity of our members there were many precious “finds” that will now become part of our envisioned gardens. Yes! It was a great way to kick off the growing season.

Coming soon is the May 17th Garden Fair and Plant Sale at the Ithaca High School. It is our biggest fundraiser of the year and provides the critical funding for speakers. Look for our booth, always situated indoors against the far wall. Set-up begins Friday afternoon and we welcome your plant donations, help with set-up and day-of-sale assistance, and of course, your purchases. Please encourage your garden friends to stop by . . . and to become a member. Remember members receive a 25% discount.

Need I remind you that we will not hold another speaker meeting until September 18th, followed by speaker programs in October and November? Besides tending to our own gardens during this apparent hiatus we have scheduled a June 21 day trip to tour gardens in the Syracuse area. Donna Kraft, whose own garden is on the roster, is coordinating this event and this issue contains more information about this fabulous inspirational trip. (See above if you're reading the blog.)

Another activity that the Chapter will be engaged in throughout the summer is the on-going tending of the Wurster Garden. As of this writing there is no scheduled work date so I expect we’ll be sending out an email alert when we do. Tom Myers is this year’s coordinator. The garden, located at Cooperative Extension’s offices at 615 Willow Avenue, should be nearing peak bloom about the time you receive this newsletter so do make a point of stopping by (pulling a few weeds while you’re there would be welcomed too).

This will also be your last newsletter until our July-August issue, arriving in time to remind you of our annual picnic and member-only sale on August 16th. Mark your calendar now to save the date because, thanks to you, our members bring such special and unique plants to share. It’s a not-to-be-missed event. More information is contained in this newsletter. (Or see above if you're reading the blog.)

So, despite the fact we won’t meet for awhile, there’s still lots going on. Enjoy the gardening season everyone.


Carol, John and Billie Jean at hypertufa workshop.

News From National: Ottawa Conference and National Meeting

From Carol Eichler, chair:

With both Eastern and Western Study Weekends now history, NARGS is looking ahead to its 2008 International Rock Garden Plant Conference and National Meeting on June 12-15 in Ottawa carrying the theme One Valley: Five Habitats. The days are filled with field trips to varied habitats from forest to bog to meadow, and by night with lectures. But wait there’s more: Enjoy the opportunity to explore many attractions of interest close by, within walking distance of the AGM meeting site at the University of Ottawa in fact.

The conference promises to be stimulating and intense. Among the featured speakers are:

  • Allan Donaldson, retired professor of geology, Carleton University, speaking about the geological history of the Ottawa Region.
  • Daniel F. Brunton, ecological consultant and field naturalist, whose topic is "Special Ottawa Valley Landscapes: An Armchair Overview."
  • On Friday, June 13, Michael Runtz, on the biology faculty of Carleton University, will talk about "Floating Fens and Arid Alvars: Rare and Unusual Habitats of the Ottawa Valley."
  • And on Saturday, June 14, Marilyn Light presents a talk titled "An Orchid for Every Habitat: Orchids of Canada’s Capital Region." 

More information is available on the Ottawa Valley Chapter’s website www.ovrghs.ca.

Need pavers?

Billie Jean Isbell has more than 500 pavers looking for a home. They are brick-colored, 'key shaped' (6-inch hexagons with 2-inch square attached), and make an intricate interlocking pattern when installed. Contact Billie Jean if you're interested: bji1@cornell.edu or 607-539-6484.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Board meeting

The Board will meet at 10:30 a.m. April 19 at Ken Post Labs prior to our program with Hitch Lyman.  If you have agenda items, please send them to CarolEichler:  carol_eichler@excite.com

Sunday, April 6, 2008

April newsletter

Download the April newsletter in printer-friendly .pdf format.

Genesee Chapter display at GardenScape 2008

The Genesee Valley Chapter constructed a large hypertufa display at the Greater Rochester Flower Show - GardenScape 2008.  Photo credits go to Kathy Malta with special thanks to Bristol Nursery for the loan of tufa and plants and to Betsy Knapp who was the Chapter's master builder/designer.

More about the show from Carol Eichler:

Billing itself as “one of the top flower and garden shows in the country,” Rochester’s 17th annual garden show known as GardenScape carried the theme "It's a Garden Life” this year. I have gone a number of times and am never disappointed. How could you be disappointed with viewing colorful flowers and lush trees when outdoors we’re still looking at a stark black and white landscape? Don’t expect this to be the Philadelphia Flower Show but that can be a good thing. The crowds are smaller, it’s closer, and much more achievable in a day’s visit.

First, before I write more generally about this show, I want to highlight – or more accurately, rave – about the Genesee Valley NARGS display this year. This year I was wowed, inspired, swept off my feet – yes, all of the above – by their display! (See photo above.) I’m hoping to get more details about it. But for now all I can report (with some degree of confidence) is that Betsy Knapp was the chief designer/construction supervisor using tufa and plant material supplied by Bristol’s Garden Center in Victor, New York (http://www.bristolsgardencenter.com/). They did a terrific job and had a prime location too. This Chapter has had a booth at the show each year since their founding (about 3 years ago now, a huge commitment for a Chapter with current membership around 30 I might add). Hopefully, this commitment and the exposure it gives them will be a big boost to their membership.

Now, on to the rest of the show. Each year there are certain commercial and not-for-profit exhibit/vendors that I look forward to with anticipation. Traditionally you could count on a handful of commercial landscape design firms, among the 20 or so constructed within the Dome Center, that offered, in my opinion, what stood out as truly original displays. However this year – and this speaks well to the quality of the show in general - there seemed to be less of a distinction as all the displays seemed to be elevated to a higher standard. A rooftop garden with Rochester nighttime skyline as a backdrop, and an oasis complete with Turkish-style gazebo (if that’s what they are called), and, always, the International Bonsai Arboretum display.

I look forward to some wonderful vendors too including a returning jewelry artisan whose work can be addictive, the orchid society’s display and thankfully adjacent orchid vendor to satisfy one’s compulsion for those “must have” plants, and the alluring begonia nursery to name a few. The Children’s Garden is always fun and worth checking out their interactive activities as are the lectures by local and nationally-known experts – with topics this year ranging from edible and sustainable landscaping to floral design, hardscaping, and highlights of area public gardens.

I highly recommend attending this show. If you missed it this time, remember there’s always next year. Read more here http://www.rochesterflowershow.com/gardenscape/show-overview.php

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Getting to know two new members

From Carol Eichler, chair:

I recently received messages from two new members who joined this year:

Nancy Adams writes: I have a love of native plants and selections from natives - a lot of great ornamental plants come from them. I also like succulents, sedums and sempervivums a lot- funky and little and often able to deal with extremes in climate and living conditions. I have worked at Cornell Plantations for the better part of twenty years, and had the great good luck to work with a variety of really cool plants and some really good people. I think the rock garden folks get to work with some neat, unusual plants and there is always something interesting that is going on with their gardens. I like the variety of ways that people interpret and plant their rock gardens too.

Kathy Purdy writes: I garden on 15 acres of acid clay in the hamlet of Triangle, halfway between Greene and Whitney Point. I am a homeschooling mother of a large family and read (that's past tense) a lot of gardening books while breastfeeding, no formal horticultural training. When we moved here, there were colchicums already planted by a former owner, and I've gotten quite interested in them, wrote an article for The American Gardener last fall. I also love the genus Narcissus and am struggling to eliminate invasive plants and incorporate more native plants, especially spring ephemerals. (Let's face it, the goldenrod and asters don't need my help.) There are plenty of rocks here, but I can't say I'm a rock gardener, just interested in interesting plants.

In addition to writng for garden magazines, Kathy is also a pioneer in the world of garden blogging.  You can read her blog posts at Cold Climate Gardening: Hardy Plants for Hardy Souls (http://www.coldclimategardening.com).  If you're thinking of starting your own blog, you should also read her Blogging Art and Practice blog (http://yourbloghelper.com).

Welcome Nancy and Kathy!

From the chair

From Carol Eicher, chair:

Transplanting has been on my mind a lot the past two weeks. I’ve been trying to keep up with seedlings as they grow and need to be potted out of their starter flats. I confess the whole repotting thing is a bit of a project and messy – finding a block of time to set up and meticulously handle the delicate and tiny sprouts. It’s an activity best held outdoors but of course it’s been far too cold. For a brief moment I’m caught up until the next wave – my emerging vegetable seeds – demand more room. Already I’m out of space under my grow lights. Ah space. No matter how much allotted room we have, is this not a constant gardener’s plight?

I for one will be very happy to see April 19 come, the day of our next meeting, because that means I’ll be able to rid myself of lots of seedlings to share with you in my quest to gain more growing room.

I’m excited about some of my babies. Of the 3 alliums that have germinated, Allium caeruleum looks very interesting at 24 inches tall with blue flowers. I’m ecstatic to have a dozen young Gentiana septemfida plants. They were so tiny and difficult to transplant but look like they’ll survive! Then there are still more small plants that show promise for the rock garden - Ephedra minima, Erysimum nivale, Horminum pyrenaicum, Leontopodium alpinum, and Scutellaria alpina, to name a few – nothing particularly rare, simply the thrill of seeing the miracle of their emergence.

To get the most out of our seedling exchange I hope you’ll bring seedlings by your own hand or self-sown volunteers from your garden. Note the change of venue for this meeting. The head house at Ken Post Lab is the perfect place to handle our messy plant transactions. The plant exchange will follow our speaker presentation – the details of both are contained in this newsletter. It will be a full meeting to be sure and one I hope you have marked your calendar to attend.

Happy Gardening,


Seedling exchange at April meeting

From David Mitchell, plant sales coordinator:

Don't miss our seedling exchange at this year's April meeting. After a great lecture, we'll dig into our seedlings, divide them up, and hope to see them again in your garden and at one of our plant sales.

You may bring your seedlings in individual pots or one large pot. We'll have soil, pots, and labels on hand to help with the transfer to a good home. You do not have to bring seedlings to get seedlings. Oh, and did I mention that this exchange is free! free! free!?

Folks are also welcome to bring divisions of plants, labeled, and potted or not, to be reserved for the May plant sale. In the meantime, good luck with your seeds and may you be able to share your successes in April!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

News from National

Singing the Praises of our "Unsung Heroes"

A new feature has been introduced in the Winter 2008 NARGS Bulletin Board (supplement to the Rock Garden Quarterly). Writes NARGS President Dick Bartlett:

[NARGS] is a fantastic and interesting society with a wide collection of unique and dedicated gardeners. We like to think of ourselves as a special kind of gardeners who are interested in the difficult to grow and rare and unusual plants. But there is another aspect to our society, which we need to be aware of. Our society contains many individuals who are also dedicated to their particular chapters. Although sometimes recognized with chapter awards, they deserve special recognition by our entire society.
Hence the creation of this new feature. Anyone is invited to profile and recognize individuals from their Chapter who deserve recognition for their dedication to the work they do to keep the local Chapter going and thriving.

Submit your “unsung hero” story to Dick Bartlett at abart111@aol.com.

NARGS Bulletin Board goes electronic

In an effort to provide more frequent communications, the NARGS Bulletin is now posted on the NARGS website and its paper-copy version is gradually being phased out. Visit "From the President" (www.nargs.org/bulletin.html) to keep abreast of news from our parent organization.

Why not join NARGS National?

Membership in the National NARGS may be one of the best $30 bargains to be found! Membership gives you a subscription to the Rock Garden Quarterly, eligibility to participate in the rock garden Seed Exchange, and discount rates on plant books. Any titles published by Timber/Workman Press, whether they are listed on the NARGS website or not, are available to NARGS members through the Book Service at 20% off retail.

Of course, all of us in our local Chapter receive the benefit of the speaker tours which bring renown plantspeople from the world over to bring us programs - something we could never afford to do on our own. Lastly, with your membership you join a national and international network of gardeners and help secure this amazing organization for the future.

Membership is just a click away, so check it out: www.nargs.org/info/smembership.html

Stonecrop Open House and Plant Sale April 26

Stonecrop Gardens Open House and Plant Sale, April 26, Cold Spring, N.Y., is looking more inviting all the time. Besides viewing the woodland and rock gardens at a choice time, the number of vendors participating in the plant sale has expanded and promises to be a virtual one-stop shop for the delectable and rare.

Here’s a list of nurseries attending:

Alpines Mont Echo - Specialist of choice Alpine and Rock Garden plants with an emphasis on Primulas, Saxifrages, Campanulas, Woodland Plants and Dwarf Shrubs.

Carol's Collectibles - A small nursery in Northeast Connecticut specializing in unusual and hard to find rhododendrons, dwarf conifers, perennials and rock garden plants.

Evermay Nursery - A micro nursery specializing in Alpine plants and Primula species, and hybrids hardy for the Northeast.

Les Plantons A & P - A family-owned nursery specialising in dwarf and unusual conifers and shrubs, many suitable for troughs and small rock gardens and grown for northern gardens.

Wrightman Alpines - Grower and Supplier of Alpine Plants

For more information go to http://www.stonecrop.org. A number of AC-NARGS members attended last year on an "official" day trip. If anyone wants to take the initiative to organize a trip this year, please don’t be shy – let me know ASAP (carol_eichler@excite.com).

Celebrate Trilliums!

From Carol Eichler:

Mt. Cuba Center and its sponsoring partners invite you to the Trillium Symposium April 17-19.  The setting for the symposium is the Brandywine Valley, an area in Northern Delaware known for its natural beauty, world-class museums, and magnificent gardens.

The purpose of this two-day conference (and optional third-day field trip) is to bring together academic and industry professionals as well as expert gardeners to address the science, conservation, and horticulture of trilliums of Eastern North America. Attendees will gain an understanding of the biology of trilliums, their ecology, conservation challenges, and issues impacting their propagation and production. Colleagues with a wide range of expertise share ideas and information to further our understanding of this intriguing genus. For details: www.trilliumsymposium2008.org.

From the symposium website. Note there is a fee to attend.

Catalog suggestions

Wild Ginger Farm - From David Mitchell: Here's a nursery Jerry [Yeager] discovered in Oregon. The owner just spoke at their NARGS chapter. Has some interesting How-Tos.

Sunshine Farm and Gardens - From BZ Marranca: "Anyone interested in doing a bulk order from this guy? There was some interest in Primula japonica last fall but I was too busy to deal with it. So far this spring it's a little slow. We have until March 31 for the specials. I would ask you to get in touch with me by March, 25 to give me time to collate our order. I would be interested in Kniphofia, Hellebores and the Primula."

It's a little late now for a group order. (Sorry for being slow in posting this.) But the catalog is worth checking out and maybe doing a group order next year.