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 ( - 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 ( 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 ( 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

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: 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:

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 ( 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