Monday, February 25, 2008

Carol's flickr images

At our last meeting, I had several member ask me about the best way to put images online. Even though I don't have much experience using them myself, I suggested that they look into one of the online photo-sharing services, such as flickr.

It didn't take Carol Eichler long to try that idea out. I got an email from her today pointing me to an online album she created of images she shot in the Catskills last summer, Shawangunks-Nature's Rock Garden in the Catskills.

Clicking on that link will take you to the 18 photos she put in that album. And I'm betting that Carol will be adding more albums from her trips and garden visits.

If you like sharing pictures with friends and family, fellow gardeners and others, go to flickr or similar site and create your own albums. Then we can feature them easily through the blog to illustrate articles or just share what's blooming at your place.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

From the Chair

The calendar plays cruel tricks with my mind. Here we are, just days away from March which psychologically at least signals the beginning of spring. Yet winter seems to have a relentless hold on me. My rational side tells me that we still have a good three months of nasty weather ahead – clouds, snow, cold, followed by clouds rain, mud - before I’m anywhere near content with my choice of homestead. Ugh! That doesn’t mean I don’t complain about summer weather – after all, that’s the stuff that Iowa-born-and bred folks, like myself, thrive on, But in summer, there’s no better place on earth I want to be.

Meanwhile I must content myself with the little hints of what’s to come – a flock of migrating robins arriving in my neighborhood this week (February 19th – what were they thinking?), ordering then planting my NARGS seeds (and awaiting the miracle of sprouting), looking forward to attending a garden show (despite vowing to get to the Philly show it will be lower-budget Rochester again in mid-March), and, last but not least, enjoying our Chapter’s programs.

Last month we enjoyed wonderful remembrances of Ithaca gardens (Nari Mistry’s rock garden), a historic Adirondack work-in-progress rock garden (Mary and Dick George’s White Pine Camp), the forbidding but exotic environment of South Dakota’s Badlands (Suzanne Lipari), and David Mitchell’s quick glance through Les Quatre Vents, Montreal Botanic Gardens, Alpine Mt. Echo in Quebec and Cady’s Falls Nursery in Vermont – over 300 breathtaking slides in 20 minutes (retracing the Chapter’s trip last June enjoyed by 13 of us). Thank you all for sharing and, for me at least, bringing me hope and renewal.*

Our March program promises to be plant-filled as well. Jon Lonsdale of Edgewood Gardens and a true plant collector will be sharing not only his expertise but plants for sale (our plant-of-the-month) from his nursery as well. Come join us and bask in the plush world of green. If you can’t wait, I invite you to enjoy the 4,000+ photos he has posted of his gardens on his website – no doubt a good way to chase away the doldrums when the need arises.

See you at the March meeting!


* I also want to thank Craig Cramer many times over for his seamless (to us anyway) technical expertise enabling the computer interface of these presentations and for presenting, in his own right, information about navigating our exciting new way of getting information out to you all through blog (something he designed and set-up as well). It’s very cool - check it out!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Garden Conservancy Open Days

Mark your calendar:

Tompkins County: April 5, June 14, July 12

Syracuse Area: July 13

Currently, there's no additional information at the Conservancy's website. When there is, you'll find it here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

March newsletter deadline

I will be assembling the next newsletter the weekend of March 1. If you have news, articles or other contributions, please get them to me as soon as possible, on Feb. 29 at the very latest.

Thanks. Craig

February meeting follow-up

Thanks to members David Mitchell, Nari Mistry and Susanne Lipari for sharing their PowerPoints.

And special thanks and congratulations go to BZ Marranca, who was elected treasurer.

If anyone wants to follow up with Dick and Mary George on their Adirondack rock garden restoration, find contact information at the White Pine Camp website.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February newsletter

Here's your February newsletter in a printer-friendly .pdf format.

And don't forget your 2008 membership form. Dues are due.

New ACNARGS blog

From Craig Cramer, newsletter editor/webmaster:

To streamline our chapter's communications, this winter I started the ACNARGS blog. If you aren't familiar with them, a blog is simply a website organized chronologically, like a diary. Stop in and take a gander at it:

The advantages of the blog include:
  • Instead of waiting until it's time for each issue of the newsletter to come out, information can be posted to the blog continuously.
  • All the information doesn't have to flow through me. Blogging is easy and I can train other chapter members how to post to the blog.
  • You can write comments to blog posts, sharing information and engaging in online 'conversations'.
  • Some items may not make it from the blog to the newsletter due to space considerations.
  • It’s easier to follow links to more information from the blog posts than from the newsletter.
This year, whenever there is a newsletter issue to get out, I will cut and paste appropriate posts from the blog into our regular newsletter format which you will receive attached to an email. But I also plan to include the table of contents in the email with links directly to the blog posts so that you will hopefully get in the habit of visiting the blog directly whenever you need ACNARGS information.

I will do a short demo at our February meeting. Or if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the blog, don't hesitate to contact me:

Hypertufa Grow Stone Workshop April 5

Workshop: Make a Hypertufa Grow Stone
Taught by Art Friedl, Watson Greenhouse
2980 Sentinel Heights Road
LaFayette, NY
Saturday, April 5th
Time: 10:00 – 11:30-ish
Cost: $20 for a medium-sized planter (the Chapter will pay the additional $15 cost per registrant)
Bring: rubber gloves, portable work platform, grubby clothes
To register: sign up at Feb. or March meetings or contact Carol Eichler, 607-387-5823

Participants will create the beginnings of a unique free-form hypertufa planter, "stone" by "stone." Because of the required curing time (ideally 24 hours), Art will get us started and demonstrate the procedure for shaping and carving planting pockets, which each of us will then do on our own time. You must bring a pair of rubber gloves and a sturdy, portable working surface for transporting your planter back home. There's a minimum of t3 and a maximum of 10 registrants. Art says if the weather is good, he'll hold the class outside on his working tables.

If the weather cooperates and anyone is interested, John Gilrein is offering to take us on a hike in this area. Two local spots nearby offer looks at the Hart’s tongue fern (one is Clark Reservation). So bring a bag lunch and prepare for a field trip or to simply take the time the explore Watson’s Greenhouse.

Art wears many hats at Watson Greenhouse - hypertufa expert, classes organizer, sales and marketing coordinator, and more. Additionally, he frequently connects with activities at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Men’s Garden Club of Syracuse and other garden-related organizations, and Central New York television. If you have ever been to Watson's Greenhouse, you will surely have noticed and admired his handiwork with hypertufa, using the traditional materials beyond the basic trough. We are fortunate to have Art offer us our own special class.

Visit the website: for directions.

From the Chair

From Carol Eichler, board chair:

I always we enter each new year of our Chapter with great anticipation. The Board, with its annual retreat in January, met to solidify our goals, programs, and projects which then we present to you through this, our first newsletter for 2008.

We’re making some changes and so read this newsletter carefully. First, we welcome some new leadership to the Board. While everyone from the 2007 Board has returned, we have added new positions to share the responsibilities (see Familiar Faces, New Places). There remains one open position at the time of this writing – that of Chapter Treasurer. We continue our appeal for someone – YOU? -– to step up and fill this important role.

We offer nothing too radically different. We have lined up four great speaker programs and hope to offer an additional speaker program in November to complement our year-end dish-to-pass. Workshops and garden tours are also in the works with Donna Kraft planning a day trip in June to her garden and several others in the Tully area. Judy Fogel has generously offered to host our August picnic at her home overlooking Cayuga Lake.

This once again there will be ample opportunities to learn more about rock gardening through hands-on experiences – by participating in our free seedling exchange, two plant sales, and plant-of-the-month “buy-one/get-on free” sales and through working in the Wurster Memorial Rock Garden.

In addition to the usual member benefits for plant sales, we will continue to offer several additional member benefits. These include a member appreciation gift (usually a plant – a future newsletter will announce when this will be distributed), a 50% subsidy to workshop attendees, and one-time grants to attend NARGS conferences (note the article on these special grants).

I’m especially excited to have Tom Myers coordinate our efforts at the Wurster Memorial Garden. Tom will spearhead the Wurster Garden Study Group to keep up the momentum that was begun last year.

Lastly, our newsletter and webmaster, Craig Cramer, has taken a bold step to streamline Chapter communications. He is making our website more interactive and dynamic with the addition of a blog. Not only can new information be posted on an on-going basis but others can add comments and create dialogue.

Craig will be demonstrating the new blog at our February meeting “Members Share” for those of us (myself included) unfamiliar with blogging. Another highlight of our February meeting will be seeing photos from last year’s three day trip to Quebec gardens. We welcome other contributors.

This should be a good meeting and I’m looking forward to seeing all of you again after our winter break.


Chapter Offers Special 2008 Member Grants

From Carol Eichler, board chair:

Our Chapter is again offering one-time grants to encourage our members to attend the national rock garden conferences – Eastern Study Week-end and NARGS Annual Meeting. Geographically, both are being held relatively close this year.

Grant applications for ESW “Rock Gardening for the Future,” being held March 28-30 in Farmington, CT, will be received and considered on a rolling basis until February 23rd. Check this website ( for further details about all that this conference offers, including great speakers, vendors, and garden tours and an on-line registration form.

The Annual meeting “One Valley: Five Habitats,” is being held June 12-15 in Ottawa, Canada. Grant applications will be received until April 19th and notifications will be by April 26 to take advantage of the early registration discount . Online details are available here (

Those eligible to receive a Chapter grant must be a current member of the Chapter and of NARGS National, must have never received a Chapter conference stipend before (we have been awarding these grants for the last three years), and must clearly state in their application a significant way in which they will contribute “in-kind” to the greater Chapter membership. Examples of past contributions included, recipients who have written newsletter articles, delivered slide show programs at a general meeting, or donated time and/or plants to maintenance of the Wurster Garden.

The Grants Committee is comprised of Jerry Yaeger and Nari Mistry. Applications may be submitted via email to or by mail to Jerry Yaeger, AC-NARGS, 400 Irish Settlement Rd., Freeville, NY 13068. The maximum grant is set at $200 per person. Remember, the ESW deadline is coming soon, on February 23rd.

ACNARGS Board: Familiar Faces, New Places

From Carol Eichler, board chair:

As we prepare for our 2008 program year you will see many of the same members returning to serve in leadership roles and you will also see some new folks joining them to assist with the many activities that we engage in throughout the year.

As of this writing, we are still looking for a treasurer to handle the Chapter finances. Carolyn Yaeger has set up some easy systems and will be around to offer training to her successor. Learn a new skill or polish an old one. We need someone to step up!

Here’s the list of our “go-to” people who “make things happen” for the Chapter in 2008. They welcome your ideas, feedback, and time.

Hardy Ferns for Rock Gardens

From John Gilrein, Plant of the Month Coordinator:

Reference: Ferns for American Gardens, John T. Mickel, 2003, Timber Press

Almost everyone admires ferns for their grace and quiet beauty. In this article I will discuss ferns for 3 of rock gardeners’ favorite habitats, limiting the ferns discussed for woodland sites to some of the smaller ferns and ferns that grow naturally in rocky areas.

Ferns for Sunny sites

One does not normally associate ferns with sunny sites and well drained soils, but there are a few ferns that thrive in full sun conditions and very well drained soil.

1. Pellaea atropurpurea, purple cliff brake is an attractive fern that likes limey soil and sun. The fronds are from 8 to 20 inches long and evergreen. The leafstalks (stipes) are purple and the pinnae (leaflets) are silvery green. This fern is found over much over North America and Mexico and is hardy to zone 4.

2. Cheilanthes lanosa, hairy lip fern is more of a traditional looking fern than Pellaea with finely divided fronds. This fern occurs throughout much of the Eastern half of the US on rocky slopes, both calcareous (lime - rich) and non-calcareous and is hardy to zone 5.

3. Cheilanthes argentea, Asian lip fern has fronds that are deep green above and white underneath on reddish black stems. Forest Farm’s catalog reports that this fern grows in sun in soil of medium moisture conditions (moisture retentive soil with good drainage) and hardiness to zone 5.

My reference doesn’t include much detail on soil preferences for the ferns #1 and 2 above. I suspect these two ferns would prefer very well drained soil to rock garden conditions. P. atropurpurea has done well in my sunny rock garden for 2 growing seasons.

Ferns for Woodland sites

Most ferns are associated with woodland sites either with good drainage or wet soil conditions.

4. Asplenium platyneuron, ebony spleenwort, is small fern with narrow fronds (about 1 inch wide) 8 to 18 inches long with dark stems. It occurs in eastern North America in dryish soils and on rocks. This is reportedly easy. I have ebony spleenwort growing well (so far after 1 season) in a trough in part shade. It doesn’t need rocky soil, just good drainage and is evergreen and hardy to zone 4.

5. Asplenium trichomanes, maidenhair spleenwort, is a very small, delicate fern with narrow fronds 4 to 7 inches along with dark stems. It occurs across the northern hemisphere and grows in rock crevices and rocky slopes. This is an excellent fern for a trough. I haven’t grown it, but I would suggest gritty conditions with humus. It is evergreen and hardy to zone 2.

6. Asplenium (Phyllitis) scolopendrium, hart’s tongue fern is a rare fern reportedly found in only 2 of New York’s counties. It is also found in a few other states, Ontario, Canada, and Europe. This fern has evergreen, undivided strap like leaves, 8 to 16 inches long. Locally it inhabits north facing limestone talus slopes. The growing conditions provide a cool exposure, shade, and rich alkaline soil with good drainage. It is hardy to zone 5 and it more adaptable under cultivation. It needs a shady side with good drainage. There are hundreds of cultivars of this ferns with fronds that are wavy, crested, or divided, but not many of the cultivars may be available locally.

7. Adiantum pedatum, Northern maidenhair fern is a common fern that is found in most of Eastern North America. It grows up to about 2 feet high in rich, well drained soil in shade. The stems are purple or black, which creates a nice contrast with the green fronds. The maidenhair’s rhizome is a short creeping type which branches and can divided into separate plants. Northern maidenhair is hardy to zone 2.

8. Polistichum acrostichoides, Christmas fern, is an evergreen fern common in woods in our area and found throughout Eastern North America. The fronds are lustrous, dark green, and 1 to 2 feet long. This fern prefers moist woodland conditions with some lime, but will also do well on dryish soil in shade and is tolerant of acid soil. The crown of a mature Christmas fern is actually severally crowns crowded together on a short rhizome. The crowns can be cut apart to multiply the plant. It is hardy to zone 3.

Ferns for Water Gardens

The following ferns really are not ferns for rock gardens, but rock garden enthusiasts seem to appreciate ponds and bog gardens and these are great ferns. All three ferns below will be quite happy with saturated soil conditions.

9. Osmunda regalis, royal fern is beautiful fern that is worthy of its name. It is found in swamps and wet sites in North America, Europe, and curiously enough, tropical America as well. It grows in clumps from 2 to 6 feet tall. Royal fern will grow in shallow standing water or in normal garden conditions; it should grow tallest when grown in wet conditions. The more moisture it has, the more sun it can take. This fern can take neutral soil, but I suspect it prefers acid soils. It is hardy to zone 2.

10. Osmunda cinnamomea, cinnamon fern is named for the erect cinnamon colored fertile fronds (spore bearing fronds) in the center of the plant. Cinnamon fern is also found in swamps and wet places. It grows from 2 to 4 feet tall and needs acid soil. Similar to royal fern, this fern will grow in shallow water, and the more moisture it has, the more sun it can take. It will grow well in a shady site with good soil of the proper pH. If you don’t have acidic soil, it would probably grow well in a plastic pot sunk into the ground filled with rich, acidified soil. It is hardy to zone 2.

11. Matteucia struthiopteris, ostrich fern is tolerant of a wide variety of conditions. Its ideal habitat is rich, alkaline muck in a bright location, or humusy woodland soil with partial shade. It will grow well in decent soil with partial shade, and also well in full sun with wet soil. Ostrich fern’s feathery fronds grow 2 to 6 feet tall. It is a bit of a thug, spreading vigorously by underground runners, but is not difficult to control, so it is best planted where it has room to run. Since the fiddleheads of this fern are edible (and taste good), having a lot of it provides enough plants for a good harvest of an early spring vegetable. Ostrich fern creates a beautiful background in a wooded area, but the fronds tend to get brown and tattered by the end of summer unless they receive adequate water. It is found across the Northern hemisphere and is hardy to zone 2.

Sources for Fern Plants

(Numbers following nursery names designate which ferns above they carry.)

Eastern Plant Specialties - #4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

P O 385

Rahway, NJ 07065

Arrowhead Alpines - #4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11

P O Box 857

Fowlerville, MI 48836

Munchkin Nursery & Gardens – #5, 8, 9, 10,

323 Woodside Drive NW

Depauw, IN 47115-9039

Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery - #1, 2, 4, 6, 7

2115 Talent Avenue

Talent, OR 97540

Forest Farm - #3, 6, 9, 10, 11

990 Tethrow Road

Williams, OR 97544-9599