Paul Parent (1949 - 2018)

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Paul Parent, a well known figure in the world of gardening, especially in New England, passed away Monday August 13, 2018 at the age 0f 69. I became exposed to Paul and his encyclopedic wealth of gardening knowledge, only relatively recently, by attending a lecture he delivered to the Haverhill Garden Club in 2017. As a result I became a devotee to his weekly radio broadcasts and the wide ranging topics and advice which were dispensed on it every session. He will be missed.

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Proven Winners Display Garden

What an enjoyable, and educational, experience it was to tour the Proven Winners Pleasantville operation and display garden in Loudon, New Hampshire, on Friday, August 3rd. We went as part of a tour group from Weston Nurseries in Chelmsford, MA, but the gardens are open to the public through October 1st and no appointment is necessary. The display garden provides a cornucopia of ideas for planting combinations of colors, shapes and heights, that result in stunning displays, as well as many inspirational outdoor living vignettes. I enjoyed it so much that I can see myself going back again, perhaps a number of times. 

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

AGC Members Garden Tour - July, 2018

The rain may have dampened those of us on the tour but not the beauty and artistry of their gardens. Thank you for your hospitality and for sharing your love of flowers with us.

- Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Garden Visitor From Afar

 This lovely looking flowering plant showed up in our garden completely unannounced. We didn't even know it was there. We certainly didn't plant it. But it's flowers, as you can see (I apologize that they are a bit burry...it was rather breezy the day I took the picture) are delicate and pretty. I had no idea what it was. So I fired up one of my favorite apps...Garden Answers...and got the answer. It is a Musk Mallow (malva moschata). According to Garden Answers, this sun loving perennial grows 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; best with regular moisture. It is native to fields and roadsides throughout Britain and other parts of Europe. Leaves are finely cut. There is also a white flowered variety. How it got from there to here is a mystery ;-) but we're rather glad it did, and are hoping some of its relatives come to join it in our garden in the future.

This lovely looking flowering plant showed up in our garden completely unannounced. We didn't even know it was there. We certainly didn't plant it. But it's flowers, as you can see (I apologize that they are a bit burry...it was rather breezy the day I took the picture) are delicate and pretty. I had no idea what it was. So I fired up one of my favorite apps...Garden Answers...and got the answer. It is a Musk Mallow (malva moschata). According to Garden Answers, this sun loving perennial grows 3 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide; best with regular moisture. It is native to fields and roadsides throughout Britain and other parts of Europe. Leaves are finely cut. There is also a white flowered variety. How it got from there to here is a mystery ;-) but we're rather glad it did, and are hoping some of its relatives come to join it in our garden in the future.

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

The 2017 National Gardening Survey

 Here are a few really interesting observations on how the demographics of gardening in America is evolving extracted from the National Gardening Survey and published on GardenResearch.com.  The annual National Gardening Survey finds the proportion of older gardeners is holding steady (35%) but younger households reached an all-time high in gardening participation. “From small beginnings with a succulent here and a houseplant there, the under 35s are now truly engaged in the full range of gardening activities.” says industry analyst Ian Baldwin, who participated in the survey.   “18 to 34-year-olds now occupy 29% of all gardening households. It’s a strong sign that they are finally 'in,'" Baldwin says.   What is this young gardener buying? Knowledge. Rather than getting glossy, coffee-table books, many of these gardeners acquired gardening apps and information from gardening websites.   Overall, American gardeners reported spending a record $47.8 billion on lawn and garden retail sales, the highest ever, with a record average household spend of $503 – up nearly $100 over the previous year.   Container gardening and landscaping set new highs in gardening sales, too. “More and more consumers are choosing not to dig holes in their leisure times. If they have the finances, they are investing in raised beds,” says Baldwin.   Indoor gardening is also making a big comeback with 30% of all households buying at least one houseplant. Baldwin says it harkens back to the ‘70’s and ‘80s, “when no home was complete without various sizes and shapes of non-flowering plants in pots or macramé hangers acting as cheap room dividers.”  Males in the 18-34 year old age category reported increased participation in lawn and garden activities (from 23% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

Here are a few really interesting observations on how the demographics of gardening in America is evolving extracted from the National Gardening Survey and published on GardenResearch.com.

The annual National Gardening Survey finds the proportion of older gardeners is holding steady (35%) but younger households reached an all-time high in gardening participation. “From small beginnings with a succulent here and a houseplant there, the under 35s are now truly engaged in the full range of gardening activities.” says industry analyst Ian Baldwin, who participated in the survey. 

“18 to 34-year-olds now occupy 29% of all gardening households. It’s a strong sign that they are finally 'in,'" Baldwin says. 

What is this young gardener buying? Knowledge. Rather than getting glossy, coffee-table books, many of these gardeners acquired gardening apps and information from gardening websites. 

Overall, American gardeners reported spending a record $47.8 billion on lawn and garden retail sales, the highest ever, with a record average household spend of $503 – up nearly $100 over the previous year. 

Container gardening and landscaping set new highs in gardening sales, too. “More and more consumers are choosing not to dig holes in their leisure times. If they have the finances, they are investing in raised beds,” says Baldwin. 

Indoor gardening is also making a big comeback with 30% of all households buying at least one houseplant. Baldwin says it harkens back to the ‘70’s and ‘80s, “when no home was complete without various sizes and shapes of non-flowering plants in pots or macramé hangers acting as cheap room dividers.”

Males in the 18-34 year old age category reported increased participation in lawn and garden activities (from 23% in 2016 to 27% in 2017.

- Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Wabi-Sabi

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The Japanese principle of wabi-sabi is usually described as imperfection or acceptance of transience. In other words, perfectly imperfect. You’ve no doubt seen it in pictures of Japanese gardens; everything raked, pruned and tidied, with the singular Japanese maple, as in the above photo, which I can only wish were from my garden,  dropping its flaming red leaves. Wabi-sabi gardens embrace the rustic, the naturally aged, the chipped and the frayed. Just present it with style. And you can see wabi-sabi in lawns that feature expanses of prairie grasses instead of manicured swaths of lawn. And in fall, embrace the imperfection of naked perennial stalks that provide homes for insects and wildlife during winter.  

- Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Shade Annuals

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So few annuals produce a good show of flowers in shade. And shade is what I have, lots of it.  Browallia, especially the recent ‘Endless’ series by Proven Winners, has been a great success.  It comes in shades of purple or white.  This is ‘Endless Sensation’ last year.  This year I have the similar ‘Endless Illumination’ in the same container.  Full shade but I do use liquid fertilizer at least once a week.  No deadheading.  This view is opposite a window where we enjoy it from indoors as well.  Note, the old ‘Marine’ series of Browallia is not nearly as showy.  The ‘Endless’ series has many more and larger flowers.  They are…well, endless.  At least til frost!  

-- Virginia Begg, Andover Garden Club

Winter

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The nights are cold, days are short and weather advisories are announced with frequency; winter is with us still.  It is a season we celebrate in our New England community, a time to relish recent festivities, and time with friends and relatives. We gardeners reflect on the seasons past but it is not too early, nor is it ever, to start dreaming about the upcoming spring!