Doing Good While Teaching Gardening!

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Dana MacKay, Ann Lange and Cathy Starr helping 8th graders from West Middle school plant patio pots and window boxes for the Andover Senior Center. A great intergenerational activity resulting in beautification of our community. Hats off to the three of you and the kids!

Creative Forces In Design

THe AGC’s own Ann C. Lange created this masterpiece at the most recent AGC General meeting titled “Creative Forces in Photography & Design”. Ann has won many, many awards over her lifetime and it’s easy to see why when you look at this one.

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Boston Flower Show

Congratulations to our very own Andover Garden Club member Fyj Wheeler, who was appointed as one of the esteemed judges for this year’s Boston Flower Show. See below some pictures she took of the event .

ALERT: Spotted Lanternfly Spotted!!!

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The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has announced that a dead specimen of the invasive pest called the spotted lanternfly was reported and confirmed in December 2018 in Boston. MDAR is urging the public to check for signs of spotted lanternfly adults in any potted plants that they may have received over the holiday season and to report potential sightings through MDAR’s online reporting form by taking photographs and if possible, collecting a specimen. The insect appears to have been unintentionally transported this past December in a shipment of poinsettia plants originating from Pennsylvania. Residents should look for large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings.

Spotted lanternfly is an invasive sap-feeding insect from Asia first found in the United States in 2014 in Pennsylvania. While the main host plant is tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), it attacks a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, and has the potential to impact a broad range of agricultural commodities, including apples, peaches, grapes/wine, maple syrup, as well as the ornamental nursery industry.

There is currently no evidence that this pest has become established in Massachusetts. However, additional surveys are planned in the area to confirm that no other occurrences of lanternfly are present.

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

The Native Debate

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I am not opposed, actually quite the contrary, to gardening “native”. But I’ve often wondered, what makes a plant “native”? Many people say that a plant can only be native if its origins can be traced to the locality. That’s a highly restrictive qualification.

In her blog “Another voice in the native debate”, Elizabeth Licata quotes Tony Avent, of Plant Delights in North Carolina, from his newsletter to Plant Delight customers:

“To call a plant native, you must consider nature as static (never changing), and then pick a random set of dates that you consider to be “ideal.” Most of the plants currently considered native to Wake County today, actually speciated tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years ago. The current conditions are nothing like the conditions then.”

Mr. Avent’s logic makes sense to me. And I agree with Ms. Licata when she says:

“Personally, I feel the native plant movement has raised awareness in a beneficial manner. As long as there continues to be plenty of room for compromise.”

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Top Advice for Designing Your Garden

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If you have not yet signed up for weekly emails from Garden Design, you might want to consider doing so. In my opinion it’s one of the most inspiring, and beautiful, publications focussed on the principles and practices of garden architecture and implementation.

The most recent issue features four different designers in four different climates sharing what they learned while creating their own home gardens. Their succinct but pointed tips and teachings are worthy of refrigerator magnets and post-it notes. as we, here in the New England barrel forward towards Spring (hopefully).

As this week’s article author says “Whether you plan to build a garden from scratch or will be making revisions to your current garden, it’s always helpful to get ideas and guidance from those who have been designing gardens for years.”

Read the full article at Garden Design.

Paul MacKay, Andover Garden Club

Great Green Holiday Ideas

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving holidays and did not have too much trouble traveling to be with family and friends.

I’ve updated my annual listing of "green" holiday ideas. This time of year sees huge amounts of discarded packaging and wrappings and excess tons of wasted food. Often, the gifts we chose to give do not reflect a concern for our shared environment. Please check out the list for some ideas that will make Mother Earth happy this holiday season. Please let me know of any additional ideas you would like to share. 

Enjoy!

Maria Bartlett, Andover Garden Club

An Easy Shrub for Autumn Brilliance

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If you can say rhododendron or chrysanthemum, you can say enkianthus—en-kee-ANN-thus.  And whether or not you can say it, you should certainly think about planting this very easy, no-problems shrub.  It has pretty spring flowers, like upside-down lily of the valley.  But in the fall, the foliage color is spectacular.  This is a photo I took in my garden last week.  The bright gold is showstopping, especially against the dark evergreens around it.  But I have another with fire-engine red foliage and no, I have no explanation for the difference. 

Enkianthus grows in the shade in my garden.  They grow slowly to about six feet and more but are narrow so don’t take up a lot of room.  Mine have never had any problems. After planting them in good soil, I have done nothing for them for decades.  My kind of shrub!  Each fall, they reward me with this glorious display. 

They are native to Japan and you won’t find them at Home Depot but a good nursery should have a selection.  The full name is Enkianthus campanulatus.  They are in the same family as rhododendrons, azaleas and other familiar shrubs, although they look nothing like them. They are deciduous—drop their leaves in winter. 

Virginia Lopez Begg, Andover Garden Club

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!