“‘Tis the last rose of summer, Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions, Are faded and gone.”
Thomas Moore, The Last Rose of Summer, 1830

 drought-monitor-9-13-2016Latest Drought Report

The latest Drought Monitor was released September 15.  All of eastern Massachusetts is in an “extreme drought”, and the extent of the conditions have spread into much of the central part of the state and all of southeastern New Hampshire.  Massachusetts has received ten inches less precipitation this year that normal – twenty inches versus a normal by now of thirty inches.

REGISTER your pollinator garden on the Million Pollinator Challenge. The garden planting must be mpgc-final-315x315completed and growing plants during the summer of 2016. To be eligible to be included, each garden would be required to have a majority of pollinator friendly plants.

Each garden club is required to report the following three things to the GCFM Awards Chairman:

  1. A listing of the sites by address of civic gardens planted with a majority of pollinator friendly plants maintained by the club. Gardens at any public site maintained by the club may qualify. Gardens may have been planted in prior years as long as maintained as part of an ongoing programs of the club. A group of containers serving one site, e.g. a public building, a park or an intersection shall be considered one garden.
  2. A listing by address of personal gardens planted with a majority of pollinator friendly plants and maintained at the member’s home. gardens may have been planted in prior years as long as maintenance is ongoing. A property with several gardens on the property of one member shall be counted as one garden.
  3. The gardens have been registered on the Million Pollinator Challenge website, a free, nonprofit effort to assist pollinators.

Digital photos should be taken of all gardens. They should not be included in the initial application, but be available to be sent online if the awards committee requests them.

The winner will be chosen by the awards committee after comparing the number of eligible gardens as a percentage of the number of the club’s members. For example, if a club has 50 members and 15 have pollinator friendly gardens plus the club maintains 3 pollinator friendly gardens, that club has a total of 18 gardens or 36% of the membership.

One garden club in each size category—small, medium and large as defined in the State Awards Handbook—will each receive a $100 award.


Massachusetts Master Gardeners With such a wide variety of beautiful exotic plants being introduced every year why should you choose native plants?

A ‘xeric’ garden doesn’t mean sand and cactus for your yard. Rather, it means choosing common garden plants that are drought tolerant once established, using more New England natives and designing your garden to minimize the need for water.

Let’s start with bulbs. What would spring be without daffodils or hyacinths? These hardy flowers from Turkey need water in the fall and spring (when it usually rains in New England), but are unaffected by all but the very driest summers. Established astilbes and hostas thrive throughout the summer in dry shade and only prolonged drought will stop summer bloomers such as black-eyed susans or yarrow. Clethra bushes provide beauty throughout the growing season be it wet or dry, and trees such as spruce and ash once established in a site can withstand even the driest years.

So what makes a xeric garden different from what you may already have? Probably very little. There are some plants that are just thirsty. If you are looking to reduce your water use, you probably will want to reduce the number of plants which need lots of water throughout the growing season. Plant trees that will provide shade for plants that don’t demand full sun, reducing their water needs, and perhaps cooling your home through the summer as well. Place plants with similar water needs together so when you do water, you can water just as much as each area needs.

Add compost to the soil when planting; it holds water without becoming soggy. Keep beds cool and moist with two to three inches of mulch (more than this amount will not allow the water to percolate down to the soil, less will allow water to evaporate out). Weed frequently so that as plants become established they don’t have to face competition for water.

Lawns are non-native plants that demand large quantities of water when rainfall is at its lowest. Reducing the size of your lawn, watering it less frequently, and over seeding with less water-dependent mixtures are all water saving strategies.

When you do water or irrigate, do it efficiently. Water early in the morning (before 9 a.m.) or after 8 p.m. Watering in mid-day can cause you to lose half your water to evaporation. Avoid automatic sprinklers but, if you must use them, shut them off during rain or after substantial showers. Make certain you are watering your yard and not your driveway, sidewalk or street.

Your xeric garden will be as bright and beautiful as any other. The secret is that it will save you water, money and work. And isn’t that something we all want in our gardens? And remember: New England natives evolved in this climate and often offer low maintenance and deer resistance while being tolerant our climates extremes.

List of Native Plants for CT, MA and RI

Garden Club of Norfolk Receives National and Many State Awards

On June 1, the GCN received four state and one national award at the Annual Meeting of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts. Its Public Service Announcement received a First Place in Television from the National Garden Clubs. The announcement is aired on local public TV, government channels and can be viewed here on our website. Congratulations!

The four state awards included Certificates of Merit for (1) the restoration and enhancement of the butterfly garden at Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk, (2) monthly flower arrangements at the Norfolk Public Library, (3) assisting a fourth grade Girl Scout troop in creating a registered Monarch Way Station at the Norfolk Cooperative Preschool,  and (4) bookmarks designed to increase membership, advertise programs, and the bake and plant sale.

MMGAGCN Awarded Grant from Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association

On April 28, 2016 the Garden Club of Norfolk was awarded the Garden Club Grant by the Massachusetts Master Gardeners.  The Garden Club Grant is offered to Massachusetts garden clubs to assist in  support, maintenance or creation of a community gardening project. We are  specifically looking for groups who would like to provide or enhance a community  space that is open to the public and that connects people to plants.

Our grant will expand and add more pollinators plants to the Butterfly Garden at Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Norfolk. Grant committee members are Martha Richardson (second row, second left, ), Stephanie Markham (third row, first left), and Emily Nicodemus, Michelle Noonan (not in picture), and Jessica Watson, Volunteer Coordinator at Stony Brook. Read more about our project.

A Note about Tick Awareness
Deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis), the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), and the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) are all found throughout Massachusetts. Each can carry their own complement of diseases. Adults and nymphs can be active when temperatures are above freezing and anyone working in tick habitats (wood-line areas, forested areas, and landscaped areas with ground cover) should check themselves regularly for ticks while practicing preventative measures. Have a tick and need it tested? Visit the web page of the Laboratory of Medical Zoology (www.tickdiseases.org) and click on the red ‘Test a Tick’  button for more information.
Report by Tawny Simisky, Extension Entomologist, UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, & Urban Forestry Program

National Garden Club and Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts Announcements

Dear Garden Club Presidents,

This is not a good summer for Massachusetts gardeners – it is too hot and too dry.  I have given up looking at the five- and ten-day forecasts.  They promise rain, only to have it evaporate before reaching my town.  If you are one of the lucky areas that have received rain, please keep it to yourself.

I am up every morning at 5:30 to get watering done before the absolute ban on daytime watering in my town takes effect at 9 a.m.  Last year I built a new home.  Forced to remove aged pines that were deemed hazardous, everything on the half-acre immediately around the house was planted from scratch: a dozen trees, 50 or more shrubs and countless perennials.  Being new, they have no established root systems, thus our early morning routine.

When not watering, I’m using my summer to improve my gardening knowledge.  I’ve been privileged to attend several terrific club garden tours and summer meetings.  I visited the Newport Blue Garden with fellow Master Gardeners and attended classes at New England Wildflower Society.  I’ve been catching up on my gardening reading (especially on the 90+ degree days).

Autumn will bring even more opportunities.  If you and your fellow club members haven’t signed up for the workshops-Back to Basics (of Floral Design) or Design Mornings (create your floral design along with an expert), August is the time to do so.  Go to our website, GCFM.org, and look under the “Education” tab for more information and registration.

While you are there you’ll also see we have three schools being held this fall- Flower Show School,  Landscape Design School and Environmental School-where you can learn among friends while being taught by professionals in a relaxed setting.  Registration is again under the GCFM.org “Education” tab.

If your club maintains a Facebook presence and would like a continuing stream of horticultural hints to post to your club and community, contact Neal Sanders (neal02052@gmail.com) and he’ll add to you to the GCFM distribution list.

And now I am going to ask each of you a favor:  please email me a jpeg of one or more gardens grown by your club in your town.  I want to have these running at our October 25 Fall Meeting.  Any home or public garden designed and maintained by one or more club members is okay, but I am particularly interested in the gardens you created-or added to-as a part of the two contests; “Plant a native pollinator garden” and “Plant an heirloom plant garden”.  From what I’ve seen so far, the work you are doing is spectacular.  It should be shared!  (Here’s a garden photographer’s hint: the best photos are taken in early morning and late afternoon light.)  We will be thrilled whether your photo shows one spectacular flower or an overview of the garden.  And you can tell everyone at the meeting, “that’s one of my club’s gardens.”

Finally, more education.  One of our GCFM affiliate organizations, the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association  is offering a unique program for gardeners of all stripes on Saturday, October 1.  A day long Gardener’s Conference will be held at the Westford Academy in Westford, MA, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.   Four well known speakers from the horticultural world will be there: Margaret Roach (“The 365 Day Garden”), Ed Bowen (“The Best Plants You Never Heard Of”),  Gordon Haywood (“Fine Art as Garden Inspiration”), and Bob Solberg (“Truth About  Hostas”).  You’ll also find a gardener’s market and much more.  Registration discounts end on August 15.  More information and registration details are online at www.massmastergardener.org.

Betty Sanders
President, GCFM