Waiting for Spring

Thekla’s winter-blooming Hellebore – January ’17

It’s lovely outside with all of the new snow from Tuesday’s Winter Storm Stella. In mid-March many of us are longing for spring. It will come soon – we’ve had tastes of it throughout the winter – from early-blooming hellebores or Christmas rose in a member’s yard, to witch hazel in another, and snow-drops in many gardens.

Ellen’s Hellebore (Sunshine Ruffles) – April ’16

Mother Nature has played a cruel trick on us, with magnolias’ fat buds swelling, crocuses about to bloom, daffodil leaves spiking through the garden dirt, spring-blooming hellebores almost ready to open in full flower, and many other promises of the start to a new garden season. Now, the hellebores, along with everything else, are covered in many inches of snow.

Soon, the snow will melt, and we will enjoy seeing the spring flowers put on their yearly show.

Elizabeth Farnsworth on “Ants in Your Plants”

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, The Nashua River Watershed Association’s meeting room was filled for the public lecture “Ants in Your Plants,” co-sponsored by the Groton Garden Club.   This slide show and lively presentation by Elizabeth Farnsworth, Senior Research Ecologist at New England Wildflower Society, brought new and interesting information, on ecosystems and how ants and other insects benefit plants, to the community.

Illustrator and insect expert Elizabeth Farnsworth, third from the right, with members of the Groton Garden Club

Elizabeth focused on three areas:

The associations between insects and other organisms

Insects as indicators and shapers

Using insects to foster an appreciation of nature

The importance of insects in our ecosystem becomes apparent when we consider that they pollinate 85% of our crops. Also, certain insects can control invasives; some types of beetles can control the invasive purple loosestrife. We learned that plants communicate through chemicals. Their hormones send out signals to other plants, not necessarily of the same variety, that they have been wounded.  The nearby plants then create their own defensive compound.  This is done through the air, and also in the ground as a fungal transmission in the root system. Some plants send out signals to parasitic wasps, who lay eggs that grow up and eat invading insects.

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Field Trip to Logee’s Greenhouse

Calathea lancifolia & Viola dissecta

Fourteen Garden Club members piled into three cars and drove 70 miles to Danielson CT to visit Logee’s Greenhouses.  With great appreciation to Camilla B, Horticulture Chair we thoroughly enjoyed an amazing family owned greenhouse that has been in business since 1982.  After our visit, during which many of us bought unique plants, Camilla led us to a nearby Thai restaurant, where they set out tables that took up half of the  bar area for our gathering of happy gardeners.

Greenhouse path & lemon tree

 

Logee’s  unique old greenhouses are a wonder where tropical and unusual plants have been growing since as early as 1900. One of the earliest is the “American WonderLemon”, a Ponderosa lemon tree that produces many lemons of up  to 5 pounds each.  Hundreds of thousands of propagations have been harvested from this single sprawling 117 year old tree.

Peg considers some purchases

Another large specimen is now called a citrus tree.  It was planted in 1953 as a California navel orange tree but over the years 10 varieties of citrus fruits have been grafted on it, including tangerines, blood oranges, and grapefruit.  It now serves as a source of cuttings.  Probably the oldest tree is the kumquat, which was given to the family in the 1950’s by a woman in her 80’s who had the tree in her conservatory for most of her life.  It started out in a pot, but broke through that; was given a box and broke through that to send its roots directly into the ground along with many other large trees in the largest, jungle like greenhouse.

Chains of Glory (Clerodendrum smithianum)

Some of our members were lucky to happen upon a Logee’s employee airlayering a plant. They enjoyed an impromptu lesson in this method of propagation, while the rest of us wandered the greenhouses, enjoying many varieties of orchids, begonias, clerodendrum,  jasmine, abutilon, anthurium, many kinds of fruit trees (figs, bananas, passion fruit, to name a few), herbs and other spectacular plants.

New member, Asha, enjoying a Rosemary plant

 

Thank you to Camilla who continues to organize horticultural events that inspire and educate us all.

 

Submitted by Donna Nowak

A Florida-Style Winter Retreat

You can make a winter retreat in your mind, a place that is not New England in February, buried under piles of snow, if you think of  bright, sunny Florida, and its many varieties of flora.
Penny H. sends these photos so that you may absorb these splashes of color at this time of year.  She took them while walking in St. Pete Beach. They are orange and crimson hibiscus blossoms,   a purple bougainvillea, and a spikey succulent.
After you finish clearing the snow, come in, sit down, look at these pictures and pretend that you are in a tropical climate; a place where it never snows.
Submitted by Penny H.