Family-Filled Thanksgiving Traditions

The much-anticipated all-American holiday full of tradition with family and friends is nearly upon us. From quirky family favorites to time-honored classics, Thanksgiving traditions often make for the most memorable moments; not just because they’re familiar, but because they serve as reminders of all those you hold dear, or are welcoming into the family’s embrace.

In many households, clan traditions are held in high esteem, with little deviation from year-to-year. However, just as what constitutes a family has really evolved over the last few decades, a multitude of diet plans and/or food restrictions has dictated reevaluation of the T-Day menu. Your guests may include vegans, pescatarians, turkey-haters, vegetable-haters, keto followers and gluten-free dieters.

One thing is certain, the feast is all about giving thanks for what we have and blessings for those who are less fortunate. So destress and let everyone pitch in a hand, whether it be making part of the meal, setting the table, preparing the drinks station, or making that beautiful centerpiece which is sure to bring smiles to the faces around the table.

Now, have you decided who will give the time-honored tradition of making the toast before the meal begins??

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Upcoming Speakers

If you are a current member, or hope to join the club soon, you don’t want to miss the upcoming speakers. On September 28th, the season kicks off with “How to Create a European-Style Floral Arrangement” with Carl Vivaldi. Watch him design beautiful arrangements, then buy raffle tickets for a chance to take one home.

Dr. Carl Vivaldi started his career in Horticulture as an exchange student in the Netherlands when he was 17. Carl spent two years working in Holland in floral design, where he learned their method of design. In the U.S., Carl studied at Delaware Valley University, then received a Masters in Botany from Miami University and Ph.D. from Penn, in the school of Biology.

At the October 26th meeting, you will be treated to “Flowers That Shaped Our History” with Santino Lauricella. Beyond sources of food, garden beauty and building materials, the connections between people and plants are often overlooked by our society and many don’t realize the connections we have with plants every day. Here, you will examine the rich history of some of our native species and explore how each has shaped the world.

Santino Lauricella has served as the education coordinator for Bowman’s Hill WIldflower Preserve since 2019. He is responsible for the Preserve’s educational programming, which helps visitors to be inspired by our natural world. Originally from central New York, Santino received his B.S. in Wildlife Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. An avid lover of the outdoors since his childhood spent just outside the Adirondack Park, he relishes all opportunities to share his passion for nature and science with others.

Look forward to seeing you at both meetings!

As Autumn Approaches

After arguably the best June in recent memory, our local area endured a hot, dry summer. We gardeners have kept a close—almost obsessive—eye on the weather forecasts hoping Mother Nature will eke out some measurable precipitation. Luckily, some plants thrive as summer heats up.

Perhaps you have a few plants that flower through sweltering August afternoons? Once established, some plants are drought-tolerant, among them are Black-Eyed Susan, Russian Sage, Threadleaf Tickseed, and Yarrow.

Then for a kaleidoscope of color there are the Autumn mainstays such as white, purple, blue, or pink Asters; various colored Chrysanthemums; and velvety textured Celosia with their deeply saturated hues of burgundy hot pink, orange, red, and yellow.

Keep in mind, even the most reliable summer bloomers stage a stronger show when you faithfully remove (deadhead) faded flowers. As you may have experienced, It’s not uncommon for plants to wilt on hot afternoons even though soil has adequate moisture. The wilting occurs because plants are losing water faster than their roots can absorb it. Leaves should revive by early evening, after the sun is no longer directly on leaves. If not, water deeply.

You have carefully tended your perennials, annuals and shrubs for months, but don’t give up the gardening tasks just yet. Some shrubs need weekly deep watering now. Loyal rhododendrons are beginning to form flower buds for next year’s show, and adequate water is vital. Fruiting plants, such as hollies and firethorn, need water to ensure berries mature and don’t drop.

Yet there are a few tasks you should quit doing. As August arrives, put away your pruners as far as evergreens are concerned. If you prune now, you risk plants pushing new growth, which won’t harden off and will be killed during winter’s chill. And stop feeding roses this month so that growth can harden sufficiently before a killing frost arrives, helping reduce the amount of winter damage.

Late summer/early fall is a great time to make a bouquet from the fading multi-hued hydrangea flowers. And why not create a stunning arrangement from abundant dahlias blooms currently bursting with color and style?

Yes, the summer season is waning, but before you know it, the fall foliage, in all its glory, will decorate our landscapes with an autumnal complexion!

Why Plant Natives?

Though thousands of perennials are available, native perennials have a special role in the garden.

By definition, a native Pennsylvania plant is one that grew in Pennsylvania before the European settlers arrived, as opposed to exotic plants which came from other countries after that time period. Natives have many advantages. Because they evolved here, they are well-adapted to our climate and are generally easy to care for once they are established.

Many native perennials like less fertile soil and require the addition of little or no fertilizer. Perhaps the most compelling reason to choose natives is to preserve Pennsylvania’s biodiversity. Development is rapidly reducing natural areas that shelter a wealth of our native plants; the landscapes that replace the natural areas consist mostly of lawns and exotic plants.

Just a few of the many flowering natives. Starting at top left: Butterfly Milkweed, Native Dogwood, Blue Flag Iris, Honeysuckle Vine, Liatris, Cardinal Lobelia, Mountain Mint, Bee Balm and Black-Eyed Susan

Recent research from Dr. Doug Tallamy of the University of Delaware has determined that 90 percent of our native insects are specialists that feed on three or fewer families of plants. The insects rely on native plant hosts and cannot eat the exotic plants that have become common in our yards. A reduction of native insects means that birds have fewer insects to feed to their young, and that will lead to a reduction of bird species. In the next fifty years, what we plant in our yards will determine the kind of wildlife that can live in Pennsylvania. By planting natives, gardeners can help retain our natural history and the beauty and diversity of Penn’s Woods.

Excerpted from https://extension.psu.edu/pennsylvania-native-plants-for-the-perennial-garden

Talking Up the Garden Walk

As the time draws nearer, the anticipation grows stronger for the club’s upcoming Garden Walk on June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a total of 13 participating locations from Morrisville to Washington Crossing for the low fee of only $20 (cash only please). The wristbands can be purchased ahead of time by present members and guests only at the April 27 or May 25 monthly meeting.

If you can’t make either meeting, your entrance wristbands and list of addresses can also be purchased on the day of the event from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at either Seasons Garden Center in Washington Crossing or 814 N. Lafayette Avenue in Morrisville. This year you can expect to find En Plein Air local artists painting away in a variety of mediums at most of these gorgeous locations. Pictured at left is Chris Monteiro, a well-known Bucks County artist.

Hope to see you on June 8!

Spring Has Sprung!

As gardeners, Spring instills in us an eager excitement as the outside world begins to awaken after the cold dark days of Winter are finally in our rearview mirror. Whether in containers, a small patch, vast acreage, or somewhere in between, there is always joy to be found in our gardens. The hobby (often an obsession) is artistic, good exercise and emotionally satisfying—and yes, at times a bit disappointing. But we get over those slumps quickly and move on.

“The world’s longest living people have one thing in common: They garden,” says Jeff Hughes, co-host of GardenFit, airing on PBS starting March 21. The show follows Jeff and expert gardener Madeline Hooper across the country to farms and gardens as they offer advice and tips. You may want to add it to your short list of series to watch.

Make sure to mark your calendars for the April 27 meeting, when renowned presenter Jenny Rose Carey celebrates the benefits of shade and shows you how to make the most of it. She is a respected educator, historian, and author, and the senior director at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Meadowbrook Farm in Jenkintown. She previously worked at Temple University for over a decade, first as an adjunct professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture and then as director of the Ambler Arboretum.

The Little Shows

One aspect of our monthly meeting is the “Little Show” in which interested members submit their entry based on the theme and corresponding criteria—which changes monthly. Prior to COVID, the live entries were transported to the meeting site where they were displayed and judged. Ribbons for first, second and third place, plus honorable mention, if warranted, were awarded.

As with everything else during these pandemic times, the rules changed. The monthly meetings went virtual and the Little Show submissions became computerized. To this day, the floral designs are digital only. The advantages are, no one has to physically cart their creations; all entries are shown on our Facebook page, displayed in this website, and highlighted in the monthly newsletter. That’s a lot of coverage!

If the judging facet prohibits you from entering, please note, that has also gone by the wayside, at least for now. We encourage you to try your hand at one of the upcoming challenges and let your creative juices flow. In fact, why not next month for the March exhibit?

“Branching Out” is the March theme. You are asked to construct a creative design which includes one or more branches. When arranging, consider inner spaces within petals, leaves, and/or branches. All files—as clear and crisp as possible—are due to Barbara Heisler (heislerbd@gmail.com) by March 18. Browse online sites like Pinterest to get ideas, or Google floral arrangements made with branches and see what pops up.

Hope to see your arrangement in the near future!

Welcome to Our New Website!

Martha Washington Garden Club has a new online presence and we invite you to take a look around. On top of all the current information, there is a plethora of beautiful photos showing how we are not only involved with each other, but with the community as a whole.

Yes, COVID has been challenging to our organization these past couple of years, but we’re moving in a forward fashion with some exciting plans for the near future. While we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend our meetings for the months of January and February, in March there will be a fun and creative teapot Make-and-Take for attending members.

Then in April, renowned gardener, educator, historian, and author, Jenny Rose Carrey will be our featured speaker. Her Victorian property “Northview” contains assorted garden spaces, including a shade garden, moss garden, and a stumpery. Jenny Rose and her gardens have been featured on the PBS series The Victory Garden, in the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Green Scene magazine, and the Pennsylvania Gardener.

Probably the most exciting news is that the ever-popular Garden Walk is making a comeback! Currently slated for Wednesday, June 8, our dedicated committee is hard at work ironing out all of the details. One exciting addition this year will be local artists in action as they paint En Plein Air at many of the venues.

We plan to keep this website fluid and current, so stop back often to check us out!