Monday, April 30, 2012

Merry Weather Garden Club attends Concord Lunch and Learn

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday 19th of April, 2012 and traveled to Concord to attend the Concord Garden Club’s 14th Annual Lunch and Learn.  The delightful format attracts garden clubbers from around the state to the Old Strickland Store which has ample seating space for the hundred plus crowd.  The ladies bring a sack lunch and the garden club provides drinks and desserts.  Several local venders have gardening items for sale and the Concord club has a raffle fundraiser for a quilt, gardening books, and items that help support the Harriette Beckham Fune Scholarship.  Brandi Bishop, a senior at UGA, was the deserving recipient and she will continue her studies at ABAC with the goal of teaching agriculture in high school.
   Three members of the Concord club demonstrated gardening ideas.  Martha Boswell began her program on terrariums by pointing out there are True Terrariums and New Terrariums.  The “True” type is a sealed container whose history dates back to the Edwardian times.  1830’s surgeon Dr. Nathaniel Ward is credited as being the inventor as he scooped up a moth pupa on his travels and noted that a fern sprouted in the case.  His first terrarium was displayed at the World’s Fair in London. The terrarium idea caught on because this was the method of shipping and transplanting plants on overseas voyages.  The terrarium changed plant history as tender plants such as orchids became available worldwide.
   Location is important for successful terrarium gardening.  Experimenting to find the right amount of light is key, and most find a north or northwest window best. Boswell used a simple flower vase first filled with pebbles for drainage and activated charcoal to keep the soil sweet.  The charcoal is found at pet supply stores that have fish items. Moisture and shade loving plants do best.
   New terrariums feature anything in nature in a glass enclosure such as a bird nest on a cake stand. Hurricane lamp shades are great for an orchid display-anything that keeps the wind off the plant. Flowering plants should have their blooms snipped off after blooming as they can cause mold. Boswell had simple tools: a backscratcher to pack the soil into the elongated vases, a hair coloring wand to garden the soil.
   Second presenter, Beth Jones, emphasized using what you found in your yard and forest instead of buying plants. She keeps a standard topiary that can be thematically decorated for any occasion. She used rhododendron blossoms and ferns to brighten the topiary limbs. Two clematis blooms and a native ginger in a cute pitcher made a delightful table arrangement. Native buckeye which fills our woods just now made an elegant statement. Oriental poppies alongside an opened Japanese umbrella adorned with Coosa dogwood limbs decorated one table at the luncheon. Hellebores and deutzia filled another container. Jones brought her son’s flower show winner: the hip bone of a cow filled with green grey succulents.  The arrangement made a rugged Southwestern cowboy theme.
   Anna Evans finished off the program with a whimsical and creative display titled, “Fruits, Veggies, and Herbs, Oh, My.” She placed flowers in cowboy boots for a western theme. Blooms in a pair of stilettos alongside a purse made a chic vignette. She entertained with quotes as she arranged: “Don’t quit playing because you get old; you get old because you quit playing.” She insisted we exercise our imaginations when arranging table displays and begin with an outrageous idea for a container.
   Evans pointed out that it is the women in the family that creates the memories of an occasion so use the imagination.  For one table Evans placed gardening books, tools, and grocery store potted plants wrapped in burlap fabric.  She finds unusual inexpensive pieces for containers at yard sales and then often gives them as gifts or door prizes to her guests. Her favorite fillers in arrangement are the cast iron plant or aspidistra, Indian Hawthorne, nandina, and abelia. Pink carnations perked up and changed the look of a silver begonia potted plant that her guests had seen several times.
   Finishing off her program with humor, Evans took a cabbage, shredded leaves for eyelashes, used peppers for ears, and carrots for the nose and mouth and created a multi use centerpiece.  She added a wig and scarf for the character to be a woman, a cowboy hat, cigar, and bandanna to be a cowboy and rearranged it as needed to be the focal point at a retirement party or to honor a luncheon guest.
   Evans finished by emphasizing their local Wednesday market filled with locally grown With the average produce traveling 1500 miles to get to market and leaving a large carbon footprint it is wise to develop a locally grown food network and critical for healthy eating.
   The Merry Weather Garden Club will meet next in May and tour the home of Andrea and Jim Harding. Formerly the Stacy Presbyterian Church, the historical building is the center of Breezy Hill Farms.