Monday, December 9, 2013

Merry Christmas


Enjoying friends and the Christmas season at the luncheon on December 5th are Carla Snider, Christy Mattocks, and Mary Beth Tsoukalis. The Sniders opened their beautifully decorated home to the Merry Weather Garden Club plus friends from the surrounding communities.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at the home of Sallie Mabon.  Angie Williams and Diana Norris cohosted with Mabon.

Mabon began the November program reflecting on our blessings and how our needs are met by the harvest time bounty God provides. She read from James Weldon Johnson’s poem about the creation and the forbidden fruit. Mabon and Norris prepared for their program by going to the International Farmer’s Market and purchasing lesser known, unusual fruits and vegetables that are available to us from around the world. 

Today’s globalized economy and the long ago Oriental trading trails have made available unusual foods that we can enjoy today. Mabon and Norris had the garden club members and guests play a game guessing and naming the eleven fruits and vegetables.

Indian bitter melon is a member of the gourd family that contains lutein, lycopene and is thought to fight cancer and diabetes and help with the digestion. Those disease fighting properties make it very popular today.

Chayote fruit or merleton (Cajun name) is cooked like a squash but tastes like a potato. Chinese okra or luffa is eaten and has a squash-zucchini flavor. The dragon fruit was a colorful piece that stands alone as a table decoration with its red shell and green tips that give it its dragon like skin. The cactus blooms several times a year and the fruit tastes like a strawberry and pear cross.

Prickly pear cactus contains lots of Vitamin C and fiber and grows on sand dunes from Florida to the North East. The fruit can be made into jelly and its juices flavor many candies and jellies.

Thai eggplant, small and purple or purple and white is used in curry dishes. Horned melon fruit, kiwano, or hedge gourd looks like a blowfish but is a delicious fruit snack. One fruit from the mulberry family, breadfruit, has a distinguished literary history as you rarely read a lost at sea, Captain Bligh, or Pacific boating-island hopping-sea adventure story that does not involve eating breadfruit.

The South American pepino melon is grown for its sweet fruit that reminds one of cucumbers with their large seeds. One of the most intriguing fruits at the program was “Buddha’s Hand,” a fragrant citron variety that features twisted fingers that can be broken off and steeped for a lemony tea. When the stems tips curl inward the fruit is thought to look like the praying hands of Buddha.  Joan Allen identified the fruit and said she sees it at Whole Foods where cooks use it as a lemon substitute.

Cherimoya, native to the Andes, but is so popular it is now grown in North and South America and throughout California. The flesh is creamy white with black seeds that must not be eaten because they are toxic, but then a peach pit and apple seeds also are toxic. The flavor is a blend of pineapple, banana, papaya, peach and strawberry and Mark Twain called it the most delicious fruit known to man. Some call it ice cream fruit and say its tastes like bubblegum.

No club member was able to identify more than two of the unusual fruits and veggies, but all recognized and sampled the slices of colorful papaya. The program was fun and a wonderful learning experience.

Several quick announcements were made before breaking for refreshments: Mt. Venus serves its Thanksgiving fundraiser the next Saturday from 12-3 at Mt. Carmel. The funds raised goes to families in need. Menlia Trammell told about being recognized for her book Team up for Turtles and presenting her book at the Redbud meeting. The state garden club is actively following the state allowed development at Jekyll Island and its certain effects on the sea turtles population.

December 5th from 12-3 a Christmas tea is planned at Carla Snider’s and December 14th from 10:30 – 12:30 is Sallie Mabon’s annual Christmas Coffee. Sally Neal announced she will be decorating the Greenville railroad bridge and hanging the Christmas wreaths at the courthouse during the Thanksgiving holidays. The Hobsons will be decorating the courthouse with the lighted trees again this year.

Mabon, Norris and Williams treated everyone to a delicious luncheon of homemade chicken vegetable soup, pimiento and chicken salad croissant sandwiches, and chocolate bread pudding.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Merry Weather and Talisman Garden Clubs Meet

October 2013

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, October 17th at Thunderwood Nursery north of Woodbury. Joining the Merry Weather Club was the Talisman Garden Club from LaGrange brought to Meriwether by Helen Phillips from Garden Solutions.

Gray and Lanie Riner, owners and horticulturist at Thunderwood since 2008, are making their mark on the garden industry by providing local plant stores with thriving healthy plants and by being on the cutting edge supplying those stores with the latest varieties being developed by plant breeders. Three brokers nationwide currently sell their plants with over ninety reps encouraging sales. Their retail business sells plants from Chattanooga to Valdosta but sells to independents only. Thunderwood plants are easy to recognize as there are in terra cotta colored pots at stores in our area.

Club members from Talisman and Merry Weather had numerous questions about how the Riners keep their plants through the winter.  The cold frames protect and keep plants about five degrees warmer than the outside temperature. Frost blankets are used as well but most of their plants are cold hardy.

The new plant varieties that were most impressive were the pink Sheffield mum and the purple aster English Countryside bred by Dr. Armitage in Athens at UGA.  He earns six cents royalties on every plant sold.

Schizostylus or Kaffir lily is a popular red flag lily that the Riners propagate. New from Australia is a white and coral salvia that Lanie says has brought out some pretty aggressive hummingbird in their greenhouses.

A common question for Georgia gardeners is what is deer resistant? Lanie Riner pointed out that nothing is resistant if the deer are hungry. They get most of their deer damage in the spring when they are growing hostas. Some plants less tasty to the deer are asters, salvia, stokesia, coreopsis, and yucca. Plant sprays like Liquid Fence are very good but repeated applications are necessary after rains.  Deer, armadillos, and pests do not like the rotten eggs or sulphur smell.  Homemade remedies that use eggs can be made that repel deer.

A last popular plant the garden clubbers purchased was the Southern Riverwood fern.  Shade and moisture loving, the plant is a perennial and comes back after cold weather and rarely dies back during mild winters.

Both garden clubs traveled to Gay where Merry Weather hosts Jackie Reynolds and Joan Allen prepared a feast of delicious recipes-an appetizer of Mexican layered dip, main course with a tangy apple and greens salad, grape salad, and shredded chicken and spinach salad, chocolates and chocolate lace cookies were for dessert.

Touring the Reynolds home and garden were added delights. Jackie provided before and after pictures of their home that was bought as a simple brick ranch.  Their additions have given the home charm and added space plus they updated the front entry with a new pediment with siding of cedar shakes and stacked stone. The gardens were most delightful with winding paths and flourishing beds of color.  The purple asters and pink mums were in their full glory along with the red flag lily. Vines and climbers cover walls and trellises giving a romantic, mature look to the garden.  The Reynolds have recently cleared the jungle behind their house leaving the tall hardwoods for shade, and the ladies were quick to make recommendations of low maintenance woodsy plantings for them to enjoy.

In business, the club announced the upcoming luncheon and wreath making in Woodbury which is being done this year in lieu of a Christmas tour of homes. Carla Snider announced her Christmas tea will be December 5th.  The Talisman Garden Club was given brochures of the upcoming Expressions of Meriwether Event and the ladies were invited to come back to visit.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Aging Gardener

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Wednesday 25th of September, 2013 at the home of Marilyn Carter in Woodland.  Lynda Woodall was the cohost for the meeting. Members and guests were welcomed inside with refreshments and to meet Terri Edwards from Columbus and a member of the Windsor Garden Club.

When Edwards joined the Windsor club she noted she was twenty plus years younger than all the members, and they were at an age where they could no longer work in and enjoy their gardens. The club was a social one but not a working garden club.

Edwards, wife of a chiropractor, studied up on ways the aging gardener could maneuver outside, tools that made work safer and easier, plus exercises that helped the aging frame. Whether the aging problem is arthritis keeping the joints from full function or losing eyesight, balance or memory, Edwards had helpful tips that can keep avid gardeners in their element.

Raised beds and vertical gardens allow better accessibility to plants. They mean less stooping and bending and also allow wheelchair access. Marking paths is an easier way to find your way around the garden when the feet shuffle more than take steps.  Smooth surfaces improve movement; indicator strips mark pathways for those with memory loss, reflectors and focal points help aging eyes.

Using larger seeds allows arthritic hands to handle the seeds better also bright plants are easier on aging eyes. Gail Coffee seconded one tip that gave a positive review to hand massagers that are a proven help for arthritic hands.

Overall a change in garden routine is beneficial: work one hour a day for five days rather than five hours in one day.

Edwards had a list of tools that also help the aging gardener: power and ratchet loppers make trimming and pruning easier; longer handles increase reach instead of the gardener stretching and getting off balance; D shaped handles on spades and digging tools; fluorescent paint sprayed on tools so they may be found when lost in the garden; and hospital foam to spray on tool handles. The foam makes a handle that hardens into a custom grip. Battery powered weed eaters and blowers were a popular suggestion because of their weight, no gasoline smell, and no cords to trip over.

Edwards finished by showing the club exercises that help the legs and spine and core. Because our heads are our heaviest part, she recommends throwing back the head, stretching back the spine and opening the vertebras to let fluid in. She pointed out we are up to an inch and a half taller when we lie horizontal than when we stand.

To improve balance she recommended raising the knee then the arms and closing the eyes. Balance exercises are a key to staying healthy and active as we age and yoga helps with balance. To strengthen the back, Edwards demonstrated pelvic lifts. Rotating the ankles is a good way to keep strong ankles. One member shared a tip from her doctor to discourage spider and varicose veins: prop feet and wiggle the toes for ten minutes. This discourages the pooling of blood in the legs. Edwards also said don’t cross your feet when you sleep as that encourages blood clots.

After the program the club walked Marilyn Carter’s garden that is scenically curved around the end of a lake.  Beds and borders and unique art keep the eye focused and amused. One bedding area has lavender and purple flowers blooming in every season. Carter collected and painted bicycle rims in matching violet shades and they support the taller willowy plants.

Carter’s eye catchers sparkle in the sun. They are made from cut glass dishes she picks up at estate sales and thrift shops and then wires onto bike rims. One favorite area for the club is her woodsy outdoor gazebo anchored by a large metal machinery wheel over five feet in diameter. Hanging pots of blooms close in the outdoor room and Carter divided and shared ground covers and ferns with garden clubbers. Her blue wine bottle beds and art are attractive eye catchers whether on a bottle tree or lining the flower beds. Glass and pottery art and bowling balls add interest and color to the beds.  Her newest area is dedicated to Alice in Wonderland and features checkered paver walkways, elegant silver tea services, roses, and croquet mallets marking off the flower beds.

            After the garden tour members wound through Marilyn Carter’s equally intriguing home where they enjoyed lunch.  The day happened to have lower temperatures and we felt the first chill of fall. The huge pot of homemade soup and plate of sandwiches and tiramisu dessert were a perfect finish to the meeting.

          The next meeting of the garden club will be in October where the group will take in the fall plants at the Riner’s at Thunderwood Farm in Woodbury. We will be joined by master gardeners from LaGrange along with Helen Phillips.  Jackie Reynolds and Joan Allen are hosting the meeting.



Monday, August 19, 2013

Southern Temptations Tea Room Recipes

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at the home of Ellen McEwen in Gay.  Cohosting with Ellen was Patti Acheson. Ellen introduced the club to Ramona Laird from Webb, Alabama, who is a regular exhibitor at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair. Laird owned and operated
Southern Temptations, a tea room well known in the south Alabama, north Florida areas. It was easy for Ellen to persuade Laird to come to Meriwether to do a program as her daughter lives in Manchester.

Laird shared her favorite tea time recipes with the club and decorated the table with edible floral and herbal touches. She began explaining some tricks using puff pastry. Thawing 45 minutes before use, her “Surprise Bundles” or Chocolate Raspberry Bundles were easy enough for the most inexperienced cook and so very delicious. The puff pastry square holds a mixture of cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, toasted pecans, chocolate chips and raspberry jam. Laird brushes the pastry corners with water and twists them together securing the top with an easily made puff pastry bow. She uses food coloring to color the bow-red at Christmas, pink or blue for baby showers, etc.

After baking and cooling, the bundles are topped with whipped cream, a raspberry and sprig of mint. Laird said she once checked on a tableful of ladies at her tea room to see if they needed anything and they told her to please leave so they could lick their plates! Yes, the surprise bundles were that delicious and variations to the filling can be easily made.

Laird’s second recipe was displayed most attractively. She used a Styrofoam cone and pinned ruffled kale to it and secured edible flowers and herbs to add color. She showed the club how to make Dragonfly Crostini that topped toothpicks placed around the tree. She uses regular sandwich bread-whole wheat for a bit more nutrition.  She works with frozen bread and cuts out dragonflies, brushes the slices with olive oil and then puts then in a miniature muffin pan to form a cup shape and make the dragonfly appear in flight. The bread is bake for eight to ten minutes. Instead of throwing away the left over bread she often cuts the remainder so a cucumber slice can be placed on top for the cream cheese and cucumber appetizer.

Laird pipes in a delicious meaty cream cheese and beef sandwich meat recipe that includes chives, nuts, and basil. The yummy dragonflies on the kale tree make a delightful presentation with a definite “Wow, factor.”

The garden club members also enjoyed her tomato bisque, cucumber chive sandwiches, frosted pecans, raspberry-pepper jelly topped appetizers, alongside her flavored peach tea.

Club members purchased Laird’s cookbook-Southern Temptations-plus her soup mixes, spice packets, jellies, flavored teas, and dip mixes. The good news is that Laird will be at the fair in Gay this fall selling her books and mixes for those who would like try her recipes or refill their orders.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spectacular Greek Luncheon and Recycled Metal Garden Art

The Merry Weather Garden Club met at the home of Carla Snider on Thursday 18th July, 2013. Cohosting with Carla were Erma Jean Brown and Mary Beth Tsoukalas with assistance from Phyllis Daniel.

Tsoukalas, of Irish-Polish descent, met her Greek husband on a cruise to South America and jokingly said she would learn to cook Greek if he learned to speak English. The garden club was amazed at her dishes that were unusual, delicious, and thoroughly Greek. The goat cheese torte really allowed the pesto and sun dried tomatoes taste to shine through. The tzatziki was a lovely light cucumber and garlic dip. The pink taramasalata dip was a type of caviar or roe blended and salty.  All the appetizers were served with freshly made pita chips, Calamata olives, and peppers.

The entrĂ©es which many club members enjoyed on Carla’s back porch overlooking her new garden area included dolmathes, a rice and beef combination stuffed into grape leaves and served with a tangy lemon sauce; kefthedes or Greek meatballs served alongside souvlakia or meat and onions on a skewer or kabobs. Spanakopita was a delicious spinach and feta cheese pastry. Tiropitakia was a phyllo cheese triangles served with tomato and feta salad.

For dessert, Tsoukalas served Jordan almonds, baklava made of phyllo pastry, walnuts, and honey, plus Kurambiethes, or a delicate light butter cookie. The delicious meal made everyone feel transported to another hemisphere and country. 

Carla began the program by explaining the work she had done on her garden since she last hosted the meeting during which members helped her design and offered suggestions for her outdoor spaces.  The newest acquisition was the outdoor fireplace built by her neighbor Ryan Mattocks. The garden was lovely; her new sod is being helped by the frequent summer rains, and the Sniders had finished the outdoor construction of the pool cabana.

Snider introduced the program, artist Kathy Walton of Marietta. Walton uses recycled steel to make her garden art and she has added ceramic sculpture to her work. Walton is a humorous speaker and told of her beginnings in central Illinois where the roads are laid out by engineers (four right turns and you were home) versus moving to Georgia where roads began as animal trails. Her work in Chicago and Long Island where winter temperatures were six degrees made it easy to say yes to Rich’s when she got the job in the jewelry department in Atlanta.

Now retired, Walton and her husband do construction jobs on high end hotels needing renovation. The construction workers working for them often borrowed money and would pay them back in equipment. Because she acquired a welding outfit, she learned to weld. Walton liked the fact that welded art held together better than a glue gun, and she began studying enhanced line drawing and experimented with flat patterns. She welds old filing cabinets into cowboy hats for outdoor display, musical instruments like guitars that use bicycle sprockets for adornments. Her garden animals are whimsical, sophisticated, fun and will make you smile which is Walton’s goal. She gives her work catchy names too like Zippy Mosquitoes and Psycho Sunflowers. Her largest piece is a full sized horse made of tire rims and curved pipe from a bowling alley for the neck. Making the eyes for the horse takes her about four hours.

Walton has recently added ceramics to her list of talents and she studied raku or the Japanese technique which includes fire and flame to make the pieces. Her tables and statuary were most impressive and sophisticated, useful pieces.

The next meeting of the garden club will be the second Thursday in August and will be hosted by Patti Acheson and Ellen McEwen.




Monday, June 10, 2013

Purple Martins and Pond Management

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at the home of Dee and Ben Garrett outside of Warm Springs. Club members enjoyed touring the Garrett’s home and garden before meeting on the Garrett’s sun porch overlooking both the lake and the purple martin houses.

Dee Garrett has been a purple martin enthusiast since 1997.  She enjoyed their 1975-80 years at their beach house where she was introduced to the value and enjoyment of the birds.

Purple martins are known as the 1st back yard bird of North America as the Native Americans hung gourds near their dwellings for the birds because they would sound an alarm if intruders came.  Martins also drive off hawks, crows, and vultures. Today, east of the Rockies, martins are totally dependent on supplied housing. The Garrett’s colorfully trimmed but classic white martin houses are on three poles about 100 feet from their house. Dee says she enjoys their gurgling happy chirp that is near constant the months they are residence.

The martins arrive about mid-February from South America. Scouts report back to the flock that they have a prospective home.  Contrary to thought martins do not eat that many mosquitoes but like big bugs and are often seen with beetles, dragon flies, moths, and bees in their beaks when flying to their clutches.  Their enemies are swallows and sparrows.

Most fascinating is the fact there is a huge migratory spot at a mall in Macon where martins from all over join up and make the big migration to South America as a huge flock. The Garrets guess their houses are home to about thirty birds from spring through July when they migrate.

Garden club members enjoyed a delightful lunch Dee and Ben had prepared before the program began. Render Ward who spent 28 years working for the Extension Service and who served the Coweta area for 18 years was part of that county’s strong emphasis on horticulture and landscaping as the county grew.  Coweta is known for its very active and strong Master Gardener program. Ward recommended the 12 week Master Gardener programs by the Extension Service and the Coweta Backyard Association which has monthly meetings.

Ward, with a UGA degree in Agronomy, always liked fishing and fishery management and now has Applied Aquatics, a company designed to build, stock, and manage ponds. He currently manages ponds as small as half an acre to reservoirs that are hundreds of acres in size.

Ward divides his clients into two groups: those wanting the aesthetics of a pretty lake for recreation and to do a little fishing and those who want a well-stocked fishing pond. Number one to good management is vegetation control and to do that he stocks grass carp  which is not a carp but an Asian mur, or as he said, think of it as an underwater cow with no negative attributes like eating fish eggs or fish. If a lake has mur or carp put in early, it will never need an herbicide.

Second for good pond management is nutrition.  Ponds are fertilized to feed the microscopic algae and plankton which is fed on and makes up the food chain. The color of a pond and having a “good bloom” or blue green tint shows the suspension of microorganisms. Ponds that have a brown color just have different microscopic organisms and Ward has done “fungi swapping” or taking 150 gallons of water from one lake with a good bloom to another to improve the color.

Aeration of a lake helps plants use oxygen more efficiently. Ward recommended using fountains or aerators during the night for maximum efficiency.

Clients often ask Ward to evaluate fish populations. He stuns the fish and does a population analysis as well as weight measurements, their age (taken by counting the rings on a special bone in the head), age to size analysis, studies the pond’s predator to prey ratio, looks at the food supply and makes recommendations to the property owner. The stunned fish, quite edible, are delivered to the Meriwether County jail.

Garden club members had an assortment of questions for Ward ranging from draining a lake, to structural questions about dams and drains, turtles (which never cause pond problems), to beavers. The club finished by asking what differentiates a pond from a lake?  Ward replied by answering: whatever the owner wants to call it!


Monday, May 13, 2013

The Lady Slippers at Cochran Mill Nature Center

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 and traveled to Cochran Mill Nature Center near Palmetto. The day and its program and tour were arranged by host Gail Coffee.

The nature center, located on 50 acres in Chattahoochee Hills, is an education center built by volunteers. Coffee introduced her friend Jane Mitchell who helped to start the center that opened in 1994. Adjacent to Cochran Mill State Park, the nature area offers outreach programs, homeschool days, camps, and hosts special events. School students do volunteer projects like adopt an animal, and help with the rehab of wildlife which is a large part of its program. Very popular in the summer are the programs for kindergarteners through 9th graders. During the school year the center gives many tours to school classes.

The garden club thoroughly enjoyed touring and viewing birds of prey, bats and the large reptile collection. The morning meeting saw the animals at their liveliest with a very active American alligator, Green Tree Python, mouse eating bull frog, bats, and venomous snakes.

The main facility, a log structure, blended perfectly into the woodsy surroundings. To keep the 501C3 nonprofit going strong volunteers are always thinking of creative fundraisers like Adopt a Log which built the facility, Adopt a Stream to maintain the creeks, Adopt an Animal for their many expenses, or Wild Trail Trot 5K run and the Fishing Derby. The bulk of the money supporting the center comes from donations and sponsors though.

The garden club enjoyed viewing the log office, gift shop, and animals contained indoors before following the scenic wooden pier and bridge circling the lake. The horticulture there features forest plants, lake and water plants, plus a bog garden. Coffee timed the meeting to see the very interesting wildflower that is in the orchid family-the lady slipper-that grows wild at Cochran Mill. The pink delicate flower was growing in the wetter areas along the walking trail and was stunning to view.

The highlight of the day was gathering in the pavilion where Bill and Gail Coffee had arranged quilts on the picnic tables, had piped in bird calls on the sound system, and provided drinks for the ladies who had brought picnic lunches.  The pavilion by the lake made a lovely picnic site and friends chatted and had a good time and were unconscious of the time passing.

Hostess Gail Coffee told several amusing stories and recited a poem, The Watcher, in tribute for the upcoming Mother’s Day.  In club news, the group was told it was awarded a Standard of Excellence for its yearlong achievements, plus a certificate from the District Director for increasing our membership. The garden club will be participating in the May 18th Together in Meriwether Festival and the ladies will have plants for sale from Tidwell Nurseries, Thunderwood Farms, and Hamner Tree Farm as we are showcasing those fine businesses in our county.

The next garden club meeting will be in June and hosted by Dee Garrett and the program will be on Pond and Lake Water Management. The ladies hated ending the congenial day of activities at Cochran Mill, but enjoyed feeding the leftover crumbs from lunch to the large carp and catfish in the lake as they made their way back around the lake to their cars.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Thursday, April 18th, 2013, the Merry Weather Garden Club traveled to Pike County to join the Concord Garden Club for its 15th annual Lunch and Learn Garden Lecture Series. Held in the unique old Strickland Store, members enjoyed shopping at garden, book, and bakery vendors before lunch with members from Redbud District Garden Clubs and interested gardeners from our area.

Helen Phillips from Garden Solutions in LaGrange was the featured speaker and the program was on the topic of “Year ‘Round Color in the Landscape.” Year around color was not the only approach to landscaping however and she emphasized height variations, colors, texture, and scent to make an interesting garden.

Quoting from Walter Reeves and his “thriller, spiller, filler” line, Phillips pointed out ways to get height differences in the landscape. Color choices should be unique to the landowner and not a patchwork of all colors.  Red and orange are hot colors, and pastels like lavenders and pinks are the cool colors.  Gardeners know what makes them feel good and should plant according to that. She recommended touring Dr. Allen Armitage’s Trial Gardens at UGA and seeing how the different colors make you feel and what fits the gardener best.

Phillips said that texture in the garden makes the biggest difference of all because texture creates interest. To test for texture she said take black and white pictures of your garden and judge from them whether or not you have variations in texture.

Scent also makes a fabulous experience and the sense of smell is one of the most memorable of the senses. When the senses are engaged, the experience stays in the memory bank. Plants like anise, while pretty, smell like yesterday’s fish left in the sun. Pleasant fragrances come from tea olives, banana shrub, viburnum, scented geraniums, and ground covers like mint.

The basic landscape is evergreen but the homeowner can do better than just meatball shaped hollies surrounding the house’s foundation. Save pockets in the landscape for seasonal surprises: spring bulbs, summer dahlias, lilies, and liatrus, and in the fall spider lilies.

Considerations to use when you mix into the greens are the color of a plant’s bark, the shape of the twigs, the seed heads and whether they stay attached. Another consideration is to find out where plants come from and will do best: Martha Washington geraniums need shade not sun like most geraniums, a grey plant is typically a plant for sunny spots.

An important consideration is to adjust for the view: the garden from a favorite window, where guests drive in, focal points like fountains or sculpture, or from sitting on a porch. Coral bark Japanese maple is stunning in the winter when the leaves are gone.  Phillips asked Lynda Woodall to describe the maple to the crowd and Lynda said its red bark was amazing against the snow in winter and like a sculpture throughout the cold season.

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick is a unique plant with its twisted, curly cue limbs and dangling catkins that make a statement in the garden. Florida Jasmine is great for a slope to provide help with soil erosion and a plus is the early winter bloom. Pieris or lily of the valley shrub blooms late in winter, has great burgundy new foliage with interesting seed heads. Variegated foliage like acuba adds texture and interest and today we have varieties with stripes or dots plus it is still a flower arrangers’ best friend.

Fatshedera is a great climber that needs to be used more. For texture Phillips said you can’t beat a creeping yew. Cast iron plant is a plant that adds texture and the speckled variety makes the plant more useful than for just circling a tree like once common. Holly ferns and autumn ferns are both great for texture as is the pipe plant. Re-blooming azaleas, mountain laurel, and lilac varieties are now made for Georgia and our heat and humidity. The Miss Kim lilac (purple) and Betsy Ross (white) are new lilacs made specifically for our area.

For many, gardening in containers is the way to go. Phillips displayed containers for shade with liriope, needlepoint ivy, caladiums, begonias, and tiarella that were stunning. A container for a sunny spot held white geraniums, lambs ear, euphorbia, white vinca, and Texas sage. Both were beautiful with texture and color and height variations.

The next meeting of the Merry Weather Garden Club is May 7th when the club will view the lady slippers while touring Cochran Mill Nature Center. For more information, contact Gail Coffee.




Monday, April 15, 2013

Thanks Merry Weather Garden Club

Carla Snider could not be a prouder grandmother! Her granddaughter Katie Kerce who goes to
Futural Road Elementary School in Spalding County won first place at the state science fair competition with her Fairy Garden, something her grandmother introduced her to after attending a Merry Weather Garden Club meeting. The program, given by Martha Evans of LaGrange, featured her imaginative and whimsical miniature gardening pieces.  Adults and children enjoy designing and arranging the gardens which can be done in the backyard, in a flower pot, or shoebox. The fun of using what nature provides, creating a storyboard, and using your imagination is the best hands-on education possible and Carla thanks the Merry Weather Garden Club!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Southeastern Flower Show


The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Friday, March 15, 2013 to attend the 2013 Southeastern Flower Show held at Cobb Galleria. The three day event displayed horticulture, landscapes, artistic designs, photography and added to the Marketplace of vendors this year were antique dealers. The garden show tickets also allowed access to the craft show at Cobb Galleria and members found the array of handmade, one of a kind pieces very interesting.

The speakers for the show ranged from TV gardening celebrities to the ever popular Coach Vince Dooley, an avid gardener. The Katherine Astor lecture was attended by several from the club and the British gardener had a lovely slide program featuring England’s finest gardens, houses and estates. Astor spoke from first-hand knowledge of the titled as she is a descendent of the Waldorf-Astors and has spent much of her adult life restoring the gardens at Kirby House.

The flower show featured landscapers transforming small designated areas into backyard paradises and giving viewers loads of ideas and inspiration. The show included a juried competition recognizing excellence in garden design, floral design, photography, horticulture and more. The horticultural exhibits are interesting as the entries are usually the very varieties blooming in our yards in Meriwether. Sadly the dressed front doors and window box displays were not part of the show this year.

The youth areas were very well done with a Discovery area encouraging composting, bee keeping, backyard gardens, and eating home grown vegetables.

Most impressive and a delightful surprise for the group was the entry by Hills and Dales of LaGrange. Horticulturist Jo Phillips, from Meriwether County and who annually does a program for the club, was part of the team that recreated part of the 1928 garden of Ida Callaway. The exhibit was breath taking and deserved the many awards it earned.  Designed by Brooks Garcia, many of the props were made by the Theatre Arts Department at LaGrange College and some of the plants used came from the popular supplier Petals from the Past and Woodbury’s Thunderwood Farms.

Besides the overall beauty of the display, most striking of all was the attention to detail of the entry. Months in the making, the recreated garden featured Mrs. Callaway’s potting shed, chicken coop, birdhouses, and fenced in vegetable garden. The plants were trellised on the picket fence and wound their way up with some even blooming. The lettuces, strawberries, and other common vegetables were beautifully fresh and spring like. The accompanying brochure told the names of the 1928 varieties used by Mrs. Callaway plus her use of bat guano, wood ash, chicken manure, bonemeal, blood meal, lime, cottonseed meal plus compost to enrich the soil. Members were so proud Meriwether was a part of the top display at the show.

Upcoming events for the garden club: Coweta Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale-April 13; the April Meeting will be the Lunch and Learn with the Concord Garden Club on Thursday, April 18th; Troup County Master Gardener Plant Sale and Swap on April 27th and Coweta Nurseries 2 for 1 sale at the end of April.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Horticulture

The Merry Weather Garden Club met on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at the Print Shop Art Gallery on Courtsquare, Greenville.  Hosting the meeting were Vera White and Babs Gordon. Members and guests enjoyed delicious refreshment while wandering through the art gallery, meeting new members and chatting with old friends.

Presiding officer Sally Neal, club secretary, thanked Linda Wilburn for making the art gallery available to the group for the meeting. Wilburn gave a brief summary of the second streetscapes project.  Construction should begin this winter and sidewalk pavers will once again be available for purchase.  Many have asked about this unique fundraiser and have wanted to have a chance of leaving a permanent memorial or mark on the sidewalks of Greenville.

Wilburn also explained the future plans for Hill Brothers Store. The designer’s blueprints were shown to the club and the ladies found the planned addition for its east side to be most exciting. “Watch the Progress, Catch the Vision” is the slogan on the poster for the store, and it is indeed a unique facelift for downtown Greenville.

Former Merry Weather Garden Club president Mary Anne Rasmussen joined the meeting to lead the Botanical Talk which was Winter Horticulture. Some of the winter plants that were blooming and brought in from local yard were on display: jonquils or narcissus, spirea, mahonia, winter jasmine, flowering quince, vinca, iris, blooming rosemary, Carolina Jasmine, camellia, and Daphne. Members had questions about the care, pruning, and fertilizing of the various plants and of course each of the plants displayed were available because the deer did not find them particularly appetizing! Toots Hobson noted that the Columbus Ledger recently had an article about the new mahonia that is relatively thorn free.

Members were encouraged to enter their horticultural exhibits in the upcoming Southeastern Garden Show.

The January meeting was a “Show and Tell” program featuring the flower in art. Neal introduced the topic by pointing out that in our early civilizations there is not much remaining featuring flowers.  Cave drawings depict primitive man and beasts, the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans focused more on people, architecture, and graphics.  Back grounds in paintings exploded in the 18th century and Neal displayed Fragonard’s “The Swing” before moving forward to the Impressionists: Van Gogh’s Irises, Monet’s Giverny, and Renoir’s bouquets were stunning.  Members remembered in the 1980s when Irises sold for 84 million dollars.

Members brought favorite pieces that traveled easily on the wet and windy winter day. Dee Garrett displayed stationery she bought in Maine as well as a copper cross with dogwood blossoms and groupings of twelve leaves symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. Menlia Trammel had a fabric sample and she along with several members confessed to loving fabric stores especially drapery and upholstery fabrics and looking through floral items with their varying textures and colors.

Marilyn Austin Carter brought two of her stunning whimsical birdbaths that feature water lilies.  She explained how she made them and gave the rocks texture by either making little holes with a toothpick or by pressing lace into the clay to give it texture.  She also had glass flowers made from scraps of colored glass.  The kiln melts the colors to create wonderful patterns. Mary Anne Harman brought a 1930s crewel sampler of an English cottage and garden.

Sallie Mabon displayed some prized pieces of painted china: A teapot with pink roses and camellias and a brooch made from broken china. Vera White brought s stitched crewel piece that she found at an estate sale that displayed a basket of arranged flowers. Mary Beth Tsoukalas brought a painting on rice paper of a mason jar filled with daffodils that she found in an antique store.

Ellen McEwen brought a painting that wowed the group: a still life done by her Aunt Dorothy Gay Poole.  Aunt Dot has done the official portraits of Newt Gingrich, the presidents of Georgia Tech, and the portraits we see of the Gay family at the Cotton Pickin’ Fair.

The club members had a last reminder of it being the time to prune roses and move any shrubs. Members signed up to host club meetings. Neal shared her copy of “Portico” a regular publication from Hills and Dales that lists their upcoming workshops. Several members have participated in the workshops there and found them exemplary and superb. Neal noted that Brooks Garcia is designing the display for Hills and Dales that will be at this year’s Southeastern Flower Show in March.