Make Your Own Floral Centerpiece (April 13)

The Amherst Recreation Department is offering a floral design class. “…Learn the basic principles of floral design and how to create a beautiful spring centerpiece. Every participant will leave with a beautiful centerpiece of their own…”

When: Thursday, April 13th from 6-8pm
Fee: $120 (includes all materials)
Instructor: Guylaine Ostrander is a certified professional floral designer of over 25 years. She has taught adult enrichment classes in floral design.

Go to the Amherst Recreation Department web site for more information or to sign up.

If you do take the course, the garden club’s Programs committee would love to hear about your experience.

Power of Flowers Offers Fall Workshops

Power of Flowers is offering a series of fall floral workhops including a pumpkin centerpiece workshop, an herbal wreath workshop, a boxwood tree workshop, a kissing ball workshop. For details, visit

Power of Flowers is a group of volunteers dedicated to enriching the lives of others by harnessing the proven power of flowers to lift spirits and promote healing.  The recipients of their generosity are people who are lonely, isolated, ill, or simply going through a rough patch.  They do this by renewing and refreshing gently used flowers recycled from weddings, banquets, memorial services, etc., as well as donations from flower wholesalers.

Notes from here and there

Susan Kierstead offers the following thoughts (in italics) on our current drought and how to best mitigate the damage in your gardens:


Recent Propagation Workshop conducted by Susan Kierstead

This drought has been making me crazy. That is the understatement of the year. We have  2 wells, but even then we can only water for less than 1.5 hours in AM and PM using 3 sprinklers. If we did all the gardens, it would take 7 or 8 days. Thus I am going into defensive mode. Remote gardens are on their own. Vegetable garden takes precedence. Gardens I see from my coffee nook take precedence. And it’s still not enough. I am sending you my drought letter, which I know I have sent many times before. One thing I have added is cut half of each leaf in big leaved plants. I am starting that now.

New Hampshire has experienced several periods of drought over the last several summers.  During these dry periods, plants experience physiological strain due to water deficit.  At least one inch of water a week is essential for maximum growth. This applies to herbaceous perennials, trees and shrubs. Seedlings are most susceptible to drought because they have shallow root systems which dry out quickly.

        Plants are constantly transpiring (giving off water through the leaves) and absorbing water from the soil. Warm windy days increase transpiration.  When plants give off more water than they take in, a stressful situation occurs.  At night,  water absorption exceeds transpiration and the plant will regain water from mist or dew only to be depleted the next day.  If the leaves are wilted first thing in the morning, then that plant could be in trouble.

        If water is not replaced in the plant cells quickly,  the cells degenerate and die causing different effects in different types of plants.  The weakened plant is now a target for insects and disease which may be the final cause of plant loss.

        Prevention is the best defense for drought stress.  Soak the root  ball if it appears dry before you plant.  For trees and shrubs, fill the hole with water first.   Always water seedlings and transplants.  For perennials, water well the whole  first season, even if it is a drought tolerant species.  For trees and shrubs, plan on a 5 year period for them to become established with extra watering.  When dry periods occur,  start watering about 2 weeks after the last heavy rainfall.  It is best to give thorough waterings less often, than to just wet the surface layer.  As I’ve said before, check that you’ve watered deep enough.  Stick your fingers in the soil. We use a lot of natural mulches and not only do they feed the soil,  they prevent water loss due to evaporation and will regulate soil temperatures.

        If you can’t water, then your best defense is to do nothing.  Do not cut plants back or fertilize them to give them a boost.  Both helpful acts have a negative effect on stressed plants.  Fertilizing burns the stressed out root hairs.  Cutting back seems more logical, but once cut, a plants’ natural growth pattern is to replace the cut off limb with two branches where one was previously.  Symptoms of stress such as browning, or curling of leaves, or even yellowing are part of a plants’ natural defense system, and in the long run are the only defense if extra watering is not feasible.  And I admit, it is extremely difficult to constrain oneself and not cut back.  It really hurts to see brown leaves, but it is part of a built in mechanism that plants have perfected over the years.  Of course, if the plant has to suffer drought repeatedly, it will not be able to cope. I watched a particularly favorite aster dry up, top to bottom. It was hard not to do something. When it rained in late August, leaves sprouted up all along the stem. No it didn’t bloom, and yes it survived the winter of 2015,’16.  Now an exception to the ‘do nothing’ rule is plants with large leaves. Here I go around and cut off half of each leaf. This way the plant does not feel the need to make more leaves, but there is less leaf area to lose water. It’s unsightly, but it works. This is a regular occurance with a hellebore that is in too much sun. The leaves were flat on the ground for days before I bit the bullet and trimmed. It stood straight for the rest of the summer, and gave it’s best bloom ever the next year. Wonder what will happen if I have to repeat this yearly?

        Woody plants stressed by drought may also not be as winter hardy as they need to be to survive a particularly harsh winter.  If it has been a dry summer, make sure the plant has been given a good watering before the ground freezes, and maybe even a pine needle mulch to help get through the winter.

Also, thanks to Jeanne Nevard for providing this beautiful photo she took in Pepperell, MA (which she also submitted to the Channel 5 News).

Turbulent clouds & bright sun with wildflowers- red bee balm & pink fireweed.

Turbulent clouds & bright sun with wildflowers- red bee balm & pink fireweed.

Miniature Garden Workshop

Miniature Garden Workshop

Bedford Fields is offering a miniature garden workshop which will provide you with motivation, ideas and materials needed to create a magical garden.

Held on Saturday January 30th from 10 am to 1 pm at Bedford Fields, 331 Route 101 in Bedford. Class instruction is FREE. Materials needed will be on hand and charged at regular prices. A $25.00 deposit (applicable to any purchases) to hold your space is required. Call 472-8880 to sign up, or visit events page.

New Permaculture Design Certificate Course at Shaker Village

A new Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course beginning April 17 at Caterbury Shaker Village will study how the traditions of Shaker community meld with permaculture today. If you are interested in learning how to reflect these rhythms in design and apply them to create and support healthy and rooted lives, homes, ecosystems, and communities, details are available at

Lyme Disease Series Announced

[Note: this is not an AGC-sponsored event, but it may nevertheless be of interest to our members.]

Linda Belleveau and Meg Perez have announced two series of four classes on “Lyme Disease Help: Budget-Friendly Complementary Strategies for a Complex Illness”.  Cost per series is $95.  For more information, see below.


Sept. 4 Terrarium Workshop Now Open to Public

More Registrants Needed by July 1 or Workshop Will Be Cancelled

The Amherst Garden Club has arranged for a wonderful Terrarium Workshop with Art Scarpa from 1-3 pm on September 4 @ Parkhurst Place in Amherst NH.   But we need to get several more registrants by July 1, or the workshop will be cancelled!  All supplies are included in the $50 registration fee. (See previous post for more details.)  Originally open only to AGC members, this workshop is now open to the public, so please pass this along to anyone who might be interested so they can sign up by July 1.  Contact Marti Warren at or 603-566-1780 for details or to register.

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Terrarium Workshop Sept. 4 – Register Now to Reserve Your Spot

From Marti Warren

THE AMHERST GARDEN CLUB Invites you to a Terrarium Workshop with ART SCARPA
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, 1:30- 3:30 pm; Location to be announced
Fee: $50.00

Terrarium - Make Your Own!

Make Your Own!

Art Scarpa will be coming to Amherst for our September 4, 2014 meeting.  He is one of the founders of the Cactus and Succulent Society of Massachusetts. His morning program to the AGC will be, “Miniature Plants. . . . There is always room for one more!”   We have asked him to stay and do an afternoon lecture and workshop on Terrariums. This program would be at the expense of the individual member and participants would be limited and on a first come basis, so sign up early.  A $25.00 deposit required to hold your place. If we don’t fill, we will be opening this event to other neighboring garden clubs. We also will have a wait list.

The 2 gallon glass terrarium and all you need, will be included in the fee. You will be able to select from a variety of plant material provided by Art. You may bring additional fairy garden figures or items for the terrarium if you want. Local stores like Bedford Fields, County Stores and House by the Side of the Road carry these kind of items so keep your eyes open this summer for them. There would be room for a “few” of this type of items.

At our May meeting many of you signed up and left your $25.00 deposit. If you did not leave a deposit please mail it or drop it off at Marti Warren’s house in the next few weeks. If you are interested in joining this workshop you need to register now by emailing Marti Warren and sending a check for $25.00 to hold your place.  The cost of the workshop is $50.00 and the remainder will be due the day of the class.