History of Lilac as NH State Flower

At the Jan. 3 garden club meeting, our speaker, Barbara Rollins from the NH-DOT, spoke about lilacs and wildflowers. Someone raised a hand and asked why the lilac, which is not native to New Hampshire, was chosen for our state flower. Given the lilac’s attractive, fragrant blooms, it’s no surprise that someone would suggest it for state flower, but as the account below shows, it was far from a shoo-in.

An excerpt from Leon Anderson’s History: Colorful Sessions On Flowers from the Manual for the General Court, Page 2, 1981 (taken from Governor’s Lilac and Wildflower Commission web site)

“The purple lilac became New Hampshire’s official State flower, in a most colorful manner, in the 1919 legislative session. It was opposed by nine other flowers, including the apple blossom, the purple aster, the wood lily, water lily, and goldenrod. The committee’s recommendation was approved by the House on February 20th and sent up to the Senate for concurrence.

The Senate developed considerable purple lilac sentiment and also considered the buttercup. Unable to muster majority support for any flower, the 24 members of the Senate turned to a novel solution. They placed the names of three flowers in a hat, blindfolded Senate Clerk Earle C. Gordon of Canaan, and ordered him to draw a name. The purple lilac, the mayflower and the purple aster went into the lottery, and the latter won the draw.

The Senate reported its unique decision to the House, which clung to the apple blossom, and the impasse was referred to a committee of conference.

The 10-man conference committee soon became stalemated on the flower fuss, and turned to another unique solution. It asked two botanists, Professor Arthur Houston Chivers of Dartmouth and Professor Ormond Butler of the state college to arbitrate the dilemma, and agreed to accept their decision.

Within a few days the two botanists informed the conference committee that they had also become stalemated. Faced with this deadlock added to its own deadlock, the conference committee voted eight-to-two for the purple lilac. Two members stuck to the apple blossom to the bitter end.

The House and Senate concurred with the committee compromise, without further argument, and Governor John H. Bartlett of Portsmouth signed the purple lilac into law on March 28, 1919.”

Free manure for garden club members

An Amherst citizen has graciously offered an ongoing supply of horse manure to garden club members. Contact her directly if you are interested.

  • Horse manure: approximately 4 yards (ongoing supply)
  • Horses eat only organic high quality feed. No pesticides
  • Horses graze in a dry field 
  • Easy pick up at end of driveway. Just need a truck and shovels.

Ivy Gabai

Guidelines for Using Animal Manures and Manure-Based Composts in the Garden (UNH Cooperative Extension)

Order in Bulk with NOFA-NH

NOFA-NH (Northeast Organic Farmers Association of NH) offers a spring bulk order program that offers savings on soil amendments, pest control, cover crop seed, livestock needs, tools & supplies, and more! This is an annual fund raiser for NOFA-NH and helps to finance its work throughout the year. Now you can place an order at these great price, as they have extended this offer to NH Garden Clubs.

NOFA-NH Bulk Order – Spring 201 Deadline March 1st

Pick-ups on March 18th in Andover, and March 19th in Weare & Rochester; Seed potato pick-up on April 15th in Weare. Custom orders are an option, so if you’re interested in products from our suppliers that are not listed in our order catalog, please ask us!

View/Download the Bulk Order catalog and order form

Click here to place your order online!

NOFA membership is not required to participate in the Bulk Order, but non-NOFA members add 10% to their order. We are also partnering with the Concord Food Coop, and Coop members receive the same discount as NOFA members on our Bulk Order.

This program will save you money on quality organic products and will support NOFA-NH at the same time.


Northeast Organic Farming Association of NH (NOFA-NH)

603.224.5022 office

603.568.1562 cell

Office Hours: Mon/Tues/Wed 9am-12pm, Fri 10am-5pm


Rachel Carson Documentary on PBS

Scientist, activist and watchdog, Rachel Carson, sounded out the warning cry against toxic chemicals affecting the environment, especially pesticides that killed birds, insects and disrupted the eco-system. Her landmark book “Silent Spring” begat the early, global environmental movement. PBS will air a film on her life on “American Experience” on 1/25, 1/26, 1/27 and 1/28.  Check your local listings.

New, Easy Way to Kill Ticks

This came from a newsletter from Andrew Dr. Weil.

If you’re worried about ticks hitching a ride home with you after a walk in the woods, toss your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes. That should get rid of them permanently, according to a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC previously advised killing ticks by first washing the clothes they might cling to and then drying them for an hour. The new report suggests if you skip the washing, you can kill ticks and immature nymphs much faster, in only 4 to 11 minutes in the dryer, depending on the dryer temperature. It turns out that although ticks are vulnerable to heat, they are extremely sensitive to dryness. The researchers found that 100 percent of the blacklegged ticks they used in the study survived cold-water washes, 94 percent of them lived through warm-water washes and 50 percent survived hot water washes. It then took 70 minutes of drying on low heat and 50 minutes on high heat to kill ticks that made it through the wash. Even though this new method may get rid of ticks on your clothes, the CDC still advises using repellents on your skin and clothing in tick-infested areas.

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.

Hemlock Invasives Triple Threat

Interested in learning more about the triple threat to the Northern New England Hemlock? This instructional presentation by Jennifer Weimer, Forest Health Specialist with the NH Division of Forests & Lands will cover the impacts of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS), and Sirococcus tsugae. Jennifer will be joined by local forester Charlie Koch and ACC commissioner and certified Master Arborist Lee Gilman to share their boots on the ground experience with these invasives. This presentaiton will also look at how the invasive triple threat impacts the ACC Forest Management Plan for town owned parcels and participants will get a chance to the impacts first hand on the nearby Hemlock Trail.

Sponsoring Organizations: Amherst Conservation Commission, NH Division of Forests and Lands, Amherst Recreation Commission

Cost: Free, but registration required. Click here to register!

Location: Peabody Mill Environmental Center, Amherst, NH

Details: January 12, 2016 from 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

What to Bring: Dress for the weather if participating in the field trip portion (Hemlock Trail) of the event

Questions? Contact Jen Weimer at 603-464-3016 or jennifer.weimer@dred.nh.gov


Identify Flowers Visually Using Your Smartphone

Marti Warren passed along a tip about a great new gardening app called “Like That Garden” by JustVisual Inc that is available from iTunes.  According to the description, you can simply hold up your smartphone or tablet and snap a picture of an unknown flower or plant, and the app uses image recognition technology to provide you with high resolution photos, detailed species name and descriptions and useful information. Can’t wait to give it a try!

Evening Speaker on Lyme Disease (Free)

“Debunking the Myth & Misinformation Surrounding Lyme Disease”

The Amherst Garden Club will be sponsoring jointly with Amherst Recreation an evening program on Lyme disease at the theater at Souhegan High School on Tuesday, October 21 at 7:00 pm.  David A. Hunter will be the speaker.  A Bedford, NH, resident, he has been a long time Lyme activist, advocating for patients on both the state and local level. In 2010, he was featured in a WMUR-TV Chronicle program entitled Lyme: New Hampshire’s Exploding Epidemic.  He has served on the NH Lyme Legislature Committee that worked on the Lyme bill and got it passed into law.

Please help us pass the word about this free event to neighbors and friends who might be interested.  It seems like we all know someone affected by this disease.  We are encouraging teachers, gardeners, sport team coaches, hikers, and anyone who spends any time outside to attend and to be more aware of this disease and its effect on children and adults.