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May 2017

MAY 2017 Newsletter



The old saying "time flies when you're having fun" seems appropriate as I write my final column as your President.  In just a few weeks I'll be handing over the leadership of this wonderful organization to President-elect Judith Tarbox of the Camden Garden Club at our upcoming Convention in Freeport.  I'll have many happy memories as I look back at the members I've met and worked with from around the State and the wonderful events I've been able to attend.  Many of you took to heart my theme -- Growing Together - Inspiring Change -- and literally forged new ground as you developed partnerships in your community which have made a difference in your town and within your own clubs.  I hope I've been able to inspire many of you to "think outside the box" and try some entirely new ideas!  And as you move forward under a new President, I'm sure you'll give Judith as much support as you've given me.  One of those wonderful events I've just returned from is the National Garden Club Convention in Richmond, Virginia.  A total of 778 people turned out to welcome our new National President Nancy Hargroves.  Also attending from the GCFM were President-elect Judith Tarbox, former GCFM President Rebecca Linney of the Old York Garden Club, and St. Mary's Garden Club President Lucy Ellis.   One of the highlights of the Convention was the Thursday evening Awards Banquet when the NGC Award of Excellence winners were announced. This is the highest award given out by the National Garden Club and I'm pleased to announce that the Heirloom Seed Project led by Neil Lash, a longtime teacher at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, was one of the three national winners (see photo of Neil and me with his award at left)!   Neil, accompanied by his wife Bonnie, were at the Convention to accept the award on behalf of the students who make up the Heirloom Seed Project, the oldest and largest school-based seed saving program in the entire country.   It's a testament to Neil that this project, which he started 25 years ago, continues to thrive.  I'd invited Neil to talk to my garden club last August and after hearing his presentation about what these teens have accomplished, I was determined to see what other recognition I could bring to his program.  You can read more about the Project in a related article in this newsletter.  People ask if I plan to "retire" after this Convention!  While that would be nice, I've actually agreed to take on the job as the Awards Chairman for the New England Garden Clubs, Inc.  This means I'll be judging awards from all the New England States who compete for regional awards.  Plus I've agreed to help Judith and stay on as the GCFM Newsletter Editor.  So as I close this final President's column, I hope many of you will join me at our Convention in Freeport as we celebrate the wrap-up of my two-year term and embark on a new adventure!  Thanks for all you do for the GCFM and all you've done for me!  Sincerely, Suzanne


In just a few short weeks the 86th Annual GCFM Convention will kick off on Monday, June 19th.  We're tying up the final details as attendees will descend on Freeport to partake in a reception for State and National Life Members, the chance to see both public and private gardens, hear interesting speakers, and the chance to win some fabulous items in our raffle and silent auction!  We've added some other late breaking details.  We've decided to move up the beginning of the Registration period -- now starting at 1:30 p.m. on Monday.  Also, we'll have the Registration area in the Old Town Hall Meeting Room for the entire Convention.  This is a separate building immediately adjacent to the hotel.  Next, local nursery Estabrooks, located at 357 East Main Street, Yarmouth, will be holding an open house for Convention attendees and local garden club members from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. also on Monday, opening day of the Convention.  They'll be offering a 20% discount during the the three days of the Convention and will have giveaways and refreshments at the open house.  If you buy a plant during the three days of the Convention and want them to hold it for you until the Convention is over, they're willing to do that!  We'll have copies of the coupon at our Registration table at the hotel.  For those of you who're thinking about signing up for the bird walk slated for early Wednesday morning, we've just found out it will be led by bird expert Doug Hitchcox, the staff naturalist for the Maine Audubon Society.  Doug also volunteers as one of Maine's eBird reviewers and is the owner and moderator of "Maine-birds listserv", a forum devoted to the discussion of birds and birding in Maine. Also, we may have Neal Sanders, our Wednesday speaker do his presentation BEFORE lunch!  When you check in to pick up your folder at the Registration table, check to see the time of his talk as we'll have it posted.   Remember, if you haven't registered yet, you only have till MAY 30 to register at the early registration fee of $30.  Also, no meals can be sold after June 14th!  The Schedule of Events and Registration Form are posted on the GCFM website.  


This year we're privileged to have Maine Audubon as our partner and the major sponsor of our Convention.  Leading off on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. will be Eric Topper, Director of Education for Maine Audubon.  He'll be speaking on the topic of Bringing Nature Home in Maine.  This is also the focus of the Audubon's new community engagement and habitat stewardship initiative based on the bestselling book of that title by Doug Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home).  Eric has over twenty years of experience teaching and managing environmental education programs.  Another of our sponsors, who also helped us in 2012, is Freeport Wild Bird Supply.  Owners Jeannette and Derek Lovitch have a beautiful store on the south side of Freeport at 541 Route One.  Derek just published a new book that was released a few weeks ago called Bird Watching in Maine:  A Site Guide.  He's also well known for starting the very popular Bird and Brew Bus trips which take bird and beer lovers to various venues around the Midcoast to see rare birds with stops along the way for beer tasting!  We encourage you to stop by their store where you'll find a great array of bird supplies.  A new sponsor this year is Shady Glen Nursery and Gardens located at 215 Main Street in Freeport.  The nursery offers a large selection of unusual and native plants including many premium woodland plants.  They invite you to enjoy a leisurely stroll through their extensive display gardens while you're in town.  Coming back to support us year after year is Fiore, a favorite supplier of premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Nancy and Pat O'Brien have expanded their store locations with new outlets in Brunswick and a tasting room now in New Hampshire.  We also welcome back the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens celebrating their 10th Anniversary in Maine. CMBG has been a sponsor of our Convention every year since 2012.  Our final sponsor is Bath Savings Institution who has generously given donations to several of our other clubs in the Mid-coast area.


 Nancy L. Hargroves, (photo at left) a resident of Richmond, Virginia was installed as the new President of the National Garden Club, Inc. at the NGC Convention just held in Richmond, Virginia. She takes over from Sandy Robinson of Kentucky who served for the last two years.  Nancy's theme is Planting America.  She has both an undergraduate and graduate degree from Virginia Tech University and has a background in nutrition and food service management.  She's held numerous State and National positions throughout her garden club career which began in 1986.  She's the former President of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs and President of the Board of Trustees of Nature Camp, Inc. -- a wholly owned subsidiary of the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs.  One of Nancy's new projects is the promotion of a new children's book called The Saved Seed which will be sold for $10 through the NGC Member Services Department.  Orders are now being taken by calling the NGC at 314-776-7574 ext. 218.  The NGC hopes to have an online link to order the book up and running soon on its website.  The book follows the journey of pumpkin seeds from planting to harvesting the pumpkin to eating the seeds!  It's meant to give children a better understanding of where seeds originate and how seeds really grow.  Also, it was announced that one of Nancy's President's Projects will be to offer a new grant program for clubs entitled Plant America Community Project Grants.  The purpose of the grant program is to provide financial support for new or existing club projects.  More info can be read by clicking this link.  The NGC is still putting the grant application and information on how to apply on their website.  Check back in June to check if the link is complete.


Visits to famous gardens and talks by garden experts including a TV celebrity were some of the highlights of the NGC Convention.  Peter Hatch, Director of Gardens and Grounds for Monticello, gave a wonderful overview of Thomas Jefferson's incredible estate.  A day-long trip to Monticello was one of the sold out tours offered.  Headlining the Convention was P. Allen Smith, noted TV celebrity garden expert.  More than 700 people attended his presentation which included some giveaways to the audience for answering some of his gardening questions!  A long line of fans stayed after the luncheon to purchase his new cookbook and get their photo taken with him!  Attendees enjoyed an elaborate floral design program given by Ian Prosser, lead floral designer for the inaugurations of President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. The National Life Member dinner had a Broadway star recreate a one-woman play based on the life of Rachel Carson, who had a summer home in Mid-Coast Maine.  Other entertainment that evening was a group of high school students from Roanoke City Schools called the Strolling Silver Strings.  During dinner more than 20 students performed with violins, cellos, and a piano playing everything from Broadway tunes to classical music to Neil Diamond!  They were given a standing ovation after entertaining the large crowd for more than an hour with beautiful music. On the final night of the Convention elaborate floral displays (see photo) greeted guests as they entered the ballroom for the installation of Nancy Hargroves.  


While many folks think of the iconic Moody's Diner as the first thing they connect with Waldoboro, Maine, now the GCFM can point to its most recent NGC National Award of Excellence winner -- The Heirloom Seed Project!  Under the 25-year leadership of Medomak Valley High School teacher Neil Lash, the program has evolved into quite a botany project!  The program now includes a two-acre garden, two greenhouses, a seed bank of over 800 varieties of heirloom seeds collected from local, national, and international sources, a seed catalog run by the students, an onsite "living history" tree arboretum, a collection of 70 heirloom hosta plants, and the newest addition -- a collection of endangered heritage breed chickens!  In 2015 the teens competed against research institutes and colleges and came out on top in winning a grant of $20,000 from the seed company SEEDS OF CHANGE.  They used part of this money to buy the school a brand new walk-in freezer to hold their extensive collection of over 800 different varieties of seeds.  And just this year, the Project was named as an organization to watch in 2017 by Foodtank, an organization that advocates for sustainable ways of alleviating hunger on a global scale.  Between 20 and 30 students are involved each year with this remarkable program.  While the Heirloom Seed Project has many goals, its most prominent is to make sure future generations will have access to the seeds of our ancestors.  Neil, who's taught school for 53 years, is an incredible leader who's inspired his students to aspire to careers in horticulture and agriculture.  To read more about the work of the Heirloom Seed Project and to see their seed catalog, click this link. 


Mark your calendar for Monday, July 17th to attend a workshop in Augusta focusing on the electronic awards process as well as better understanding the GCFM website and the maintenance of Club Pages.  This workshop is especially important for new and continuing Club Presidents, Club Award Chairmen, and Club Page Administrators.  The workshop will be held at the Elsie Viles Home, 71 Stone Street in Augusta.  The awards portion of the workshop begins at 9:30 a.m. and will last till 11:30 a.m.  From 11:30 till 12:30 p.m. will be the Communications portion of the workshop.  The awards segment will cover such topics as NGC, NEGC, and GCFM awards, a review of the forms used, deadlines, how to attach photos, and a discussion of the new NGC President's Project Awards.  Bring your questions, ideas and suggestions with you to the workshop.  Look for a sign-up sheet at the Convention to give GCFM Awards Chairman Kathleen Marty an idea of how many people expect to attend.  The second half of the workshop will cover updating and maintaining the Club Page on the GCFM website.  Fran Moore, GCFM Club Page Administrator will be there to answer your questions.  If you're new to the process you'll want to be sure to attend!  If you have any questions on the workshop, contact Kathleen Marty by clicking this link.


Due to the Fall Conference being held a few weeks later than usual (November 14th), club yearbooks will have to be sent to Shelly Hanson instead of delivering them at Fall Conference.  The deadline is November 1st.  If you have them ready by the June Convention, bring copies with you.  Otherwise, you can bring them to the July Awards Workshop or give them to someone to take to the GCFM August Board meeting (August 21st).  You'll need to provide copies for the following people:  GCFM President Judith Tarbox; Awards Chairman Kathleen Marty; Yearbook Chairman Shelly Hanson; and your District Director.  We'd also like a copy to give to the new GCFM Club Program Chairman. Watch for a box at the June Convention marked YEARBOOKS where you can drop them off for distribution.


Warmer weather always means it's that time of year when our clubs host their major fundraisers -- plant sales and garden tours!  You can check our CALENDAR on our website to find details of those plant sales and garden tours that we've been provided information for.  To see the garden tours we know of so far click this link for the list of GARDEN TOURS.  These are also posted on our interactive CALENDAR.  Check back often as we add more dates and information as we receive details.  If you have a garden tour or a plant sale to advertise, send the information as soon as possible to The information we need is:  date; location; hours; cost; and who to contact for more information.  Because of the sheer number of events, we're unable to do articles about each of them in our Newsletter.  But we're happy to post the details on our website as mentioned above!


Many of our clubs are saying good-bye to their current president and welcoming a new leader as we enter the new club year.  Why not honor your outgoing President with a State Life Membership!  The $50 donation to our Scholarship Fund is a wonderful way to say "thank you" for all your President or any other distinguished member has done for your club.  If you make the donation before the Convention, the honoree will be eligible to attend this year's State Life and National Life Member Reception at the Maine Historical Society's Longfellow Garden in Portland  the evening of Monday, June 19th.  For more information on how to become a State Life Member, or to make a donation in someone's name, contact Barbara Longstaff by clicking this link. You can also click this link to find the State Life form on our website.  Also, please note that the honoree doesn't HAVE to be a GCFM member to be honored with a donation in their name.  Some of our members have made their spouses State Life Members too which makes them eligible to attend our Reception.  In order to attend this year's Reception the State Life Member MUST register for the Convention.


We're pleased to announce an educational opportunity to learn more about native plants and wildflowers has been scheduled for August 29th at the McLaughlin Gardens and Homestead.  Their address is 97 Main Street, Route 26, South Paris, Maine.  The one-day event will contain three lectures on native plants, including identification, propagation, invasive species management, public plantings and uses in gardens.  There will be a tour of the McLaughlin garden with Kristin Perry, Horticulture Director, and an optional tour of Harriet Robinson's garden in Otisfield.  The registration fee will be $15 for GCFM members and $17 for non-members.  Final details were still being worked out as we went to press on who the speakers will be.  Registration forms are expected to be available at the June Convention.  This is a project that reflects incoming GCFM President Judith Tarbox's theme of "Plant Maine - Sustainable Home Gardening".


The Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs will be the host for the First Annual Meeting of the New England Garden Clubs, Inc. and NGC Symposium.  The date for the Annual Meeting is October 30th to the 31st and the Symposium is October 31st through November 2nd.  The location will be the Crown Plaza Hotel, 801 Greenwich Avenue, Warwick, Rhode Island.  Registration forms are now available and can be picked up at our Convention.  They should be available on the NEGC website soon.  It was announced at the NGC Convention that the opening day program for this event will revolve around a flower show with designers from all six New England States expected to participate..  It's anticipated that some of the new NGC floral designs will be on display.  The Tuesday Annual Meeting program is still  being finalized. 


With warmer weather arriving, now's the time to make sure you take precautions to prevent being bitten by a tick!  The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is promoting a campaign to educate residents on how to prevent tick bites.  In 2016 preliminary figures show that 1,473 cases of Lyme disease were reported in Maine.  Simple precautions include using caution when working or walking in tick infested areas, wear protective clothing treated with tick repellent, and perform daily tick checks after any outdoor activity.  For more information from the Maine CDC click this link.  You can also join the Maine CDC for a workshop on June 5th in Falmouth, designed to increase the number of people at the community level who are aware and informed about mosquito and tick-borne diseases. They are then trained to serve as a resource to others in their communities.  This "train the trainer" session is intended for people who work with the public.  The session will provide information for raising awareness of tick and mosquito-borne diseases and ways to prevent them. Registration is required.  Call the Cumberland County Extension Office at 781-6099 to register. The location is the University of Maine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth.


Don't forget that NATIONAL GARDEN WEEK runs from June 4th to the 10th!  The NGC has provided a link to a poster you can print for display.  This is a great opportunity to get your club's name out in the public.  How about organizing a public event such as planting a tree in your community or inviting the public to stop by and see one of your garden projects?  Partner with your local library for a display on garden books or even present a new garden book or one for the children's section (like The Frightened Frog).  The NGC website has many suggestions on things you can plan.  The final floral design class for this club year will be held on Wednesday, June 7th at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Falmouth.  Attendees will learn from Master Flower Show Judge Buff Harrington the techniques for putting together a parallel design.  For more information click this link to contact Marilyn Traiser.


June 7
Floral Design Class to learn techniques of parallel design, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Falmouth  FMI:  Marilyn Traiser
July 17
GCFM Awards and Website Workshop, Viles Home, 71 Stone Street, Augusta
August 21
GCFM Board Meeting, Viles Home, 71 Stone Street, Augusta
August 29
GCFM Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium                                            McLaughlin Garden, South Paris  (More Information to Follow)
September 12-16
NGC Fall Board Meeting
St. Louis, Missouri
October 30-31
NEGC First Annual Meeting, Crown Plaza Hotel, Warwick, RI
Oct 31-Nov 2
NGC Symposium, Crown Plaza Hotel, Warwick, RI
November 2-3
Landscape Design School Course 3
St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Falmouth   FMI:  Harriet Robinson
November 14
GCFM Fall Conference, Augusta Civic Center, Augusta




Suzanne Bushnell


Garden Club Federation of Maine

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