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July 2019 Newsletter




(EDITOR'S NOTE:  It's our pleasure to introduce you to our new GCFM President Barbara Longstaff of the Eliot Garden Club!)  As I mentioned at the 2019 Convention, I am honored and humbled to stand as GCFM President for the next two years.  Some of you know me well, but for others of you that I have only had the pleasure of an acquaintance, I will tell you a little about myself.  I am originally from California with a background in California Real Estate and Title Insurance.  It wasn't until I was living in Hawaii that I had time to consider gardening.  Of course, in Hawaii, I spent more time cutting things back than actually cultivating in my garden, but the passion was unlocked and there was no going back!  My husband, a retired Navy doctor, with family connections throughout Northern Maine, planned his last tour of duty, after 32 years time in, to end up here in Maine.  That is how this California gal ended up here!  I fell in love with New England in general but I LOVE living here in Maine with all of its diversities!  I will say that of all of the places I have lived -- California, Hawaii, Texas and southern Spain -- living in Maine presented the most challenging growing season I had experienced thus far, but perhaps at the end of the day, also the most rewarding.  My plan for the next two years is to continue with our focus on sustainability as it truly affects us all.  We'll be working together on ways to bring new ideas, information and education to our membership and communities on all of the environmental issues we face today.  In keeping with NGC's continuing "Plant America" theme, I have chosen "Planting Today for America's Tomorrow" as my theme, with plans to enhance our ongoing goals of protecting and conserving all manner of environmental interests, whether it is protecting our wildlife, pollinators and plant life or ensuring the safety of our air, water and land.  I know this may sound familiar, but I think it bears repeating!  We have a great deal to accomplish in the next two years and I am anxious to get started.  I welcome your input and ideas on all levels -- environmentally obviously -- but also on your club achievements, your community projects, as well as challenges you may be facing.  GCFM is a very large and resourceful organization, but it does not run itself.  It takes every one of us working together to make it successful and I know with your help and support, the next two years should be outstanding!  Finally, I encourage all GCFM Club Presidents and Award Chairmen to attend our Awards Workshop on August 19th at noon at the Viles Home in Augusta which will start immediately after the GCFM Board of Directors meeting at 9:30 a.m. I hope to meet many of you there!


Members from around the State gathered at Village by the Sea in Wells to celebrate our 88th Annual Convention.  The five clubs of the Piscataqua District deserve a pat on the back for their hard work in putting together two activity-filled days which culminated with the election and installation of our new GCFM President Barbara Longstaff (photo at left).  Mother Nature also cooperated with cool but clear skies as the first day's garden tour saw scores of attendees strolling through beautiful gardens located both by the sea and out in the countryside (photo at right).  Two workshops were held at our Resort for those who preferred to do something other than go on the tour.  One workshop on pressed flowers was conducted by Mary Saltmarsh while a yoga workshop was offered by Convention Chairman Sue Luby.  The first evening's banquet was highlighted by the introduction of our GCFM and NGC Scholarship winner Signe Lynch, a student at Bates College (see related story below).  Our speaker for the evening, John Forti, entertained the crowd with his presentation, "Eat Your Yard," on the many ways we can incorporate edibles into our own garden design.  Our second day was filled with activities as awards from both the National Garden Club and the GCFM were handed out to numerous clubs by GCFM Awards Chairman Kathleen Marty and President Judith Tarbox.  We also had a surprise visit by Smokey the Bear who was accompanied by Maine Forest Ranger Kent Nelson!  (See photo where former GCFM President Susan Xirinachs played the role of Smokey!)  2019 marks Smokey's 75th anniversary as a symbol of fire prevention around the country.  Our luncheon speaker, Martha Chiarchiaro, showed us the history of floral art in a power point presentation "Floral Images Through the Ages."  Finally, our second day was capped off with the election and installation of Barbara Longstaff of the Eliot Garden Club as the new GCFM President.  Also being installed were Harriet Robinson (1st VP - Foothills Garden Club), Ann Vanosdol (2nd VP - Camden Garden Club), Fran Girard (Treasurer - Foreside Garden Club), Cindi Kimball (Assistant Treasurer - Bucksport Garden Club), and Sue Luce (Recording Secretary - Harpswell Garden Club).  At the conclusion of the afternoon, outgoing President Judith Tarbox was presented with gifts from her Board of Directors to thank her for her two years of service to the Federation.  All told, 195 people registered to attend this year's Convention!  To see many more photos from this year's event, go to our FACEBOOK page by logging on to our website by clicking this link, and then clicking on the FACEBOOK symbol at the top of the page.


Clubs from all of our Districts were winners at this year's Convention Awards ceremony.  A few clubs even took home some National awards with Camden, Longfellow, and Osewantha the recipients of an NGC first place award in their size group for yearbooks.  The Topsham Garden Club was presented with a National award for its website and the Bath Garden Club walked away with not only a first place National Award for its garden therapy program, but also a check for $100!  The Judges Council of Maine was rewarded with all its hard work in putting together last year's Standard Flower Show -- "Maine: Vacationland" -- as they received a rose ribbon and Certificate of Merit from the NGC (see photo above).  The final recognition at the National and Regional level was bestowed on Skyler Onorato, a student sponsored by the Bar Harbor Garden Club, who was the Region winner of the youth poetry contest and received a Certificate of Participation from the NGC.  There were MANY awards given at the State level.  Pam Allen of the Bath Garden Club was honored with the Stella J. Dearborn Award as the Gardener of the Year.  She will go on to compete now at the Regional level.  Two clubs shared the first-ever Suzanne Bushnell Website Award -- the Bath Garden Club and the Topsham Garden Club.  And in the category of the Club of Distinction, two clubs -- Harpswell and Ellsworth -- tied for the most points achieved with 355 points.  (Other photos -- above right is photo of Stroudwater District award winners and photo above left is Piscataqua District award winners with President Judith Tarbox.)  (EDITOR'S NOTE:  A full list of all our winners will appear later this summer on our website under the AWARDS tab.) 


This year's GCFM Horticultural Scholarship winner is Signe Lynch, a Bates College student from Farmingdale, Maine, who is an Environmental Studies major.  Besides winning our $3,000  scholarship, she was also awarded the National Garden Clubs' Tempie Dahlgren Scholarship in the amount of $4,000!  Signe will be entering her senior year at Bates in the fall.  Several years ago, as a high school senior, Signe won a scholarship from one of our clubs, the Kennebec Valley Garden Club!  Signe gave a very touching speech to the attendees at the Tuesday evening banquet thanking everyone for the opportunity to further her education with the financial help of the Garden Club Federation of Maine who also nominated her for the NGC scholarship.  She is pictured in the photo flanked by GCFM President Judith Tarbox and Scholarship Chairman Harriet Robinson..      


Club Presidents, officers, and Award Chairmen are invited to attend an Awards Workshop which will follow the GCFM Board Meeting on Monday, August 19th at the Viles Home, 71 Stone Street in Augusta.  We'll meet as soon as the Board Meeting concludes (approximately 12:00 noon).  Bring a brown bag lunch along with your electronic device (laptop, smart phone, iPad).  We'll review the GCFM, NEGC, and NGC electronic awards process.  If your club has published its new yearbook, you can bring them with you to the workshop or can bring them to the Fall Conference in October.  All yearbooks to be considered for awards must be received by November 1st.  Copies of the yearbook should be given to the following:  GCFM President; State Awards Chairman; State Yearbook Chairman; State Program Chairman; and your District Director.  It's also suggested that you can give a copy of your yearbook to the other clubs in your District.  District Directors should plan to pick up copies of the yearbooks from their District at the Board Meeting if they're available.  Each of the three levels of awards have different deadlines.  At the State level, the GCFM Award applications are due to Kathleen Marty by April 1, 2020 and cover the award year January 1, 2019  through December 31, 2019.   The NEGC (Regional) Award applications are due to Kathleen by August 1st and cover the award year June 1, 2018  through May 31, 2019.  NGC Award applications are due to Kathleen by January 5, 2020 and the award period covered is January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019.  For a complete list of all awards, you can go to the following websites and click on the AWARDS tab:  GCFM at; NEGC at; and NGC at  Any questions, contact Kathleen Marty by clicking this link or by going to  


Final plans are coming together for the Fall Conference, sponsored by the clubs of the Kennebec District, to be held at the Augusta Civic Center on Thursday, October 31st.  The theme for this  year's event is "Bountiful Maine -- East, West, North and South."  Headlining the morning session will be Jeff O'Donal, owner of O'Donal's Nursery in Gorham, who'll be presenting a talk on Barth daylilies.  In 2010 O'Donal's obtained the rights to the Barth hybrid daylily line, the longest continual line of hybridized daylilies in the world.  They are known for their range of colors, long bloom times and size and profusion of color (see "Angelica Rose" in photo, courtesy of O'Donal's).  The Barth line was created here in Maine and will continue to be developed by the Barth family and grown by O'Donal's.  The afternoon session will feature a local grower and who'll provide information on "Veggie Trends for 2019 and Meatless Mondays."  We'll also have our traditional buffet lunch, raffle prizes and an array of vendors.  As soon as the Registration Form is ready, we'll post it to our GCFM website HOME PAGE.  It will also be distributed to Club Presidents to pass on to members.  So be sure to save the date on your calendar!  And because this year's event falls on Halloween, we can be sure to see many colorful hats and possibly costumes as well!


Maine's Judges Council has released the details of their next scheduled round of design classes.  One class is left in the current schedule -- August 7th will feature a class in mass design suitable for a dinner party.  New classes, part of Design Session #6, start September 4th and continue through April 1, 2020.  The September 4th workshop will feature Jason Parent of Fiddleheads Flowers in Cape Elizabeth who'll present a program on leaf manipulation.  (Photo at left is courtesy of manual called Leaf Manipulation by Gail Emmons.)  Jason will have leaves for participants to practice with as he demonstrates techniques he uses to create unique leaf designs.  Other workshops, which are always held on the first Wednesday of the month, will include designs using dried material, fruits and vegetables, and even a design that will evoke one of the Twelve Days of Christmas.  So plan to sign up for all six upcoming classes for $50 or sign up for individual classes at $10 each.  The Registration Form showing the schedule of classes will be linked to our HOME PAGE later this summer.  In the meantime, you can contact Marilyn Traiser by clicking this link to have a form sent to you.  Classes are held in the Guild Room of St. Mary's Church, 43 Foreside Road (Rt. 88) in Falmouth starting at 10:00 a.m. 


Because of the success of its design workshops held the last couple of years, the Maine Judges Council is able to offer members of the GCFM a $250 grant to help defray the cost to attend Course 1 of Flower Show School to be offered by the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts in Milford, Massachusetts.  The School, which is open to ANY garden club member (who is also a member of the National Garden Club), is being offered October 16th through the 18th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Milford.  Room rates at the hotel are $129 per night when you mention you're attending Flower Show School.  Information on the School and the hotel can be found by going to the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts by clicking this link.  You can also request a form from Marilyn Traiser by clicking this link. 


If you attended the 2019 Convention in Wells, you heard our new Director of New England Garden Clubs, Suzanne Bushnell, talk about the region-wide project she's promoting among the six New England States.  With her theme of "Planting the New England Victory Garden,"  Suzanne is encouraging all of us to plant extra vegetables and herbs this spring through fall to donate to local food banks, soup kitchens, or any other organization that helps fight hunger.  She has now developed a reporting form that you can use to record your donation.  The form, which can be foundon the New England Garden Clubs' website, by clicking on the REGION PROJECT tab, is easy to fill out and can be submitted at any time during the growing season by sending it to Suzanne.  Her address is listed at the bottom of the form, or, you can scan the form and send it to her e-mail address, also at the bottom of the form.    Her goal is to have each of the six states participate and then submit an NGC Awards application before the end of her term, for a Region Award of Excellence  -- something that hasn't been done in several years!  The Region with the best project wins a Certificate of Merit and $500 from the NGC!  Suzanne is also busy visiting community gardens around New England where extra vegetables are grown to donate to food banks..  If your club volunteers at a community garden where vegies are donated, let Suzanne know as she'd like to publicize this important volunteer activity.   If you have any questions, contact Suzanne by clicking this link.


Plans are being finalized for the 3rd Annual Meeting of the New England Garden Clubs to be held at the historic Woodstock Inn and Resort in Woodstock, Vermont, October 28th and 29th.  The Federated Garden Clubs of Vermont will be the host state federation for this event.  All garden club members from the six New England states are invited to attend this Regional meeting.  A Registration Form will be made available just a soon as it's sent to us by the Committee in Vermont.  We anticipate carpools will be formed for those who're interested in attending and would like to share transportation expenses.  Woodstock is your "quintessential" New England village with quaint shops and spectacular mountain scenery.  The Woodstock Inn and Resort is rated one of the top country inns located in New England.  Watch for more details of the meeting to be announced!  You can also contact NEGC Director Suzanne Bushnell for more information by clicking this link.  (Photo of Woodstock Inn at Christmas courtesy of the Woodstock Inn and Resort.)


Has your club thought about applying for a Plant America grant?  Maybe your club applied in the past but was not a winner.  Well, you can still apply but the deadline is approaching to get your applications in -- October 15th.  Besides applying for a grant that deals with community beautification, you can also use the money for other projects such as Blue Star Marker landscaping, school gardens, Habitat for Humanity landscaping or even a community educational event.  For those clubs that are successful in winning a grant, a final report on the project is one of the requirements.  To learn more about the application guidelines and to find an application form, click this link.


In the 2019 Summer issue of THE NATIONAL GARDENER, put out by the National Garden Clubs, we learned that one of our Members-at-Large was awarded The Creativity Award for her photograph entitled "High Noon."  Congratulations to Anita Peters who lives in the Piscataqua District!  Anita entered the competition for the NGC's 2019 International Photography Competition that featured photos from all over the country interpreting the natural environments of the Americas.  The prize winning photos were displayed at this year's NGC Convention held in May in Biloxi, Mississippi.  For those of you who get the magazine, Anita's wonderful photo is on Page 43.


Do you have trees that seem to be suffering despite all the rain we received in June?  You may be able to find an answer to what is ailing your trees by reading the quarterly report on insects and diseases produced by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF).  While reading reports about "bugs" may not be tops on your summer "to do" list, you can still find out some interesting tips.  For instance, did you know that limiting outside lights at night in July and August will help reduce the number of browntail moths that might be attracted to your yard?  Female moths are attracted to lights and tend to hang out on host plants.  The DACF says in their Report that traditional bug zappers will do no good in ridding your yard of these moths.  On the disease front, did you know that Maine is still fighting Dutch Elm Disease?  While many people think elms are scarce in Maine, it turns out they are fairly common and can be found growing throughout the State.  To find out more about the bugs and diseases that might be impacting the trees in your yard, click this link to read the latest DACF Report.  In other news from the State, in a recent news article from THE PORTLAND PRESS HERALD (front page of July 4th edition), our rainy spring with cool temperatures may actually have worked against the browntail moth in some areas of the State.  Field surveys done by the Maine Forest Service in June found a localized collapse in the numbers of caterpillars that was caused by a fungus that thrives in cool, damp conditions.  Fewer caterpillars are being found in sections of Bristol, Arrowsic, Whitefield, Jefferson, Camden, Turner, Harpswell, Brunswick, and Wiscasset.  While this may sound like good news, the Forest Service notes that a collapse of one year in the number of caterpillars does NOT carry over to the number we may see next year.  It will take two to three years of cool, wet springs to see a significant decline in the numbers of this pest.  The last large-scale collapse of browntail moth populations in Maine happened in 2004 and 2005. 


August 7 Floral Design Class, St. Mary's Church, Falmouth  FMI:  Marilyn Traiser
August 19  GCFM Board Meeting and Awards Workshop, Viles Home, 71 Stone St., Augusta 
Sept. 4  
Floral Design Class, St. Mary's Church, Falmouth  FMI:  Marilyn Traiser 
Sept. 18-20   
NGC Fall Board Meeting, St. Louis, MO 
Oct. 2 
Floral Design Class, St. Mary's Church, Falmouth  FMI:  Marilyn Traiser 
Oct. 28-29 
NEGC Annual Meeting, Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock, VT 
Oct. 31
GCFM Fall Conference, Augusta Civic Center, Augusta


Barbara Longstaff

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