Monthly Archives: February 2015


My apologies for the lateness of the post. As always Celia has outdone herself with the January newsletter. I have provided a text only version here, but you may download the original document with this link > Jan 2015 AGCnews

Over the Garden Fence

Athens Garden Club and Horticultural Society Newsletter January 2015




NOVEMBER 18, 2014

Mary Slade, President, welcomed everyone present and introduced Penny Stewart, Director of the Ontario Horticultural Association (OHA) District 3. She then told the Club about an important new initiative, the Vegetable Gardening Workshop Series, which will begin in the New Year. (If you missed the meeting, you should also have received this information via email.)

Just as Mary completed the general announcements, Ursula Quanz called out,

Is there a doctor in the house?” This was the signal for the skit to begin. Ann Marie Newsome and Celia Godkin hurried to the front, dressed in lab coats, masks and rubber gloves. They were followed by Jean Brassington and Pat Halbert pushing a gurney on which lay the “executive body”

(a pumpkin head with a scarecrow body) which they declared had been found in the Memory Garden. The doctors declared they would have to operate and began attacking the body with garden tools.

AGM continued

Penny Stewart, then conducted the nomination and election of officers and directors. Aside from Pat Halbert and Madelaine Palko, most officers remain in their current positions. The exception is Ann Marie Newsome, who stepped down as Member-at-Large to take over Pat’s position as Program Coordinator. Ann Marie is replaced by two new Members-at-Large: Paula McCammon and Gail Boynton. The new Executive Committee for 2015, with contact information, is listed in the brochure for the 2015 program.

Following the election of the Executive, Penny outlined some of the OHA’s recent initiatives. They include encouraging OHA members to promote gardening and sustainable agriculture to their friends and families; updated flower arranging guidelines; new standards for education and youth programs; a community garden insurance package, through Cooperators, that covers participants who are not OHA members. Details of all these initiatives may be found on the OHA website. (Note: there have been some security issues on the OHA website, but these are being dealt with.)

District 3 will be hosting the OHA AGM in 2018. They intend to raise funds for this through the sale of bulbs, berry bushes and solitary bee houses, and the OHA invites all District 3 members to participate in fund-raising for this event. That includes us!

Mary Slade then announced that the business of the AGM was concluded and invited everyone to enjoy the delicious selection of finger foods, provided by members, and cider prepared by Donna Washburn, Refreshments Coordinator, who was also responsible for the festive table decorations.

After the refreshment break, Pat Halbert introduced Karen DeJong. Karen showed us how to create beautiful displays using winter greenery, candles and other decorative items. Participants joined in enthusiastically and afterwards posed for photos with the results of their creative efforts.


Four suggestions from Celia Godkin

1. Join Athens Garden Club activities

One of the best ways for us gardeners to tackle the winter blues is to come out to an Athens Garden Club meeting. We invite you to join us at 7 pm on the third Tuesday of each month for an informative and fun evening on a topic of interest to gardeners.

At our January 20 meeting, we encourage you to bring your old gardening magazines to share with other members. These will provide winter reading material and inspire new ideas for the next gardening season. January’s speaker is Dr Richard Wilson, Chief Forestry Pathologist for the Ontario Ministry of Resources. He will talk to us about our native shrubs and trees.

Please note that the date of our February meeting is one week later than usual, on the 24th, as our speaker, Louise Richards was not available on the 17th. Details of all our 2015 meetings will be sent via email and a printed copy will be available at our meetings for those without email.

This year, we are also offering workshops on vegetable gardening with Jeremy Dutton. They will be held at the Athens District High School on Saturday mornings from 9 am to noon. Dates and topics as follows:

Jan 17:  Planning your garden, ordering seeds

Mar 28: Starting seedlings, care & treatment

Apr 25:  Soil & garden preparation    

May 9:  Growing techniques

Sep 12:  Harvesting, preserving, plot clean-up

Cost is $15 per workshop or $60 for all five.

To register, call Jean Brassington at 613-924-1944 or email Then mail a cheque payable to the Athens Garden Club to Jean Brassington, Secretary, Athens Garden Club, Box 164, Athens ON K0E 1B0

Note: You may register for subsequent workshops on Jan 17 after the first workshop and still receive the discount on the whole series. There are no refunds after payment, but you may pass your ticket/receipt to someone else who wishes to attend.

Amaryllis may also be grown in a watertight container, with pebbles, similarly to paper-whites, but it’s more common to plant them in soil in a regular pot with drainage holes. These large bulbs can be potted from October to April. Use a heavy pot, as the big flowers tend to tip over. Cover the bulb up to its neck in potting soil, water well and place in a cool, sunny spot. Water sparingly. The flowers will appear six to eight weeks after planting.

Unlike paperwhites, amaryllis flowers can, with care, be made to bloom again next year. Cut the old flowers from the stem and allow the leaves to continue growing.


Water regularly, adding houseplant fertilizer to the water. Gradually reduce watering in early September, stopping altogether in October. Then allow the bulb to rest in a cool, dark place. In January, remove old soil and dried roots and re-pot the bulb again for blooms in March.

As the “doctors” worked on the body, the executive lined up at the front to recite a poem, “Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News” (see next page), as items such as a trowel, seeds, a bag of spinach posing as kelp and green packing bags that could be interpreted as “newer blood” or as intestines were pulled out of the “executive body” at appropriate moments.

The skit added considerable merriment to the proceedings and afterwards Penny compli-mented the executive members on the obvious enjoyment that they’d had in working together.

The meeting then settled down to the business at hand, which included the Treasurer’s report from Evelyn Haggett.

The President announced that two executive members were stepping down: Program Coordinator Pat Halbert, who was responsible for the excellent programming at meetings for the past two years, and for the skit which had just been enjoyed by members; and Madelaine Palko, who mounted and managed the Club’s very successful Facebook page. Mary thanked both Pat and Madelaine for their service to the Club.


by Pat Halbert

Sung to the tune of Bad Case of Loving You.

Doctor, Doctor Give Us the News


Hot summer nights, still gotta weed

We now must find…  good trowels and organic seed

We need YOU to come and help

Offer new ideas, not just bags of kelp.

Doctor, Doctor give me the news

We’ve got a bad case of the gardening blues.

No pills gonna cure my knees

We’ve got a bad case of dying bees.


Tillers and plants are still within our hearts

But newer blood is the place to start.

Can we get it here?

Are we going to last? I am not so sure

It’s our final gasp.


So Doctor, Doctor bring us the news

We’ve got a bad case of needing YOU.



The Ontario Provincial Government has announced it will pass legislation to restrict the use of neonicotinoids by farmers. These are the pesticides that have been linked to an increase in bee mortality levels.

2. Bring the garden indoors

One recipe for fending off the winter blues is to bring the garden indoors. After those festive season staples – Poinsettia and Christmas cactus – go into decline, it’s time for the bulbs.

Fragrant paperwhite narcissus are easy to force. You can start them from October through January. That’s enough time for several batches of blooms if you plant bulbs every few weeks (always store unused bulbs in a paper bag at room temperature).

A tall glass or ceramic container with no drainage holes is good. Pour in two inches of pebbles that have been rinsed free of dust.

Add a tablespoon or two of rinsed aquarium charcoal (so the water won’t smell “off”), then more pebbles. Place three bulbs on top. They should be root-side down and almost touching one another. Add enough tepid water to reach just below the bottoms of the bulbs. Replenish when the level falls by a quarter inch.

Blooms will appear in four to six weeks. Once the blossoms die, toss the bulbs; they won’t flower again. Reuse the pebbles for the next batch.

3. Enjoy some botanical art

You can enjoy plants vicariously by feasting your eyes on websites that show examples of beautiful botanical art from around the world.

In Canada, we have the Botanical Artists of Canada

and the Ottawa Society of Botanical Artists

Both sites have member pages with examples of their work and, in some cases, links to their web pages. The artist and teacher who formed the nucleus around which the Ottawa botanical art scene developed is Kerri Weller. To see examples of her exquisite work (and find out what classes she’s teaching) visit

Other countries with flourishing botanical art societies are the US, Australia and Britain.

The American Society of Botanical Artists may be found at

The Botanical Art Society of Australia is at

The Society of Botanical Art is their British counterpart:

Go to the “Gallery” links on these sites to see some fabulous works. For individual artists websites, check out these winners of the world’s top botanical art award – the British Horticultural Societies Gold Medal: and

4. Consider a garden journal

If you don’t already keep a garden journal, make a New Year’s resolution to start one. Record keeping is one of the best gardening tools we have, and your journal can make for interesting winter reading.

The Athens Garden Club newsletter is produced three times a year, in January, May and September. For comments or submissions, please contact the Newsletter Editor, Celia Godkin at 613- 275-7204 or