2021 Annual Luncheon!

It was a beautiful day in a beautiful setting. Many thanks to Driftwood Garden Club member Andrea Gregory for hosting our annual lobster roll luncheon in her picture-perfect gardens.  We thank our outgoing President Barbie Saraceno for leading our club through the Covid-19 pandemic. And we look forward to sharing another successful year with the incoming Officers and new Program Chairs.

Driftwood Garden Club Plant Sale 2021!

The sun was shining on the Driftwood Garden Club plant sale held at Abbot Public Library on Saturday, May 22, 2021. And according to DGC Treasurer Laurie Boggis, the sale was a financial success as well.  Customers filled their wagons with an assortment of healthy plants divided from local gardens, hanging planters, bright annuals, and herbs.  Hats off to the Ways and Means Committee for organizing an outdoor event with covid-19 safety restrictions in place.  Success! 

Please join us at the Driftwood Garden Club Plant Sale!

The Driftwood Garden Club’s annual plant sale features perennials, annuals, ground covers, and herbs, many from local gardens. Garden Club members will be on hand to answer questions and help select plants for your garden. The Driftwood Garden Club is an all-volunteer organization that manages and cares for the gardens at the Abbot Public Library. Proceeds from the sale are used to maintain and improve the library gardens. We hope to see you on Saturday 5/22!

It’s almost Driftwood Garden Club Plant Sale time!

Driftwood Ways & Means Committee member Joy Purdin’s creative and original sign!

Hats off to the Driftwood Garden Club Ways and Means Committee for their resourceful use of signage!

Hope to see you at Driftwood Garden Club’s Plant Sale on Saturday, May 22, from noon to 3 PM at the Abbot Public Library, 235 Pleasant Street, Marblehead.

2021 Museum of Fine Arts annual ‘Art in Bloom’ exhibit.

Two Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead (DGC) members participated in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) virtual edition of its 45th annual Art in Bloom exhibit, a festival that pairs art with floral interpretations created by New England-area garden clubs. This year’s exhibit was themed around artworks that tell the stories of women across the Museum’s collection.

Longtime DGC members Laurie Boggis and Ginny von Rueden created a floral arrangement representing their assigned painting ‘Ubi Girl from the Thai Region.’  The acrylic on canvas was painted in the Harlem Renaissance style by artist Lois Mailou Jones in 1972. The artist was born and raised in Boston and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts.

According to designer Laurie Boggis, “the painting is large, 44 inches wide by 60 inches long. It is even more striking in person!”  Ginny states, “the strong imagery of the African face masks, which contrasted with the variety of exuberant colors, made a strong impression on us. Overlapping zigzag geometric shapes give movement and excitement to the theme of the painting. They bring to mind the flora and fabrics seen throughout Africa and represent the vitality of African women.”   

Laurie and Ginny were most struck by the ‘eyes’ featured in the painting, and much of their plant material has ‘eyes’ which are central to the theme of the painting.  The plant materials reflect the shapes and colors in the painting and are native to African countries, especially those of the artist’s heritage. Ginny says, “we wanted to give special attention to the alocasia, often referred to as ‘African mask’ because it replicates the shape and features of the girl’s face. The protea blossoms reflect the orange, round qualities of the two masks. And red and pink gerberas are a happy nod to the mix of these colors in the background.”

Laurie found the perfect container, which was handmade in Ghana. The container complements the arrangement, not only because it is made of African cedar wood, but also for its protruding zigzag shapes and striking blue color.

This painting has a special place in Ginny’s heart since she has lived in several African countries and visited others like South Africa, where she co-founded a partnership between Old North Church in Marblehead and a community in KwaZulu, home of the Zulu people. Laurie and Ginny both agree that floral designers form a strong connection to the piece of art they interpret in Art in Bloom. Congratulations to Laurie and Ginny!


Driftwood Garden Club members Laurie Boggis and Ginny von Rueden created a striking floral arrangement representing the acrylic painting “Ubi Girl from the Thai Region” by artist Lois Mailou Jones for the 2021 Museum of Fine Arts virtual Art in Bloom exhibit.

Divide and Conquer! April 2021 Dig & Divide.

Lisa Biggio, Chair of Civic Beautification Committee.

Promising to help DGC members “turn perennials into cash” for the May 22 Annual Plant Sale, Lisa Biggio attracted 24 members to her Zoom presentation, Divide & Conquer. A Master Gardener and chair of the club’s Civic Beautification Committee, Lisa gave her April 14 audience compelling reasons to go all in for an event that provides the bulk of the club’s funds every year.

This year the plant sale venue at Abbot Public Library is new, and the actual sale hours will begin in the afternoon, rather than morning. Lisa’s presentation provided a refresher for longtime members and guidelines for new ones participating in the event, instructing her audience on the basics on plant propagation. She also noted that in addition to giving DGC the needed inventory for a successful sale, digging and dividing can improve the health of the mother plant by aerating the soil around the root ball and thereby stimulating new growth.

Eight DGC members have generously donated their gardens. Lisa said that some plants could yield up to 20 plants, resulting in hundreds of plants for sale Diggers were reminded to bring their own bag of soil to fill in any holes left in donors’ gardens and to line the bottom of temporary holding plastic pots with newspaper to retain moisture and save on potting soil.

Lisa offered the following ten best practices for digging and dividing:

  • Divide when a plant looks good
  • Start digging at the drip line
  • Divide in cool weather
  • Keep roots cool and moist
  • Replenish soil with organic matter
  • Use vigorous sections first
  • Take extra care when the plant is in bloom
  • Keep only the healthiest pieces
  • Spread out your divisions
  • Let the roots be your guide

And here are the five basic root types DGC diggers should look for:

  1. Offsets – Small plants growing at the base of a larger one

Divide by cutting between any of the sections to obtain a piece with roots or at least 3 eyes or growing points.

i.e.  asters, echinacea, hosta, tickseeds

2. Surface roots – Roots that run on or just below the surface of the soil and forming new crowns

Divide by cutting between the stems and you should see a stem with its own roots.

i.e.  bee balm, black-eyed Susan, creeping sedums, creeping veronica

3. Tap roots – A large root that is usually growing deep down into the soil

Divide by slicing down the length of the root and diving into pieces with at least 1 eye or growth bud.

i.e.  balloon flower, asclepias, euphorbia, oriental poppies

4. Underground running roots – Runners that grow underground beyond the mother plant.

Divide by the remote pieces that can be cultivated from the mother plant. These can be separated into the pieces that have an eye or a sucker formed.

i.e.  anemones, hardy geranium, ostrich ferns, plume poppies

5. Woody roots – A woody root stem rests on the ground or becomes buried around the mother plant and sprouts roots.  Can be cut from the plant directly.

i.e.  candytuft, euonymus, sages, salvias, lavenders

Adapted from FineGardening.com   10 Tips on Dividing Perennial Plants

                                                                                                                        Harriett Magee

Happy Dig & Dividers Ellen Nichols, Andrea Gregory, our Captain Laurie Boggis, Susan Smith, and Joy Purdin
Ginny von Rueden and our garden host Bob Jackson.
Dig and Divide Captain Susan McMullen searches this wooded and hilly garden for plant sale volunteers.
Dig & Divide Team Linnea Payne, Brigitte Fortin, Dianne Barrett, and Susan McMullen are all smiles after a successful morning dig.

Flower Garden Reflections

Pandemic Gardening Thoughts submitted By Ginny von Rueden

Walking and gardening are two of the activities I have enjoyed the most during the last several months of the COVID pandemic.  More than giving me enjoyment, they gave me reprieve from the worries and solace from the disruptions of my regular routines. A love of gardening was a gift from my mother and one I have tried to nurture in my children. My lilacs and raspberries grow from shoots she gave me that have moved with me from house to house over many years. Thanks to her, the joy of working with nature sustains me and gives me hope.

During these difficult times, I am happy and grateful to be able to spend hours toiling in the soil as my garden flourishes from season to season. The scourge of the restrictions and cancellations imposed by the disease denies me from having something to which I can look forward. But my garden never fails me and faithfully gives me something to anticipate with each passing day. And, when tragedy strikes as it did with the falling of our large and ancient willow tree, there are always opportunities for renewal with different plantings and design decisions.  Sharing my garden is my way to connect with others when I take bouquets of flowers as gifts for both happy and sad occasions.  Tea and conversation (or wine and conversation! ) among the blooms lifts my spirits endlessly.

Attracting wildlife is always a goal of any garden designer and I’m so happy that the birds, bees and butterflies are regular visitors in my garden. When I see the bluejays splashing in the fountain, the robins clustering to eat the red berries on the hawthorne tree, the bees buzzing around the sedum, the butterflies hovering on the dahlias, I feel a kinship with them and know I’m helping our planet by providing a safe haven and sustenance for them.

Strolling around town provides more than exercise, it can be a euphoric experience with all the beauty that surrounds me.  Every time I gaze across Marblehead Harbor, I exclaim, “how lucky am I to live here!”.  I am always amazed by the variety of splendid gardens in every nook and cranny of our glorious town and their displays are food for the soul. My phone camera clicks constantly as I wander the streets and alleyways to capture the visual delights all around me. I can almost forget the isolation and suffering we have all experienced as we miss or mourn our loved ones.

I am truly grateful for the beauty of my surroundings which will continue to inspire me when life gets back to “normal”. And I’m ever thankful to call myself a “gardener”.

By Ginny von Rueden

Organic Garden Design, March 2021 DGC Zoom Meeting

Our virtual meetings continue to be well attended, with over 20 Driftwood Garden Club and Cottage Gardeners Club members logged on to Zoom.  DGC Program Co-Chair Sarah Bates introduced our March 2021 speaker Cathy Harragian, who has a background in science. Cathy ran an organic apple orchard for many years and continues to grow woodland medicinal plants.

Cathy’s Organic Garden Design presentation emphasizes Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to promote the safe, least-toxic solutions to both pest and pesticide problems. Her goal is to create beautiful, low maintenance, low chemical landscapes for all seasons.

A corrugated cardboard band for insect control can traps pests without chemicals.

Cathy recommends leaves or wood mulch over cardboard as a safe method of weed control.

Tedders pyramid traps: Pyramid traps are designed for weevils, but will also trap other insects. In agricultural settings, these traps are used for identifying the time that pests are active. The traps are baited with bits of apples to attract the plum curculio weevils to establish the time that plum curculios are flying to a potential host. A company to source the tedder traps is Great Lakes IPM. www.greatlakesipm.com

One of the tenents of successful organic design is diversity in the garden. Plant the right plant in the right place. Include many native varieties to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Harragian cited an example of preventative pest control when she planted a host plant as a diversion in the apple orchard. She also recommends interspersing edible plants, such as kale, in the flower garden as a way to increase diversity. 

Good groundcovers for shade in moist soil with good drainage: blood root (Sanguinaria Canadensis), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). For shade areas in medium soil: Allegheny pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens), American ginger (Asarum canadense). For sunny dry areas: bearberry (Arctostaphylus uva-ursi), Low sedum (Sedum album) Stonecrop (Sedum divergens), Epimedium.

Plant native Bloodroot as a groundcover for spring bloom.

American Ginger makes a good groundcover.

Grow non-GMO plants from seed and preserve heirloom seeds suitable for our New England climate. Seed Resources:

Johnny’s Seeds   www.johnnyseeds.com

Fedco Seeds  www.fedcoseeds.com

High Mowing Seeds  www.highmowingseeds.com

Look Ma, No Flowers! February 2021 Virtual Meeting via Zoom

Presided over by Program Co-Chair Sarah Bates, the February 9, 2021, DGC meeting garnered a sizable Zoom audience. The evening’s presentation by Westwood-based Deborah Trickett, a container garden designer who founded her firm, The Captured Garden, 17 years ago, was packed with robust, helpful, and sometimes surprising information about a category of plant material many regard as filler.

Who could imagine the allure of Hobbits Foot Sage and Curly Fries Hosta in a container on your porch? And the lowly coleus which now comes in an astounding number of shapes and colors, qualifying it as a “lead plant” in container design?

Members can find a list of some of Deborah’s other favorites in a handout Sarah has emailed to the membership. Instagram, Facebook, and www.thecapturedgarden.com are other platforms showcasing her work, which also includes speaking engagements throughout New England, TV appearances, garden maintenance services, and workshops at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum.

According to President Barbie Saraceno, 31 gardeners participated in the event, which was DGC’s second program of 2021. Four were Cottage Gardeners. Barbie noted a good number of attendees whom she hadn’t seen at programs in the recent past.

From the outset, Deborah won over her audience with three unarguable benefits offered by her favorite kind of plant: low maintenance, lasting good looks throughout the growing season, and less waste. In fact, she pointed out that instead of being thrown in the fall on the compost heap as is the fate of flowering pants, many foliage plants can winter over in the garden as perennials or be moved indoors and become houseplants.

Deborah also won over her audience by promising the gift of a hat with her logo to whoever could answer a question at the end of her talk and thereby resist the temptation to multi-task while Zooming. Evonne Peters was the first to answer the speaker’s question about her favorite color—green, no less.

Last, the speaker reminded her audience that low maintenance foliage containers give the gardener the chance to relax in her garden at the end of the day. Better a glass of wine and a book outdoors than the endless chore of deadheading flowering plants.     

           –Harriett Magee

Photos 1 & 2 courtesy of Deborah Trickett, The Captured Garden