Driftwood Garden Club Bookworms!

Many of our members have belonged to book clubs over the years and most still do! Reading in the garden is one of our great joys. In the garden, we can read alone, with others, and especially to our children and grandchildren. Our members have read many books about flowers, plants, insects, trees, and the wildlife our gardens provide for, so we thought it might be nice to start a reading list created by members to recommend flower or nature-themed books which have been enjoyed over time.

DGC Reading List

We welcome you to help create the Driftwood Garden Club Reading List by making book suggestions or comments. To suggest a book, click here

Let’s give it a try!

For our Gardeners

Recommended by Ginny Von Rueden

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

“A young woman with a difficult childhood finds her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. She realizes she has a gift for helping other through the flowers she chooses for them”.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

“A novel about a 19th century American woman who becomes a world-renowned botanist…travels the world meeting unforgettable characters..and explores the mysteries of evolution”

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

“One of the most beloved books of our time: an illuminating account of the forest, and the science that shows us how trees communicate, feel, and live in social networks. After reading this book a walk in the woods will never be the same again.”

Unearthing the Secret Garden by Marta McDowell

Bestselling author Marta McDowell has revealed the way that plants have inspired some of our most cherished authors, including Beatrix Potter, Emily Dickinson, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. In her latest, she shares a moving account of how gardening deeply inspired Frances Hodgson Burnett, the author of the beloved children’s classic The Secret Garden. Complementing her fascinating account with charming period photographs and illustrations, McDowell paints an unforgettable portrait of a great artist and reminds us why The Secret Garden continues to touch readers after more than a century. This deeply moving and gift-worthy book is a must-read for fans of The Secret Garden and anyone who loves the story behind the story

For our L’il Sprouts

Recommended by Barbie Saraceno

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner

Explore the secret world beneath the dirt that brings the world of nature to life: up in the garden, the world is full of green—leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world—earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow—populated by all the animals that make a garden their home. With Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, you can explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgsen Burnett

One of the most delightful and enduring classics of children’s literature, The Secret Garden by Victorian author Frances Hodgson Burnett has remained a firm favorite with children the world over ever since it made its first appearance. Initially published as a serial story in 1910 in The American Magazine, it was brought out in novel form in 1911.

Well Loved Gardening Reference Books

Recommended by Harriett Magee

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust

This is an encyclopedic guide to planting and pruning techniques, detailing differences among deadheading, cutting back, disbudding, thinning and when/what season and how to apply these techniques. Author also covers design, pests and diseases, staking, and dividing. This 415-page book is well organized, easy to use, and beautifully illustrated with photos.

To suggest a book, click here


Mindfulness in the Garden!

Mindfulness coach Michele Frank Schuckel speaks to Driftwood Garden Club members.

In March 2022, members of the Driftwood Garden Club walked down a different garden path (figuratively!) with our guest speaker Michele Frank Schuckel. Michele, who is a registered nurse, a mindfulness coach, and a master gardener, described gardening as a mindful activity. She touched on the things we can control and the things we can’t control, and gave us useful suggestions to practice. Among the many wellness choices for longevity and health for gardeners, we should strive to cultivate connections; exercise; grow and eat a rainbow of foods; hydrate; and rest.  She says, “feed your plants and your purpose.”

Wellness is health in mind and body. Wellness is having the tools to navigate the ups and downs of life. Wellness is self-compassion, and compassion for others. Wellness is being present in your life.

Ms. Schuckel suggests we all cultivate an attitude of gratitude with ourselves, with each other, and in our gardens!


Residential Design: Try This at Home

At the beginning of the design or redesign of the landscape around your house, take pictures. They will give you a far more accurate perspective of your site than studying it in real time. At the end, keep and catalogue the tags from the plant material installed so you won’t have to guess when adding material to foundation plantings in the future. These were just two of Laura Bibler’s many suggestions for the Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead members attending the February 17 program, Residential Design: Try This at Home.

All Residential Design photos courtesy of Laura Bibler of In the Garden.

Bibler, who started her West Newbury-based business, In the Garden, 22 years ago, attracted 32 attendees to her presentation, including 5 members from the public. A write-up in the print edition of The Marblehead Reporter and a flyer posted by Abbot Library in their foyer likely also helped boost attendance, in addition to ongoing social media postings.

A running theme of the evening was getting a fresh perspective on the existing area and devising a concept, plan, and installation approach that harmonized with the context and physical characteristics of surrounding landscape. For example, the front, back, and two end areas of a typical house will require plants with differing sun and shade tolerance.

President Susan Smith announced to the membership that the upcoming March 14 program, Healthy Gardeners: Mindfulness in the Garden, will be presented live at the library as well as on Zoom. Good news!


Designing Shady Retreats!

Designing a Shady Retreat photo courtesy of Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens.

Many thanks to Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens for the Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead’s well-attended January 2022 presentation on Zoom. Joan’s presentation of ‘Designing Shady Retreats’ has a wealth of ideas for those dappled spots in our yards.

Joan recommends many design techniques:

  • Make a color connection and choose companion plants with similar colors, or use companions on the opposite side of the color wheel.
  • Add balance to the design with fine textures, a variety of plant sizes, and use of solid foliage to offset variegated foliage.
  • Use layering and repetition to draw the eye to a focal point in the garden. Joan says, ‘where the eye leads, the feet will follow.’
  • Include rocks in the garden with a water feature, and to offer seating, and sense of structure.
  • Group plants in masses to be noticed from a distance.
Epimedium “Spring Wedding” photo courtesy of Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens.
Bloodroot “Multiplex” photo courtesy of Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens.

Joan Butler has been an enthusiastic gardener for over 30 years and believes gardens should invite you to linger in the world outside your door.  Please visit Enchanted Garden Design’s website at for additional information on their design, speaking engagements, and guided tours of gardens and nurseries.

Shade border photo courtesy of Joan Butler of Enchanted Gardens.

Ribbons and Bows Oh My!

Armed with ribbons & bows, pinecones, whimsical garnishes, and hot glue guns, members of the Driftwood Garden Club recently decorated 40 fresh balsam wreaths and 15 swags which are donated to the Marblehead Council on Aging. The COA delivers these freshly-festooned greens to local seniors who live alone and enjoy the creative touches of holiday cheer.

Established in 1952 as a volunteer, non-profit organization, the Driftwood Garden Club maintains the Abbot Public Library gardens and provides educational opportunities in gardening and support of the environment, as well as spreading cheer through holiday wreaths to the Council on Aging! 


Winter Wow at the Abbot Library!

Members of the Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead returned to the Abbot Library for our first indoor event since March 2020. Library Director Kim Grad enthusiastically welcomed over 50 DGC members and guests back to the library meeting room. Members enjoyed a lovely assortment of treats provided by hostesses Pal Bickford, Pinar Gokce, and Silte McGlaughlin as everyone chatted and reconnected.

President Susan Smith announced to the membership that Charlene Carpenter, a longtime member of the DGC has been made an Honorary Member for her many contributions to the club. Charlene is our third honorary member. Congratulations Charlene!

Members who could not attend in person were given the option of Zooming in to the presentation part of the meeting, thanks to Kim who helped us use a new piece of library equipment. Six members zoomed in from as far away as New York!

Deborah Trickett from the Captured Garden presented a fabulous talk aptly named “Winter Wow: Beautiful Containers for the Winter Months”. The timing was perfect as Deborah showed slides of some gorgeous containers – just in time for the holidays!

Some of Deborah’s tips include:

  • Try using a theme for your creations: silver and white look amazing!
  • Consider whether your containers will be viewed from afar or close up: here the red twig dogwood branches are arranged close together for impact.
  • Use fresh greens that will last from December till March: noble fir, boxwood, cedar and arborvitae are good choices.
  • Don’t be afraid of accenting with artificial berries or fruit: the birds won’t eat them!

All photos courtesy of Deborah Trinkett at The Captured Garden.


Decorating the King Hooper for the Holidays

The garden clubs of Marblehead decorated the King Hooper Mansion for the holidays. The theme this year is America the Beautiful and the Driftwood Garden Club decorated the Beth Hendricks Room in a Woodland theme.

As always, designers Laurie Boggis, Sue McMullen, and Ginny von Rueden made the trip into Jacobson’s in South Boston in late October to scout out supplies for the new design. Members gathered cedar, arborvitae, japanese holly, boxwood, pinecones, birch bark and rose hips from around town, and then with instruction from Laurie and Ginny spent a fun morning making some very beautiful and surprise decorations. Four new members, Silte McLaughlin, Rose Gould, Cheryl Miller, and Jeanne Robertson joined Barbara Day, Linda Duvel, Judy Conner, Barbie Saraceno, Nancy Davidge and Susan Smith in cutting, arranging, wiring, and gluing everything in place.

Our Woodlands creations were then installed just before Christmas Walk Weekend by our seasoned team: Barbara Day, Linda Duvel, Laurie Boggis, Ginny von Rueden, Susan Smith, Barbie Saraceno, Valerie Evans and Marie Doughman. New to the team this year was Pat Shannon and Silte McGloughlin who both jumped right in. We are so lucky to have this opportunity to show off our skills every year at the Hooper!


Daffodils at Memorial Park

As part of a town-wide garden club initiative organized by the Cottage Gardeners, several members of the Driftwood Garden Club of Marblehead gathered recently at Memorial Park on Pleasant Street to plant over 150 ‘Yellow Trumpet’ daffodils for spring! Led by DGC President Susan Smith, our group was small in number but very efficient at digging holes, trimming plants and placing bulbs. Due to the recent Nor’easter, the soil was rich and moist and we expect a fantastic bloom in the spring!


Putting Your Garden to Bed!

Driftwood Garden Club members gathered for a hands-on demonstration led by landscape architect Kathy Bradford. Hosted in the lovely gardens of Barb and John Tatum, we learned that putting the garden to bed is a gradual process that begins around the end of September and continues right up until the ground freezes in mid to late November. This year is totally different due to all the rain in July and the warm weather in October.

General Winterizing Tasks

  • Transplant: Move perennials that are crowded based on your micro climate & plants.
  • Weed the garden: One final weeding done in September or October will help eliminate hundreds of overwintering seeds that will just be waiting to sprout in spring.
  • Remove debris: Clear fallen leaves and other debris from lawns and beds to decrease the potential for overwintering pests and diseases. Clean, dry leaves (not those from diseased trees or shrubs) can be shredded and used as mulch. Gather leaves and put them through a leaf shredder or simply run over them with a lawnmower with a bag attached. Shredding the leaves prevents them from packing together in layers, and allows for better air circulation and water to flow through.
  • Remove diseased leaves and take to transfer station. Do not put in compost.
  • Guard against deer: When there is little left to eat, deer will eat just about anything. Increase your efforts to protect your plants from deer. Methods include spreading Milorganite and planting deer-resistant plants in front of plants they like to nibble.

When to cut back perennials:

The rule of thumb is: If it’s yellow or brown, cut it down. If it’s green leave it alone.

Perennials to leave uncut for Food Source:

The first task most gardeners consider when preparing the garden for winter is cutting back perennials. While cutting everything to the ground may give the garden a tidy look, wildlife species can make use of many plants in the winter as a natural food source. Gardens with dried fruit and seed heads will provide birds with a reliable food source. Seed-eating songbirds such as finches, sparrows, chickadees, juncos, and jays will feast on the following: Coneflower, Black eye Susan, Joe Pye Weed, Pin Cushion Flower, Sedums, Coreopsis, Evening Primrose, Verbascum (Mullein) Perennial Grasses, Switch grass.

Perennials to leave uncut for Winter Visual Interest:

Beyond providing habitat, limiting fall clean-up can also provide winter interest in the garden. Dried stalks and leaves add a different dimension to the garden once the snow begins to fall. In particular, ornamental grasses add color, movement, and texture to the winter landscape. All perennials left standing for the winter should be cut to the ground 3” tall in the spring before new growth starts.

Perennials to cut:

  • plants that will blacken and turn mushy, like Hosta, Phlox, Veronicas, Geraniums, Liatris, Ferns
  • ones that tend to harbor disease or insects over winter:  Peonies, Bearded Iris and members of the Mint family;
  • those that just don’t provide attractive winter interest or food for birds

When cleaning up the garden, prioritize removing and discarding diseased top growth, but leave healthy seed heads standing.