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    After a very busy summer and fall, your president is ready for a change of pace.  For me, that means that I won’t be weeding and deadheading and digging but I will be reading and listening to lectures.  I am grateful to several garden clubs who have let me virtually attend some of the excellent speakers their clubs hosted. 
   Late this fall I was invited to participate in National Garden Clubs’ “Home for the Holidays” Zoom special.  I hope I did Maine proud by taking my iPhone into wild areas when I collected winterberries and sumac and cut balsam fir.  I demonstrated how to make a wreath using recycled cardboard (what my mother called “the Aroostook County method”).  I also showed the flowers I dried to use at my church.  I learned a great deal about videography, and I hope viewers enjoyed seeing a little bit about Maine holiday traditions.  I enjoyed seeing the other segments from Argentina, Arizona, California, South Carolina and the White House.  If you’d like to be on the NGC invitation list, subscribe to their free online newsletter:
   If you are feeling cooped up by another pandemic winter, or by the weather, remember the many opportunities available on Zoom.  This is a chance to hear garden lectures without traveling outside your home.  We also have a GCFM series in January (see article in this newsletter). Some topics may not have the broad appeal of a typical garden club lecture but will be very useful for interested members.  The link for the fall conference lecture is also still available.  Ask your president if you misplaced it. 
   If you are more interested in reading, watch for the new GCFM horticulture newsletter.  This is Maine’s version of a newsletter the Maryland Federation has (one of my Foothills club members is also in a club in Maryland and sent it to me). 
   Winter may also be the time for housecleaning.  Our officers (club and state) may have boxes passed on by predecessors full of historical treasures and not so useful items.  Using the guidance provided by a committee from Longfellow Garden Club (which is associated with Maine Historical Society) and an archivist from Bar Harbor Garden Club, this could be the perfect time to sort and reduce the amount of things in those boxes and preserve what is useful for the future.  The guidance documents were distributed to club presidents and the GCFM board.
   I look forward to our day at CMBG and our convention.  I thank the volunteers who are making these events and everything else at GCFM happen.  From our club programs to this GCFM newsletter, from the archival advice to Zoom, and everything in-between, it is all the result of hard-working volunteers. 
   The depths of winter are a time for gardeners to revitalize for the coming season.  This may include thinking about gardens and making plans for the coming season, or may involve a complete change of scene.  To all of you, make the best of your winter.  Spring awaits around the corner.  Harriet

   Zoom is making possible a GCFM January lecture series.  Please get the RSVP link from your president if any of these topics interest you. They will be at 4:00 pm on Wednesdays.  We are also inviting members from New Hampshire and Vermont. 
   On January 5, NGC (National Garden Clubs) leadership chairman Robin Pokorski will give the inspirational talk she gave at the NGC fall conference.  If you are a club officer or on a nominating committee, or are interested in leadership, please attend.  Robin has a down to earth style that pulls listeners in with her positive attitude and practical ideas.  Robin is from California.  Zoom is making possible something we probably would not otherwise have a chance to hear. 
   Photographer Arabella Dane from New Hampshire is presenting two lectures, one on what makes a good photograph (January 12) and a second on editing photos using a free app Snapseed (January 26).  If you take photographs and are not always happy with your results, or just want to take your photography to the next level, please sign up. This will be an expanded version of the lecture Arabella gave at the New England meeting this past fall. 
   On January 19, Irene Barber from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens will present a program on the research and educational aspects of the botanical garden.  There is a lot more going on there than beautiful display gardens!  This lecture will inspire us to attend the day at CMBG that Horticulture Chairman Katy Gannon-Janelle is planning on Monday, May 23, for all interested GCFM members.  (More information and registration for this event will be in the next newsletter, but please save the date).


   Responses to the recent GCFM survey indicate that some members would like more information on how to garden in Maine.  One way we are addressing this interest is through a free monthly horticulture emailed newsletter.  This newsletter is not intended to replace professional advice but will provide information from experienced GCFM gardeners.  The first issue will be sent to all presidents to distribute to their club members.  Subscription information will be in the first issue; future issues will be sent directly to subscribers.  
   Horticulture Chairman Katy Gannon-Janelle and Survey Chairman Nancy Atwell are delighted that Tom Atwell has agreed to be the editor of this new venture.  Take a look at the newsletter when you receive it and see if it meets your needs.


   "Gardening without Kneeling:
Using troughs and raised beds to create beautiful landscapes" will be the topic of Joseph Tychonievich, our featured speaker at the 2022 GCFM Annual Convention, speaking at our dinner on June 15th.  Organic Garden Magazine has named him “one of six young horticulturalists who are helping to shape how America gardens”.  Joseph is a writer, plant breeder, and passionate lover of plants.  He gardens in his South Bend, Indiana yard.  And in a friend's yard.  And with lights in the basement.  He pretends that this is necessary research to write his books and magazine articles about gardening.  Thankfully his husband accepts this, and the unpredictable deluges of vegetables he grows, with grace.  Joseph is the author of several books including "The Comic Book Guide to Growing Food: Step-by-Step Vegetable Gardening for Everyone" and "Rock Gardening: Reimagining a Classic Style".  (See one of his cartoons below.)  He is the editor of the North American Rock Garden Society quarterly journal.  Visit him at  
   Registration materials for the Convention will be available at the end of January on the GCFM website.  This material will also have information on making hotel reservations at the Sheraton Sable Oaks in South Portland.  (Submitted by GCFM Convention Chairman Karen Rea, GCFM 2nd VP and member of the Longfellow Garden Club)


(EDITOR'S NOTE:  Arabella Dane has submitted an article about different methods, apps, and filters she used to create a completely different "look" for a photo of Portland Head Light.  She briefly discussed this project at the New England Garden Club's Annual Meeting in Wells in October.)  It was a warm sunny afternoon when we arrived at Fort Williams Park in Portland, Maine.  Fog swirled around the rocky point, obscuring the busy harbor, creating an ever-changing vignette around the lighthouse.  Surf relentlessly pounded the cliffs and the autumn blooming plants and Rosa rugosas were gloriously colorful. Using my iPhone, I included sea and shore in several images and then concentrated on just capturing the lighthouse.  Using both Snapseed and Lightroom, I processed my original image, cropping and straightening it (1st photo).  Using various sliders to get the effect I wanted, I thought I was done… and THEN… I remembered camera club’s topic for this week was ‘monochrome and/or creative’ and I needed at least one image.  So, I reworked the image (at right), using Nik Software Silver Effects Pro’s filters, converting the image to black & white.  That was a disaster!  The entire foreground went dark and muddy, requiring re-cropping the image, and lightening the foreground plants to restore detail. Then I selected one of the sepia filters.  This did the trick, giving the image a totally different mood from the original.
   Afterwards, using filters from two smart phone apps (Mextures and Distressed) I achieved an entirely different feeling, by sending the image back and forth between my laptop applications and iPhone via "Airdrop", working on the image until satisfied.  What do you think after looking at the image (below)?  The final version was created from the versions above with filters from iPhone apps Mextures and Distressed added.


   The final two sessions of both the beginning and the advanced classes of floral design, taught by members of Maine's Judges Council, are scheduled for January 12 and February 9.  If you haven't already signed up ahead of time for the entire series of classes, you can still attend by paying $10 per class.  The Registration Form is found on the HOME PAGE of our GCFM website by clicking this link
   The beginner's class for January is a Functional Table Design, creating a breakfast table for one person.  The February class will be a Creative Design, featuring a table centerpiece for your Valentine.  The advanced class for January is to create a Still Life Design with the theme "What to do with Life After Covid".  The February class will be a centerpiece, in the student's choice of design and components, with the theme "For my Valentine."   All sessions are held in Falmouth at St. Mary's Church, 43 Foreside Road.  The advanced group meets at 10:00 a.m. and the beginner's group meets at 1:00 p.m.  For more information contact Marilyn Traiser by clicking this link.


(EDITOR'S NOTE:  January is usually a slow month for news.  We did, however, receive a few submissions from clubs passing along what they were doing to help their communities celebrate the Christmas holidays.  Those clubs who sent in articles and/or photos are featured below.)


   Longfellow Garden Club has continued their monthly meetings this fall and is looking forward to winter programming and presentations!  Monitoring CDC guidelines, we have been meeting in person this fall and will move to Zoom again if recommended.  We are looking forward to sharing our favorite gardening books and magazines in January, watching the Beatrix Farrand film “The Life and Gardens of Beatrix Farrand” in February and having Kim Payne share her work in the restoration of the gardens on Eagle Island located off Harpswell.  It has been wonderful to continue our monthly meetings in person and on Zoom during these last couple of years.  (Article and photo submitted by Longfellow Garden Club President Deborah Peck)


   Several members of the Camden Garden Club met on Monday morning, October 18th to prepare the Camden Village Green for winter. Seasonally, the club coordinates the monthly maintenance of the border beds wrapping the Village Green. Throughout spring and summer, and into the fall, the wide borders are weeded, raked, and pruned by the club.
   The club combines efforts with the Town of Camden to beautify the Village Green and other public green spaces in Camden. In addition to providing a service to the community, the civic projects of the club provide enriching opportunities for the community to come together. The club welcomes any new members to join its work days and enjoy the company of its members.
   On November 3rd and 10th, members gathered at the American Legion Hall to make bows and assemble the fresh balsam wreaths now lining Elm and Main Streets lampposts in Camden this holiday season (photo above).  Since the 1950s, the Club has provided holiday decorations for the town. The tradition of fresh balsam wreaths adorned with puffy red bows and lights began in 1971 and this year marks its 50th year. 
   The Club has purchased the fresh balsam fir wreaths from Evergreen Farms in Damariscotta for over seven years using funds raised during the Club’s Annual Garden Tour. Members attending the consecutive Wednesday work sessions contributed over 100 volunteer hours to handcraft red velvet bows and wire multiple strings of lights to the wreaths. The Camden Public Works Department installed the wreaths on November 10th, shortly after the Club assembled all 98 wreaths currently on display in downtown Camden. 
   Since 1915, the Club has provided thousands of blooming flower baskets and lighted, decorated wreaths that adorn the downtown lampposts seasonally, adding to the magic of Camden.  (Article and photo submitted by Heidi Glaubitz, member of the Camden Garden Club's Media Liaison, Publicity & Communications Committee) 


   Nine new members of the Camden Garden Club attended the traditional New Member Coffee on Friday morning, October 15th at the home of Membership Chair Karen Cease along with the Executive Board and other members. The event, typically hosted annually, coincided with a beautiful sunny fall day and honored new members joining in 2021, and also members who had joined just before or during the pandemic as the 2020 event was canceled.
   Those in attendance were warmly welcomed and treated with delicious refreshments and coffee provided by Karen and Club Board members. During the event, new Club members David Kibbe, Edith Cohen, Elisabeth Cohen, Elizabeth Grey, Carol Dennis, Vicki Mast, Cayla Mäki-Pittman, Heidi Glaubitz and Joan Herzog were introduced and able to share some of what motivated them to join the Club.  Several of the new members will be sharing their knowledge at upcoming 2022 meetings on topics such as “Permaculture for Every Garden,” “Un-Wilding the Urban Environment,” as well as “Climate Change and the Science and Consequences for our Natural World.”  After an enjoyable morning socializing, each new member received specially selected bulbs for fall planting as a welcome gift.  (Article and photo submitted by Heidi Glaubitz, member of the Camden Garden Club's Media Liaison, Publicity & Communications Committee)
                           New Members of the Camden Garden Club.

   In November, the Foreside Garden Club enjoyed an evening of creating decorative lanterns for the holiday season!  (Photo submitted by Kathy Nadeau, Foreside Garden Club Program Chairman)    


   The Harpswell Garden Club was busy in December, brightening the days of many older residents in their town, by creating Christmas mugs for members of Harpswell Aging at Home (HAH).  The club gathered greens and other assorted decorations to put together about 50 mugs which were then given to seniors along with home cooked meals donated by volunteers who cook meals on a regular basis for HAH.  Just a few days earlier three members – Becky Gallery, Judy Stallworth, and Suzanne Bushnell – spent a brisk morning decorating the outside of the Pejepscot Historical Society building and the Joshua Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick with festive wreaths.  The club has assisted with this endeavor for many years, splitting the cost of the wreaths with the Pejepscot Historical Society.  Finally, members joined together with other members of the community at Centennial Hall to ring in Christmas with the lighting of the Christmas tree.  The club will take January off before beginning their winter Zoom meetings in February.  (Article and photo submitted by Harpswell Garden Club member Suzanne Bushnell)


   On November 20th, 2021, as part of the Boothbay Early Bird holiday sale tradition, the Boothbay Region Garden Club presented our first Winter Market on Boothbay Common.  Due to continued Covid concerns and restrictions, we chose to do an outdoor Winter Market this year to replace our traditional indoor Festival of Trees. 
   First and foremost, the weather cooperated and we enjoyed a bright sunny day.  Our market was festive with Christmas trees for sale -- both decorated and undecorated, lighted tents with red tablecloths, and many items to sell at each tent.  We also served up hot beverages that kept everyone a bit warmer. 
   A steady flow of shoppers stopped by and our frozen foods and decorated wreaths sold out quickly.  Items in all our shops were scooped up throughout the day and even more during our last hour 1/2 price sale. 
   The members of our Winter Market Committee went above and beyond in assuring that every detail was organized, planned and well implemented.  Our members answered our call by providing: baked goods for Santa's Sweet Shop; frozen meals -- a new offering this year; donations to our shops ETC, On Table and Mantle, and Nature’s Gifts; making financial donations to our club for the event; spreading the word; working in our shops throughout the day; and setting up tents and taking them down.
   The Boothbay Region Garden Club continues our rich history in our community as we continue our fundraising goals while enhancing the quality of life for each other and for our community.  We are resilient, we are resourceful and what we do matters.  (Article and photo submitted by Boothbay Region Garden Club President Gloria Wakefield)



   Why are we so late to get on the bandwagon?  Back around 2002 may have been the first time British garden expert and then-host of “Gardener’s World” Alan Titchmarsh began talking of the need to switch to peat-free compost.  Beginning in 2024, it will be illegal to sell any compost or soils containing peat in the UK.  Why?  Is it really such a big deal?  YES.  And we here in the U.S. need to wake up and do our part as well.
   Peat bogs are the most efficient land-based storage areas of carbon on the planet.  They sequester three times as much carbon as forests do! They also are unique biomes, home to many rare and endangered species of plants, animals, and insects.
   According to Irene Barber, Adult Ed Program Manager at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, “Peat is a remarkable substrate.  It serves many benefits to the nursery and landscape industry; however, its number one benefit is far more important than for commercial and hobby gardeners' uses.  It's the function of sequestering methane and carbon, therefore supporting mammal and animal survival on earth.”
   So why the heck are we digging up this valuable resource?  Is it really that important an additive to our soils?  Mike Skillin, at Skillins Greenhouses says, “In general, I do find peat (a traditional gardening soil amendment) to be very difficult to work with.  It takes forever to wet it, then once wet takes forever to dry, then once dry it becomes compact like a piece of cement.  Other than that, it is terrific!”  Kidding aside, we really don’t need it.  Coir, a coconut husk fiber and very renewable resource, is an easy substitute.  As gardeners we are front line environmentalists and need to do our part.  That isn’t easy since commercial composts without peat are still hard to find in this country.  But we can make our voices heard, and demand more commercial products drop the peat.
   To that end, the Master Gardeners of Cumberland County have developed a committee to explore the subject.  It’s Chair, Tom Witwicki, writes “The Peat Free Committee has three main goals. 1) Educate Maine gardeners and the general public about the problems of using horticultural peat and try to create a demand for non-peat products.  2) Research and trial peat alternatives for various horticultural uses: potting mixes, plant starting, soil blocks, soil conditioning.  3) Go peat free for our annual Spring Plant Sale.”  At that sale the MGs also plan to sell their own peat-free mix, made with coir, perlite and leaf compost.  This is a great start, and something our clubs can think of doing as well.
   Peat-free products are difficult to find on the market in this country, so we need to do our part to create demand, and make sure our garden centers know we want them on their shelves.  They will pass those demands on to their suppliers.  So, talk to your fellow gardeners and your nursery folks.
   I will leave the final word on the subject to Irene Barber, who sums it up best.  “Peat bogs are not to be fooled with, rather they need to be protected and preserved.” 
Peat-free and available on the market now:
   Frey Group Soils 
  Organic Mechanics
  Coast of Maine has one in the works but not yet available 
(Submitted by GCFM Horticulture Chairman Katy Gannon-Janelle, member of the St. Mary's Garden Club)     


   The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts will host Flower Show School Course II from April 12-14, 2022, at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Milford, MA.  This is a great opportunity to learn more about growing, staging, exhibiting and judging flower shows from judges from around New England.  If you're interested in more information, contact Ruth Gorman by clicking this link.  The Registration Form can be found on the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts website by clicking this link to their education page.


   After such a wet fall, mushrooms abounded in many of our yards.  In Harpswell, some interesting clusters were found in various locations.  Two of our eagle-eye members decided to take photos to see if anyone could help identify what they were.  If you know, contact GCFM Newsletter Editor Suzanne Bushnell by clicking this link.  The top photo was taken by Becky Gallery and the bottom photo was taken by Lauren Griffiths.

(EDITOR'S NOTE:  The winter months can be slow for news.  If you have news or events to share about your club for our newsletter, contact Suzanne Bushnell by clicking this link.  Our next issue is March, 2022.   The deadline for any articles will be February 20th.  If you have photos to share for the GCFM Facebook page, send them to Kathleen Marty by clicking this link and attaching your photos.  Please identify your event with any photos sent.  


January 5       Zoom Workshop on Leadership
 January 7       Deadline for Youth Award applications 

January 12     Zoom Photography Workshop Part 1
January 19     Zoom Session on CMBG Plant Research 
January 26     Zoom Photography Workshop Part 2  


Harriet Robinson
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