Seven members of the Open Gate Garden Club enjoyed a garden club field trip including a lunch together and an afternoon at the recent Home and Garden Show in Columbus where anything blooming was a treat.
Those in attendance were Lexie Burfield, Joy Culler, Carolyn Gibson, Patricia Kelley, Barbara Myers, Arnette Simpson and Judy Wessel along with one guest, Miriam Mansour.
Tuberous begonias were used in many of the garden landscapes, however, hellebore was one of the favorite plants of several of the garden club members. There are more than 20 species of this herbaceous or evergreen flowering perennial plant. Despite common names such as “lenten rose” or “winter rose” hellebores are not related closely to the rose family. This plant flowers in winter and early spring. There are several standard species especially those where the greenish-purple flowers grow on the stems under leaves.
However, at the Home and Garden Show, members were introduced to some hybrids with a wider variety of colors above the dark green evergreen foliage. Some of the hybrids now have double and anemone-centered flowers. If you are looking for another spring flowering perennial that likes shade and is frost resistant check out the beautiful varieties of hellebores at your local garden center, or better yet, get a start from a gardening friend.
Rhododendrons and azaleas with their large showy flowers were used in many exhibits; however, they do not grow well in our area because our soil is too alkaline. These shrubs would be a poor choice for novice gardeners and generally require special care by experienced gardeners.
An interesting plant found in one of the gardens was the cephalanthus occidentalis, commonly known as buttonbush. This deciduous shrub or small tree is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family. Not too common in this area, so interesting to see the buttonbush in a garden setting at the Home and Garden Show.
As gardeners, out-of-the-box ideas are always a special treat. Garden club members mentioned the use of a large tropical plant, such as aloe, agave, large cactus, or colorful croton as a focal point in a flowerbed or container, surrounded by more common colorful annual or perennials. The large tropical plant can be potted up as a house plant during our winters. This was one example of something we don’t commonly think to do in our own landscapes which makes a big impact statement.
Labeling of plant materials is important to most gardeners. An interesting out-of-the-box idea for labeling was the use of beer bottles with plant names placed on labels and the bottles placed on their side to display the label. Valcro was used to attach the bottles to vertical stakes. These were found in the German themed garden. This creative idea was a real show-stopper, but might not work in every landscape.
Another out-of-the-box idea was the use of colorful plastic mugs filled with a single plant each and attached to a fence. Looked great, but most garden club members decided we wouldn’t want to water each mug individually to keep the plants looking great. This idea might be interesting to try on a smaller scale on a patio.
Some of the Open Gate Garden Club members attended lectures/seminars during the afternoon. One speaker on “Container Gardening” was our own Madison County OSU Extension Educator Mary Griffith. She discussed types of soil for containers and using large enough containers for the number of plants. She touched on a simple recipe for eye-catching containers using a “thriller,” “spillers” and “fillers” attributed to Steve Silk of Fine Gardening fame.
This is an unbeatable formula for beautiful containers. The recipe is simple. Start with a “thriller,” a centerpiece plant, something big, bold and beautiful. Choose a tall, upright plant with color or intriguing shape. Then add foliage or flowering plants that complement but don’t overwhelm the main feature plant. These are the “fillers.” These plants need to add mass to the container. Finally, add plants that tumble out of the pot, the “spillers,” that soften the edges and tumble toward the ground. Using this recipe, you are sure to have a beautiful container this summer.
Another lecture attended by some of the garden club members was on “Extending the Growing Season.” Row covers, using taller plants to shade lower growing ones and succession planting, such as radishes followed by lettuce were discussed.
The Madison County Open Gate Garden Club is a volunteer nonprofit organization with around two dozen members. The members of the organization value preserving our nature resources for the betterment of our community, our world and ourselves, the therapeutic properties of interacting with nature, the beauty of flowers, gardens and people, and recognize and value creativity.
The next regular meeting of the Open Gate Garden Club will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 1 at the Central Township Fire Station in Newport. Program speaker will be Pamela Bennett, OSU Associate Professor and Director of Ohio Master Gardener Volunteers and co-author of “Garden-pedia.” The title of her presentation is “Darn, I Wish I Knew That — Avoid These Top Gardening Mistakes.” Guests are welcome. For more information call 740-852-1422.
Article submitted by Judy Wessel.