June 12, 2013

Company's Coming!

I am told that, in a different era, becoming a member of a garden club was not simply a matter of filling out an application and paying some dues.  There was an "applicants’ review committee" that went out and inspected the prospective member’s garden.  Notes were taken.  Discussions were held.  And, only if the garden showed exceptional dedication was a prospective member approved.  Those days have gone by the boards, of course.  Today, no one inspects your garden.  What a silly idea! 
The xeric garden is the first thing that
visitors see when they come to the
house.  That's baptisia and peonies
blooming in the background.
Then why was I out re-edging our driveway this morning and sweeping it clean? 
The reason is that two garden-club-related groups are coming to our home this week.  And Betty wants the garden to look its best.  Call it a matter of taking pride in your garden and wanting to make certain it reflects what she says when she talks about gardening to other groups.
The right-hand side of the xeric
garden (foreground) and shrub bed.
The deutzia and fothergilla are
in bloom (double-click any image
for a better look)
By way of background, last week Betty was installed as the First Vice President of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts.  In two years, she will become the Federation’s president.  Anyone who thinks that being an officer of a state garden club federation is an honorific with no responsibilities needs to re-think what garden clubs do in the 21st Century. 
Walking up the driveway, visitors
see the two shade beds on the left.
For the past two years (as Second Vice President) Betty has had responsibility for two ‘big’ issues:  insurance and 501(c)(3) eligibility.  The latter consumed several hundred hours of her time.  The state garden club federation is a registered non-profit.  And, each individual club in the state (192 at last count) can choose to come under the state’s um-
This is the inner and outer sidewalk
beds are they appeared this morning.
It is a riot of peonies, irises, amsonia,
and geraniums.
brella.  Betty’s job was to patiently guide Massachusetts garden clubs through the process and to make certain that her charges did not end up running afoul of the IRS (which sometimes seemed to take delight in making small clubs fill out voluminous paperwork for no particularly good reason).  Betty excelled at her job.  At the state garden club conference last week, I watched several club presidents and treasurers express their appreciation for her efforts.

Detail of the outer sidewalk
bed.  From front to back,
huechera, amsonia, yellow
and blue iris, and a dwarf
Japanese maple.
As First Vice President, Betty’s new responsibilities include overseeing District Directors (‘DD’, to keep things simple).  DDs are the link among clubs in neighboring towns and with the Federation.  It’s hard work but actually a fun job, and Betty's goal is to have them all hit the ground running.  Lunch at our home seemed like a great way to introduce everyone to their new responsibilities.
This afternoon, the new crop of DDs are coming to our home for lunch.  My job, as principal undergardener, has been to make certain the that garden is ship shape and Bristol fashion, with all the beds freshly edged and mulched, and the ‘million dollar edge’ laid down on our 230-foot-long driveway using a tool that is right out of another century but that makes a great first impression as people walk up to the house.

A portion of the rock
garden at the rear of the
The accompanying photos show the garden as it looks today (June 11).  It has been very wet and cool for the past week, so perennials such as peonies, irises and baptisia are sticking around far longer than usual, while the ‘yellow’ flowers of summer (heleopsis, helianthus) are still budding up.  The containers Betty planted at the beginning of May are not nearly as lush as they would usually be at this point in June, but they’re attractive all the same.

There is no formal tour planned as part of the luncheon, but most of the group has heard about the garden and it is nice to be prepared.


  1. Bravo to the Vice President and her Principal Undergardener!

    Our deutzia plants are also blooming nicely this week, and have a story of their own to tell. If the rains of yesterday haven't destroyed them, I'll snap a photo and later share a link.

  2. Neal, as always your garden looks splendid.I especially love the inner and outer sidewalk beds.The shade beds are an inspiration. Your guests are in for a treat.