The New Season Begins

Members of the Garden Club of Irvington began the fall 2015 season with an expert guided tour of Brooklyn Bridge Park by horticultural supervisor Rashid Poulson.



We enjoyed the magnificent views while learning about the park design, plantings, and challenges the staff faces, such as keeping weeds in check during the hot, dry summer.

Rashid, above left, who’s worked at the 85-acre park since 2009, is a graduate of the Million Trees NYC Training Program, a Bloomberg-administration program designed to provide opportunities to inner-city youth. Born and raised in Flatbush, Rashid is one of two supervisors of the horticultural staff. The park itself — in addition to providing a 1.3 mile greenbelt along the East River — has changed New York into a more accessible place for all its citizens, including the kids who play in the fountain sculpture (a temporary exhibit, below, that was being dismantled during our visit) and the teens who play on the the basketball and handball courts and skate and play hockey in the ice rink.



This is a park that even has a book cart and comfortable place to sit and read.


Of course, Garden Club members were most interested in learning about the Park’s seven interconnected ecosystems that provide habitats for wildlife. With the magnificent skyline as a background, we toured paths and viewed woodlands, meadows, marshes and berms, all of which are planted with natives and grown with recycled rainwater and without chemical pesticides.Among the fall plants we enjoyed — several members gathered seeds and small branches for propagating are — were Winged Sumac (Rhus copallina), Mist Flower (Eupatorium coelestinum), Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius), and Montauk Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum). Come to our Garden Fair and Plant Sale on the first Sunday in May and you will surely find offspring of the plants pictured below.
Staghorn SumacMist FlowerBlue Wood AsterDaisiesL1160863Skyline… all of which were viewed, of course, with the East River and Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.

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Filed under Conservation, NY and CT Public Garden Tours

GCI Big Winner in “Kaleidoscope” Annual Meeting Flower Show

Every GCA garden club in New York state was required to enter a mixed planting in the ”Kaleidoscope” class at the GCA Annual Meeting in Rochester: Plants we’d propagated and/or grown in or our gardens composed in a 14″ terra-cotta-colored pot. Each club could choose a color scheme: yellow-orange, pink-red, or blue-purple. GCI chose blue-purple. Starting last September, we approached the project as a club, with members rooting cuttings and planting bulbs. Over the last few weeks, we combed our gardens for blue flowering plants. The harsh winter and late spring didn’t make things easy.
Renee-Anne SM

Renee Shamosh and Anne Myers in Rochester, NY, today with the club’s winning container planting.

However, yesterday, the judges award us a first-place blue ribbon as well as the Rosie Jones Horticulture Award, for:

“An entry of exceptional visual appeal that reflects the spirit of growing with joy and enthusiasm and inspires others to propagate, grow, show and share horticulture.”
The container planting was designed by Ellen Shapiro, Renee Shamosh and Donghai Zhen. Renee contributed phlox, streptocarpus, evolvulus, forget-me-nots, and ‘super blue’ pericallis. Ellen contributed wood hyacinths and blue chalk fingers Club president Susan Weisenberg contributed bearded irises, the centerpiece of the arrangement. Also adding to the arrangement were plants contributed Bunny Bauer, Deb Flock, Nora Galland, Cena Hampden, and Anne Myers: the Cape primrose, comfrey, dwarf blue cypress, amsonia, and forget-me-nots, respectively.
The entry was accompanied by the following key card, indicating to show visitors the botanical and common names of the plants and their relative position in the container.
GCI BlueContainerKeyCard



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Filed under Garden Club Flower Show Categories, Horticulture, Zone III Events

A Visit from the Expert

Beth Hickman

Last month, in preparation for the Garden Club of America’s Annual Meeting Flower Show in Rochester, May 18-20, GCA Zone III (New York) Horticulture Representative Elizabeth D. Hickman spoke to our club. She demonstrated how to choose, display and groom plants for horticulture exhibits at the show.

Here, Beth is critiquing members’ plants, describing how they should be groomed in order to be “passed” or allowed to be displayed in the competition. For example, in addition to no evidence of insects or disease, there can be no brown edges or yellowed leaves. She noted that some of the members’ plants were imbalanced, too leggy, needed fertilization, or were displayed in containers that clashed with the plant rather than enhancing it.

She also spoke about how to cut stems for display in glass bottles. Here are her cutting and conditioning tips that will help keep plant material looking fresh after two or three days, not dried and wrinkled:

1. Cut stems in the coolest part of the day, out of direct sunlight; early in the morning or near sunset is best.
2. Cut the stems at an angle for maximum surface.
3. Split the ends of woody-stemmed flowers or branches. For flowers that bleed milky juices, like euphorbia and poppies, pass the cut end through a flame to seal the cut.
4. Make sure the bottle is filled to the top with room-temperature water (see more details in our article on cut stems under the “Horticulture Tips from GCI” tab.)

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Filed under Horticulture

Tour the O’Hara Nature Center with the Garden Club


On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at 11 a.m., Maureen DePaoli, assistant to the Village of Irvington Superintendent of Parks and Recreation and GCI past president Barbara Defino will provide an overview of the Center’s history and programs and give a tour of the gardens, weather permitting. IHS Senior/Girl Scout Amy Friendlander will speak about the Center’s educational materials. Guests of members are welcome to join us at 170 Mountain Road.

For more information about the O’Hara Nature Center, please visit the Village of Irvington site.


Filed under GCA Events, Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Rivertowns Westchester NY

25 Years of Conserving and Beautifying Central Park

Sara Cedar Miller, photographer and historian of the Central Park Conservancy gave a visual presentation on the 25-year renaissance of Central Park, illustrated with her magnificent photographs.

Co-presented by The Garden Club of Irvington and the Irvington Historical Society, this event included a book signing and reception.

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Filed under Garden History and Design, Irvington Garden Club Events, Nature Photography

A Rose Grows in Harlem

Stephen Scanniello is the 2013 recipient of the GCA Jane Righter Rose Medal.  His latest book, A Rose By Any Other Name, was the seed for the Heritage Rose District of NY City, an all-volunteer project that has grown to include more than 1,500 heritage roses planted throughout Harlem in 35 different gardens. He works with children and adults throughout Harlem bringing back roses that grew in Manhattan when the only inhabitants were Native Americans.
Stephen will talk about the Heritage Rose District of NYC and his other rose preservation projects.


Guests and the public are invited to join us for his talk at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21, at the Irvington Public Library.

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Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events

“Candy in the Garden” with Kent Russell

Celebrity gardener Kent Russell recently educated and entertained Garden Club members with ideas and inspiration to create eye-catching drama in any garden setting.


Kent Russell demonstrates the long-blooming qualities of Abuliton “Biltmore Ball Garden.”

“The perfect garden has a little bit of everything in it,” said Kent. He served up his “Candy in the Garden” presentation with verve and humor and illustrated his points and anecdotes with a wide assortment of live plant materials (available for sale afterwards). He re-introduced Garden Club members to fancy leaved geraniums, including “Vancouver Centennial” and “Crystal Palace.” Don’t water them and pinch for beautiful new growth, he admonished. “Geraniums hate moisture!” And he got everyone to fall in love with Abuliton, a type of flowering maple, especially “Biltmore Ball Garden.” He advised, “Treat it as an annual, out on the patio or porch. It blooms all summer and it’s easy to make cuttings. Then bring it in at it will flower all winter on a sunny windowsill.”

Kent was “The Garden Guru” on PBS and is listed as a preferred speaker by the Garden Club of America. “I was born with a silver trowel in his hand,” he says, beginning his life in horticulture at his family’s nursery, Russell Gardens, in Bucks County, PA, where he is still based. Kent designs gardens and container plantings for clients throughout the East Coast.

The program, at the Irvington Public Library, was free and open to the public.

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Filed under Horticulture, Irvington Garden Club Events, Irvington NY, Plant Sale, Rivertowns Westchester NY