1. January 2015 Newsletter



Leslie Shields

25 Johnson Avenue,

Plainville, CT 06062

(860) 747-8175



Ellen Bender

25 Lanz Lane

Ellington, CT 06029

(860) 871-8085



Art Bruce

381 Hartford Ave

Wethersfield, CT 06109


Corresponding Secretary and

Newsletter Coordinator:

Rose Riley

108 Church Street,

Wethersfield, CT 06109

(860) 721-0547 Rosekriley@sbcglobal.net

Recording Secretary and Membership Director:

Mary Anna Knowlton Martel

4 Sunnieside Court, Waterford, CT 06385



Christa Sywenkyj

769 Ridge Road

Wethersfield, CT 06109



                1. Sylvia Correia

6 Johnnie Court

Ledyard, CT 06339

860-464-9995 sylviacorreia@comcast.ne

Web coordinator:

Judy Denberg

27 Stony Brook Drive

Marlborough, CT 06447




Well, we have passed the Solstice and the days are getting longer and the sun is getting stronger. The winter is not over but we can see the other side. The catalogs are arriving in an avalanche and the time seems to disappear as I sit with a highlighter in hand, going through them. For me no seed catalogs though and no real veggie garden this year. I have to cut back somewhere.

Speaking of gardening, I have been weeding: going through the membership lists looking for those who have not renewed their membership. Before you panic and wonder if that is you. I have already sent out 2 letters to those who have yet to do so. We are putting a membership form in this newsletter, in case a friend would like to join. I will be going through the list with MaryAnna and Rose, and we will be removing people who have not renewed.

I am really excited about what Ellen has planned for us; a workshop on propagating wildflowers in a beautiful new space, an incredible speaker and plantsman that we are remarkably luck to get, learning about bonsai with unconventional plants that can come inside the house (not in the basement) for the winter, a trip to a great conifer garden and nursery, and a picnic in one of the most beautiful shade gardens around. Leslie

Helleborus ‘Joseph’

Pachysandra procumbens: the Allegheny Spurge

Allegheny Spurge is Pachysandra procumbens. Pachysandra, yes. But not the clichéd ground-covering Asian pachysandra planted too often in too many landscapes. But whereas many if not most Asian counterparts tend to edge out our native woodlanders on the beauty scale Allegheny Spurge countermands this usual assessment. I became enamored of Allegheny Spurge the first time I espied it at the New York Botanic Garden. Large clumps of it in late autumn had picked up some rusty tones; still the dense clumps were alluring and partly so because of the cool weather color.

Allegheny Spurge is a wonderful species with April pinkish-white bottle brush flowers at the soil surface followed by handsome broad-fingered leaves arranged in a whorl at the tops of leaf stems. Different forms, discussed below, change color and patterns through the year but tend to be entirely matte-finish medium green in summer. The flat affect is due to the tiniest dense carpet of hairs on the leaves which are barely distinguishable. Autumn brings kaleidoscopic silver and brown leaf mottling especially in sun in the north. The foliage is evergreen on this clumping perennial with slow spread.


'Forest Green' is a selected Allegany Spurge with leaf whorls slightly larger than the species. The stems holding the whorl of leaves at the tiptops are more uniform in height creating a more even carpet of foliage. This cultivar, though not often seen, has been available for a while.

We, at Quackin' Grass, have been honored by Richard Lighty and Mt. Cuba Center, a remarkable botanic garden in Maryland, to offer the following two of these for the first time, 'Spring Gold' and 'Silver Streak'...


'Spring Gold' is a sport of 'Forest Green' with a soft golden spring foliage color which gradually becomes greener as the season progresses. Richard Lighty graciously shared with us a delightful bit of history, “When the Magnolia Society met in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area a few years back (maybe more than a few! Time changes as you age!), they visited Sally's and my Garden, Springwood, in Kennett Square, PA. As everyone was boarding the bus, one of the nurserymen members asked me if he could have a piece of a yellow sport he had seen in a planting of Pachysandra procumbens 'Forest Green' in my little nursery. I said, Oh that. I had seen it and dismissed it as having been the result of my [having been] careless with Roundup. He said "I don't think so! So we went back and quickly dug a piece. I continued to watch it and became convinced that it was a true mutation.”


'Silver Streak' is a lovely selection with a difference. All leaves are imbued with beautiful silver mottling and speckling. Leaves erupt dark green and remain so during the growing season. It is in the cooler days of autumn when the silver mottling emerges and becomes evident against the green backdrop. The silver-on-green holds steady through the winter. The color in the leaves is light and bright and a real departure from the liver-spotting mottling found in other selections making 'Silver Streak' distinct. First spied at Mt. Cuba Center, found in a planting of unknown origin, 'Silver Streak' came our way from Professor Jon Lehrer with the assent of Jeanne Frett. And we thank Jeanne Frett from Mt. Cuba Center who gave us the green light to offer this marvel to you.


'Pixie' is a rare dwarf. According to Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina 'Pixie' is one-half to one-third the size of the straight species and form a more refined plant. Typical bottle brush flowers occur at ground level. The foliage then arises to about 4 inches in height and after many years the spread of the plant will be 12 or so inches in diameter. It was originally espied at Holden Arboretum in Ohio. It's still rare in the trade... we're looking for it!

The native range of Pachysandra procumbens is from West Virginia to Louisiana and east to Florida. And though from haunts more southerly than our own with USDA hardiness to climate zone 9 it is, nevertheless, a doer for us in much of New England. Plants of northern provenance may harbor genetics which insure survivability to -25F, zone 4b. Part sun to open shade will suffice though in fertile, moisture retaining organic soils where it is most content it will tolerate even more sun. In these conditions its evergreen display will be a kaleidoscope of pale rusty brown, silvery green and liver spotting that makes this clumping to slow-spreading perennial a spectacular addition to the garden, even in winter. Might you not consider Pachysandra procumbens in your design scheme? Dig in and have fun.

Wayne Paquette 9.22.2014

Quackin' Grass Nursery



January 28, 2015: Sigrun Gadwa

Native Gardening Opportunities: Lessons from Natural Plant Communities”

Concerned that the landscaping norm in suburban New England is ecologically impoverished and harmful to waterways, one may try to use native plants and minimize fertilized lawn in one’s own garden - and try to change the prevailing mindset by example and communication. But this is not so easy! Many people who were initially open to the idea of wildflowers in their yard, tried, unsuccessfully to establish a meadow with mixes available from local retail stores, with species from Texas , California, and the Midwest. Sigrun Gadwa’s presentation will draw on an in depth knowledge of the ecological conditions of the different native vegetation communities in Connecticut to recommend attractive and hardy native species for a different types of yards. Various ground covers and shrubs could be adapted to home landscaping, though most are not - or are barely - currently available. However, this can only happen on a significant scale if a seed collection and propagation program can be developed in this state. She will explain why uncommon native species are genetically at risk, from small, fragmented populations, and also from interbreeding with out-of-state nursery stock. Turning Devil’s advocate, she’ll make the case that if one carefully evaluates the circumstances, sometimes, naturalization of non-native species - or even state-listed invasive species – may in fact be ecologically beneficial.

The threat of over-enrichment with nutrients will be discussed, in the home landscape, as competing weeds and grasses outcompete native species, and also in natural ecosystems. Headwater streams with high nutrient loads from fertilizer and septic leachate, cause rank growth of competing plants like cattail and Phragmites, and degrade low nutrient wetlands like sphagnum bogs, which are critical habitats.

Many invasive plants can be prevented from germinating and proliferating by avoiding over-fertilization and by retaining shade trees.


Sigrun Gadwa grew up on an organic farm in Smithtown, Long Island. She majored in biology at Brown University. After raising a family, she returned to Graduate School, earning a Masters in Plant Ecology from UConn, Storrs. She is currently a consulting ecologist, doing botanical inventories, ecological & rare species assessments, and reviews/ and permitting of land use applications. Her experience includes five years as executive Director of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association, and fifteen years of rare turtle monitoring. She is certified as a Soil Scientist, and a Professional Wetland Scientist.

February 25, 2015: Dr. Randi Eckel

Making More of a Good Thing! Propagation of Native Plants” Lecture & Workshop @ Wethersfield Academy of Arts

(Having a workshop is a new feature this season—location is the Wethersfield Academy of Arts – http://www.wethersfieldarts.org/)

Randi will begin with a slide presentation and discussion of interesting native plant propagation techniques. Everyone is welcome to attend the lecture with the usual non-member donation of $5, free for members of HPS. The hands-on workshop is limited to the first 35 people to register & will require a $10 fee to cover supply costs (flats, inserts, soil, markers, cover, etc.) Workshop: Everyone will go home with 6 different wildflowers all planted and ready to grow in small flats with a clear propagation dome.

Dr. Randi Eckel Owner Toadshade Wild Flower Farm http://www.toadshade.com/

Please check out her website... you may want to order plants or seed to be delivered when Randi presents to us.

Toadshade is a mail order only nursery... not open to the public... You can follow the nursery on Facebook also: https://www.facebook.com/ToadshadeWildflowerFarm

We need to register people early for the workshop. Please either fill out the form below and mail with you payment of $10 to Leslie Shields, 25 Johnson Ave, Plainville CT 06062 – Or email at SELCHIE1@COMCAST.NET to secure a place with payment to be made separately.

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Name __________________________________________________________________


Phone ___________________________E-mail__________________________________

Sunday - March 22, 2015: Barry Glick

Focus on Hellebores”

Please note that we have advanced our meeting date to allow Barry to present to us before leaving Connecticut for an engagement in Hershey, Pa.

Barry will present his PowerPoint lecture about Hellebores that covers everything from history, breeding, culture and propagation. He has decades of hellebore-breeding experience... & breeds the “Sunshine Selections” His presentation will include selections from his photo galleries of doubles, semi-doubles, anemone-flowered and other outrageous hellebores. Sunshine Farm and Gardens has a 6-acre section of hillside gardens that are home to the more than 68,000 mature, blooming Hellebores. Barry Glick Sunshine Farm and Gardens... Uncommonly Rare and Exceptional Plants for the Discriminating Gardener and Collector http://www.sunfarm.com/index.phtml.

Obtaining Barry as a speaker is quite a coup for HPS' Ellen Bender. Barry is only available as he was already speaking nearby. If there is anyone who hasn’t heard him speak, you will be astonished! In some ways he reminds me of Lloyd Traven who was such a hit when he spoke to us. I know that you will enjoy this incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining speaker. Like Lloyd, Barry “the King of Hellebores” has his opinions and is not shy about sharing them. Leslie