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Last Meeting of 2019

Janet Scott

Nov 27, 2019

Pot Luck, AGM, Christmas Carols (sort of) and Winter Arrangements

  Our centennial year ended as it began: with delicious food, friendly faces, and happy gardeners gathered to learn something new!  The season-closing pot luck dinner saw us donating food bank items and new toys to make the holidays memorable for those in our community who are in need.  We donned seasonal sweaters and colourful hats, and some of us glowed or flashed with battery-powered earrings and necklaces.  To the woman who chose a Toronto Maple Leaf's jersey as her "ugly Christmas sweater" - I note charitably that they are in only the fifty-first year of their rebuild - we must be patient, and she is forgiven!  

Our 2018 Annual General Meeting minutes were approved, and two clarifications to our Constitution were explained and accepted.  Tyson Shennett went over the 2019 balance sheet for us in a concise and efficient manner, earned a t-shirt and a mug for his efforts, and said "I will pass you back over to the more exciting stuff".President Kathy Armstrong, who was acclaimed to what could be a record-breaking 7th term as our leader (complete executive lists for the 1930's are unavailable), summarized 2019 for us in her Year-End Report.  She spoke of our new banner and updated logo, appearances at the Santa Day parade and the Country Living Show, a pamphlet to replace our bookmarks, and work to prepare the centennial book. 

The very successful Spring into Gardening plant sale, held at the Museum, and organized with great skill and attention to detail by Darlene Young and her team, raised nearly $4,000.  We opened 11 private gardens for a tour in July.  Speakers informed us about pollinators, garden design, climate change, forest gardening, native plants and lasagna gardening.  We learned what an unlimited budget and a huge piece of land can become in the hands of a world-class dreamer when we watched 'The Gardener', a film about Frank Cabot's masterpiece n Quebec.  Distinguished guests brought greetings from the federal, provincial, and municipal level to our official anniversary celebration in August, then joined us for cupcakes and ice cream.  

We hosted District Four of the Ontario Horticultural Association at the Legion in October, and we were energized by the force of nature that is Paul Zammit, who brought us his presentation, Rethinking Beauty.  Sylvia Keesmaat and Mary Carr entertained us with both a skit and a song. 

Over 111 members, supported at the junior level by 55 Green Team students from Langton Public School, keep 15 gardens around town in photograph-ready shape.  Renovations to the Terrace Garden below the falls, a feature of life in Fenelon since planning began on it in 1937, saw fresh plants, new stairs, and a railing installed.  The Food Bank was the beneficiary of over 500 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to the tireless efforts of Judy Kennedy, Laurie Jones, and many other volunteers.  City and provincial funds, donations, and Powerlinks grants helped financially with all projects.  Our members volunteered 3,300 hours of thier time this year! 

The Horticultural Society bursary went to Autumn White of Fenelon Falls Secondary School, who is currently studying at Trent University.  

Kathy expressed her gratitude that she's a part of a dynamic and enthusiastic club.  She closed with a quote from Ontario Horticultural Association president, Katherine Smyth, who wrote to congratulate us as we reached our 100th anniversary; "in 1919, your founding members could never have imagined what you have become today and what you will accomplish in the future". 

Gardeners love to bring some of the natural world into our homes whenever we can; we buy potted spring bulbs as soon as they appear in grocery stores and nurseries; we pick bouquets all summer; we decorate with gourds and leaves in the fall.  We can enjoy nature's beauty indoors in winter too, and Judy Seymour helped us to appreciate how beautiful branches, boughs, twigs, and "a little bling", can look with designer skill.  In less than an hour, she whipped up a swag, a boxed arrangement, a large bow, a one-sided display for a vanity or table, and a centrepiece.  Then, she generously donated them all as door prizes.  My attempts at winter decor used to consist of a bunch of red dogwood twigs in a green glasss jar, so I was paying attention.  Judy wired spruce, pine, cedar and juniper branches at their cut ends, added an evergreen piece pointing up at the top to hide the 'handle', and finished off the swag with decorative metallic-blue ribbon.  She wrapped a box with paper bags from the LCBO, filled it with perfectly proportioned evergreens and twigs, and voila! arrangement number 2 was done.  Cut boughs at an angle and insert them in Oasis foam which is kept evenly moist, and your dispays will last.  Fill a sink or tub with water and place the Oasis on top.  It will sink slowly as it absorbs water.  She created a lovely bow in no time. 

 When you decorate with nature, says Judy, you can walk in the woods and get creative with what you find.  She even made improptu use of Scots pine boughs brought by Robbie Preston after he'd help clear the trees from a tract of forest.  An invasive species in some parts,  Scots pines are being given away for free as Christmas trees to anyone who cares to show up and do some sawing (limit 1 per car).  Judy created a one-sided arrangement which displays its best face to the room and can sit on a side table or countertop.  The centrepiece, effective on a dinner table, but not so high that people can't see over it, was next.  This arrangement can be low and long, and looks best with greenery placed thickly at its edges ('no holes'), and built gradually toward the middle.  Bows on wire and flowers can be dotted here ant there throughout the centrepiece.  Insert these features in odd numbers, which, for some reason, is more attractive to the eye.  Judy says florists work best with bare hands, and her fingers used to be stuck together with evergreen resin at the end of a busy day.  Cooking oil can unglue this mess.  If you purchase supplies at a gardent centre or grocery store (have you seen the prices they charge for a few dogwood twigs?), and you're unsure how long ago they were cut, it's a good idea to recut the stems before you create your arrangements.  Thrift stores and dollar shops are good sources of inexpensive containers and trims.  And, above all, "practice, practice, practice", says Judy.  We thanked her for her inspiring demonstration. 

When our second century begins in 2020, "Liberation 75" tulips will bloom at the Cenotaph at Market and Francis Streets.  They will flower because dedicated volunteers took time to plan and plant, knowing that even gardening requires patience.  They will flower near a monument which marks the sacrifices made in a war which ended just as our founders began to plan the Society's first meeting.  And they will flower to beautify a village those remembered loved to live in, just as we do. See you in March!~~~~~~~

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