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May 2023 Newsletter

The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society May Newsletter

Welcome to all members - both new and returning - - and welcome to SPRING! Daffodils, narcissus, hyacinths, early tulips and so many other bulbs, as well as primroses and anemone are already putting on their beautiful displays and this is only the beginning! There are so many more spectacular shows to come!

Your executive has worked hard to set 2023 up for success. Through the Winter months, there were both Zoom and in-person meetings. Grant applications had to be filled out and submitted and there were many topics discussed and then voted on. Plans were made for the Silent Auction and Dessert event, the printing of our 2023 Bookmarks showing FFHS events and speakers, for the FFHS to help Mike Perry with his Rain Barrel Project and also for the promotion of the rain barrel campaign. There are also plans in the works for possible day outings for FFHS members through the summer months and there will be a TV segment featuring Judy Kennedy and the Victory Garden.

April’s silent auction was a great success and we will export on April’s speaker in the next Newsletter. Many ideas and plans are happening behind the scenes!

March 27th Meeting Report (by Janet Scott)

“Planning a Perennial Garden with Carole Ditomaso” Remembering the modest turnouts of last fall, we set out a conservative three rows of chairs for our first speaker of 2023. Then we looked at the lineup at the registration desk and set out a fourth row. Then we looked again as the line snaked out the door and into the parking lot and we quickly added a fifth row! Clearly, “Spring had Sprung” in Fenelon and folks wanted to hear our speaker talk about gardening!

Carole Ditomaso has been a gardener for 45 years. When she moved from Burlington to Cannington, she brought one thousand plants with her and says she still left lots behind! She cultivates about one and half acres of her seven acre lot, which has been transformed from a property she calls “gruesome”, with weeds taller than she is, to a perennial garden with winding paths, a pond area, shade gardens under birches, many sunny borders and a woodland, as well as a seating area behind her house accented with potted perennials and a trellis. Carole’s garden went from the planning stages to the beautifully photographed areas which made us sigh, in only three years. “Ask yourself what your vision is” advises Carole. What do you want? What do you see your garden becoming? Carole wanted variety. She wanted waves of bloom from spring to late fall. She wanted plants which thrive in and near water. She wanted structure from evergreens in winter. She wanted decor items to draw the eye. She wanted plants that would survive in the acid soil under conifers. She wanted to wander paths which gave different views of her garden. She wanted easy-care perennials. To achieve this dream, Carole had her pond cleared of bullrushes. She had fifty-five yards of quality topsoil delivered and built beds with it. She planted masses of Spring-flowering bulbs. She assessed the amount of sun each area of her garden received and planted accordingly. She placed glass jugs in shady areas as focal points. She made a point of focusing on easy-care hostas. She had “only” seventy varieties at first - - now she has over one hundred and forty! After removing the tallest weeds and amending the soil for a new bed, she employed the lasagna gardening technique (five layers of wet cardboard or newspaper placed over the soil and covered with three inches of wood chips) to give her borders a good start. It can be hard to wait from spring to fall for these layers to smother the weeds, but it’s well worth it. Plants placed in holes dug through the woods chips and cardboard are off to a great start. Carole spent the first season in her new home watering her one thousand pots every three days, which took three hours. Once planted, they were mature in only two years.

Carole plans garden beds in layers. A ten foot wide bed can have five two foot layers in it, exploring leaf shapes and textures, heights of flowers, repetition of key elements and colours. Most perennials will flower for three to four weeks only, so planting for a succession of colour is important. Perennials, which flower for a long time, include sedums, nepeta, coreopsis, silene and penstemons. Plants with unattractive leaves or which go dormant after flowering can be hidden in the middle. “Green is a colour”, says Carole: “explore shades, variegation and spotting.” Plant things with upright leaves near round-leaf plants for variety. Spring plants tend to be low-growing, summer plants are medium height and fall- flowering plants are the tallest. Carole’s ironweed (Vernonia) can soar seven feet and is loved by bees and butterflies. Don’t be afraid to interplant. Shrubs, trees, vines and grasses can join perennials in beds. Carole chose small evergreens and a variegated forsythia for a special planting to accent her front stairs. Bulbs are perennials too. The early colour of tulips, daffodils and muscari wakes up a garden and colchicums (Naked ladies) come up on leafless stalks in September after growing a crop of early leaves which go dormant in summer.

Carole, who spoke so energetically and zipped through her presentation so quickly that I developed a cramped hand from scrawling notes, keeps a journal in which she notes work to be done. She prefers to divide and move plants in September. “You gotta be cruel to be kind!” She says. “Get in there and slice!” Plants which must be moved in summer can be helped this way: try to choose back-to-back dull days to move the plant and then cover it with a large pot in the daytime for the next three days. Water well. Carole admits to having moved plants six inches to get that perfect look! She took us through a photo gallery of her garden from spring to fall and highlighted her favourite plants. She also shared some expert tips from her lifetime of experience. Examine plants at the water’s edge in early spring and replant or stamp down those which have had their roots heaved out of the soil by frost. Carole has a trick for having displays of forget-me-nots (Myosotis) without them becoming invasive: dig and compost most of them after they flower but let a few go to seed and move the resulting plants where you’d like to see their unmatched blue next spring. Deadhead cushion spurge (Euphorbia) before it goes to seed. She has noticed that the lily beetle seems to be evolving a defence strategy against us: it does a back flip when it sees our shadows approaching and lands upside down on the ground to hide its bright red shell! Carole, who should win immediate membership in the Horsetail Fighting Hall of Fame, has actually won the battle in her garden by continually pulling the fronds and denying the plant any light. Yes, the horsetails are ancient plants and yes, they predate trees and most mammals and they’re undeniably tough survivors, but few plants are more annoyingly invasive. As someone who has fought horsetail for eighteen years, my hat is off to Carole.

Carole cuts most perennials in fall but leaves sedums and grasses, which she ties to keep them upright for winter interest. Her favourite cleanup tools are a reciprocating saw and a hedge trimmer. Winter is a time for snow-draped evergreens, statuary, decorative metal birds, weeping deciduous trees and rest. Carole says that if a garden is “finished”, it’s dead. She had already spent the day before her talk in her garden doing some early spring cleanup and she invited us to visit her on the Cannington Garden

Tour on July 8th. I’ll be there!!


The Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society 2022-2023 Board

Executive: President: Gail Henderson

Vice-President: Darelene Young

Past President: Kathy Armstrong

Treasurer: Alice Bernie

Secretary: Donna Ingram Directors: Programme: Kathy Allam Membership: Anna Croxall Social: Electronic

Communications: Sabrina Cooper Newsletter: Vicky Groves Community Fund: Mary Carr Membership/

Garden Liason/ Flyers: Kate Baxendale Non-Board Committee Member

Community Gardens: Laurie Jones

Fun at Fenelon Court (submitted by Kathy Allam)

This year, our Society has taken on a once-a-month program at the long-term care facility, Fenelon Court, in Fenelon Falls. On the second Wednesday of each month, several Society members go to The Court to lead a horticulture-themed activity with the residents. February was our first scheduled event. Our activity was one with a Valentine’s Day theme. All our supplies were set to go when an email came from The Court - - they were in lockdown. It was a disappointment for us all. Carol Milroy did her usual best and took the craft supplies there and decorated the entranceway with our “Blooming Heart” arrangements.

For March, we went with a St. Patrick’s Day craft: shamrocks and more shamrocks! A group of us gathered at my home to prepare our material beforehand. The next day I came down with Covid. Not only could I not go into The Court, none of us could as everyone had been in my company. What luck! The supplies were taken to the home with instructions. They did an excellent job without us! Then came April and success at last. Everyone got to create a “Spring Bonnet”. They made for great photo opportunities!Alas, privacy regulations do not allow for us to share these, unless the individual or family give their OK.

May will give the residents a chance to get their hands dirty. Just in time for Mother’s Day, we will be potting up pansies. Who does not like those cheery faces on pansies? If you happen to have any small containers you would like to be rid of, let me know.

One of our mandates as a Horticultural Society is to promote and be involved in horticulture therapy. Our involvement with Fenelon Court certainly fits the bill.

If you would like to participate in our activities at Fenelon Court, we’d be pleased to have you join us. Contact me at 905-440-5365 or

Ready for the Rain (submitted by Kathy Allam)

Our Society was presented with the opportunity by Mike Perry, Councillor for our Ward, to play a key role in “Ready for the Rain”. Mike, like many residents of Fenelon Falls, was and is truly concerned about the amount of water runoff during heavy rains that overflows into the town water treatment facility. There are a number of means by which this unfortunate situation can be alleviated. Early this year, Mike got together with a number of FFHS members to discuss a quick, easy solution: rain barrels. Not a complete solution by any means, but it was a start.

Mike approached the developers of The Moorings and the Lake Club for funding and was most successful. He received sufficient money to purchase 150 rain barrels through Handley lumber.

Our Society stepped in and helped Mike with the planning, organizing and promotion of a rain barrel give-away, dubbed “Ready for the Rain” Any residents who reside on properties served by the town sewer system were eligible to receive a rain barrel. Pre-registration was made possible. The first big day for distributionwas Saturday, April 1st, and it took place at Handley Lumber. FFHS members were on hand to help with registration, direction and anything else they could help with. Surprisingly, not all the barrels were picked up that day. The following Saturday we gathered once again at Handley’s to roll out the barrels.

This undertaking was a great opportunity for FFHS to be involved in a most worthwhile community project. There is still much more to be done to truly resolve our water overflow issues but it was a great start!

District AGM (Submitted by Kathy Allam)

On Saturday April 1st, Kathy Armstrong and I travelled a scenic route to Norwood where we attended the Annual General Meeting of our District. One of the first items on the agenda was the installation of the 2023-2024 District Board of Directors. Both Kathy and I were installed as Assistant Directors. We are excited and enthused about what this year might bring for us in our appointed roles.

A Floral Design Workshop was conducted. Three attendees had winning tickets allowing them to be hands-on participants in the Workshop. Kathy was one of the lucky ones and, as the picture indicates, she thoroughly enjoyed her opportunity. She also got to come home with her prize-winning arrangement.

Keynote speaker was Michael Gauthier, Executive Director of the new Canadian Garden Council. The focus of the Council for 2023 and beyond is “Live the Garden Life”. The Council has various initiatives it is promoting: the nomination of “Garden Heroes”, trying to getmunicipalities to promote gardening, proposing a Gardeners Hall of Fame and much more.

Norwood Horticultural Society was the host club, providing a welcoming venue and a plentiful spread for both morning coffee and lunch. As a fundraiser they ran a fantastic Silent Auction. I am pleased to say I was the winning bidder of a chainsaw carvedowl sitting on a perch. If you want to see pictures, I would be happy to share.

Here are some upcoming District 4 Society Events: In May: May 11 Norwood - Gardening Design with Native Plants Grafton Plant Sale May 13 Norwood Plant Sale May 13 Omemee Cutting Gardens May 15 Ennismore Plant Sale May 20 Carlotta James

In June and July; June 13 Norwood Drought Tolerant Gardening Anna Mizyn June 15 Ennismore Fusion Gardening Sean James June 20 Lakefield in Bloom Show July 1st Lindsay Garden Tour

In September and October: Sept 21 Ennismore Forest Bathing Beth Foster (on site – in the forest)

Sept 18 Omemee The Land Between Leora Berman Oct 10 Bringing in the Garden Chris Freeburn

SAVE THE BEES (credit to the FBk site)

NOW, GET READY FOR . . . Our annual PLANT SALE!!

Our “Spring Into Gardening” plant sale will be happening on Saturday, May 27th, from 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.

Come to the Maryboro Lodge Museum for all the action! RAIN or SHINE! There will be at least a dozen vendors there too (and one of our vendors will be selling food and beverages.) There will also be live MUSIC happening during the sale! (No extra charge!)

A view of 2022’s “sun” plants at the Plant Sale.

Thanks to our technical “crew”, here is the QR code to link to our specific webpage on the FFHS site. Simply point your smartphone camera at the code and it will link to the site.

One more thing to watch for this year

See you at the Plant Sale on May 27th!


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