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The FFHS December Newsletter 2022

Hello, Members,

Obviously, this will be our last Newsletter of the year, 2022. Since the previous Newsletter was sent out in September, there have been three membership meetings and, under the leadership of Laurie Jones, the Gardening Group finished readying all of our Community gardens for Winter back in October. Daffodils were also planted in the downtown planters and also in some of the Community Gardens, so be sure to watch for those in the Spring!

The holidays are approaching and it is always a very busy time of year where priorities have to take precedence over what we “wish” we could get done. We hope you are feeling organized and that you have accomplished most of what you hoped to get done in 2022 - and you do still have a bit of time before December ends! Merry Christmas to you and to your loved ones!

🎁🎄🎁🎄🎁🎄 🎁🎄 🎁🎄🎁🎄

September 26th, 2022: “Mushrooms: The Hidden World Beneath Our Feet” by Robert Bowles (This recap of the meeting is written by Janet Scott.)

Did you know that mysterious plants with names like The Destroying Angel, Stinkhorns, Chicken of the Woods, Comb Tooth, Skull-Shaped Puffball and Witches’ Butter live in these parts? Or that plants called Yellow Fairy Cups, Dead Man’s fingers, Lawyers’ Caps, Old Man of the Woods and Dog-Vomit Slime Mold might make their homes under a tree near you? Or that these life forms are so strange and so mysterious that scientists finally realized a few decades ago that they don’t fit the definitions of plants at all and assigned them their own kingdom? We learned all this and much more when Bob Bowles, who brought with him a box of books labelled “Mycologists have more fungi”, spoke at the September 26th meeting of the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society.

The Robert L. Bowles Nature centre, a one-hundred-acre parcel of land in Tamara, has been named in honour of Bob, who first fell under the spell of mushrooms while doing engineering work in Gravenhurst for Ontario Hydro in 1980, did his first exquisite drawings that year, and has studied and taught others about them ever since. He showed us a seven- ring binder packed with forty years of his work. Drawings, he says, show us mushrooms’ characteristics better than photos. Bob, who knows each and every mushroom by its Latin name, teaches an Ontario Master Naturalist Mushroom Workshop in Orillia and told us that the biggest living organism in the United States is a 2400 year old fungal network covering 890 hectares in Oregon, although new candidates for that title are being discovered all the time.

Mushrooms seem to defy our attempts to classify them: Bob told us of one species which has undergone dozens of name changes over the years and that DNA analysis is causing constant reclassification. They inspire different responses in people too. Europeans grow up learning about, collecting and enjoying mushrooms, while North Americans are taught to fear and hate them, associating them with darkness, decay and death. Europeans assign flavours like nutmeg to their favourite mushrooms; North Americans call mushrooms death-caps, fly-killers and smuts. Europeans associate mushrooms with fairy rings, Zeus’ lightning and magic. North Americans share stories of people needing their stomachs pumped or requiring liver transplants after eating the wrong thing by mistake.

So, just how dangerous can eating the wrong mushroom be? Bob ran down the symptoms following what could be your last meal: stomach cramps, nausea, blurred vision, liver, spleen and kidney failure and death four days later. Bob, who is the man hospitals call when cases of suspected poisoning reach emergency rooms, tells us to save some wild mushrooms for later identification should we eat them and explained that many of the folk-wisdom rules for determining the safety of mushrooms are of no use. One of the most deadly species in our area passes all the tests. “There are careless mycophagists”, he says: “There are old mycophagists, but there are no careless old mycophagists. Get at least two good field guides to help you if you want to eat mushrooms.” I would advise just taking Bob with you!

When foresters in British Columbia began to clear “nuisance trees” to help redwoods become healthier, they quickly noticed that the opposite was happening. A doctoral student traced fungal pathways through the forest and wrote her dissertation on the ways trees “talk” to one another through these networks. They can stop infestations, communicate about diseases and strengthen the health of the whole forest environment. Fungi are being studied for their ability to break down plastics and control oil spills too. Claims that they can fight cancer are being tested as well.

Bob says that mushrooms stretch the limits of the English language. He’s been making spore prints for decades. He learned that he’d printed 250 shades of brown. “I thought I knew brown” he says. Certain mushrooms are closely associated with certain trees. Bob can determine whether when asked, two-needle pines, birches or poplars are nearby when specific mushrooms are found. Mushrooms can lead us to truffles in the woods. Find the mushrooms to find the truffles and no truffle-finding pig is required. The L.D.D. Moth (formerly known as the Gypsy Moth) is being kept under control by parasitic fungi, which infect the brains of the larvae and compel them to climb to the tops of trees where the fungi can release their spores to reproduce. Moth numbers build to a peak every ten years or so and then crash as the fungi attack.

Bob showed us photos taken thirty years apart of his son in the 1990’s and his granddaughters in the 2000’s next to a thriving shelf fungus on a healthy tree. Then he identified dozens of mushrooms we had brought to the meeting (by both their Latin and common names). He said, “We don’t know much about mushrooms”, but thanks to Bob WE know a little more!

October 24, 2022: “Flowers and Scenery of Madeira Island” by Linda McLeod.

Originally planned as a Christmas Decorating Tips and Tricks presentation, Penni Holdham was unable to attend and fortunately Linda, an almost twenty year member of our club, was able to step in to talk to us about her trip to Madeira in May of 2019. Madeira Island, officially the “autonomous region of Madeira” is one of two autonomous regions of Portugal (the other being the Azores). It is an archipelago situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, in a region known as Macaronesia, just under 400 kilometres to the north of the Canary Islands and 520 kilometres west of the Kingdom of Morocco. It’s nickname is “Pearl of the Atlantic” and as of 1974, the region now has its own government and legislative assembly.

Linda began her presentation by telling everyone that she lives in Lindsay now, instead of Fenelon Falls and then she began to describe her trip to Northern Portugal and Madeira . . .

Linda’s first comment was that she liked Madeira better than Northern Portugal and she told us that she and her husband had stayed at the Hotel Lido Funchal during the Flower Festival and that it was an all- inclusive hotel, facing the ocean. She said that they were the ONLY people swimming in the outdoor pool and that coincidentally they were the only Canadians!

Madeira grows bananas for export to Portugal so Linda and her husband decided to tour a banana farm. She said there were also lava pools in Madeira and many, many winding roads and her slides showed beautiful photographs of thousands of flowers - Bird of Paradise, Clivia, Acanthus (Bear’s Britches), Lampranthus (a succulent indigenous to South Africa) and Eucalyptus trees from Australia (in Portugal, eucalyptus is used as firewood and there are orchards of them).

Linda and her husband visited Monte Palace Gardens in the capital, Funchal, where the Italiante Section is built down the hillside with a waterfall and palms and the Oriental Section had koi, pagoda statues and camellias, begonias, yellow Daturas and huge shrubs.

While Linda was there, the Cymbidium Orchids (“boat orchids”) were in bloom and her slides showed how absolutely gorgeous they were! She also showed us stunning African Tulip Trees.

Linda showed us slides of hillside homes. All had beautiful gardens, full of Red valerian, Yellow brooms, Gooseneck Agave looking like long snakes when in bloom, Pink Azaleas, Watsonia (bugle lily) from South Africa (they look like gladiolus), Bottle Brush Shrub, HUGE Lantana and Pride of Madeira - - a massive shrub with gigantic one foot in diameter blossoms!

Linda and her husband also went to the Madeira Botanical Garden where one section was made up of all foliage plants completely in reds and greens. Madeira is known for Agapanthus (African Lily), Protea - another South African addition, Aloe in many colours, Erythrina (coral tree), Cranesbill Geranium and Jade Vine with its unusual, emerald-coloured flowers.

In one of the last slides that Linda showed, at Quinta do Lago, were plants like our Christmas Cactus just growing out of the rocks - so beautiful!

Linda’s tour of Madeira certainly left me wanting to go there and made me look up the weather and tourist interests when I got home! Thank you for taking the time to come and tell us about your trip, Linda, especially when you stepped up at the last minute to present to all of us at that meeting without a lot of preparation time. Many of us felt as if we had been on a mini-vacation and we thank you for that!

Fenelon Falls Horticultural Society Programs Supported Through Community Foundation Donations (Contributed by Mary Carr)

Almost 2 years ago, FFHS established a fund with the Community Fund of Kawartha Lakes which means that you can make a donation through the Community Fund to support Fenelon Falls Horticultural Fund activities and receive a tax deduction. Since then, we have used the funds raised to help support a number of Horticultural activities in Fenelon Falls.

Our first project, completed in November 2021, was the production of the “Gardens of Fenelon Falls” book and of the the boxes of cards created to celebrate 2022, The Year of the Garden. While our first printing of the books is completely sold out, we still have gift cards for sale, which you can order on our website or purchase at The General Store at 65 Colborne Street in Fenelon Falls. Packages of 5 cards are $15.00 each with four different sets of cards to choose from.

This past year, donations to the Community Fund funded our Year of the Garden Tour that the Society held in July, the purchase of spring bulbs that were planted this fall in Village gardens, compost for the Victory Garden, and the stone work that was completed this past fall at the Museum.

We wish to thank all those who have made donations through the Community Fund to support these activities. We are currently looking at new activities including educational projects, programs for Seniors and restoration projects that will be supported through donations made to the Horticultural Fund in the coming two years. If you like to support local programs, consider making a donation to the Fenelon Falls Horticultural Fund through the Community Foundation of Kawartha Lakes.

One of the painting packs that we have available.

Our Annual General Meeting, November 28, 2022:

Our last meeting of 2022 was our AGM, held at the Fenelon falls Seniors Club on Murray Street. As you know, we had planned a Pot Luck Dinner as well as a Silent Auction, but due to higher numbers of Covid and Influenza, both were cancelled and will be rescheduled in the Spring.

President Gail Henderson called the meeting to order, welcomed everyone and thanked Patty Carlson, our District President, for coming to do the Installation of the Board and Executive.

Carol Milroy, Co-President, introduced Tyson Shennett of the Peter Shennett Professional Corporation, and Tyson proceeded to present the Treasurer’s Report for the fiscal Year 2021-2022 on behalf of Alice Burnie, our FFHS Treasurer. The minutes from last year’s (Zoom) AGM were approved, adopted and voted in favour by members. Two business motions in regard to situations concerning decisions by President/Executive and the FFHS Board in the absence of a full membership meeting, were moved, seconded and carried and Gail presented the President’s Report to members.

Laurie Jones was unable to be at the meeting, but was formally thanked for her years on the board and also thanked for continuing to be in charge of the Community Gardens despite not continuing to serve on the board.

Kathy Armstrong, Past President, presented the proposed names for the 2022-2023 Board and Executive and called for nominations from the floor. This was followed by the installation of the Directors and Executive by Patty Carlson.

The business Portion of the meeting concluded when Anna Croxall read out the names for Years of Service pins while Gail Henderson and Carol Milroy handed out the pins. Many of the following recipients were not at the meeting but some were: 5 Year Pins went to:

Linda A. Daniel B. Kate E. David H.

Dale J.

Mark L.

Linda M.

Ginny M.

Joan S.

Lorrinda T.

Darlene Y.

10 Year Pins went to:

Jim A. Ron C. Carol M.

15 Year Pins went to:

Mary C. Gail C.

Prizes were presented for the Ugliest and Best Christmas Theme Sweaters and tickets were drawn for the two available Prize Baskets.

Mary Carr entertained the entire group for over a half hour with many Christmas tunes. She had rewritten the songs to make us laugh and to ensure that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! And we did! We sang along and learned new choruses and words for old Carols that were projected onto the screen by Mary. She played the piano, commentated and sang - - definitely a One-Woman Super Show! Thank you VERY much, Mary, for sharing your musical talents and your sense of humour with all of us - -

🎼 “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” too! 🎹


Just a year ago, I wrote you a letter that referenced how long we had truly been out of touch due to Covid, but hoped to make changes this year. And changes were made! While we have all still had to deal with the realities of Covid, be diligent with getting our shots (including Flu shots), we have definitely made progress back to becoming more social.

It is so nice to reflect on the number of times we have been able to come together at the Seniors’ Hall to listen to excellent speakers, or attend off-site excursions to local spots of interest.

We have had members pass, and we have welcomed many new members to our Society. We have also seen Board members retire, while others stepped forward to join us. All of these changes make us stronger by adding new insight and energy to everything we do.

As we move forward into 2023, and have more opportunities to meet as a group, let us continue to be mindful of the health and safety of ourselves and others, while we embrace the opportunity to share all of our gardening thoughts, ideas and passions with each other.

I hope all of you have a lovely Winter, staying active and healthy, while dreaming about Spring bulbs and seeds. We truly look forward to seeing you in March, and throughout all the following months, in the gardens, at the Country Living Show or the Plant Sale and/or at the meetings.



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