Where Did the Summer Go?Sep 13th, 2011 | By Lynette | Category: Front Page
By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
On the first day of September, as that pale, white, late-summery light reflects off Lake Frances through the open doors of the Madison Woman’s Club House, it seems like it was at most a couple of months ago, when outgoing President Dolly Ballard bid everyone farewell for the summer hiatus at the May meeting.
Now, it is almost four months later, and there is a line of late arrivals at the door. Inside, it is already a full house, where the new Madison Garden Club President Martha Beggs will soon call the first meeting of the Club year to order and the rest of the new officers will take on their roles for the year: Laura Coleman as Vice-President, Vicki Howerton as Chaplain, Jan Ledsome as Treasurer, Ann Paquette as Secretary.
There were nice surprises awaiting the returning members as well. Catherine Cassidy had designed new Garden Club Members’ books with floral covers, each one imprinted with the member’s name, and created matching floral name tags, at no cost to club. Cassidy donated her creations.
Lura Fine and her husband John were also recognized for their contribution to the Club’s float in the December “Down Home Days” Parade. The Fines had purchased all the materials and decorations themselves and the float they created was awarded a plaque by the parade judges. President Beggs in turn presented that plaque to Lura and John Fine in appreciation for their generosity and effort.
Eula Donaldson announced the September Yard-of-the-Month award; Tom and Tracy Gniewek of NE Livingston Street, whose garden included lovingly tended knock-out roses and impatiens.Big golden sunflowers and birds decorated the tables and set the perfect stage for guest speaker Vanessa Walthall, whose parents own and operate Native Nurseries in Tallahassee, talked about “planting to attract wildlife,” using only plant species native to the area.
Native plants are important for a healthy ecosystem because specific insects have evolved to live on specific plants, Walthall explained. Native plants can support many times the number of caterpillars and butterflies that non-native varieties can. These in turn attract more birds, which eat some of the insects as well as the seeds and berries the plants produce. Moreover, native plants are non-invasive, having evolved to live in harmony with the ecosystems that thrive in this area.
Walthall presented a series of photos showing how her parents had transformed their yard, a typical suburban lawn with boxwood borders, into a flowering native haven for several species of caterpillars, moths, butterflies and birds. By replacing non-native trees and shrubs with such varieties as dogwood, sweetgum, Elliot’s blueberry, parsley hawthorn and several varieties of palm, the Walthalls created not only a year-round display of colorful flowers and berries, but also a magnet for a wide array of butterflies and birds. Photographs, including an amazing shot of a hummingbird feeding its young in a nest, documented the variety of visitors.
Native Nurseries of Tallahassee sells only native plant species, as well as bird and wildlife feeding supplies and other natural gardening necessities. For more information, visit their web site at www.nativenurseries.com.
Then, the first club meeting was over, but the familiar rhythms and expectations of another good year were taking shape. Dolly Ballard, who was in charge of the youth gardening classes for Pinetta Elementary last year, will resume that role now that school is in session again, starting new hands-on gardening projects for dozens of little hands to help out with. For September, she is collecting small flowerpots, so the children can each raise a plant of their own to enter in a contest in November at the North Florida Fair in Tallahassee.
There are already plans for a fundraiser Oct. 29 – a booth at the Farmers and Friends Market Fifth Saturday. The club will have its next regular meeting Thursday, Oct. 6.