Garden clubs prepare for spring


When the snows of February prevail, Slocum Gardeners meet and discuss the art of growing beautiful houseplants. Diane Reese spoke of blooming houseplants. There are several ideal blooming plants, but by far the Africian Violet is the winner and with careful watering, high humidity and bright, but not direct, light, it is possible to coax them to bloom several times a year. Carla Scifres presented facts about foliage houseplants. She advised to start with a good, organic potting soil (not regular soil) that has been mixed specifically for indoor gardening. Choose a container with drainage holes, or put a layer of pebbles in the bottom of a container without holes. The point is to not let the plant stand in water.

Philodendron is a popular climbing house plant and it is easy to grow the dracaena marginata indoors.

Beverly Norman provided information concerning cacti and succulents, which can all be successfully grown together. They make stunning displays for your houseplant collection. They take little care, but you must remember that they require a lot of light, and well drained soil, as they are essentially desert plants and will probably become your favorite plants. All three presenters brought examples of their topics. Slocum Garden Club met for lunch at Fork and Finger restaurant, then proceeding to The Happy Pot Ceramic Art Studio for a meeting, and observing various items on display for home and garden. Mary Lou Beaumont was the hostess, and provided a Valentine motif.

Scifres conducted the business meeting and requested a moment of reflection on the life of Sheila Lanning, a beloved member of the club, recently deceased. A donation was made in her name to Sierra’s Haven Animal Shelter. Scifres advised members of upcoming events: A February thank you luncheon was held at Shawnee Lodge for garden club Christmas decorators. Also in the planning stage is an April Spring Regional Meeting at the Lodge. Slocum will celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree at Tracy Park in Portsmouth.

Information was also available concerning the propagation of the Asparagus Bean, as members will receive the beans for planting in the spring, and will be in competition for the best crop in September. The Asparagus bean – also called Chinese long bean, yard bean, long-pod cowpea and snake bean ­– is a legume cultivated to be eaten as green pods. The pods grow to about half a yard long. The plant is a vigorous, climbing vine, most commonly grown in warmer and tropical areas such as southern Asia. The plant attracts many pollinators, specifically yellow jackets and ants. The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked, but best when young and slender. They may be stir-fried with any number of vegetables and sauces. The plant grows well in hot and humid summer, so weather will be a factor in the club’s success in growing this crop.

CATCHING UP: After a meeting hiatus of several months, Scifres reviewed recent past club activities. In October, the club hosted Region 10 clubs to a backyard picnic at the home of Beverly Norman, outgoing Region 10 director. At the October Region 10 fall regional meeting flower show, members were awarded several outstanding awards: Diane Reese – Best of Show, Mary Lou Beaumont – Award of Distinction, Carla Scifres – 1st place creative design; and junior members Abbi and Will Dunn and Rainy and Brooklyn Johnson dominated the junior artistic design class.

Scifes acknowledged a gift of award-winning irises from Sara Marley, Wheelersburg, and advised that the rhizomes were donated to Connie Ison for planting at the Wheelersburg Pioneer Village.

The club has provided a garden therapy activity monthly at River Bend House Assisted Living Center in Wheelersburg. Participants made pumpkin faces in October, wreaths and scented nightlights in November, and live floral designs in coffee mugs in December. February’s activities consisted of celebrating Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year with various crafts.

In December, Slocum Garden Club joined with Minford and Willow garden clubs in presenting a lovely Christmas Flower Show at the Glendale Senior Center, Clarktown. The show was open to the public, with light refreshments. Ribbons were awarded. The club will next meet Thursday at Shawnee State Park Lodge with park naturalist Jenny Richards. The club would love to extend its membership with new members. If this all sounds exciting, and informative, call 740-352-9046 for more information.


What do Gardeners do in the cold wintry days of January? They study the environment and birds. Barbara Howard of the Lucasville Garden Club provided the January program on feeding and watching birds. Howard reminded members that we have the advantage of living near Shawnee Forest (Ohio’s “Little Smokies”), containing 63,000 acres of forestland. While spring and fall are the best times to observe the resident birds, bird-watching season doesn’t end in Ohio when resident birds head south in late fall. In fact, birding opportunities really heat up in winter as a wide range of visiting birds wing their way into the Buckeye State and make it their temporary home. Winter travelers are the northern finches, such as evening grosbeaks, pine siskins, red and white-winged crossbills and common redpolls. However, in Shawnee’s wide-open spaces, snowbirds such as eagles, hawks and owls are not uncommon. In fact, more than 250 species of birds live in or pass through the Shawnee Forest.

Gardeners can use their own recipe for winter bird food, i.e., smear peanut butter on a tree trunk and poke some peanut bits into it; or melt suet and pour it into an ice-cube tray to harden, but before it solidifies, add peanut bits, raisins and apple bits, and finish freezing. With hardly any trouble, you have cubed bird treats — easy to make and easy to use.

President Joan Adaway conducted the business meeting, receiving several reports. The club has received information from the state highway department that the south garden plot at the intersection of Route 348 with Route 23 will be eliminated as a part of a new turn lane for Route 23. Discussion centered on the plants to be salvaged prior to the construction period.

The February meeting was at Lucasville Entertainment Center, and featured an auction.


Minford Garden Club met at the home of Diane Allen for its January meeting, and members were treated to a romantic program presented by President Brenda Covert.

The program featured Biblical flowers, and the romantic feature was discovered in the verses of Song of Solomon. Within the Old Testament, only two flowers are mentioned by name, the rose and the lily. However, it is generally agreed that those were genetic names and may or may not refer to the flowers of today. The terrain of the Holy Land might have been better conducive to the cyclamen, rather than our modern lily. Various species of the crocus also grow well in Palestine. The Hebrew word “Rose” actually translates to “plant with a pungent bulb,” which hardly describes our present day roses. Also mentioned are the “flowers of the field,” and today in Palestine and Syria, beautiful fields of anemones bloom from February to April, Covert reminded members that God could create all the plants in three days, but we should use at least January and February to plan our gardens.

Covert also conducted the business meeting, receiving various reports. Several activities are planned in celebration of the club’s 80th year in existence. Announcements included the schedule for design classes at the home of Irmalee Gampp (classes are the first Thursday of each month, beginning March 8). Members were encouraged to participate in the appreciation luncheon at Shawnee Lodge in February, and to make plans for a trip to the Columbus Home and Garden Show in February.

The monthly garden tip was to be aware and increase the indoor humidity for houseplants. The February meeting was at the home of Diane Allen.


What goes up, must come down, and that is the fact for area garden clubs in January, as they dutifully remove all the Christmas decorations at Shawnee Lodge. This year, a group of students from Portsmouth High School assisted with the “take down” and storage of the tree decorations, so everything was smoothly accomplished before lunch.

President Karen Evans convened the January meeting in the afternoon at the lodge. Joyce Payton was the hostess. Evans received the business reports. Merrill Wood presented the horticulture report. Everyone has encountered Grandma’s name for the flowers in her garden, and we certainly never thought it should be considered scientific. However, local ordinary names are important when they can be linked to plant classification.

Charles Darwin’s proposed theory of evolution in 1859 postulates that the present-day plants have descended from those existing in the ancient past through a series of modifications in response to changing environmental conditions, which means that all present-day plants are related to each other in one way or another, regardless of their names.

There are three types of classifications: Artificial, natural and phylogenetic. Artificial is based on one or a few easily recognized characteristics of plants (trees, shrubs, herbs, etc.). Natural is based on overall resemblances. For example, closely related plants are grouped together and a larger number of characteristics are considered. Phylogentic uses as many characteristics as possible in addition to the evolutionary interpretation. Simply put, a particular plant must be identified, then classified as to its family. Plants are important, and there is much more to be learned than just planting a marigold.

For the February meeting, members brought Valentines to give to the residents at Bridgeport Health Center. Also for February was the appreciation luncheon at Shawnee Lodge.