Gardeners of Somerset Valley

January 2007					Editor: Mitch Greenbaum

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, January 17, 2007
at the North Branch Reformed Church.

Hydroponics. The word sounds intimidating, suggesting complexity combined with great expense. Meaning “working with water” hydroponics is growing plants without soil and having water do the work of delivering nutrients to the roots. Around since the time of the pharaohs, these wicking systems can be sophisticated designs used to grow food on submarines or simply to cultivate a single plant including the temperamental orchid. Also with proper plant selection, indoor plants grown this way have been proven to combat the growing problem of indoor air pollution. The advantage of anchoring and feeding plants in inert media has been the message Arlene Macallister and Jeree Harms have been promoting for more than 20 years. Owners of Creative Hydroponics located in Hillsborough, one or both will continue their crusade for soil-free gardening with a hands-on presentation at next week’s meeting geared to gardeners who want to grow things without getting ‘down and dirty’. Afterwards, you should come away with an understanding why hydroponics is neither intimidating nor costly, and how it can be a unique way to grow outstanding plants. A desirable side benefit will be cleaner indoor air too.

The 2006 annual Christmas Party held this year at Christine Feorino’s home was a wonderful start to the holiday season. Though the turnout was a bit lower than in the past, everyone enjoyed good food, outrageous desserts and the companionship of longtime friends bonded by the love of gardening. Attendees were also able to see that Christine’s dreamscape of patios, walkways and raised beds which had been on the drawing board for a number of years were in the final stages of construction. It’s probably going to take awhile for Christine to fill up all these new beds, but with the help of a couple of plant swaps, down the pike her home may become another can’t miss stop during a spring gardening tour. Thank you again Christine for your hospitality during this busy time of year.

Back in December, several GOSV members and friends decided to take on the major challenge of providing Christmas decorations for the restored historic Van Horne House located right next to the Target store in Bridgewater, and which serves as the headquarters for the Heritage Trail Association. This association creatively celebrates and educates the public about the role of Somerset County in our nation’s history with the mission of linking the past to the future for the betterment of the community. Our volunteers pulled out all the stops and succeeded beyond expectations in conveying to visitors how this home might have been decorated over one hundred years ago. Some of the highlights were a contorted Hazelnut branch hung in the main entrance, a family heirloom Yule log, buckets sitting by the fireplaces filled with pine cones, euonymus and blood grass, painted leaves and fruit, tasteful swags hanging from the long banister and doorways and even an antique hot chocolate serving set. The results were so magnificent that famed photojournalist Walter Choroszewski was seen visiting the house and who knows this project could make it into one of his upcoming books. Dottie Wright and some of the other volunteers took pictures also and will share these as well as there experiences with us during the meeting. The enthusiasm and the feeling of accomplishment were so strong that this activity might be a launching pad for tackling the even more complex and larger Doris Duke mansion next year.

Keeping with the historic theme, someone gave Dottie Wright a box full of memorabilia from the Men’s Garden Club of Somerset Valley. Included were the original list of members with some familiar names from 1984 and 1989, the first page of the program from the second Charter Night Dinner held back in 1986 and photographs about activities that were printed in the local newspaper. The now coed GOSV was incorporated on November 18, 1993 and this year we celebrate the 22nd Charter Night Dinner. Dottie will scan some of the documents onto the website for older members to reminisce and for new ones to appreciate the club’s past.

Here is a short note from our President. “I want to thank all of you for the support you have given our club this past year. Whether a call went out for helpers at the Habitat for Humanity house, the Tea in the Garden, our summer picnic, or decorating the Van Horne Home, many hands were raised and caring, motivated spirits came to do the work. Our projects were successful because GOSV is filled with so many people who spread their magic around. Please keep your wonderful ideas coming and Happy New Year to all.”

During the fall we had high attendance at all the meetings. Let’s keep the momentum going for 2007. In February we return to a traditional ‘dirty’ topic on earthworms and a first time Amaryllis contest for those able to purchase the Red Lion bulb during the holidays. And next week, why not take advantage of learning about soil-free gardening.