Gardeners of Somerset Valley

November 2004					Editor: Mitch Greenbaum

Ornamental Grasses

			NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, November 17, 7:30 PM,
				At the North Branch Reformed Church
As winter inches closer, there remains at least one class of plants that can still reliably contribute color and texture to the garden. Besides four-season attractiveness, this family is noted for luxurious foliage, graceful spikes, low maintenance, drought tolerance and most importantly for our area, DEER resistance. Some members develop into compact twelve-inch mounds while others attaining a height of nearly thirteen feet tower above everything else, and over time more and more are finding a place in the garden as ground covers, background plants and windbreaks. It’s hard to believe that these are the characteristics of something as common as ordinary grass, specifically ornamental grasses, which is the topic of next week’s meeting. GOSV has invited Ruth Claus, a retired accountant from Hunterdon County who became a Master Gardener in 2001 and now serves as a speaker and team leader of the organization’s speaker bureau, to present this program. Ms. Claus grew up on a farm in Indiana, was a national 4-H vegetable judge as a teenager, and at present is also interested in herbs, succulents and 18th century gardens. Based on the popularity of these grasses during our annual plant swaps, this should be an exciting topic and perhaps Ruth can answer one of gardening’s most perplexing questions. Is there a tool, a trick or some easy method to cut back the old growth of ornamental grasses?

Last month Ray Hawkins backed up his boast and did something unprecedented, taking all three ribbons in the pumpkin contest. This sweep of the awards was only slightly tempered by the fact that all the other contenders backed out after a week’s worth of rain rotted out their potential entries. Ray does deserve credit for growing a massive (120) pound orb, and he commented that this one was considerably smaller than some of the others he also lost due to the wet conditions. In addition, the speaker Sam Wasitowski impressed all with his knowledge and passion for bees, while often poignantly reminding us that not too long ago central New Jersey was still a farming community.

Dottie Wright reported that about twenty GOSV members went to the recognition of donors event held at Rutgers several weeks ago. Besides having the school unveil the new George Osterman Family Scholarship during the program, Dottie’s husband Steve Goldberg was caught slightly off guard when he was the first to hear his name called as one by one the GOSV attendees marched up to the podium and received a ‘thank you’ bag of NJ apples along with a Cook College coffee mug. All of us who were unable to participate this year can look forward to hearing more about this beneficial event during the break at next week’s meeting.

Upcoming GOSV Events

Odds and Ends

Just a reminder, there is no December meeting and no newsletter next month. Dottie Wright will be mailing out a flyer about the Christmas party.

Happy Thanksgiving!