Gardeners of Somerset Valley

September 2005					Editor: Mitch Greenbaum

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, September 21, 7:30 PM, At the North Branch Reformed Church
Unending heat. Lingering humidity. Severe drought. Japanese beetles seemingly everywhere. Add the emotional anguish of Hurricane Katrina, and the summer of 2005 challenged everyone in so many ways. With members looking for an escape from all these harsh elements, GOSV unashamedly decided to book a speaker to talk about the haughty orchid, an exotic family of flowers that inspires fear and dread even amongst the most experienced of gardeners. Known for their intense coloring, diversity of sizes and intriguing shapes, they are finicky to a fault regarding light, temperature, humidity, watering and just about anything to do with the growing process. Justifiably or wrongly they have earned a reputation for being both obscenely expensive as well as tough to grow and make bloom. However, this may not be entirely true anymore as through natural and human hybridization, there are now over 110,000 known plants found everywhere except for Antarctica and some deserts. Orchids are reported to be the second most popular flower in the United States, only trailing behind the poinsettia with 17.2 million orchids sold in 2004. This monthís speaker, Ronald J. Midgett, PHD, a well known grower, hybridizer and judge should help sort things out and though he may not completely allay all the built up apprehension, this program promises to enlighten the senses with a magnificent display of intricate flowers. And if still not satisfied, the break for refreshments will provide ample time for chatting about the forces of nature that tested everyoneís fortitude during this difficult summer.

September, as it has been the case for so many years, is time for the annual sunflower and dahlia contests. Once again, Larry Haas will attempt to control the usually animated crowd and host the event. The sunflowers get judged on size only while there will be an award for the largest and the most beautiful dahlia. Besides cheering on the contestants, Larry usually calls for volunteer judges, so even if your plants didnít make it through the drought, your participation is still needed.

Everyone who comes to the meeting should stroll outside to examine the area around the church gazebo. What was once a menagerie of weeds and dead bushes, through sweat, hard work and constant watering has been turned into a pretty annual flower garden. Over the past several months, Sue Jamison organized a band of volunteers to help out with all phases of the project, and only the week before a planning meeting was held to go to the next step, converting this space into a perennial garden. For years the club has talked about returning to its roots by doing more community service, and thanks to the efforts of Sue and team, this has become not mere talk but a successful project. Congratulations to all for a job well done.

Did you know that GOSV now has three members who are into or approaching their ninth decade? Dr. Abramson still looks spry enough to make rounds at the hospital while George Osterman just returned from China after meeting up with fellow flyers of the Air Transportation Command who flew over the dangerous Himalayan mountain range during WW II. I also dare anyone to find a drop-off in the loving care Jim Laubach gives his magnificent Japanese garden. Keep on truckin guys!

This past July, Ralph Maiwaldt and Barry and Eileen Weissman snatched four first prizes apiece at the Tri-state Hosta Society leaf show. Dorothy Wright served as the scoring clerk and several other GOSV members attended this event. During the coffee break, letís give Ralph and the Weissmanís deserved kudos.

I am sorry to pass along that long time member and past club president Les Franklin passed away on September 8. Many of us came to that first GOSV meeting alone, as I did many years ago. To this day, I think about the moment when Les asked me to stand up to introduce myself and talk about my gardening background, and I still remember how his kind words immediately put me at ease and made feel like I belonged. He always showed sincere concern and consideration for all members new and old which is the true mark of a fine leader and a genuinely good man. Our condolences to Jane and the rest of the Franklin family.

Again, thank you George Osterman and Erica for hosting the annual summer picnic. We were blessed with another beautiful day and though nothing changes much as guests eat, fish, take out a boat or just talk- but after each picnic your spectacular grounds continue to be etched deeper into the minds of all the attendees of what New Jersey once was and will never be again.

Donít forget the sunflowers and dahlias. Next month is the pumpkin contest, so keep watering. Letís welcome in autumn together next week.