Gardeners flock to Hillsboro


On May 14, nearly 90 gardeners from the six counties comprising Region 16 of the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs ‘flocked’ to Hillsboro to attend their semi-annual Regional Meeting, hosted by the Hillsboro Garden Club. Theme for the occasion being “Birds of a Feather,” attendees were appropriately greeted with table centerpieces of handmade birdhouse containers filled with Sweetheart Roses of red, orange, pink and rose blooms highlighted by boxwood greenery and white Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata). These centerpieces, along with several gorgeous hanging baskets of petunias, ivy geranium, flowering begonias and mixed varieties donated by our good friends at Lowe’s, Brad’s Garden Center, Janie’s Closet, Twin Springs Farm, Pickett Run Nursery, Jeff Page Greenhouse, Moore’s Greenhouse and Old Mill of Mount Orab, were won by delighted members throughout the evening. Many, many thanks to these generous businesses for their contributions to our gathering.

Nancy Sonner, president of the Hillsboro Garden Club, welcomed everyone to Hillsboro and the meeting. Regional Director Linda Morgan then introduced Vicki Ferguson, an avid birder and amateur photographer, who shared slides of many of her encounters with our “Fine Feathered Friends” as well as information unique to each species. Ohio is right on the flyway for many birds returning from Mexico and South America, where they over winter. Warblers are first to arrive in February and March but are just passing through on their way to Michigan. You will need to look high in the tree canopy to spot them. Bluebirds come next and many will stay to nest in our area. Our state bird, the Cardinal, arrives soon after and many even stay over the winter if the weather is mild enough. Finches, woodpeckers, hummingbirds and indigo buntings come in quick succession, all adding to the beauty of spring. The American bald eagle can be found locally nesting at Rocky Fork Lake and also at Eastwood Lake in Dayton. The pictures were beautiful and gave us a chance to see many birds we may miss spotting in their native habitat.

The business session included reports by each of the County Contact Chairs of the interesting activities of clubs in their counties. Regional Chairs also covered upcoming events such as Gardeners Day Out, State Convention in June, Nature Study Retreat at Hocking Hills in late June, and the Exhibitors & Judges School in August. There will also be a workshop on Oriental Designs this summer where we can learn the finer points of the art of oriental floral design.

A sumptuous luncheon catered by Ponderosa was served and thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The afternoon session featured Jeff and Linda Lane who explained and demonstrated “Using Dahlias in the General Landscape.” Slides of the beautiful garden surrounding their home showed how they have incorporated dahlias in their landscape. The gardens seem to expand every year and they are never at a loss to find just the perfect dahlia to showcase among the other plants and ornamental features. It’s no surprise their gardens have been featured in several gardening magazines and on local gardening television shows. Jeff and Linda graciously answered questions from attendees and then gave a detailed explanation of how they raise and keep their roots from year to year. Starting their dahlia tubers roughly six weeks before Mother’s Day, they grow them until there are at least three sets of leaves and then pinch out the center stem. This causes the plant to produce two main stems, which will double the number of blooms you can expect to get. Be sure to stake the plants when setting out so the roots are not disturbed later. Dahlias need at least six hours of sun each day. Keeping the tubers over the winter sounds easy so give it a try. Start by cutting the plant down to six inches the day before a hard frost, wait a few days, then carefully dig the root. Gently wash the dirt off the root and give it a few days inside to allow it to dry well. Now the tricky part – separate the tuber from the stalk and crown but be sure to keep some of the crown with each tuber. Discard the mother tuber, it is no longer any good. Store roots through the winter in pine shavings, slightly dampened, at 40 to 50 degrees and keep in a dark place. Then just wait until spring tells them to start growing and you will have lots of glorious plants to enjoy all summer long.

Submitted by Carol Gorby, secretary, Hillsboro Garden Club.

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