Spy Investigation: The Talbot County PawPaw

A few days ago, a Spy subscriber left a plastic bag with two pieces of very exotic-looking fruit at our international headquarters on Dover Street for our sampling pleasure.  While the reader did not indicate as such, the Spy believes that he/ she may be associated with the PawPaw Appreciation Association – Cooke’s Hope chapter, since the fruit is a Talbot County product.

The PawPaw is not new. It was discovered and named Asimina in 1541, and actually is the largest edible fruit indigenous to the North American continent. And it certainly helps to know that the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew the plant to offer as a dessert. It also served as a critical part of Lewis and Clark’s food supply.

But how does it taste?

Good. The Spy took our sample and did a tiny and uncontrolled taste test on Goldsborough Street. It was served at room temperature (Washington liked his chilled), and it had a softer texture than pyataya. Is that enough to bring back the PawPaw to restaurants and fine dinner parties shortly? You’ll need to contact the Cooke’s Hope chapter representative for that answer but they left no contact information.

 

Environmental Concern Celebrates 45 Years with Upcoming Native Plant Sale

In celebration of 45 years working for wetlands, water quality and beneficial habitat, Environmental Concern (EC) will offer the largest selection of quality native plants in the region at their upcoming Fall Native Plant Sale. Join the EC staff for a festival of the senses – see the vivid red bloom on the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis); smell the scent of the wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa); and hear the birds, bees and bullfrogs that live in our wetland habitats.

EC’s native wetland plant nursery was the first of its kind in the nation – long before wetlands were accepted as anything but mosquito infested swamps. Since 1972, EC has expanded from a group of interns and biologists working out of an oversized garage to a 6 acre horticulture, education, and restoration facility.

EC’s campus, located at the headwaters of the San Domingo Creek, now supports 19 greenhouses, a wetland education building with classroom and creative activity spaces; a seed propagation and research workspace; the technology and resources required to provide wetland restoration design and construction services, and over 20 full time employees – all focused on improving water quality and increasing crucial habitat in the Chesapeake Bay.

Thanks to the support of the community, students, teachers, businesses and our partners, since 1972 EC has educated over 40,000 teachers, students and community members; propagated, grown and planted over 30 million native plants on shorelines and landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed; restored over 1.6 million sq. ft. of eroded shorelines and constructed hundreds of ponds, rain gardens and other types of stormwater management facilities.

With your help, we’re continuing our mission to increase the quantity of native species in our local habitats, and in your gardens. We invite the public to join EC for the 16 th annual Fall Native Plant Sale and Open House. In addition to the plant sale, Community Workshops will be held from 10:00 – 11:00 am each day. “Monarch Rearing” is the feature presentation on Friday, September 8 th , and “Late Season Nectar Sources for Monarchs” will be offered on Saturday, September 9th. Participants will see the Monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed. If the time is right, you may see a Monarch emerging from its chrysalis. What is the chrysalis? Pre-register for the workshops at www.wetland.org to find out!

This fall, we have invited Eat Sprout to join us on Saturday. Eat Sprout will be offering delicious, breakfast and lunch specials for purchase. Enjoy a leisurely lunch while enjoying the serenity of the San Domingo Creek.

EC’s Campus is located at 201 Boundary Lane in historic St. Michaels. The sale hours are Friday, September 8 th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, September 9 th from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Visit www.wetland.org for more information

Talbot County Garden Club was ‘Putting on the Glitz’

The Talbot County Garden Club held its biannual Symposium on April 18, 2017, at the Milestone in Easton, MD.  It was a sell out event with 245 attendees, 32 patrons and 14 sponsors.  The majority of the attendees were from Talbot County and the surrounding areas, but quite a few travelled in just for the event.

Chris Olsen (Photo Credit: Marsie Hawkinson)

The all day affair titled Putting on the Glitz featured three nationally acclaimed guest speakers who spoke on an array of topics ranging from Landscape design to Style to Floral Artistry.  The day kicked off with Chris Olsen – Master Designer from Little Rock, Arkansas.  Chris shared amazing ways to take your landscape from “Drab to Fab”, emphasizing color, shape and size in the landscape.  Bettie Bearden Pardee – lecturer and garden connoisseur from Newport, Rhode Island, followed Chris.  Bettie took everyone through the beautiful mansions and gardens of Newport, Rhode Island, sharing excerpts from her book “Living Newport”.  The final speaker of the day was Paige Canfield – owner / designer of Sumner B. Designs in Washington DC.  Paige’s presentation was chock full of bits of information on floral design which she demonstrated through a handful stunning arrangements.  Between speakers, attendees were treated to a farm to table lunch, and they were able to shop on “Roseo Drive”, a marketplace consisting of 14 vendors selling items including home décor, pottery, jewelry, and other accessories.  It was truly a day of day full of style and entertaining, enjoyed by all.

The event is this year’s largest fundraiser for the Talbot County Garden Club.  The funds support the club’s projects throughout the community.

About the Talbot County Garden Club

The Talbot County Garden Club was established in 1917 to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit Talbot County and encouraging the conservation of natural resources.  Noteworthy projects include maintaining the grounds of the Talbot Historical Society, Talbot County Courthouse, Talbot County Free Library, the fountain and children’s gardens at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities.  There are currently a total of 101 active, associate and honorary members.

Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Announce Bay-Wise Landscape Consultations

Homes on the Eastern Shore are within a half mile of a stream or other waterway flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Creating an attractive yard is important to all of us, but how we do it can make a huge difference in property value and environmental impact. We all contribute–knowingly or unknowingly—to run-off, seepage, and airborne pollutants that affect the health of the Bay. Critical awareness of the environmental effect of our landscape choices and practices underlies the University of Maryland Extension Bay-Wise Master Gardener program.

pictured L-R: Master Gardener Jane Smith, Master Gardener Cindy Riegel, homeowner Laura Rocco, Master Gardener Betty McAtee, and Master Gardener Joyce Anderson.

The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners’ Bay-Wise program kicks off the 2017 season of Bay-Wise landscape consultations. Master Gardeners, are volunteers who are trained by the University of Maryland Extension, will come to your home or business to evaluate your property. They can answer landscape and gardening questions and offer advice on sound environmental practices. This is a free service sponsored through the University of Maryland’s Extension office. Home owners and businesses are encouraged to schedule a consultation.

Call or email the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rachel Rhodes, at 410-758-0166 or rjrhodes@umd.edu to initiate a consultation on your property. A Bay-Wise trained Master Gardener will then contact you to arrange a convenient date and time to meet with you at your property. A consultation usually takes about one to two hours, depending on the size and complexity of your yard. Consultations focus on practices of healthy lawn maintenance, storm water management, insect and disease control, composting waste, and selecting native plants and trees that enhance your property with minimum upkeep.  You are welcome to request advice about flower, fruit, and vegetable beds that beautify your yard and provide friendly habitat for wildlife like songbirds, butterflies, bees, and humming birds.

Complimentary Bay-Wise signs are given homeowners and businesses that demonstrate sound Bay-Wise practices. The University of Maryland Extension Master Gardeners hope to reach even more homeowners this season. Advice on improving your landscape, while helping the environment and saving time and money, is only a phone call away.  For further information on the Bay-Wise Program and other environmentally sound practices, please visit www.extension.umd.edu/baywise or see us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Ecosystem: Through Gaian-Colored Lenses by Leigh Glenn

No matter the season, life always seems to want more life, especially as we observe it in other species. The beautyberry in our front yard outside Annapolis is one example. It appears dormant late into spring, even after a good pruning. By mid to late summer, it’s magenta berries, bright against brilliant green leaves, are a wonder to behold. Through winter, robins and cedar waxwings balance, sometimes precariously, on its stems and devour the dried berries. And then before I know it, it’s time to prune again.

All species cycle through birth-death-rebirth as they work to sustain themselves, reproduce and rest. In contrast, human technologies and cultural artifacts — from language to money — have erected a barrier between us and these cycles and the systems they represent. But the barrier is an illusion. Our lives depend upon the consistent functioning of these systems. What will it take for us to respect these cycles and behave as part of these systems? To appreciate our powers of observation and our creativity, to cultivate our innate biophilia?

I felt relieved last month when Maryland legislators and Gov. Larry Hogan supported the ban on the unconventional gas extraction method known as fracking, short for hydrofracturing. My fellow Marylanders out west, who stood to make money off gas leases, were not wrong for wanting to do so. But like all of us in a variety of ways, they still operate under a dying story — the story of infinite growth, in which we constantly trade the living (the natural world) for the dead (money).

If I have any worldview, it’s a Gaian one. The Gaia Theory, now Gaia Paradigm, was developed by NASA researcher and chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the late microbiologist Lynn Margulis. The science of Gaia demonstrates that Earth is a self-regulating, complex, non-linear, emergent system — emergent in the philosophical definition of the word, describing a property that is more than a sum of its parts. No single entity coordinates the multiple actions required to maintain homeostasis that is conducive to life on this planet. The emergent property of homeostasis cannot be reduced to the aspects that created it and now sustain it. More simply, Gaia reaffirms what many indigenous people have long understood — everything is connected.

Today, humans are the wild card in this system because of the enormous scales at which we operate — from fracking, which is spreading around the globe, to our vast factory farms, from our dams to the huge amounts of waste we all generate. We’re at a crossroads: The story of infinite growth is collapsing under the weight of living realities. It’s time for a new story — one rooted in the principles of earth systems science, Gaian science.

“The motivating story of ‘growth for growth’s sake’ is a losing proposition for humanity,” says Martin Ogle, former chief naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and founder of Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC, based in Colorado. “We need a completely new underlying story,” says this long-time proponent of the Gaia Paradigm, “[a story] that reflects that we are a seamless continuum of Earth’s living system, not disconnected beings on a rock transforming that rock to our satisfaction.”

But what does this new story require?

For starters, we need to understand the story we’re outgrowing, which portrays each of us as a discrete being, separate from everything else and acting only in our own interest. The idea that we’re separate is what allows us to frack, to decapitate mountains hundreds of millions of years old, to clear-cut communities of trees, to spray herbicides and pesticides without thought.

We also need to vigorously examine our core fears: fear of abandonment, of not having “enough,” of death. In trying to outrun these fears rather than work with them, we often create more of the same — more comparing ourselves with others, questioning whether we are “good enough,” and continuing to live small instead of realizing that each of us, just like snowflakes, clover leaves and redbud blossoms, is unique. We each have something to offer that is beyond ourselves and beyond our wildest dreams — if we permit ourselves to dream and not act according to some old script.

Our converging calamities confirm that we are connected to what brought us to life and sustains us. We share DNA with myriad others and many of the building blocks of our physical selves are the same elements that make up Earth. When we intervene in those systems, modify them to suit our purposes, we deprive ourselves of access to clean air, clean water and healthy soils. But the harms go beyond the physical, whether we want to admit it or not. Our biophilia — our innate love of life, of living things — takes a direct beating and can easily lead to despair. Then we reach for distractions that keep the infinite-growth story in place.

If the Gaia Paradigm is to be read closely, yet metaphorically, then fracking is like drilling a hole in one’s body and injecting chemicals. How long and how much of that could a body sustain before getting sick and dying? Earth is vast, but it’s not immune to our perturbations. We humans need to mature. Our continued existence depends upon our growing up.

Which leads me to this: The new story can be a beautiful one — abundant, fulfilling, allowing us to grow into our best selves. How do we see ourselves in this story? In truly accepting that we are an aspect of Gaia — that there is expansion, not diminishment, in this — and in working with our fears, what great things might we achieve?

We may need look only as far as our front yard for ideas. When pruning the beautyberry recently, I found a welcome oddity: A side stem had broken during the winter, but stayed connected to the shrub. It had coppiced itself, taking root in the narrow mulch path next to the plant. How might we coppice the best of ourselves?

Leigh Glenn is a freelance writer, hooking artist, permaculture practitioner and herbalist based in Annapolis, MD.

CBHS to Hear About New Plants for 2017

Stephanie Wooton of Unity Nursery will present some of the new plants for 2017 at the April 20 meeting of the Chesapeake Bay Herb Society.  She will also try to help identify problems for people who bring samples from their gardens.

Ms. Wooton, a CBHS member, currently works at the Church Hill nursery.  She worked at Garden Treasures in Easton for 17 years before moving to Unity.

Wooton was born in Germany and spent her youth in many countries due to her father’s diplomatic career.  She obtained a degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin before moving east where she married and raised two sons.  Working at a garden center in Frederick led her to pursue her horticulture degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.  When she gets home from work these days, she says she continues to “play (toil!) in my own garden with two (un)helpful cats.”

The society usually meets the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at Christ Church, 111 S. Harrison Street, Easton.  Meetings include an herbal potluck dinner, a short business meeting and a presentation on an herb-related topic.  The theme for the April dinner is herbs associated with the zodiac sign Aries.

CBHS was formed in 2002 to share knowledge of herbs with the local community.  The group maintains the herb garden at Pickering Creek Audubon Center.

For more information, call (410) 827-5434 or visit www.ChesapeakeBayHerbSociety.org.

Adkins Arboretum Announces Spring Open House, Native Plant Sale

Adkins Arboretum, offering the Chesapeake gardener the largest selection of native plants for more than 20 years, announces its Spring Open House & Native Plant Sale weekend, April 28-30. The sale benefits the Arboretum’s education programs and affords the public an opportunity to learn about the Delmarva’s native plants and their connection to a healthy Chesapeake Bay.

Plants for sale include a large variety of native perennials, ferns, vines, grasses and flowering shrubs and trees for spring planting. Native flowers and trees provide food and habitat for wildlife and make colorful additions to home landscapes, whether in a perennial border, a woodland garden or a restoration project. Tall spikes of purplish flowers grace blue wild indigo, while native honeysuckle entices hummingbirds. Cardinal flower, ferns and Joe-pye attract frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, and native azaleas present a veritable rainbow of bloom colors. Presale orders may be placed at adkinsplants.com through April 16. Simply place your order, and your plants will be ready for pick-up during the Open House weekend.

Native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Photo by Kellen McCluskey.

All are invited on Fri., April 28 from 2 to 7 p.m. to shop in a fun and festive environment with live music, light fare, a silent auction, a cash wine and beer bar beginning at 4 p.m., and drawing of the winning ticket for the Arboretum’s Native Table raffle.

The Open House continues Sat. and Sun., April 29 and 30 with plant sales, music by Driven Women, guided walks, coffee, pastries for sale by Steve Konopelski of Denton’s Turnbridge Point Bed & Breakfast and much more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Following the Open House, plants will be for sale at the Visitor’s Center throughout the growing season.

The Arboretum is a participating nursery in the Marylanders Plant Trees native tree discount program. For any native tree valued at $50 or more, shoppers will receive a $25 discount. Some of the special larger trees available for this discount include birch, dogwood, redbud and magnolia.

The Arboretum gift shop will be open during the Nursery Opening Day and will offer books and nature-inspired gifts for gardeners. Members receive a 10% discount on plant, gift shop and book purchases. Members at the Contributor level ($100) and above receive a 20% discount on plants.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Learn About Soil Health with Dr. Sara Via at Adkins Arboretum

Microbes in the soil have a huge impact on how plants grow and react to stress situations. It’s a wild world down there, and some of the interactions will surprise you! Learn about the importance of soil health on Wed., March 22 when Dr. Sara Via presents Life Underground: Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants, Healthy Planet at Adkins Arboretum.

Building and maintaining soil health is essential for food production, the conservation of forest and natural areas, and climate-resistant gardening, agriculture and forestry. Learn what healthy soil is, how to know if you have it, and how to build it if you don’t. A hands-on demonstration will follow Via’s talk.

The program runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Advance registration is requested at adkinsarboretum.org.

Via is a professor of biology and entomology at University of Maryland, College Park. She is interested in the effects of climate change on agriculture and home gardening, biodiversity and human health. In association with University of Maryland Extension and Maryland Master Gardeners, she works with community groups, high schools and universities to increase awareness of the scientific reality of climate change and to motivate effective action to curb its rapid progression.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature, conservation and gardening. For more information, visit www.adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Cambridge Alert – Yard Make-over at No Cost by CBF’s Alan Girard

Residents of Cambridge, this spring you can win an unusual prize: a yard make-over at no cost. And in the process you can help clean up the waters around the city, and the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, and everybody gets a free ‘rain barrel.’

The whole idea is the brainchild of the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee. The group wants to encourage practical, low-cost activities that can improve water quality in the city.

The process is simple. Interested residents must first attend a workshop that’s happening at the Dorchester County Public Library in Cambridge, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 22. You will receive information about what possible changes could be made in your yard that treat polluted runoff.

For instance, “rain gardens” are a type of beautiful garden that also soaks up rain running off your property. This is helpful because this runoff often contains pollution from the air or the landscape. The pollution usually ends up in local creeks. You won’t make any commitments at the workshops, just learn about possibilities for a make-over.

If you’re still interested, next you will receive a free visit after the workshop from a professional landscaper who will look at your yard, talk to you, and come up with ideas such as rain gardens, native plants, pavement removal and other possible modifications best suited for your yard.

You’ll pay nothing for the make-over if you are selected. Only five properties will be chosen in the first year of the two-year program. In the second year, financial support drops from 100 percent to 90 percent as a way to encourage early participation.

Both homeowners and renters are eligible to enroll. Those of limited means are particularly encouraged to step forward as the project is intended, in part, to respond to needs in underserved communities. A community survey accessible online here will further help reveal how much people know about water quality and ways to improve it. All survey respondents are eligible to enter to win a $40 Jimmie & Sooks Raw Bar and Grill gift card.

Pre-registration is required to attend the workshop on March 22nd. Each workshop participant will receive a free rain barrel and instructions on how to install it. For more information and to register, contact Hilary Gibson at 410-543-1999 or hgibson@cbf.org.

Fertilizers, soil, oil, grease and other contaminants run off private property when it rains. Until now, cities such as Cambridge have been left with the responsibility to deal with this problem. It’s difficult and expensive, especially to manage runoff from private property.

The work in Cambridge seeks to treat runoff before it becomes the city’s responsibility. Recognizing the burden of treating runoff once it reaches the city’s drainage system, the Cambridge Clean Water Advisory Committee of private and public partners stepped in to try to demonstrate how runoff volumes and contaminants can be reduced before that point. Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was awarded to pilot a program that offers homeowners and renters incentives to install native plantings, swales and other practices that naturally filter runoff on private property – minimizing runoff volumes and pollutants for the city to handle later.

Alan Girard is the director of the Maryland Eastern Shore Office of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Wow – The Talbot County Garden Club Turns 100

The Talbot County Garden Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Through its civic initiatives and thousands of volunteer hours, the Club has remained an integral part of the community and of Talbot County’s history. The Club’s accomplishments are wide ranging and have continued to enhance the beauty of the community around us.

In 1917, 10 men and women established the Talbot County Garden Club with the initial focus on developing new gardens in the community, restoring old ones and protecting the beauty of the Eastern Shore. Over the years, the mission has been broadened to incorporate the changing needs of the community and the conservation of natural resources but the original themes are still present in the heart and soul of each member.

In celebration, The Talbot County Garden Club will be displaying Centennial banners on Washington, Harrison, Goldsborough and Dover Streets in Easton. The banners will include photos of two of the Club’s various civic projects. The Club will also hold a member luncheon with various state and local leaders invited.

To capture the history of the Club and its accomplishments, The Talbot County Garden Club is publishing a book on their hundred years in Talbot County. The process of planning and writing the book provided us the opportunity to capture our history, especially the lesser known details. It is a vehicle by which we can share our history and accomplishments with our members and the community,” states Missy Warfield, Book Committee Chair and Editorial Director.

A little known fact was that one of the first major projects for the Talbot County Garden Club was the elimination of billboards along RT 50. The effort spanned fourteen years but ultimately resulted in the elimination of 21,000 signs and the unobstructed views while driving through our County. Beautification projects continue today. Most recently, the Club planted 13,000 daffodil bulbs in front of Moton Park along the RT 322 by-pass to commemorate its hundred-year history.

The Talbot County Garden Club has been attributed as the impetus for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. Over the last seventy-plus years, the Pilgrimage has grown to a nearly statewide event, with the gardens in Talbot County being among the most popular. Proceeds from the Pilgrimage have been used for projects throughout Talbot County including the design and building of the Talbot Historical Society Garden.

In addition to the Historical Society Garden, Talbot County Garden Club has also contributed to many other projects around the County over the years. Created by the Club, the Fountain Garden at Five Corners and the Frances Plate Memorial Children’s Garden at Idlewild Park continue to be maintained by members of the Club. Through all the efforts, The Talbot County Garden Club has been recognized by several national organizations for its work in beautifying Talbot County.

The Talbot County Garden Club’s mission today is to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit the community and encouraging the conservation of natural resources. With over one hundred active and associate members, the Club is well posed to continue its tradition of partnering with the community to enhance the beauty of the landscape around Talbot County for years to come.