The Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our lives and garden clubs are suffering also. Our typical public meetings, events and fundraisers have all been shelved. The Oxford Garden Club, like other local nonprofits, are forced to be creative to connect with each other in a virtual or safe fashion. We now use Zoom for business meetings and feature monthly presentations on gardening related subjects. One of the biggest continuing projects of President Dorothy Williams term, has been the concentrated effort for her Sunshine Committee which continues to reach out to our members who have lost a spouse and suffer from health issues on the home front. We continue as a club to use email to keep our members connected. This year has been especially hard.
Beginning in late March of 2020, when the Pandemic hit our state, many of our members utilized their sewing and quilting skills and used their sewing machines to create masks which were donated to local first responders when PPE was in short supply. This past December, many club members gathered safely with masks,10 feet apart to create special holiday wreaths that were sold by the Oxford Business Association as a fundraiser.
Our OGC members joined in our Wreath’s Across America event locally and helped place (and later remove) wreaths on the graves of Maryland Eastern Shore Veterans Cemetery, in Hurlock, MD. Typically, this event is open to the public with planned, patriotic program and speakers but this ceremony was cancelled due to the pandemic. With limited people, every Veteran gravesite was donned with a wreath to honor them. All wreath donations were sponsored by local garden clubs on the Eastern Shore. Our garden club has a proud history of honoring our veterans and servicemen and we look forward to honoring our servicemen in a more formal service in the future.
The Oxford Garden Club received many awards this spring and fall for our 2019 functions by the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Inc., The Central Atlantic Region of State Garden Clubs and the National Garden Clubs, Inc. organizations for our 2019 activities. The FGCMD, Inc. notified our club that we had won two community service awards. One for an event held on Memorial Day in 2019 which honored fallen heroes, featuring guest speakers, our District Director, Doris Key, the Mid-Shore Community Band for a patriotic day. Another Community award was for our “Lunch Bunch” program where the OGC met monthly to create small, seasonally appropriate floral designs for the local Meals on Wheels program throughout the year. We also received a Yearbook award for our publication consisting of our club’s scheduled activities, bylaws with membership information.
District I, of the FGCMD, Inc. announced several awards for the Oxford Garden Club for 2019 – 2020. The entire club was awarded the Marguerite Wiley Award for the best district club project in promoting one of the state or national objectives of the FGCMD, Inc. for a District Standard Flower Show held October 19, 2019. This award traditionally is delivered by the previous year’s club winner, filled with a beautiful daffodil display. Marguerite Willey was President of the Somerset County Garden Club, in District I, and had a special interest in daffodils and emphasizing community service and garden therapy. Terry Holman was also honored to receive the prestigious Joanna Lloyd Tilghman Award of Special Recognition. This award is a pewter Jefferson cup presented at the District I Annual Zoom meeting in October by District Director, Doris Key, for exemplifying the objectives of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Inc. by special dedication to District I work.
Every 20 years or so, a club in the District I hosts our District I – FGCMD, Inc. Standard Flower Show. Luckily, we were able to host this show for public education and enjoyment before the pandemic hit. This National Garden Club Standard Flower Show consisted of all eleven of our district Garden Clubs on the eastern shore. The theme for this special District Standard Flower Show was, “Halloween” and it was held in Oxford at the Oxford Community Center on October 19, 2019. We were awarded 1st place by the Central Atlantic Region of State Garden clubs for the District Flower Show Schedule. In addition, we received a Flower Show Achievement award from National Garden Clubs, Inc. for our high caliber Standard Flower Show. As all standard flower shows have been cancelled for now, we are hopeful to participate in future shows and to share our love of gardening, floral design and educating the public when it is safe to do so.
Forever a hopeful bunch, a large committee is planning our bi-annual Secret Gardens of Oxford Tour, a fundraiser, typically held every other year. This year, the fundraiser committee will be adding Covid-19 CDC and Government safety protocols. The annual Secret Gardens of Oxford Garden tour fundraiser is a known treat for the public. This upcoming garden tour is currently being planned as a COVID-19-Safe, outdoor event for June 5, 2020. This special secret garden tour sells tickets in advance which are picked up the day of the garden tour. Maps and the featured secret gardens with garden descriptions are revealed on the day of the tour, along with a ticket in the form of a special mask. Self-guided tours, with signs and garden club docents, allow the public a secret glance at gardens typically unseen from the street. Each year we feature different gardens for public enjoyment. This year we are planning for the safe viewing of 8 different gardens, all within walking distance of the center of Oxford. Stay tuned.
It is no surprise as gardeners are typically very hopeful and positive folk by nature. We nurture people like we nurture our plants, and we welcome the opportunity for new members to grow with us.
Oxford Garden Club is a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Inc. and National Garden Clubs, Inc. Our Mission: To promote the knowledge of gardening and floral design, to participate in civic projects to conserve and beautify the community and to actively support all forms of conservation. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. For additional information visit us at: www.oxfordmdgc.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Talbot County Garden Club announces its winter lecture series featuring three world renown experts in the fields of landscape design and climate.
Author, photographer and lecturer Ken Duse; landscape architect Eric Groft; and the founder and president of C-Change, Kathleen Biggins.
All events will be held via Zoom and begin at 11 a.m. They are free and open to the public.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Speaker – Ken Druse, author, photographer and lecturer
Program- The New Shade Garden: strategies for sustainable landscapes in the age of climate change.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Speaker – Eric Groft, principal with Oehme, van Sweeden Landscape Architecture, Fellow of American Society of Landscape Architects
Program – The New American Garden Style
Registration information will be released prior to the event.
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Speaker – A member of C-Change
Program – The C-Change Primer, an accessible overview of the science behind climate change with an assessment of the potential risks ahead.
Registration information will be released prior to the event
Questions about the programs should be directed to email@example.com
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 Courthouse, Talbot Library, the fountain and children’s gardens at Idlewild Park and numerous other gardens and activities. There are currently a total of 109 active, associate and honorary members.
Ken Druse is a celebrated lecturer, an award-winning writer, photographer and author of 19 garden books. The New York Times called him “the guru of natural gardening.”
The Garden Club of America presented Ken with the Sarah Chapman Francis medal for lifetime achievement in garden communication. In 2013, the Smithsonian Institute announced the acquisition of the “Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photography” comprising 50,000 transparencies.
Ken hosted a radio program and podcast for ten years, 300 episodes of which are archived at www.kendruse.com. He is currently a monthly guest on Margret Roach’s radio show and podcast, AWaytoGarden.com.
Ken’s 20th book, The Scentual Garden: Exploring the World of Botanical Fragrance, is the subject of his talk. He lives and gardens in the northwest corner of New Jersey.
Eric Groft is a principal with Oehme, van Sweden Landscape Architecture (OvS) based in Washington, DC and a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
He brings a passion for horticulture to his landscape designs, including environmental restoration and shoreline stabilization. Eric has designed gardens throughout Talbot County, including waterfront residences on the Tred Avon, a historic farmhouse in Easton, and three modern weekend retreats in Sherwood.
Kathleen Biggins is the founder and president of C-Change Conversations, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting productive, non-partisan discussions about the science and effects of climate change.
The organization, comprised of volunteers who span the political spectrum, sponsors the C-Change Conversations Lecture Series. Kathleen also developed the C-Change Primer with input from Climate Central and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Team members have presented the Primer to nearly 10,000 people in 29 states, and it is widely hailed as an intelligent, dispassionate introduction to and illumination of climate change. The Primer has been endorsed by business, political and social leaders and enthusiastically received by many conservative audiences across the country. Learn more at www.c-changeconversations.org
I don’t know about you, but I am ready to curl up into a little ball, and burrow into a nest of protective blankets on the sofa for the next couple of weeks. The new year is not going according to plan. I feel like retreating, and keeping warm and safe in my cozy lair. It’s hard to stir myself enough to cook dinner. That is a self-indulgent fantasy that won’t come true anytime soon. There are deadlines to meet, a dog to walk, and a couple of growling tummies every night that cannot be ignored by magical thinking. Instead, I will compromise with some easy loaded and stuffed-to-the-gills, hot, baked potatoes. And by turning off the talking heads and going to bed early with my stack of Christmas gift books. (A New Year’s Resolution I made was to read more. I hope it was one of yours, too!)
One of my culinary pursuits is perfecting potato delivery systems. I aspire to making the perfect French fry, which has been a decade-long quest. I have decided that I am terrible at making fries from scratch. However I slice or dice the potatoes, I never seem to fry the frites of my dreams. I compromise by frying up frozen, store-bought shoestring potatoes. And in these stress-y days, that is OK. Store-bought are reliably crisp, tender-on-the-inside and importantly, hot.
Baking potatoes at home is much easier. Baked potatoes do not need searing hot peanut oil (or canola, grapeseed, corn, vegetable, olive or peanut oils) with an expensive immersive deep fat fryer, with a sensitive (and accurate) thermometer. Nope. Baked potatoes just need an oven. I can do that.
For a plain Jane baked potato I use a russet potato that weighs about 10 or 11 ounces. (I only know that because I weighed the two I have in the kitchen just now.) I think you know your potato preferences, so find one of a pleasing heft, and proceed.
I pierce the potato skin with a cooking fork a few times, wrap the potato in a paper towel, and pop it into the microwave for 3 minutes on high. (You can skip this step if you are opposed to microwaves. Some people have higher standards.) Then I place the steaming potato on the rack in the oven, which has been preheated to 400°F. After about 45 minutes, I poke the potato with the cooking fork and see if it tender. When it is done, we proceed.
Now comes the fun. Just adding butter, salt and pepper is for purists. For the more adventurous, you can dabble with twice-baking the potato, which has been our latest go-to variation. Since we aren’t venturing out into the COVID world much these days, we have been trying to re-create our favorite (or aspirational) restaurant meals at home. Lately, when we are playing Let’s Go to Smith & Wollensky, we add twice baked potatoes to our homemade à la carte menu. “Jumbo Twice Baked Potato: aged cheddar, apple smoked bacon, scallions, sour cream – $12.” (https://www.smithandwollensky.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Dinner_Fall_Miami2020.pdf) (One upside to the pandemic is that we are saving a lot of money. Imagine if we flew to Miami to eat at Smith & Wollensky! Airfare, plus hotel, plus Uber, plus $12 for one potato. Money saved! I love being frugal.)
This recipe is for a large party of potato eaters, which we are not. But you can do the math yourself and use what you need: https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/overstuffed-twice-baked-potatoes
Here is a sightly more simplified version: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cheesy-stuffed-baked-potatoes/
And for those nights when you do not feel like pretending to go to a pricy steakhouse, when you are curled up on the sofa, wrapped in your toasty blankets and ennui, you can add a variety of goodies to a potato as a special home-styled comforting treat for yourself. Luke the wonder dog wishes you will drop some bacon chunks in his direction, but he is always hopeful of little, everyday miracles, isn’t he?
• Rummage through the fridge and look for leftover bacon, taco meat, chili, Sloppy Joe meat, barbecue, diced ham or chicken, shredded beef, smoked salmon, shrimp, pepperoni, crumbled sausage
• Cheeses: Cheddar, gorgonzola, Colby, feta, mozzarella, gruyere, Monterey Jack, Swiss
• Greek yogurt, sour cream, hummus, guacamole
• Broccoli, chives, green onion, green pepper, mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, olives, capers, jalapeño slices, caramelized onions, leeks
• Fried egg and Sriracha
• Old Bay, steak sauce, barbecue sauce, pesto, honey mustard
Let’s enjoy our daily comforts, as we venture out into the cold new year. Stay warm. Curl up with a good book. Spring is in its way.
“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
― James Baldwin
After almost an entire year of quarantining, it is a great time to pause and reflect on last year’s gardening success and failures. Here are some simple easy tips to help get your mind and garden ready for the upcoming growing season.
- Do not handle the hairy poison ivy vines wrapped around trees. Be aware that the offending oil of poison ivy, urushiol, is active and can produce symptoms during any time of the year. Be very careful not to bring firewood into the house with poison ivy vines attached
- Heavy snow and ice loads can damage shrubs. Using an upward motion, gently sweep snow loads off shrubs to prevent breakage. However, oftentimes bent or weighed down branches will spring back after the snow/ice melts.
- Order fruit plants from mail-order companies in January and February for early spring planting. Refer to our small and tree fruit sections on the website.
- Decide on a good site for a new vegetable garden: sunny, level, access to water.
- Make a garden plan. Put your plan in a notebook or garden journal and start recording ideas, notes from reading, or websites.
- Purchase a high-low thermometer, to track weather patterns throughout the year.
- Order catalogs and seeds, especially if you want to start slow-growing, unusual, or heirloom varieties indoors under lights. (See HG #70 “Recommended Vegetable Cultivars for Maryland Home Gardens”- on the Grow It Eat It website).
- Test viability of saved or leftover seeds by placing 20 on a moist paper towel; roll up and put in a perforated plastic bag. Set bag on top of the refrigerator; in 7 days, count sprouted seeds. If less than 70 percent, toss out and buy new seed.
- Be sure to clean your bird feeders once every two weeks or more often if seeds get wet or if sick birds visit your feeder. Dirty feeders can spread disease, and spoiled seeds can make birds sick.
- Bird’s remember-feeding them regularly brings them back. Provide high-fat feed during the winter.
- Birds are thirsty. Clean your birdbaths regularly. Even during winter, birds need a reliable source of freshwater.
- Recycle your Christmas tree. Recycled Christmas trees can be used for mulch, soil erosion barriers and many other environmentally friendly uses. Click on the links below to find out how your county recycles Christmas trees. https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Marylander/Pages/ChristmasTreeRecycling.aspx
Indoor Plant and Insect Tips
- Be careful not to overwater houseplants. Most houseplants should be watered only when the top of the growing medium begins to dry out.
- Cut back or stop fertilizing houseplants unless they are grown under supplemental lighting.
- Did you receive amaryllis for the holidays? Keep it in a sunny window. After it is done flowering, the plant will produce leaves and with proper care can rebloom.
- Indoor herb plants benefit from daily misting and full sun windows.
- Avoid the temptation to start seeds too early. Check seed packets for detailed information on starting various types of flowers. Do not depend on windowsill light to grow these seedlings. Refer to our instructions on starting seeds indoors.
- Indian meal moths are a common problem of grains and grain products, cereals, birdseeds, dried pet food, etc. You may see adult moths flying, larvae crawling, or webbing. Always check bulk foods before purchasing for signs of meal moth infestation.
- Don’t store firewood inside your home. Only bring in enough to burn at one time. Bark and other wood-boring beetles may emerge inside the home.
Each year, the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore (GCES) awards a merit-based scholarship of up to $5,000.00 to a graduating senior who attends high school in Talbot County and expects to major in horticulture, landscape architecture or design, botany, environmental science, agriculture or a related field. Scholarship applications are available from guidance counselors in all Talbot County high schools and may also be obtained by calling Dorothy Whitcomb at 443-385-0486.
The GCES Scholarship is entirely merit based. Outstanding academic achievement along with volunteer or work experience, which shows a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence, will be considered when evaluating applications.
GCES President Kathy Gibson says: “The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore has awarded 18 scholarships to Talbot County students since 1999. The club is committed to supporting motivated students who have shown an interest in pursuing studies in ecology, horticulture, landscape design or related fields. Previous recipients have become successful teachers, landscape architects, designers, and environmental researchers, both here on the Eastern Shore and around the country.”
The GCES is focused on promoting environmentally sound landscape practices and providing educational programs for the community that explore conservation practices and environmental issues. In addition to awarding its scholarship for the past 17 years, the GCES spearheaded the restoration of Easton’s Thompson Park and continues to maintain it. The club also contributes to various community services projects in Talbot County.
For information about GCES programs or to make a contribution to the scholarship fund, please call Dorothy Whitcomb at 443-385-0486.
2020 was complicated. Let’s ratchet down a notch and revel in simplicity while we try to adjust to our new year’s resolutions. Let’s roast a chicken. We can pretend to multi-task by reading a book, and enjoying a warm cup of tea. Winter is going to kick in soon. It’s time to burrow in.
Winter brings out the primal cook in me. It seems basic wisdom to turn on the oven, and bake, and roast, and generate a little more heat. (Remind me of this urge when I am whinging on about how tired I am of the long, torpid summertime heat…)
I would love to have a large, cozy kitchen, with a faded chintz slipcovered armchair and a lazy lap-sitting cat who would inspire me to write humorous tales about our happy little suburban lives. Instead, I am sure my kitchen looks much like yours, with ephemeral postcards, photos and receipts held up by magnets on the fridge, a Sunday book section still begging to be read, a drift of bills and papers I mean to get to soon, coffee cups in the sink and the dog toys scattered where we least expect to find them, particularly when we are barefoot and it is dark. Dog toys have replaced the bane that was Legos.
I may not have the trappings of an orderly dream kitchen, but I can close my eyes and dreamily drift along, buoyed by the aroma of roasted chicken wafting through the house. I can enjoy the illusion of a well-ordered life when I follow this easy peasy recipe for roasted chicken from our friends at Food52. Not only does it warm the house, and the cockles of my jaded heart, but it also provides two meals for us, and a couple of little snackums for the dog and that wretched complaining cat.
The Best Roasted Chicken
I also appreciated that except for having to procure the chicken, everything else was in the cabinet (or fridge) at home. I hate finding out suddenly, halfway through a recipe, that shallots are a key ingredient – because I never buy shallots. Or saffron.
Honestly. I wouldn’t pull an odious trick like that on you, Gentle Reader. Because you, like me, can find the basics in your kitchen: garlic, salt and pepper, and wine. (Truth: I did have to use dried thyme, because the thyme and rosemary plants have been long-neglected in the outdoor container garden. I think they have freeze dried. Even the basil plants are looking a little long-in-the-tooth. But we always have wine…)
It was a little unnerving setting the temperature so high (480°F!), I must say. But that heat incinerated the two slices of pepperoni that slipped off the pizza a couple of weeks ago; ones that I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning off the floor of the oven yet. Thanks, Food52 for the deelish recipe!
Here is a roasted chicken recipe from Bon Appétit magazine. It sounds divine, but I worry I would forget to change the cooking temperature midway through. I tend to drift away and read, and unless I set the scary, heart-attack-inducing timer, I might forget…
And finally, here is a Herb-and-Lemon Roasted Chicken recipe, originally from Food & Wine magazine, dissected by the guys at The Bitten Word. They are generally hilarious, and yet are so sensible! This recipe called for herb butter to be placed under the chicken skin, and then for one to flip the bird halfway through the cooking process. They were outraged! And there I was being peevish about remembering to change a temperature! Maybe that’s where the cat gets her howling and complaining ways?
“On the nights I stuffed myself full of myths, I dreamed of college, of being pumped full of all the old knowledge until I knew everything there was to know, all the past cultures picked clean like delicious roasted chicken.”
― Lauren Groff