Connecticut Horticultural Society

Connecticut Horticultural Society

Member News

CHS Members in the News

March 2013

It requires some fast feet to keep up with New Hartford’s Robert Herman, chairman of the horticulture program at Naugatuck Valley Community College. He organizes an international symposium of European speakers for the Northwest Horticultural Society in Seattle on March 23 and also serves as a symposium translator for at least one German landscape architect. Pacific Horticulture magazine publishes an online article in March of Robert in a beautifully landscaped park in downtown Frankfurt, Germany. In January, his local newspaper, the New Hartford Independent, featured him in a front-page article, “A Plantsman in Our Midst – Robert Herman, Educator,”  which highlights his experience as a horticulturist and educator.

February 2013

* CHS members share their expertise at the 2013 Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford February 21-24. Among those scheduled to speak are:  Karen Bussolini of South Kent ("naturescaping" your garden); Rich Cowles of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (invasive pests); Sydney Eddison of Newtown (the passage of time in the garden); Ellen Hoverkamp of West Haven (floral scanner photography); Dawn Pettinelli of University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension ("compostology"); Colleen Plimpton of Bethel (gardening with the birds). Full schedule >

December 2012

* Several CHS members met at the Mark Twain House with P. Allen Smith in advance of the November 17 symposium, and the conversation has made its way on to Smith’s radio show, which airs in his home state of Arkansas. Highlights of the Dec. 22 show include Chrissie D’Esopo of Avon requesting alternatives to impatiens; Barry Avery of North Granby touting the qualities of Bowman’s root (Gillenia trifoliata); Sharon Mann of Bloomfield wondering how to improve the aesthetics of vegetable gardens in borders; Leslie Shields of Plainville and Steve Silk of Farmington discussing roses in winter; Karla Dalley of Farmington offering tips for keeping Sambucas nigra ‘Black Lace’ healthy; Kevin Wilcox of Bloomfield asking about stalwart, older-plant varieties.
     On the Dec. 8 show, Steve introduces CHS and talks about the keen interest among younger gardeners in growing food, Leslie touts the spring and fall plant auctions and Colleen Plimpton of Bethel asks about heritage poultry breeds. Listen to the podcasts to pick up great gardening information and to hear Smith call CHS members “some of (his) favorite plant-geek friends."


November, 2012

* Karen Bussolini of South Kent speaks to the Prosser Public Library in Bloomfield on Nov. 13 about her book, The Naturescaping Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide for Bringing Nature to Your Backyard.”


* Hartford landscape designer Lelaneia Dubay was featured in an Oct. 28 article in The Hartford Courant’s Home & Real Estate section for the work she did for a neighbor, Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s secretary of the state. Merrill asked Lelaneia, of Dubay Design, to help solve the problem of a wet basement. Lelaneia created a rain garden whose elements included a rock- and gravel- lined ditch that channels water away from the house, native plants that can absorb a lot of water in a short period and two small granite bridges. She also adjusted the composition and level of the soil.

* If you’re traveling to or through Lexington, Ky., you may want to stop at The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky to view the outdoor installation of 20 sculptures by David Hayes of Coventry, an abstract artist of international renown. “The Hayes exhibition at UK is part of an ongoing plan to develop the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden and make art more accessible on campus,” according to a UK press release. “Funding for ‘David Hayes Sculpture’ has been provided by the Herman Lee and Nell Stuart Donovan Memorial Endowment.” The exhibit is on display through June 2013.

* John O'Brien of O'Brien Nurserymen in Granby and Kevin Wilcox of Silver Spring Nursery in Bloomfield have been teaching garden master classes through the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension System. Kevin's remaining topics are “Spirea, Calycanthus, Abelia” (Oct. 16), “Morphology” (Nov. 6) and “Lespedeza, Deutzia, Physocarpus (Dec. 11), while past classes were "Willows" (Kevin, Sept. 25) and "Propagating Hostas" (John, Sept. 11). Click for class descriptions or to register.

* Lea Anne Moran of Simsbury is the garden master at Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, which means she keeps the historic Beatrix Ferrand-designed Sunken Garden looking its best. It's a big job and she welcomes help from volunteers through Oct. 19 and 20, when the garden is put to bed. E-mail Lea Anne or call her, 860-408-9560, to find out when the gang is working next. Bring gloves and hand pruners.


* On Saturday, Sept. 1, Steve Silk of Farmington joins Len Giddix and Lisa Napolitano in the radio studio of "Garden Talk." Tune in to WTIC, 1080-AM, from noon to 2 p.m. And check out the WTIC website to hear Kevin Wilcox of Silver Spring Nursery in Bloomfield dispense horticultural wisdom. Kevin co-hosted the Aug. 25 "Garden Talk" show, substituting for Len. Listen to the podcasts.

* On Tuesday, Sept. 4, 12:30-1 p.m., Deborah Kent of South Glastonbury and Colleen Fitzpatrick of Simsbury appear on the radio live with Suzanne Thompson, host of  "CT Outdoors," WMRD, 1150-AM, Middletown, and WLIS, 1420-AM in Old Saybrook.  Deborah, of Deborah Kent Designs, talks about autumn gardening -- how fall is a great time to plant and some recommendations for planting. Colleen talks about the coming events for fall at the Connecticut Horticultural Society. The taped program airs again that evening, 6:30-7 p.m., and on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 9, at 7 a.m., and can be heard on the WMRD/WLIS website during those times, as well.


Cathy Testa appears Aug. 22 at 12:30 p.m. on  WTNH's "CT Style", discussing how to store tropical plants from container gardens.

* Check out the work of Ellen Hoverkamp of West Haven, whose botanical scanner photography is paired with text in a new book by Ken Druse, “Natural Companions: The Garden Lover's Guide to Plant Combinations” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012).  A review of book appears in the September issue of CHS Newsletter. 


* The New England Wild Flower Society holds a class July 15 in the Bloomfield garden of Laurrie Sostman. The garden illustrates how Laurrie, working on a ½-acre property within a subdivision controlled by a homeowner’s association, has created a beautiful, ecologically friendly habitat that supports migrating songbirds and rare butterflies. The class is taught by Ellen Sousa. 

* July 15 is the date of a home and garden tour at Chrissie and John D’Esopo’s home at 289 West Avon Rd., Avon. The breathtaking landscaping includes a 10-foot-long dragon of sculpted moss, double-tiered pond with water lilies and fish and, of course, the brilliant plantings of perennials and annuals. The Greek revival home has been restored and fairly bursts with art and period antiques. Proceeds went to My Sister’s Place and Interval House.


Karen Ellsworth Wins 2012 CHS Service Award


Karen Ellsworth of Farmington (center) displays the 2012 CHS Service Award presented to her at the May 2012 program meeting. With her are CHS Awards Chairman Elaine Widmer and CHS President Steve Silk.

2012 CHS Service Award Winner: Karen Ellsworth
by Elaine Widmer

Consistently, quietly and with a smile on her face, Karen Ellsworth regularly gives back to the Connecticut Horticultural Society.

As chairman for 10 years of the CHS Hospitality Committee, she has ensured that members and guests have coffee, tea and kosher cookies at each CHS meeting. She buys the goodies, sets a beautiful table and then, yes, she cleans it all up. 

You’ll also find Karen helping at CHS plant auctions, giving volunteers sustenance in the form of food and drinks. Over the years, she has volunteered at the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford, helping to plant the display gardens or serving as a greeter. As Holiday Potluck Chairman Fran Schoell’s right-hand assistant, she helps ensure that the annual event goes off without a hitch.

Karen joined CHS about 20 years ago as a diversion from her full-time job as an elementary school teacher in Farmington. She loved the society’s meetings and the pleasant distraction of learning about plants. She recruited her mom to CHS, and they have enjoyed many overseas and day trips. 

“It’s the camaraderie and friendships that I’ve made at CHS that keep me coming back,” Karen says. “I’ve found the people to be so welcoming.”

Her advice to new members is to “take your time to consider the many opportunities available at CHS, then choose one and just get involved. There’s really something for everyone in this plant community.”

In her garden, Karen has taken the advice of many recent CHS speakers and removed most of the grass in her backyard. Her flower garden includes her favorite spring plants—daffodils, jonquils and hellebores—and she also maintains a small vegetable garden. That garden gives sustenance to the chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits.

Her commitments don’t stop with CHS. She volunteers at her church, where she maintains the memorial garden and has become an expert apple pie baker. Four days a week she is a patient-relations volunteer at the John Dempsey Hospital at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington. She also volunteers at Ten Thousand Villages in West Hartford.

Congratulations to one busy lady. 

CHS Members in the News

June 2012:

* Elizabeth Morin (right) escorts June CHS speaker Stephanie Cohen (left) and landscape designer Sharee Solow through the Elizabeth Park rose garden, which Morin tends, on June 22.  (Photo: Courtesy of Sharee Solow)

 * Kevin Wilcox hosts a grand opening June 9 and 10 of his new nursery, Silver Spring Nursery, at 696 Cottage Grove Rd., Bloomfield. The nursery is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (860- 670-3064). 

* Garden photographer Elaine Widmer of West Hartford describes how to photograph the garden June 23 at the summer picnic of the Connecticut chapter of the Hardy Plant Society at Quackin' Grass Nursery in Brooklyn.

* The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program includes, on June 24, the gardens of Bernie and Susan Apter, 66 Highwood Dr., Manchester, and Lynn Murray, 576 Thompson St., Glastonbury.


May 2012:
* The results of the first Hartford landscape design challenge, spearheaded by city resident  Lelaneia Dubay, are in. Winners of the effort to transform a block in the Asylum Hill neighborhood include Laura Rock of Watertown, who won in the concept-garden category for her design at 47 Ashley St. Click for full results of the May 5 judging.

* Karla Dalley of Farmington is a contributing garden columnist for West Hartford Magazine. Her first piece, on butterflies and hummingbirds as pollinators, is due out in the May-June issue. She expects the column to appear two or three times a year.

* Steve Silk chats with radio host Suzanne Thompson on her "CT Outdoors" show, WMRD-1150 AM in Middletown (WLIS-1420 AM in Old Saybrook), May 8 about CHS’ spring plant auction, program meetings and other CHS happenings.


February, 2012:
* Many CHS members offer expert information on hot topics such as hydrangeas and gardening with tropicals at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show in Hartford in February. Scheduled speakers include Lorraine Ballato, Nancy Ballek, Tom Christopher, Steve Silk and Rob Townsend.

* Cathy Testa of Broad Brook talks to Granby Girl Scout Troop 66036 at the flower show about careers in horticulture. Her efforts helped the scouts earn their junior-naturalist flowers badge, which seeks to build skills around appreciating the beauty of flowers and understanding the role of plants in the environment.Empowering through flowers


* Anne Raver, garden writer with The New York Times, spends time at Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, strolling through the nursery with Propagation and Plant Manager Adam Wheeler and taking in the beauty  of woody plants in winter. Accompanying the article is a slide show of photographs by Randy Harris. Read the NYT article.

January 2012:
* CHS hits the airwaves in advance of the Feb. 4, 2012, symposium to talk about the day's exciting events and other great goings-on in the Connecticut Horticultural Society. Listen to the podcast of the Jan. 21 "Garden Talk" conversation that featured CHS President Steve Silk and board members Elaine Widmer and Kevin Wilcox. The three joined hosts Len Giddix and Lisa Napolitano on the show, which airs weekly on WTIC-1080AM. The conversation focused on the visual aspect of  "the sensuous garden," and included listing some great plants for the winter garden and tips on how to photograph the garden.

* Bonnie McLachlan  (above) receives a framed print of one of her favorite plants, Jeffersonia diphylla (twinleaf), at the January program meeting. Bonnie retired in January as office administrator after more than 12 years in the position. (Photo: Lea Anne Moran)


From the Field

In the photo above, Cathy Testa (left) and Nancy Brennick staff a CHS table at Plant Science Day Aug. 3, 2011, at Lockwood Farm in Hamden. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station sponsored the day-long event.