A New Wave of Delaware Gardens 

header.jpegSouthern Delaware is best known for its resort towns on the Atlantic Ocean. Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach draw thousands of vacationers every summer. Personally, I prefer the warm days and cool nights of early fall, after the summer crowds are gone. I’ve been vacationing in Rehoboth Beach for 25 years, for the beaches, for outlet mall shopping, for the wonderful restaurants, and more recently for riding the area’s awesome bike trails.

A new public garden will soon be another good reason to visit!

The centerpiece of the GardenComm Region II meeting on Friday, October 11, will be the newly opened Delaware Botanic Garden at Pepper Creek. This is a project I’ve been following for several years, and shortly after the garden’s location was finalized I had the opportunity to visit the site, 37 acres of abandoned farmland, creekside forest, and marshland. I wrote about it for my blog in October 2015 (see Big News in Southern Delaware) but I haven’t been back since then. Staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to get it ready for its public opening, so I’m excited to see the progress that has been made. This will be a rare chance to visit a new botanic garden in its earliest stages.

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We have a full day planned, with an early start at Baywood Greens, a public golf course. The clubhouse has an excellent restaurant and hosts weddings and other events. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, with well-maintained gardens all around the clubhouse. When I was scouting locations this spring with Louise Clarke, she said without hesitation, “We have to bring the group here.”

From there, we’ll head to the Delaware Botanic Garden (DBG) for a tour of its gardens. The grand opening is scheduled for September 12, so we’ll be among the first visitors to see the new gardens. A meadow designed by Piet Oudolf has generated a lot of attention, and will be one of the highlights of our tour.

Lunch at Good Earth Market and Organic Farm is included in your registration. During the growing season, some of the food they serve comes from their own kitchen garden behind the restaurant. We’ll be choosing from a fixed menu, but please visit them another time for their creative and delicious selections. (A chilled cucumber soup with crab made me swoon this spring.) The property also offers lodging in the form of small cottages and a “tiny house” that attendees may want to investigate.

There are several excellent garden centers in the area, but we’ll only have time to stop at Inland Bays Garden Center, a small business that specializes in native plants. The owners will tell us a bit about the challenges of operating a small garden center in a resort area.

Among the private gardens we’ll visit are Mill Pond Garden, a private botanic garden shimzu.jpegand certified wildlife habitat created by Mike Zajic, founder of the DBG and former Director of Horticulture at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD. We’ll also visit the charming town of Lewes to see the garden of Holly Shimizu, former Director of the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC. Holly’s property even has a tiny cottage that can be rented for a romantic getaway. We’ll end the day at my own garden in Rehoboth Beach, where we can relax and socialize before heading to dinner at a nearby restaurant (optional, not included in registration).

If you’re spending Friday night in the area, join us for a bonus visit to Pepper Greenhouses in Milton on Saturday morning. This sprawling, quirky garden center is known for its huge selection of rare and unusual plants, and it’s right on the way home if you’re driving north on Rt. 1 or west on Rt. 16. Those who want to linger just a bit more will then gather for a Dutch treat lunch at a local restaurant before heading our separate ways.boggan.jpeg

Early October is a wonderful time of year to visit southern Delaware. I can’t stress enough how much this area has to see and do, and you may want to spend an extra day. At a minimum, I would recommend walking around downtown Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. In addition to shopping and dining options, you’ll appreciate the beautification efforts of two volunteer organizations, Lewes in Bloom and Rehoboth in Bloom. And if you’re going to drag a partner or spouse to one of our regional meetings, this is the one! There’s plenty for them to do while we’re off touring gardens, from riding the bike trails to kayaking in the bay, visiting WWII observation towers, birding at Gordon’s Pond, or shopping at the outlet malls. Best of all, the ocean is still warm enough for swimming!

Registration is limited to 30 attendees. Don’t delay to make your arrangements because our meeting falls on the beginning of a holiday weekend. Finding lodging Thursday night should be easy but Friday night may be a bit trickier.

Click here to register

Meet the jboggan.jpegAuthor

John Boggan is a botanist, plant breeder, occasional garden blogger, and general know-it-all. He divides his time between his gardens in Washington, DC and Rehoboth Beach, DE. His latest project is breeding begonias that are hardy in zone 7. You can find his blog at DC Tropics.

Five Items to Prepare for #GardenComm2019

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As I write this post, there are approximately 16 days, about two weeks, before the start of GardenComm’s annual conference. Though I’ve attended numerous GardenComm conferences, I’m a first timer when it comes to Salt Lake City and the mountains. I’m looking forward to seeing what their gardens look like compared to mine!

But before I board the plane that will take me non-stop from Indianapolis to SLC, I’m making lists to make sure I don’t forget anything and am ready to go once I land.

Here’s my list:

  1. Business cards. Some may think business cards are old-fashioned but most of us still prefer to get that little piece of cardboard to remember one another.  I’ve ordered and received new business cards and put them on the pile of stuff I don’t want to forget to take to the conference. 
  2. One sheets.  For the first time, GardenComm will have tables set up at the expo where members can leave copies of their one sheets for others to take. What’s a one sheet? It’s basically a one page document, sometimes printed on both sides, sometimes graphical, that provides more information about who you are and what you do.  Check out additional information on the GardenComm website.  Don’t have a one-sheet? Get busy and create one. It can be plain or use a site like Canva to dress it up, and then take it to a local print shop to make some copies. 
  3. Pitch session sign ups.  Attendees who are members of GardenComm have the amazing opportunity to pitch their ideas to editors of magazines, books, and websites. Two weeks out, there are still some open time slots so members can now sign up for more than one session. Details are on the GardenComm website. And now that I’ve signed up, I’m polishing up a pitch or two I’m planning to make and bringing copies of them with me. 
  4. Education sessions. One of the biggest decisions to make when attending any conference is which education sessions to attend. There are three during each time slot. I like to have a good idea before the conference which ones I’m planning to attend so I study the list before I leave home. They are all listed on the website. 
  5. Chargers, chargers, chargers.  I’m rounding up all the chargers I need so I can stay fully connected at GardenComm. Watch. Phone. iPad. Check, check, check.  Oh, and an extra portable battery charger for the story tours. 

What’s on your list of what to bring and what to do before you leave home? Did I forget anything?  

Meet the Author

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Carol Michel is an author, speaker, and gardener based in Indianapolis, Indiana, looking forward to her 11th GardenComm conference.  

 

Expand Your Network with a Pitch Session at #GardenComm2019!

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By Kim Toscano

Wondering if a pitch session is right for you? The answer is yes!

Whether you have a story idea, portfolio to share, or are simply seeking to build professional relationships, pitch sessions offer the perfect venue. Everyone participating in a pitch session is looking to make connections. Editors want to meet writers, photographers, and other talented storytellers. Communicators are seeking new outlets for their work and feedback on projects. Pitch sessions offer a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Pitching Yourself and Your Work

Not every story is the right match for an editor, but pitch sessions are about more than just one story. Editors want to know about you – your areas of expertise, your platform, your past work. And of course they are interested in your ideas. Don’t be surprised if an editor listens to your pitch then asks, “Are you working on anything else?” Be ready to talk about other projects, even those still in the concept stage.

When pitching a children’s story at a creative writing conference, the agent asked me this very question. He was not interested in the story I pitched, but connected with the young adult novel I was working on. He gave me his card and asked me to send the novel to him when completed. And just like that, my list of professional contacts expanded.

Pick an Editor’s Brain

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Pitch sessions also provide an opportunity to ask questions, gain feedback, and seek advice. Not everything you discuss needs to be a finished work. At a recent conference I sat down with an editor during a pitch session to discuss a project I am working on. I let her know up front I wanted to pick her brain and she graciously obliged. In fact, our conversation carried over to lunch the next day. I garnered valuable advice while expanding my professional network.

I’ve come to realize pitch sessions are as much about learning as they were about pitching. When visiting with a garden editor you might gain valuable insights into the direction they are taking their publication, future topics they wish to explore, or types of stories they have difficulty assigning. Tap into an editor’s vast experience and use it to your advantage.

Too Nervous to Pitch?

The first time I signed up to pitch a story at a writing conference I was more than a bit anxious. I practiced my pitch over and over, tweaking and perfecting every word. And when I sat down across from the agent I signed up to meet, I forgot the words I’d carefully prepared. But it didn’t matter, because this wasn’t the agent’s first pitch session.

Hearing pitches is part of any agent or editor’s job, and they are remarkably skilled at setting writers at ease, asking questions that get you talking, and digging into the meat of a story. That is not to say don’t come prepared, just relax a little. Editors and agents are not there to intimidate you. They attend conferences to meet writers, photographers, and other talented storytellers. They want to get to know you.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a pitch session today!

 Sign Up!

Please note that this opportunity is only open to GardenComm’s Annual Conference & Expo attendees, and there is a one pitch-session per-person limit.

Click here to register for #GardenComm2019 today!

First Timer Event at Salt Lake City

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by GardenComm Membership Committee

It’s tough to be a newbie at an event such as the GardenComm annual conference. There are so many long-time members greeting each other and acting so familiar with the other attendees and the process in general. Those attending for the first time might feel left out or uneasy about what’s going on.

The truth is that everyone at these meetings were first-timers themselves at one point. We all remember feeling awkward and isolated. My first meeting was in Philadelphia (in 2000, if I my memory is correct) and I clearly remember walking on all tours and eating dinner by myself.  So it’s not surprising that experienced attendees on the GardenComm Membership Committee want to make this year’s newbies as comfortable and connected as possible.

We’ve tried several methods of welcoming “first timers” at past annual meetings, and this year we’re mixing those experiences in hopes of connecting the newbies with each other as well as introducing them to mentors. Here is our plan for this meeting in Salt Lake, plus a couple suggestions for the new attendees as well as those experienced members who will be mentors to the first timers.

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This year’s first timer event will be broken into segments in order to facilitate many types of connections between attendees.  As people enter those who are mentors will be asked to take chairs in the mentor’s row. The new attendees will be shown to tables where they will join other first-timers. After a brief introduction by the Membership Committee, there will be a 15 to 20 minute period when the newbies will be connecting with each other, while the mentors reconnect with those they haven’t seen for a year.

First-timers will be instructed to go around the table and introduce themselves, exchanging business cards or cell numbers. These connections will be useful for making dinner plans or for future networking. Note that if you prefer not to use business cards your contact information will also be on the conference app. Those around the table at the first-timers event can check off fellow attendees’ names and contact information on the app.

After this initial introduction period attending board members will be introduced and the first timers will be invited to sit on the row of chairs that is opposite where the mentors have been seated. At this point there will be four or five segments when mentors will talk with the first-timer seated opposite…think speed dating without the pressure for meeting the love of your life. When the bell rings the mentors will move one chair to the side and everyone will chat with the new person across from them. It’s a high-energy, loud process, but it’s a way to let newbies introduce themselves to a few mentors one-on-one for a few minutes.

Once this speed schmoozing is finished, we will all proceed to the tradeshow and let the education and more networking begin!

Throughout the conference, there are additional ways that new members can take action to feel more connected.

  • Wear your first timer ribbon if you have one. This will allow those who have signed up to be mentors to recognize you throughout the conference.
  • If you’re a relative newbie but not a first timer, don’t hesitate to approach anyone wearing a mentor ribbon and introduce yourself. Initiate conversations with others as often as possible.
  • Use the app to ask questions, connect with others with similar goals or experiences, or invite people to join you at the bar or for dinner.

Meet the Authors

This piece was written by the GardenComm membership committee; we are actively seeking new committee members with fresh ideas, strong opinions, and the willingness to connect with others. This committee meets by conference call once a month on a Friday at noon Eastern time…we bring our own snacks and occasional plant chat. If you’d like to sit in on a call to see what we’re all about, contact Shelley Cramm shelleycramm@gardenindelight.com or C.L. Fornari  clfornari@yahoo.com.

Confessions of a Region Crasher

split rocker membersby Marie Mims Butler

Hello. My name is Marie, and I am a GardenComm Region Crasher. Social meetings, connect meetings, regional meetings, and national symposiums. I crave the adventure, companionship, and inspiration that meeting with other GardenComm members delivers. In May, Region 2 Director Kathy Jentz lured me out of Region 4 to Maryland with a tantalizing blog post.

Here was a chance to venture behind the gorgeous scenery in gardens and garden centers. The promise of fresh, regional foods shared with fellow garden communicators sealed the deal for me. Road trip!

To ensure a fresh start for the day, I drove up from southeastern Virginia on Thursday. Happy hour “Up on the Roof” of my Bethesda hotel eased the tension of driving through tornado warnings and I-495 traffic. Cool breezes, rosy sunset, and the softest outline of the mountains in the distance. Ahhh…mcrillis

For the first time ever, I hauled myself out of bed for an early morning photo shoot. McCrillis Gardens was worth the wake up. This 5-acre, naturalistic garden is truly a hidden gem in a residential area in Bethesda. Once a private residence of a well-connected plant collector, it is now under the auspices of Brookside Gardens and the Montgomery County park system. The promise of seeing azaleas is not particularly special to a Virginian, but the first picture I took was of an azalea. I’ll admit I’m a “purdy flower” person. At McCrillis, the woody plants (trees and shrubs) had me gasping and “Oh wow”-ing at every turn in a path. My favorite? Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’- the pagoda dogwood. Standing like white lace against the sky, it could be a wedding venue all by itself. Head gardener, Nancy Woods, eagerly led us on a plant-centric tour and even sent us a thank you for visiting. McCrillis is a small garden with a big, green heart.

For those who can properly program a GPS (which lets me out), our next destination was a mere 20 minutes, but another world, away. Glenstone is in the heart of mega rich Potomac, MD. The private residence/art museum is available to visit by reservation, only. According to their website, “Glenstone is a place that seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and landscape into a serene and contemplative environment.” Amen to that! Our own tour member, Susan Harris has expressed the story our Glenstone tour far better than I can on the blog Garden Rant.

In the midst of modern elegance blending seamlessly into the created, natural setting, I found myself puzzling over the giant monkey head that crowned the property. (My take on art can be rather shallow.) I came to learn that Split-rocker is not a giant monkey head, but a split image of a child’s rocking pony and rocking dinosaur. Artist Jeff Koons was expressing the split in his family as he and his wife divorced. Split-rocker towers 37’ and is planted with over 24,000 plugs of annual flowers and grasses! I was stunned to hear it had been on display in NY City and Versailles. So much for my big monkey head assessment. For those who would like more visual insights into Glenstone, YouTube, Vimeo, PBS, CBS, and others have videos online. Best of all, make a reservation and experience the art that is Glenstone in person.

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Our next destination, another accurately programmed GPS 20 minutes away, was the fabulous new neighborhood rising from an old shopping mall site, Pike & Rose. Offices, retail spaces and living spaces are combined with a tremendous sense of environmental responsibility. Green roofs are mandatory! Our group was treated to a rare tour of Up Top Acres’ 17,000 square foot farm on the sixth floor of the Pallas building. Rare, because climbing a very steep ladder was required to reach the garden. Gardener Sara Servin enthusiastically described the challenges and rewards of growing vegetable in urban settings. For instance, staking tomatoes is a problem on a rooftop, so they are grown inground at their Navy Yard location. Litter is another rooftop issue.  Most recently, old CDs have been found all over the garden. ???.  Oh the story those could tell…

With so much focus on growing fresh produce, our lunch from Sweetgreen was deliciously appropriate. We gathered our preselected salads served in compostable bowls and found seats in a shady spot in one of many gathering spaces designed into the Pike & Rose community.

It’s amazing what can be achieved when conscience, design, and investment blend in harmony.

schwartz peony garden

Leaving the urban for the rural, we headed to Seneca Creek State Park to see the last of the blooms in the Schwartz Peony Garden. In 1915, fascination became an obsession for real estate broker Edward Schwartz. His collection led to founding a nursery specializing in peonies. When Edward P. Schwartz’s property was sold after his death, a fraction of his collection wound up in Seneca Creek Park. A sampling of his varieties has been arranged in neat, volunteer-tended, rows. The rest have gone feral in the adjoining field. It’s almost surreal to see peonies popping up at random in a field of grasses and weeds. What a magnificent sight Mr. Schwartz’s original plantings must have been. As we prepared to leave, treats awaited us in the parking area. Raffle prizes were awarded, and the generous gifts of elephant ears and agapanthus from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs were handed out. Thank you, generous donors!susanna farms

On to Susanna Farm Nursery in Boyds, MD where fantasies of Japanese maples and conifers come to life. Attendees took advantage of the opportunity to shop for themselves or their clients, observe the specimen forms of plants they already have, add to their photo libraries, and recharge their cell phones. I saw several stunning Japanese maples from Susanna Farms when I visited Brookside Gardens the following day. Definitive right plant in the right place.

Lilypons

As temperatures soared, Lilypons Water Gardens offered refreshing views andchampagne punch. Whenever I think of water gardening, Lilypons is my first resource for aquatic plants and water garden supplies. Now I will remember them as mays seafood.jpegthoughtful hosts in a beautifully tranquil setting as well. 

To conclude our whirlwind day, the remaining, hungry souls gathered at locally owned May’s Restaurant in Frederick, MD. Cold beverages, witty conversation, and fresh seafood were enjoyed by all. (Well, almost all. Louise had meatloaf.) To those who were driving home that night, safe travels were wished while more shopping and sightseeing tips were passed along to those, like me, who were staying overnight before heading out.

GardenComm offers me irresistible travel opportunities that I often pair with visits to friends, family, and even more gardens. I like to expand the experience! Perhaps it’s time you joined me in Region Crashing. We can form our own support group, Region Crashers Anonymous, and encourage each other to jump those boundaries and boldly go where few GardenComm members have gone before. Are you with me?

Meet the AuthorMarieMims

Marie Mims Butler is a GardenComm Region 4 Director, speaker, and gardening enthusiast. Residing in Cheaspeake, VA, Marie is ready to travel at the jingle of a keyring. Want to share tales? Contact marie.butler@cox.net.

Collecting Obsessions in Potomac, MD

headBy Kathy Jentz

Plant lovers don’t know how to say “No.” Let’s face it, we are a greedy lot and our passion can quickly grow into a life-long mission of acquiring one of every kind of a favorite flower or shrub.  On the upcoming Region 2 Meeting on the last Friday of May (5/24), we will be touring through gardens that were created by several obsessive gardeners and collectors.

We start off the day at McCrillis Gardens  for an early morning photo shoot. This little-known public garden is a hidden gem in a prosperous suburban neighborhood.  Williamgazebo McCrillis made the garden and it is best known for the collection of azaleas, but it also has many rare ornamental trees and shade-loving perennials. He was assistant to Harold Ickes, the secretary of the interior from 1933 to 1946. McCrillis became friends with the chief horticulturist for the National Park Service, who helped him acquire trees and plants globally.

Next, we visit Glenstone, which houses the collection of post-World War II art of Emily and Mitch Rales in a sustainable landscape.  We’ll also get to experience their newly opened Environmental Center is a multi-use maintenance and education facility that offers experiential learning. Here you can learn about our efforts in composting, organic landscape flower management, waste reduction, materials recycling and water conservation—and how to take these practices home with you.

For lunch, we go to the Pike & Rose development and a rooftop farm, Up Top Acres. We’ll learn about the transformation of a suburban sprawl to an urban oasis.

The Seneca Park Shwartz Peony Garden  is thanks to Edward P. Schwartz, a wealthy realtor, who put together a massive personal collection of peonies from dealers in Holland, France, England, and Germany as well as the United States. The field on display is only a portion of that original collections, but is still impressive.

Susanna Farm Nursery is offering our attendees a susanna20% discount: off any purchase, but it is Brant Baker’s obsession with dwarf conifers and Japanese maples that make this a “do not miss” stop. The “farm” looks more like an arboretum with its large specimen collection in a spectacular landscape setting.

Join us at the end of the day for an old-fashioned champagne punch cocktail at LilyPons Water Gardens, the perfect cap-off to a truly filling day. You can explore this 100+-year-old family business that was founded by G. Leicester Thomas, Sr., who turned his goldfish and water lily hobby collections into a thriving business.

Finally, those of us who want to avoid the worst of the evening rush hour can join us for Dutch-treat dinner at May’s Seafood, known for classic Maryland crabcakes.

I urge you to sign up TODAY as there are only 30 spots available and they will fill fast!

Meet the Author

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Kathy Jentz is editor of Washington Gardener Magazine and a long-time DC-area gardening enthusiast.  To book her for a garden talk, find her at Great Garden Speakers.  She also edits the IWGS Water Garden Journal and is a columnist and guest blogger for several other publications. Her latest foray is as the social media voice for horticultural brands. She can be reached at KathyJentz@gmail.com.