1. September 2016 Newsletter



Leslie Shields

25 Johnson Avenue,

Plainville, CT 06062




Ellen Bender

25 Lanz Lane

Ellington, CT 06029




Maryanne Gryboski

88 Eager Rd.

Franklin, CT 06254



Corresponding Secretary and

Newsletter Coordinator:

Rose Riley

108 Church Street,

Wethersfield, CT 06109

(860) 721-0547 Rosekriley@sbcglobal.net

Recording Secretary and Membership Director:

Mary Anna Martell

4 Sunnieside Court, Waterford, CT 06385



Please Volunteer!

Web coordinator:

Please Volunteer!


It has been a while –

Art Bruce, our long time treasurer, has embarked upon a well-earned retirement.  I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Art for the many years and the many tasks that he has done for the Society. 

His leaving has pointed out that we need to review our officer and board positions to make sure they are filled. 

Maryanne Gryboski has volunteered to become treasurer. One of the first things we need to do at our September meeting is have an election to make things official.  According to our bylaws, we need people to be members of the board. We would like a couple of people to step up to fill open board positions. 

We would also like a couple more people to be on a program committee – many hands and many heads…

And we also need a couple more people to work on membership. Our paid membership has eroded to the point where we are not sustainable. You will notice that we have made the difficult decision to raise the dues to $40 for individuals and $45 for families. We are increasing our guest fee to $10.  Perhaps our membership committee can come up with ideas to help retain existing members and attract new ones.

Four of us (Ellen Bender, Maryanne Gryboski, Rose Riley, and myself) met to discuss the problems Hardy Plant is experiencing and we all agree that keeping high quality speakers is our first priority. That is the main reason for our existence but we need your help.

If you have not returned the survey that was sent out, please do so. Your ideas are important to our future.

-Who would you suggest as a “top-notch” speaker?

-Who would you like to see return for a repeat visit?

-Any ideas for a workshop?

-Perhaps you would like to host a speaker overnight?

Be brave and agree to be on the Board.

Basically, we are at the point where if we cannot pull together, we will not survive.   Leslie

Two Woodland Peonies

When we think of peonies most of us picture the wonderful old-fashioned Paeonia lactiflora hybrids that live on in the memories of our grandmothers’ gardens. Exceptionally long-lived, a century or longer, they are sun-loving and quintessential June bloomers. There are a number of other herbaceous Eurasian and Balkan peonies plus one that is barely known from western North America, Paeonia brownii.

A different group of peonies are the so-called tree peonies which prefer part to a bright, open shade. P. suffruticosa and related suffruticose types blooms on old wood, from last year’s woody stems which will have survived the vagaries of winter. These should never be chopped down at the end of the season when one performs the task of garden clean-up. If you do you will destroy the germinal flowers sleeping in those stems and it may take years for the shrub to recover its former glory that is if it survives at all. There is an extraordinary new set of hybrids between P. lactiflora and P. suffruticosa which have been recently introduced. These are commonly called the Itoh Peonies. These demonstrate qualities of both species, relish basking in the sun and display a broadened color range in the extra-large flowers very reminiscent of P. suffruticosa parentage. They are dashing and exceptional.

Too often ignored in the amazing world of peonies are the charming woodland peonies from Asia. Closely related to the lactifloras they succumb to the tuber when temperatures grow cold. Unlike the lactifloras, they prefer the protection of shade to dappled light but will tolerate morning sun if not too hot. Strong-stemmed they do not require staking and their gem-like seed pods add unusual beauty and texture at the end of the growing season. Flowers are simple and lovely. Let’s examine two, both having beautiful single, elegant flowers with the added bonus of striking late season fruiting displays. Paeonia japonica hales from Japan and with broader reach is P. obovata whose nativity extends from Japan into China.


Paeonia japonica is very early flowering in northeastern Connecticut, late April when milder to early May if the winter is long. Rounded, bowl-shaped singular flowers are satiny white to cream-ivory. Buds typically occur at the terminal tops of stem which stand 16 to 20 inches tall, the entire plant growing 24 to 30 inches wide. Foliage remains clean and green all through the growing season.

Hardy from USDA zones 5 to 8 this lovely peony demonstrates surprising frost tolerance. The flower’s delicate charm belies its apparent toughness having survived multiple frosts during this tricky time of the season through the years without damage. There will be some browning of petal edges if the temperature plummets to unusual cold and remains very low for some time but even then unopened buds remain unscathed. After having grown this species for years I am still surprised by its early arrival and delighted at its simple beauty.

Following the flowering event comes the seed. These stubby, truncated “bean pods” radiate outward from the juncture where they meet the top of the stem. Usually in pairs or threes as many as five rolled fingers may occur ending in a point. They remain tightly closed throughout the summer. But finally these split open, downturn and unroll from the top center and whole new world of late season beauty arrives. They reveal fluorescent red flesh, a brilliant hue. Embedded in and rising above this flesh are fat, round and dark blue semi-glossy berries. These dark berries hold viable, pollinated seed. The blue on red is amazing on an fascinatingly-shaped seeding structure like a gem-studded broach adding eye-popping interest in the late season woodland garden.


Paeonia obovata flowers in early summer with showy, single pink flowers many weeks later than P. japonica. The large and welcome flowers set atop stems which can grow to 20 inches tall but may stretch 30 inches. Deep, dark green vinyl foliage is textured handsome making a fine background foil to shorter woodlanders. And here it remains clean and fresh, not pestered by insects all-the-growing-season long. Sometimes when temperatures cool in late season the leaves pick of gold to red to orange overtones just in time for autumn. Paeonia obovata is even more cold hardy than its close cousin, through USDA climate zone 4 and extends its range to zone 8.

Seed pods develop and hold through the summer. They are even larger and more dramatic than those of P. japonica. When occurring in sets of three they are delightfully reminiscent of medieval jesters’ hats. When five-pointed they remind one of beautiful green starfish as if seen through a tidal pool.

We have seen as many as seven-pointed seed pods like spokes of a wheel. In autumn they metamorphose into exotic, bejeweled starfish when they split open to reveal a brilliant crimson, fleshy backdrop, backdrop to the plump dark blueberry-like fruits studding the vibrant red. These fruits are vessels holding pollinated seed. Upon close inspection there is a rich red-violet hue exhibited on the inner skin of the pods augmenting the richness of the event which extends for many weeks. Part of the autumn processional it is almost like a second flowering making for dynamic interest.

Both these species will slowly self-sow if seed is not harvested in garden areas – doubtful ever being considered technical “invasives” as it is unlikely either would be content as roadside or forest denizens. But they do relish fertile and organic, moisture retaining garden conditions. Culture for both these species is not difficult. Added humus to enrich would be beneficial. As with the lactifloras do not plant the dark red eyes near or at the tops of tubers more than 2 inches below the soil surface. Deep planting will scuttle flowering. Autumn planting is fine. Spring planting is possible with potted stock. A light organic mulch will retain soil moisture and encourage cooler soil temperatures. A third benefit is that as the mulch breaks down it feeds the soil in a natural cycle; feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants. The plants will feed your soul.

We would not be without these beautiful, easy-natured members of royalty in our woodland realm, queens of the woodland. They enrich the palette and augment depth and beauty both in spring and autumn. Any herbaceous perennial that exhibits multiple seasons of interest should be given priority in today’s smaller gardens. We need to capitalize and extract as much beauty for as long as possible from every plant we grow. Both Paeonia japonica and P. obovata fulfill this requirement. Dig in. Have fun.

Wayne Paquette

Quackin’ Grass Nursery



SEPTEMBER 28, 2016 – Update on Insect Problems – Katherine Dugas

We begin our season with an Update on Insect Problems in Connecticut presented by Katherine Dugas who is the State Survey Coordinator for the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) at CAES.

Katherine Dugas received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Connecticut College in 2005. She received her Master’s in Plant Sciences and Entomology from the University of Rhode Island in 2008. Katherine has worked on several studies, including Phragmites control on the lower Connecticut River and the effect of relative humidity on black-legged tick abundance in Rhode Island.

In 2016 we have seen the activity of several notable insect pests. Gypsy moth has been very active in the past few years due to dry spring seasons. Emerald ash borer has now been found in all 8 CT counties. Winter moth is slowly expanding its range along the CT coastline. This talk will discuss these and other pests, as well as survey methods and possible control..

OCTOBER 26, 2016 – How I Spent my Summer Vacation – Nancy DeBrule-Clemente

We are off on a whirlwind trip to the gardens of England with one of the best guides ever!

Many of you may know that Nancy DuBrule-Clemente lead a trip to the garden mecca of the world this summer. Some on you may have seen some of her Facebook posts and wisj you could see more or ask questions.

Well, here’s your chance. We have invited Nancy to be our October speaker and she has agreed. Being a former teacher I have decided on the title How I Spent my Summer Vacation. I can’t wait.

If there is anyone out there who doesn’t know Nancy, she is the owner and driving force behind Natureworks gardens in Northford. She was gardening organically before most of us even knew the word. You will never find a more enthusiastic speaker or a more knowledgeable one.

Come join the FUN

NOVEMBER 16, 2016 – My Favorite Hardy Plants: from Woodies to Weeds

Elaine Chittenden

Elaine received her BS Cum Laude in Soil Science and Agronomy from the University of Connecticut, and a Masters in Botany/Plant Biology from Michigan State University. She has worked as Botanist/Volunteer Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy, Collections Manager at MSU, and is currently Manager of Living Collections at The Botanic Garden of Smith College. Elaine will be giving a slide presentation of her favorite hardy plants, many of which are woodies and many of which are in the Smith Collection, discussing why she holds them in high regard. There will be time at the end to discuss some of the reference materials that she uses in her work at Smith when researching the cultural needs of new acquisitions (e.g., Dirr, Phillip & Rix, Flora of Japan, etc.).

DECEMBER 7, 2016 – Scanner Photography with a Winter Theme – Ellen Hoverkamp

To help get us ready for the holidays, we have asked Ellen Hoverkamp to give us a presentation of the process she uses to produce those incredible flatbed scanner photographs that have become renowned in this area.

She has been using this method since 1997. Through various shows and magazines, people have admired her work. She worked with Ken Druse to illustrate his book Natural Companions. Her most recent project was creating panels for the West Haven Train Station using sea glass, seaweed, shells and other natural materials.

The program will consist of a presentation of some of her images featuring her collaborations and recent projects. There will be a demonstration of the scanner, techniques, composition, tools, and ways that it can be of use to us in our gardening creations.

The special theme for this presentation will be about scanning evergreens for notecards, gift tags, and wrapping paper.

She has also promised to bring along some items to sell for holiday use or gifts

Hold the Date – Meeting Dates for 2017

JANUARY 25, 2017


MARCH 22, 2017

APRIL 26, 2017

MAY 24, 2017

JUNE 24, 2017

Socializing and goodies will begin at 7:00PM with the speaker at 7:30 PM.  

Members whose last names begin with A-M are asked to bring goodies in September. We will alternate initials with each month.

Directions for all regular meetings:

The Solomon Welles House, Wethersfield, CT

From the Silas Deane Highway (Route 99) turn East on Nott Street.  The
house is located at the intersection of Nott Street, Hartford Avenue and State
Street.  The street address is 220 Hartford Avenue, Wethersfield, CT.  

From I 91, take exit 26 and follow signs to Motor Vehicle Department.  The house is just beyond the MVD building at the intersection of Nott Street, Hartford Avenue and State Street.

There is a circular drive in front of the house and people may stop there to
unload anything that they are bringing to the meeting. There are two
handicapped spaces to the left of the house off this semicircle. To get to the
main parking area, you must follow the driveway around the left side of the
house to the area below and behind it. A pathway leads to the house from
the parking area and you may enter the house from either the front door or
the side kitchen door.  

Website: cthardyplantsociety.org

Contact: Leslie Shields, president

25 Johnson Ave.

Plainville CT 06062




The HARDY PLANT SOCIETY (HPS) of New England, Connecticut Chapter is a friendly and informal gathering of plant lovers. The stated purpose of HARDY PLANT SOCIETY is to cultivate and promote interest in plants that are hardy in New England, from the tiniest herbaceous plants to giant trees and all between. As our membership draws from a broad range of interests, the exchange of ideas and knowledge among our group is dynamic!

HPS holds a series of evening lectures from September to April. These meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of the month except November and December when the meetings are held on the third Wednesday. There is no meeting in February. The December meeting also includes a holiday celebration. At meetings there is often a raffle and/or auction of donated plants. There is a $10 guest fee for non-members at the meetings.

Our group presents the HARDY PLANT SYMPOSIUM held on the first Saturday in March. We host two presentations in an all-day affair. This event is always interesting and informative. And a lunch consisting of soups and breads is provided by members who really know how to cook!

We invite you to join HARDY PLANT SOCIETY. The annual dues are $40 for a single membership and $45 for a family membership. The membership year begins September 1 and ends August 31.

HPS was formed in 1994 and has since incorporated, achieving 501 (c) (3), non-profit status

PLEASE enclose a stamped self- addressed envelope for your membership card or pick it up at a meeting


Annual Dues: _____ Individual $40.00 _____ Family $45.00

Name(s): ____________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________


Phone Number: _______________ Email _____________________

Would EMAIL ALONE be for acceptable? _____ YES _____ NO

Please send to Mary Anna Martell, 4 Sunnieside Court, Waterford, CT 06385