President: Leslie Shields 25 Johnson Avenue, Plainville, CT 06062 860.747.8175
Vice-President: Ellen Bender 25 Lanz Lane Ellington, CT 06029 860.871.8085
Treasurer: Maryanne Gryboski 88 Eager Rd. Franklin, CT 06254 860.822.6589
Corresponding Secretary and Newsletter Coordinator: Rose Riley 108 Church Street, Wethersfield, CT 06109 (860) 721-0547
Recording Secretary and Membership Director: Mary Anna Martell 4 Sunnieside Court, Waterford, CT 06385
Directors: Please Volunteer!
Web coordinator: Please Volunteer!
It is turning out to be an interesting, if not pleasant winter. At least there was snow cover for the bitter cold. Way too soon to believe that the worst is over but we can hope. We have our speakers set for the rest of the season. Write ups are inside.
Still have not settled on a place for the picnic on 30 June; probably Ballek’s or Broken Arrow. Any preference? Speak up! Please!
Prunus maritima var. gravesii
Prunus maritima var. gravesii is genuinely a very rare endemic Beach Plum originally discovered in 1897. Growing in a graveled sand ridge overlooking Groton Long Point in Groton, Connecticut one individual sporting about 15 stems had been identified in this location, nowhere else. Sadly, though the USDA has listed it as threatened and endangered the Center for Plant Conservation lists the only individual ever found as now extinct. NatureServe in 2001 reported that this sole individual lived over 100 years after its initial discovery, eventually dying from natural causes at the turn to the 21st century.
Though its demise upon that scenic ridge at Groton Long Point indicates that no others of its kind exist in nature, a thread of fortune has been bequeathed to the unique and exceedingly rare Grave’s Beach Plum. Prunus maritima var. gravesii has been propagated at the New York Botanic Garden. Greg Anderson, associated with the University of Connecticut has surmised that only a handful of specimens remain in a few arboreta – possibly Connecticut College in New London and the Arnold Arboretum just west of Boston. There may yet be a specimen on the campus of the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Professor Anderson generously allowed us cuttings from a specimen to which he has access. Now we have it at Quackin’ Grass. The numerical tally of specimens which may still be alive is unknown though it appears that they may be counted on fingers of one hand.
In good conditions this upright, multi-stemmed shrub may achieve 8.5 feet in height cloaked with rounded dark green glossy leaves with a crinkly texture and gently serrated edges. The rounded leaves of var. gravesii differ from the usual elliptic leaves found on all other Beach Plum. It produces white single and sometimes double flowers in May which draw all manner of bees and the occasional butterfly. Edible plums begin as small, green marbles and expand to the size of ping pong balls. By late summer the green sloes ripen crimson to purple. These may be harvested and turned into jelly or even wine at harvest. The plums are showy opulently decorating the autumn foliage tones that trend burgundy.
Prunus maritima var. gravesii has been surprisingly fussy from cuttings with some difficulty nurturing it through the first two years from the point of rooting.
This may be due to the fact that we originally attempted cuttings from a very small individual that had not yet settled completely in its new habitat. We retrieved several more cuttings this season which have rooted more readily. From cutting in a tube tray to gradually potting individuals into slightly larger pots finding the proper balance of drainage and water has also been somewhat vexing as var. gravesii appears to be slightly more fussy than other P. maritima we have grown. But as with other Beach Plums it gains zest and strength beyond those earliest most susceptible years in containers. We now have several individuals from which we can and will collect more cuttings. The addition of dolomitic limestone to potting media may very well be beneficial – consider the limey sandy soils in which Beach Plums revel.
One of the curious and complicating factors for the survival is that it requires pollen from another var. gravesii in order to produce fruit. Even though a single specimen carries both male and female flowers it may not pollinate itself. This is not a self-fertile plant similar to many Viburnum and Malus which require others in proximity for pollination resulting in fruit production. Though Graves Beach Plum may produce a few fruits without the benefit of cross pollination it will bless us with many fewer plums than it would if it was paired with another of its kind. Envisioned are multiple individuals planted in close enough proximity so that pollinators of many sorts might fly and flit from flower to flower, shrub to shrub gathering nectar from its pretty white flowers better insuring its cross pollination requirement.
But also implied in research is that var. gravesii cannot mingle with the straight P. maritima. This lends credence to some botanists and taxonomists that the morphology of Graves Beach Plum is distinct unto itself. If so, separate species status may be warranted. Unfortunately, for the apparent fact that var. gravesii shuns cross pollination from the common Beach Plum that single iconic individual at Groton Long Point that lived out its lonely life with no others of its kind in proximity was sadly marked for extinction.
Curious and curiouser: Graves Beach Plum appears to not produce true var. gravesii offspring from seed. For the fact that its offspring are quite variable and generally do not quite resemble the parent may mitigate the argument for distinct specie status. As is usual in the universe of plants there are many gray arenas and numerous exceptions which play upon an amazingly rich field. We humans, who are busy categorizing all manner of things are often stymied when the round peg refuses entry into that figurative square hole. Actual study and close scrutiny of the DNA of this rarity as compared to the average Beach Plum would answer questions concerning its place in the narrow hierarchy of the small group of Prunus maritima. However, if it were proven that Prunus maritima var. gravesii is a distinct and separate from P. maritima then it logically would be renamed Prunus gravesii. If so, its debut in this format would be more as a closely allied cousin to P. maritima rather than a sibling.
In a dream, the vision of which is a realistic possibility, I see conservationists, youth groups, the Conservation Commission in the Town of Groton and perhaps other shoreline communities, environmentalists, interested parties and Quackin’ Grass Nursery collaborate. We work together in our various capacities to replant numerous individuals of Prunus maritima var. gravesii at Groton Long Point. I would like to see more shrubs acquired by all arboretums in the northeast region so that the viability of this unique plum steps slightly farther from the precipice upon which it teeters. I long for the interest of home gardeners with a bent towards nativity that they would procure Graves Beach Plum and assimilate them into their landscape schemes further buttressing the margin of its survival. No longer helpless and alone Graves Beach Plum as has occurred with the Ben Franklin Tree will find enough foothold to stave it from almost certain extinction.
Penned by Wayne Paquette, September 2017
Russell is an experienced ecologist, horticulturist, botanist, and plant enthusiast who grows and sells many of the best and often hard to find ornamental plants for New England gardens at Odyssey Bulbs and Odyssey Perennials. He holds a master’s degree in forest ecology, has served in various professional capacities in public and private horticulture, has written for The American Gardener, Horticulture, and other publications, and is a member of numerous horticultural and botanical associations. He will be discussing some of the best hardy bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers that work best in the varied habitats of our gardens.
Think you know everything there is to know about spring wildflowers? So, did I, until I heard Margery Winters speak on the subject. She’s wonderfully informative and articulate, and you will enjoy seeing her slides and hearing her comments. This is one presentation that goes beyond being a parade of pretty pictures. You will come away with an increased appreciation for spring wildflowers and a desire to grow them in your garden.
This is strong praise when you realize that it comes from the person that many of us use as an expert in woodland plants, Judy King
Margery Winters works at the Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton.
Rain gardens are effective ways for dealing with storm runoff by capturing the water coming from gutters or driveways and allowing it to infiltrate back in the ground. This presentation will look at the whys and wherefores of rain gardens, their placement and plantings.
Kyle and Lisa Turoczi are the owners of Earth Tones, a native plant nursery and design installation business located in Woodbury, CT. Kyle received a degree from SUNY in Environmental Science and Forestry, studied soil science, and earned his MS in Resource Management and Conservation from Antioch U. Lisa has experience in plant propagation, and studied Landscape Design at SUNY with a degree in Landscape Architecture. Their goal is to heal the environment through sound ecological practices. See their website www.earthtonesnatives.com.
It seems as though every year there is more shade, deeper shade in our gardens. Some may view this as a problem but I see it as an opportunity. There are many great plants that we can add to out gardens.
Nancy of Ballek’s will show us some of her suggestions
May 23, 2018 – Kevin Wilcox
Cold Weather Japanese Maples are more than just pretty red leaves!
When gardeners think of Japanese Maples, they instinctively think about the red leaf forms of Acer palmatum. If you take a close look at the various sizes, colors and forms of the cultivars of Acer palmatum and add to the list the other species of Japanese maples, you get a large palate of material to choose from for your garden. So why restrict yourself to just red leaf forms?
This evening’s talk will focus on the beauty, use and hardiness of the various cultivars and species of Japanese maples available to CT gardeners. With so many possible plants to choose from, there will be many questions to ask. Some of the questions include: how big does this tree get?, is it hardy in my back yard?, why do I want a green leaf maple?, where can I buy that? These questions and more will be answered!
So, please join horticulturalist, Kevin Wilcox, as he talks his way through a colorful slide presentation. He brings 34 years experience in growing trees and shrubs to his presentations, along with a twisted belief in his own sense of humor.
Meeting Dates for Winter 2018 – Spring 2018
January 24, 2018 – Russell Stafford – Bulbs for Different Habitats
February 21, 2018 – Margery Winters – Spring Wildflowers
March 28, 2018 – Kyle and Lisa Turoczi – Rain Gardens
10:30 AM Bill Cullina, Coastal Maine Botanic Garden – What Do You Mean I’m Not a Perennial! ? ! – Native Shrubs and Small Trees for Perennial Companionship
1:00 PM Warren Leach, Tranquil Lake Nursery – Quenching Heat, Humidity, and Drought – Gardens that Dazzle- Withstanding the Dog Days and Onward.
March 28, 2018 – Lisa and Kyle Turoczi (Earth Tones) – Rain Gardens
April 25, 2018 – Nancy Ballek McKinnon – Hardy Plants for Shade
May 23, 2018 – Kevin Wilcox – Cold Weather Japanese Maples are more than just pretty red leaves!
June 30, 2018 – Picnic, location to be determined
THE HARDY PLANT SOCIETY OF NEW ENGLAND
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.
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
Phone Number: __________________ Email _____________________
Would EMAIL ALONE be for acceptable? _____ YES _____ NO
Please send to Mary Anna Martell, 4 Sunnieside Court, Waterford, CT 06385
GENERAL MEETING INFORMATION
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 January. 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.
Contact: Leslie Shields, president
25 Johnson Ave.
Plainville CT 06062