Gardden Club : Martha's Vineyard Garden Club report
The August program of the Martha's Vineyard Garden Club began with the annual business meeting chaired by outgoing president, Pat Adler, who introduced the incoming officers: President Laura Lee, and first vice president, Kristin Henriksen. Wiet Bacheller and Juanita duBose are town vice presidents for Tisbury and Edgartown. Incoming recording secretary is Ginger Duarte and treasurer is Judy Morse. All club members in attendance were presented with a printed copy of the Garden Club's Community Outreach activities, which documented the members' contributions to community beautification projects.
The Board set aside $2,000 of its budget for the 2008 scholarship award. They solicited additional contributions to the scholarship fund from members and in June awarded a $3,000 scholarship to Nica Sylvia of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School for her studies in environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
At this year's Agricultural Fair, the club sponsored two junior awards and a President's Award. Special mention was given to Wesley Brown and Mary Lou Perry whose management of the greenhouse netted the club a profit of over $4,000 from the sale of plants. Plants grown in the greenhouse by a volunteer committee provide much of the materials for town projects.
Two Garden Club members received special recognition. Louise Thorpe, a National Garden Club Master Judge of Horticulture and Design, directed two workshops in floral design in July and August. This popular activity will be repeated over the coming year. Club Windemere, sponsored by the Garden Club and supervised by Judy Bryant, provides a program for the residents of Windemere Nursing Care and Rehabilitation Center. Typically, 15 residents enjoy opportunities to work with flowers. The Garden Club gained 22 new members this year.
Danga Gabis, who installed and designed the herb garden at Vineyard Gardens, was the principal speaker for the remaining program. Ms. Gabis was assisted by Debbie Dean, who helped with the display of nearly two-dozen container plants filled with herbs, which are, according to Ms. Gabis, "truly wonderful plants. They can grow in poor soil, they don't mind drying out...are disease resistant, and rabbits and deer don't eat them."
When she came to extolling the fragrant foliage, French tarragon, Ms. Gabis provided her audience with her favorite recipe for Summer Boiled Chicken with Tarragon. Loosely, it goes something like this:
Take one onion, some carrots, some salt, a cup of wine, water barely enough to cover a chicken in a pot and throw in a handful of tarragon. This makes for wonderful chicken salad and she says that dried tarragon has the "same rich flavor as fresh herbs." Dried basil, on the other hand, in her opinion, isn't worth much as a seasoning. Citing Prostrate Rosemary as one of "my favorite plants," she displayed the plant to advantage in a hanging basket. The Tuscan Blue variety blooms in late summer with a deep bluish flower. According to tradition, rosemary calms your nerves and relieves depression. Salem rosemary is a good all-around herb and grows into a fairly large shrub. Another culinary tip from Ms. Gabis: take long branches of rosemary and put on top of meat or scallops on the barbeque. She admits a preference for Prostrate Rosemary, which she keeps in a pot in her sunny kitchen all winter long. Be sure not to over-water the plant, which survives very well in a house kept on the cool side.
The audience was treated to a feast for the eyes in the striking containers filled with herbs. One striking oval-shaped soapstone container was approximately two feet in size and filled with an eye-catching arrangement of thyme, purple sage, oregano, prostrate rosemary, and garlic chives.
Good advice was plentiful. Don't forget that lavender needs to be cut in spring at least 1/3 of the way down. Tansy and oregano have been known to repel mosquitoes, and Wormwood keeps moths out of your clothes. Nasturtiums don't like very hot weather, and basil can do very well indoors in a sunny window. Take the seed heads off and the basil will bush out, but don't let the basil flower. After flowering, the basil plant will say, according to Ms. Gabis, "I've done my job: I don't need to do anymore."