While the coronavirus has forced many people to cancel plans and activities, gardeners have had more time to tend to their flowers, shrubs and plants.
Members of the Gonzales Garden Club talked about the measures they took to keep their plants growing during a Sept. 2 meeting. However, it wasn’t their usual gathering.
After months of suspended activities, the Gonzales Garden Club turned to the internet for its first meeting for the 2020-21 season.
Fourteen members attended virtually with the promise that more members will access the video conferencing program next month. President Jamie Trisler followed the routine schedule of the pledge, prayer, roll call, old and new business and featured program presentation.
Members cited examples of the impact the pandemic has had on their gardens. Many said their time spent at home resulted in outdoor success. Some stayed away from plant nurseries and bought seeds online; others propagated from what regrew or had young loved ones bring them plants and mulch. A few ventured out to nurseries with masks as their only “essential” outings.
After recurrent family setbacks, Dale Bowman was able to “get all caught up” in her beds this summer. Janis D’Benedetto concentrated on vegetable gardening and grew “more than enough tomatoes.” Conchita Richey noted that she “worked in the garden the entire time. It was my salvation.” Gwen Heck said her five-year-old garden is now “the best it’s ever looked.”
The program this month was “Pollinator Plants” by member Mary Jo Pohlig. She presented photos of 26 of her plants that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and gave unique details about each, commenting on their growth habits and needs. Her favorite easy-to-grow pollinator plants are Mexican flame vine, purple porterweed and zinnias because of how much wildlife loves them. Other reliable sun-loving bloomers include begonia, cassia, cat’s whiskers, cigar plant, coleus, fennel, globe amaranth, hibiscus, hyssop, ironweed, milkweed, moon flowers, passion vine, penta, pride of Barbados and salvia.
Pollinator plants that acclimate to shade are black-eyed Susan, firespike, guara, impatiens and Turk’s cap. Prolific pollinator plants that spread are black-eyed Susan, lyreleaf sage, mistflower, ruellia, trailing lantana and yarrow.
Pohlig toured her garden in real-time using the camera and microphone of her iPad to transmit the images of her flourishing beds. Members were able to ask questions and get answers about Pohlig’s garden practices. “To have success with these kinds of plants, fertilize thoroughly in the spring then add doses of specialty fertilizers a couple of times during the summer,” she said. Besides using fertilizer and mulch, her best advice is to “find the right place for the right plant.”
In addition to membership in the Gonzales Garden Club, Pohlig belongs to the Ascension Master Gardener Association, Sundowner’s African Violet Society, African Violet Society of America, National Audubon Society and Louisiana Ornithological Society. She is vice president of GGC plus serves on committees that plan projects and maintain community gardens.
Member Barbara McCormick presented a floral design, which is customary at in-person monthly meetings. She used flowers, as well as greenery from her home garden to form a crescent-line arrangement which she displayed via Zoom.
Three recommended horticulture hints for September were also offered: Sew cool-season annual seeds. Divide and transplant Louisiana iris. Prune roses up to one third the plant.
This virtual event of Trisler conducting the business meeting, Pohlig showing her plants, and McCormick presenting a floral design all grounded to the club’s efforts to get back to normal. Trisler noted, “Our Zoom meetings help keep our community of garden club members thriving.” Another virtual meeting is planned for next month when Marilyn Rice will demonstrate the creation of basic floral designs.