Springfield Garden Club readies for remote program

Springfield Garden Club Horticulture Education Chairman and Master Gardener Janet Dolder is passionate about native plants.

“It is not unusual for gardeners and landscapers to label any plant that wasn’t intentionally planted as a weed that needs to be eradicated,” she said. “There are so many beautiful native shrubs, trees, perennials and groundcovers that will easily adapt to growing in our backyards. It only takes a little research and a presentation or two with an expert … to get started.”

The garden club’s October program, “Why We Care About Native Plants” is just such a presentation. Featuring Dan Jaffe, it will take place Friday, Oct. 16, at noon via Zoom.

Jaffe is a well-known horticulturist, propagator and landscape designer. He earned a degree in botany from the University of Maine and an advanced certificate in Native Plant Horticulture and Design from the New England Wild Flower Society. He is currently the staff photographer, horticulturalist and propagator for Norcross Wildlife Sanctuary in Monson.

During the Zoom meeting, he will discuss how to select and combine the right species for specific site conditions and how this community-oriented approach can be applied to plantings of all sizes. Participants will learn how to create healthy, resilient plant communities that are beautiful and ecologically vibrant.

Questions for Jaffe, co-author of “Native Plants for New England Gardens” — which features his photographs — will be accepted through the chat function of Zoom and will be answered in real time.

“It’s time to reestablish native plants in the urban landscape before it’s too late,” Dolder said. “As more space is developed, the ground becomes covered with concrete, lawns and exotic, hybridized shrubs and perennials, starving native vegetation of its natural habitat. In turn, insects that have evolved alongside those plants and adapted their diets to the native plants’ pollen and nectar also starve, and the birds who counted on those insects to feed their young are becoming extinct.”

Most of the plant materials garden club members use in their arrangements are found in their yards and gardens, so there are natives included. “While you could make an arrangement from all natives, we generally use a mix for variety,” said Mary E. Bandouveres, garden club publicity chairman. “Using natives in arrangements is a fun benefit of growing them. You can beautify as well as benefit the environment. In addition, as this is their ‘native’ land, native plants can be easier to grow than some imported ones.”

She particularly likes using milkweed in her arrangements. “It’s not the most flamboyant plant, but it is the only food a monarch caterpillar can eat. So, the survival of the monarchs is dependent on the availability of milkweed plants. And they are easy to grow,” she said.

For Dolder, the vibrant colors from native maples and oaks, with a groundcover of goldenrod, wild aster and native ferns, are a reminder that “fall in New England is one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Current Springfield Garden Club members will receive information

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Mnuchin Sees One More Chance for Stimulus, as House Readies Vote

(Bloomberg) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he sees “one more serious try” at securing a deal with Congress on another fiscal stimulus package and suggested he’ll offer Democrats a proposal for roughly $1.5 trillion in pandemic relief.

Mnuchin said Wednesday on CNBC that the administration’s counter-offer to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is similar to a plan put forward by a bipartisan group of House members — which included an escalation in spending up to $2 trillion if the coronavirus pandemic persists. That’s still short of a $2.2 trillion relief package that Democrats unveiled Monday and are preparing to bring to a House vote.

Mnuchin said he hopes to have an “understanding” worked out by Thursday.

Pelosi has asked Democrats to deliver a “strong vote” for the party’s latest package, which is smaller than the $3.4 trillion they passed in May but rejected by Republicans. In a letter to colleagues, she described it a “proffer” in talks. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told fellow Democrats Wednesday his intention is to send the bill to the floor Wednesday or Thursday if there is no deal with Mnuchin.

Mnuchin and Pelosi will talk Wednesday afternoon, the Treasury chief said. Renewed optimism on the potential for a compromise saw U.S. stocks open to gains, after futures had earlier tipped another down day.

“Whether we get this fiscal deal done or we don’t, I am confident we will continue to have economic growth and rebound,” Mnuchin said. “I’m confident we can get something done, and if we don’t, we will come back and work on it after the election.”



Nancy Pelosi wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: House Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly News Conference


© Bloomberg
House Speaker Pelosi Holds Weekly News Conference

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

He also underscored that more support for airlines is critical, as carriers face the risk of a wave of layoffs. Mnuchin said that he doesn’t expect a stand-alone bill for airline aid, and that he’ll update top executives on the talks after he confers with Pelosi.

The negotiations between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats are at a critical juncture. Either Pelosi can cut a deal with the White House or the Democratic-led House will vote on her $2.2 trillion plan without Republican support, allowing members leave town for pre-election campaigning.

If no deal is reached, Democrats could vote by Thursday. Timing will depend on the result of Pelosi’s talks with Mnuchin. House Republican leaders have already rejected the proposal.

While the legislative text adds clarity to the Democratic offer, the top-line spending level is no closer to what Republicans say they’ll support. President Donald Trump has indicated he could agree to as much as $1.5 trillion in aid — but even that is more than the $650 billion put forth in a “skinny” aid package by Senate Republicans earlier this month.

Officials in both parties privately questioned whether the differences could be bridged. Pessimism about reaching a deal was one of the factors that helped push stocks lower on Tuesday. Private economists have increasingly abandoned

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House readies contempt resolution as Pompeo defies subpoenas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Foreign Affairs Committee is moving to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt after he has repeatedly rejected the committee’s subpoenas for records related to Ukraine that the department has turned over to the Republican-led Senate.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Friday that the panel will prepare a contempt resolution because of what he called Pompeo’s “unprecedented record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority.” The House has asked for the same documents that the State Department has turned over for a Senate investigation into Democrat Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his activities in Ukraine, but Pompeo has refused to provide them.

In a letter to Engel this week, the department said Pompeo would turn over the documents if the House panel was investigating, like the Senate, “identical or very similar corruption issues involving Ukraine and corrupt influence related to U.S. foreign policy.” Democrats have said they believe that investigation by the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee is a politically motivated, election-year probe that is aiding Russia’s attempts to sow chaos in American democracy and spreading Russian disinformation.

The department reiterated that position Friday after Engel said he would pursue contempt, saying in a statement that they would provide the materials “with the only condition being that he send a letter explaining what foreign policy issue he is investigating that requires these documents.”

The committee’s contempt resolution will also cite Pompeo’s refusal to comply with a subpoena issued during the House impeachment inquiry last year. The House impeached President Donald Trump in December — and the Senate acquitted him in February — for his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden as Joe Biden was running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump. The president and his associates asked Ukraine for the probes as he was withholding military aid to the country.

“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing, according the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: ‘spreading claims about corruption’ in order to ‘interfere in the American presidential election,’” Engel said. “In other words, Pompeo will give the committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the president’s political rival. Sound familiar?”

The contempt resolution is the latest — and likely futile — attempt by the Democrat-led House to pressure Trump’s administration into complying with requests for testimony and information on a wide range of issues. While congressional subpoenas are legally binding, officials who have rebuffed Congress have faced little consequence for defying them, while Trump has fired or demoted federal employees who have complied with requests individually.

Contempt itself is largely a symbolic gesture that has generally been used to embarrass officials who refuse congressional requests, and Democratic attempts to legally fight the administration’s refusals have been drawn out in lengthy court battles.

The State Department has also defied subpoenas in the committee’s investigation of Trump’s firing of

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