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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Four people injured, three homes burned in Manfield Street, Springfield house fire

Four people were transported to the hospital after the house they lived in was destroyed by fire Saturday afternoon. Several adjacent structures and several vehicles were damaged by the heat of the fire.

Springfield Fire Department spokesperson, Capt. Drew Piemonte said seven people were in the house at 30 Mansfield St. when fire was discovered at about 12:25 p.m. All were able to escape the burning building but not before several were hurt. Four were transported to the Baystate Medical Center with what Piemonte described as “non-life-threatening” injuries.

Firefighters said the house was “fully involved” in flames when the first units arrived and thick, black smoke obscured the scene as firefighters poured water on the burning two-and-a-half-story, single-family home.

The house at 28 Mansfield St. next to the primary fire scene sustained heat damage to the vinyl siding closest to the burning building. Smoke could be seen coming from under the eaves of the house until firefighters were able to get into the attic and take care of any extension.

The family living in that home, along with the occupants of 30 Mansfield and 18-20 Mansfield St. are all being aided by the Red Cross.

As some firefighters continued to spray both houses, others carried a cage apparently containing three guinea pigs from the smoking house. All three of the animals seemed unharmed. However, one dog died in the fire.

On the other side of the primary scene, the home at 18-20 Mansfield St. was checked for fire, but firefighters apparently found none. The owner of the property said all six people in the house were able to get out when fire was discovered next door.

A car parked on the street in front of the destroyed home also burned, apparently set ablaze by the heat of the burning building. Firefighters had to dodge the flames from the burning car as they attacked the structure fire. Several other vehicles were damaged by the heat, Piemonte said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Springfield Arson and Bomb Unit.

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Springfield outdoor events celebrate Japanese garden, culture

Jan Peterson, Special to the Springfield News-Leader
Published 1:28 p.m. CT Sept. 12, 2020


This year would have seen Springfield’s 25th Japanese Fall Festival.

But as with most festivals, the COVID-19 pandemic effectively cleared the 2020 calendar and left Lisa Bakerink and others involved with planning the Springfield Sister Cities Association’s annual festival looking for ways to reimagine it.

“We were going to have sumo wrestlers,” Bakerink laments with a faint laugh.

There may not be sumo wrestlers this year, but there will be cosplay and other entertainment at this weekend’s all-outdoor Japanese Fall Mini Series.

On Friday and Saturday (Aug. 11-12), guests can look forward to evening candlelight strolls through the Japanese Mizumoto Stroll Garden, garden-related workshops and cosplayers performing, along with a souvenir tent also offering Japanese food and drink.

Bakerink says surprises are in store for those who haven’t visited the Japanese garden in a while. Volunteers began making improvements to the park beginning in 2017. “The Japanese gardeners were here and helped us do quite a bit to our meditation garden,” she says. Improvements included installing bamboo panels and a fence and trimming trees.

“Since then, we’ve added to the improvements with dense plantings. One of the biggest things we’ve been able to do is completely redo all of the pathways,” Bakerink says. Tree roots had lifted sections, making the paths uneven and almost dangerous in spots. “Stamped concrete is a lot safer,” she says with a laugh.

The evening strolls through the 7.5-acre park also will feature music from local musicians. Lancaster Station, which plans to visit Springfield’s Sister City Isesaki in 2021, will perform Friday, while Uke 66, which visited Isesaki in 2017, will play Saturday.

The Friday Bonsai Workshop will be led by Chris Cox, The Bonsai Guy. On Saturday, folks can learn about Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Both workshops — $75 per person or $90 per couple — begin at 5:30 p.m. and include admission, a wishing lantern, Japanese food and drink and all of the materials needed to participate. You must register in advance at PeaceThroughPeople.org.

The cosplayers will show up at 3 p.m. Saturday. Bakerink encourages family groups to tote a picnic to the park to enjoy while the fun plays out. Those who arrive in costume will be admitted for $2.

Bakerink says even the scaled-back version of the celebration remains important. “Having an international focus and bringing people together through Peace Through People really adds value to life,” she says. “… It helps build friendships and helps people understand cultures and customs in different cities.”

And, she has hope for 2021.

“We had

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Wyoming house fire closes portion of Springfield Pike


A house fire in Wyoming has a portion of Springfield Pike around its intersection with West Charlotte Avenue closed in both directions this morning.

A dispatcher with the Hamilton County Communications Center said about 7 a.m. today that several fire departments are helping Wyoming firefighters put out the blaze in the 1500 block of Springfield Pike.

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