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Newsletter Posts

My Favorite Thing

Robin Schachat

The Opportunity to Binge with Friends

Shirley Meneice.jpg

Greetings to the Ladies of the SLGC from hot, humid, and sunstroke-inducing Omaha!  Julie Given and I are here at the Shirley Meneice Horticulture Workshop, hosted annually at one or another US public garden or arboretum by the Garden Club of America Horticulture Committee.  I have attended 4 Meneices previously (2 with my Maryland club), and hopped into this one because there was room even though it is Julie who is our official SLGC rep this time.  Great lectures, great gardens to view, great hands-on workshops.  And you meet great people, too!  When I went to the Meneice at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I met a woman who has become a dear friend ever since -- Iris Harvie, just coincidentally from the Garden Club of Cleveland!  At my second Meneice, at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, I sat with a fun lady during a bonsai workshop and then we lunched together -- turns out I had read her books!  She was Roz Creasey, who would speak the next day, and who then came to speak to our joint meeting with GCC and Akron a few years ago.  And Roz introduced me to Scott Kunst from Old House Gardens, who came to speak at SLGC as well, and we became friends.  I got to talk bulbs with him at a GCA Zone meeting dinner a couple of years ago when he was receiving an award.  And then there was….well, you get my drift.  You meet the greatest people, and you learn the greatest things, at GCA workshops and meetings.   Bill Radler, who hybridized Knockout roses?  I’ve chatted with him at multiple annual meetings;  he is a stitch!  Charles Birnbaum, head of The Cultural Landscape Foundation?   So knowledgeable (and handsome)!  We first met over dinner at an annual meeting as well.  And if I weren’t going to New York for a GCA Program Committee meeting at the beginning of October, I’d be enjoying Charles’s chatter for a third time at TCLF’s fantastic annual “What’s Out There” meeting in Indianapolis.  You should go!

That’s my point.  You should all go!  There is so much information out there that we can enjoy, and you don’t need to come to Omaha to do it.  At the Tri-C campus yesterday, the third annual Cleveland Pollinator and Native Plant Symposium, run by our own Ann Cicarella, took place;  great info, great speakers.  One of the headline speakers at the first of these was Doug Tallamy, author of many books including Bringing Nature Home, which I believe is the most important book on planting residential gardens anywhere today.  I first met Doug at a GCA Zone X meeting, too!  

Of course, if your idea of fun educational experiences is a little more recreational, how about the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Natural Areas Wine Tour on October 21?  Or you could attend other CMNH tours with Jim Bissell, with whom I’ve attended both GCA Zone and annual meeting events, and who is as some of you know just a lovely fellow -- he’s leading a group to explore Big Trees of the Grand River Terraces on October 20, and there are still a few spaces.  You might congratulate him on the recent publication of THE definitive guide to the genus Solidago, which members of our club helped to sponsor.

A couple of years ago, Margaret Ransohoff and I celebrated Arbor Day with Ned Friedman, Director of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.  We dined with Eliot Paine, Ned, and a few Holden Arboretum employees before hearing his utterly fascinating lecture on the evolution of trees.  It was like being back in college -- our brains lit up and couldn’t stop!  Learning is SO MUCH FUN!  And in Cleveland we have great opportunities to do it for a couple of hours, or we can take our brains to a meeting anywhere and binge on feeding them!

And tomorrow I get to start doing it again intensively, in company with not only Julie but also members of almost every GCA club.  I’ll leave it to Julie to report to you on the sessions later, but for now I am going to wallow in meeting people and lighting up my brain some more. And of course, visiting the Zoo and the Lauritzen Gardens Botanical Center in the cold, pouring rain (hot today, not hot Monday and Tuesday, sigh)!  And seeing old friends -- the best thing about GCA, meeting so many friends!  I wish you could all be here to do this with me!