All posts by leadort

Dazzling Dahlias!

Dahlia or Dahlia hortensis is an amazing spiky flower grown in some areas as a perennial bush.  It belongs to the Compositae family.


It has approximately 50,000 cultivations, the flower was named after the  18thcentury Swedish botanist Ander Dahl.

These amazing flowers were on display the first weekend of Fall at Longwood Gardens along with The Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society. They hosted the American Dahlia Society’s 2018 National Show.  Over 2,000 blooms filled the Conservatory during this competitive show with the major dahlia species featured in the Exhibition Hall. These flowers range in size from 10 inch (dinner plate) across to 2 inches (pompon or some are labeled pompom)!  The trail garden at Longwood featured Dahlias specifically because of the show this year.

In this garden region Dahlia’s need to be removed and stored over the winter. This can be done after the first frost and when the foliage has blackened. Then carefully dig up your dahlia tubers and cut the stalk 2 inches away from the tuber.  Let the tuber dry out in a frost free area for a couple of days. Once the tubers are dry brush off excess soil and store in ventilated box, basket or heavy brown paper bag. Cover the tubers with slightly damp sand, peat moss or vermiculite and place in a cool dry place where temperatures are between 45 and 55 degrees.  Check on them periodically to make sure they are not rotting, have become a winter snack for a critter or have shriveled up.  If they do not look plump in appearance just mist them lightly with water.  The tubers are quite fragile at this stage so be careful handling them.  They can be replanted in the garden when temperatures warm up consistently later in the Spring.

It was fun to learn and experience the joy dahlias bring; the show made you want to plant a special area in your garden and share in the same delight of all the proud owners of these wonderful plants put on display.

See photos of the show below, enjoy and maybe you will be inspired to plant a dahlia next season or better yet visit a friend’s garden who already has them and help them dig up the tubers and prepare them for winter and maybe you will be sent home with a few tubers of your own!

Till next time, delve and delight in nature!


A Flower Show: Triumph and Transparency

For the first time in the history of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs; three clubs created, participated in and presented a flower show to one of its local communities in Northern Wilmington.  The Canterbury, Garden Gate, and Moonflower Garden Clubs gathered with grace to put on a small but mighty flower show that opened all of our hearts up to wonder of Beyond The Garden Gate.



I had the pleasure of being the Photography Chair, submitted photos as a participant along with entering horticulture and was arm twisted into a creating my first design.  So since I am a woman of my word I did everything I was asked to do even the design which I knew was purely on the effort of “just try it”, I said to myself, you can’t back out, you can but that’s not you and I could hear Bill Baur in my ear saying just do it, just try.


Bill is such an advocate of all of us entering into any flower show presented to us including the Philadelphia Flower Show which yup gave me my first serious blue ribbon, so no matter what I now always give these sometimes torturous flower shows a try.

So let me share and be transparent with you all and maybe you will learn something from my experience; the photography chair job was great and easy you just have to be super organized and have a lot patience to label the photos and stage them just right when you have extremely enthusiastic entries that are in large volumes, LOL yup Ms. Kathe Worrell got a tad excited about this section of the show, God bless her heart and she did submit some beauties and won some awards as did myself. I even had our youngest son submit for the first time he learned a great deal and had fun. (He’s a classic teenager and is caught texting about the experience, so that confirms it was big deal indeed)


So photography was good: I also submitted horticulture and placed an award with my Limelight Hydrangea submission cut early that morning the day of the show.  I used to be hesitant in doing that but over came that fear when I won in our last show a blue ribbon for a Dogwood Tree on our property.

But now we come to speak on the design I was “arm twisted” into it was to be a creative mass or traditional design and I picked the Community Forestry titled section.  I figured we practically live in the woods this will be easy to do and yup I did something alright only to be boldly told that my creation was NOT a design but a planter.

I had to chuckle I might have even laughed when I saw the comments from the judges because when I was done creating my little masterpiece at home I said to myself hmm that’s a nice planter. Duh Tracy the universe confirmed that, when you were sooo satisfied with it, dusted my hands off and said “I’m done”, “It is what it is” and guess what; it clearly wasn’t what was expected of me.

However, I am so open to learning that I’m ok and plus I have thick skin due to a proper upbringing so those bold words from the judges would never bring me to my knees in defeat. This sassy lady just said ok if there is a next time and a BIG “IF” I’ll do a bit better.

And apparently if you add dirt to a design it’s not a design too funny and I wonder if that’s printed in that fancy flower design handbook if so; someone please show me the page number PLEASE.  Anyhoo, I know some of the master designers and novice ones there were probably appalled at my creation but we all know their opinions and definitely the opinions of those judges are always “Subjective” that was obvious when DCH (Delaware Center of Horticulture) our host came behind the judges and conducted their own judging and gave stellar awards to non-blue ribbon winners already judged.  Go figure THAT!

Well enough about my lessons learned in flower show entering; just see photos of the highlights of a quite lovely show and some happy winners. I tell you I was most proud of Suzanne Smith who placed second, up against some well known and talented exhibitors “Go Suzanne you Rock Girl” I was sooo happy for her it was fun to see her take that win!

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So please enter in the next flower show that you are invited to do so and please have fun, be open to learning and be ok with yourself if you don’t win a ribbon and very importantly if you do create a design don’t use dirt it will be considered a planter!

Just sayin… LOL

Enjoy the captured flower show photos and the smile of Barbara Boyce another exhibitor embracing the joy of winning!







Please just go beyond your garden gate and get out there and just try, it’s always worth the experience!

Are you a Moth-ER??

Its a hot, humid, steamy night, totally pitch black outside but the intense sound of fluttering is the only sound heard in the stillness of the night.  Those flutters are coming  from Hypercompe scribonia, Zeuzera pyrina pyrina, Dyrocampa rubicunda, Eudryas grata and Hemithea aestivaria! Or commonly known as Giant leopard moth, Tiger moth, Rosy maple moth, Beautiful wood nymph and Emerald moth.

National Moth week this year was 7/21-7/29/2018 but the moths I witnessed were at the end of the first week of August only because viewing them had been rescheduled twice due to our excessive heavy rain and thunderstorms in our local area.

Mothing is popular summer nighttime event; all that is required is a white sheet/cloth a black light or if you are a true moth geek and have the budget to own a mercury vapor bulb moths will gather from far and beyond to come towards that particular light.  The mercury vapor bulb has a very high intensity UV (which should not be looked into for long periods with the human eye) that attracts moths with great intensity.  However, most of us can afford a black light or a normal outside bulb which allows you to search near and/or close to the area where the light is being emitted.

The life cycle of a moth is egg, larva(caterpillar), cocoon, adult moth.  What’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? The most prominent difference is their antennae, a butterfly’s is clubbed and smooth and a moth’s is feathered or fuzzy. Moths are also nocturnal although some are seen during the day such as the hummingbird moth which looks like a hummingbird and pollinates during the day. Most adult moths only live a short life about a week or two because most do not have mouths so therefore they do not eat, because their sole purpose is just to mate and lay eggs once they have reached adulthood.  A male moth can smell a female up to 7 miles away, this capability just ensures these creatures mean business in their short lived lives to get things done and with a mission.  Moths emerge from a cocoon which is silken wrapped, where as a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis a smooth stretched structure which is a pupa.  The moth pupa is found inside the cocoon. See the photo below.

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Moths out number butterflies 10 to 1 and there are currently over 11,000 species in the US alone!

The Giant leopard moth spotted was unusual and was a special find and will be documented in a special moth database. The Rosy maple moth was found fluttering in the grass with the Tiger Moth which was a “virgin” its appearance let the experts know it had recently emerged into the world :), the Rosy maple moth loves to eat maple trees and you will always find a moth near the particular tree it likes to lay its eggs and then eat as a caterpillar; it’s appearance looked like a scoop of rainbow sherbet or as if it had been tie dyed, the Beautiful wood nymph moth has outstanding mimicry and fools you in thinking it is droppings from a bird!  The Emerald moth was found at the end of our mothing night and was a gem indeed, its beautiful green color was so amazing and was a wonderful find since the other green moth I really wanted to find was the popular lunar moth. It apparently was just was too shy I guess to join the party, so maybe the Grand Dam will show the next time. If you have a walnut or hickory tree in your area she is bound to appear and in all her glory:)

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So if you have not tried mothing this summer, give it a try in your night time garden before it gets too cool for these amazing species to dance in the light and officially make you a


The Season Of Giving!

Our garden club ends every year with a beautiful fellowship of holiday cheer celebrated at our end of the year holiday bash and in the midst of this fellowship we give to others in need which in turn gives us great joy!

We were blessed this year to celebrate at the home of our past president and fearless leader Ginny.  Ginny and her husband graciously opened their home to our club and in gratitude we give thanks to them both.


The house was very festive and definitely full of cheer!


We gathered, we gave, we delivered and those we blessed, received!

From our Garden Club Family to yours may you end your Christmas season with joy and may you bring in 2018 with open hearts to receive the best that is yet to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Countryside Garden Club!

Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter…

So which is your favorite, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter? You are probably thinking I am referring to your favorite holiday, but come on folks this a garden club blog.  I am actually referring to your favorite Schlumbergera (a cactus of course!)

Yes, there is a difference and now lets see if you can identify which one you have in your possession.

It is pretty simple if we focus on their blooming times to help narrow down which one you may possess.  The Thanksgiving cacti typically start to bloom in late fall and Christmas cacti usually a month later. An Easter cactus will start producing flower buds in February. You can also look at their leaf shape to help you identify as well.

See the picture chart below (taken from a Pinterest gallery) The Thanksgiving cacti have pointy leaf ends, the Christmas rounded and the Easter one has little spiky protrusions on its leaf tip.  The flowers of the Thanksgiving cacti usually shoots outward, where the Christmas ones like to hang down, the Easter group blooms in clusters that tend to look like daisies or little starbursts.

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Now lets see pictures below, from my plant collection.  I have a Thanksgiving one and a Christmas cactus which happens to be over 50 years old given to me by a wonderful friend that belong to her grandmother!


This one above is… yes that’s right, the Christmas one which has rounded edges like the letter “C” which is also the first letter in Christmas that’s how I remember.  Now check out my Thanksgiving one below:


See the pointy jagged leaves they are spiky and thorny-like, thus my silly way to remember “t” for thorny and thanksgiving; hey don’t laugh it works for me.  Also notice how the flower grows outward like it wants to fly away.  As for the Christmas cactus the flowers hang down like Christmas bells see the photo below (photo by

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And lastly the Easter cactus with it’s daisy like flowers and the hairlike spikes on the ends of the leaves.

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Well, my favorite holiday is Easter because I love how it symbolizes second chances and forgiveness for us to get our acts together and try to please the infamous child born on Christmas which allows us to all gather as family and friends on Thanksgiving to share our blessings and gratitude for it all.

Guess I need to add my favorite to my plant collection.



Nonplussed an adjective meaning : (of a person) surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.

Yup, that was me at the last DFGC meeting when I finally heard my name being called to come up and receive a Lifetime Membership award from the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs given by Countryside Garden Club.

After the sound came back into by ears, LOL I then of course began to cry with such gratitude and the feeling of being nonplussed!  It is an honor to be a recipient of such a prestigious award in this circle of a statewide garden club affiliation, as I write this I am still in shock and amazed I was given this blessing.

It was also nice to have my Momma there to share in the joy, we all were pleasantly surprised; it just was a happy moment indeed.


Thanks Countryside from the bottom of my heart its a pleasure and an honor to be in such a wonderful garden club that has taught me many things and more so, allowed me to be friends with some amazing people who have become a special part of my life.


As they mentioned in the documentation submitted for the award, although I may have a very busy personal and professional life I enjoy finding time for my garden club.

What is even more special is that, I was not the only recipient of this special award it was great to know I shared this dedication along with Gerry and Hiro two people I just adore.  They unfortunately were unable to attend the meeting but at our monthly club meeting the following day they were presented with their award and the special pin that goes with it.


In gratitude, we all say thank you! What we do for our club is easy since those we do for, the wonderful members of our club make our labor of love a joyous one. OXXX


Hello Again!

Hope this greeting finds you well and happy!

It was a busy Spring and Summer and now Fall is fast approaching with back to school, back to reality from vacationing and back to the joys of fall planting and tidying of the garden in cool refreshing temperatures to come!

The garden club ended on a few great notes; a visit to Mt. Cuba

Thanks for the ride Ginny:) you did a great job as president you motivated us to be a team to get the job done.  We appreciated your time and your efforts!


and a end of the year picnic with a “sweet” new officers installation at a garden club member’s home.  Thanks Barb for the hospitality.


Digging for Rubies, yup real Rubies. A Pearl looking for a Ruby classic!

We also attended DFGC’s end of the year meeting and walked away with many awards and some nice financial blessings from our reward money. Cha Ching!


We have a new governmental regime for the club and a new Madam President; congratulations to Mrs. Kathleen Morrison for being our new fearless leader! We thank you in advance Kathleen for leading and inspiring us to do new and fun things.


Over the summer one of our members; Kathe Worrell created and inspired us thru her Summer Intern program which involved meeting at her home and lovely garden to learn all things wonderful, when it came to gardening.  She also managed to lead some field trips to private gardens and public park spaces to continue her garden lessons in a different outdoor classroom.

A proud mentor overlooking her students.


Although, Kathe took a lot of heat that this was just a way for her to get free gardening help and weeding done in her own garden (lol) this was far from true if you had the pleasure to attend you walked away more blessed than bruised by garden work; giggling.  I was so very happy to be able to attend one of these lovely intern workshops over the summer and to my joy was able to visit the private garden of one of the other regular interns, it turned out to be an amazing garden in the process of being transformed into a mini gardener’s paradise. Thanks Kathe for your efforts in keeping us inspired in unique ways, the knowledge and social interaction we all experienced because of you was priceless. Keep digging and keep giving Ms. Kathe!

Sooooo… the official Fall season runs from the first day being September 22, 2017 and ending on the last day being December 21, 2017.

During this Fall season try to do at least one of the following:

*Plant a new and unique fall bulb that will be a beautiful Spring plant.

*Spend some time in your garden dividing those plants that need it and then sharing them with other gardeners or a public garden in a economically stressed environment to promote the joys of gardening.

*Rake some leaves into a huge pile and then kick them to make a fun mess just to start over and rake again or just fall back into them as if you were 10 again!

*Sit, Walk or Observe your garden as the days grow shorter and see what it’s like in your garden just before dark settles. Notice which plants stand out as night-time landmarks in your garden, see which plants illuminate the best in the moonlight.

*Purchase a white pumpkin and see how it illuminates in the fall nightscape.

*Breathe deep and long, while in the garden and be grateful for your space no matter how big or small.

*Take one last barefooted walk in your grass.

*Have a cup of tea while walking in your garden on a brisk fall morning or at the end of a long day.

Whatever you decide to do from these suggestions or those of your own liking just know you survived another season and new and beautiful changes await you, so embrace and Fall into the Season with Joy!

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While writing this blog I was saddened by the passing of our garden club member and friend Ralph Sutter.  To his family we give our deepest sympathy, to your spirit Ralph may you rest in peace and thank you for the reminder that our time here on earth is precious and special we all were happy to have spent a season with you! 

A “Place” for Everyone!

Merry Christmas / Happy Holiday’s!! It’s the last party of the year for Countryside Garden Club and the sky’s the limit in fun, food, festivities and creativity. This time of year if you celebrate Christmas you “Prepare a Room for Him” most people think this means prepare room for baby Jesus as in the biblical story of making room in manager when there was no space in that infamous inn. We tend to do this by Christmas shopping (overspending), entertaining, decorating, and for some just stressing all the way out in the name of Jesus. Yup, most of us normal people do just that and maybe more and that’s NOT what it’s all about. But Prepare a Room for Him really means preparing a place in your life for Jesus at all times whether you are a believer or not we all know what it means to make room for something bigger than us!

What does this have to do with garden club, well this year we were asked to create a table place setting that would be used (eaten on) only by the creator but viewed and informally critiqued by the rest of the group; it of course had to be a holiday theme setting and displayed with creative or simplistic ideas that would no doubt “Wow” someone. Of course this group gave it their best and there were 17 amazing displays each unique and creatively special. The place setting had to include a plate, glassware, a floral arrangement of some sort, napkin and optional place mat and silverware. In the end we were asked to pick (not judge-thank God) two place settings; one to represent our favorite and the other to represent what we thought was the most creative. Barbara B. won for most creative using a snowman theme and Kathleen M. won for the favorite; Barbara won reindeer ears and Kathleen a homemade gingerbread house made by creative Ms. Patti.

We managed to squeeze in our annual gift exchange PolyAnna aka Dirty Santa where you can steal from “ your friends” which this year included two new garden club family members who joined in on experiencing the joy of a holiday hangout in royal fashion. Both Mary Beth and Mary Lou had a great time and don’t you find it ironic both their names are Mary … Hmm Mary was baby Jesus’ Mum this is starting to sound suspect giggling.


In addition, assembled 25 adult gift stockings and 11 children’s gifts to send to our friends at Friendship House.


And last but not least we shared a feast and let me tell you something if there is one thing Countryside GC can do that is cook their tails off, we know how to throw down in the food department.

So how does this all tie together in Prepare a Room for Him, when you gather together to exchange gifts of love (by the way the gifts this year were well thought out, practical and generous), experience deep belly laughing, give gifts to those in need, break bread and set a table to share food, conversation and creativity; YOU prepare room for others to join in and be a part of a something special; a bond that allows you to escape from the craziness of the world and focus on what truly matters especially this time of year and that is to prepare in your heart, mind, body and spirit room for the joys of our Divine creator that made us all and allows us to share memorable moments such as a holiday party with garden club “family” and walk away with more than what you came in with, which in the book of life happens to be a priceless gift we all could use everyday throughout the year and not just during the holiday.

So from all the members of Countryside Garden Club we want to thank you for supporting us and visiting our website in 2016 and we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season filled with love and happiness as well as a Happy New Year that allows you to prepare room for the joys and and blessings of 2017!

An Elite Garden Stroll

On an October autumnal morning, in the last week of public visitation to the beautiful Chanticleer Garden Estate; we arrived in full force as the first guests with our car grills pressed against the ornate entrance gate, awaiting the garden to open.

As we entered the garden en route to the “house of ease” aka the restrooms; we were distracted by a beautiful water garden being created by one of the many horticultural assistants creating a design completely made out of natural materials. We then, all gathered and began a beautiful journey meandering thru the artistic and whimsical gardens of Chanticleer. We also adopted an honorary garden club member who I named Mr. Biltmore, his true name was Steve and he graciously fell into our garden club family circle while we approached the lower cut flower garden located in front of the vegetable garden.

Mr. Biltmore said this specimen’s name was somewhat pornographic but of course we begged to know the common name which is “Hairy B—s” yup he warned us it was a spicy name!

Mr. Biltmore happened to over hear us discussing our subtle complaints about the horticultural specimens not being labeled in this magnificent garden and he explained how it was the original landscape architect who wanted the gardens not to be inundated with hideous labels. We reluctantly agreed and I must say it was refreshing not having to worry about remembering what I actually saw but to better yet just focus on the experience I was having while strolling in the garden.

Speaking of the gardens, they were born out of the ideas and dreams of The Rosengarten Family it was their retreat to escape the summer heat of the city of Philadelphia.   Mr. Rosengarten’s great sense of humor led him to name his home after the estate “Chanticlere” in Thackeray’s 1855 novel The Newcomes. The fictional Chanticlere was “mortgaged up to the very castle windows” but “still the show of the county.” Playing on the word, which means “rooster,” the Rosengartens used the rooster as their family crest throughout the estate.


This garden offers many specimens of flowers and trees that include common and exotic varieties with their origins from all over the world. It even has an asian woodland garden that features a very artistic replicate of an uprooted tree utilized as a foot bridge which created a great scenario for Countryside Gardeners to take a “selfie”! We are sooo cool:) and note the bee box!

The first part of our tour ended with a brief meeting and picnic lunch in a designated picnic grove. We then finished out our day and walking off our lunch visiting the main house gardenimagejpeg_0-6

and then descending upon the pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaries ‘Lenca’)while using the beautifully sculptured elevated walkway and then over to the pond garden finishing up our tour in the infamous ruin garden. If you wish to visit this unique and inspiring garden you will have to wait for the ornate gate to open on March 29, 2017.

In the meantime our in house photo bug Ms. Kathe Worrell has graciously shared her memories of what was capture on our visit with over 300 photos; don’t worry I will not post them all but chose a few in the artistic slide show below.  Thanks Ms. Kathe!!!

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So mark your calendars now for a visit to this infamous public garden in our area it will no doubt inspire you to do something a little different in your own garden giving it an elite flair!

Stroll on…


Busy as a Bee!

Welcome Back!

Countryside Garden Club kicked off the season in mid-September as worker bees honoring our most proficient pollinators by building bee houses to help conserve our local environment. We were hosted by the generous and crafty Miss Patti, on a beautiful fall morning nestled in nature.


We engaged in our annual organizational meeting preceded by feasting on miniature morning breakfast treats and then given the lovely task of building bee boxes.

Our bee boxes were constructed to help our local mason bee friends. Mason bees are disappearing in our environments due to the misuse of herbicides and pesticides; providing shelter for them helps encourage and increase their population. Mason bees are solitary bees. They are “solitary,” meaning that every female mason bee is a queen. Which in turn means there are no worker bees, therefore every queen makes her own nest. Their nests are round, hollow shelters roughly the diameter of a pencil. We used old bamboo to simulate the hollow structures they need, and gently pushed them into a wooden box or a recycled soup can mounted on a piece of wood.  Bill also constructed another type of bee box by drilling holes into blocks of wood and creating a specialized home.  We had three homes to offer our bee friends the upper class, middle class or lower class model a funny categorization quoted by our member Barbara and she is right we have something for every bee’s possible socioeconomic environment:)


Mason bees are not destructive insects. They only use holes found in nature or provided by man.

“Mud bees” is another name used to identify a mason bee because they partition and seal their nesting chambers with mud. Sometimes they are called “twig bees” for adopting hollow twigs as their nesting chamber.

Mason bees are often confused with house flies, as they look like a blue housefly. By listening to the sound of these animals you can distinguish whether it is a bee or a fly. The house flies make a humming sound, while mason bees make a buzzing sound.

Mason beekeeping tips for kids

Mason bees are gentle creatures; non-aggressive pollinators. Only the female stings when she faces serious danger. Her sting is similar to a mosquito bite.

Here are a few tips for hanging your bee house:

Hang in early Spring when the bees are preparing to return to our environment.

You want your bee house to have an overhang to protect the developing bees inside the tubes, if your box does not have an overhang you will need to hang it where an overhang will be produced such as under a deck or dense tree branch.

– Choose a spot with bright morning sun. This helps them get up and moving in the morning. I’m sure you probably don’t like to get out from under the covers when it’s cold in the morning, correct? Then you have something in common with these bees!

– Hang the house at approximately eye level to keep animals from disturbing it and so you can easily observe the bees if you want to.

– Hang the house on a secure spot, like a wall or post, or as mentioned above to keep the house from moving around too much. You can hang it on a wooden fence, too- but try not to hang it near any doors that will be swinging shut and rattling the bee house around. Also try not to have it in an area where it is extremely windy. I plan to hang mine under a railing section of our deck that is exposed to sun.

The next time you are looking for a environmentally inspired craft think about building a bee box and you can also help by refraining from using harmful chemicals in your garden and by providing habitat for these charming little creatures.

“Bee” Good, “Bee” Kind, “Bee” Helpful to our Bee Friends.

Thanks Countryside for starting our year out “Beeing” good stewards to our local environment.