The FFGC – District XII sponsors Gardening Studies

plantsDig it!—Enroll in the FFGC-District XII-sponsored Gardening Study School from National Garden Clubs, Inc. If you’d like to learn to be a better gardener, to understand the root of your plant’s problems, or to grow in your knowledge of horticulture . . . you’ll benefit from this course. Whether flowers or edibles are your passion; whether you have a container or a lawn; you’ll learn how to be a better gardener. Interesting horticultural and gardening professions are featured in daily lectures. On some days, there will be tours of test and botanical gardens.

The Gardening Study School is taught in 4 segments, spread over the next two years.

  • The first session (I) will be November 17 and 18, 2015.
  • The next session (II) will be on April 12 and 13, 2016.
  • The last two sessions (III and IV) will be in November and April of 2016-7.

All sessions be held at the Wingate Hotel in Miramar Florida . . . about a 40-50 minute drive from Coral Gables. It can be driven to and from each day, or you may elect to stay overnight in the hotel. Hotel reservations at special rates are offered, if reserved in advance. See all the details on the brochure.

To register, fill out the form and mail with a check (payable to FFGC, District XII) to Kay Murff, 1429 Mercado Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33146-1031. Each 2-day course is $65.00, which includes lunch. If you wish to become a NCG Gardening Consultant there is a fee of $8.00 to take the test, total $73.00. If you attend all four courses and receive passing grades on the exams, you will receive a certificate. This is a first step to achieving Master Gardening Consultant status, after further studies. Register soon, as the course is limited to 30 participants, and it’s filling fast.

– Kay Murff, Questions? 305-665-3377

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Welcome to a New CGGC Year . . . Our 91st

Jana White Coral Gables Garden Club  Coral Gables Garden Club

Welcome to a “refreshing” new Garden Club  year. Hoping your ‘time away’ has replenished and stimulated you as we continue to celebrate  90 years and look forward to going into 91! Speaking of refreshing, your garden center has a fresh new coat of paint and looks quite  attractive—we are very thankful for this. Much more “refreshing” is coming this year to this “home” of ours. Stay tuned.

Your board members convened for the first meeting on September 9. I want to express  profound gratitude to the Officers, Directors and Committee Chairpersons who will be  serving with me this year. Their talents and  dedications will serve us well. Our Thank Yous are many:

  • Your new yearbooks are ready for you to receive at the September 28th general meeting. Wait until you see this one—a fantastically (is  that a word?) beautiful book,  thanks to Betsy Tilghman.
  • Thanks to Kitty Winkle for our first workshop which should be of interest to  all of us—House Plants: Nurturing Our Indoor Gardens by Sallye Jude.
  • Thanks to Judi Welsh for the program on September 28 which will  enlighten us—Growing Plants and Edibles Vertically for Space, Conservation, and Healthier Food featuring Arthur and Cheyenne Chernou.

Of course there will be a  delicious meal and an exciting business meeting. Put October 14 on your calendar—the District XII meeting will be hosted by the Miami Beach Garden Club, and our club will be presented and celebrated for winning the National Award for Best Project—our red  mangrove restoration project.


Many, many thanks to Olga Lazo and her committee on all their hard work getting the inside of the garden center cleaned.

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In The Bottom of My Garden . . . Thinking of Andy Warhol

In the 1950s Andy Warhol created a series of lithographs of fairies and putti holding flowers and showing off lots of exposed “bottoms”. He cleverly named the series “In the Bottom of My Garden.” About the time I saw one of these prints I had been thinking about soil and the robust, heady life it hides, which I discovered through an article I had recently read.

Andy Warhol The Bottom of My GardenAh ha—so my last article of the year is about the soil in the bottom of our gardens!

On the global front there has been ground-breaking (pun intended) research in two areas: the innate role of soil as a huge carbon storehouse, (with the calculation that we have unwittingly released billions of tons of carbon into our atmosphere through soil erosion due to poor soil management) and the importance of soil microbes to the health of soil and plants. Luckily good soil management can happen again and with that we can help reduce CO2 levels, increase productivity of our lands and turn back the clock on desertification.

Soil, plants, animals and the atmosphere thrive symbiotically. Life on Earth is successful because of the harmony between its parts. Microbes in the soil break down organic matter turning it into minerals plants can use, while in the process giving soil its tilth (good soil structure.) Some microbes have close relationships with their host plants, forming nodules on plant roots to help the plants uptake minerals more efficiently, others by producing hairy root‐like filament which actually becomes extensions of the host plant’s roots, giving the plant more vigor.

What about carbon? Plants take carbon from the air through photosynthesis (Hurray for Penny Pines!) and the carbon plants don’t use for growth they exude into the soil through their roots to feed soil organisms. There the carbon helps bind the soil and helps create soil fertility. But when soil is disturbed, as in tillage, the carbon and microbes are churned to the surface where the microbes die and the sun burns the carbon back into the atmosphere. Plant roots are broken and unearthed, disrupting the soil cycle. Insecticides kill microbes; chemical fertilizers inhibit microbial activity. When ground cover is destroyed and lays bare the soil, the soil with its carbon and microbes is blown to the wind and erosion and desertification begin. Yikes, scary! But knowledge is disseminating through the agriculture community worldwide. No tillage farming, reforestation, organic gardening and a host of beneficial practices are becoming more commonplace. There is hope that a new era of holistic gardening and farming will catch on because it saves our soil, sequesters carbon and increases crop productivity.

Mangrove-seedlingAnd what about our local soil? Unfortunately, South Florida coastal soils are notoriously thin and poor in nutrients. Our soils are mostly sand, marl and limestone, and nutrients quickly percolate away through the porous limestone bedrock during our rainy season. Here in our highly alkaline and deficient soils we need to choose plants wisely, fertilize and amend our gardens as organically as possible and mulch, mulch, mulch! Redland has pockets of reddish clay throughout the limestone base, from whence the area derived its name. And further inland we have the famous nutrient rich Everglades muck which our sugarcane crop relies on. The Everglades themselves and our mangroves are huge storehouses of nutrients and carbon, and currently there is much scholarly work being done on the mangroves’ role in helping to ameliorate climate change. (Let’s hear it for our Mangrove Project!)

It has been said that soil has one of the most bountiful and diverse ecosystems on earth. Who would have known? So, whatever our soil—be it terrestrial or semi-aquatic—let’s keep all those fairies and putti at the bottom of our gardens happy!

– Betsy Tilghman

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A Time to Celebrate…looking forward to 91 years What a Great Celebration

“Our First Ninety Years” was a wonderful experience, Teresa Zohn and her committee know how to celebrate in a memorable way.

We are a club of history but also a club of the “new”. Have we ever had a group picture of our ladies in pink, white and green standing in the shape of a 90 taken by a drone in the sky??? I think not!

Have we ever seen a video history of our garden club from beginning to today? I think not!

Janna White Coral Gables Garden Club

Birthday wishes to President Jana, and to all those who are celebrating birthdays this summer.

Have we ever recognized members according to their years of membership by giving them a rose—some members having been a member long enough to receive almost a full bouquet? I think not!

Have we ever raised our champagne glasses for a toast to our club led by our newly elected City Commissioner? I think not!

Have we ever had a more delicious lunch and a gift of an edible garden club hibiscus cookie? I think not!

Have we ever had a more unusual and applicable installation of officers? I think not!

Have we ever initiated 6 more talented and qualified new members? (Probably, but it is exciting!)

Have we ever had our scholarship student and her mother attend? (Yes, but we are proud.)

Have you ever had an unsuspecting president be more surprised with 100 members singing Happy B’Day and given a cake and a candle to blow out? I think not (the cake was delicious).

Another great celebration took place in the chambers of the Coral Gables City Hall on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, with several members of the Garden Club attending, when the commissioners passed resolution #15-3903 which reads: “A Resolution naming the passive park at the corner of Alhambra Circle and Mendavia Avenue in honor of Betsy Adams and the Coral Gables Garden Club.” What a joyous day for Betsy to be recognized for numerous contribution’s to the Coral Gables community. Due to Betsy’s humility and love for the Garden Club, she included our name with hers. With sincere joy and appreciation, we say thank—”Thank you, Betsy, for your leadership in all of these accomplishments and Congratulations!”

This has been a memorable year. Yet, we look forward to an even better 91st. TOGETHER WE MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER. Remember the 3 R’s for the summer—RELAX, REJOICE and REJUVENATE!
-Jana White

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