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Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden seeking volunteers

The Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden in Bexley, Ohio is now seeking volunteers for 2017. Available opportunities include docents for the historic 1920s residence as well as guides and gardeners for the home’s unique and educational gardens.

Ohio’s governors and their families have used the residence at 358 N. Park Avenue as living quarters and as a location for state business and special events since 1957. The home, with its Jacobean revival architecture and extensive garden, is visited by thousands of guests annually.

“During the past several administrations, we have worked with the first ladies of Ohio and the non-partisan Friends of the Ohio Governor’s Residence and Heritage Garden to establish a collection of Ohio art and craftsmanship, including pottery and glass, so we could make the home a showcase of Ohio,” said Residence Curator Mary Alice Mairose. “Many guests also like to know they are standing in a room once visited by dignitaries, including John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ronald Reagan.”

Docents conduct Tuesday tours of the home most weeks at 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. Reservations are required at least one week in advance; there is no charge for the tours.

Garden guides lead visitors through the award-winning garden that features formal plantings, including roses and dahlias, and five areas representing Ohio’s diverse glacial history, topography, soil type, geology and plants. (Think bogs, sand dunes and more.)

Mairose is looking for volunteers interested in history, architecture, art and gardening. Those interested in becoming a docent or garden guide should request an application at Background checks, fingerprinting and in-person interviews are mandatory. A three-hour training session, additional reading and tour shadowing are also required. Volunteers are expected to donate at least 12 hours a year.

“We also want to make it fun to volunteer,” said Mairose. “We offer field trips and provide guest speakers to our volunteers, both to enrich the experience of Residence visitors as well as that of the volunteer.” Governor’s gardeners volunteers work with professionals to maintain the educational gardens. Their contributions to the Heritage Garden can vary according to ability, experience and desire.

On some days, 45 to 50 governor’s gardeners are busily weeding, pruning or planting. Last year, volunteers donated more than 2,500 hours. Gardeners receive an orientation, but training is “mostly on the job,” according to Mary Lewis, curator of native plant habitats, research manager and volunteer coordinator.  “All volunteers are important to us,” Lewis said, “and you don’t have to be a Master Gardener to participate. Our volunteers are unique because they take charge of what they are doing and get it done.”

Governor’s gardeners travel to the Residence from about 18 Ohio counties. Gardening clubs across the state are encouraged to participate. For more information about becoming a governor’s gardener, email



30 Years of Bluebird Happiness

When the Ohio Bluebird Society (OBS) hosts its conference Saturday, March 4, at the Ashland University Convocation Center (638 Jefferson St, Ashland, OH 44805),  it promises to bring together history, hope and joy for “30 Years of Bluebird Happiness – 1987-2017.”

The celebration atmosphere will feature charter members, highlights of the roots of the organization, recognition of faithful supporters and a lunch hour with four breakout sessions. Habitat conservation speakers are scheduled. In closing moments OBS grant recipients are sharing success stories.

Conference planners invite everyone who has an interest in the conservation of eastern bluebirds to attend.. Breakout sessions are to be led by experienced bluebirders who plan support for beginning birders, ideas for improving nest box results, encouragement for youth and a general share session for questions and answers. Non-profit exhibits will surround the meeting room. A silent auction table will offer numerous items related to birding, a few gift baskets and certificates from area organizations and businesses. A variety of nest boxes will be available for purchase.

Registration is $25 for OBS members and $30 for non-members (includes morning coffee and donuts, a box lunch, birthday cake, favors and door prizes.) Registration forms are available on the OBS website ( Deadline is February 18.


OAGC has ‘Bean’ involved!

L-R: Jean Jankowski, Mary Lee Minor, Shirley Chapman, June Gebhardt and Suzy Parker

How would you like to make a mini-basket design or learn how to make a beautiful bow? Ohio Association of Garden Clubs recently accepted an invitation by L.L. Bean to stage a ‘Make-and-Take’ workshop recently at the Easton Town Center L.L. Bean store in Columbus. The free workshop was well received by holiday shoppers.

20161211_155601OAGC Past President Mary Lee Minor brought a large assortment of colorful ribbon, miniature baskets and varied textures of fragrant fresh greens. Second Vice President Jean Jankowski brought tiny hemlock cones and bright dried flowers. Soon OAGC member Shirley Chapman was teaching kids and adults how to make gorgeous bows for use on wreaths or gifts. We even served three generations, Jack and Clair with mom, grandma and grandpa.

20161211_160458OAGC Foundation Treasurer June Gebhardt and First Vice President Suzy Parker also assisted visitors in making tiny basket designs with their choice of lavender, yew, boxwood, arbor vitae, hemlock cones, dried flowers and baby’s breath. After adding bright ribbon, designers took the basket home to decorate a tree or table scene.

20161211_155601While working with our guests, the OAGC crew talked with visitors about their interests and the benefits offered by our organization. Informative bookmarks were given so guests will know how to contact us to find a club they can join and where to explore our website, Facebook, and Pinterest .

L.L. Bean associate Bob Adams and store manager Kasie Clouser provided table space and signage for the activity, near a windowed entrance area, where our workshop was highly visible to curious shoppers. Observing how involved customers were in our activity, Clouser suggested we return in other seasons and expand to the Cincinnati store.

Mohican Outdoor School looking for support

mohican-imageMohican School in the Out of Doors (MOS), is an outdoor environmental education organization located in rural Richland County near Butler, Ohio. Mohican has been honored to be chosen as a GLOBE partner. The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. Announced by the U.S. Government on Earth Day in 1994, GLOBE launched its worldwide implementation in 1995. GLOBE is important because participation in citizen science engages students in a way that the traditional science class is unable to achieve.

globe-logoMohican Outdoor School has two teachers who are trained GLOBE teachers, one of which is a GLOBE trainer. By having this partnership, the Mohican trainer can train other Mohican staff enabling the staff to provide meaningful authentic hands-on research and data collecting experiences. This partnership has other far-reaching effects in that the trainer will also provide professional development for other Ohio teachers, who then can initiate GLOBE programs at their schools.

MOS plans to integrate GLOBE protocols in soils, water and weather classes; all topics that are important to gardeners. However, additional equipment that will meet GLOBE instrument specifications are needed in order to get GLOBE up and running. It is hoped that individuals or garden clubs can assist MOS to purchase some of these items. The following items are examples of items needed to make it possible for MOS to promote this meaningful science program.

Three (3) Munsell Soil color charts @ 50.00 each
Three (3) NPK kits @ $29.50 each
One (1) Digital Hygrometer @ $29.95 each
Three (3) Min/Max Digital 7-day Thermometers @ $26.99 each
One (1) pH meter @ $58.25 each
pH buffers for pH meter, 4.0, 7.0 and 10.0 @ $8.30 each, total of $24.90
One (1) dissolved oxygen kit @ $59.50 each

Any or all or this equipment would allow MOS to implement additional content to their program and would be very much appreciated. Financial support can be directed to The OAGC Foundation treasurer with memo that the donation is for the MOS GLOBE program support.

A family that eats together….

Adult Milkweed Bug

As our native Milkweed plant goes, it has a pretty unappealing taste to many insects. And yet, our beloved Monarch butterfly caterpillars regale it as the best lunch room in town. Thanks to the Milkweed’s bad tasting sap, it limits the dining room attendance to a few hardy leaf-munching/sucking souls. The Large Milkweed Bug is one of those such critters can be found in great abundance these days.

Various instar stages of Milkweed Bugs
Various instar stages of Milkweed Bugs

These insects undergo an incomplete metamorphosis which means they do not go through the egg-larvae-pupae stage as insects with a complete metamorphosis. This is why everyone in the family photo pretty much looks like one another albeit the younger ones lacking their distinctively colored wings. Newly laid eggs take about one week to hatch. After undergoing 5 moltings or instar stages, they become an adult at about one month of age. They pierce the Milkweed seed pod skin and feast on the seeds located inside. They might suck juices from other plants but generally do little damage.

Thanks to the aforementioned bad tasting milkweed sap that they ingest it goes without saying that they also taste bad. Their bright orange coloring is another warning sign nature built in to this creature. After trying a bite of a Milkweed bug, not many birds will try another orange snack be it a Milkweed bug or a Monarch butterfly.


2016 Exhibitors’ and Judges’ School #5

Twice each year, the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs holds the 2-day educational opportunity Exhibitors’ and Judges’ School. As the name suggests, the schools are packed with knowledgable speakers on a myriad of subjects – all in the interest in becoming a better grower, floral designer and flower show exhibitor. In addition, the school is the training arena for those wishing to be an OAGC accredited flower show judge. OAGC flower show judges must maintain certain amount of attendance of these schools in order to maintain their active judge status.

The full series runs 6 schools over a span of 3 years. Student judges must pass tests and undergo a student judge period before becoming accredited.

This year’s School #5 was held June 20-21, 2016. The following gallery highlights photos of the Creative Design portion of the school. The date for School #6 will be held September 19-20, 2016 at Deer Creek State Park Lodge and Conference Center near Mt. Sterling, Ohio.

2016 Convention Coverage

The 2016 OAGC Convention was held June 6-8 at the Deer Creek State Park Lodge and Conference Center near Mt. Sterling, Ohio. Below are just some of the photos taken at convention by Vicki Ferguson.

To see all the photos taken by convention photographer Jan Harmon, CLICK HEREYou will be directed off-site to a Google photo album.

Show off your best at the Ohio State Fair


Show off your backyard best in the Ohio State Fair Horticulture and Floriculture competitions!

Entry Deadline: July 1 

You can submit entries for home-grown fruits, vegetables, flowers and gigantic produce in one of the  many Horticulture and Floriculture competitions  held in Nationwide Donahey Ag & Hort Building presented by the Ohio Farm Bureau during the Ohio State Fair’s run July 27 – August 7, 2016!

Flower Show Schedule and Rules

How to Enter:
You can easily enter online and be one step closer to proving that you have the greenest thumb in Ohio! Visit the Ohio State Fair website for step-by-step entry instructions and click here  for more information about the Horticulture competitions.


Convention garden tour spotlight

Derby Junior Garden Club Impresses OAGC Members

contributed by Ken Jungeberg

Like other destinations on the 2016 OAGC Convention Garden Tour, Stop #2 had some beautiful, unique and interesting gardens to view.  But this stop boasted something none of the others could – it was all created and presented by junior gardeners, members of the Derby Junior Garden Club in Region 9.

OAGC visitors at the Derby Junior Garden Club gardens. Note that the signs on each garden box indicate the private/corporate sponsor for that box.
OAGC visitors at the Derby Junior Garden Club gardens. Note that the signs on each garden box indicate the private/corporate sponsor for that box.

These young gardeners, ages 4 to 18, under the adult supervision of Derby Garden Club (Region 9) members and other community volunteers plant and maintain their own vegetable and flower gardens at the local township hall in Derby, Ohio.

Advisor Mary Ann Core with a group of Junior Gardeners.
Advisor Mary Ann Core with a group of Junior Gardeners.

They meet once a week during the growing season to tend the gardens and get practical experience in preparing the vegetables and presenting the flowers.  Garden tour visitors not only got to inspect the gardens but were also treated to kale chips, spinach pizza and strawberry punch made from the garden bounty.

Bette Jungeberg from Liberty Garden Club receives a tour from two junior gardeners. In addition to the group garden boxes each gardener has their own colorful “tire garden”.
Bette Jungeberg from Liberty Garden Club (Reg. 4) receives a tour from two junior gardeners. In addition to the group garden boxes each gardener has their own colorful “tire garden”.

And even more impressive than the gardens were the junior gardeners themselves.  These kids were enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and in full ownership of the process.  It was not unusual to see the junior gardeners leading adults on tours through the gardens.

Entranceway to the garden is lined with repurposed boot and shoe planters made by the junior gardeners.
Entranceway to the garden is lined with repurposed boot and shoe planters made by the junior gardeners.

Hats off to the Derby Garden Club and the Derby Junior Garden Club for their great work!  Their example would make a good template for other OAGC members interested in starting a junior garden club in their region.  For additional information, contact Wilma Beerman at (614) 565-5698.

Derby Junior Garden Club with advisors pose for a group photo. Special thanks to Wilma Beerman (front row, center) for her enthusiastic promotion of this organization.
Derby Junior Garden Club with advisors pose for a group photo. Special thanks to Wilma Beerman (front row, center) for her enthusiastic promotion of this organization.

Another import gone bad – The Callery Pear

The Callery Pear, Pyrus calleryana, was first thought to be imported in the early 1900s to help fight fire blight resistance in the common pear. Its rootstocks were used long before the 1950s when the ornamental and hardiness traits of several cultivars, including the Bradford pear, were recognized by the landscape trade.

Dense thicket of Callery pear gone invasive. (photo credit: Joe Boggs)

Thinking botanically, while some genotypes are self-incompatible, meaning they require cross pollination from another genotype in order to set seed, others can pollinate themselves. Different genotypes growing near each other (e.g., within about 300 ft.) can cross-pollinate and produce fruit with viable seed. Also, cultivars are often grafted onto seed-grown rootstocks with varying genotypes; if the plant produces shoots from the rootstock (which it often does), then these shoots and the graft can pollinate one another. Thus, the Bradford pear cultivar is one of several cultivars (varieties) of Callery pear capable of spreading and being invasive. Here’s where it all goes south and sounds like the Amur honeysuckle situation.

Any plant resulting from a seed produced by Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ is a different genotype of Pyrus calleryana and not a member of any cultivar (unless somebody propagates that seedling and names it as a new cultivar). The plants that spread in natural areas are not cultivars. They are sexually reproducing populations consisting of multiple genotypes that recombine every generation.

Once established Callery pear forms dense thickets that push out other plants including native species that can’t tolerate the deep shade or compete with pear for water, soil and space. A single tree can spread rapidly by seed and vegetative means forming a sizeable patch within several years. Its success as an invader results from its capacity to produce copious amounts of seed that is dispersed by birds and possibly small mammals, seedlings that germinate and grow rapidly in disturbed areas and a general lack of natural controls like insects and diseases, with the exception of fire blight.

The solution? Do not plant Callery pear or any cultivars including the well known Bradford pear no matter what assurances the garden centers tell you. Seedlings and shallow-rooted plants can be pulled when soil is moist. Medium to large trees should be cut down and stumps treated with a systemic glyphosate or triclopyr-based herbicide. Several native trees would make excellent substitutes for Callery pear, including common serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis), cockspur hawthorne (Crataegus crus-galli), green hawthorne (C. viridis) and the native sweet crabapple (Malus coronaria).

Read more in this publication: ODNR Division of Forestry’s PDF Weed of the Month.