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Annual Thanksgiving Workshop

COVID may have made it impossible for us to get together in person for our annual Thanksgiving Workshop, but the Floral Design Committee was not deterred.  Donna Doyle, who has chaired this workshop for the past 8 years, led the Floral Design Committee’s first virtual Thanksgiving workshop on Tuesday, November 24th.  While demonstrating her approach to creating a low and long arrangement, Donna also shared a wealth of tips and tricks that novices and skilled individuals alike found so practical and helpful.  If you missed the workshop, we hope you’ll join us next year.  Until then, here are some photos from the day before and of the finished arrangements as well as some of those useful tips.


1. Buying roses - squeeze the flower heads to be sure they are firm (should feel like a golf ball). Don't buy if they are soft.

2. Peel off the outer rose petals (those that are browned or damaged) when making your arrangement.

3.  Cut stems at a sharp angle to make it easier to insert into the floral foam and to provide more surface area for water absorption.

4. Grasp stems at their bottoms to push them into the foam. This reduces the chance of stems breaking.

5. Push stems into the foam at least one inch.

6.  Keep looking at your arrangement from all sides to be sure it is balanced and has no "holes" (areas that need more material).

7.  Use extra material to make another arrangement(s). 


Donna Doyle and Steve Hutcheson at Alders for flower selecting.

Flowers in waiting (being conditioned the day prior to the workshop).


Donna’s demonstration arrangement.

Anne Osborn’s two arrangements.


Jackie Grant made two as well.


Bev Leardi’s arrangement.


Seamus Carroll’s arrangement


Peg Moran’s arrangement.


Katherine MacInnes’ arrangement.


Linda Lange’s arrangement.


Karen Nelson’s arrangement.


Carol McPeek’s Thanksgiving table arrangement.


Andrea Maasik’s

Thanksgiving Day arrangement.


PGC Visits Peter Davoren’s Organic Farm And Assists with 2020 Autumn Harvests

On October 4, 2020 a Philipstown Garden Club group got a fascinating look at the “application science” of horticulture when the Horticulture Committee arranged a socially distanced Visit to Peter Davoren’s Organic Farm in Garrison, NY.  Starting in his spic-and-span barn, Peter Davoren and his wife Stacey Farley outlined the steps required to achieve successful yields of an array of vegetables – from January seed tray preparation, to warming chambers providing specific temperature and moisture levels, then grow-light racks where root growth is carefully nurtured over a period of weeks. They showed the impressive array of tractors and ancillary equipment necessary to get crops into the ground of their 9-acre farm and outlined the numerous challenges between planting and harvest following organic procedures. The group was amazed to learn the farm is staffed, aside from Peter and Stacey by only one full-time and two part-time employees and to learn that for Davoren, CEO and President of Turner Construction Company, the farm is a second job! 

Among the bounty of this year’s crops were a wide variety of vegetables including tomatoes, basil, squash, arugula, kale, peppers, potatoes, onions, eggplant, sweet potatoes and more. Davoren Farm sells its produce to local restaurants and they have a pop-up Farm Stand open on occasional weekends as well. Stacey outlined how they distribute the considerable balance to area Community Food Pantries in Putnam and neighboring Westchester and Dutchess counties where hundreds of working families receive the bounty of farm produce on a weekly basis, as well as how proceeds of the farm stand are converted into coupons for area pharmacies. 

With the Autumn harvest in full swing, members were able to pick samples of the abundant yield to take home.  But more importantly, having seen first-hand the challenge of bringing in the thriving crops, PGC groups returned on October 8th and helped to pick fresh peppers and tomatoes which were delivered to a community food pantry in neighboring Northern Westchester county.  A PGC team of 8 was back on October 21st to help with the sweet potato harvest, bringing in 900 pounds in just over an hour which are destined for Fred’s Pantry in Peekskill, and will return for the last harvest of peppers on the 26th October.  So, what started as a Horticulture Committee outing to educate members has evolved into a PGC group assisting on an ongoing basis with the harvest and thus helping one of the area’s premier local farms serve the wider community. 


PGC Team Assisting with Harvest at Davoren Farm on October 8, 2020


PGC Harvesting Sweet Potatoes at Davoren Farm October 21, 2020

Horticulture and Visiting Gardens Committees Team Up for Wethersfield Visit 

On September 25, 2020, the Horticulture and Visiting Gardens Committees arranged for a visit to Wethersfield Estate and Gardens in Amenia, NY, where the Director of Horticulture, Toshi Yano, gave the PGC group a fascinating tour of the gardens of this quintessential 1930’s gentleman’s estate. Members heard about the creation and maintenance of the gardens, learned about ongoing plans to revitalize foundation plantings in the formal garden spaces, and also took away some ideas about species choices to use in their own gardens. 

Right: Wethersfield Horticulture Director Toshi Yano with a PGC Team in the Cutting Garden September 25, 2020.