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February 24, 2019

Lower Valley News and Events

Rosey Bonner, LV Representaive/Coordinator

In the Lower Valley March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil (Sara Coleridge)…. the Master Gardeners are stirring and active with gardening workshops and more!!

 Winter Sowing J. Dolder F. Burrington
 Winter Sowing K. Conway presents


MGs Janet Dolder and Fran Burrington get their milk bottles ready for planting;

MG Ken Conway give hints and tips about seed sowing.

Winter Seed Sowing at Hit at Lower Valley Meeting!


At the Lower Valley Winter Meeting on Saturday, February 23rd, MG Ken Conway guided 40+ enthusiastic Master Gardeners and Interns through the ins and outs of winter sowing.  After a series of quick tips and helpful hints from Ken, we went to work constructing our own "little greenhouses" out of milk bottles and other plastic containers.  Holes were drilled in the bottom and side for drainage;  the jugs were cut open and filled with moist soil; carefully selected seeds were planted and dampened with a spray bottle; finally the bottle was sealed with duct tape.  Happy gardeners carried home these milk jugs to place in a sunny location outside, waiting for the plants to germinate and indicate that spring is really on its way.  Kudos to Ken for all his preparation--froman handout to supplies!  A fun-filled learning event!

Winter Sowing Intern A. Walker cut jug
Winter Sowing cutting bottles
Winter Sowing getting soil

Intern Aaron Walker (left), Intern Jennifer Schultz and MG JoAnne Palmer (center), and Debby Lapointe (right)

The business meeting was packed with updates about the upcoming Symposium and Earth Day Celebration at the Springfield Museums, an explanation of the grant process, and an overview of the role of the coordinator which needs to be filled, and lots of other information. Click here for LV Winter Meeting Minutes 2-23-2019

Tour of the Botanic Gardens

Botanic Garden Tour J. Grogan 1
Botanic Garden 3

Jimmy Grogan fascinates MGs with interesting information!  His passion is contagious!

On February 7th 20 Master Gardeners toured the beautiful Botanic Garden of Smith College (Lyman Plant House).  We could not have had a better tour--beautiful, interesting gardens with Master Gardener and Conservatory Curator Jimmy Grogan as our tour guide!!  The collection of thousands of plants can be daunting, but Jimmy made it understandable...highlighting major features in each room, pointing out unique and interesting plants, emphasizing historical aspects, and explaining his vision for the future.  Jimmy added special touches, such as letting us into the research and planting/work areas.  Many of us have already tried to recreate his potting mixture, also known as "special sauce."  We will be waiting for the display in a year or so when the unique corpse flowers are blooming.  It will be a splendid sight!  

What is really in that potting mixture?  What is the recipe for that special sauce?


The succulent house, the huge petioles of the corpse plants, and the fern garden captivate our attention!

Lower Valley Symposium is Coming Up Soon! 

Coordinator Chris Brown
and her committee are making final plans for the upcoming Lower Valley Symposium entitled Bees, Butterflies and Bounty…the latest BUZZ in Gardening! Put Saturday, March 30th at Holyoke High School on your calendar! Choose from 18 different workshop titles!  Register online at, or download a registration form to mail in. 

The popular Lower Valley Symposium Raffle has some exciting items already (garden gift baskets, art, flowerpots, hypertufa plantings) and we'd lvoe to have a few more things.  If there is a service you enjoy and would like to donate in the LV area (such as a soil test, gardening consultation, helping set up a container planting, or similar activity) we'll be happy to offer it.  Please contact Cynthia Sommer as  or call 413-567-3154 with donations and questions.

A new display at the Symposium will feature Master Gardener's Favorite Gardening Tools.  If you have one you are willing to load for the day, contact Ken Conway at  or Rosey Bonner at 413-244-4856 or    To ensure tools are safe and don't walk-away, the booth will be constantly manned and tools will be secured to the display board with zip ties.  





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