Slocum Garden Club talks birds

March heralds in the spring season, and the program for Slocum Garden Club concerned our bird population. Mary Lou Beaumont utilizing an educational exhibit, spoke of Ohio’s State Bird, the Northern Cardinal. She also had available a listing of state birds, explaining that state birds are designated by legislation, usually denoting a beloved and abundant bird. The selections began in 1927 when legislatures for Alabama, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming selected their state birds. Ohio chose their state bird, the Northern Cardinal, in 1933.

The Cardinal derives its name from Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, who wear distinctive red robes and caps. Other common names are also called Red Bird, Virginia Nightingale, and Cardinal Grosbeak. In the early 20th century the bird’s popularity led to its being caged, which, in part, led to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 outlawing this practice. Northern Cardinals are social beings, preferring to live at the forests edges, in shrubs, back yards, and parks. They mate for life, stay together year round, do not migrate and nest in dense thickets in an attempt to protect eggs and hatchlings from predators. Common predators are owls, hawks, snakes, squirrels and chipmunks. Currently it is estimated that there are some 100 million cardinals on earth, covering a range of 2,200,000 miles.

Females build a cup shaped nest of four layers; twigs, covered with a leafy mat, lined with grapevine, then grasses, stems, roots, and pine needles. Three to four eggs are laid in each clutch and three to four clutches are laid each year. The female incubates the clutch and the male cares for and feeds each brood once the eggs hatch. Their diet is 90% seeds, grains and fruits. However, they feed their young almost exclusively insects. A feeder containing maize, oats, sunflower and safflower seeds will attract this bird year round. Beaumont closed her presentation by suggesting that they read Bridget Stutchbury’s, popular book “Silence of the Songbirds, focusing on how we are losing the world’s songbirds and what we can do to save them. She explained that the largest danger to the Northern Cardinal is the domestic cat in our backyards.

Julie Hines and Brooks Sexton, hostesses for the March meeting of Slocum Garden Club, presented St. Patrick’s Day gifts of Irish tea towels, hats and candies. The meeting was held at Gatti’s Pizza and Diane Reese, club president, opened the business meeting and honored new members.

Beverly Norman, Ohio Association of Garden Clubs judge and Regional Director for Region 10, distributed the April 20 OAGC Regional Meeting’s “Spring Awakening” Flower Show schedule. Participation at the regional level is encouraged. Members were also urged to purchase flowers from Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Scioto Guild’s annual flower sale, the deadline for ordering March 31.

Norman spoke of the OAGC 2017 convention flower show and reminded members of the March 15 deadline for applications for the 2016 state awards. Members are also eligible to register for the May 22-23 Exhibitors and Judge’s School at Deer Creek State Park, the OAGC Convention July 13-15 and the Region 10 Regional Meeting on April 20 at Shawnee State Park Lodge.

Region 10 encompassing Scioto, Pike, Lawrence and Adams counties, will serve as hosts at the OACG State Convention at the Marriott Inn, Dublin, Ohio, and will be responsible for 120 table centerpieces and 100 door prizes needed for the occasion.

Norman reviewed in detail, two artistic designs from the 2017 Scioto County Fair Flower Show schedule. She presented a traditional vertical line design featuring dried materials, emphasizing the dominance of the vertical line. She also exhibited a satellite design, a three-dimensional design, with one smaller, similar design, with a curved line placed at its base. She read the guidelines on the use of the connective line from the OAGC Handbook For Exhibitors and Judges, 2016.

Reese announced the April meeting would be a luncheon meeting at the Airport Restaurant, following a beautification project at the James Irvin American Legion Post in Minford. Interested in joining a garden club? Contact 740-259-4432.

Green Triangle Garden Club Day Trip

March found several members of Green Triangle Garden Club visiting the home of Ron Richards, in the beautiful Upper Twin Valley for his annual collection of maple syrup. Depending on the weather conditions, sap will start to flow immediately after tapping the tree. Sap drips from the spile into the bucket. Maple sap is a clear fluid and resembles water. The collection amounts vary. It can vary from only a small amount to enough to overflow your bucket on other days, therefore it is important to keep a watchful eye on the buckets. After collection, the sap is stored in 5 gallon, food grade containers, that have been thoroughly cleaned and triple rinsed. The sap is drained into the storage containers, using cheesecloth to filter any foreign materials and stored for no longer than 7 days, at 38 degrees F. Sap is like milk, and will spoil quickly if not kept cold. It must be treated as any other nutrient, taken from nature for human consumption.

To effectively kill the growth of bacteria before ingesting, the sap is brought to a boil, (233 degrees) using a candy thermometer.

Since this was an onsite demonstration, Richards had utensils on hand for sampling the freshly made taffy-like maple candy. What a delight to taste maple syrup poured over crushed ice.

The business meeting was conducted by Eva Wolery, President. Wolery received the business reports and made announcements. The March gardening tip concerned the removal of mulch as spring approaches. Even though the winter has been mild, it is best to remove the mulch in several stages to slowly acclimatize the plant.