Programs to help Montclairians jump-start their gardens
By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
As gardening is regaining popularity, two groups are offering sustainable and organic ways to make your garden grow.
The Montclair History Center’s popular annual Herb and Heirloom Vegetable Sale is back, May 6-9. Orders are being taken now through the order form on the History Center’s site at montclairhistory.org.
The sale is known for its wide array of herbs, such as 12 different types of basil, six kinds of lavender and four sages, as well as hard-to-find heirloom organic vegetable plants such as Pink Berkeley Tie Dye tomatoes, Bright Lights Swiss chard and an almost seedless eggplant lunga. Hardy flowering plants such as black hollyhocks, foxgloves that grow up to 5 feet and sweet-smelling jasmine will also be on sale. Most are $4.50, with some larger plants at $10.
Preorders via mail or email are due April 11 and must be picked up on May 6. Payment will be taken that day. The sale will open to the general public May 7- 9 or until they sell out.
For those searching for a sustainable native garden, the Essex Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey will hold a free webinar, “Native Gardening for Beginners,” on Tuesday, March 30, at 7 p.m.
The program is for both newbie gardeners and those wanting to attract more butterflies, bees, dragonflies and birds. Speaker Dennis Hillerud will teach why native plants are ecologically important and how to work them into the garden. He will showcase 10 native plants that are easy to grow and to buy, and explain how to plant and maintain them.
Hillerud is a founding member of the steering committee of the Essex Chapter, owner of DNH Gardens and a master gardener who has taught and lectured widely about horticulture.
Deb Ellis, a co-leader of the Essex Chapter, said, “With the increased interest in gardening since the pandemic, we are excited to be offering this webinar. Native plants have a unique and innate beauty, but they also provide irreplaceable wildlife habitat and are key elements in sustaining the earth’s cycle of natural life.
“It is especially important to ‘plant native’ in heavily urbanized Essex County. Anyone can be an eco-hero by simply adding to their garden a few native plants like milkweed or purple coneflower!”
For those wanting to learn more about heirloom flowers and herbs and how to capture them through art, the History Center will hold a series of three workshops. Participants will learn about different spring flowers and herbs, along with their historic importance and traditional medicinal properties, and create a watercolor. The series includes “The Historic Violet,” April 13, “The Historic Tulip,” April 27, and “The Historic Iris,” May 11.
All skill levels — beginners to advanced — are welcome, and all materials will be supplied. The series will be led by Diane Israel, the center’s artist and manager of audience engagement, and Susanne Costa, its manager of education. The price is $94.50 for all three workshops; they are not being offered as single classes. Enrollment is limited.
The workshops will be held outside, in a socially distanced setting and under state guidelines. All participants must wear face masks.