Blog

Reflections

The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on activities and results from the prior twelve months in order to help recharge energy for the future. For Cultivate Catskill, it was a very busy year!

Winter was the appropriate time to make plans, and plan we did! We held our annual fund raising mailing just before Valentine’s Day. Thank you to everyone who generously donated to support our efforts. Orders were placed for plants and baskets for our local flower beds, pots, light poles and pocket parks. Once the ground started to defrost, the leftover winter greens in the various pots along Main Street were removed to make way for the new growing season.

The emergence of spring was marked by Catskill’s first Roadside Clean Up held in April. Covering the entire town, we distributed trash bags from our local fire houses (Catskill, Leeds, Kiskatom and Palenville) to volunteers who scoured various village, town and county roadways picking up accumulated trash. With the help of the Town Highway Department and the Village DPW, we were able to restore some of the scenic beauty to our byways. That was quickly followed by multiple planting days. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, flowers were installed in the various pocket parks and urns along Main Street. Baskets of petunias were also hung from light poles as well as installed on Uncle Sam’s Bridge. For the first time, an Alphabet Garden in Leggio Park was planted which included markers highlighting the names of various plants. Trunk Sales were also held once again.

Summer saw the plants grow and bloom, spreading color and joy throughout the community. But the work did not end there. Weeding and watering were key to keeping the flowers healthy as we also prepared for the arrival of the America in Bloom judges in July. While they gave us high marks for our floral displays, they cited the need for better code enforcement, municipal official support, and weed control. This time of year, work was also underway preparing for our first Caturday event which was successfully held in September.

With the advent of cooler weather in autumn, it was once again time to put the gardens to ‘bed’ in October while also installing ‘harvest’ decorations. In November, a wreath was decorated and donated to the Festival of Trees. We gathered greenery to make huge swags for Uncle Sam’s Bridge with the help of even more volunteers. Greenery and lights were installed along Main Street just in time for the Festival of Lights parade. They helped to make downtown even more festive for the holiday season. Bakeware and culinary skills were put to use during our annual Cookie Sale. For the first time, we also created and sold decorated wreaths which made this event extra festive.

As you’ve walked through the streets of Catskill over the past year, I hope you were not looking at its flaws but, rather seeing its potential. It’s been said that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. If you like the progress that’s been made over the last several years and want us to continue this success, please work with us in helping to create a community that we all can take pride in. We always tend to fulfill our own expectations of ourselves, so let’s collectively set the bar high for the coming year. As we enter 2019, please consider helping us continue to look for and cultivate Catskill’s potential. Happy New Year!

Change

Change is inevitable. Experts say there are three different types of change: developmental, transitional and transformational. Seasons change. The month changes. The temperature changes. The weather changes. This time of year, leaves fall from trees as an indicator of our local transition into fall. You might have noticed some of our dedicated Cultivate Catskill volunteers cleaning up the pocket parks over the last few weeks as the plants transition from the growing season to one of rest and recharge.

Transitions are a great time to reflect on the past to assess what worked and what still needs more attention. The flowers along Main Street looked especially beautiful this summer. The combination of the hanging baskets coupled with the flowers in the black pots in front of the storefronts reflect the renewed vibrancy of our local area. The Alphabet garden added an extra touch of whimsy to Leggio Park, while Howard Street, Mott Street and Policeman’s Park all looked stellar. With an increasing number of open storefronts and visitors to our region, it is very rewarding to see people enjoy Cat’N around Catskill as they explore our local treasures. Recently, a politician remarked about the transformation that is currently underway in Catskill. All of our collective efforts are making a difference!

The pink, white and purple petunias that were planted in new planters on Uncle Sam’s Bridge were a great addition to our beautification efforts. Although we had ten planters this year, it’s a very long bridge that could benefit from even more planters in the future. The combination of the re-opened Black Bridge and Uncle Sam’s bridge is helping to highlight the beauty of our waterfronts which many locals tend to take for granted. The lantana ‘trees’ in the pots on Main Street and the plantings at Blue Star Memorial Park that anchor the both ends of West Bridge Street, helped to celebrate the gradual rejuvenation of the area.

The Department of Public Works did a great job watering the hanging baskets and pots along Main Street while Cultivate Catskill volunteers did our best to keep the pocket parks watered throughout the year. It would help greatly if business owners with planters outside their establishments would help to keep the plants watered in between DPW’s weekly watering. The plants would be most appreciative and reward you with continued blooms. In addition, if weeds start to crop up along the sidewalks, around the trees or against the buildings, a few minutes of weeding would help to keep the Village looking well maintained.

As we thank everyone who contributed to Cultivate Catskill’s efforts this year, we also continue to work on new developments. I suspect you’ve already noticed the decorations to mark the harvest season. These will be replaced with winter greenery in time for the Festival of Lights that is scheduled for November 23rd. Shortly after that, we are working to prepare for our annual Holiday Cookie Sale to be held on December 1 at the Community Center from 9AM to 1PM. We are also planning a Holiday Bazaar as part of this event where you can purchase a homemade holiday wreath to grace your doorway or home. Proceeds will be split between Cultivate Catskill and the Community Center. Cultivate will use any proceeds to fund new plantings for 2019, maintenance of existing gardens as well as plans to plant even more pride in our community.

We hope you will continue to support us as we strive to support positive change in Catskill. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” Please consider joining us as a Cultivate Catskill Volunteer or making a contribution to support our efforts. Thank you!

Weed Wisdom

All of the recent rain has resulted in very lush gardens. The greenery is beautiful… but if you look closely – or even not so closely – you are bound to spot a weed.

So what is a weed? There is no plant that bears the botanical name of ‘ weed’, although weeds certainly exist! The Old Farmer’s Almanac describes a weed as essentially a plant growing where you don’t want it. Other descriptions include:

  • A plant not intentionally sown
  • A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered … R.W. Emerson
  • A plant considered undesirable in a particular situation or one whose undesirable qualities outweigh their good points
  • A plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows…Doug Larson
  • A plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.

This basically means that the term ‘weed’ is contextual – i.e. a plant in the wrong place albeit a farm field, garden, lawn, or park. Of the approximately 250,000 species of plants worldwide, only 3 percent or approximately 8,000 species behave as weeds that most people would prefer not to see in cultivated areas.

Some weeds are considered beneficial. Positive benefits include their aesthetic qualities, soil stabilization, addition of organic matter, and creation of habitat and food for wildlife ( e.g. nectar for bees). Other weeds are deemed to be invasive. Most weeds can be appreciated for their tenacity, their wildness, and the connection to nature they provide. Regardless, common traits include:

  • Abundant seed productivity
  • Rapid population establishment and spread
  • Seed dormancy which results in long term survival. Seeds go dormant but they sprout just as soon as conditions are right

Weeds reduce crop and/or ornamental plant yield by competing for water, light, soil nutrients and space. Thus the primary methods of management include prevention, mulching and regular weeding. Top weed control tips include:

  1. Never let them set seed! Remove weeds before they flower and produce seeds. On average, it takes 5 years to deplete a weed’s seeds if no additional seeds are added. Thus it may take a few years to get your soil weed-free. Annual weedy grass seeds die after 2-3 years but broadleaf weed seeds can last much longer.
  2. Mulch. It takes 2-3 inches of mulch to block weed seeds from sunlight so they do not germinate. Mulch also promotes better water retention, provides nutrients to the soil as it decomposes and helps to moderate soil temperature.
  3. Pay special attention to perennial weeds. With these, you’ll need to dig up any roots, underground tubers and rhizomes without leaving any fragments behind. New weeds can grow from pieces that break off and remain in the soil. It does help to cut off the emerged green part of a weed with a how or mower each time it grows. Without leaves, the underground plant parts will become weakened and may eventually die.

Common weeds (with links to help you identify them) include:

We’ve been talking about a weed as a noun, but it is also used as a verb meaning ‘remove or clear of weeds’. Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find it a kind of soothing monotony that leaves the mind open to develop new ideas or work through pressing issues.

If you’d like to help us reduce the number of weeds in the gardens and parks maintained by Cultivate Catskill, join us as we work to enhance the beauty of our area and help Catskill continue to bloom!

The wonders of water

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” — Liberty Hyde Bailey

A special “thank you” to all the Cultivate Catskill volunteers who have spent countless hours planting, deadheading, weeding, mulching and watering the flowers around town. And an extra special “thanks” to the DPW workers who water the hanging baskets and pots along Main Street, a well as the Greene County workers who cut the grass in our parks.

As I was watering Leggio Park this morning, I had a chance to contemplate the wonders of water. Did you know that water covers 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and is vital to all known forms of life? It is a transparent, tasteless, odorless and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of the Earth’s streams, lakes and oceans. It is also the fluid of most living organisms, including plants.

Like all life on Earth, plants need water to survive and grow. Indeed, like humans, water is the primary element that makes up the structure of plants. Human bodies are comprised of about 70 percent water, but in plants, this proportion can be as high as 95 percent. In plants, water is used for structure, photosynthesis, translocation and transportation.

Water helps plants move nutrients from the soil through its stems and leaves. It also keeps the plant moist, flexible, and helps the plant make its own food. Photosynthesis is what plants do to create their food and water is critical to this process. Water enters a plant’s stem (via the roots), and travels up to its leaves where photosynthesis takes place. Once in the leaves, water evaporates, as the plant exchanges water for carbon dioxide. The combination of sunlight, healthy soil, clean air, and water all work together to help keep a plant healthy.

So what’s the best way to water? One key is to focus on the root zone … not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease. Also, remember to water only when needed. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little. Make sure to water deeply and thoroughly. Lawns and annuals concentrate their roots in the top six inches of the soil. For perennials and shrubs, it’s the top 12 inches. Water in the morning to allow any moisture on the leaves to dry out. And to conserve water evaporation in the soil, mulch everything.

In Catskill, we are most fortunate to be surrounded by water in our lakes, streams. creeks and of course the Hudson River. But while 96.5 percent of our plant’s water supply is found in seas and oceans, only 1.77 percent is in groundwater. (The rest can be found in glaciers, ice caps in Antarctica and Greenland and a very small amount in vapor, clouds and precipitation.

The current dry spell is a reminder to conserve our drinking water and appreciate the life sustaining properties of this vital fluid. Consider installing a rain barrel to water your flower garden. Also, keep trash away from and out of our waterways to help ensure the beauty and viability of our ecosystem. Being cognizant of the role water plays in our environment, you can help us continue to Cultivate Catskill.

“June is bustin’ out all over…”

The title of the 1958 Rodgers and Hammerstein’s song from Carousel is appropriate as one walks down Main Street or Bridge Street in the Village of Catskill. The Cultivate Catskill volunteers were busy last month planting a swath of color in gardens, pots, urns and baskets. Thanks to plants purchased from Story’s Nursery and Story Farms (made possible through donations from local businesses and foundations) and the help of the Department of Public Works (DPW)), we’ve been able to add a splash of color to the sidewalks, pocket parks and Uncle Sam’s Bridge for the enjoyment of the residents and visitors to our area.

William Kent perhaps said it best with “All gardening is landscape painting.” Luther Burbank went a bit further when he stated “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.” In my conversations with many people around town as we’ve been planting this season, there seems to be a consistent appreciation of the benefits of having an attractive downtown area. It’s gratifying when we see people enjoying lunch in the parks or hear visitors exclaiming how nice everything looks. The fiberglass cats with the added flowers around town seems to be a winning combination!

That said, “a garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” — Liberty Hyde Bailey.

After a lot of effort expended last month planting the flowers, the work is not over. Now the watering and weeding starts. Thankfully, the DPW has agreed to water the baskets on Main Street and the planters on Uncle Sam’s Bridge. However, we are always looking for volunteers to help to water and weed the parks including Policeman’s Park, Blue Star Memorial Park, Leggio Park, Mott Street and Howard Street. By staying on top of the weeds, the focus can remain on enjoying the beauty of the colors and textures of the other plants. Lou Erickson correctly stated that “gardening requires lots of water, most of it in the form of perspiration.”

We recognize, however, that everyone is busy and/or may not have the time or inclination to help us with this ‘manual labor”. That said, there are other ways to get involved. As you can imagine, the purchase of all the plant materials costs a significant amount of money. Cultivate Catskill hosts a variety of fundraisers (e.g. the Trunk Sales – like the one being held tomorrow) to defray these costs but we would love to do more and extend the reach of our efforts. If you would like to help, please visit our website at http://cultivatecatskill.org to learn more about our non-profit organization, mission and how you can help.

A is for Allium; B is for….

Have you ever wondered what the name of a plant was? Or been interested in what kind of flower a plant produced? If so, Catskill may just have the right garden for you!

Newly installed at Leggio Park on Main Street in the Village of Catskill is an Alphabet and Pollinator Garden. For the last few years, Cultivate Catskill planted a vegetable garden in the raised beds of this pocket park. This year, we decided to do something different.

America in Bloom, an organization that comes to Catskill and judges our gardens, parks, historic preservation, urban forests and the overall impression of our community, had suggested for the last couple of years that we install a pollinator garden. When visiting Fort Ticonderoga last summer, one of our members stumbled upon an alphabet garden which was both a demonstration garden and an educational vehicle to help visitors learn about gardening. This triggered the idea of trying this approach locally.

The planning started last year which led to the planting of tulips (T) and daffodils (D) last fall. Daffodils are members of the Narcissus family which is why you’ll also see them planted by the letter ‘N’. Coneflowers (C), also known by their Botanical name Echinacea (E), were also planted last fall in addition to other perennials (e.g salvia, sedum, sea holly (S), hosta (H), iris (I), lavender (L), yarrow (Y) and monarda (M) –which is commonly known as bee balm (B)).

Over the last week, more plants have been added including pansies, petunias, phlox and portulaca (P), zinnias and zebra grass (Z), geraniums and Gaillardia (G), Joe Pye Weed (J), knautia (K), verbena (V), among others. Seeds have been sown for Queen Anne’s Lace (L), nasturtium (N), and four o’clocks (F) so it will take some time before you will see them germinate and flower. X is for xeriscaping plants (those that thrive in dry conditions) so there you will eventually find Yucca, Mallow and beardtongue added to the ice plants that are already there.

Many of these plants are pollinator friendly which means that birds, bees and butterflies feed of the nectar that the flowers produce. Thus, you’ll get a chance to learn about plants, enjoy the flowers and watch the pollinators all during the same visit.

Cultivate Catskill invites you to visit our new garden and return frequently as the plants grow, mature and flower for your enjoyment.

Over the next few weeks, watch for the flowers that will start to appear in the planters on Main Street as well as the return of the hanging baskets that will add a touch of beauty to our community over the summer months. In addition, look for a scavenger hunt that’s been created for children to enjoy the Alphabet and Pollinator garden too. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Cultivate Catskill’s Trunk Sale

The saying goes that “April showers bring May flowers” but we say that May brings back Cultivate Catskill’s “Trunk Sale”. It starts on Saturday, May 5, 2018 (rain or shine) from 9AM to 1PM in the parking lot at the corner of Bridge and Water Streets in the Village of Catskill.

It all started when two Cultivate Catskill founders, Shelly Pulver and Robin Smith, were on a trip to England. They heard about a “boot sale” from some locals. Expecting to find some new footwear, they discovered that the event was actually what Americans might describe as a flea market or garage sale where vendors sold their wares from the back of their cars, vans or pickup trucks…. hence our ‘trunk sale’.

Vendors are invited to pack their treasures in their trunks and join us to sell (and shop) at this unique venue. For a nominal fee ($5.00 per car or $10.00 per van/pickup), this is a great opportunity to clean out any unused or slightly used items that you might have lying around and help them find new homes. Craft makers may find this a great venue to reach potential new buyers.

Next Saturday promises to be a comfortable day in the low 70 degrees, so it’s a a great opportunity to get outdoors and potentially get inspired for a new project. In past years, shoppers have been able to find, furniture, books, records and tapes, tools, collectibles and jewelry among other great finds. Note that there is no charge to shoppers, so stop by and take a look and you might find a new treasure perfect for your home!

To help you plan ahead, other Trunk Sale dates this year will include June 2, June 9, July 7, August 4 and September 8… Same time and location. We hope to see you there!

Cultivate Catskill is all about planting Pride I. Our community. It is an entirely volunteer effort for all of us, by all of us. But it does need your participation and/or donation to make it Flower!

Check us out on Facebook and at http://www.CultivateCatskill.org or email us at CultivateCatskill@gmail.com. For further information, please call Shelly at 518-653-1381.