Garden Club meeting adopts Japanese theme

Patti Mouton / Special to Weekly Citizen
The Gonzales Garden Club hostesses embraced a Japanese theme for their November meeting. L to R: Rita Bourque, Dana Teepell, Mary Jo Pohlig, Cynthia Cagnolatti,Barbara McCormick, Jamie Trisler and Conchita Richey.

The Gonzales Garden Club outdid themselves at their recent gathering for a make-and-take workshop, a savory Japanese meal and a productive business meeting. Twenty club members met at Mary Jo Pohlig’s Diversion Canal waterfront home in St. Amant on the first day of November in perfect midday weather.

President Jamie Trisler opened the meeting by yielding the floor to longtime member Janis Poche for a demonstration of an unusual container planting technique. Poche taught members how to create kokedamas, which are Japanese moss balls. She removed much of the dirt from the roots of a tiny shade plant and set it aside. She mixed two parts peat moss with one part finely crumbled clay and enough water to form balls of compressed dirt. Poche then broke the dirt ball in half, placed the plant between the halves and remolded the dirt into the ball form with the plant roots inside. After squeezing moisture from a square of sheet moss, she molded it around the dirt ball and wrapped it with waxed string to secure the sheet moss to the dirt. She set it on a decorative saucer lined with small rocks to display her finished kokedama. Subsequently, Poche supplied eager members with the materials to make and take their own kokedamas home. The workshop was a unique effort for these experienced gardeners to enjoy learning a new way to grow small houseplants.

The Japanese theme continued into the lunch hour. Mary Jo Pohlig, Rita Bourque, Cynthia Cagnolatti, Barbara McCormick, Conchita Richey, Jamie Trisler and Dana Teepell provided the meal. Hostesses donned kimono garb while serving grilled teriyaki chicken, white rice, a shredded carrot/cabbage salad with ginger vinaigrette and fresh satsuma sections. Dessert choices were an apple and cream cheese bundt cake, lemon doberge cake, pecan cookies and a traditional Japanese treat known as magashi, which is made of moshi wrapped around sweet bean paste flavors.

Business meeting topics included the club’s habit of recycling newspapers, treasurer’s report, garden therapy commitments, district meeting notes, lifetime member guidelines, Baton Rouge Garden Club Flower Show details and Jambalaya Park garden developments.

Jambalaya Park Butterfly Garden Committee Chairman Mary Jo Pohlig updated the club on her group’s work at the garden plot in collaboration with Lowe’s Home Improvement Company. Lowe’s has adopted the entire park as their “Hero Project” so, on October 25, the Gonzales location Manager David Laverne, Team Leader Stephanie Morris and three other employees (Lynette Bowman, Mary Taylor, and Brady Gautreau) showed up to work along side of GGC members to weed, trim and thin the plants in the garden plot. Besides sweat equity, Lowe’s donated ten bags of compost to amend the soil for autumn plantings. The follow-up plan is to add annuals, herbs and milkweed varieties to help butterflies survive.

This month’s horticulture hint is to gather fallen leaves to use as mulch or additions to compost piles. The gardening tip of the month is to know the differences in horticulture mosses. Sphagnum moss is used for decoration such as mounding around the top of a container plants to hide dirt and conserve moisture. Peat moss is a soil amendment used to aerate plant roots. Spanish moss is an epiphyte, not a true moss, that hangs from large trees. Sheet moss is a green carpetlike ground cover that grows in moist shade on dirt and rocks. It can be peeled off to use in floral designs.

The garden club’s next gathering will center around its traditional Christmas holiday meal, gift exchange and canned good drive. The gardens of the month of November can be seen here.