MIDDLETOWN, NJ - On Mother’s Day weekend, the Garden Club R.F.D. had their Annual Plant Sale at the historic Little Red Schoolhouse on the corner of Dwight and Middletown Lincroft Roads in Middletown. Despite the rain and wind and the collapse of a tent due to a wind gust, the sale went on and everything was sold by 3pm on Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, Mother Nature didn’t do us in, and the Sale was a success!
The featured plant was a tough, drought-tolerant perennial whose silvery foliage extends its beauty long after it finishes flowering. That plant was the “Phenomenal Lavender”—a new variety recommended for this area. They are tender perennials and hardy for zones 7-9. Deer and rabbits typically stay away from it while butterflies and other beneficial pollinators love it. When you see bees on the flowers, it is an indication that the flowers are most fragrant and it’s time to harvest, if you so desire.
The lavender is heat loving and therefore should be in full sun. Also, being drought-tolerant, try to combine lavender with other drought-tolerant plants like yarrow, coneflower and coreopsis. It does not need to be fertilized-just remove dead branches in the spring and prune after flowering by cutting back the new growth by a third.
All lavenders are edible and it is one of the plants in herbes de Provence (dried herbs used for seasoning). The other plants that you will find in this mix are thyme, rosemary, marjoram and oregano. You can buy a jar or make your own-- if you grow lavender at home.
In addition, lavender (fresh or dried) can be added to salt, pepper, thyme, basil and garlic powder for a great dry rub on chicken breasts before grilling or roasting or added to regular sugar, allowed to sit for a few weeks and then exchanged for the regular sugar in your cooking. If you didn’t buy lavender from our plant sale, try the local nurseries. We think it’s a great plant to grow.
PHOTO: A picture of the Little Red Schoolhouse when it was the Union Schoolhouse with students in front--around 1860.
Next month, on June 26, the Garden Club R.F.D. will be celebrating their 75th anniversary as a garden club at their permanent home at the Little Red Schoolhouse. From 1842-1909, this was the one room classroom building designated as the Union Schoolhouse, built to accommodate a population of up to 49 children of all ages and 1 teacher who received $30 to $40 per quarter to teach them. It became the home for R.F.D. in 1954 when restoration and improvements began so their meetings could be held. The Club has continued its caretaking responsibilities for the past 62 years. In 1976, the Schoolhouse was officially listed as a National Historic Site in New Jersey and in Washington, D.C. and in 2015, the Monmouth County Historical Commission recognized the Garden Club R.F.D. with a Preservation Award for preserving the Schoolhouse.
Join us on June 26 from 1-3 pm to learn more of our history as we continue to develop and evolve. Find out what we are all about. You just might like to join us as we move forward. We are members of the Garden Club of New Jersey and the National Garden Club. Please call June Smith at 732-671-9216 if you would like to learn more about 75th Anniversary Open House Event and/or Garden Club R.F.D.