2017 WAGC Garden Club Tour Photos

June 11 was a beautiful day for our second “Step Into Our Gardens!” garden tour. A warm sunny day with a nice breeze under the shade trees brought out gardeners and garden lovers of all ages to view the seven exquisite gardens in Franklin Lakes, Midland Park, Waldwick, and Wyckoff. 

Thank you to:

— all the attendees who toured the gardens. We hope you had an enjoyable experience!

— WAGC member Marina Kunkera and her family for managing the baked goods and refreshments at one of the lovely gardens. 

— all the docents who sat at each garden to greet each attendee at the seven gardens. 

— garden tour committee chair Janet Schulz and the garden tour committee members for making our second garden tour a great success! 

— our sponsors for helping to make “Step Into Our Gardens!” a wonderful event.

— Donna Dorsey of Goffle Brook Farm & Garden Center for putting together the fabulous plant sale!


See y’all in 2019!

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The Refreshment Committee: Lauren Kunkera, Eva Kunkera, and Marina Kunkera were ready all day during the garden tour to help serve lemonade and delectable goodies to attendees.

Above photo credit: Joan Rottkamp



Beautiful rose garden with trellis


Below photo credit: WAGC member Fran DiGiorgio

Flowering Creeping Jenny!


A secret garden to sip iced tea and enjoy the natural surroundings of summer foliage, scurrying chipmunks, and tweeting birds.


A serene shade garden.

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Below photo credit: Lauren Faustini

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Below photo credit: Eileen Avia

A little garden helper at the plant sale which was held at her grandmother’s (and WAGC member’s) house.

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WAGC President Eileen Avia made lovely arrangements that were placed at the tables where the docents sat to greet attendees.


Annuals and Herbs at Goffle Brook Farm

Donna Dorsey, co-owner of Goffle Brook Farm in Ridgewood presented “What’s Hot in Gardening This Year” at the WAGC monthly meeting on April 12, 2017. The meeting took place in the Monroe Room at the Wyckoff Public Library.

Donna offered information about new annuals of brilliant blues, yellows, and pinks and old favorites that are perfect for planters and hanging pots to add a variety of colors to your garden throughout the spring and summer months. She also emphasized the importance of using quality plant food and potting soil mix in your planters and gardens. Many of the varieties presented are deer-resistant.

Check out all the plants and herbs at this great “boutique” – Goffle Brook Farm & Garden Center, 425 Goffle Road, Ridgewood. Donna and her staff are always available to answer your gardening questions. www.gofflebrookfarms.com


Donna Dorsey presented new and old favorite annuals that will help add color to your garden.



WAGC President Eileen Avia (center) with Door Prize winners – Paul Sisko, Steve Biegel, Fran DiGiorgio and Selma Goldstein. Thanks to Goffle Brook Farm for donating the hanging basket for one of the door prizes!



What’s All The Buzz About?

Three members of WAGC attended “What’s All The Buzz About?” at Westfield Garden State Plaza on Friday, March 24, 2017. Dr. Jackie Ehlert, a founder The Havemeyer Edible Garden at Ramapo College, and John Gaut, 2nd V.P. of the Northeast N.J. Beekeepers Association spoke to an audience of about 30 attendees about the importance of the pollinators, particularly the honey bee to the environment. Information included how to start a bee hive, how to gather honey, and general upkeep of the hives. A cocktail reception followed. To learn more about the Edible Garden or to become a founder to help the bees, visit www.ramapo.edu/garden/. To learn more about the NNJBA visit www.nnjbees.org.

Flowers that attract pollinators and butterflies:

Bee Balm attracts honey bees and butterflies to your garden.

Bee Balm attracts honey bees and butterflies to your garden. Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.



Dr. Jackie Ehlert with John Gaut speaking about the importance of bee hives, how to start one and how to maintain it in your own backyard.



Sample of a bee hive from The Havemeyer Edible Garden



WAGC President Eileen Avia, Salma Goldstein, founding member of The Havemeyer Edible Garden at Ramapo College and WAGC Publicity Chair Linda Vreeland

WAGC President Eileen Avia, Salma Goldstein, founding member of The Havemeyer Edible Garden at Ramapo College (and WAGC member) and WAGC Publicity Chair Linda Vreeland

Don Torino presents Creating a Wildlife Garden in Your Backyard

Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society presented “Creating a Wildlife Garden in Your Backyard” to a joint meeting of the Wyckoff Area and Oakland garden clubs on Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

To get certified, go to www.bergencountyaudubon.org to download and print an application.

To learn about what to plants attract birds, go to www.audubon/plantsforbirds.



Don Torino presented information about creating a wildlife garden in your own backyard. You probably even have some of the elements needed already!



Oakland Garden Club co-chairs along with Deb Fisk, VP and Eileen Avia, President of WAGC with Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society.

Oakland Garden Club co-presidents Annette and Gigi (left) along with Deb Fisk, VP and Eileen Avia, President of WAGC with Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society.



Eileen Avia, president of the Wyckoff Area Garden Club prepares to give out prizes from the day's drawing. Three luck winners received gardening gloves and hand cream; two others received lovely tulip plants.

Eileen Avia prepares to give out prizes before the presentation. Three luck winners received gardening gloves and hand cream; two others received lovely tulip plants.


Four elements necessary for any wildlife habitat are food, water, shelter and nesting places.

Four elements necessary for any wildlife habitat are food, water, shelter and nesting places.



Don ended his presentation with a quote from Doug Tallamy: Because life is fueled by the energy captured from the sun by plants, it will be the plants that we use in our gardens that determine what nature will be like 10, 20, and years from now.

Don ended his presentation with a quote from Doug Tallamy:
Because life is fueled by the energy captured from the sun by plants, it will be the plants that we use in our gardens that determine what nature will be like 10, 20, and years from now.

WAGC Birdhouse Workshop with Ringwood Garden Club

Wyckoff Area Garden Club President Eileen Avia presented a decorative birdhouse workshop on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 for members of the Ringwood Garden Club.

Eileen has been making and decorating birdhouses for several years, giving most of them away to friends, charities, and for fund-raisers. Her demonstration included how to paint a birdhouse and tips on placing natural bark, stones, shells, and other decorative items on the wooden structures. A raffle was held where the winners each received an unadorned wooden birdhouse to decorate. The plethora of materials, including glue guns were provided to help everyone bring each birdhouse to life with imaginative and personalized decor.

“The decorations I use are mostly things I find in my yard. Old bark, sticks, stones, and even pumpkin stems can be used to decorate a birdhouse,” commented Avia. “The possibilities are limitless and it’s a great recycling option!”

The birdhouses are for indoor use, but can be placed on a porch that is protected from the elements.


Two of Eileen Avia’s hand-decorated birdhouses.



Members of the Ringwood Garden Club show off their own creations.



Eileen Avia prepares for her birdhouse demonstration, complete with her hand-decorated hat!

WAGC Helps Support Wreaths Across America


A Wreaths Across America ceremony took place on Saturday, December 17, 2016 at noon at The Wyckoff Reformed Church cemetery. A total of 214 wreaths were placed at each headstone and the veteran’s name was announced to honor his or her memory.

The Wyckoff Area Garden Club contributed $400 to “Wreaths Across America” in 2016. This significant contribution provided live balsam fir wreaths on 40 of the veteran headstones at the Wyckoff Reformed Church cemetery, 580 Everett Avenue in Wyckoff.

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Wyckoff/Midland Park VFW members salute our local fallen veterans during December 17 Wreaths Across America ceremony at The Wyckoff Reformed Church cemetery.



Master Garderners and WAGC members Janet Schulz (in black hat) and Sue Gurak begin the process to lay the balsam fir wreaths at veterans’ headstones. WAGC member Alan Panfile with other volunteers await instructions.

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The mission of WAA, a nationwide event, is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington, Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, as well as at more than 1,000 veteran cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond.  The mission has expanded and the goal this year is to place 1.1 million wreaths across America.

The effort to honor deceased veterans before Christmas, started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which led to the Arlington Wreath Project. Founder Morrill Worcester, owner of a wreath-making company in Virginia, had started the project when he discovered his carpenters had purchased too many Christmas wreaths.

The idea grew, with eventual founding of non-profit, Wreaths Across America. It is based in Columbia Falls, Maine.

In 2008, U.S. Congress designated Dec. 13 of that year as, “Wreaths Across America Day.”

For more information, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org


Alton National Cemetery, Alton, IL

Wreaths Across America is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.


September 14, 2016 Meeting High-Lights

“The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:
Adventures and Misadventures in Our Gardens”


Several WAGC member presented their summer gardening tips including: how to build varmint-free garden cages – that are not only functional but aesthetically pleasing in the garden, weeds that took over,  hostas that succumbed to the ever-hungry deer, and breeding monarch butterflies. Let’s start with “the bad and the ugly”.


What first might appear to be a nice arrangement of “greens” is actually Deb Fisk’s sampling of weeds and lunch for the deer. Fortunately, this photo does not represent Deb’s lovely garden! 



Deb Fisk shared her “bouquet” of invasive grasses, weeds, and half-eaten hostas.



Paul Sisko brought several of his garden cages and demonstrated how to make them.
Click on
 garden cage to view information on how to make one and where to get supplies.
If you are not feeling industrious or don’t have the time, Paul also suggested store bought garden cages that work nicely and look great in your garden.


Paul Sisko demonstrates his how he
designs and builds garden cages for
his exquisite garden.




Barb Douglas shares a few tips on growing these late summer blooming perennials.


Verbena bonariensis
starts blooming here in early August.  Usually one, tall, thin stalk that doesn’t need staking; but still a great “dancer”. 


Thalictrum aquilegiifolium  
named because leaves resemble Columbine. Blooms mid-July to early August.  Lovely, delicate and another good “dancer”. 


Caryopteris X clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’
chartreuse leaves have waterfall effect.  Covered in bees when in bloom mid-August on.  Personal experience NOTE:  prune hard each spring.  Without pruning the shrub will grow woody and untidy and lose flowering capabilities


Helianthus x multiflorus “Flore-Pleno’
starts blooming late August.  Tall (4-6 ft.) with mum like blooms from top to bottom like a bush.  Several varieties but love this one and don’t care which it is; images seem to show they’re all great.  


Bull’s Blood Beet
Wanted for a few years now because of the deep maroon leaves.  I’m not good with seeds but these were encapsulated and easy to sow.  I will do again and give more thought to using in bigger clumps as a terrific, cheap ornamental.

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden’s website:  www.mobot.org is my go-to for plant finder and information.


Joan Rottkamp brought one of her butterfly breeding cages and spoke about the importance of cultivating milkweed in your garden to attract caterpillars. Joan is a member of the Butterfly Association of NJ and regularly breeds monarch butterflies in her own backyard. Several species are found in Joan’s yard, and yours, too, if you look for them!


Joan Rottkamp explains the breeding process of monarch butterflies.


Close-up of caterpillars in their cocoons. It’s nothing short of amazing to see these delicate nests transform into butterflies.


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Garden Tips from Janet Shulz


When planting spring bulbs you can plant like a lasagne effect: a deep hole, a handful of fertilizer, a few daffodils  Cover the daffodills and plant a few tulips in the same hole. Cover the tulips and then plant a few (10 or 15 minor bulbs;  crocus, muscarri or chinadoxia). Cover and in spring you will have a blooming bouquet. 

When making cuttings remember to reduce the leaf area so the remaining plant stem can replenish an adequate amount of water, being it has no roots.

When storing cannas, wait till frost; cut off the tops, dig the tubers and store in an open cardboard box in the basement till next spring.



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A  potted celosia graced the refreshments table. This lovely annual was purchased at Goffle Brook Farms on Goffle Road in Ridgewood. www.gofflebrookfarms.com

Bird House Summer Project

The Wyckoff Area Garden Club donated small wooden birdhouses, painted by club members for the Fair Lawn High School Special Ed summer program.


Eleven students enjoyed decorating the brightly colored houses on Wednesday, July 20, 2016. WAGC President Eileen Avia and Treasurer Francine DeGiorgio attended the program to help the students achieve the program’s goal. As you can see, everyone had a great time!



Preparing the birdhouse decorations at Fair Lawn High School



Students show off their finished bird houses. Eileen Avia (third from left in back) and Fran DiGiorgio (third from right) helped with the project.



One of the students decorating his bird house.


His finished product!



Groups being advised to watch what they donate

Note to our readers:
This article appeared in the Wyckoff edition of the Suburban News on Thursday, July 14, 2016 as “Groups being advised to watch what they donate” and in the Sunday Record, July 17, 2016 as “Those who donate plants must maintain them”. The third headline (below) can be found on NorthJersey.com. (Search Wyckoff Garden Club.) The content is the same in all three articles.


Donors gaining responsibility to
maintain Wyckoff Park improvements


 By Rebecca Greene
Correspondent | Wyckoff Suburban News


Wyckoff – Volunteer groups that donate plantings and other outdoor projects to the township will be responsible for their future maintenance, township officials said last week.


On July 5, the Township Committee agreed it “very much” appreciates contributions to Russell Farms Community Park which include plantings, the creation of a butterfly garden and a tree farm, but it plans to develop guidelines for their upkeep and the upkeep of other similar community endeavors.


“Specialty groups that want to do something special are welcome to do so, but we’re going to have to look at the process differently,” Mayor Kevin Rooney said.


Committeeman John Carolan said several areas within Russell Farms that were the handiwork of volunteers, such as the plantings under its sign and the establishment of the Monarch Butterfly Garden, are developing weeds and “looking pretty bad.”


The Garden Club cultivated an area under the Russell Farms welcome sign and the Girl Scouts installed the butterfly garden in the spring. Now any group that wants to contribute in this way to township property must seek permission from the Township Committee first.


“It’s not that we don’t appreciate what these groups are willing to do and what they’ve given the town,” Carolan said. “But after they’re gone, our DPW has to take care of those areas.”


“We’re very supportive of our youth and other groups, but we need to focus more on projects that require less maintenance,” Rooney said.


Rooney said the upkeep of such projects is a discussion he has been having for eight years since he took office as a committeeman.


It’s an issue of manpower.


“We can’t allocate more manpower to maintain these projects,” Rooney said. “Our DPW is overstretched as it is.”


He cited the destruction at the park caused by too much rainfall and wildlife. Of the 22 originally planted at the park, a majority must be replaced.


“I’ve spoken to Brian Duff of Homestead Landscaping,” Rooney said. “And they are going to replace the dead trees this fall with 16 lindens.”


Rooney said an example of the mounting responsibilities being assumed by the DPW is the Route 208 ramps, which used to be maintained by the state. The areas were becoming overgrown because the state failed to adequately maintain them.


“It has become further and further our responsibility,” he said. “That’s a vast amount of time for the DPW, time they don’t have.”


Rooney said rain storms also have created deep ruts on the gravel walking path at Russell Farms, which the DPW must spend days repairing.


“We’re going to have to pave that walking path,” he said.


If the DPW has to weed various areas in the park, Rooney said, they may take end up removing the plants with the weeds because, through no fault of their own, they do not realize which are which.


“The [DPW] is not going to commit their summer to pulling weeds,” Rooney said.


The township purchased Russell Farms, a five-acre tract of land, for $3.1 million, using local open space. It opened in November 2013 with a one-third mile gravel walking path, three dog waste stations and an arboretum.

WAGC response to Russell Farms article

Note to our readers: The letter below was submitted to the Wyckoff edition
of the Suburban News and The Record on Monday, July 18, 2016.


July 18, 2016


Letter to the Editor:


The article “Groups being advised to watch what they donate” which appeared in the Suburban News, Thursday, July 14, 2016 and a similar article “Those who donate plants must maintain them, Wyckoff says” in The Record, Sunday, July 17, 2016 impugns the reputation of the Wyckoff Area Garden Club (WAGC) by incorrectly stating our Club’s involvement in the plantings at Russell Farms Community Park.


Reading the recently published article was the first time WAGC heard we were “being advised” there was an issue with our donations and more disheartening, the Township Committee’s erroneous accusations. The article stated, “…the Garden Club cultivated an area under the Russell Farms welcome sign.” Committeeman Carolan said, “the plantings under the sign are developing weeds and looking pretty bad.”


WAGC did NOT cultivate this area, nor did we plant the bulbs under the sign.


However, the Club did purchase bulbs, did plant them, and did remove the foliage at the appropriate time at the end of bloom season, in other areas of the park. (Again, not under the sign as the article indicated.)  It should also be noted that the Township Committee was aware of the Club’s intention to plant the bulbs, yet the article implies that the Club did so without permission.


An apology from the Township Committee is due the Wyckoff Area Garden Club.  We all volunteered our time and worked diligently to enhance the beauty of the park.  We were certainly not responsible for maintaining areas we did not cultivate or plant. There was never an agreement between WAGC and the Township Committee to maintain areas outside of where we cultivated or planted.


Eileen Avia
President, Wyckoff Area Garden Club
Wyckoff NJ 07481

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