The cold has driven us indoors, the garden is finished for the season, and it’s basically time to hibernate.
But, what about bringing some of the outdoors inside to help get us through the holidays and into the new year? Decorating the house with treasures from the outdoors is a great way not only to get outside for a brisk walk but to also think about how we can renew our spirits with natural materials surrounding us.
So, bundle up, take a large basket or bag and a pair of sharp pruners and let’s go find some garden gold. The materials we’ll look at fall into two categories: things that are dried and will remain in the same state for a long time, and those things that are a bit more ephemeral and will have a shorter life indoors.
Let’s start with some of the perishable materials. You will need to time bringing these indoors so that you get the most beautiful use out of them for the longest time. In other words, if you are decorating for Christmas, cut evergreen boughs to grace the mantle only about two weeks before the big day. You can certainly cut more later and do a rotation to keep yourself in greens for months.
Holly berries and rose hips make beautiful accents in wreaths and arrangements and will usually last about a month. Branches of crabapples will last a couple of weeks if kept cool. Be cautious before bringing in other berries because some of them will begin to have an unpleasant odor when they warm up. Viburnums are a good example.
Many of the woody herbs such as thyme, sage, and lavender are still in great shape for snipping, They can be used for advent wreaths or as accents with evergreen boughs or table arrangements. They will usually dry intact but you can make them last longer if you put them in water. Tuck small bowls of water beneath your evergreens and put the herb stems in them.
Vining plants such as vinca and English ivy, because of their leathery leaves, will last a couple of weeks when brought indoors. So, again, time your snipping so they will be fresh for when you want their display.
The selection of dried materials is endless, from hydrangea blossoms to grass seed heads to milkweed pods to clematis seed pods. A walk through the garden or woods will give you plenty of ideas. These can be glued onto grapevine wreaths or wired onto green wreaths. Or, use them in arrangements, on swags, or simply as a collection on a table. One of the most beautiful simple arrangements I’ve ever seen was stems of milkweed pods (empty or you’ll have seeds everywhere) with red rose hips in a tall vase on the hearth.
We had to remove a tree on the UU Asheville campus (near the ramp). As much as I hate to remove any tree, this one had to go. The tree, a hemlock, was declining severely without any possibility of being brought back to health. And it was near the power lines along Charlotte Street. We had Duke Energy come to assess the danger of it falling and they determined it needed to be removed. Graciously they cut it down even though it was on our campus (and didn’t charge us!).
The decision is hard, but sometimes it’s necessary to remove a plant that is not thriving. Even though it’s a living thing, if there is a danger, if it is declining health, or even if it just makes observers grimace because it looks so bad, it may be necessary to take it away.
The happy result of this is that we now have another sunny spot for a garden! And, the wood is still there so if anyone wants to take it away for firewood or other use, please feel free to help yourself. If no one wants it, we will have it hauled away eventually.
Please don’t hesitate to send an email or text if you have questions about your garden.
The leaves are finally starting to fall, which means that wonderful activity, leaf pick-up, is here. Instead of looking at them as a nuisance, why not think of them as gold for the garden? I’m going to try to convince you to change leaf pick-up into “leaf recovery.”
It means a mind shift from wanting everything to look pristine to a less tidy appearance. Why is it that when we see leaves blanketing a bed instead of commercially shredded mulch, it looks messy to us? Both are organic matter, and the leaves are actually much more colorful than shredded bark.
The leaves that turn lovely hues and then drop are nature’s source for replenishing the soil beneath trees and shrubs. A plant takes up massive amounts of nutrients through its roots as it grows to use in food production for its healthy leaves. When the plant sheds its leaves, those nutrients are released back into the soil as the leaves decay. These nutrients are waiting to be used by the plant next season to produce leaves, stems and fruits.
So, taking away the leaves simply takes away nutrients. We can add nutrients by fertilizing, of course, but for the most part, synthetic fertilizers do nothing for the soil, and certainly make a dent in the wallet.
So, can you simply leave them where they fall? And exactly how do you use these leaves that are so plentiful?
For the leaves covering your grass, think of the prairie’s cycle. Prairies don’t usually have trees, so there are few leaves. The organic matter from a prairie cycle comes from the grass itself. So, it is a good idea to clean up the leaves on your grass in order to keep the grass healthy and free from disease.
Simply mow the grass and leaves together and blow it all in your landscape beds. This is not a hard job, but may take some creative driving or pushing to round them up into beds. If your mower is a mulcher, take out the mulching chute cover so you can blow and direct the leaves as you would into a bagger. If you don’t have that capacity, you can simply mow over them a couple of times and they will be ground finely enough to leave in place.
As for landscape beds, take a walk in the woods and you will see blankets of leaves covering the ground beneath trees. This cycle of leaf fall and decay maintains the soil health and this, in turn, allows the trees to grow and remain healthy. We can easily duplicate that cycle by simply not taking the leaves away.
Keep in mind that native bees nest in the ground, and bumblebees burrow into leaf litter to spend the winter. Leaf litter also protects countless types of butterfly pupa such as black swallowtails and fritillaries.
I have a lot of leaves, so after I fill my beds, I scoop all the extra into a pile at the back of my property and let them sit there over winter. Next spring I can dig into the bottom of the pile for some of the most beautiful shredded mulch to go directly on my vegetable garden instead of straw.
After a couple of years, my leaf pile will be reduced by half and will be composted beautifully for use all over the landscape. The British have been doing this for years – they are famous for their leaf “mould” which they use in the garden and even in containers. Best of all, it’s free!
Here are a few tips on fall care for perennials. Although I do encourage you to leave foliage and seedheads standing through the winter, some perennials do benefit from pruning back.
And don’t forget – we will have a congregation-wide Plant Exchange on October 30 after the service (12-2) in the gravel parking lot. As you begin to do fall clean-up, pot up any plants you wish to share. There are pots in the garage at 23 Ewin if you need them. Just remember to label the plants. And you may just come away with some new treasures!
Bearded Iris – the foliage has most likely begun to die back already, and it will be a haven for iris borers and fungal diseases. Cut back all the foliage completely after a killing frost and dispose of it instead of composting.
Beebalm – if you had mildew issues in summer, cut the plants back completely and dispose of the foliage. If there was no mildew, you can leave them on through winter.
Daylilies respond well to shearing. If you didn’t shear them back in late summer, mowing them down now will save messy cleanup in spring.
The perennial sunflower still looks great now and will until hard frost. Leave it up and the seedheads will feed the birds and catch snow beautifully.
Japanese Anemones are favorites of certain beetles and are often defoliated by fall. If not, the foliage of Japanese anemones turns black and unattractive with frost. Cut them back in the fall.
Peony foliage should be removed in the fall to prevent disease issues. Dispose of it instead of composting.
Phlox is prone to powdery mildew like beebalm. Prune and destroy all foliage and stems in the fall.
Perennial salvia benefits from several prunings during the growing season, and in fall, cut the whole plant back to the new leaves at the base.
Baptisia may split in the middle if not sheared back after blooming although the seed pods are beautiful in the snow. You can simply stake the pod stalks even though the foliage will turn black.
Please don’t hesitate to send an email or text if you have questions about your garden.
Echinacea Flowers Pen and Ink Vector Watercolor Illustration
One of the UU Asheville’s responsibilities to retain our Pollinator Garden certification is that we must remove invasive plants. Most of us know when a plant invades our own gardens. The first indication is that It tends to choke out more desirable plants. Invasives are usually tenacious and vigorous, but can often be beautiful as well. Which can make it a hard decision to remove it.
This is the definition from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA: “An invasive plant is a plant that is both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting plant communities or ecosystems.”
One such invasive that we removed from the campus last week is porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). This was growing on the RE area fence, sporting beautiful blue and purple berries. It is quite attractive with leaves similar to grape. But it has a dark side. It is planted near the blueberry garden so it just might tempt a child to taste its berries along with ripe blueberries. I’ve found two sources that say the berries are not only NOT edible but can be toxic. And, it was engulfing parts of the sensory garden.
From the North Carolina State Extension Service: “Porcelain berry is an aggressive weed in the Vitaceae (grape) family of the eastern United States that closely resembles native grapes. Porcelain berry is listed as an Invasive, Exotic Plant of the Southeast reseeding readily and becoming very difficult to remove.”
So, it’s gone and we’ll be keeping an eye out to prevent it from coming back. And if you have questions about a plant being invasive, drop me a line and we can figure it out together!
We constantly hear how great native plants are for our landscapes. And this is true. With our sustainable landscape goals, native plants can thrive without human input of fertilizers, pesticides and maintenance. They are often resistant to local pests and have deep root systems that allow them to thrive without additional water as well as reduce runoff and erosion.
Native plants are rarely invasive, meaning they won’t out-compete surrounding vegetation and offer wildlife food and shelter, helping preserve biodiversity and enhance the ecosystem. Most are considered pollinator plants, something we are seriously concerned with in our sustainable landscapes.
That being said, there is also a place for non-natives. While it is a great idea to add natives to your landscape as you add or replace plants, there is certainly no reason to eliminate some of the beautiful plants native to other parts of the world. Unless they are invasive, of course.
As long as we do our research and understand how a plant will behave in the landscape, we can continue to enjoy some of the more exotic-looking plants that we love. For example, common milkweed is a prime butterfly plant. But if put into a typical home landscape, it will spread uncontrollably and can make a mess of the garden.
I, for one, don’t want to give up my hostas or Japanese maples, which are certainly not native. But I will add native Carolina sweetshrub and fothergilla to my landscape. It’s a matter of perspective and knowing your plants.
The landscape crew is working apace to keep things weeded and planted and generally spruced up.
Our goal is to eventually have no “open” ground. We have quite a few open areas that are currently covered with nothing but mulch, and as great as the mulch is for the soil, it is also a perfect spot for weed growth. In order to reduce our weeding time, we are looking to plant groundcovers and other plants to reduce the surface area as much as possible.
So over the next few months, we hope to be adding beautiful groundcovers to the landscape to beautify and reduce the workload. Eventually, we would like to replace the open grass areas with gardens but that project is down the road a bit! We are always looking for donated plants.
In the meantime, we will be adding plants to the beds in front of the building to enhance our welcoming entrance. If you are interested in talking with me further or have questions or better yet, suggestions, please contact me (email@example.com). Or even better, come volunteer with our landscape group on the first and third Saturdays of the month, 8-10 am.
Hello, one and all! My name is Kate Jerome and, along with Venny Zachritz, I am taking an active role in managing the landscape of the UUA campus. I’m so excited to share with everyone our plans to turn our already beautiful landscape into a sustainably managed one.
We will be making a few changes, adding plants, and generally making the landscape into an educational resource for the congregation and the surrounding community. This landscape will become one in which there is even more beauty, that sustains pollinators and wildlife, and needs less and less input to keep it beautiful.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the basic principles of this type of landscape management as well as keeping you abreast of the changes and additions we and our wonderful landscape group will be making.
If you are interested in talking with me further or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or even better, come volunteer with our landscape group on the first and third Saturdays of the month, 9-11 am.
In gratitude for the incredibly generous and tireless effort of the facilitators and mentors, the families of the 2021-22 UUCA Coming of Age class planted three beautyberry bushes in the new pollinator garden at the front entrance of the church.
The three plants are arranged in a triangle with two dark-leaved Pearl Glam Beautyberry plants in the back and one greener-leaved American Beautyberry in the front. The Pearl Glams were intended to represent the mentors and facilitators, providing the backing and support for the Coming of Age youth, while the American Beautyberry in the front represents our youth stepping forward into the spotlight. All three plants contribute to the world as pollinators, and all three have beautiful white flowers that precede bright purple berries. The berries are both stunning and edible.
The bushes were planted by the youth at the end of their closing ceremony on May 22. Despite encountering much harder ground than anticipated (metaphor alert 😊), their hard work won out in the end. We look forward to watching them all flourish in the years ahead.
UU Asheville Families got together on a Thursday evening for Pizza, Mindfulness, and Games! We had pizza, followed by a mindfulness game led by Amy Glenn, and then had a great time playing some fun family games!
UU Asheville Families also had a fabulous time at Sky Lanes on Sunday, March 13! There were 20 of us there to bowl, including a bunch of kiddos whose first time it was. All ages and different skill levels had a ton of fun and enjoyed the friendly competition. It is so nice to be together again, meeting new friends and old and seeing our kids bond with each other. Look out for Wes Miller, he’s there to win! Hope to see even more folks at our next event!
It’s not quite like the good ole days but it’s way closer than YouTube-watching. Today was a great day with a “regular” worship service, a Coming of Age class meeting in Sandburg Hall, a lot of people sticking around for a bit of caroling, and then a trek down Charlotte Street to celebrate UU Asheville’s new BeLoved Street Pantry.
A link to register to attend the Sunday worship service starts showing up in the Monday Worship eNews and stays open until we get to 50. There is a wait list because we’d like to see how much “demand” we have. If you are a newcomer, sign up for our eNews announcements at the bottom of our home page.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. The dog refused to wear his grandma costume.
We had a worship service. We had a remembrance ritual. We had soup! (Sold out, much to a late-comer’s chagrin–not naming any names.) We had Halloween costumes! We had treats! Could it have been any better? See you next time!
Last month on the 3rd Thursday, a small group gathered on campus to listen to poetry and drum with our ministers and drum circle leader, Nanette Muzzy-Manhart. It was fun to be in community and on campus after almost two years of mostly Zoom gatherings. Weather permitting we will gather on 3rd Thursdays in October and November, too. Our October drum circle leader will be Will Jernigan. Join us!
About 60 people in person and 40 screens on Zoom witnessed our outdoor (thank goodness for great weather!) worship service. A terrific Wisdom Story (Owen and Mzee), live music, real hymn-singing, and a lovely blessing ceremony were enjoyed by all!
Over 200 congregants had a splendid afternoon bidding farewell to Rev. Mark Ward, our lead minister who retired after 17 years of service to UUCA.
Here’s Mark’s remarks to you, as well as the prayer he wrote for us:
Thank you, thank you to everyone who was in any way a part of the retirement party that you gave me on Saturday. It was such a beautiful event, so well put together, so generous, and flooded with good feelings. Thank you especially to Planning Committee members Cecil Bennett, Beverly Cutter, Judy Galloway, Ann McLellan and Phil Roudebush. It all was more than I could have hoped. Your words were so kind, your gifts were so generous. I am grateful to all those who came. You threw a great party. In my remarks on Saturday I closed with a prayer offered to the community. Here it is, with blessings on you all!
JULY 10 PRAYER
At the center of every gathered community
there is a common hope, a common joy
that is larger than any one person yet encompasses them all.
We experience it as warm heart that centers us,
a tough and tender presence
that directs us to our own seat of compassion
and challenges us to rise above our narrowness and fears,
that offers us a sense of the holy.
I speak to that warm heart today.
There is a welcome energy in our gathering again
after so much time away.
It is reassuring to see familiar faces
and exciting to see new ones,
reminding us that as with all life we are evolving and growing.
We stand at a pivot point in this community,
the turning over of leadership,
like the turning over of soil in a garden
that both disrupts and opens up new possibility.
Confessing my own sadness at separating myself from you
so you may best take advantage of this moment,
I still cheer you on as you take on the challenges
of building and sustaining a vibrant liberal faith
that holds before it the vision of beloved community.
May you find in this moment the courage and hope
to make of this community not a haven but a crucible
where you might strengthen your spirits and widen your compassion,
where you might deepen your understanding
and feel the spur to the call of justice-making.
It is my prayer that the deep joy within you
will join the great hope among you
and inspire you to live into this community of memory and hope,
such that you might bless the world.
Rev. Mark Ward, July 10, 2021
As noted, the planning committee did an amazing job!!!! as we had two giant tents, 200 chairs, a stage, pulpit and microphone, and lots of food. The weather was perfect. The Sandburgers added their fabulous entertainment. The selected speakers could not have been more eloquent. They were Mary Alm, Kay Aler-Maida, John Bates, Owen Reidesel, Joe Hoffman (retired minister from First UCC in Asheville) and Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper. Will Jernigan was a terrific MC. Tears flowed, presents were given, hugs were shared. It was a great day!
And a big thank you from Planning Committee member, Ann McLellan:
Labor of Love UUCA Caterers turn Green!Not green with envy, but green with money saved, and certainly green with earth-friendly choices. Thanks are due to our UUCA “caterers” who provided refreshments Saturday at the Retirement Party for Rev. Mark Ward. These accomplished foodies made or arranged for all the goodies including gluten free and vegan items. They also facilitated clean up after the party by using all compostable plates, clear cups and forks made entirely of plant materials.
Thanks UUCA Caterers! What a team!
Caterers Servers & Cleanup
Wilma Oman Jo Angelina
Judith Kaufman Carol Buffum
Sherry Wothke Susan Andrew
Myrtle Staples Olivia Steinke
Candy Hickman Audrey Kipp
Ann McLellan Judy Mattox
Judy Galloway Ken Brame
We had a great time at our May Day celebration on an absolutely beautiful day. The Beltane ritual featured the arrival of the May Goddess and the Green Man with much “dancing” (seriously no skill required) and waving of scarves. It was a happy multigenerational event with food, music, fun and great weather. A puzzle swap also seemed to generate a lot of interest. Here’s a photo of our Beltane guests.
A sculpture for the Memorial Garden was designed and donated by UUCA member and metal artist Gail Hyde. Gail uses found metal and repurposes these items into art. The sculpture is called Perennial and was installed on April 27. Come by and check it out!
Thanks to Chief Organizer Marta Reese and her planning team of Margaret McAlister and Connie Silver, upwards of 100 UUCAers gathered in person to join in on a Flower Communion and generally just enjoy the whole in-person thing. Beautiful weather, Maria’s food truck, HOP ice cream, many flower-arrangers and slime-makers–it could not have been better!
Through the generous donations from UUCA members and others, a total of $5535 was donated for the Mel Hetland Scholarship in January and February. Mel Hetland was a member of UUCA and a local educator. When he died, UUCA members set up a scholarship in his name through the Asheville City Schools Foundation. We are the only funders of this scholarship.
The Community Plate team learned thatEmily, who received our scholarship in 2020and is continuing with her studies, had contacted the foundation for assistance in finding support for her sophomore year. Because we received such a large sum this year, the Community Plate Committee decided to award two scholarships of $2500 each this year, one to Emily and one to a person named by the Asheville City Schools Foundation. Thanks to the generosity of our congregation, we are so pleased to be helping two students in 2021.
Susan Steffe and Rebecca Bringle led a book discussion group of Welcoming the Unwelcome by Pema Chodron, the acclaimed American Buddhist nun who for years has been the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia. There were fourteen members who met biweekly for 5 meetings, and there was always a rich and lively discussion. The group is continuing with the focus on two more Buddhist authors as well as more of Pema Chodron’s writings. Most of the original members are continuing.
– Several months ago, before the holidays, I put out a request to our congregation for artwork with the idea that this art would be transformed into thank you cards and sent to various care facilities and schools in the area. The images received were generous and wonderful to see. I wish to thank Susan Steffe, Tom Myers, Colleen Finegan, and Lucille Martin for their art work and Kelly Reidesel for her poem “It Must be a Ritual.” Check out a few of the images. And thanks UUCA, you rock!
Submitted by Venny Zachritz, Connections Coordinator
It Must Be A Ritual (A Tribute to Covid-19 Nurses) Kelly Riedesel, 16 Nov 2020
The worlds are two The one profane, of subsistence, Where people live and die for reasons That divide them by their existence
The other of the sacred Touched by the sublime Living beyond reason Existing beyond time
A consecration ceremony happens by the eternal bedside of mankind Through an irrational sacrifice that must be a ritual Creating Mediums among us Else we would have victims holding our immortality Repeating what matters most so that we learn what matters
It must be a ritual To die to everything And be reborn everyday divine Not expecting man to be able to touch both worlds Because of reason
It must be a ritual To release the promises of reason From hearts everyday Yet see division beyond time
It’s got to be a ritual Because I see no bedside Mediums Holding on to life.
On Saturday, we celebrated Black History Month by competing in a Zoom-based trivia contest of topics ranging from Bayard Rustin to Fanny Lou Hamer, Little Rock Nine to Frederick Douglass, and Aretha Franklin to Lizzo. The Miles family took the win over their perennial nemesis…the Banks family. What a great way to learn. And what a joy to be together!
We definitely had a little help from our friends and we were stunned! You, the UUCA congregation, came through with warm and generous participation and support for the 2020 auction. After re-imagining the auction completely in April, the committee was pleased to be able to offer 134 items and activities in our online silent and live auctions. And you shone with your lively bidding! And your cash donations! And your talent and entertainment!
Our net income (after expenses) was nearly $26,500. And we had an exciting online live auction and gala, complete with musical and other entertainment, including from our youth.
Thanks to all who participated in this year’s auction, and to the Auction Committee who made it happen.
Auction Committee members: Tory Schmitz, Margaret McAlister, Ann McLellan, Deb Holden, Marta Reese, Fredda Mangel, Sally Witkamp, Ann Perry, Connie Silver, Judy Galloway, and Sherry Lundquist, with Linda Topp providing administrative and other valuable support.
December 6 saw a flurry of activity at UUCA as congregants picked up Guest at Your Table materials from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, dropped off winter gear for Beloved’s ministry to people experiencing homelessness, and picked up information to supply students and families of Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School with holiday gifts. Nice job, everyone! We came through with many gifts and copious gift cards that helped 86 students! We are better when working together!
We had a great day at UUCA yesterday (9/13) as about 75 of us wandered over between 3 and 5 to share fabulous shaved ice creations (my personal favorite flavoring was Tiger Blood!). Many thanks to UUCA member Mike Closson for this much-appreciated auction donation and to the McLellans for in turn donating their auction win to our congregation! The weather was perfect, the ices were terrific, we actually visited in person with each other, all with proper social distancing and masks when required. Watch for another event in the next few weeks while the weather still begs for outdoor visiting!
Eleanor Lane again wants to express her appreciation to our Anti-Racism and Immigration Justice Action Group and UUCA for supporting the symposium with volunteering, finances, use of our space, and arranging childcare.