Friday, April 23, 2010

Special Mother's Day weekend events

The AUDI has the answer to two questions that pop up with the crocus every Spring: How To Jumpstart the Garden? How To Celebrate Mother’s Day?

How To #1: It’s our perennial May Predicament…how to turn a patch of brown mud into a bed of glorious blooms. Then, given our 90-day growing season, how to jumpstart the color and keep it going until a frostbitten night next fall.
In Concord, lucky gardeners get a perennial solution – the Perennial Exchange – as the city’s General Services Department and The Friends of the Audi turn the first spade every Mother’s Day weekend Saturday. On May 8, from 8am to noon, they’ll host the popular floral “marketplace” which draws 100s of gardeners to the Audi’s parking lot to “split and swap” and share perennial plants and garden know-how. The community spirit event helps folks increase the beauty of their gardens and the streetscape, and like all Audi events, the accent is on affordable and accessible.
Here’s how the Perennial Exchange works: Perennials plants start out small and pricey, but don’t take long to outgrow their beds. Hostas and lilies choke one another, artemesias run amok, and violets are not so shy after all. Soon perennial beds need space and variety, and our frugal Yankee gardeners wonder “How To?”
The answer is at the Perennial Exchange! Find the fattest clumps in the garden. Be ruthless! Take a spade and dig them up. Split them into pretty handfuls or a few shoots, put them in cans or newspaper, and water them well. Bring the plants down to City Auditorium on May 8 and add them to the selection on the tables. Then choose among the varieties brought by other gardeners. The assortment changes all during the morning, with incoming and outgoing columbine, iris, daisies one hour, perhaps herbs, peonies, or green “whazzat?” the next. Back home, try to put your new plants where passersby will see them. One little lily or hosta becomes a bunch in a year, a bouquet in three, and a barrel in five.
Since 2001, the Perennial Exchange on Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend has attracted large crowds of swap-happy gardeners. All have agreed the plant selection is great, the help offered by Master Gardeners (including the renowned “Dr. Splat”) is valuable, and – especially these days -- the price is right. At noon, any extra floral material is given to Adopt-a-Spot volunteers and city parks. The event goes on rain or shine, with the added treat of morning coffee and Panera’s pastries.
The Perennial Exchange also features a sale of affordable annuals and the Audi’s traditional “Mother’s Day Mugs”. Specially selected china mugs filled with annual plants and decked in ribbons are -- at a dollar or two -- charming, affordable, useful gifts.
A special feature this year will be a display of the Concord Dollhouse, a beautiful 1”-1’ recreation of the city’s Victorian “painted ladies” created by Winnie and Bob Baker and donated as a fund-raiser for the Audi’s 2010 Flyspace Project.
The Perennial Exchange is supported by the annual “Great Gardening Raffle”, thanks to prizes donated by Concord’s leading florists and garden centers, including Osborne’s Agway, Aubuchon Hardware; Blue Seal, L.A. Brochu Nurseries, Cobblestone Design, Cole Gardens, Marshall’s Florist, D. McLeod Inc., Murray Farms Greenhouses, plus The Friends of The Audi.

Background Information on the Perennial Exchange: Several years ago, residents of side streets just west of the Audi began planting perennial beds in dooryards and sidewalk strips. Neighbors walking through these streets in the evenings stopped to admire the beautiful little gardens and soon there was a very special sense of neighborhood. Around the corner at City Auditorium, strollers chatted about the plantings and worried about the cost of perennial plants. Soon they hit on the idea of sharing plants through a “Perennial Exchange”. A four-hour perennial swap once a year could provide anchor plantings for new beds, and inspire gardeners to visit local “green businesses” to fill in their beds with colorful annuals. The idea took root in 2001 and has bloomed for 10 years! Every year Concord’s streetscape grows more beautiful.
Volunteers from Concord’s General Services Department and The Friends of The Audi co-host the annual Perennial Exchange, which is a highlight of the “Perennial Favorites at the Audi” events of Mother’s Day Weekend. Everyone is welcome to be part of the PXC Committee.
For information, please call Karon Devoid, Chair of the Perennial Exchange,
at Concord’s General Services Department, 228-2737 or email”
How To #2: How to celebrate on Mother’s Day Weekend? Easy. There are three Perennial Favorite events at the Audi this weekend, starting with PF#1 on Friday evening at 7:30pm, when the Freese Brothers Big Band and Performers Who Care will be Swinging for a Cause on the Audi stage. The “Cause” is the Lend Me a Hand Fund at Concord Hospital’s Payson Center, helping cancer patients and their families with out-of-pocket expenses. Tickets are $20/15, and available at Ballard’s, Caring Gifts, Strings and Things, and the door. Info: or 227-7000 x 3082.
Perennial Favorite # 2 – Bring the ladies back Saturday morning for the Perennial Exchange, help them pick out plants, and treat them to a mug. And come again on Saturday evening at 8pm for Perennial Favorite #3, The Violin Times Two, as the Granite State Symphony Orchestra season finale stars two concertmasters, Elliott Markow and Gerry Mordis. To Concord’s top musicians add these enticements: an exciting silent auction, the city’s tastiest desserts, and a chance to conduct the symphony! Tickets priced to include the whole family at $7-33 are available at Pompanoosuc Mills, and 226-4776.

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