March 10, 2010

Gardeners keep it in the family


— By

Staff Writer

Gardening isn't just in the ground. It's in the blood.

Kay Doucette traces her gardening skills back to her mother.

''My parents made us work in the garden, and I hated every minute of it, or so I thought,'' she said.

Doucette tied for the first-place Green Thumb award with Jack Doherty last month. The Scarborough Garden Club hosted the annual contest, in which gardens are nominated and judged by a panel of club members.

Nominees are judged and scored on overall design and composition, maintenance, plant health and weather and soil conditions. Winners received gift certificates to the Highland Avenue Greenhouse.

Doucette started gardening after she bought her home in Scarborough three years ago. She spends four to five hours a day maintaining the gardens.They are thick with a variety of flowers and grasses in two areas at the front of the house and one larger section of the back.

Jack Doherty started gardening when he retired 15 years ago. He spends about four hours a day maintaining his lush garden of coneflowers, daylilies, geraniums, roses and pianese, among many others, at his Higgins Beach home.

Mary Jane Martelle-Aube, Green Thumb judge and publicity chairperson of the Scarborough Garden Club, applauded Doucette and Doherty for their gardens.

''In three years' time, it's really impressive,'' Martelle-Aube said of Doucette's gardens.

Doucette's gardens have a similar variety of flowers and grasses as Doherty's, but they present different challenges. Doucette manages full-sun exposure. Doherty tends to very wet and sandy soil next to the beach.

''There are so many elements he had to work with,'' said Martelle-Aube. ''That's pretty impressive.''

Doucette, Doherty and Martelle-Aube claimed to be novices, though each has more than a decade of experience.

When asked for a gardening tip, Martelle-Aube said she's big on native plants.

''Learn what's native for your area and plant it,'' she said. ''They will always do well.''

Doucette, an organic gardener, advised potential contest winners to keep up with the deadheading and to hand-pick the bugs off plants rather than use pesticides.

Martelle-Aube, who also said her green thumb was inherited, encouraged any gardener to join their local garden club. The club offers an opportunity to learn a lot about gardening and a chance to connect with the people of the community.

''People who put their hands in dirt are the kind of people you want to know,'' she said.

Staff Writer Amy Martin can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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