Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Fairy Gardener Returns

I’m back for good this time.  No more unexplained absences or disappearances---I’ve missed all of you and I’ve missed writing about gardening and quilting.   I had planned to post the pictures of my Avon Walk weekend before now but Calvin’s first birthday and a little “accident” (hmmm) delayed this post a bit.  More on the accident later—let’s just say I’m NOT grace, charm and elegance rolled into one package, LOL.

The Avon Walk  is over, I did finish the entire two days and 39.9 miles without so much as a blister or shin splint!

I want to thank all of you who supported me with your good thoughts and donations.  There were times during the first day when I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish the 26 miles but somehow I’d get a second wind and I know it was those good thoughts coming at me. 

I had two great walking companions that also helped me make it—Dawn, a PBS Producer, completed her 7th walk  and Kelley, the Director of Diesel E-Books who walked the entire 26 miles with Dawn and I on Saturday, caught a train back to NYC that night, got up at 6:00 am on Sunday morning to attend another event and at noontime was on a cruise to the Bahamas! 

Avon pictures 073We raised over $5.2 million dollars to fight breast cancer just in Boston and that number still climbs as the final donations are processed!

A good chunk of that money was awarded to local charities on Sunday, May 15th at the Closing Ceremony.  

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center of Boston received $1.5 million. The grant will support HER2 positive breast cancer research, as well as programs that help low income women receive care at the Avon Center at Mass General and community clinics.

University of Massachusetts - Amherst received $300,000 to develop a test to identify premalignant breast lesions that have a high risk of progressing to breast cancer and differentiate them from those unlikely to advance.

Silent Spring Institute of Newton, MA, received $175,000 to support a research fellowship looking at the potential role of the environment in breast cancer development

Community Servings of Jamaica Plain, MA, received $100,000 to support the Avon Door-to-Door Delivery Program, which brings thousands of meals to breast cancer patients and their families.

The Avon Foundation also awarded four grants during the Closing Ceremony to further strengthen the Avon Safety Net program, which consists of more than 100 hospitals across the country that ensure women and men who might otherwise fall through the cracks of the healthcare system have access to high quality breast cancer services. The Safety Net grants include:

- LifeSpan Foundation of Providence, RI received a grant of $250,000

- Boston Medical Center received a grant of $250,000

- Cambridge Health Alliance of Boston received a grant of $125,000

- Central Maine Medical Center of Lewiston, ME, received a grant of $62,000

Now do you feel good inside?   I do and  I hope you do too, because you made this possible.

One of the greatest things about this walk was the number of people that turned out along our walk route, which I have to say covered some of the prettiest areas in Boston and the suburbs.   So many of the houses in the neighborhoods we walked through were decorated with pink balloons, pink ribbons and signs.  People offered us water, snacks, flowers and trinkets and all of them said “Thank you for walking!”

So I’d like to leave you with some pictures of the walk and some information about the Leopard’s Bane and Basket of Gold Allysum that I planted in between rain showers-–of which we’ve had a lot lately. 


Keeping leopards away—if you have any!

I’ve admired Leopard’s Bane for many years now, since seeing a rambunctious patch of it growing beneath a flowering cherry tree in a beautiful hilltop garden overlooking the Merrimack River.  

Leopard’s Bane (Doronicum) is one of the oldest cultivated plants and  the earliest perennials to bloom in spring beating out ground phlox by a couple of weeks.  There are several species and crosses ranging from 6 inches to 30 inches tall but the average is about 14 inches. 

Its bright yellow daisy-like flowers are born singly on top of stiff stems and are 2” across.  They look lovely when  planted in among spring flowering bulbs like tulips, and grape hyacinths. It’s also a tough rugged plant that spreads easily.  Originating in Eurasia it grows in many different habitats from dry open meadows to alpine rockeries.


Leopard’s bane likes evenly moist soil and will grow in full sun or partial shade, but in hot dry conditions it will go “summer dormant” like oriental poppies sometimes do.  That means it dies all the way down to the ground and hides till cooler weather arrives.

The entire plant is poisonous but  deer and  rabbits leave it alone, so it’s a good choice for those of us that have to compete with voracious wildlife next door. 

As a matter of fact, I often plant a species that’s not attractive to deer or rodents in with a species that is.  You might have heard of this method called “companion planting”.  I used to have a terrible time with deer eating my Rubrum Lilies from the top and voles and chipmunks eating the bulbs underground till I accidentally planted some giant allium bulbs in the same spot—evidently the alliums, which are a member of the onion family, nauseated the voles, deer and chipmunks so much that they left the lilies alone too.

Deadheading the flowers on Leopard’s Bane right after they bloom sometimes stimulates a second flush of flowers but for the most part they are one-time per season bloomers.  Every three or four years, clumps should be divided or they tend to get weak and die off.   The best time to divide the clumps is late summer or early fall but I’ve seen them divided in spring and still do fine. 

Oh, and  if that’s not enough reason to plant Leopard’s Bane, they make great cut flowers too.

Till next time,


Avon pictures 010

Avon pictures 011

The Garden About 3 weeks ago


  1. Great to have you back! I need more inspiration!

  2. Gail.....great info on Leopard's Bane.... thanks! I will definitely be adding some to my perennial beds.

    The pics of the Avon Walk were great....and of course I was crying after the one with "147,000 meals made because you walk".....omg.....i'm such a mess! I was also so glad to hear all the routes the money is taking to help research and benefits. It's always nice to know that donations actually go to something that will help!

    Thanks so much for walking! You rock!


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