GFL Lecture with Claudia Thompson

Claudia Thompson

Lessons from the Garden:
What Native Plants Have Taught Me
with Claudia Thompson
Sunday, March 12, 2017
1 – 2:30 pm
To buy tickets online click here.

Claudia Thompson, President
Grow Native Massachusetts

Integrating more native plants into our gardens and managed landscapes is today’s model for being ecologically smart and helping to sustain life for birds, butterflies, pollinators, and wildlife. But creating a beautiful and vibrant landscape utilizing natives requires so much more than simply substituting these indigenous species for our old favorite horticultural exotics.

After a quick refresher about why gardening with native plants is so important, we will take an in-depth look at the lessons these plants have taught me over twenty-five years of gardening. Success rests on understanding their unique needs, ecology and adaptations. In turn, this can help us to create gardens that work synergistically with ecological processes rather than in conflict with them. This program will reaffirm your commitment to the joy and importance of native plants in our managed landscapes, and give you valuable tips for working with them. Yes, we can create gardens that use native plants successfully and to their best advantage!

Claudia’s Biography:
Ms. Thompson is the President of Grow Native Massachusetts, an organization that she founded in 2010 as the culmination of an extensive career in the environmental sector. She began her career as a teacher and environmental educator. More recently, she served as the Director of Education for the Appalachian Mountain Club, Director of Drumlin Farm for Mass Audubon, and as a board member for the New England Wild Flower Society. Her motivation for starting Grow Native Massachusetts comes from her conviction that the wise stewardship of our lands begins at home. We need a 21st century attitude toward conservation that changes the paradigm of thinking of the human and natural world as separate spheres, and that embraces our role in ecosystem dynamics.

Claudia’s happiest moments are spent in her own gardens, watching a diverse array of hawks, migrating songbirds, and even rare species such as woodcocks— all utilizing the habitat she and her husband have created on a relatively small parcel in urban Cambridge.


Read on the Wild Side continues March 8 with The Genius of Birds

Join us on Wednesday, March 8, 2017
1 – 3 pm when Jan Evans will lead a discussion of THE GENIUS OF BIRDS by Jennifer Ackerman

Jan writes,
​Well-researched and beautifully written, Ackerman’s work contends that the bird world is rife with examples of various levels of unexpected intelligence. From tool-making to navigation, from playing tricks to memorizing large volumes of detail, many different bird species contribute to Ackerman’s contention that to be called a “bird brain” is indeed a compliment rather than a criticism.

As Grant McCreary of BirdersLibrary.com says, “…birds are often seen as interesting, and occasionally smart. But genius?” Ackerman clarifies her use of this term for us: “In this book, genius is defined as the knack for knowing what you’re doing – for ‘catching on’ to your surroundings, making sense of things, and figuring out how to solve your problems.” She tells “the story of birds with extraordinary abilities or skills” in six areas: technical, social, musical, artistic, spatial, and adaptive.

Food for thought, and lots to talk about! We’ll be in the Hay Room. Everyone is welcome, and there’s no charge!

Questions? Contact the Friends at friendsofccmnh@gmail.com, or call the Museum office at 508-896-3867.

Lively discussion ensues at the January Read on the Wild Side meeting


GFL Lecture Series begins March 5th

Gardening for Life’s popular lecture series returns for 2017 with five programs on Sundays during March and April.

To see the full schedule of lectures click here.
To purchase discounted tickets for the entire series ($45 for all 5 lectures) click here.
Please note that after March 5th only individual lecture tickets will be available!

The 2017 series begins with
Waterwise Landscape Designs with Trevor Smith
Sunday March 5, 1-2:30, CCMNH auditorium

To purchase a discounted individual ticket ($12) for Waterwise Landscape Designs click here.
Individual lecture tickets will also be available at the door for $15 on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Waterwise Landscape Designs
Trevor Smith, owner
Land Escapes Ecological Landscaping

Water is simultaneously part of our daily routine and the stuff of mystery. We use it to cook our food, wash our dishes, and brush our teeth; yet few of us can stand on the beach and not lose themselves watching the breakers roll in.  In the face of climate change, water is becoming much more of an issue. We either have too much rainfall all at once or too little when we really need it, and it sometimes seems that this life-giving resource has turned against us.

Get reacquainted with water! Learn simple methods to capture and reuse stormwater and manage it on your property. We will discuss rain harvesting, permeable pavements, green roofs and rain gardens.

Trevor Smith is the owner of Land Escapes, a full service ecological landscaping company. He is a past-President of the Ecological Landscape Alliance. His professional credentials include LEED Green Associate with USGBC, Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist, Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (AOLCP), GLTi Certified Green Roof/Wall System Installer, and Landscape For Life Certified Trainer.


Read on the Wild Side begins with The Soul of an Octopus

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness
by Sy Montgomery

“Read on the Wild Side” presents a discussion of The Soul of an Octopus on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 1 PM at The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. In this entertaining read, author Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus, and raises interesting questions about animal intelligence. According to Science Friday of NPR, is it “…one of the best science books of the year”.

The discussion is free and open to the public. Call 508-896-3867 for information.


Friends Annual Meeting Report

After the usual pot luck lunch, Friends president Bill Barber held the business meeting which quickly went through the minutes, treasurer’s report, and passing of new by-laws amendments.  New members of the board were voted on and welcomed, including new vice president Alice Berry and new members at large Anne Best, Ruth Cortnell, Jan Evans, and Lois Katanik.

Myles Marcus, Alison Rilling, and President Bill Barber enjoy the potluck

Thanks went out to people for the various jobs done over the year, with special thanks to Myles Marcus for organizing trips and Alison Rilling for all her work on Gardening for Life.

CCMNH Executive Director Bob Dwyer gave the annual state of the museum address

CCMNH executive director Bob Dwyer was introduced and gave an update on the work of the museum over the past year.  He said that he had thought 2016 would be a smooth sailing year after several years of getting things in place. That hope was short lived as the Butterfly House project popped up soon into the new year. Although it required lots of work to get it up and running, the butterfly house and pollinator path have proved a great success and real attraction for the museum.

Nancy Wigley and new vice president Alice Berry read the bylaws

Bob outlined a number of activities – Mud Flat Mania, Owl Eyes, Green Halloween, miniature golf, and others as particularly well attended, with estimated overall attendance at the Museum at almost 50,000 people.  He talked about continuing to explore cooperation with the Audubon and Green Briar organizations for shared resources and grant funding.  The projects associated with biomimicry are dear to his heart and he looked forward to using new technology to enhance the educational offerings at the museum.

Friends Board of Directors, Front row: Julie O’Neill, Bill Barber, George Tyner, Back Row: Fred Bukowski, Myles Marcus, Anne Best, Jan Evans, Ruth Cortnell, Alice Berry, Lois Katanik, Alison Rilling

Bob also hoped that the Friends would be open to fund raising possibilities as well as continuing its programming, social activities and volunteering.  He made a special point of saying how the Museum couldn’t operate without its many volunteers.

Dee Anson helps Friends renew their memberships for 2017



Holiday Party Highlights

Friends setting up

Friends setting up


The party begins

Bill Barber

Bill Barber


Miles and Sue Marcus, Gayle and Al Williams


Doug and Nancy Smith


Nancy Wigley receives a pin from Theresa Izzo honoring her 25 years of volunteering


President Bill Barber introduces the entertainment

Chatham Chorale Chamber Group Performs

Chatham Chorale Chamber Group Performs


The party winds down


Fall Clean Up

In mid-November the Rosa rugosa in front of the Museum was subjected to its annual fall haircut, and a  few days later the indefatigable worker bees of Gardening For Life met to trim the edges.  Our goal:  to tidy the gravel terrace by cutting back the insidious vines and weeds that have crept out from the wall of R. rugosa toward the picnic tables.

We poked at some vines and roots;  tugged and scraped away at some grasses and unidentified green things;  rescued a few self-seeded columbines;  unearthed several outposts of native prickly pear cactus;  and reluctantly admitted that even just tidying the edges is a bigger project than a few ladies of a certain age could handle.

So we have put off the Rosa Rugosa Project until the heat of the summer sun can help us in our efforts.  Meanwhile, we are busy planning the Gardening For Life Speaker Series and getting ready for the annual Plant Sale and Native Plant Marketplace on June 3!
Pam Turnbull, Ann Harris and Jan Evans cheerfully attack the weeds and vines that are creeping into the picnic area.
When a tangle of bittersweet and thorny smilax was raked away, this volunteer prickly pear cactus was revealed. Assuming it’s our native Opuntia humifusa, we plan to dig it up in the spring and move it to a visible but hard-to-reach spot — away from little fingers.