Over $200,000 raised, 25,000+ plants sold, 138 students awarded, hundreds of volunteer hours, devoted chairpersons, extraordinary donors…
Here’s how it happened:
1959 ~ At the annual meeting in May, members vote to award a $100 scholarship to a deserving student of Horticulture attending the College or School of Agriculture at UConn. Fred Kuhr is the first recipient. Although trained as a toolmaker, it wasn’t the “fire in his belly.” He had a love for growing things and started a small nursery (about 20,000 shrubs!) at his parents’ home where the nursery continues to this day: Evergreen Nursery, Southington.
1961 ~ Auction proceeds total $98.60. This is considered ‘very satisfactory,’ since it was held the day Hurricane Esther passed our coast.
1971 ~ Anita Martinetto receives $250 and becomes our first female scholar.
1974 ~ Plant Auction nets $565 in Parish Hall in Wethersfield with a crowd of 200+ in attendance. Edna Turner (Floriculture) our scholar, who is also the UConn Hort Club President, invites us to the Ratcliffe Hicks Fall Flower Show. An entry built by 1973 scholar, George McCleary featured edible wild plants… included tea made from hemlock twigs.”
1975 ~ Auction receipts total $505. Standing room only in the 200-seat church rented to hold the auction. Highest price paid for a single plant was $8 for a Ctenanthe (variegated houseplant). Bunches of spider plants sold for $4.50. And John Larus brought his always-welcome pints of fall-ripened raspberries.”
1976 ~ Auctions are gainful enough to support “two grants of $300!” Scholars are Nancy Dubrule (yes, THAT Nancy of NATUREWORKS, Northford) and Ted Lockwood, a gifted professional plantsman who designs gardens for private clients. Ted’s 2½-acre secluded retreat, Toscairn in Weston, has been a feature for the Garden Conservancy.
1983 ~ George Trecina receives a $500 scholarship at UConn for his undergraduate work, then continues on to earn a Masters from Cornell. Today, George is a Landscape Architect practicing horticulture in New York and Conn.
1985 ~ UConn students of Sid Waxman’s woody plant propagation class donate ‘class projects’ to the auction. Members enjoy a bounty of pre-market hybrids; very special collectible plants grown from brooms. Auction prices skyrocket and $900 is generated for scholars. Scholar Cheryl Karpeichik starts working at White Flower Farm where today she is Head Gardener.
1991 ~ The Dr. Edward Carpenter Scholarship is established for beloved UConn professor, mentor and friend, known as ‘Pat.’ Kathleen Kitka is its first recipient. Today Kathleen manages landscapes and the plant collection at Highstead Arboretum in Redding.
1996 ~ Three scholarships! Scholar Sherry Simpson goes on to run Cranberry Hill Farm in Ashford — complete with a bog, heritage breeds of livestock and heirloom vegetables.
2004 ~ James Gagliardi earns a $3,000 scholarship, makes his way to River Farm and today is lead Horticulturist for the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, D.C. Coming full circle, James returns to CT Hort as a presenter in 2016!
2008 ~ The David Smith (Emeritus) Scholarship is established at UConn. David hosts members in his garden to teach perennial division, sending the results off to auction. Mr. Smith’s Primula Wanda and Astilbe collections become the stuff of auction lore. One ‘Wanda’ sells for $125!
2009 ~ The Spring Auction sets a new record and raises over $6,000. Barb Torino, 1994 scholar, is an auctioneer. Amazing woodland plants are auctioned from Judy King’s garden. Generous nursery donations ‘boost the take’ and help safeguard the future of horticulture in Conn.
2011-12 ~ CT Hort establishes a scholarship at Naugatuck Valley Community College (NVCC) and within the year follows up with a second –the Richard Jaynes Scholarship, granted “In recognition of outstanding achievement in horticulture to a student showcasing a pattern of academic excellence and outreach.”
2013 ~ Justine Leeper is one of five scholarship recipients and does a repeat in 2014 ! Today, she makes brides happy at FLORAL DESIGNS by JUSTINE and selflessly serves on the CT Hort Board of Directors.
2019 ~ CT Hort stands amongst an elite few donors who for the longest duration – 60 years – have supported the future of Conn. horticulture with scholarships to UConn students.
We did it with auctions, raffles & garden marts; ‘Yankee’ frugality and lots of divisions & sweat! THANK YOU CT HORT Members & Donors for supporting this honorable effort!