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Gardening in Windham

Meet Margaret Crisler

Margaret Crisler

by R. Rodgers

Iris – Dream On

“I am most passionate about iris – both German and Siberians, and I have a Lot of them!”, remarks Margaret Crisler one of Windham Garden Club’s Master Gardeners.  Margaret, I found is passionate about many things, gardening being very high on the list, along with her constant companion Max, her 13-year-old golden retriever.  To become a Master Gardener, it takes hours of volunteer time and continued commitment to the community.  As a Master Gardener she shares her knowledge freely.  Margaret’s initial Master Gardener project was the beautiful stone wall and garden in front of Nesmith Library, she organized volunteers, acquired plants and made it happen.  Making things happen is one of Margaret’s super powers.  Currently, she is working with the Windham Endowment on the Wildflower Garden at the new Moeckel dam site. 

Margaret has been a garden club member since 1995, she has worked consistently on many projects over the years, but her most demanding – and enjoyable has been the plant sale.  For more than 25 years, she has donated hundreds of plants from her garden, all except the blood root.  Her blood root is very special and she keeps it close.  “Planting blood root is easy but you need to know how. First you dig a big hole, place a piece of firewood, like oak or maple in the bottom, backfill with good soil and plant your start on top,” Margaret explained.  Blood Root (sanguinaria canadensis) bloom white daisy like flowers in the early spring and is a native of North America. It’s a good idea to overplant with ginger to fill in after the foliage dies back.  Also, when planting lilies, you should include some fritillaria, to deter voles.

Bobo hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculate ‘Ilvobo’)

Bobo hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculate ‘Ilvobo’) is another of her most treasured, the one she likes to gift.  “They are small and so free blooming.  Actually, all hydrangeas are beautiful and work well in the perennial garden,” said Margaret.  “The soil here is acidic so they like a little lime,” she said.  Margaret learned her love of the garden from her great-grandmother in the south where she grew up.  “She would use me as ‘free labor’ pulling weeds, she would point and say pull, or she would say dig here, no deeper!”  Now I hire teenagers and I do the pointing,” laughs Margaret. 

She has three children. Only one of which is a passionate gardener.  Her grandmother was a real gardener, “she grew vegetables so her family eat during the depression.”  Margaret’s mother was not a gardener she was a golfer. 

Max is moving a little slow but was still ready to make friends and “hang out” throughout my visit. He is a beautiful, loving dog.

Of all the secrets she shared her most important advice was to dig big holes, test your soil, add lime and nutrients as needed, and read the tags carefully.  One of the hardest tasks to do here in Windham is keep everything watered!  If Margaret had a magic wand her wish would be that she was younger so she could garden more, “getting old is no fun.”  “The Garden Club is doing so well, we have great leadership and we are doing all the right stuff, my favorite part is we don’t have to dress up to go to meetings!”  “Hang in there and keep digging!” was Margaret’s closing wish.