Johnny A. revisits guitar icon Jeff Beck

There’s history between guitarists Jeff Beck and Johnny A.

The two jammed together multiple times, beginning a few years back in Portland, Maine, when Beck invited Johnny A onstage after his band opened for him. Later, the Massachusetts-born axeman toured with the re-formed Yardbirds, Beck’s (and Jimmy Page’s) first band, playing all the guitar parts. Heady stuff for a guy who’d said if he could jam with anyone in the world, it wouldn’t be Jimi Hendrix or his idol John Lennon; it’d be Jeff Beck.

However, when asked in the weeks after Beck died last year to put together a band to remember him, Johnny A declined — firmly.

“I said, I’m not really into doing tribute things, first of all, and b, the guy is not really copyable,” he recalled in a recent phone interview. “He [the promoter] called me again and I turned him down. Then he called me again.”

By then, he’d thought more about his time playing songs like “For Your Love” and “Shapes of Things,” and conceded the tireless promoter might have a point. “He said, ‘Hey, listen, you played in the Yardbirds for three years. The reviews I’ve seen of you capturing that era of music with those guitar players were always very, very positive.’”

He agreed to consider putting a band together but made clear it would not be a tribute.

“I’d approach it like I approached the Yardbirds … pay respect to the artist, don’t really try to copy, try to conjure the spirit of the music, and keep my own personality injected in there somehow,” he said.

The result is Beck-Ola, a band named after the guitarist’s second solo album. It includes the rhythm section from his trio, drummer Marty Richards and bassist Dean Cassell, singer Mike Gill (Beyond Purple) and keyboard player Steve Baker. The latter is a great fit for Beck’s jazz fusion era, having played with Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham and Allan Holdsworth.

The two-week tour, which will include a Saturday, April 27, show at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth and a Sunday, April 28, show at the Nashua Center for the Arts will focus exclusively on Beck’s solo career.

“We’re doing 21 songs from different albums that go all the way back to Truth; nothing really from the Yardbirds,” he said. “I’m calling it ‘A Celebration of the Music of Jeff Beck,’ because we’re trying to capture the spirits of different eras.”

He plans to follow the guitar legend’s unique approach to his material.

“He never really played melodies the same way twice, they were always interpreted like a singer would sing a song, differently every time,” he said. “Even though it’s really the same melody, the inflections and the nuances and the phrasing are altered.”

It’s an approach he’s had since taking up guitar in the mid-1960s.

“I’m influenced by a lot of people but it’s more about what makes them tick,” he said. “If you can conjure up that little spark … maybe re-imagine that energy and bring it to your own playing. Maybe it echoes the personality that you’re trying to, I wouldn’t say emulate, but pay tribute to.”

The final two nights of the brief tour will be special, as Beck-Ola co-headlines with Journeyman, an Eric Clapton tribute led by young phenom Shaun Hague.

“Fans of British blues rock guitar will get their fill,” he said, adding, “I think people will like it, if they come out and have an open mind and they like the music of Jeff Beck, and they miss it.”

Songs will span from the days when Rod Stewart sang lead on “Morning Dew” and “Ain’t Superstitious” to the revelatory instrumental albums Wired and Blow by Blow, and beyond. But Johnny A. re-affirmed that costume changes won’t be part of the show.

“I’m not getting a shag haircut and I’m not wearing metal arm bands,” he said. “It’s going to be a band that’s paying homage, hopefully respectfully, to a great artist and iconic guitarist.”

British Guitar Blowout – Beck-Ola and Journeyman
When: Sunday, April 28, 7 p.m.
Where: Nashua Center for the Arts, 201 Main St., Nashua
Tickets: $29 and up at etix.com

Featured photo: Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 24/04/25

Local music news & events

Country: Boston-based singer-songwriter Louie Bello celebrates his new single at an area show. Bello’s upbeat modern country song “Yippy Ki Yay” was well-received on streaming services, receiving more than a million views. His latest release, “Grown Man Cry,” is a tender ballad about love and loss. Thursday, April 25, 8 p.m., The Goat, 50 Old Granite St., Manchester. See louiebello.com.

Rustic: Singer-guitarist Michael Glabicki pairs with instrumentalist Dirk Miller for a show dubbed Uprooted. In a game of musical word association, Glabicki’s band Rusted Root invariably leads to “Send Me On My Way.” From TV ads to kids’ movies, the mid-’90s hit became ubiquitous, and through multiple decades of constant touring and several albums, the percolating left field smash continues to permeate. Friday, April 26, 8 p.m., Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord, $38.75 at ccanh.com.

Underground: No-nonsense Manchester rock trio The Graniteers are joined by Boston bands the Lipstick Boys and Already Dead at a new venue in Nashua. The 21+ BYOB event is among many efforts offered by the Midnight Creatives Collective, a new group that aims to help independent musicians gather and provide resources to assist in navigating the vagaries of the music business. Saturday, April 27, 9 p.m., Terminus, 134 Haines St. (2nd floor), Nashua, $15/door, see facebook.com/midnightcreativescollective.

Eclectic: Drawing from a wide-ranging palette, the music of Dirty Cello is, in the words of one critic, “funky, carnival, romantic, sexy, tangled, electric, fiercely rhythmic and textured.” Band leader Rebecca Roudman is a classically trained cellist who ditched the straight-laced world to rock out. They play everything from “These Boots Are Made For Walking” to “Wayfaring Stranger,” and originals. Sunday, April 28, 6 p.m., Andres Institute of Art, 106 Route 13, Brookline, $25 at andresinstitute.org.

Brassy: A fundraiser for the Central and Hillside jazz programs is hosted by Freese Brothers Big Band, giving young musicians an opportunity to shine in the spotlight. Since 1986, the big band has awarded scholarships worth nearly $100K to youth music programs in communities across New Hampshire,. Tuesday, April 30, 6:30 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester; tickets are $20 at palacetheatre.org.

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (R)

Guy Ritchie does an Inglourious Basterds by way of Operation Mincemeat and gets The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which is based on a true story from the nonfiction book by Damien Lewis.

As with the 2021 Netflix film Operation Mincemeat, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare gives us a young Ian Fleming (Freddie Fox) during World War II, working here for a senior officer “M” (Cary Elwes), getting mixed up in wartime spycraft that uses cunning and misdirection to defeat a seemingly better-situated German military. In this case, the plan — Operation Postmaster — is to destroy the ship that supplies the German U-boats that are making it difficult for the British to get food and military reinforcements from America. The ship is in the Spanish-controlled port of an island off the Atlantic coast of Africa. Gus March-Phillips (Henry Cavill), a British officer known for breaking rules and not following orders, is charged with putting together a small crew to sail to the port and blow up the ship — but, like, quietly and unofficially in a way that won’t put the British in open conflict with Franco’s Spain. His basterds include Anders Lassen (Reacher’s Alan Ritchson, playing the same kind of mountain-sized butt-kicking robot here), Geoffrey Appleyard (Alex Pettyfer), Henry Hayes (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) and Freddy Alvarez (Henry Golding — who is my fave in this movie’s collection of “men who could be the next James Bond”). In the port town, British agents Heron (Babs Olusanmokun) and Marjorie Stewart (Eiza Gonzáles) wine and dine and generally distract and pull information from the various Nazis, the ickiest of whom is Heinrich Luhr (Til Schweiger). When the night of the big event arrives, Heron also enlists the help of local Kambili Kalu (Danny Sapani, who also feels like a pretty good Bond candidate).

There is an overall shagginess that slows the movie down and a flatness to the characters that I feel is not uncommon when you’re dealing with a real-world story filled with lots of real people you don’t want to leave out. There is nothing particularly new here; the movie has a “serviceable cover of a decent radio hit” feel overall.

But the group of rascalness-inclined heroes makes for a mostly fun bunch of people to hang out with for two hours. The caper elements are probably the movie’s most interesting and while I wish they were maybe a little sharper, they provide enough energy to keep the last part of the movie in particular buzzing along. B-

Rated R for strong violence throughout and some language, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Guy Ritchie with a screenplay by Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson & Arash Amel and Guy Ritchie based on a book of the same name by Damien Lewis, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare is two hours long and is distributed in theaters by Lionsgate.

Abigail (R)

A kidnapping gig goes hilariously wrong for a group of criminals in Abigail, a horror movie?

I mean, Abigail has the fixings of a horror movie — big creepy house with passageways and cobwebs and a gang of untrustworthy types who don’t know each other and a “maybe the killer is in here with us!” situation. But this movie is laugh-out-loud hilarious and wonderfully hammy.

The “no names” rule by boss Lambert (Giancarlo Esposito) is why the gang of kidnappers calls each other Joey (Melissa Barrera), Frank (Dan Stevens, chewing all the scenery as he does what feels like a Nic Cage impression), Rickles (William Catlett), Sammy (Kathryn Newton), Peter (Kevin Durand) and Dean (Angus Cloud). They didn’t even all know that the person being kidnapped is a child, Abigail (Alisha Weir), or who her father is. Joey, a nurse charged with taking care of Abigail, promises the young girl she’ll keep her safe and get her back to her father as soon as the ransom is paid. Abigail appreciates that and tells Joey she’s sorry about what is about to happen to her.

A shaken Joey goes back to the group — who is this girl’s father and what kind of trouble are we in?

The trailers to this movie spell out exactly what kind of trouble the group is in and it is delightfully bonkers. We first see Abigail as she dances ballet to “Swan Lake” and she spends much of the movie in a ballerina outfit, bringing big M3gan vibes to everything she does. The criminal characters mostly play it straight — they are after all being picked off one by one — while still acknowledging the unreality of their situation. The movie nicely blends the tropes of a haunted house-style horror and an unreliable criminals caper with its silly-but-great central premise for an overall fun time. There are some jump scares and a significant amount of explodey, chunky gore but otherwise this is definitely a horror movie that delights in the campiness of its genre more than its frights. B,maybe even a B+ for the overall sense of glee

Rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, pervasive language and brief drug use, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett with a screenplay by Stephen Shields and Guy Busick, Abigail is 106 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Universal Studios.

Featured photo: The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.

Tough Broad, by Caroline Paul

Tough Broad, by Caroline Paul (Bloomsbury, 264 pages)

In her 2016 book The Gutsy Girl, Caroline Paul drew from her own experiences as a firefighter, pilot and outdoorswoman to urge 8- to 13-year-old girls to live a life of “epic adventure.” It was the sort of book that many older women bought for their daughters and nieces, but along the way they read it, too — and loved it. Numerous reviews detail how women much older than the target audience made changes in their own life after reading the book.

Now Paul is back with a book written especially for much older women. In Tough Broad, she urges women past the half-century mark (and even nearing the century mark) to forget their age and head outdoors for their own epic adventures. These adventures, the subtitle warns, include boogie boarding and wing walking, which as the cover photo shows is exactly what it sounds like: moving along the outside of a small airplane in flight, and I suppose I should add intentionally, not because your plane malfunctioned.

Maybe our grandmothers secretly yearned to do that and didn’t have the societal permission, I don’t know. But wing walking at any age seems a bit, well, out there. But Paul argues that exhilarating outdoor adventures are not the result of having a positive attitude toward aging but “the integral gateway” to feeling good about this stage of life. This matters because numerous studies have shown a strong correlation between how we feel about aging and how we fare physically and cognitively. This is not to say that happy aging erases the physical insults and deterioration, but rather, as one 80-year-old scuba diver told Paul, “You can be a couch potato, or you can decide that whatever ails you is insignificant.”

Then 57, Paul is the youngster in this book, although she often talks older than she is. In the opening chapter, for example, she is meeting friends at Yosemite National Park but is thwarted at the gate by rangers who won’t let her drive in because her friend, who obtained the car pass, isn’t with her. Undaunted, she parks away from the gate, puts on a helmet, retrieves her electric skateboard from the car trunk and tries again. The bemused rangers, after “they all stutter-step away from me as if I’m about to wipe out their entire squadron of youthful shins,” let her in.

But she’s not there to skateboard but to meet up with another friend in her 50s who plans to BASE jump (illegally) from the top of the El Capitan monolith.

And so it goes. Paul, who clearly did not get enough adventure in 14 years of working for the San Francisco Fire Department, goes from adventure to adventure, often with people much older and fitter than she is. Meeting a 93-year-old hiker, for example, Paul has to beg off the 5-mile trek that the older woman wants to take because of previous injuries. The hiker reluctantly agrees to downgrade to just 3 miles, telling Paul at one point, “I’m an ageist. I don’t like old people.”

What she means is that she doesn’t like people who use age as an excuse for not getting outside and doing things that are challenging. And while there are plenty of stimulating things one can do inside, like read books or play chess, Paul argues that outside adventures are unique in bringing us to life, and she doesn’t mean just your backyard or a county park. “The less urban the environment you stroll in, the more well-being you feel,” she writes.

While a few of the activities that Paul covers here are much more staid than illegal BASE jumping — birdwatching makes an appearance, for example — the book’s most fascinating women are the ones doing the wildest things. Take the 71-year-old wing walker, who Paul discovers through a video that her children posted on the internet with the caption “MAMMA WENT WING WALKING! Without a word about it to us kids.” When Paul tracks her down, she learns that the wing walker had breast cancer and a mastectomy, chemo and radiation at age 64 and wanted to do something to celebrate her recovery. She’d learned about wing walking when she typed in “Something fun to do here” on Google. She didn’t just jump on the plane, but worked out for six months in preparation, without saying a word to her family.

Paul later tries it herself and realizes that it isn’t just the physical challenge that is so empowering, but what it does for one emotionally. She writes: “I realize how perfectly wing walking primes us for awe: there is the majestic view at thirty-five hundred feet that feels almost religious; there is the total disequilibrium of doing something so antithetical to every survival instinct; there is the exhilaration of twirling and ricocheting and falling in a vast sky.”

True, she notes, a person can experience awe during, say, a walk in a forest, but it’s “psychological disequilibrium” that keeps the neurons firing. We hear a lot about the benefits of sleep and meditation and lowering stress; less so about the need for novelty and challenge. But Paul writes, when she signs up to learn to fly a gyrocopter, she is helping her brain to remain elastic and nimble. “Embrace disequilibrium,” she exhorts us.

Just as Paul’s previous book, meant for young girls, appealed to older women, Tough Broads, though meant for older women will likely inspire women decades younger — and those whose goals are much more modest than walking on a plane mid-flight. In one chapter Paul accompanies a 59-year-old woman to a swimming lesson; the woman has tried multiple times over the years to learn to swim and never could, becoming more and more terrified of drowning each time. But she is determined to master her fear. She regrets that “there’s an entire area of life that I can’t participate in” and dreams of scuba diving somewhere exotic with her family. She is still dreaming — her story turns out not to be quite as inspirational as the others, but the moral is the same: that growth comes from trying, whether or not we succeed.

Paul, who is the twin sister of the actress Alexandra Paul, shares a poignant story about her mother, whose own mother had been anxious and overprotective, making her become risk averse. But at age 54 Paul’s mother tried skydiving and for the first time considered herself brave, and this courage set her off on new adventures. At 84 she told her daughter wistfully, “What I would give to be 60 again.” Paul concludes, “do it now, before you can’t.” That’s good advice for any woman, or man, at any age. AJennifer Graham

Album Reviews 24/04/25

Gryphon Rue, 4n_Objx (self-released)

Traditionally, my desk has been a dumping ground for noise and avant releases of all types, which I’ve never minded; the only thing that gets on my nerves is impromptu jazz that uses badly matched acoustic instruments, like, say, a fiddle with a clarinet. I mention all that merely as preface for this, which is decidedly not acoustic at all; in fact it’s a very techy and quite accessible blend of electroacoustic, field recordings, tropicalia psych and krautrock. There’s an underwater, deeply textural feel to all the contents, which unexpectedly shift into bizarre royal-trumpet parts like the soundtrack from The Cell (the J-Lo one I mean) and then gradually move back to more aquatic, graceful spaces. Rue is a New York City kid, and this isn’t his first LP; I’m sure he’ll be a soundtrack force in future. I almost hate to call it experimental, since that tends to scare people off, but yeah, these are doodlings, but high-end ones. A+

Eric W. Saeger

Caldwell, Caldwell (Popclaw/Rise Above Records)

New Orleans-based rocker Kevan Caldwell is a member of The Planchettes, which probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but you should check them out, because they were like a ’60s garage/horror rock New York Dolls, like, if three subway rats formed a band and got booted out of every place they played, they would have sounded like The Planchettes. This dude is sort of a chicken-fried Nick Cave, evident from the wah-pedal groove of opener “No Flowers Today” and the breezy, acoustic-fronted pop idealism of “Love Confessions,” to the tripped-out nursery rhyme strut of “Picturesque Self Portrait,” this is an album of endless curveballs, one that any psychedelic garage lover should consider investigating. He was big into the Kinks at the time of writing this LP (Covid lockdowns informed it as well), so it’s a peek into this guy’s soul, which seems to be a welcoming place. A —Eric W. Saeger


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Just like every other Friday, we’ll see a relentless storm of new CDs on April 26, can you hardly even wait or what, folks? Like every week, I’m about to look at my super-secret list of new CDs, a list that only professional music journalists can see at metacritic.com, after I’m done whispering prayers to Odin that every CD on the list won’t be annoying. Wait, we have a nice start for once, with a new Pet Shop Boys album, called Nonetheless! Over the years, Pet Shop Boys have become a secret, guilty pleasure for people who don’t like all the really bad music that’s been put out for decades now (OK, fine, maybe they aren’t so secret, given that they were listed as the most successful duo in U.K. music history in the 1999 edition of The Guinness Book of Records, can you just not argue with me for once, that’d be great) and prefer music that makes them feel good, not that they started out that way. Like, their first hit single in the ’80s, “West End Girls,” used to get on my nerves and make me think of creepy incels, but 15 years ago their PR person sent me a copy of their album Yes, and I was all like, “Wait, when did these guys become the greatest duo in U.K. music history?” But putting that aside, all I can hope is that their newest single, “Loneliness,” is unequivocally awesome, so that I can make fun of myself again for being so wrong about this successful U.K. duo! Oh darn it all, it’s awesome, a really mellow krautrock-infused thing with a rubber-band beat and way-toned-down vocals, excuse me while I’m once again forced to recite 50 “Hail Odins.”

Wolfgang Tillmans is a really famous photographer from Germany, which somehow led to his believing that he’s also a musician, and so he has done Music Stuff, including having one of his tracks sampled by Frank Ocean on his video album Endless. Yes, there is much postmodernism going on here, which is annoying to people like Jordan Peterson but enticing to others who are art-challenged. I cannot choose, so I’m going to let Tillmans’ music do the talking and listen to “Here We Are,” which is apparently included in Tillmans’ new album, Build From Here. OK, it starts out annoying, with a droopy krautrock intro synth-line that drags on forever, and then it becomes a David Bowie thing. Boring. Oh wait, here’s another tune that’s on the album, called “Where Does The Tune Hide,” and Tillmans sings on it. Ack, gross, it’s like Haujobb (if you even know them) but it’s super stupid, a bunch of pretentious New Age nonsense. This is not my favorite record of all time.

• Lol, I remember way back in the mid-2010s, when bands were giving themselves names that had two V’s in them, do any of you people even remember that doomed little mini-trend, like Wavves? Well, I’m here to report that there is a new band that does that, called Hovvdy, whose self-titled album is here, for my expert examination, get on my doctor table, little album, and let’s have a look at ya. Hm, the doctor chart here says they’re an American indie-pop duo from Austin, Texas, I’ll bet it sounds like Guster, let’s go check out the single, “Forever.” Yup, ding ding ding, it sounds like Guster but with a little Vampire Weekend syncopation but not enough to register an actual pulse. Holy cats, folks, let’s wrap this week up.

• Lastly we have famous French tech-house producer duo Justice, with their newest album, Hyperdrama! You remember these guys, with their asphalt-grating Ed Banger sound that’s gone the way of the McDLT, but the new single is “Generator,” made of typical edgy noise-electro, like soundtrack music for a live-action Pokemon movie, so nothing’s changed. They’re coming to the MGM Music Hall in Boston on Aug. 2. —Eric W. Saeger

The Double Take

I have a friend who is an identical twin. During the Covid lockdown, she and her sister both had babies. Each of them would visit each other fairly frequently, but because they were being really cautious with newborns in their houses, the visiting sister would stand on the porch fully masked. They would each wave to the inside baby, and the babies, assuming this was just how things worked, would wave back at the lumpy, masked, vaguely mommy-shaped figures on the porch.

After a year or so, both sisters and their babies were able to get together in the same room for the first time without masks. According to my friend, the look on the babies’ faces as each of them saw two pretty much identical versions of their moms on opposite sides of the room was one of the most hysterical moments in the history of babies.

The point of this story — aside from the fact that it’s fun to mess with babies — is that the nature of reality is always a little beyond our comprehension. We have all been in situations where we thought we knew what was going on, but then discovered that we really, really didn’t, and had to reconcile two similar but fundamentally mismatched versions of reality.

Which, somehow, brings us to today’s cocktail.

Double Take

This is a take on a classic — if not often made — cocktail, a Cucumber Ginger Gin Fizz. This version uses largely the same ingredients as the original, but turns them on their head. Traditionally, this is made with cucumber juice and ginger syrup. This version uses homemade cucumber syrup and ginger brandy. You might think of this as a mirror image — the “other mommy” — of the original.

1 ounce cucumber syrup (see below)

1 ounce London dry gin – I like Death’s Door, but Gordon’s would work well, too

1 ounce ginger brandy – I’m a fan of Jacquin’s

1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

2 ounces seltzer

Combine the cucumber syrup, gin, brandy and lime juice with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake enthusiastically.

Strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.

Gently stir in the seltzer.

Sip, while thinking deep thoughts about the nature of reality.

The lime hits you first. You smile and nod approvingly, because you really like the taste of lime juice, and here it isn’t too acidic. Then your palate and a different set of synapses grab your attention and say, “What do you mean, ‘lime’? That’s ginger.” And you keep smiling and nodding, because you like ginger, too. But it’s at that point that you notice the cucumber, which is pushed out of the way by the lime again. It’s like a set of extremely demanding triplets. Fortunately, they have the gin and the fizziness of the seltzer to ground them.

The nature of existence can be transient.

Cucumber Syrup

Wash, but don’t peel some cucumber — half of one, three of them, it doesn’t matter — and chop it into medium (half-inch) dice.

Freeze it for several hours, or overnight. This will give jagged ice crystals a chance to form and poke holes in all the cucumber’s cell walls.

Combine the frozen cucumber and an equal amount of sugar — by weight — in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat. You’re going to look at what seems to be a dry, lumpy pile of sugar, and think to yourself, “That’s never going to make syrup!” Until it does. All those tiny holes made by the ice crystals will let the sugar draw all the liquid out of the cucumber, and because a cucumber is approximately 96 percent water, everything will come together very satisfyingly.

Bring the syrup to a boil, to make certain that all the sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat, and let it steep for 30 minutes.

Drain the syrup with a fine mesh strainer, and store in your refrigerator for several weeks.

Featured Photo: Double Take. Photo by John Fladd.

In the kitchen with Emilee Viaud

Emilee Viaud earned a bachelor’s degree in pastry arts from Johnson & Wales University, and subsequently worked in bakeries and restaurants in the Boston area. She then took a break from restaurants to work in the travel industry, but later opened her own pastry business, Sweet Treats by Emilee, where she focuses on custom cakes and cookies as well as selling sweet treats at retail locations in southern New Hampshire.

Emilee is also the Executive Pastry Chef of Greenleaf and Ansanm in Milford and Pavilion in Wolfeboro.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

A KitchenAid mixer. I use it for almost everything. I have even started to make pie dough in a mixer with a paddle attachment, which is a lot faster than a food processor or by hand.

What would you have for your last meal?

Bacon, egg and cheese on a croissant. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I could eat one of these every day. Nothing beats a freshly made croissant.

What is your favorite local eatery?

Lighthouse Local (21 Kilton Road in Bedford, lighthouse-local.com, 716-6983) and its bakery, The Bird Food Baking Co. They make amazing doughnuts and cookies! I also love their breakfast sandwiches.

Who is a celebrity you would like to see eating something you’ve made?

Duff Goldman. He would be honest in his critique on taste and design. I grew up watching him on TV, so having him eat something of mine would be an honor.

What is your favorite thing that you make professionally?

I actually like decorating more than the science behind baking. I like to find the art within pastry, so decorating wedding cakes with buttercream and cookies with royal icing is where I can be creative and find it to be relaxing (sometimes, lol).

What is the biggest pastry trend in New Hampshire right now?

Croissants stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough. I haven’t had one yet but hope to get one soon; almost every bakery has jumped on making them. I might make them for the Milford Farmers Market this summer!

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

After working in the kitchen all day, any hot meal will do. I always make meals that are quick, easy and something my 4-year-old will eat as well. I usually go for pasta, green beans and garlic bread.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
These require no chilling before cutting/baking.

1 pound soft room-temperature unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 room-temperature eggs
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
6 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Beat butter and sugar together just until incorporated in a stand mixer.

Scrape the bowl after each new ingredient is added.

Add eggs and both extracts and mix until incorporated.

Add the cups of flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Roll the dough out, cut your shapes and bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes until the edges just start to turn brown.

Featured Photo: Emilee Viaud. Courtesy photo.

MHT: Most Happy Tacos!

It’s time for Taco Tour 2024

When the Greater Manchester Chamber organized its first outing with the Taco Tour last year, there was a steep learning curve, said Cole Riel, the Director of Taco Tour Manchester.

“Last year, we were able to get a handle on logistics, like line control and helping restaurants put out product,” he said. “It’s not what we’re used to, serving 20,000 taco-loving folks.”

This year’s Taco Tour on Thursday, May 2, from 4 to 8 p.m., in downtown Manchester promises to be the biggest yet. Started in 2011 as a way to draw attention to Manchester’s vibrant food scene, the Tour has grown each year, drawing in more and more local restaurants to participate, and increasingly larger crowds to taste their tacos or Mexican-themed dishes and vote on their favorites. The restaurant with the winning taco will win bragging rights, a trophy and $1,000 to donate to a charity of its choice. Originally conceived and organized by the Hippo, the Tour was run by Intown Manchester in 2019, then took a Covid hiatus, returning last year organized by the Greater Manchester Chamber.

According to Riel, this year’s Taco Tour will include more than just tacos.

“There will be a concert stage at the corner of Elm and Bridge streets,” Riel said. “Fun acts like the ones who will be performing just add liveliness to the event.” The acts will include Harrison Goodell (harrisongoodellmusic.com) at 4 p.m., Cody James and Joe Delault (thecodyjamesgang.com) at 5 p.m., and deSoL (desol-music.com) at 6 p.m.

According to Steve Freedman of radio station 92.5 The River, which is helping sponsor this year’s live performances, the performers are particularly well-suited for Taco Tour.

“We [The River] are proud to break new artists and promote local artists,” Freedman said. “The first two acts — Harrison Goodell, Cody James and Joe Deleault — are ‘homegrown,’ and the main act, deSoL, is a Latin rock band that we at The River have supported for over 10 years. ”

There will be other fun events, such as a pet watering station and a doggie costume contest run by the Friends of the Manchester Animal Shelter, and a Stonyfield Yogurt Family Zone at the Manchester YMCA (30 Mechanic St.).

This will be the second year that The Potato Concept has participated in Taco Tour, though the first year from their new brick-and-mortar location, on Hanover Street.

“We’re pretty proud,” said co-owner Brandon Rainer. “This event is the town jewel for Manchester.” The Potato Concept’s offering in this year’s Tour will be a “Potaco,” a twice-baked potato skin with seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream. There will also be a “Vegan Potaco” with a black-bean salad filling.

900 Degrees Pizzeria (50 Dow St.) will serve chicken tacos with a house-made fresh pico de gallo.

“We love this event,” said 900 Degrees General Manager Dan Gove. “It’s a lot of fun; it gives us a chance to give people something completely different than we normally do.” He and his staff are preparing 1,000 tacos.

The overall mission of Taco Tour Manchester has remained the same since 2011: to make the public aware of the depth and diversity of Manchester’s restaurant scene.

“We want to provide an awesome, well-rounded experience for families and restaurant enthusiasts,” Riel said. “We want to remind them of restaurants they may have forgotten about since the last Tour. They will taste [our food] and make plans to come back shortly after.”

The tacos

More than 70 local restaurants are participating in this year’s Taco Tour. See the map for their locations. Here are their scheduled offerings:

815 Cocktails & Provisions – BBQChicken, Alabama white sauce, marinated collard greens, vidalia onions, lime

900 Degrees – chicken tacos

Alas De Frida – Birria Taco

Alley Cat Pizza – “El Gato” pizza folded with taco toppings

Annapurna – Steamed chicken and fried momo (dumplings) taco with an authentic Nepali sauce, and vegetable or pork steamed or fried momo taco with authentic Nepali sauce

Antojitos Colombianos – chicken, pork and vegetarian Tacos

Bad Brgr – “Smash Burger Taco” and a chicken taco

Barcode Lounge & Grill – “Mac & Cheese Tacos” with pulled pork, Jerk Chicken with pickles, as well as dessert tacos

Ben and Jerry’s – Mexicone Dream Ice Cream Nachos (Americone Dream ice cream, waffle cone “chips,” caramel drizzle)

bluAqua Restrobar – “The Jaws Taco” with fresh shark

Boards and Brews – “Garlic Parmesan Ranch Tacos” with chicken tenders and fries, and sweet potato fry tacos

Buba Noodle Bar – “Bahn Mi Taco” with lemongrass beef, Asian pickles, cucumber, cilantro, umami sauce

Campo Enoteca – Polpetti (Meatball) taco

Cat Alley Cafe – Breakfast Taco with scrambled eggs, chorizo, potatoes, and queso fresco

Consuelo’s Taqueria – “Taco’n Madre” with sauteed pork served on a corn tortilla topped with green tomatillo, guacamole salsa with onions and cilantro

DeadProof Pizza Co. @ Bonfire – Street birria taco and vegan maple gochujang cauliflower taco

Diz’s Cafe – “Diz’s Magic Taco,” a beef taco with DizSpinaca, topped with shredded lettuce and pico de gallo

DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown – birria beef taco

El Rincon – “Taco Borracho,” with carnitas, pork, and beef with caramelized onion, jalapeno, and chorizo

Firefly Bistro & Bar – “Cheesy Chicken Taco” with seasoned chicken, cheddar cheese, chipotle crema, and crunchy tortilla chips in a soft flour tortilla

Granite State Candy Shoppe – “Chocolate Taco Crunch Mix,” with chocolate-drizzled waffle cone pieces with cinnamon and chocolate

Granite YMCA (The YMCA of Downtown Manchester) – Sugar cookie taco with strawberry and whipped cream filling, oreo crumble, and orange and green sprinkles

Hooked + Ignite – fried fish tacos

Industry East – Peanut chicken satay tacos, with confit chicken, Thai spiced peanut sauce, scallions, and sesame

Keys Piano Bar & Grill – Jerk chicken soft taco with cabbage slaw and ginger, or a vegan option with grilled vegetables

Kisaki – Sushi taco, with spicy crab and lettuce with tempura seaweed skin

Margarita’s Manchester -–soft flour tortilla with carnitas, garlic crema, picked radishes and fresh cilantro

Maya’s – jerk chicken & jerk beef tacos

Manchester Fire Department Central Station – smoked pork taco with cilantro lime coleslaw and a special hot sauce

Osaka – Spicy Crab with crunch and avocado wrapped with seaweed (hand rolled) and Spicy Tuna with crunch and chopped raw tuna, wrapped with seaweed (also hand rolled)

Patz Deli – “Mexican Chicken Salad” with chicken, carrots, peas, corn, mayo, sour cream, crushed Fritos, Sriracha, in a soft flour tortilla

Pho Golden Bowl – “Pho Taco,” with beef, sour carrots, rice noodles and basil

Piccola Italia Ristorante – Chicken Parmigiana with a chicken cutlet, sauce and mozzarella, and a Chicken Caesar Taco with grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, caesar dressing, Parmigiano flakes and croutons, also a dessert Cannoli Taco

Queen City Cupcakes – Churro Cupcake

Rare Breed Coffee – Iced Horchata Cortado and Caliente Hot Chocolate

Shopper’s Pub – “American Taco” with tender broiled pork in a toasted shell with sweet pickle relish and a blend of spices

Soho Bistro & Lounge – chicken, beef, steak or scallop tacos

Stashbox – biscuit & gravy tacos

Strange Brew Tavern – whiskey-marinated shredded chicken in an ancho pepper-infused crema

Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream – Ice cream tacos and nachos with waffle bowls as tacos and nacho shells

Taj India – Chicken Tikka Taco

Thai Food Connection – a wonton shell with chicken and Thai sauce

The Farm Bar and Grille – BBQ pulled pork, cheddar cheese, coleslaw, in a flour tortilla

The HopKnot – “Walking Taco” with jalepeňo honey, beer cheese, pico de gallo, and beans

The Patio @ Hilton Garden Inn Manchester – “PB&J Taco” with blueberry tarragon jam, peanut chicken, sour cream & onion potato chips, and Sriracha aioli

The Pint Publik House – Soft flour tortilla filled with Jamaican curried chicken, cheddar-jack cheese and shredded lettuce

The Potato Concept – “Potaco” with ground beef, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and sour cream

The Stoned Wall Bar & Grille – A jerked chicken and kiwi salsa taco

Thirsty Moose Taphouse – “Beef & Cheese Taco” with pico de gallo and sour cream

Thousand Crane – “Teriyaki Chicken Taco”

To Share Brewing Co. – “The Elvis” with banana slices, honey drizzle and optional bacon, on a flour tortilla

When: Thursday, May 2, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Where: downtown Manchester plus a few spots outside downtown
Cost: $3 per taco, cash only
Voting: tacotourmanchester.com/voting
The Official Taco Tour 2024 Map, available on the Taco Tour website (tacotourmanchester.com/map), includes information about locations of participating restaurants, ATM’s, portable toilets, water stations and more.

Featured Photo: Previous Taco Tour. Courtesy photo.

On The Job – Joe Tuplin

Builder of Cool Stuff and Owner at Kilted Moose Outdoor Furniture (kiltedmoose.com)

Explain your job and what it entails.

I started by building, essentially, outdoor furniture, Adirondack chairs and coolers…. It kind of progressed from there to looking at something and then trying to figure out, ‘How do I make this and what’s the best way to make it?’ So I’ve done everything from the chairs, different style chairs to coffee tables, cutting boards, charcuterie boards from different materials just to see if I can work through how to do it and how to build something kind of different and maybe unique.

How long have you had this job?

I started doing this in 2017. It’s not my full-time position but it’s definitely something that helps fill the time and keep me active. You can’t really focus on anything other than what you’re doing when you start using table saws.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

I learned basic construction … from my dad. … I started getting interested in seeing the stuff people were making and wondering if I could make that and then I figured out that I could and then just trying to keep finding a way to challenge myself.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I haven’t had any formal education in making anything but I find that there’s a lot of really talented people out there, whether on YouTube or Instagram, who are really good at showing what they do. They kind of stress a woodworking community over competition, and helping each other get great ideas….

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

Depending on the weather, usually shorts and a T-shirt. Some type of … protection and I use a mask because a lot of the sawdust, particularly with exotic woods, is a bit toxic.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

My biggest challenge is I’m my own worst critic.

What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?

I wish I knew how to maximize what I am getting out of a piece of wood and to minimize waste. Particularly now when wood is so expensive. …. You want to be able to maximize every inch of that board considering the price of it these days.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

I wish they understood what it costs to make something handmade.

What was your first job?

I worked at Burger King. I loaded hamburgers onto a conveyor belt,

What is the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take things too seriously, you have to enjoy the moment. You have to enjoy the process of putting together and creating something and not let the stress of trying to make it perfect overwhelm you. – Zachary Lewis

Five favorites
Favorite book: The Stand by Stephen King
Favorite movie: Death to Smoochy
Favorite music: I like hard rock, metal
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite thing about NH: I like that you can be in any environment within like 45 minutes depending on which direction you travel … the variety in New Hampshire is endless.

Featured photo: Chairs made by Joe Tuplin.

Happy Planting

Gardening Advice from Local Green Thumbs Plus Garden Clubs & Plant Sales

Everyone’s thumb can be a little greener.

In this week’s issue, we offer tips for better gardening — or even just a better gardening mindset — from local experts. Whether this is your first spring putting seeds in the dirt or you’ve been tending to a yard full of plants for years, these experts have helpful advice.

Longtime gardener and gardening writer Henry Homeyer gives his advice for a successful vegetable garden this season. We asked some local garden club members for their tips for better gardening — want more from them? We also have a list of when and where to meet up with local garden clubs to get more hacks from longtime green thumbs. And whether you’re just starting with your gardening journey or expanding your garden every year, there’s no better place to get good advice and hardy plants than those clubs’ plant sales.

Ten tips for planning a successful garden

Plant what you love, plant what you know

By Henry Homeyer

Despite late snow storms that dumped deep snow over much of New England, spring is right around the corner. Let’s take a look at some keys to a successful year in the vegetable garden.

1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Yes, I grow about 40 tomato plants each year, but most folks don’t want to can or to put up many pounds in the freezer. A well-tended small garden is better than a huge weedy one. Select plants that you love, and just plant a few. Don’t crowd them. You don’t have to start everything from seed — most garden centers have plants for sale in six-packs, and a good selection of varieties.

2. Don’t use any chemicals in the garden. Mother Nature doesn’t, and you shouldn’t either. A chemical fertilizer is largely made of salts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Too much of these salts can kill the microorganisms that work with the roots of your plants to feed them. A bag of 10-10-10 is 70 percent filler, and the content of this portion is not specified — it’s a “trade secret.”

This potato beetle will lay orange eggs under potato leaves. Remove them all! Photo by Henry Homeyer.

3. Compost is your best friend in the garden. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it provides most or all of the micronutrients needed by plants, things like magnesium, calcium and sulfur. And it contains living organisms, the bacteria and fungi that work with your plant roots to provide nutrients to your plants. Mycorrhizal fungi coat the roots of plants. They produce acids that dissolve minerals and share them with your plants. The plants pay the fungi with excess sugars they produce on sunny days.

4. Build up mounds of soil and compost to create raised beds, or build wood-sided ones. You can hoe soil from the walkways into your raised beds, and maybe buy a pickup truck load of compost to mix in and enrich your soil. Most landscapers will deliver compost. Raised beds provide nice loose soil and discourage kids and dogs from walking through them. And in a rainy summer like the last one, raised beds drain well,

5. Enrich your soil with organic fertilizers like Pro-Gro and Plant Tone. They are made from things like ground peanut hulls, soybean meal, seaweed and oyster shells, with a few naturally occurring minerals. They are broken down in the soil and released slowly — just a small amount is water-soluble. They are a big help in poor soils, but don’t overdo these either.

Raised beds are easier to weed and harvest. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

6. Make a habit of walking through your garden every day. Look for problems: Are your newly transplanted tomatoes looking limp? If so, they probably need water. Are there potato beetles? The Colorado potato bug can be a real problem. But if you watch for orange egg masses under the leaves and scrape them off, and pick larvae and beetles every day, you can control the problem in a home garden. One adult lays many eggs that can produce new adults in 30 days or so.

7. Don’t let weeds blossom and produce seeds. Ever. Make 10 minutes of weeding every day a part of your daily ritual, just like you brush your teeth every day. Use a good weeding tool — I really like the CobraHead Weeder because it easily gets under weeds and can be used to tease out long roots. Some weeds spread by root, so getting out entire roots is important. A scrap of root from many grasses will survive and produce new plants.

8. Water judiciously. Those flip-flop overhead watering devices may be good for a newly planted lawn, but they waste a lot of water in your vegetable garden. Water with watering can, or attach a watering wand to your hose. A good watering wand allows you to water around your plants, but not your walkways or empty places. Too busy to water, or off to the beach? Use a water timer and soaker hoses. They can do the job for you.

9. Why weed your walkways and around your tomatoes many times in a season if you can prevent it? I put down four to six layers of newspaper, then a layer of straw or mulch hay to keep it in place and help hold in moisture. Most weeds won’t grow though the newspaper, and earthworms will eat it up by the end of the season. Inks in newspapers now are soy-based, but I avoid the colored sections.

10. Don’t get discouraged, no matter what. Last summer we had lots of rain and not so much sunshine, and many vegetables did not perform well for me — or anybody. Your garden will do better in times of drought or persistent rain if the soil is rich in organic matter and biologically active. Regularly re-plant some things you know how to grow, perhaps lettuce, and rejoice in fresh salads. And remember, there is never a good reason to spray chemicals on your plants — after all, if it kills the Japanese beetles, it can’t be good for you. Good luck!

Henry eats something from his garden every day of the year by storing and freezing things from his not-so-small garden. Send him questions or comments by email at henry.homeyer@comast.net, by mail at PO Box 364, Cornish Flat, NH 03746. Please include SASE if you wish a response by mail. He will be writing just one article a month henceforth.

Plant sale season

Get greenery and advice

Looking for new perennials, annuals, herbs, vegetable seedlings and more? Head to a local plant sale, often held by local garden clubs. Not only can you find our-region-friendly plants; you can also find experts who can help you find success with that butterfly bush or early-producing tomato. And here’s a plant sale shopping tip: Show up early to have your pick of plants or show up near the end of the sale when remaining plants are often priced to move.

Know of a plant sale not mentioned here? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.

Amherst Garden Club will host its plant sale on Saturday, May 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wilkins School (80 Boston Post Road in Amherst). According to their website, they will be highlighting native plants this year. They encourage participants to come and learn why these are important for our environment by visiting the many vendors who will be selling vegetables, herbs, hanging pots, houseplants, garden ornaments, used garden books and magazines, container pots and more, according to the same site. There will also be delicious home-baked items to eat or for gifting, according to the same site. See amherstgardenclub.org/plant_sale.

Bedford NH Garden Club will hold its plant sale Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bedford Village Common, 15 Bell Hill Road. See bedfordgardenclubnh.org.

Candia Garden Club will hold its annual plant sale Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to noon at Rockingham Lodge #76 (12 South Road in Candia). The sale will feature annuals, herbs and vegetables. Members dig up perennials from their yards. There is a raffle of garden-related and other items.

• The Friends of the Daland Memorial Library will hold a plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at Daland Memorial Library, 5 N. Main St. in Mont Vernon.

• The Derry Garden Club has a plant sale Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Robert Frost Farm on Rockingham Road in Derry. “We’ll have anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 plants to sell,” said Diana Hill, club president. Their club puts a lot of focus on perennials, she said, “but we also do have members that start annuals and herb and vegetable plants as well. We sell trees.” See derrygardenclub.org.

• The Colonial Garden Club of Hollis will hold its plant sale on Saturday, May 11, at Lawrence Barn Field on Depot Road from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is their annual fundraiser and provides the funds for their monthly educational programs, community contributions, charitable contributions, scholarships, town plantings, seasonal decorations and more, according to hollisgardenclub.org.

• The Friends of the East Kingston Public Library will hold a book, bake and plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the East Kingston Public Library, 47 Maplevale Road in East Kingston. See eknh.org.

• The Goffstown Community Garden Club will hold its plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Town Commons (at the corner of Main and Elm streets in Goffsotwn).

Great Island Garden Club in New Castle will hold a plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from noon to 3 p.m. at New Castle Recreation Center, 301 Wentworth Road in New Castle. See greatislandgardenclub.org.

Calla Lilies. Photo by Carolyn Taylor of the Hooksett Garden Club.

Hooksett Garden Club plant sale will take place at the Hooksett Public Library, 31 Mount St. Mary’s Way in Hooksett, on Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. until noon, rain or shine. The event will feature annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, herbs, houseplants, a garden-related yard sale, and Ask A Master Gardener booth where you can find out all about the plants you are buying, a children’s table and raffle items from local businesses and crafters, according to hooksettnhgardenclub.org. Most plants are from Hooksett Garden Club members, the website said.

Hopkinton Garden Club’s 2024 spring plant sale takes place on Saturday, May 11, between 8 a.m. and noon at the Hopkinton Town Common, where club members will sell a wide variety of annuals and perennials, many grown in their own gardens, and includes flowers, vegetables, herbs, native plants and hanging baskets, and cash, check and credit card payments will be accepted, according to their website. The spring plant sale is the Hopkinton Garden Club’s major annual fundraiser. See hopkintongardenclub.org.

Massabesic Garden Club in Auburn will hold a plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Griffin Free Public Library (22 Hooksett Road in Auburn). See massabesicgc.org.

• The Merrimack Garden Club will hold its plant sale on Saturday, Aug. 3, beginning at 8 a.m. at Saint James United Methodist Church, 646 D.W. Highway in Merrimack. See merrimackgardenclub.org.

• The Milford Garden Club will hold its annual plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Community House Lawn, 5 Union St. in Milford. The event will feature a variety of perennials as well as a raffle table, a bake table, other vendors and a performance by the MHS Jazz Band, according to milfordnhgardenclub.org.

Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, 18 Highlawn Road in Warner, will hold its annual plant sale on Saturday, June 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The New Hampshire Herbal Network will also hold its annual Herb and Garden Day in the museum’s Powwow Field. See indianmuseum.org.

The Nashua NH Garden Club will hold its plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Nashua Historical Society, 5 Abbott St. in Nashua.

The Newfields Garden Club will hold its plant sale on Saturday, May 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Hall, 65 Main St. in Newfields. Find them on Facebook.

Project Inspire 603, an organization that helps New Hampshire classrooms get school supplies, will hold a plant sale on Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 88 Kelsey Mill Road in Northwood. Find them on Facebook.

Tailgate Transport and Rescue, a dog rescue nonprofit, will hold its second annual plant sale on Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Burger King parking lot at 737 D.W. Highway in Manchester.

• The Unitarian Universalist Church of Manchester (669 Union St. in Manchester) will hold its annual plant sale on Saturday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More expert advice

Garden club members weigh in

By John Fladd & Zachary Lewis

Persian Shield. Photo by Carolyn Taylor of the Hooksett Garden Club.

“Don’t know who needs to hear this … but, you’re a good gardener. The plant should have tried harder.” — a post on the Pelham Garden Group Facebook page.

Or, as a Canterbury Garden Club presentation put it, “Don’t sweat it! Whatever happens in the garden … just don’t sweat it!”

For more advice on how to approach your garden — from general philosophy to specific plant tips — we asked area garden club members to weigh in.

From the Bedford NH Garden Club

Jeanene Procopis, who handles publicity for the Bedford Garden Club, said, “In our garden club we concentrate on perennials, planting perennials, and we try to plant native plants, plants that are native to this region rather than plants that wouldn’t be acclimated to our conditions here, so we try to push those native plants.”

And you can plant what’s pretty, or easy.

“We all enjoy annuals for their pop of color during the growing season,” Procopis said. “Perennials come back every year and they can be divided. They can be shared with friends or neighbors. They’re kind of a workhorse of a plant but they can provide a lot of beauty and enjoyment to a garden.”

When asked for garden tips, she said, “I’m not a master gardener…. Daylilies usually will grow in lots of conditions. They’re an extremely hearty plant but they need to be divided after a while because they will start growing within the pot they are planted in and start crowding together…. A lot of people have daylilies in their yard because they come back every year and they’re very low-maintenance. In the fall you need to cut back the dead leaves to get them ready for winter but in the spring they push up their leaves. Some are early bloomers, some are a little later, so they’re just a really hearty plant.”

As for her views on gardening overall: “For most people it’s a fun hobby. You learn by trial and error sometimes. You might have the wrong plant in the wrong place, but it’s a hobby of discovery, and for most people it’s extremely relaxing and rewarding because you get to see something grow and it’s kind of fun and beautiful.”

From the Concord Garden Club

Gena Moses, president of the Concord Garden Club, encourages gardeners to “have less lawn and plant more areas that are friendly to native species, that are more friendly to animals … plant for wildlife value, reduce your nighttime light pollution. Don’t use fertilizers or sprays.”

From the Derry Garden Club

Diana Hill, president of Derry Garden Club, responded to a request for a tip on gardening by saying, “You mean 2,000 gardening tips.” After narrowing that number down, the first thing Hill spoke about was jumping worms and how to mitigate them. These are “horrible, invasive worms … and they eat the understory of our forests, and we don’t want to spread the jumping worm, so when we get plants in the community … we bare-root the plants, we take all the dirt off, we wash them and put them in clean soil so we’re not spreading these worms…. We have these huge parties where we wash [roots] and get together … have lunch and drink wine and just scrub pots clean so we know we’re not spreading any invasive species.”

Derry Garden Club is also into urban pollinator gardens.

“Don’t clean up your gardens too early in the spring.” Hill said. “The pollinators can’t survive under the temperature of 50 degrees at night and the pollinators and bees burrow in leaf litter and dead plant litter, and if you clean it up too soon the bees and pollinators will have no place to go at night … so don’t clean up your gardens until it’s 50 degrees in the day and the night.”

Her final tip was about the perennial flowering plant anise hyssop; these, she said, “will feed the pollinators with pollen, of course, and their nectar, but birds also eat the seed heads at the end of the season, so it becomes an empty tube for the bees to live in, in the wintertime. So it hits all three seasons. Some varieties are native to New Hampshire. They propagate very easily, they self-seed, which is nice, you can fill in your garden quickly and you can also transplant them to other areas of your yard and they are full-sun and drought tolerant, so they’re basically a hands-off plant.”

From the Epping Garden Club

Eunice Miller mentioned one of her favorite tips is that so many people buy something that isn’t the right fit, and that it is important to get the right plant for the right location. If it needs sun, put it where the plant will get sun, and so on.

From the Hooksett Garden Club

Carolyn Taylor, publicity chair for the Hooksett Garden Club, offered a gardening tip for a tropical plant that can live in New Hampshire: “A few years ago my brother gave me some canna bulbs, rhizomes actually, and I got hooked. Although they are tropical plants not native to New England you see them in large planters in front of stores, restaurants, etc. … I put them in the ground as soon as the soil has reached 50 degrees and no danger of frost, usually in May.”

They need space because the bulbs will multiply, and “each plant should have three to five ‘eyes’ planted facing up.” Canna bulbs love the sun and water. “They pretty much need full sun because they are tropical and they need quite a bit of water,” Taylor said. “They take about three weeks to come up … and once they come up, will bloom all summer into the fall. You can keep them blooming by cutting off dead flowers.”

Birds are big, if tiny, fans of the plant, she said. “They’re very attractive to hummingbirds. They really love the fact that they’re open, they can get into them.”

From the Litchfield NH Garden & Plant Enthusiasts (a Facebook group)

“Mulch, mulch, mulch. And weed right after the rain. Start small and then expand. When in doubt, ask! There are lots of people who have years of local experience. AND look around. See what other people in your community are growing and when. Then you will know what does well in your area,” posted Stacy Lamountain.

“Start small and get to know your plants. When you see and experiment with them in each stage, you can better understand and predict what techniques they might like and what they might not. Then you can start to recognize their sisters and cousins and predict what they might like too. And finally, because you’ve gotten to know them well, it isn’t quite work anymore to care for them. It’s more like visiting a friend,” posted Kate Stevens.

From the Manchester NH Garden Club

“Spending some time in the fall putting your garden to bed will make your job much easier in the following spring.” — Fiona McKenna

From the Merrimack Garden Club

“If you start plants from seed indoors, harden them off by leaving them outside during the day and bringing them back inside at night for a week. This will help prevent the seedlings from getting shocked when they get in the ground.” — Jennifer Mayer-Cox

From the Nashua Garden Club

“Stop the back-breaking work of adding mulch to your gardens each spring. Instead, use ground covers to block out weeds and add attractive flowers to the bare spots in your perennial beds.” — Terry Robinson Lemack

“In the fall, when I bring in plants that have spent the summer outside, I am very careful to hose off the leaves and roots in hopes that I don’t bring an infestation of insects into my house.” — Joan Bonnette

From the Salem Friendship and Gardening Club

“Plant native flowering plants that will feed pollinators. Please don’t spray your dandelions!” — Lorie Ball

From the Tailgate Transport Rescue, which is holding its second annual plant sale

“When you buy a new plant, find out what it needs, so you can plant it in your yard where it will get the right amount of sunlight.” — Jennifer Abericio

From the Unitarian Universalist Church in Manchester, which holds an annual plant sale

“Dig up plants for transplanting in the early spring, just as they are starting to bud. When planting transplants, water the hole thoroughly before burying the new plant, then again, after it’s been buried; this will give the roots a chance to have contact with moist soil.” — Jean Stfanik

Fellow gardeners

The Burleigh Triangle Garden. “The Burleigh” is a small trianglar garden at the intersection of Ministerial and Bedford Center roads. Photo courtesy of Jeanene Procopis of the Bedford Garden Club.

Here are some of the area garden clubs. Know of one not mentioned here? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.

Amherst Garden Club meets monthly from September through June at the Messiah Lutheran Church (303 Route 101 in Amherst) on the first Thursday of the month except in September, when they meet the first Thursday after Labor Day. The meetings typically include a featured speaker, according to their website, amherstgardenclub.org, with their business meetings beginning at 9:15 a.m. and followed by a featured speaker at 10:30 a.m.

• The Bow Garden Club typically meets on the second Monday of the months of April, May, June, September, October and November while a special “Progressive Dinner & Garden Tour” is held in mid-July for members and their guests, according to bowgardenclub.org. There is no August meeting and the club’s annual business meeting and holiday brunch is held on the second Saturday of December, according to the same website.

Candia Garden Club meetings are held the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the meeting room of the Smyth Public Library (194 High St. in Candia)

Canterbury NH Garden Club meets every other month beginning in October and alternating weekday and Saturday mornings to accommodate a variety of schedules. Frequent communications are maintained through their email list. Contact canterburynhgardenclub@gmail.com.

The Concord Garden Club holds monthly meetings, typically on Thursdays, from September through May plus the CGC annual luncheon in early May. “We do member-focused events all year long,” said Gena Moses, President of the Concord Garden Club. One event that is open to the public happens “in conjunction with Concord Parks and Rec department called Habitat at your Home which is to try to help residents learn how to plant more sustainable gardens at their homes.” This event will be held at City Wide Community Center at 14 Canterbury Road in Concord on Wednesday, May 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. with tickets ranging from $10 to $20 and participants will need to register to attend. See concordgardenclubnh.com.

Derry Garden Club meets the first Friday of every month with most of the meetings held at the Boys & Girls Club (40 E. Derry Road in Derry); get in touch through their website, derrygardenclub.org, since they are not able to use the space in the summer months.

Dunbarton Garden Club will celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the Daffodils of Dunbarton project with five different daffodil packages: General John Stark Blend, Molly Stark Mix, Caleb’s Courage, Scipio Page Blend and Dunn Cottage Blend, with sale information to be updated soon, according to dunbartongardenclub.org. The club meets once a month from April through December, typically on the second Monday of the month at the library/old town hall (1004 School St.) on the second floor, according to the website.

The Epping Garden Club has an annual pansy fundraiser in the spring after the Memorial Day parade, a pink petunia sale around the first week of June, and a Fall Color sale with mums, asters and ornamental cabbages from Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford at the end of August, for which the Epping Garden Club will take pre-paid orders. Email eppinggardenclub@gmail.com.

The Goffstown Garden Club meets March through December on the first Thursdays at the Odd Fellows Lodge, 42 Mountain Road, at 6:30 p.m. It’s a community garden club with plots for residents. Find them on Facebook.

The Colonial Garden Club of Hollis holds regular meetings on the first Tuesday of October, November, December, February, March, April and May at the Lawrence Barn at 9 a.m., according to hollisgardenclub.org.

• The Green Team of Londonderry meets on the third Thursday of each month from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at the Leach Public Library, 276 Mammoth Road in Londonderry. Find them on Facebook.

The Hooksett Garden Club holds monthly meetings at the Hooksett Public Library (31 Mount Saint Mary’s Way in Hooksett) on the fourth Wednesday of the month, February through October, with social time from 6 to 6:30 p.m., the meeting (often with a program) starting at 6:30 p.m. and then a business meeting at 7:30 p.m. See hooksettnhgardenclub.org.

The Hopkinton Garden Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, September through May, according to hopkintongardenclub.org.

• The Kingston Garden Club meets in person on the third Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at Kingston Community Library, 2 Library Lane in Kingston. Find them on Facebook.

The Loudon Gardeners Club meets on the third Tuesday of each month, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Loudon Community Building, 29 S. Village Road in Loudon, according to the Loudon Town Calendar. Find them on Facebook.

The Manchester NH Garden Club meets one Thursday a month (see manchesternhgardenclub.weebly.com for the upcoming dates) at Girls at Work, 200 Bedford St. in Manchester.

The Massabesic Garden Club in Auburn has monthly meetings on its schedule at massabesicgc.org, where you can find more about membership. The next meeting is Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. and wraps up the 2023/2024 season.

The Merrimack Garden Club meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the St. James United Methodist Church, 646 D.W. Highway in Merrimack. See merrimackgardenclub.org.

• The Milford Garden Club meets on the second Monday of every month at 10:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church Parish House, 10 Union St. in Milford. See milfordnhgardenclub.org.

The Nashua Garden Club meets the first Wednesday each month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 121 Manchester St. in Nashua and via Zoom. See sites.google.com/view/nashuanhgardenclub.

The Newfields Garden Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Paul Memorial Library, 76 Main St. in Newfields. Find them on Facebook.

Salem Friendship and Gardening Club meets on the third Monday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Kelley Library, 234 Main St. in Salem. See salemfriendshipandgardenclub.org.

Weare Garden Club meets the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Hand in Hand Senior Center and Thrift Shop, 33 N. Stark Highway in Weare. Find them on Facebook.

Windham Garden Club meets on the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Windham Town Hall, 4 N. Lowell Road in Windham. See windhamgardenclub.org.

Garden tours
Get ideas from other people’s gardens at area garden tours. Know of other tours? Let us know at adiaz@hippopress.com.

• See the Secret Gardens of New London in a tour of six gardens, held by the New London Garden Club on Thursday, June 20, from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance; see newlondongardenclub.org.
• The 35th annual Pocket Gardens of Portsmouth Tour will take place Friday, June 21, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, June 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The self-guided tour of eight private gardens and one public garden in the Little Harbor neighborhood will also include music, artists and more, according to southchurch-uu.org, the website of the South Church Unitarian Universalist Congregation, which is holding the event. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 on the day if available.
• The Palace Theatre will hold its annual Garden Tour of nine gardens (plus other stops) around Manchester on Saturday, June 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 on the day. See palacetheatre.org.
• The Bedford Garden Club will hold a “Follow the Blooms” garden tour of seven gardens in Bedford on Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets cost $25 when purchased in advance (see bedfordgardenclubnh.org) and $30 when purchased on the day from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bedford Village Common at 15 Bell Hill Road.

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