Profiles of Some Chapter Members

This is a sampling of some of the expertise and interests of the members; but rest assured, there are others who are just beginning and eager to benefit from the insights of the more experienced.


Geoffrey Charlesworth


Plantsman & author
9/29/1920 - 5/14/ 2008

Geoffrey Charlesworth



Geoffrey Brown Charlesworth was one of the founders of the chapter. A celebration of his life was held October 11th, 2008 at BBG. Click here for a link to the PDF of his obituary. Generous donations from his family will support future speaker programs and the May presentation each year will be named in his honor.

Lori Chips

Lori Chips drawing of gentian

Lori is a professional gardener employed at Oliver Nurseries in CT (generous donors of plants to the chapter) and once worked at the New York Botanical Garden. In addition to being an expert in rock garden plants, she is an accomplished botanical illustrator whose work has graced the covers of the NARGS Quarterly.

Cliff Desch Plantsman and Professor

Cliff Desch Rhododendron smirnii

Former chapter chair, Cliff, first joined NARGS when a post doc student in 1974. His gardens in Conway in central MA include a broad range of plant types including alpines, woodlands, and bog plants. See the November 2010 newsletter for information on the people with whom he has botanized and/or obtained seeds and plants. His day job is in plant science at the University of Connecticut.

Peter George

Peter George rock garden

Peter, a former chapter Chair, now NARGS president, has been editing the newsletter for many years. He is an adventurous gardener in central MA, growing alpines from seed, acquiring plants from a wide range of sources and establishing many micro-climates to suit a broad variety of plants. A member since 1996, you can read about his garden in the August 2010 newsletter.

Pam Johnson

Pam Johnson Glaucidium palmatum

A stalwart chapter supporter who has served as Treasurer, Webmaster, and Annual Luncheon organizer, Pam Johnson has a primarily woodland garden in the Berkshires, MA. Daphnes, mostly bought from Wrightman Alpines seem to like her environment as do Darrel Probst's epimediums and many hellebores. Hillside Nursery has supplied many choice woodland plants including Cypripediums that Pam tries to protect from summer hailstorms. Her gardens have inspired many superb art quilts.

Erica Schumacher

Alpine plants

Erica Schumacher dwarf iris

Erica was the 2011 chapter Chairperson and formerly chapter Secretary. She gardens and photographs her plants in the vicinity of Saratoga Springs, specifically, the Village of Ballston Spa, NY.  Some of her favorites include spring heaths (Erica carnea cultivars), hardy bulbs, dwarf bearded irises and succulents (sempervivums, sedums, Orostachys, Lewisia). When not playing in the garden, she works as an engineer.

John N. Spain

Hardy Cacti

John Spain hardy cacti

John has been growing winter hardy cactus since 1965. He has had the experience of growing them in three states, Michigan, New Jersey, and Connecticut. His books have helped thousands of people start their own first cactus bed. See web site of CT Cactus & Succulent Society.

Anne Spiegel

Anne Spiegel rock garden

Anne, a director of NARGS, is an intrepid botanizer in Europe and the USA, with both wide and deep knowledge of alpine plants. She gardens on a steep rocky hillside that she does not water. Her plants have to fend for themselves as well as hide from the deer. See the August 2010 Newsletter for Cliff Booker's report on his visit to her garden in Wappinger Falls, New York.

Joe Strauch 


Joe Strauch Geranium

Joe has advanced degrees in biological sciences and horticulture. He is a lifelong field naturalist, horticulturist, and former botanical garden director as well as a photographer with credits online and in many print publications.

Elisabeth Zander Botanist, gardener, photographer, organizer


Elisabeth Zander

Elisabeth was editor of the BNARGS Newsletter for many years. She also ran the NARGS Seed Exchange from 1994-96, served a term as chapter Chair and for the last few years has organized our programs. An expert photographer as well as alpine plant grower she gardens with her husband Rod in Goshen, northwestern CT. Weekdays she programs databases at Forecast International, a leading provider of aerospace and defense market intelligence services.