A sunny day is always welcome when it comes time to decorate the bandstand at Chester’s Parade Square, where the wind comes straight off the water. The bandstand is a familiar landmark situated close by the Cenotaph and the Garden Club has a long tradition of hanging greenery and strings of lights along its railings to mark the festive season. This year’s hanging party was held on November 28.
Every year we face the same snarl of lights at the bandstand as often happens at home when getting out the Christmas decorations. Sheila struggles against the gusty wind to sort out one of the strings.
The first boughs are laid on the railing and the bandstand begins to take on the new look. The Club’s sandwich board is displayed out front to identify the volunteer aspect of the project.
Fastening the boughs and lights to the railing with lengths of cord is cold work at the end of November, but jokes and chatter keep spirits high.
Illustrating the old adage – “Many hands make light work” – there is no shortage of volunteers to prop up Robert as he tries to hang a wreath on high.
Coming to terms with the strong winds means recognizing the need to re-position the center wreath. Sandy and Sheila first wrap their heads around the problem, and then their hands around the post.
Partway through the work, the strong winds blow rain clouds over Chester and the brief shower produces a rainbow in the sky to the northwest.
Rain or sun, it was smiles all around for the photographers who brought along their cameras to record the event.
Even Bandit, unofficial club mascot, stayed to see that the goal was achieved.
And, as usual, once the job was done, members were soon warming their hands (and tummies) with lashings of mulled wine and hearty soup, while milling around a table set with tempting cheeses, savories and sweets. Another successful hanging of the lights could be added to the record book.
This year’s November’s weather has been a welcome treat. Now, with the month drawing to a close, the time has come to remind members that volunteers are needed to hang the evergreen boughs and add the strings of Christmas lights that make the bandstand so attractive over the festive season. The fun (it isn’t really work) will begin at 11 AM on Saturday, November 28th. Once the bandstand has been dressed, everyone who has helped with the decorating will be invited to adjourn to a neighbouring house for mulled wine and nibbles.
As a follow-up to the last blog, we are herewith posting a few photos taken in late November. The apples shown above are growing on a tree that is well over a century old. The many windfalls from this tree and its neighbours have proved popular with flocks of ducks who fly in from the cove waters for their refreshments every day. They are sometimes joined by a few crows or seagulls and, even occasionally, a pheasant. The shrub in the photo beneath is a Hamamelis virginiana. Its spidery yellow blossoms open late in the autumn as the leaves fall.
What began as a “volunteer” sapling in a bed crowded with hardy geraniums, located in the Chester Basin area, has matured into an unidentified species of crab apple (see below). This is the first year that so much fruit has appeared. To date the birds and the deer have declined to partake of the bounty. Perhaps they will be hungrier later in the season.
Please remember this date – November 28. Dress warmly and come to help decorate the village bandstand; the strings of lights and evergreen boughs will be provided by the club.
In response to your blogger’s request for photos of Chester garden scenes, we are pleased to post the following, recently received. Sylvia McNeill and Herb Fraser, both members of the Chester Garden Club, shot their pictures in September. Although the summer was beginning to wind down, there were still lots of plants in bloom.
It appears that day lilies are becoming something of a speciality for members of the club as more varieties are made available through Nova Scotia nurseries.
If the words “climate change” have popped up in conversation more frequently in recent weeks, it’s probably because of the unusually mild and pleasant weather we’ve enjoyed this fall in Chester. In witness to this turn of events, we’re pleased to offer two photos taken by another club member, Sandy Dumaresq, in late October. She was interested in the contrast of colours that showed up in neighbouring plants. In the first photo, a Korean maple (acer pseudosieboldianum) is, in her words, “in full flame” while the catalpa tree appears to sport spring greenery. On the right, autumn crocuses are a gardener’s treat after most perennials have packed it in for the season. We await more photos detailing garden scenes in November – the mildest most people here can remember in years!
The club’s Annual General Meeting, held on November 16, was preceded by a presentation made by Don Gimby, store manager at Lee Valley Tools Ltd., in Halifax. Don brought a large sample of pruners for display, both the by-pass type and the anvil type. He noted that pruners should only be used on green wood, and that loppers should be the tool for harder, dead wood. Among the features that differentiated the various pruners were a swivel handle, a sap-cleaning ridge, and a ratcheting device that provided a mechanical advantage to the user whose hands weren’t strong. As he demonstrated the special features of each pruner, Don emphasized the importance of trying the different handles before buying, to ensure that you get the one that’s best suited to your particular hand size and grip. He also discussed maintenance, cleaning and sharpening of tools.
Following a short break for refreshments, the meeting was called to order and the business of the AGM ensued. In her president’s report, Brenda Garland stated that, since 2008, the club has achieved three goals: increased membership, successful fund-raising for the 70th anniversary project, and continued support of the two community gardens in Chester. She then noted that the club would have an additional focus in the next two years: preparation for, and hosting, the NSAGC’s annual convention in 2011.
Reports from the treasurer and the various committee chairs provided evidence of a busy and productive year. In addition to furnishing a roster of interesting speakers throughout the year, committees organized a Gardener’s Sale in May and the annual Flower Show and Tea in July, which brought in much-needed funds to support the work of the club. The largest expense in 2009 was the renovation of the Cove Garden, which was the club’s gift to the municipality to mark both the 250th anniversary of the founding of Chester and the club’s own 70th anniversary. Earlier blogs have documented the work at the Cove Garden: digging and repair of the drainage system, creation of a new path and subsequent re-sodding to restore the lawn. Although some funding for the work was received from the municipality, the financial burden on the club was substantial and more expenses will be incurred when the fruit trees are planted next spring.
After nominations for the new board were approved, Sheila Knowlton-MacRury took over the chair as the club’s new president. She presented Brenda with a lovely bouquet on behalf of the membership as thanks for her terms in office, and then completed the business of the meeting. Members were also reminded of events coming up in December: the traditional hanging of lights at the bandstand on November 28th and the Christmas social on December 4th.
With the approach of the Club’s Annual General Meeting, scheduled for November 16, members of the board met recently to review membership numbers, current finances and related activities. The total membership in 2009 stood at 63 and, as the Club’s fiscal year-end is August 31st, those members who have not yet renewed their membership for 2010 are reminded that they may pay their dues ($20) now or at the AGM.
The AGM will include annual reports from the current officers and committee chairs. The Nominating Committee will present a slate of nominees for the incoming board. Only members in good standing (ie, who have paid the dues for 2010 before the start of the meeting) will be eligible to vote during the AGM.
In addition to the AGM business, there will be a presentation by a representative of the popular Lee Valley Tools company, with a focus on new gardening equipment. The meeting will be start at 7:30 pm, in the St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre, Chester. All members – old, renewing, and new – are encouraged to attend.
The newly-laid sod seen in the photo above encompasses a large swath of the Cove Garden. Because the ground was very wet when the sod was laid and, also, the community has experienced several periods of light rain since then, we are optimistic that we will have a healthy lawn by next spring.
The photo below, taken at low tide, shows the outlet of the pipe that is the end-piece of the new drainage system. Although some water flows into the pipe as the tide rises, it is directed into a crock (catch-basin) that empties again as the tide recedes. The ground above the drainage system is thus unaffected and no longer subject to subsidence.