Month: June 2010

A Welcome Rain

A Welcome Rain

Few gardeners in Nova Scotia have ever been accused of complaining about too much sunshine but, nevertheless, the rain that fell today was a welcome sight. Although there have been days when fog or mist drifted in over seaside properties for an hour or so, the newly planted annuals in many gardens have been in need of real moisture for some weeks. Like most perennials, the peonies in the first two shots have managed to survive quite nicely but those two photos were taken last week. Today is a different story.

After the rain overnight and today, many of the fullest blooms have now ceded way, their petals scattered on the ground. The smaller blooms, however, are holding their own, with drops of rain clinging like pearls on velvet petals.

Even fuchsias in a hanging basket appear to be refreshed by the steady showers.

Ladies’ mantle leaves are perfectly constructed to gather drops of moisture. The fish in the image below appears to be swimming through an underwater garden of plants, evoking memories of snorkeling in Caribbean waters.

Our gardens are bursting with growth and colour at this time of year. We would love to post some of your Chester photos on this site. Contact us at the e-mail address above.
The Versatility of Herbs

The Versatility of Herbs

At its June meeting, members of the Chester Garden Club welcomed Rubea Hutt, from the neighbouring community of New Ross, as guest speaker. Originally from South America, Rubea is now a member of two garden clubs in Nova Scotia and has become well-known for her interest in and knowledge of herbs. President Sheila Knowlton-MacRury is shown calling the meeting to order for Rubea’s presentation on growing and using a wide selection of herbs.

An enthusiastic promoter of herbs in cooking everything from soup to dessert, Rubea described many varieties of mint, thyme and other herbs that she uses in salads, soups, main dishes, apple crisps, and even tea-breads. She noted the benefits of incorporating herbs because of their anti-oxidant properties, and she emphasized that herbs contain more micro-nutrients packed into them than do many vegetables. In addition to sharing tips on using herbs in cooking, Rubea discussed various ways of growing herbs according to whether they were annual or perennial plants, and methods of storing them (including freezing) in the off-season. She also encouraged gardeners to experiment with some of the more unusual varieties as well as the commonly grown herbs.

One of Rubea’s useful tips for busy gardeners was that herbs respond poorly to overfeeding and require only a single application of an organic fertilizer (well-rotted manure, compost or fish emulsion) in the spring. They also have few natural enemies by way of insects. Thus, with minimal attention except for the pinching back to encourage bushiness, and the ongoing trimming as you harvest herbs to include in your meals, herbs can be a wonderful addition to your garden. Plans are underway to include a few of Rubea’s sample recipes in future club communications.

Looking ahead: the Club’s Annual Flower Show and Tea will be held on July 29th this year. The event has been a popular feature of summer in Chester for many years, drawing entries from members of Chester Garden Club and also the wider community. The theme for this year is “All Through the House” and the charming painting below shows a seaside scene as viewed from a house in the Chester area. The painting, by Heather Mackinnon (a member of Chester Garden Club) was chosen by the committee to serve as the artwork for all publicity related to the show and tea.

The purchase of a ticket ($7.00) at the door entitles visitors to view all the exhibits and also enjoy a tea of sandwiches and cake. Judges will assess the entries in the morning and identify the winning exhibits. The show will then be open to the public from 1:30 to 5:30 in the afternoon, with tea being served between 2:00 and 4:00 pm. For information about submitting entries in either the decorative or horticultural classes, please click on the link on the side-bar “Flower Show Schedule”.
Bloom Day North, June 15

Bloom Day North, June 15

Gardens in the Chester area have virtually exploded in a riot of colour this spring, with many plants blooming well in advance of their usual appearance.
Gardeners in our area have been hard-pressed to keep up with the weeding and pruning required to maintain some sort of order in their gardens. The following photos are a sample of some of the plants in bloom on June 15th in your blogger’s garden,
in the Municipality of Chester.

Lupins are prolific in hedgerows and ditches in Nova Scotia at this time of year, and a few find their way into even the most fastidious garden properties.

Foxgloves, honeysuckle, perennial poppies, clematis, bearded iris, rosa rugosa and wisteria are all bursting forth with colour, attracting hummingbirds and insects.

The south shore of Nova Scotia is a very hospitable climate for growing rhododendrons and azaleas. Large colourful shrubs are seen on many properties at this time of year.

These photos provide a glimpse of the many colourful plants in bloom around Chester as we mark Bloom Day North this month. The Chester Garden Club’s next meeting will be held on Monday, June 21, at the usual location. For details, please click on the link “Program of Events” on the right-hand side of the blog.

Looking ahead, the club’s annual Flower Show and Tea will be held on July 29th. Details of the requirements for entering exhibits in the show can now be found by clicking on the link for “Flower Show Schedule”. Check it out. It’s not too early to begin thinking about what plants you might incorporate in your entries, (along with any possible artifacts you might want to use to enhance a composition).
South Shore District Winners

South Shore District Winners

Because of a communication error, incorrect information appeared in the last blog on this site. The actual winner of “Best in Show”, in the photography contest held at the time of the NSAGC’s annual convention, was Brenda Hiltz, an active member of both the Basin Gardeners (a garden club in the neighbouring community of Chester Basin) and the Bridgewater Garden Club. Brenda is also the NSAGC’s Director for District 6, which is comprised of nine garden clubs on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. A copy of her photo, a delicate image of a calla lily in the fog, is reproduced below.

Myra Knight, a member of both the Basin Gardeners and the Chester Garden Club over more than 15 years, was honoured as the recipient of the Outstanding Gardener of the Year Award for the South Shore District. Charles Berry, Vice-Chair of the NSAGC board, made the presentation.
In nominating Myra, the Basin Gardeners highlighted her work on the executives of both clubs and her work in the community as the chief organizer of garden tours in the Chester area, a founder of the Basin Floral Arts Show, a volunteer who regularly supplies table arrangements for various local organizations, and a keen competitor in floral arranging and as well as floral photography contests. Her skill at creating floral arrangements/compositions has earned her the award of Best in Show at many garden club competitions in Nova Scotia. She has even competed long distance, earning first-place in a mail-in category for a dried floral picture in a competition at Canada Blooms, in Toronto. As a graduate of the NSAGC Judging School, Myra also judges several shows each year.

Myra’s gardening skills have been honed over many years of study and practical experience. She favours an organic approach, feeding the soil in her garden with seaweed, leaf mould and compost. Her garden includes a wide variety of annuals, biennials, and herbaceous perennials. Among those plants are 110 registered Haemerocallis cultivars, more than 25 rose cultivars and many flowering shrubs and unusual trees, some of which have been grown from seed. Myra’s knowledge and love of gardening has been a great asset to both experienced and novice gardeners in the Chester area.

NSAGC Convention

NSAGC Convention

A large contingent of members from both the Chester Garden Club and Basin Gardeners (a neighbouring club located in Chester Basin) attended the recent NSAGC* Annual Convention in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The convention’s theme, Blooms of Culture ~ Roots of History, provided a springboard for at least one speaker, who described early plantings made by Acadian settlers in the late 1700s and talked about the many plants from around the world that were brought to Alexander Graham Bell’s summer estate in Baddeck, Cape Breton, over the years.

The weekend’s program also included workshops, tours, raffles, displays by vendors and entertainment. Shown above are two entries made in a workshop for creating small arrangements.

Chester Club’s current president, Sheila Knowlton-MacRury, and past president Brenda Garland along with Brenda’s husband, Robert, were among the guests at the banquet on Saturday evening. Saturday’s full program included the Annual General Meeting and a number of interesting speakers whose topics ranged from wildflowers to birds to heritage gardening. One of the highlights was a demonstration of unique ways to create arrangements using “found” objects.

The above arrangement, composed of such everyday components as grass and weeds, was created by the speaker during the demonstration. It was later won by a member of the Chester club in a “draw”.

After spending the weekend enjoying the hospitality and the interesting program offered by the Cape Breton District gardeners, members of the two clubs (Chester and Chester Basin), shown here wearing their promotional tee-shirts, are looking forward to co-hosting the next convention, in June 2011, in Lunenburg County.
* NSAGC is short-hand for Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs.
[Thanks to Sylvia McNeill for sending in this photo story.]