Month: November 2010

Sprucing up the Bandstand

Sprucing up the Bandstand

As the month of December was fast approaching, Chester Garden Club members turned out for the annual garlanding of the village bandstand. Shown here on a sunny weekend morning are former presidents Sheila and Brenda, along with active member Anna, taking a short break from fastening on the spruce boughs that form the basis of the seasonal decorations in this architectural gem in the village.

Once the group had managed to tie on a thick layer of boughs, the strings of coloured lights were laid on top and fastened down as well. More greenery was “hung on the pillars with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.” (Well not exactly there, but …)

With such a merry band of helpers, the job was done in jig time and a helpful passerby took a photo of the group.

Having completed the task of hanging the greenery, the gardeners repaired to a nearby house where sumptuous food and drink awaited. All agreed that there was nothing like mulled wine to warm cold hands. Of course the delicious home-made soup and breads were much appreciated as well.

Barb, Heather (newly elected president) and Betty ponder their choices as they select from the many goodies offered. The centrepiece, which came from a local market, incorporated fruit and other edibles in an array of evergreens.

The Club’s next scheduled event is the Christmas party, slated for December 4. Then, after a break over the holiday season, members of the club will be hard at work in their preparations for hosting the 2011 annual convention of the NSAGC (June 3 – 5) . For more information on that subject, please click on the tab on the sidebar, under Events, labeled NSAGC Convention. That link contains the full program and a registration form for the convention. Please note that it’s not too early to send in your registration form. After March 31, a late registration fee will be applied.
Late November and the Pre-Winter Chores

Late November and the Pre-Winter Chores

Despite the ravages of wind and rain in recent weeks, and the biting cold north wind that played havoc with the few remaining leaves, a few gardeners continue to salvage blooms from plants that were growing in sheltered spots. The arrangement below was made from blooms and foliage picked by Myra Knight in her garden on November 15, the date of our Bloom Day North posting.

Most of nature’s outdoor colours have faded, however, and the cold wind makes the out-of-doors less enticing than it did in October. Now is the time when gardeners in the Chester area are faced with carrying out the various jobs entailed in good stewardship of the land. It is a treat when we have indoor plants, like Myra’s brilliant hibiscus below, to provide us with a pleasurable landscape indoors.

Many good gardening references are available as guides to these pre-winter chores but, as a brief summary of the basics, we’re including a few drawn from a list seen recently on the website of The Nature Conservancy (

Any young trees or shrubs that may be vulnerable to breaking under the weight of heavy snow or ice should be tied or staked. It is important to use soft ties (even old t-shirts cut into strips) because wire or twine may cut into the bark.

The lower trunks of young trees ought to be wrapped in white cloth or white plastic strips to protected their bark from sunscald and from nibbling by rabbits or voles. Conifers and broad-leafed evergreens benefit from a generous dose of watering before the ground freezes.

Mulching beds can still be done at this late date but the layer of mulch should not be thicker than 10 centimetres so as not to smother the bulbs and other plants that you hope to see again next spring. Snow on a perennial bed makes a good insulator but, when shovelling snow, it should not be dumped on shrubbery because the accumulated weight of snow, and especially wet snow in the spring, can do serious damage to the plant’s branches.

Magenta blooms on Myra’s geranium in a sunny window with a background of lawn and woodland view make this a lovely November photo.

AGM: Reports and More

AGM: Reports and More

Chester Garden Club’s annual general meeting went off without a hitch last night, with chairs of committees presenting encouraging reports about their various activities. Among the highlights mentioned were the restoration of the Cove Garden grounds and the replacement of damaged trees and shrubs. Other successful activities included the spring Gardener’s Sale, the annual Flower Show and Tea, and tours to a vineyard and a community museum in a neighbouring county.

Following the acclamation of nominees for the new Board, the incoming president, Heather MacKinnon, presented the out-going president, Sheila Knowlton-MacRury, with a lovely orchid as a token of thanks from the membership for her leadership of the club. Heather noted that next year will be a particularly busy one for the club as it will be a co-host for the NSAGC’s annual convention on June 3rd – 5th, 2011. A planning committee, comprised of members from both the Chester Club and the Basin Gardeners Club, has been hard at work in preparation for the event but it will need the help of all members as the date for the convention draws near.

The evening’s guest speaker was Crystal Godfrey, an employee of Oceanview Garden Centre and Landscaping, who brought along a large selection of greenery and decorative items to use in creating lovely outdoor arrangements for the festive season. Her first container was a large plastic urn, filled with damp potting soil, and she identified some of the varied types of greenery that she would incorporate in the design.

Many of the more ornamental boughs were imported from British Columbia, but she added that she starts each container by sticking local branches (obtained at no cost from one’s own property) in the center of the urn or box just to provide filler. The more decorative pieces can then be placed around the perimeter for better display.

She noted that she likes to aim for a height ratio of 2/3rd for the greenery and 1/3rd for the container, and she uses curly willow, holly with berries, as well as other real or artificial ornamentation to add interest to the arrangement.

Following Crystal’s creation of a lush arrangement in an urn and more modest one in a window box she held up an example of a pre-formed swag that is available at the garden centre for those without the time to create their own seasonal decoration. At least a few members of the garden club were heard to declare their intention to create their own masterpiece.

Bloom Day North – November

Bloom Day North – November

Continuing with our tradition (a relatively new one, but who’s keeping track?) of posting photos from Chester area gardens on the 15th of each month, we are including a shot of one of the few “blooms” in your blogger’s garden at this time. The feathery seed-heads of these ornamental grasses serve as worthy substitutes for flowers now that a series of frosts have decimated more delicate plants.

From Sandy, one of the blog’s regular contributors, we received three photos taken on a lovely sunny November 15th to add to the collection of Bloom Day photos. On the right, a Musk Rose(Mozart)provides a surprise with its several blooms at this late date.

The silver “coins” of a Lunaria annua or “money plant” below, add a bright sparkle to a November garden.
Sandy’s Japanese red maple (Acer palmatum Bloodgood) is in full flame while other deciduous trees have long since shed their leaves.

Don’t Miss the AGM – November 15

Don’t Miss the AGM – November 15

Members of the Chester Garden Club are reminded that the club’s Annual General Meeting will be held on November 15 at St Stephen’s Parish Community Centre. The meeting will begin at 7:00 pm with a presentation by guest speaker Susan Mosher of Oceanview Garden Centre and Landscaping. The business of the AGM will follow, after a short break for refreshments.

After the four-day deluge of rain and strong winds that had residents of Chester and all Nova Scotia pondering plans for building an ark, the sun has returned. Despite the damage that results from such severe weather, some leaves remain to provide colour to the garden. The smoke bush (above) has deep cranberry-coloured leaves all summer and, fortunately, has retained its colour even after the storms.
One advantage of viewing a garden in which the trees have been stripped of leaves, is that we can see more clearly the robin’s nest that was in use this past summer.

For those who enjoy checking other garden blogs, we can recommend the November 12th posting on in which Todd Boland discusses the three species of red-twig dogwood. The shrubs are well adapted to Chester’s climate and are an attractive addition to gardens through all seasons.
Seasonal Changes

Seasonal Changes

Autumn’s paintbrush came a little later than usual to the Chester area this year, and many residents commented on the scarcity of brilliant reds in our gardens and woodlands. The many shades of yellow from bright gold through to soft apricot were plentiful, however, and the subtle hues of burgundy and cranberry added colour to the landscape. The photo below shows the quiet tones of a Queen Maple behind the muted red of a smoke bush.

Driving along the county roads, one was struck by the soft palette of gold, peach and tangerine, nestled among the bright green of evergreens and the occasional striking crimson maple. The photo below was taken at the end of October just before rain and wind denuded the Japanese maple of its lovely plumage.

Members of the garden club are now ready to turn their thoughts toward the next seasonal theme: preparing their homes for Christmas. Guest speaker at the club’s next meeting will be Susan Mosher, of Oceanview Garden Centre and Landscaping, with a presentation on Seasonal Decorating and Winter Window Boxes. The meeting, scheduled for November 15 at the St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre, will begin with Susan’s presentation at 7 o’clock, followed by a brief break for refreshments and then the Club’s Annual General Meeting. All members are encouraged to attend.