Members of Chester Garden Club with a yen for travel were treated to an interesting presentation by fellow member Cynthia Spraggs at the club’s April meeting. Program chair Esther Amiro introduced Cynthia as an experienced traveler whose work allows her to explore some of the world’s most remote areas, from deserts to mountains to volcanoes. Choosing from among the many countries she has visited in recent years, Cynthia provided an overview of Nicaragua’s terrain and the vegetation that it supports.
She pointed out that Central America lies on the Ring of Fire that has been responsible for so many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions over the years, and that it is the volcanic ash laid down as a result of those eruptions that has provided such fertile soil for vegetation in many parts of the world.
With the help of a Power Point presentation, Cynthia focused most of her talk on the expedition she and her friends undertook to reach the summit of two majestic volcanoes on Ometepe Island, situated inland in Lake Nicaragua. Formerly a quiet unexplored area of the country, the island has become something of an ecotourist attraction in recent years because of its tranquil beauty. The views at the top of these volcanoes are spectacular and the island is covered with dense vegetation, home to a variety of flora and fauna.
Cynthia noted that volcanoes cover only 1% of the earth’s surface but the correlation between their effect on soil fertility and luxurious vegetation, including rainforests, is very clear. Among the many tropical flowers that grow naturally on Ometepe island are bougainvilleas, daturas, orchids and even a “false Bird of Paradise”.
Cynthia also spoke about other interesting places to visit in Nicaragua, including Corn Island off the Caribbean coast, which is noted for its coral reefs that provide excellent snorkeling and diving. She noted that many petroglyphs have been found on Ometepe, and that the island contains some strange plants such as the “Sore mouth bush” which is purported to have medicinal qualities. [Photos of the Nicaraguan views are from Cynthia’s collection]
It might have been the slogan – Seaside Spectacular – but whatever the reason, an overwhelming interest in the forthcoming convention of the Nova Scotia Garden Clubs Association has resulted in a flood of registrants for this year’s event. The South Shore District’s organizing committee has confirmed that the maximum number of registrants permitted by fire regulations has been reached and the hotel has stated that there are no more rooms available for Friday, June 2nd, although a few remain for Saturday, June 3rd. The committee has, however, established a wait list for those who were disappointed when trying to register. In the event of spaces opening up because of a change of plans by any current registrants, those on the wait list will be contacted in order of precedence.
The Convention’s organizing committee is looking forward to welcoming all the registrants, speakers and vendors to an exciting and educational convention at the Atlantic Hotel & Marina Oak Island in the community of Western Shore. The full program can be found by clicking on the side-bar link on this blog (NSAGC Convention). The program pages follow the (now-inoperative) registration form. To see a list of the donors who are supporting the convention, click on the last page.
In contrast to last year, April in 2011 has not yet brought us any warm spring days. Unable to work in our gardens, we have more time to observe the small changes in the plants around us that are often overlooked when we are greeted with masses of colorful crocuses and daffodils. Therefore, in keeping with the community’s current discussions on the creative arts (and here – a shout-out to the Chester Arts Centre and its Brain Fitness program designed to stimulate creativity), we are offering a few photos of nature’s own sculptures.
What appears to be an overhead shot of an icy waterfall, frozen in time, with spring greenery beginning to sprout around a rocky outcrop, is actually the hollowed trunk of an old apple tree.
With a little imagination, the subject above might be interpreted as a wise old owl peering out from his lair or perhaps a woodland spirit giving one the evil eye, while the strong forms and “brush-strokes” in the photo below resemble a piece of modern art rendered in an impressionist style.
The last two nature sculptures in this series provide a contrast between two determined plants. One photo shows a wisteria whose coils of branches have entwined the pergola support-post, and each other, with such vigor that they have supplanted the pillar and now form the actual support of the pergola. With a little more imagination, the slender wisteria form calls to mind a well-know sculpture: “The Three Graces”. The other photo might be a take on the famous painting “The Birth of Venus”, as a young sapling arises straight up from the ruins of an old apple tree (not quite a clam shell, but with at least a hint of that shape). Life in its many forms is a persistent and mysterious force (as is the coding for blogging and thus a problem with setting the photos in the correct order).
Those gardeners still looking forward to the beauty of colour in their gardens, however, will be interested in the next meeting of Chester Garden Club, on April 18th, when Cynthia Spraggs will present an illustrated talk on her recent trip to Nicaragua. Known as “the land of lakes and volcanoes”, the biodiversity of that unique eco-system provides a landscape rich in colour. Be sure to attend her presentation: Wildflowers and Orchids that Grow Around Nicaragua’s Volcanoes.