Month: May 2011

Another Successful Gardener’s Sale

Another Successful Gardener’s Sale

Coffee and muffins made a grey morning seem a little more cheerful as members of the Chester Garden Club gathered at 8:30 to prepare for the annual Gardener’s Sale on Saturday, May 28. Nancy set up her “canteen” on the veranda of the old train station and Barb was one of her first customers.

Iris, one of the vendors who bring their wares to the Sale, chats with Myra, a member who doubled as a salesperson and who arrived with a whole trailer-load of annuals and perennials grown in her own garden.
Parked in a prime location against a shed, the Bonny Lea Farm display, with its combination of herbs and flowers stacked on a set of stairs, attracted a lot of attention.
As a stalwart supporter of the Club’s annual sale, Rosmarie Lohnes sold her wares from the back of her Helping Nature Heal truck.
Plants that had been potted up by members from their own gardens were placed on tables assigned to sell at prices ranging from $2 to $5.
Among the vendors with garden accessories for sale was Casa Germanica, featuring watering cans and planters made from re-cycled materials.
In addition to checking out the many plants and garden articles for sale, customers were pleased to discover that they could fill a bag with free compost donated by Louisiana-Pacific Canada Ltd. from East Chester. 
By noon, vendors and volunteers began packing up the remaining items on their tables, and congratulating each other that the rain had held off. It had in fact been a very pleasant morning of greeting friends and strangers while earning some cash for the club’s projects.

Now that this once-a-year sale is over, the countdown to the NSAGC Annual Convention begins!  Members of the Chester area clubs have been the chief organizers for the Convention and they are looking forward to next weekend when they will see the results of their long-range planning. For more information on the Convention – including Handouts –  please see the links on the upper right side of the blog.

NSAGC Convention Handouts

NSAGC Convention Handouts

In a bid to reduce the amount of paper distributed at the Convention, the organizing committee has passed along to the blog several handouts provided by speakers in advance. By clicking on the link at the top of the right side of this blog, under NSAGC Convention Handouts, registrants (and,in fact, anyone reading the blog) can obtain information on rhododendrons, supplied by Cora Swinimer; Niki Jabbour’s list of edible plants; or Todd Boland’s plant list. The information can thus be printed and saved by individuals for their personal use. There will be no paper copies of these handouts available at the Convention.
Members of the Chester Garden Club have a busy week ahead as they prepare to hold the annual Gardener’s Sale on May 28 and then quickly follow it with a change of focus as they collaborate with members of other District 6 clubs to run the three-day NSAGC Convention taking place on June 3-5. The Gardener’s Sale will be held from 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon at the old train station in Chester. It is a popular event, at which a variety of perennials from members’ gardens as well as local nurseries will be on sale.

Plans for the Convention have resulted in a full program of speakers and events, including garden tours, that require the help of a good many volunteers in addition to the core committee. As well as the many interesting speakers on the program, the Convention has drawn a large number of vendors who will be on site to offer plant materials, books, and hand-crafted artifacts for sale. Information concerning garden tours, placement of club banners and floral arrangements, and other attractions including a visit to a local winery, will be available at the registration desk.

Planning Continues Despite the Ongoing “precip”

Planning Continues Despite the Ongoing “precip”

Many years ago, on a visit to Ireland, we enjoyed many amusing stories told by our genial guide who kept us all in good humour despite the frequent rain showers. His favourite saying with reference to the continuing damp weather was “it’s after being just a bit of precip, that’s all.”  That ‘precip’ is what built Ireland’s reputation as the “Emerald Isle”,  and folks in Chester can lay claim to a similar shade of Kelly-green in their gardens this spring. Therefore, in today’s blog, we are featuring only green-hued plants like the Euphorbia  (above).

 But, rain or sunshine, meetings and planning continue for members of garden clubs. Above, Sylvia, Herb and Myra act as panelists during a forum for members’ questions and discussion at a recent meeting of the Chester club. Below, the members are focused on the panel’s response to one of the many questions submitted by members themselves.

In another setting, members of the organizing committee (below) held another of their frequent meetings to review plans for the NSAGC Convention. The Oak Island venue is well-suited to the runnning of a conference and the committee has been diligent in planning for the efficiency and comfort of those attending.

The printed program is in the final stages of editing and design.  Decisions have been made about a variety of details like the floor plan of the vendors’ areas, location of club banners and floral entries, preparation of hand-outs, and assigning many tasks to club volunteers

In addition to the wonderful collection of raffle items that were listed in an earlier blog (see April 27 in the link: View Entire Blog), the committee is pleased to announce that the following watercolour painting, by the late Fran Turner, has been offered to the committee for a silent auction. The painting, which incorporates a floral design with a sailing ship in the background, would make a beautiful souvenir of this convention, which has as its theme “Seaside Spectacular”.  The auction will take place during the convention.

And, as mentioned, here is another of Chester’s green beauties – a group of stately Solomon’s seal stalks  (polygonatum x hybridum) that have grown tall but which need the warmth of the sun to encourage them to open their flower buds.
Bloom Day North: part 2

Bloom Day North: part 2

The following photos of rhododendrons were sent in by Sandy on May 15th but arrived too late for inclusion in the posting on that day so they are welcomed here as part 2 of the Bloom Day blog.

The beautiful white blossoms on the rhododendron above are flourishing on a lepidote (small leaves) variety called April Gem. Below, despite the lilac hues shown in the photo, the plant is R. April Rose (poetic license? Probably not, as Sandy says that it is actually a dark red).

Next is a shot of a young rhodo with a far less poetic tag –  R. BPT 80-5 B. It is backed by the early shoots of ferns emerging in their typical fiddlehead structure. Sandy mentions that the BPT stands for Bayport and that this variety was a product of Dick Steele’s nurseries. She adds that the photo doesn’t do it justice because the blossoms are actually a lovely yellow.

The rhodo below, flanked by daffodils, carries a hefty moniker – R. mucrunolatum Cornell pink.
The soft pink blooms in the shrub below belong to a variety named R. New Patriot B.

An appropriate name for the rhodo below, especially given its current Nova Scotian setting, is  R. Bluenose, although it was probably named for its purple-blue buds. It was developed in New Brunswick.

The ability to identify correctly those plants added to your garden over the years, or to track any changes in a garden over time, depends on maintaining on-going records. Some gardeners keep a daily journal while others prefer a  scrapbook that includes ID tags, photos and relevant clippings from reputable publications. The key is to ensure that identifying tags do not become lost or destroyed by accident if left out in the garden.
Bloom Day North and Raffle Update

Bloom Day North and Raffle Update

Continuing our tradition of posting photos of plants in bloom on the 15th of each month, we are pleased that a combination of steady rain and the occasional day of sunshine has resulted in the lush green fields and gardens seen in the Chester area this week.  The following shots provide a sample of the many blooms on show today. Once you have scrolled down to the foot of the blog, you will find an important update on the information we provided earlier concerning several raffles being held in support of the NSAGC Convention 2011.

Daffodils, in various shades of yellow, cream and white, are one of the few spring bulbs that foil the marauding deer. High above these nodding stalks we have the graceful sweep of blooms on a star magnolia.

An early azalea (PJM Victor) suddenly began to open its blossoms with the warmth of a sunny day (confession: the photo was taken on the 14th, but the shrub is in flower today in the rain).

A more modest participant in this rush to produce colourful spring blooms is a tiny clump of primroses  hugging the ground and just beginning to produce its blooms.

Another spring flower that can hardly be termed  “shy”, is this violet that has proliferated throughout the gardens, dotted the lawns and created splashes of colour in stony paths. 
Of course, there are flowers developing on trees in the garden too. These delicate florets in the shot below are the forerunners of those many winged seeds that will come drifting down from this Queen maple and eventually produce sturdy saplings of their own (unless ruthlessly pulled out!).
And now for the update on the raffles. In our blog of April 27, we highlighted a number of items that are being raffled to help offset costs of running the NSAGC Convention in June. Because some gardeners who are unable to attend the convention felt they were missing out on the chance to buy raffle tickets, the committee has stated that anyone interested in the red wheelbarrow or the 4-item draw should send an e-mail to for information on purchasing tickets. 
Tickets for the yellow wheelbarrow, the willow chair and the 4-item draw, will be available on June 3rd and 4th at the Convention. The draw for all raffle items will take place on June 4th, Saturday afternoon. To review the items being raffled, please click on View Entire Blog and look for the April 27th entry.
Multiple Missions in the Merry Month of May

Multiple Missions in the Merry Month of May

Spring is a busy time for all gardeners but this year the tempo has suddenly picked up in the Chester area. Not only are members of the Chester and Chester Basin garden clubs fine-tuning their preparations for the NSAGC Annual Convention (June 3 and 4), but the Chester club is also preparing for its annual Gardener’s Sale on May 28,  and looking ahead to its Annual Flower Show and Tea (July 28), while members also try to catch up on the tasks required in their own gardens!

Perhaps the prolonged cool damp weather has been useful in keeping local gardeners from venturing out of doors and thus allowing them to focus on preparations for the big Club events. The good news is that the sun has finally made a few rare appearances in the area at last. The grass is Kelly green, daffodils and Solomon Seal have shot up almost overnight, and the forsythia shrubs are bursting forth with colour.

As for the Chester club’s first mission in May – the Gardener’s Sale, a very important fund-raiser for the club – members are being encouraged to attend the general meeting on Monday, May 16, when they will be provided with tips on ways to contribute to the Sale. Herb Fraser will demonstrate best practices in potting up perennials, and experienced gardeners Myra and Sylvia will join him on a panel to answer questions about a variety of gardening issues raised by  the members themselves. 

The second mission in May concerns the completion of arrangements for the NSAGC Convention, which of course takes place at the beginning of June. The organizing committee has been working for months  and has been delighted with the positive response of the speakers, the vendors, the registrants, and the personnel at the hotel. The program is packed with educational talks and there will be ample opportunity to visit the vendors’ displays, both indoors and outdoors. 
A third mission that is demanding the time and attention of club members is the forward planning for its annual Flower Show and Tea, scheduled for July 28. A committee has been working on the definitions and descriptions of the various entry categories, designing the program, and polishing up the trophies, as well as sorting out the roles of volunteers needed for both the show and the tea. More information on the Flower Show and Tea will be available after the Convention has been wound up.
And if all that activity wasn’t enough, on May 8, after its long hiatus in winter storage, a few friends of the Chester Club managed to re-install the armillary sphere in its proper locaton on the Parade Square Garden. Spring has sprung!

Spring Clean-up

Spring Clean-up

On yet another cool day, a clutch of Chester Garden Club members gather to begin the annual spring ritual of pruning and weeding the Cove Garden. Myra has brought her handy trailer to carry away the trimmings of any plant material that can add value to her compost collection at home.

The usual consultation as to who will tackle which chores means there’s always a friendly chat before the work begins.

The morning’s work is mainly edging and weeding the rose beds that line the rock-wall border, but there is always a need to tidy up additional rose bushes and shrubs that add to the attraction of this waterfront park.
Meanwhile, at the Parade Square, the other village green-space that is maintained by the Garden Club, another team of volunteers has started a round of weeding and pruning the garden that provides a lovely setting for the cenotaph with its kilted soldier silhouetted against the sky. After debate as to the extent of pruning required, roses here are cut back to about 18 inches (about 45 centimetres in modern usage, but this group tends to fall back on the old imperial system) and red-twigged dogwoods are subjected to the same fate.

Many of the healthy stems of dogwood that have been cut back will be bundled up and taken away to be rooted in members’ gardens.

Old flower stalks, dead leaves and other winter debris are gathered up and dumped in Myra’s trailer. Sylvia’s new “shovel-shaped mitts” are useful for scooping up some of the detritus collected by the team.

Some of the trimmed stalks are stashed temporarily in the shelter of a park bench to prevent the wind from blowing them away.

And after about two hours of healthy exercise and the satisfaction of a job well done, the volunteers put away their tools and they all head to president Heather’s home for a hearty soup and sandwich lunch. In addition to lively conversation about the news of the day, there is vigorous discussion of plans for ongoing maintenance of the two gardens. The blog will track the growth of the plants as the season progresses.