Month: December 2011

Happy Holidays to All Gardeners

Happy Holidays to All Gardeners

Maybe it was the lusty carolling heard at the village “Sing Choirs!” event this week because, just in time for a white Christmas, Chester has received a thick carpet of snow.  Despite forecasts of a green Christmas (not surprising since the temperature has been well above freezing most of December) today’s quiet snowfall has changed the landscape and the only people who may be dismayed are harried travelers and last-minute shoppers. 

An arch of snow-capped branches frames a car
A skim of ice covers the waters of a Chester area cove
The village bandstand at the edge of the Front Harbour


In this, the last posting for 2011, the Chester Garden Club wishes gardeners everywhere a happy and successful year of planning and planting, weeding and watering, pruning and puttering in 2012;  and, most of all, a new start to peace and understanding among all peoples.

Gingerbread Houses

Gingerbread Houses

The Gingerbread House competition in Chester drew a record 18 entries this year, with stiff competition coming from young and old alike. Organized by the the Chester Merchants Association, in collaboration with the Municipality,  the competition produced an amazing collection of edible masterpieces. 

Child's entry - Christmas in Egypt

To enter the contest, contestants had to ensure that every item in the construction was made of an edible substance. Creative minds incorporated everything from jellied candies to pretzel sticks along with the standard sugar confections. 

A sweet-tooth bakery
A seasonal scene with a creche by a church
This elaborate house is titled "Chez Gigi, partie deux"

The above photos are just a sampling of the many charming creations that contributed to this enjoyable fund-raiser instituted to help provide young people in the community with the opportunity to particpate in local sports and arts programs. A few of the contestants are also gardeners and have perhaps honed their talents by competing in the Chester Garden Club’s annual Flower Show.

A surprising December bloom

A surprising December bloom

In a follow-up to yesterday’s December 15th Bloom Day post, we’re pleased to share these photos sent in by club member Myra today.

Anemone coronaria blooming in the Chester area

The photos were taken in her garden, in a light rain this morning, and provide yet more evidence of the effects of climate change on plants in our area. Despite several hard frosts to date in our region, the microclimates in some garden properties can prolong blooming of certain hardy plants into December.

Bloom Day North – December

Bloom Day North – December

Most of the blooms and greenery seen in the Chester area at this time of year are boughs of evergreens or holly, but there is one shrub that is perverse enough to put forth its floral contribution only in the late fall. The pale yellow spidery petals of these flowers add an ethereal  effect to our gardens in December.

Hamamelis virginiana

I must offer a a small confession:  although these same blossoms are still present on these branches today – Bloom Day, the 15th of the month – the photos were actually taken a few days ago. Whether known by its Latin name (Hamamelis) or its more common moniker (witch hazel),  the shrub adds a feathery touch to the bare bones of a December garden.

Witch hazel weaves a tangled web

In response to popular demand (well,  a few puzzled queries), I’m adding a few more photos of the gingerbread folk which have been showing up in many locations around the village in recent weeks.

Waiting for the parade


Gingerbread cookies' home base


Snuggled under a hand-made quilt

In the next post, we hope to have some photos of the many gingerbread houses that have been on display in various locations during the last week. The prize winners will be announced on Saturday afternoon, December 17, during the pre-Christmas family party at St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre.

Christmas Party

Christmas Party

Members of the Chester Garden Cub gathered recently at a member’s home to salute the festive season. The agenda included a pot-luck supper and appropriate libations.

A toast to the next gardening season
A splendid feast for a pot-luck supper
Shall we join in on the chorus?
Carols led by our hostess at the piano
Milder weather in the last two weeks has extended the gardening season a wee bit for those who were keen to add new perennials or shrubs to their gardens. Meetings of the club will resume in February.
Gingerbread Tradition in Full Swing

Gingerbread Tradition in Full Swing

Shops  and other commercial enterprises around the village have added a whimsical component to the streetscapes in recent weeks.  A fairly recent tradition, the Gingerbread Festival was started by the Chester Merchants Association as a fun way to raise funds to ensure recreation opportunities are available for children and young people who would not ordinarily be able to afford the cost of participation. The “PRO Kids” Program is administered by the Chester Municipal Recreation and Parks Department. A number of members of the Garden Club are involved with this project.

In addition to the collection of gingerbread boys and girls seen by the doorways and by-ways, members of the business community vie for the honour of producing the most beautiful or fanciful gingerbread house. The model houses are on display at many businesses during the next week and members of the public get to vote for their favourite.  A silent auction also offers the public a chance to bid on their favourite house. The winners will be announced at a community Christmas party to be held on December 17 at St Stephen’s Parish Community Centre, where the final stage of the silent auction will determine the highest bidders.  All the proceeds from the auction will go to Pro Kids.  A  small sample of the many many gingerbread figures are included here to give viewers a taste of community spirit.

Figures on the balcony of the Playhouse wear comedy and tragedy masks.
The GingerSnaps play carols, Dixie style, above the tavern.


To close this post we include a night shot of the village bandstand that we had featured in the previous post. The Christmas lights on the green garlands help to lighten the darkest of winter nights.