Month: April 2013

Celebrating Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day

Earth Day was first launched in the United States in 1970 as an environmental awareness event, and is now celebrated world-wide. By a happy coincidence, this year Earth Day fell on April 22nd, the day designated by Chester Garden Club for a spring clean-up of the two public gardens in our village. Answering the call for volunteers, about two dozen members showed up and contributed  their gardening skills in service to the environment in this one small corner of the globe.

The following gallery reflects the morning’s activities, which included spreading mulch, pruning and weeding at the beds in the Cove Garden and Parade Square, as well as socializing at a luncheon that followed, where all hands were offered delicious home-made squash soup and other treats. The photos were taken by Jocelyn and Joan. Unfortunately, Joan wasn’t able to maintain the chronological sequence of shots when creating the gallery  so, enjoy the images as a media melange.

Earth Day Canada is a national environmental charity founded in 1990, with the aim of fostering and celebrating environmental respect, action and behaviour change that lessens our impact on the earth.  Members of the Chester Garden Club joined over 1 billion people in over 170 countries by staging their clean-up on April 22nd.  Not all the club’s volunteers could be rounded up for the photo below but their work was much appreciated.


Lichens Get Top Billing

Lichens Get Top Billing

Chester Garden Club members were treated to a fascinating glimpse into one of nature’s less-heralded wonders during Frances Anderson’s recent presentation entitled “The Mystery of Lichens”, illustrated with her many detailed images of Nova Scotia lichens.

Cladonia cristatella lichens
Cladonia cristatella

The image above is a much magnified image of a tiny lichen. Known in the vernacular as British Soldiers, it is common in Nova Scotia.  As a lichenologist and Research Associate at the Nova Scotia Museum,  Frances has studied hundreds of the more than 1000 lichen species in our province.

Frances Anderson, lichenologist
Frances Anderson, lichenologist
Hypogymnia physodes, otherwise known as Hooded tube lichen

Lichens are found in every part of the globe, including deserts and Antarctica. Researchers have estimated the global population of lichens to be in the range of 13,500 to 17,000 species.

Lobaria-pulmonaria, commonly known as lungwort lichen

To the lay person, perhaps the most mysterious aspect of lichens is the fact that although they are part of the fungi order, they are products of a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Frances discussed the various structures in which the fungi provide external features that shelter the algae inside the external layer. Those relationships are species specific.

Cladonia chlorophaea
Cladonia chlorophaea, also known as Pixie cups, established in the cavity of a decaying tree.

Lichens are found on trees, rocks, soil, and rotting wood.  Frances was particularly clear in explaining that lichens do not feed on their hosts but take their nourishment solely from sunlight and moisture. They reproduce either by releasing spores that travel out looking for algae, or by the accidental breaking off of a spur that contains the necessary elements to start a new growth.

Lichen Xanthoria
Golden-hued Xanthoria parietina, sometimes called Sunburst lichen,  adds a splash of colour to an old stone gate-post in Chester.

One of the most common lichens in the Chester area is the grey-green wispy collection of strands known as Old Man’s Beard.

Lichen Usnea trichodea

Lichens grow very slowly, some as little as 2 mm per year. They need moisture to thrive and, when conditions are too dry, they simply stop feeding. Their appearance doesn’t vary through all the seasons of the year.

Parmelia sulcata
Parmelia sulcata, commonly known as Hammered shield lichen

Frances noted that, despite being overlooked by many people, lichens have many uses. They shelter tiny insects at the bottom of the food chain. They also provide nesting material for many birds and for Northen flying squirrels.  Some species even act as pollution monitors.

4 More lichens

Lichens also contribute to the biomass of the forest by slowly building soil when dust blows over them and collects on their surfaces.  Seeds then lodge in the mass and, gradually as the soil builds, plants grow up on the site.

Parmelia squarrosa
Parmelia squarrosa or Bottlebrush lichen, one of the most common lichens found in the Chester area.
Checking out lichen specimens.
Checking out lichen specimens.

To conclude her intriguing fact-filled presentation, Frances asked the lichenologist’s favourite question:   Are you lichen ’em yet?

[Photo credits: Cladonia cristatella, Lobaria pulmonaria, Evernia mesomorpha – R.T. McMullin;   Cladonia stellaris, Hypogymnia physodes, Melanelixa subaurifera, Parmelia squarrosa, Usnea trichodes – M.C. Pross]

Early Spring Blooms

Early Spring Blooms

An Arctic high, sweeping down over our region for the last Golden crocuses few weeks,  continues to affect our temperatures this Spring.  Despite the cold, a number of early bloomers are adding their bright colours to Chester gardens.  On the right, a mass of golden crocuses is nestled at the foot of a rose trellis as a harbinger of what’s to come.

purple crocuses

mauve crocuses

Whether open or closed , these beautiful mauve crocuses, crowded together, add a cheery note to an early spring garden.
Iris reticulata

Broadening the colour range, the next plants to appear in a sunny sheltered Chester garden are the Iris reticulata (on the right). The heavenly blue flowers are not very tall but immensely popular, especially when many neighbouring gardens are without any colour at all. Puschkinia

Another blue favourite in the spring season is the Puschkinia (left). It is sometimes known by its common name of  Striped Squill.

The Hyacinths on the right, make their first appearance as a tightly closed flower bud,  resembling the top of a choir boy’s head surrounded by a stiffly starched wing collar.

more yellow crocuses

All of the photos in this post were taken in Jane’s Chester garden, but for those whose gardens don’t produce the same results so early in the season, there is an alternative.  And, yes, this suggestion also comes from Jane.  Below is a photo of her indoor Spring garden.


Thanks to Sylvia for the photos in this post taken on April 2nd.