The Club’s June meeting focused on orchids, which are grown strictly as “house plants” in our area…
… but, when club member Sharon was in Taipei, Taiwan, recently, she attended a show featuring hundreds of the exotic plants, which grow as part of the normal ecosystem in many warmer parts of the globe. She sent us a few shots showing the profusion of blooms on display at a garden centre. Something to aspire to for next winter!
Continuing with more photos from Chester gardens on a rainy day, here is a close-up of an Azalea “Chelsea Reach”, which has a captivating perfume, even on a damp day.
The gardener whose rhodos are shown in the photo above apologized for not remembering the name of this particularly fragrant variety, and noted that they were bought years ago from the late Captain Dick Steele, who was known in Canada as the Rhododendron King.
The unidentified azaleas above and below were purchased through the Garden Club and from other local groups as part of fund-raising programs years ago.
In our part of the country we may be setting a record for the amount of rainfall this spring but, on the up-side, things have seldom grown so fast. The plants are taller and the greenery is greener, and we can still find spots of colour under cloudy skies.
These plants are a sample of the many varieties now in bloom in Chester gardens despite the unusual weather patterns we’re experiencing this spring. Anyone looking for more exotic garden species, might do well to attend the next meeting of Chester Garden Club, on June 17th, when the guest speaker will be giving a presentation on Orchids. For details, check out the poster on the Current Activities page of the blog.
Now that our very short spring has suddenly turned into summer, shrubs and perennials in the Chester area are growing at warp speed. Early bloomers like apple trees, azaleas and rhododendrons have put forth a dazzling display of blossoms in the last ten days. The emergence of so many blossoms has been a boon for the many pollinators who are responsible for the health of our fruit trees and other crops.
As a garden club, we tend to focus on the beautiful blooms of our flower gardens, but the pollinators that are necessary for our flower beds are important for food crops as well. Unfortunately, reports of recent studies have indicated that many pollinators, like the rusty-patched bumblebee (which is now on the endangered list in Canada) are threatened. A report from the Todd Farrell, a biologist with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, indicates that many insect species are in danger of disappearing.
This spring, Farrell attended the 2013 Canadian Pollinator Conservation Conference in Toronto to better inform himself on the current trends, latest science and stewardship strategies for the conservation of pollinator species. In the NCC’s online newsletter Farrell writes, “The overall message was that things are not trending well for bees … Many species that were once common are now declining or disappearing.”
Scientists are now racing to catch up with the bees — new species are being discovered all the time, while others remain a mystery in terms of their biology or main food source. Currently, about 800 bee species have been identified in Canada. Researchers are working to improve guides for identifying insects (much like bird and plant guides) to help naturalists and even the general public and enthusiasts to identify the bees.
As more information is gathered, NCC can integrate actions into its property management plans to ensure that habitat is maintained or restored for pollinator species. And as more information is available about how to identify species, citizen scientists can also play a role in gathering information that will help inform NCC’s conservation work.
“We will need to be aware of species that may be present,” notes Farrell. “Knowing their preferred habitat and plant food will help us protect and enhance the right areas.”
As a small but vital step in encouraging youth to take an interest in growing plants and learning more about the ecological balance of our environment, the Chester Garden Club is offering a workshop on July 11th, for children and beginners, to learn about flowers and how to arrange them for competition. To date, 18 children have signed up for the half-day course.