Month: July 2013

Annual Flower Show and Tea – Part 2

Annual Flower Show and Tea – Part 2

table 3As a follow-up to part 1 (posted on July 28th) this post includes several galleries of photos that show the range of entries in this year’s Flower Show. Over 100 horticultural specimens were entered in the competition and about 125 exhibits were entered in the Design classes. The theme – “Hats Off” – provided scope for exhibitors to salute various institutions in and around the Chester area, including historic buildings, artistic centres and sporting venues. Trophy winners are shown in the third gallery below.

Most of the classes were open to members of the public as well as to garden club members but two classes that presented particular challenges were restricted to members only.  For one, a surprise package of five objects was handed out weeks in advance to adventurous members who were instructed to combine them in an oriental arrangement for the show. A second challenge was offered in Class 40 where members were asked to create a flower hat on a mannequin form. Imaginations took flight and produced the fashions seen in the next gallery.

Judges awarded ribbons for first, second and third place winners in both the horticultural and design classes but a number of trophies were also handed out on behalf of the club by Heather, CGC president.  Heading the winners’ list, with four trophies, was Myra Knight,  who picked up awards for Best Wildflower design, Best Specimen, Best in Show, and the President’s Award for the ‘Members Only’ design category.  Sisters Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon joined forces to earn an award for Best Use of Roses in an interpretive design (Ed: see the intricate work on the bride’s head-dress, in the second gallery), and they were also awarded the Club’s trophy as winners of the Popular Choice vote. Jane Wilkins again took home the Best Annual Sweet Peas award; Jocelyn Cameron received the Janet Piers Award for Best Arrangement with a Water Feature;  Sean Griffin was presented with the Novice Best in Show; and Gwyneth Benoy won an award for the Best Indoor Plant. In the children’s classes, Silas Hume won the McAlpine Trophy; Alison Noah won the Wilkins Cup and Isabelle Jabbour took the Beginner’s Trophy.

Following the presentation of trophies, Cynthia and Danielle proceeded with the draw for the raffle of the six special hooked rugs that had been on offer for several months. The winner was Pat Pringle.  Then, on behalf of the Flower Show and Tea  Committee and the Chester Garden Club Board,  MC Brenda thanked Cynthia whose skill in chairing the committee had been instrumental in its success. By  five o’clock, the visitors had departed and, as the exhibitors began to dismantle their masterpieces, some were already thinking ahead to next year’s show, which will take place during the Club’s 75th anniversary year.

Annual Flower Show and Tea – part 1

Annual Flower Show and Tea – part 1

DSCF7291Chester Garden Club recorded another successful flower show on July 25th, with over 200 floral designs or specimens entered in the competition, held at the Royal Canadian Legion hall in Chester, Nova Scotia.  The following gallery shows some of the activity observed during the early morning as exhibitors brought in their choice floral arrangements and specimens.  At 10:30 am, the room was closed to all except the judges and their clerks as the serious work of assigning winners in the many classes got underway.  Meanwhile, in the kitchen, other volunteers were busy organizing the hundreds of sandwiches and squares to be served at the afternoon’s tea. To enlarge any image in the gallery, simply click on it with your cursor.

The doors opened to the public at 1:30 PM and among the first visitors were two groups from special care facilities in the area. They were served tea before taking the opportunity to view the exhibits. The total attendance, including the special groups, was close to 200 people, 125 of whom opted for the tea ticket. Some of the visitors are shown below.

Following a rainy spring, an extraordinary heat wave and then more rainy skies, there was some concern about local flower gardens but this year’s show lived up to its tradition of attractive and innovative displays.  Arrangements in the design classes ranged from the miniature to the massive, and included a challenge in which participants were given five objects to use in creating an oriental arrangement.  A small sample of entries is seen in the photo gallery below, which concludes part 1.

The next post will feature more entries and the winners of the 13 trophies awarded at the show.

Flower Show Workshop

Flower Show Workshop

In anticipation of the approaching Flower Show, Chester Garden Club’s July meeting focused on techniques for preparing entries in the various classes.

joanne demo workshopJoanne began the workshop by discussing the factors that judges consider when awarding points for horticultural specimens (Division 1 in the Show).  In addition to the requirements that specimens be exhibited in clear glass containers, she gave tips regarding the inclusion (or not) of stems and foliage, and the status of stamens (fresh or beginning to age) in blooming specimens.  She also explained the one-third rule of thumb for a tall stem flower: one third each of tight buds, partially open buds, and fully open blooms.

hat formsDiscussion about changes in the regulations governing the judging along with such tips as the importance of conditioning leaves and flowers in advance were part of the general workshop experience.  A number of mannequin “heads” were available for those who planned to enter the Hats Off creative headgear class.

sidney wearing floral hatSidney provided a number of tips concerning preparation of floral elements as she illustrated the techniques she used in creating two sample “hats”, the sort of arrangement that would be entered in class 40 of this year’s show: a flower hat on a mannequin form.

jane illustrating teacup arrangemenetsJane demonstrated the art of creating arrangements in a teacup (class 35 in this year’s show). Instead of the standard florist’s hard-foam Oasis ™ , she used cedar twigs and heather to anchor the tiny flower stems in the delicate china cup. As she worked on the arrangements,  she pointed out various points to be considered when conditioning and creating these tiny displays. She also advised exhibitors to bring along a small pair of sharp scissors to the show for final trimming if necessary before handing over the entry.

To conclude the workshop, Sidney created a beautiful little bouquet  (an example for class 38) from a selection of wildflowers that she wound together as a posie tied off with raffia streamers.  The enthusiastic reaction of Club members to the workshop should translate to a large number of entries in the show, which takes place on July 25th.  More information is available by clicking on the menu item at the top of this blog.

Kids Take to Floral Crafts

Kids Take to Floral Crafts

Budding florists (please pardon a little gardening humour) had a fun morning this week when they took part in a children’s workshop where they learned how to create floral arrangements. The workshop was designed to stimulate participation by youth in the Chester Garden Club’s annual Flower Show, scheduled for July 25th this year. A team of volunteers helped the children learn the basics of creating floral arrangements and even making a few floral hats, all under the appropriate slogan “Express Yourself”. The following photo gallery shows some of the concentration required to create the arrangements and the pleasure the children experienced during the workshop. To enlarge an image, simply  place your cursor on it and click.

A small sample of the completed arrangements is also included, to whet the appetite of those who would like to enter the competition in the children’s classes.  For details concerning any of the classes – design and horticultural – please click on the “Flower Show and Tea” heading in the menu at the top of this blog and then open the Schedule. We hope to see  lots of you at the Show on the 25th.

Advance Planning for the Flower Show

Advance Planning for the Flower Show

Gardeners in the Chester area are anxiously scouting their gardens as the countdown for the annual Flower Show and Tea approaches. The schedule for competing entries has been published for  months (click on the Flower Show heading above) but some things cannot be rushed.  Mother Nature has the last word as to which plants will be at their best as the date draws near.

A rambling rose swarms over a fence it shares with a rosa rugosa.
A rambling rose swarms over a fence it shares with a rosa rugosa.

The extreme range of temperatures and weather this year has made it difficult to predict which plants will be in bloom on the date of the Flower Show, the 25th of July. Following a long spell of cool rainy days, last week we experienced three days of very high temperatures with high humidity, which was hard on the gardeners let alone their plants.

The early day lilies are suddenly blooming.
The early day lilies are suddenly blooming.

The rapid growth of shrubbery, vines and ferns on the berm in the photo below is an indication of the effect of this year’s heavy rainfall.

Pink Spirea in full bloom
Pink Spirea in full bloom
This rose appears to climb above its own support post.
This climbing rose appears to shoot up above its own support post.
A  portrait of a delicate New Dawn rose
A portrait of a delicate New Dawn rose

Chester’s climate is kind to many varieties of roses. It is the maurauding deer who wreak havoc on our gardens.  As nocturnal visitors, the deer dine on such delicacies as the developing flower buds of roses, phlox, hydrangeas, and even the occasional iris. Many a local gardener has been dismayed to discover, after weeks of anticipation, that the growing tips of a particularly prized specimen have been devoured overnight by deer.

Goat’s beards’ feathery plumes wave above strong green stalks.
Clematis Piilu, puts up a brave showing in its first summer.
Clematis “Piilu”, puts up a brave showing in its first summer.

As is the custom in many locales, Chester gardeners welcome the return of hummingbirds and so, in addition to special feeders, we plant honeysuckles to attract the tiny spirited creatures.


Astilbes are popular perennials in our area.

To help members prepare for the Flower Show,  the Club’s July 15th meeting will focus on tips and advice for creating successful entries in both the horticultural and design classes –  Learn the Basics!

Climbing hydrangea
Climbing hydrangea
Astilbes come in many shades of pink.

Members of the Flower Show Committee  have also  scheduled a two-hour children’s workshop  to encourage participation among the youth in the area. The organizers are delighted that 18 children have signed up for the workshop, which will focus on creating fanciful floral displays in accordance with this year’s theme “Hats Off”. The particular themes for the children’s classes are: “A Hat for a Cat” for children under the age of eight, and “Hockey Night in Canada”  for youth between ages eight and sixteen.

Water lilies add a touch of colour to the dark  surface of a pond.
Water lilies add a touch of colour to the dark surface of a pond on a rainy day.
A Bouquet for Canada Day

A Bouquet for Canada Day

A particularly rainy spring, followed by a brief heat wave that was followed more rain, has produced wonderful growth in Chester gardens.  Thus it seems appropriate that we celebrate Canada Day with a selection of flowers now in bloom in our area: our Canada Day bouquet.

paeony - herb
An old-fashioned peony that bears a lovely fragrance when brought into the house.

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Many local gardens feature Irises, and both the Siberian and bearded varieties are showing their colours. DSCF6964

Perennial poppies, too, have been making a show. The orange one below is a  Spanish (Rock) variety. DSC_8521 - edit

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A band of tall straight perennial poppies contrast with the twisting branches of a hamamelis contorta

DSCF6972DSC_8555 - edit Early varieties of day lilies are beginning to open, and old favourites like foxgloves and spiderwort are making their appearance but the rosa rugosas and peonies are looking quite bedraggled because of the rain.

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Tradescantia “Sweet Kate” (spiderwort)
Foxgloves claim their corner amid a few other strays in a neglected garden bed



Flowering shrubs are part of the picture. The arching branches of a Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) laden with blooms, at right, contrast with the light feathery foliage of a dappled  willow (Salix integra, Japanese) below.

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And finally, at the bottom, two Weigelas, both a little the worse for wear due to heavy rainstorms. These photos present a small sample of current garden blooms. Honeysuckle, lupins, dogwoods, Explorer roses, pink spirea, and others now also in bloom may fit in a future post.


Whatever the weather in your area, we hope fellow Canadians will enjoy celebrating Canada Day on July 1st, preferably near a garden!

And a shout-out to our neighbours, the Americans, whose national holiday falls on July 4th.

Thanks to Herb for many of the above photos.