Category: Crafts



Sylvia & Duncan

As I hung our wreaths this year, I wondered about family and friends also creating, bringing out family heirlooms or purchasing wreaths to decorate and hang both inside and out. Why this is so important to all at this time of year ? Is it a family tradition we continue? Is it connected to our spiritual beliefs ? Perhaps, for many, it is both.


The beautiful Christmas Wreaths in our community hold personal meaning for those who take special care to display them. Many are simply done of greenery like pine and fir, adorned with a bow. Others have individual artistic qualities, and are made of materials like grapevine, berries and simply or lavishly created and decorated.



Common to them all is the circular shape , an emblem not only of perfection and unity but also symbolizes connection, joy and love.


Whether lovingly handmade from natural materials, passed down or store-bought and cherished through the years, our wreaths communicate a sense of joy and a desire for family & community support and peace.




Sylvia,   Sheila,   Janye,   Jeanne,   Jane,   Myra,   Betty Lou,   Linda,  Dorothy,  Sandy,  &  Brenda

“We’ve Got Talent”

“We’ve Got Talent”

In light of the upcoming holiday season, which seems to be quickly approaching, Chester Garden Club members and guests were invited to put on their creative hats, give each other inspiration and encouragement and create a seasonal arrangement.


In preparation for Monday evening’s workshop, on a beautiful cool crisp morning with snow flurries in the air, woodland and garden treasures were gathered. Gorgeous greenery such as Fir, Pine, Hemlock, Cedar, Juniper, Euonymus, Boxwood and Holly predominated.


Members also gathered dried garden and roadside perennials and woody stems to share. Ribbons, baubles and glitter helped complete the works of art.


Focusing on enjoying each others company, having a great time choosing materials and of course learning, ( Next you’ll start “Greening it up”) we created together using a mixture of the seasons best greenery, woodland treasures and seasonal accents.


Best of all, we all got to take home our unique designs.

Have a look “ We’ve got talent ”



The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things, the more they tend to become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the sunshine, the rain, the flowers & garden produce, the trees, the animals & birds, even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.

Several garden club members and gardening friends have shared pictures and thoughts of garden gifts in the fall; a reminder to all to STOP, LOOK, LISTEN, SMELL, TOUCH, TASTE AND SHARE.

Jayne: “Love this time of year”


Jane Campbell 8th generation family farm image2

The 8th generation Campbell property today with a bounty of freshness.


Sheila: “AJ researched for the  Flower Show Victory Garden and her design later produced these wonderful Cucamelons and Peppers”


Carol:“Yum! My first cantaloupe ever and some squash.”



Myra and a neighbours 20180915_135142

Myra: “Red from my neighbour’s garden and yellow from my garden.” 


Brenda:”A collection for our favourite fall variety of dishes: cucumbers and cream, relish, jams, soups and others. 


Sheila Soestmeyer

Sheila: “I was inspired to forage for mushrooms at our September meeting. Pizza tonight”


 Shirley: “You can’t eat these but they are lovely” – Jane “Yummy Bundle” – Myra: “My Pickerel Frog”

Lets remember to give thanks

For food in a world where many walk in hunger

For faith in a world where many walk in fear

For friends in a world where many walk alone


Click on any picture for a slide show

Why not plant a garden craft this year?

Why not plant a garden craft this year?

Birdhouse or bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) are one of the thick-skinned gourds that are mainly grown for crafts or decoration.IMG_2014

One year at our Gardeners sale Sherry Chandler. sold both natural and beautifully decorated bottle necked gourds. Sherry tells me growing birdhouse gourds and then preparing them as a bird’s next prime realestate or a piece of decorative art is a garden project that anyone can do.


The birdhouse gourd is the white-flowering gourd species that produce the hard-shelled fruit mainly used for crafts. Birdhouse gourd seeds can be purchased from local nurseries or seed catalogues. Sherry purchased all her seeds from Northern Dipper, Barrie ON due to the many varieties to choose from. It’s preferable to get them into the ground as soon as the last frost date has passed since they can take anywhere from 125-140 days to mature. Because of this Sherry starts hers indoors in April. If they do not mature they will simply rot.

Birdhouse gourds can be grown on small “hills”. However, because they are a long-season crop, they may end up sitting on the ground for long periods and could become rotten on the side touching the ground. One way to avoid this problem is to use 3” or so of mulch around the vines and under the fruit and/or place a piece of wood under each gourd. Some gardeners grow them up trellis’s, fences or cages. A suggestion for doubling up on space is to plant another veggie like peas right up the trellis or fence with the gourds. The nice thing about peas is that they are a legume, so instead of stealing nitrogen from the growing gourds, they actually fix nitrogen into the soil.

When starting the seeds indoors, clip the top corners and soak the seeds in water overnight to give them a leg-up on germination. They need plenty light and warmth. Plant the seeds in their permanent spot as soon as the last frost date has passed. Plant 3 to 5 seeds per composted hill about 5” apart. When seedlings begin to take off, thin them to one seedling per hill.

IMG_1815If you want to train them up a trellis or fence, plant the seeds about 2 – 3 feet apart (intersperse pea seeds in between if you’d like). The larger gourds, due to their size and weight. need to stay on the ground. Birdhouse gourds like well- drained soil and some compost or  composted manure tossed in there once in a while. Sherry suggests protecting the seedlings from slugs, deer and rabbits.


You can start the seeds indoors in April (remember to clip edges and soak them first) before the last frost date, but plant them in peat pots so you can plant them directly into their permanent beds without disturbing their sensitive roots. Then go ahead and plant them outdoors after the last frost date.

Sherry hand pollinates her gourds to ensure a good crop. However, where pollinators abound this is not necessary.

At maturity the gourds will tolerate a light frost, so let them ripen on the vine as long as possible. The gourds will be ready to harvest when the stems turn brown, but as I said, if Jack Frost has brought more than two suitcases, he’s there to stay so go ahead and bring the gourds inside.

Handle the gourds carefully because they bruise easily at this stage. Wipe off any moisture and keep them in a cool and airy place to dry. It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take for them to fully dry, but suffice it to say; the smaller ones will be ready faster. If mould appears just scrape it gently off with a knife and then wipe with a soft cloth. If any of the gourds get soft or mushy- toss into the compost pile.

During the curing process, the gourds could go from pale ivories, rusts, beige’s or mottled grey colors: each one will be unique. Bottles that are fully dry or cured will be light weight (nothing like when you first harvested them). The seeds inside will rattle when you give the bottle a shake. Now they can be made into a birdhouse or decorated for a special person or occasion.

So, you plant your gourd seeds. They grow and flower. The flowers lure beneficial insects to your yard, helping to give you a great food harvest. The gourds grow and dry out and you then get your crafty hat on and create a masterpiece for a gift or a home for the birds. The next growing season, you have birds using the condos and acting as vegetable sentries as they eat thousands of bug pests in your garden. Once again, you harvest a bountiful food crop.

The plan is simple, but gardening always brings compelling evidence of how everything on earth is connected.

Thanks to Sherry C. for her help with this post. Pictures are Sherry’s and Brenda’s.


Basketry at its Best

Basketry at its Best

Garden club members were especially attentive to a slide show prepared by Heather Sanft who ably discussed the complexities of creating baskets at our September 14th club meeting. She had trained in England as well as France to learn how willows grow and how they are harvested. Did you know that France has a National Basketry School? It can take seven years to apprentice. Instructors are diligent and take much pride in the process.

Willow fences captured our attention as she showed how to place them diagonally in the soil and secure them with ties. Seeing the leaves grow out from the stocks as the cuttings took root showed the marvel of the whole process. When she moved on to making baskets, we discovered that willow comes in many colors—red, white, brown, green. To make a basket, you start with the foundation–the bottom–and after conquering that skill, you can complete the sides and handle.

From her home base at the Lunenburg County Winery in Newburne (, she now makes willow backpacks, drying racks and even historical reproductions of bark willow lobster traps. The movie industry has made good use of her talents as well. She certainly inspired us to consider new horizons of creativity.

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.

Artisans at Work

Artisans at Work

The club’s October meeting brought forth a number of members eager to try their hand at creating decorative garden stones under the tutelage of fellow member Sharon Boyd.

Sharon had set out buckets of pre-measured special sand/cement mix as well as the appropriate amount of water for use in mixing the cement, along with assorted bins of coloured glass, stones and broken crockery to use in creating a decorative pattern on the surface of the stone. 
Working in pairs, the members began stirring in the ingredients until the mixture was about the consistency of moist cookie dough. 
Some containers were larger than others but the amount of cement was carefully measured out in the same proportions for the second partner of each pair.

 Stirring the mixture required a fair amount of strength but many hands make light work!

 Once the mixture was ready, it was poured into the various moulds that members had brought.

Then it was on to decorating. The bone-shaped mould on the left holds a stone that is dedicated to a favourite dog. The one on the right used sea glass to pay homage to Nova Scotia’s ocean heritage.
Soon the rubber gloves were off and creative enthusiasm took over the group as they patted glass, beads and shells into place, and mopped up any excess moisture. 
The motifs and styles varied widely with many members opting for simple geometric or abstract patterns but one member who had planned ahead created a lovely floral scene, which seems most appropriate for a gardener.
Once the moulds were all filled and decorated, they were lined up to cure overnight, and the table bore a remarkable resemblance to a bake table at a local bazaar.  Participants left the meeting that evening feeling quite happy with what they had learned and, the next day, they returned to claim their masterpieces. Each decorative stone was easily removed from its mould and each has found a place in a local garden.