Category: Seasons

Putting Our Gardens to Bed

Putting Our Gardens to Bed

This is a beautiful time of year – leaves falling to the ground in colors of orange, red and yellow. Birds and other little critters running around doing their last minute preparations for winter, our greenhouse doors are closed and life begins to slow down just a little.

 

 

Herb Fraser, long time member and experienced gardener in many parts of the world reminded us that each zone and each garden is individually different and requires a plan. When we get our Zone 6a Chester Gardens gardens ready for winter they are prepared for an even more productive spring.

 

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Herb suggested this is a good time to take advantage of sales at local nurseries. The root bound plants can be teased and trimmed, possibly divided, watered well and planted for next seasons show.

We were reminded not to fertilize after mid August or cut back perennials too early as even though plants may appear dormant as fluctuating temperatures may stimulate the below surface activity and plants will produce new growth which will not be winter hardy. It is possible to divide and transplant perennials before the first heavy frost remembering they usually require about 4 to 6 weeks to settle in.

Following a couple of hard frosts, usually late October, early November in the Chester area, ensure that plants are well watered, especially evergreens which provide not only backdrop for our summer show but seasonal distinction and wind protection for our properties.

Thinking about our own gardens, Herb encouraged us to concentrate on clearing debris, checking for pests, damage and disease. It is a good time to weed, pull annuals, to compost any plants without disease, to save seeds such as Marigold, Zinnia, Sweet Peas, Morning Glory, Scarlet runner and to cut back to three or four inches perennials such as Siberian and Bearded Iris, Sweet Peas, Crocosmia, Bee balm. If you don’t cut your plants right to the ground, their stalks will hold new spring growth straighter.

Some gardeners choose plants to add visual interest to their gardens in winter and so leave some standing. Plants, including perennial grasses,ferns and sedems have a neat look, and the seeds of Joe Pye, echinacea and rudbeckia will attract and feed birds all winter.

We were reminded not to cut hardy geraniums or Hellebore.

Plant bulbs like daffodils and garlic now according to directions. The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant two to three times as deep as the bulb is tall.

One thing to always keep in mind is to remember it is all about soil. After the first hard frost, make big efforts to increase soil fertility by providing a fresh layer of mulch. Feeding and amending your soil with organic matter through the use of mulch, compost and other available materials (shredded leaves or seaweed, which is full of micronutrients that enrich the soil and feed the plants. And it’s free!) to increase the availability of the minerals in the soil and create more spaces for air and water will benefit next season’s production & show. Don’t put all those leaves in bags. Instead, run the lawn mower over them and use them as mulch or in your compost and the worms will help them enrich the soil. Also, now is the time to spread lime on lawns and gardens.

What about garden ponds/pools? Herb asked Joan C. to help members understand the winter care needed for garden pools. Joan reminded us that Goldfish and Koi are very hardy and can handle winter water temperatures which means they can survive in the pond during the winter as long as the pond is three feet or more deep, it doesn’t freeze solid and they have adequate water quality and oxygen.

Herb advised us to clean and service our gardening tools so they are in good condition for storage and to begin using next season, especially if we run out of time or the weather becomes challenging.

As a final note, we were encouraged to remember winter brings opportunities to enjoy warmth in front of our wood stoves or fireplaces planning for next gardening season.

Following the presentation and before the regular meeting there was time to view the artistic fall displays, for conversation and a snack.

 

 

Stop, Look, Listen …

Stop, Look, Listen …

Stop, Look, Listen … touch, smell, feel

4 April a visit IMG_3126The world outside our doors are filled with things that buzz, squawk, flutter, scurry, build, burrow, chase and soar. The viewing is fun, free, available 24/7, and there’s always something new!

Many gardeners have been listening to the wild voices, watching their wild neighbours while they work, eat and play – birds gathering nesting material, feeding on berries, seed heads or insects, or enjoying a splash in a birdbath; butterflies and bees sipping nectar from flowers.

Touch a picture for a slide show.

What a thrill! We also have opportunities to feel nature first hand – to smell a flower, to capture silky milkweed seeds on the wind or a “whirlybird” maple seed twirling to the ground below and gather a few pine cones, oak nuts or leaves around us.

 

Some of our members have taken time to relax a little and get closer to nature in their gardens. They just stopped, occasionally, during the summer and early fall, sat quietly and watched what was going on around them; the butterflies, moths, bees, birds and other creatures. Some even created habitat to provide shelter, safe cover and winter hibernation sites.

 

Getting in tune with the living and breathing creatures that are in our gardens is a lot like meditation, a brilliant way to start, incorporate into lunch break or end the day.

Pictures shared : Sheila KMcR, Sheila C S, Sylvia, Jocelyn, Pam D and Brenda … thanks all

Rhododendron Tour

Rhododendron Tour

We who garden all have a mountain of memories of Captain Richard (Dick) Steele. One of his most outstanding attributes was the impact he had on everyone he met.

Captain Steele believed that beautiful plants and gardens made people more virtuous and the world a more peaceful place. To many, he was “Captain Rhododendron”, a tounge-in-cheek homage to a visionary who opened up new possibilities for ornamental horticulture in Atlantic Canada and beyond.

He spent research time in Newfoundland and Labrador with huge patience, looking for our Alpine jewels, taking cuttings and gathering seed. In later years, he continued his work and researching leaning first on one cane, then two.

Captain Richard Steele was a founding member of the Atlantic Chapter of the Rhododendron Society of Canada and supported the creation of the Atlantic Rhododendron & Horticultural Society.

Dick set up Bayport Plant Farm in 1973 where he focused on crossbreeding rhododendron species and hybrids to produce tough plants for the Atlantic climate. Dick was awarded the gold medal of the American Rhododendron Society and in 2004, he became a member of the Order of Canada.

Captain RIchard (Dick) Steele  passed away quietly on March 14, 2010.

Many of Captain Steele’s rhododendrons are admired in both public and private gardens throughout the Atlantic provinces and beyond. They are enjoyed by thousands of visitors throughout the year through and there is an extra surge of visitors when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

On June 7th, a group of Chester Garden Club members and friends gathered and Sandy’s for coffee and then met guides, Debbie and Kathleen Hall for the pre-arranged tour of the private Halifax, Hall’s Road Dick Steele Rhododendron Gardens.

Both from the comments of those who attended this was a truly delightful tour.

Season’s Greetings

Season’s Greetings

Following the annual meeting in November, with the holiday season nearly upon us, members and guests were treated to an evening of seasonal decoration instruction. Svenja Dee, presented a holiday feast for the senses using almost entirely native materials that she collects from field, forest, from her own and friends gardens and yes, even in highway ditches. Some members were thrilled to take one home and others were inspired to create.

A week or so later members gathered to decorate the Chester bandstand for the holidays.
This annual labour of seasonal community spirit was followed by a delicious hot lunch at the home of president Heather.

Athough the weather didn’t cooporate, the annual Christmas Pot Luck was enjoyed by those who were able to attend. Myra commented  ” Don’t know who made this feast for the eyes.  I didn’t need to taste it; I will enjoy it visually over and over.”

 

Wishes to all for treasured time with family and friends during this holiday season.

Conversation with a Gingerbread Gentleman

Conversation with a Gingerbread Gentleman

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Gingerbread Gentleman

If you travel Chester streets these days, you will probably notice the Gingerbread People.  These characters have seemingly come out of nowhere and now appear almost everywhere.  You can find them lurking about on private residence lawns as well as around commercial businesses.  Whatever is going on?  Lawns are supposed to be vacant this time of year, not leasing their space to these usurpers– no matter how sweet they are.

When interviewed, a Gingerbread Gentleman  claimed that these seasonal confections have been welcomed here for the past five years, causing enough of a stir to elicit what has become known as the Chester Gingerbread Festival.

Celebrations began Saturday, November 30th when the Gingerbread population inspired a tree lighting at the old Chester Train Station with visitors singing Christmas carols, enjoying hot chocolate, and even a visit from Santa himself.    And you wouldn’t believe the extraordinary accommodations these characters inspire.  Visitors can check them out at the Chester Art Centre until the end of the festival, December 15th . Be warned, however, that you may experience an urgent need for a trip to the local bakery to indulge the confectionery cravings they will likely evoke.  You’d have thought that Christmas would have been sweet enough without all this gingerbread furor.  “Nothing can top the Christmas message, of course,” the Gingerbread Gentleman said reassuringly.  “We only aim to make a modest contribution.”   Undoubtedly, though, their contribution keeps on expanding, despite the modest claim, as locals have been encouraged to increase their numbers.  With this writing, lawns and gardens have hereby been put on notice about this recurring invasion.  The Gingerbread Gentleman just smiled coyly at this impeding threat, and whispered what could be deemed by some candy aficionados as  sweet wisdom,   “What garden couldn’t use a little more spice?”

You will discover the Gingerbread population and their accoutrements making a genuine spectacle of themselves on Facebook at Chester Gingerbread Festival, NS, as well as on the website:  chesterartcentre.ca.  The Gingerbread Gentleman has invited his peers to check out these sites as well.  He says they will, no doubt, see someone they know and enjoy a visit over icing and candy.  They should be quick to go because everyone knows you can always trust the word of a gentleman.

Canadian Bandstand

Canadian Bandstand

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Chester Bandstand aptly adorned for Christmas

Perhaps American Bandstand has a Canadian counterpart–at least of sorts.  The Chester Bandstand features its own brand of music and even gets a top dressing to inaugurate the Christmas season.  This year the garnishing with evergreen boughs over the Chester icon’s railings happened November 30th.  Garden-club members weathered the sudden drop in temperatures to enjoy the morning out organized by the faithful MacKinnon/Urquart team who also provided recompense in the form of a savory lunch.  The following pictures testify to our collective achievement (with traditional merriment, of course!).