Category: Structural elements

Chester Gardens after the rain

Chester Gardens after the rain

The charms of Chester village include colourful gardens bordered by white picket fences and plentiful use of stones to create walls, walks and steps (stones and boulders being among our best crops!).  

roses by picket fence

Summer has its own share of flowering trees as seen in the photo below; a number of pink dogwood trees are in bloom this week.

pink dogwood

Despite a recent summer storm that brought torrential rain, hail and high winds, little damage was observed in local gardens apart from the loss of heavy blooms on roses, peonies and poppies.   The Asiatic lily “Elodie” (below) opened several days after the storm and received only a gentle shower.

Asiatic lily

Borders composed mainly of evergreens, and shrubs like the Japanese willow below, survived the storm with no damage.

Evergreens and Japanese willow
Even delphiuims, in sheltered spots and well-secured with stakes, managed to resist the onslaught, along with the astilbes, Asiatic lilies and others in this perennial border. 

A curved brick pathway creates a tidy edge to demarcate this floral border (with pink again as  the predominant colour). 

As a follow-up to our last post (June 29) showing the weed-strewn path in the village’s Parade Square garden, we are pleased to include a shot of phase one in its rehabilitation. This photo is taken from the same angle as the earlier post.

slate path

Slate stepping-stones are now in place and not a weed is to be seen in the path.  Pruning and weeding the rest of the garden is scheduled for another day.  For those wondering about the intriguing metal “sculpture”, it is an armillary sphere that was presented to the Garden Club years ago as a gift from two members who were summer visitors.  Its rings of concentric circles indicate the relative position of the celestial spheres.

armillary sphere

To round out this post, we are including a view of a section of Chester’s waterfront, as seen from the Parade Square looking west on one of the recent “cloudy with showers” days. 

  Chester waterfront

A Garden Tour

A Garden Tour

Stealthily peeking over a hedge into a stranger’s garden is sometimes a guilty pleasure for city gardeners. Here in our rural setting, where many residents know one another, we’re a little less formal and can drop by a friend’s garden for new ideas or advice almost any time. Occasionally, however, a club member has welcomed a whole group of visitors and the following photos were taken during one such tour in the Chester area. 

Spring, this year, has brought us an abundance of blooms on rhododendrons and azaleas in a wide range of colours. The gentler-than-usual weather has encouraged many perennials to bloom earlier than usual (and the weeds to grow faster) and these changes have taken a few Chester gardeners by surprise.

Broom, paeonies, and lupins

In the photo above, we see low-growing broom, used as a ground cover, and backed by peonies and lupins. These plants form a border that slopes up from the entranceway, where several members of the club stopped to chat with a neighbourly pet.

Covering about an acre, the extensive gardens appear to flow seamlessly from sector to sector. Many of the perennials in this garden are well established and, over the years, the landscape has been shaped into attractive focal points.  In the next photo, the large heads on the Alliums tower over a clump of Jacob’s ladder.

Alliums and Jacob's Ladder

Every garden needs a shed or shelter to use as a workplace for starting seeds and storing tools. This one is attractively decorated with fishing floats in a touch of “down-home”  whimsy.

garden shed

The property is situated on the edge of a woodland, with its many tall trees serving as a backdrop to the gardens.   

In addition to the perennials and shrubs that form the bones of the garden, the property owners, Diana and Bill, have carved out an extensive set of garden spaces over the years. Among the features are a series of vegetable beds and a pond.   
Diana gained much of her gardening knowledge from from her mother, who has received compliments for her own exquisite garden. Here, in a sort of optical illusion, Diana appears to be feeding the heron (which, being inanimate, is not hungry!). 

water garden

Among the several magnolias on the property (both white and yellow) only a few still retained their blooms at the time of our visit.  The close-up below on the left shows the handsome flower of an M. sieboldii with its strong simple lines; on the right, for comparison, is a different white bloom from a neighbouring garden, this one a Blanc double de Coubert with its ruffled layers of petals.  Both blooms are lovely and appealing in their own way. Vive la difference!






An arbour provides shade for a secluded bench near the border between the cultivated landscape and the natural forest.

woodland path

A stand of tall straight spruce forms a colonnade, as if in a cathedral, and the sunlight falling on the grassy path creates a chiaroscuro effect that beckons a visitor to enter the tranquil space.

A Garden Club Convention

A Garden Club Convention

A spring weekend in the beautiful Annapolis Valley drew over 260 registrants to this year’s annual convention of Nova Scotia garden clubs.  The Valley is noted for its distinctive red clay soil which supports a variety of agricultural enterprises, including fruit trees and soft fruits, as well as many types of vegetables. The vista below shows the view from a farmer’s field partway up the south mountain, looking across the tidal river flats toward Cape Blomidon.


The Bay of Fundy, which extends north beyond Blomidon’s headland is famous for its extreme tidal swings, which are some of the highest in the world. The particular soil and climate of the region have made it an increasingly popular location for wineries and a growing number of vineyards have sprung up in the last decade. 

It was therefore quite fitting for the convention organizers to include outings to vineyards as a pre-convention activity to introduce visitors to this local attraction. 

Visitors were attentive to the charming hostesses who described the processes of tending to the vines and producing the different types of wines. The sampling of various wines was also appreciated.

 Back at the convention centre, vendors were setting out their wares and organizers were arranging displays of  floral arrangements, photographs and other items that had been entered into competition among clubs. 

The opening ceremonies featured the local Town Crier and, after the usual words of welcome from several dignitaries, the delegates heard an illustrated talk on the intricacies of seed collecting and selling, which Kristl Walek has developed into an international business.  

The topics presented by eight speakers on Saturday ranged from the importance of preserving and nurturing native plants, to growing organically in a changing climate, to attracting birds in the garden, and overviews of new perennials and woody plants.  The development of a large rock garden at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College was one of the most interesting because of the vast scope of the project.  The following shots provide a hint as to the structural changes that occurred as the team re-made the landscape from placid lawn into dynamic rockery and walkways. 

Massive red granite boulders were trucked to the college and carefully placed in a pre-determined plan that was to completely transform the half-acre site .

Cut limestone was used to create a courtyard that serves as the entrance to the garden. Hardy cactuses are among the many dry-land plants that are now growing in the garden,  and students who are involved as part of their course work occasionally refer to the need for “experienced cactus weeders” to join them.

The project has been underway for about ten years and it is estimated that about 750 tons of rock have gone into the garden.  Although the garden is still a work in progress, the public is welcome to visit.   

 Entertainment, an awards banquet and another guest speaker closed off the convention day’s events for members of the 57 clubs that belong to the NSAGC. The following day, many of the registrants planned to visit yet more garden centres and wineries as they wended their way back home after a very pleasant few days spent with fellow gardeners.