Category: Trees

“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 ”

Apples Anyone ?

Apples Anyone ?


We all enjoy apples for attributes like great flavour, crunch and versatility. Have you ever wondered where apples come from?

Dr. David Maxwell had members and guests full attention as he described his passion to help ensure heritage varieties continue to grow and produce.


He guided us along explaining the botany and history, as well as the factors determining the ascendance and eclipse of particular cultivars using visual examples of treasured varieties, many that he grows.

Apples originated in Kazakhstan where they grow as small as grapes and as large as pumpkins. They need to be humanly grafted on suitable root stock to reproduce. There are more than 12000 named cultivars that have been selected for climate, purpose, season, keeping, disease resistance, resistance to shipping, taste and modern marketing. For example a recent cultivar, the Honey Crisps, were created by market demand for large size, sweetness, colourful appearance and, of course, crispness. We all have our personal preferences for eating and cooking and some were surprised to learn that Bramleys are the premier cooking apple of the world.

Click on any picturefor a slide show

After his informative presentation on the attributes of apples, Dr. Maxwell treated members to a variety of tastes of apples, apple crisp, apple sauce, apple jelly and apple cider. Members enthusiastically took up the challenge to discover which apple tastes they preferred, choosing from over 15 varieties.

Apple anyone?

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.



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.



Fall Foliage, Pretty in Pumpkin, and a Sumac Surprise

Fall Foliage, Pretty in Pumpkin, and a Sumac Surprise

Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend has arrived a little earlier than usual this year so the autumn colours in our area are still rather muted.  Much of the landscape is still very green but the leaves of  some hardwoods like birch have begun to turn into soft shades of lemon and apricot, which are beautifully set off against dark green evergreens.   Splashes of stronger colour, like the sharp crimsons of the maple trees, add to the intricate tapestry  of the  scene.    

Some smaller shrubs, like the Sumac on the left,  which are on the verge of making the change from  summer green to autumn red, provide a nice kaleidoscope of colour to a corner of a Chester garden.

oak leaves in autumn
Crimson maple leaves against a clear blue sky
autumn leaves
A virtual tapestry of soft colours
yellow birch leaves
White birch and golden leaves


Marmalade colours on a maple tree

Last week, a hike on a wooded trail in a local provincial park provided only slightly more fall colour when we came upon view of a cranberry bog in a secluded cove at one end of a large lake. 

Wild cranberries thrive in a bog at the end of Card Lake

Although the cranberries were a little out of reach for all but the deer, with the help of our experienced guide, we were able to sample other natural forest delicacies. One bit of vegetation we left untouched was the curious “mushroom” in the next photo. 

Unidentified fungus

A photo combining foliage and pumpkins as per the heading on this post…

pumpkins on display

… as  a nod to the seasonal “Harvest Home” …

fall flowers and pumpkins…is an acknowledgement of a Thanksgiving theme. The next photos show a different sort of development in the garden world – a Sumac surprise!  

Sumac aphid galls
Having found several fleshy gourd-like growths hanging from under the leaves of a Sumac bush in a Chester garden, and having never seen such a growth there before, the owner of the garden was curious as to what was happening. First, taking a scientific approach, she dissected one growth, revealing hundreds of tiny winged “flies”.

Sumac gall disected revealing aphids

Next, she consulted with another gardener. When neither could find a satisfactory explanation, an e-mail went out to the Museum of Natural History in Halifax,  and within a few days the gardeners had the answer to their question.

Aphids emerging from gall on sumac

A zoologist at the museum identified the growths as Sumac Leaf Aphid Galls, and assured the gardeners that these insects would do no lasting damage to the plants.  For more information, the staffer also referred the gardeners to a website maintained by the State of Maine’s Department of Conservation. If you are interested, go to:

And we’ll close this post with a photo taken on October 6, showing that Chester, Nova Scotia, is still green and enjoying a mild climate despite it’s being Thanksgiving weekend.

The final word is a reminder that the next meeting of Chester Garden Club will be held on Monday, October 15, at St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre.  The guest speaker will be Rosmarie Lohnes, well-known horticulturist and owner of Helping Nature Heal, and her topic will be Preparing your Garden for Winter.

Garden Club meetings can be fun!