Winter: a time to surf for garden sites

Winter: a time to surf for garden sites

The winter doldrums can be frustrating for any keen gardener. Armed with brilliant new ideas for improving their gardens and anxious to be outside reworking the soil, they are stuck indoors, looking out at a frozen snowscape with no hope of any real garden activities for several months yet. The much-heralded nor’easter that blew into Chester in late January changed the landscape overnight. Until that date, we’d had little snow so, although the ground was frozen, it was also bare and there was little protection for plants except for any mulch laid down by an experienced gardener.

holly berries In Chester, the freeze and thaw cycle is particularly discouraging.  The mercury in the outdoor thermometer is getting a real workout; a constant routine  of falling down and then climbing way back up. To help get us through the winter, we’ve been checking the internet for  interesting gardening blogs and websites. This brief survey offers a few sites with a variety of approaches.

The Atlantic Rhododendron and Horticultural Society hosts a website for members and others:

Rhodo shrubThe ARHS supports and promotes the development and exchange of expertise and material relating to the practice of creating and maintaining year-round garden landscapes featuring rhododendrons and other suitable plants.

The site contains a monthly calendar listing various activities for members, including the deadlines for ordering special tissue culture, as well as dates of plant and seed sales open to the public. Other programs include garden tours, such as the one that will be led by Jenny Sandison in the spring. The site also contains valuable information on growing plants, and members are able to borrow books from the Society’s extensive library.

 Nova Scotia Dahlia Society   (

Alpen Fury
This dahlia “Alpen Fury” is among the photos on the NSDS website.

Formed in 1985 by a small group of gardeners with the objective of promoting the growing of dahlias in Nova Scotia,  the group holds regular meetings with informative programs, dahlia shows, tuber sales, newsletters, and promotional displays at various gardening events. The website contains information about the Society’s programs, tuber sales and shows, along with advice on growing dahlias and a gallery showing some of the many varieties of dahlias.


Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens

Billed as one of the Top 5 North American Gardens, this 17-acre horticultural paradise is well worth an actual visit, but the virtual tour that is offered on the website may help to pass time on a winter’s afternoon. In a beautiful setting overlooking a tidal river valley, these gardens showcase gardening methods, designs and materials representing more than four hundred years of local history.

Laburnum, Ann RoyalPhotos on the website illustrate many of the favourite areas including the rose garden, the laburnum walk and the water features. A touch of whimsy was introduced last year when a local artist created a large number of ceramic birds (native species) that were then hidden in the trees for childrHistoric Gardens, Annapolis Royalen (and others!) to seek out. Among the Fast Facts on the web site: “Cool as a Cucumber? It’s true…the inside of a cucumber on the vine measures as much as 20° cooler than the outside air on a warm day!


The Atlantic Master Gardeners Association

The Master Gardener Training Program at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) brings together gardeners who share a passion for horticulture of all kinds, and are dedicated to learning and growing their knowledge to share with their community. This site provides information on the cultivation of many favourite plants as well as events and links to other sites related to horticulture.

And now, for something completely different…

Mutterings in the Shrubbery – this blog offers an original approach to the gardening world from a horticultural expert who brings his own personal touch to each post. Check it out at:

Some recent posts include musings on his visits to botanic gardens in Singapore, Kew Gardens on a frosty day, and even a video in which Joanna Lumley (yes, the comedic actor) joins an architect and a renowned garden designer in a fascinating talk about the concept and development of London’s delightful Garden Bridge.

This stunning pedestrian bridge over theThames Garden Bridge River Thames, with its meandering paths through plants and woodlands, will link north and south London. The photo on the right, taken from the website of The Garden Bridge Trust, is an artist’s rendering of the proposed “floating garden”. More information is available by searching online.

At this point, in Chester, we’re half-way through winter and beginning to look forward to spring. Seed catalogues are enticing but perhaps this short survey will also be useful, and we hope that you will enjoy searching out lots more garden sites online.


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