Are you Winter-Weary ?


In March the winter-weary world begins to awaken from its long rest. Now the remnants of winter are washed away by what is often to referred to as the “tides of March”.



In every pond, lake, river and stream, the water that was frozen a month ago begins to thaw and flow again. In our gardens frost rises to the surface and the earth ooses underfoot. In every tree and shrub, that vital fluid known as sap begins to rise, and as a result, buds begin to swell. We don’t see or hear sap rising but it’s there. In small plant growth or a towering tree, leaves, color and syrup are being produced.


It is a time of observation, preparation and anticipation as we look forward to another gardening season.

For our garden club, March is also a time to end our winter break and begin regular meetings. Watch for news under the categories: Current Activities, Annual Gardeners Sale, & Annual Flower Show and Tea. There will be many opportunities to learn, support and participate, enjoying varied garden club activities.



Posted in Annual Gardener's Sale, Community Service, Community tea party, Floral arrangements, Flower Show, Garden Clubs, Gardening, Spring

Spring Blossoms

Do you want to force a branch?

Coincidentally, late winter is the best time to prune deciduous trees and large shrubs. We usually head out into the yard with pruners in hand starting in late February or early March. We get a jump-start on our pruning along with an early gift of spring color inside our house. We prune our trees and shrubs for shape and to remove crossing branches and old or diseased wood. From the wood we have cut off the plant we can select branches for forcing that are less than 1/2 inch in diameter and cut them to the desired length.

Many ornamental trees and shrubs set their flower buds during the previous growing season. These buds will usually come out of dormancy after two to three weeks of being exposed to warmth and moisture.



Forsythia, pussy willow, quince, cherry, apple, peach, magnolia, are all good candidates.


Choose branches that have lots of buds and put them in water as you work. After bringing the branches inside, fill a sink with very warm water—as hot as you can stand it without scalding your hands. Very warm water is important because it contains the least amount of oxygen. If oxygen gets into the stems it can block water from being taken up, thus preventing hydration.


041083045-02_xlgHold the stems underwater and recut them at a severe angle an inch or two above the original cut. The stems will quickly absorb the water. Arrange the branches in your vase, which should be filled with warm water so the ends are submerged. Place in a cool room or if you want the process to go more quickly in a warmer room. At this time of year, it may take only a few days for pussy willow to bloom and look their best. Forsythia takes a few days more and the other varieties can take up to several weeks.






It is very satisfying to sit and observe the daily progress of buds as they swell and burst open bringing a bit of spring blossom inside.


Posted in Floral arrangements, Forsythia, Gardening, Seasons, Spring, Star magnolia | 3 Comments


The author of a blog post I follow lives in California and I enjoy reading his blogs, mainly about gardening, as he is a horticulturalist. Today he wrote about his “adventure” with Pepe, the skunk. Since we sometimes have unwanted encounters with both racoons and skunks and with his permission I have reposted.

Tony Tomeo

P80304Coons are not much of a problem in the garden; but they can be a problem around the home. They scatter trash, eat dog and cat food, and can be dangerous to dogs and cats. They get into places we do not want them, including basements, attics, and even our homes. Once inside, they can cause significant damage.

That is why they sometimes need to be trapped. No one wants to do it, but it is sometimes necessary.

One problem that we did not consider when putting out a trap for a coon who was getting into the trash was that we might not actually catch the offending coon. Actually, not catching the coon was not as much of a problem as who we caught instead.

Pepe got to the trap first.

Pepe was none too happy about it.

Neither were we.

You see, Pepe, who is difficult to see…

View original post 548 more words

Posted in Gardening | 1 Comment

It’s February and our gardens are alive !


Our garden plants are still dormant, waiting for spring. But there is life in and around our gardens right now.



Are Your Pruners as Sharp as mine ?
Do you ask yourself:

When do I prune my plants ?  How do I do it ?  What result am I hoping to achieve ?

A general rule of thumb is to prune out dying, diseased, damaged or dead as you see it. The other times, pruning is usually done for training, restricting, balancing or creating a pattern of growth, controlling flower and fruit quality & maintaining plant health and are season and plant dependant. The times chosen are late winter when things are dormant, spring as buds emerge & pruning following spring bloom. There are many books & on line sites/blogs that describe methods for pruning trees and shrubs. Also, closer to home, many garden clubs have members who have horticultural backgrounds or life long experience who are willing to give a little coaching.



Grasses, Perrienels and shrubs with seeds that have been left for the birds can be cut back just before new growth .



In the meantime, while waiting, enjoy the warmth in the February sunshine and have a look at the critters who are reminding us that we can learn a lot from the plants and critters in our gardens. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have wierd names and all are different in color, shape and size, but they all live in and contribute to the beauty in the same community.


Listen. You will hear the song sparrow soon.

Posted in Birds, Deer, Environmental issues, Gardening, Seasons, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Lets Garden with Children


Our Garden Club members are encouraged “to help grow gardeners”.

Children are natural gardeners, are curious, like to learn by doing, and love to play in the dirt. Gardening gives children a chance to learn an important life skill, one that is overlooked in standard school curriculum.

A child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life firsthand. It usually sparks children to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? These questions challenge adult mentors to think about their gardening practices, helping children learn gardening principles & environmental awareness by exploring the workings of nature. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.


Children may be more interested in tasting and trying the foods they grow which will train their taste buds to enjoy the bounty of their garden. The self-esteem a child gets from eating a perfect tomato that he grew himself is priceless.

What to plant

Although there are many crops suitable for the young gardener, here are some suggestions which are relatively easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are fun to harvest.



A must for a child’s garden. Plant just a few, since they take a lot of room. Sunflowers will sprout in 1 week, become a small seedling in 2 weeks, and should be 2′ tall in a month. In 8 weeks, the buds will flower revealing hundreds of seed kernels. Be sure to grow ‘confectionery’ sunflowers, the type grown for food. They will dry naturally in the late summer sun; the seeds, rich in protein and iron, can be roasted for snacks. Save a few for the birds and for next summers’ planting.


A quick and reliable crop to give the child fast results, and also a good way to interest kids in salads. Lettuce likes part shade; keep soil moist especially during the first two weeks. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days; growing season is 40-50 days. You can grow ‘head’ (space 8″ apart) or ‘leaf’ (space 4″ apart) varieties; the leaf varieties will mature sooner, about 30-35 days.


Quick results for the young gardener. Radishes germinate in 3-10 days, and have a very short growing season of 20-30 days. They can be planted closely, 4-6″ apart. Plant in cool weather for a mild radish, or hot weather for a hotter radish.

Snow peas

A quick-growing early crop, and fun for kids to eat right off the vine. They take about 10 days to germinate and mature in about 60 days. Peas prefer cooler, partially shaded locations in the garden; they should be sown closely, about 1″ apart at most. Snow peas are popular because the pod is edible and if they are a dwarf plant they can be grown without a trellis.

Cherry tomatoes

Gotta have ’em! These may be the most fun crop for a child. Plant in full sun and use seedlings rather than planting from seed. Put in a 2′ stake alongside each seedling; they need to be tied loosely to stakes as they get taller. Add lots of compost. Water at ground level, trying to keep leaves dry. Growing season is 50-75 days. Cherry tomatoes can also be grown in containers.


These flowers are easy to grow and yield results quickly, which encourages the young gardener. Nasturtiums bloom about 50 days after the seeds are planted, with orange, yellow and red flowers. They prefer sunny, dry locations and do well in poor soil. Choose the shorter varieties for garden beds. Nasturtiums are also pest resistant, which ensures a successful planting. The flowers are also edible, and can be used to add colour to a fresh garden salad.

Bush beans

Fast, easy, high yield and, because they do not grow tall, they are easy for kids to harvest. Bush beans germinate in 4-8 days, and mature in 40-65 days. It’s best to plant a small patch, then another in a few weeks. This will extend the harvest. When choosing seeds, select the “low bush” varieties because these will be easier for children to harvest. Plant closely spaced, about 4″ apart. Grow in direct sun; water the soil but try to keep the leaves dry. Bush beans don’t need poles or trellises to grow.


Scarlet Runner Beans

Fun, especially if they are grown on a T P support frame and the large colourful seeds need to be planted 2 to 3 inches apart to minimize overcrowding and should be planted in soil that is high in organic matter and in full sun. They will twine around the support and anything close by. The blossoms are especially attractive to pollinator bees and hummingbirds.


Seeds can be sown directly into soil; carrots prefer cooler temperatures. They can be slow to germinate, so be patient. Carrots will mature in about 60 days. The soil should be free of rocks and easy for the carrot to grow ‘down’. Keep well-watered and thin to every 3″ because crowding will produce foliage but no root. Small varieties are recommended for children, as they’re easier to grow and more fun to eat.


2017 Oct 9th 2017 IMGP6127



A ‘must’ for a child’s garden. Plant seeds in a small hill; poke three holes in the hill and put one seed in each hole. Seeds will sprout in about 1 week; after a few days, vine leaves begin to form and creep along the ground. Once there are 3 pumpkins on the vine, pick off any new blossoms. Pumpkins take 80 – 120 days to harvest: it’s ready when it feels hard on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped. Seeds can be dried to eat, or saved for for the birds, and the pumpkin for carving.



Tips for gardening with children

Give them their own garden beds. Whether you use raised beds, containers or ground plots, be sure to give each child his or her own separate plot. Keep it small, very small for young kids. Put their plots right in the middle of the action, with the best soil and light. Set them up for success.


Give them serious tools. Cheap plastic child’s gardening tools are worse than no tools at all; they break easily and frustrate the user. With some garden tools, like a hoe or spade, you can easily saw the handle shorter.


Engage them through the entire process, from seed to table. Children learn better when they understand the context of their activity. They will learn that gardening can be fun, but far more than idle play; they are contributing to the family well-being. Besides planting and nurturing their garden beds, be sure they alone do the harvesting and preparation of their crop for the table, no matter how modest the offering.


Cheat a little. Depending on the age of the child, you may need to help out a little ‘behind the scene’. Not every garden task is pleasant, and the child may not be ready at all times for all chores. You may need to go out in the evening to pick a few slugs off the lettuce, or be the one to run out and move the sprinkler. They don’t have to know about every little help you offer – the child’s ‘ownership’ of the plot is the main thing.

Show off their work. When giving ‘garden tours’ to friends, be sure to point out the children’s garden beds. Take photos of them in their gardens and of their harvest. Teach gathering  and arranging skills.


The attention given to their work is the best motivator for children to stay involved with a project.

So why encourage children to garden ? The rewards are:


An environmentally aware community member… A gardener for the future … A garden club member … and much more.

Posted in Children, Environmental issues, Gardening, Seasons | 2 Comments

I Need My Garden More Than My Garden Needs Me

Contributed By Jocelyn Cameron

Some people say that having a garden is too much work. After all, you need to plant it, weed it, water it, and prune it. Who has time for that?

Well, to be honest, I do. In fact, I need to make time for it because of the benefits. How else could I know that spring is here? The crocuses tell me, the forsythia announces it with the quince trees to back them up. Before long, I know its mid-July as the ditch daylilies raise their heads and other cultivars display their ravishing colors. Who would want to miss that? As the mint creeps through the beds, my taste buds come to life. Ever had an outdoor shower with climbing roses scenting the air? Then fall dares to rival the summer’s displays as tri-color leaves wave in the cooling breezes.

I would be remiss not to mention the exercise my garden provides all season. If I don’t manage to get all the weeds in the spring, they greet me almost under every plant all summer. I must dive in and remedy the situation, my arms and legs thanking me for the stretches required. (Well, sometimes they do complain!) Without this activity, I must confess I would miss much of the beauty that lies hidden among the bushes. Never would I notice that anemone standing tall all alone or catch a rosebud about to open. Of course, you don’t want to miss the daylily blooms—you’ve only got a day to do it before they close up their glory in deference to another.

Ah, summer. Now I can create floral designs using my carefully selected (unless they happened to be on sale and could still work for me) garden plants as inspiration. Will I pair my cool greens with white Shasta daisies or should I match yellow and green limelight with my common yellow daylilies? Don’t forget to add some ribbon or zebra grass to help define the shape. I can rely on moss or creeping oregano to cover up the bald spots. If featuring burgundy, euphorbia makes an excellent filler. You see, the possibilities are stunning. And feeling the plant material through my fingers adds pleasure hard to define. Serendipitously at the finish, I may discover a perfect shape, that offers a whimsical finale to the whole design. Even in cleaning up, I get to “re-enjoy” the process as I toss unused bits into the compost. Now that’s what I call an pleasurable afternoon. You can, no doubt, imagine the buzz that comes from repeating this process all day in preparation for a flower show. Exhausting, but exhilarating at the same time.

Then, after garden chores, its time to find an Adirondack chair with its wide-open, comforting arms.

DSC_1377 - editRemember to get a glass of cool lemonade first, though, so that it can cool your insides as much as a shady spot cools the outside—a perfect time to give thanks for both garden and good health. Yes, I need that. In fact, I planned for it—much of the winter. Winter gives me time to anticipate next spring’s resurrection. Even in those short, dark days,

I can still take delight in those seedy-headed grasses that escaped fall pruning as they bow down in deference to the inevitable nor’easters.

Yes, my garden can take up much of my time. As you read between the lines of this article, however, did you catch the psychological benefits it has provided? Consider these: peace (nothing like solitude under the pines to make this happen); calm (the rustling grass sure trumps the sound of a cell phone); decompression (with bare hands, get those lumps out of the soil); confidence (that seedling finally sprouted roots or I guess I really can grow orchids); provides opportunities to make friends and share experiences (join a garden club); rest (drop into a garden swing when finished weeding that stubborn patch), satisfaction (you got rid of that goutweed!); gratification from not overspending (check out those spring plant sales), hope for the future (next year I’ll plant something different in those containers); anticipation (will that freshly planted annual survive?); appreciation of beauty (hard to beat the Stargazer lily); growth in patience (next year don’t plant pansies in a hot location), perseverance (so what if the deer got those bulbs, plant daffodils next time), faithfulness (water those containers!) and finally, confidence (my garden is ready for the garden-tour crowd. OK, that may be pushing it a little, but you get my point).


By now, you can see that I really do need my garden. And, it has always responded amiably to my attention, so I plan to continue seeking out its companionship. For me, garden time surpasses screen time like fresh flowers surpass silks. Best of all, perhaps, gardens require no apps—at least for now.


Posted in Forsythia, Gardening, Hemerocallis | 2 Comments

Storms Bring Challenges & Blessings

Gardeners everywhere are sometimes challenged and other times blessed by what nature and the environment delivers.

The South shore of Nova Scotia experienced an intense storm on January 4th that left not only coastal damage but also what many refer to as “ Gardeners Gold”. As we were in “Storm watch Mode”,  I thought of all the seaweed that would be torn, tossed and piled on our shorelines.

In May 2017, Betsy and Bob from Bear Cove Resources explained the Storm-cast process and production of an excellent, odour free fertilizer/soil conditioner to use in our gardens and on our indoor plants.

The following are a few shots of the ocean and coastline the day following the storm. The piles of “Storm-Cast Seaweed Mix” along the coast was impressive as were the pounding seas that created the impressive views and results.

Gardens that receive a gift of seaweed compost will flourish this coming gardening season.

Click on picture for slide show:

Posted in Environmental issues, Gardening, Seasons, Seaweed, Weather | 7 Comments