Ready for the Flower Show

Flower shows are fun, worthwhile activities for everyone, providing opportunities to display and view examples of the many beautiful flowers and plants grown in our area and shown as specimens or in beautiful floral designs. Each year, Chester Garden Club Flower Show committee organizes the annual flower show, ensuring opportunities for all members to assist and including members and community of all ages. The Show Schedule provides all of the details needed to prepare and stage exhibits for entry, including Entry Classes, Show Rules, Show Tips, Definitions and a summary of Trophies and Awards. Judging is done by NSAGC Judges whose decisions are final.

The team has been working together for many months. The theme, schedule, tags, ribbons, venue, tables and staging plans, tea, sandwiches and sweets are some of the details that have been finalized.

On Monday, at our July 17th meeting we were treated to information and demonstrations to help with this year’s schedule. Thank you to Nancy, Sidney, Jane, Jocelyn and Myra.

 

We are looking forward to our flower show, “Celebrating Canada 150” on July 27th, 1:30 to 5 pm., a show that breaks gardening boundaries and blends tradition with unexpected innovative design.

Posted in Community tea party, Floral arrangements, Flower Show, Gardening | Leave a comment

Delightful June Meeting

image1June 19th was a special meeting at the Chester Garden Club. We were able to honour one of our long time dedicated members, Herb Fraser with “Outstanding Member of The Year”. He was very surprised but pleased with the award. Well deserved for all of the work he has done preparing and taking care of so many important gardens in the village.

 

Following the presentation, Nancy Guest wowed us with her display of window boxes and gardening for seniors. She had three displays. One window box for the shade, another for the full sun. Her selection of plants were delightful. They varied in texture and lots of colour. Her wooden ladder garden or porch display was a combination of flowering pots, ornamental bird houses and potted greens.

 

 

 

 

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Lunches are always a delight and usually incorporate a little arranging
each month. Thank you Myra for these additions to the table.

Thanks to Jocelyn and Jayne for the pictures and content for this post.







Posted in Floral arrangements, Gardening, Spring | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Flowering shrubs, Gardening, Horticulture, Rhododendron, Seasons | 2 Comments

“Cool” Gardener’s Sale

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The cool damp day and the need for down jackets, hats, and mittens for the May 27th gardeners sale didn’t dampen the energy of this Chester Garden Club annual event.

click on picture for slide show…

No matter what kind of gardening; armchair, indoor, herb, vegetable, annual or perennial, quality plant and accessory choices temped all those who attended.

Coffee and muffins were served, new entrepreneurs were welcomed, tools were sharpened, instructions were given, questions answered and ideas were planted for new adventures (bees anyone).

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Although this wasn’t an ideal day for the sale, there were many smiles, conversations shared and satisfied customers, thanks to all who participated and supported the event.

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Gardening Like Our Great Grandfathers

downloadFor generations, coastal dwellers have gathered seaweed off local beaches for use on their crops. Gardeners still gather “sea manure” or “goémon” – the seaweed mixed with shell and sand that has been torn loose by wave and storm action.

Bear Cove Resources, in East Berlin, Queens County has been collecting and marketing wrack seaweed products since 1994 and operates with 3 permits from the province of Nova Scotia to operate equipment along a designated stretch of shoreline along Liverpool Bay, to seasonally remove controlled amounts of wrack seaweeds and to operate a compost facility.

IMGP4902On the third Monday in May at our regular monthly meeting Betsy & Bob from “Bear Cove Resources” explained the Storm -cast process with the assistance of a visual presentation. IMGP4901 (2)Storm lookout, carefully gathering the wrack seaweed with respect for the principals of sustainability during the winter months, to turning piles, finishing the 100% fully composted sea wrack for outdoor garden uses and the sterilization for indoor plants were all explained. Storm-cast, which is a complex mix of brown & red algae and the small organisms which live on them supplies trace nutrients and contributes organic matter, and is teaming with beneficial micro organisms. It enhances the germination of seeds, increases the uptake of plant nutrients, imparts a degree of frost resistance and enables the plants to better withstand insect pests and some fungi.

It’s labour intensive, it’s smelly work. The results are an excellent, odour free fertilizer/conditioner to use when splitting perennials, planting bulbs, refreshing soils around berry plants, re-planting trees, and any general garden use.

Thankfully for us, Betsy & Bob from “Bear Cove Resources” handle all the work and the smell.

Posted in Environmental issues, Gardening, Seaweed | Leave a comment

Clean Up Brings Rewards

On April 24th, a dedicated group of Chester Garden Club Members worked to ensure summer rewards from the Parade Square Garden.

Following the morning efforts, lunch was shared at Heather’s. Thanks to Pam D. we have these pictures that tell their own story.

Happy Spring, everyone.

Posted in Gardening, Spring | Leave a comment

Why not plant a garden craft this year?

Birdhouse or bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) are one of the thick-skinned gourds that are mainly grown for crafts or decoration.IMG_2014

One year at our Gardeners sale Sherry Chandler. sold both natural and beautifully decorated bottle necked gourds. Sherry tells me growing birdhouse gourds and then preparing them as a bird’s next prime realestate or a piece of decorative art is a garden project that anyone can do.

 

The birdhouse gourd is the white-flowering gourd species that produce the hard-shelled fruit mainly used for crafts. Birdhouse gourd seeds can be purchased from local nurseries or seed catalogues. Sherry purchased all her seeds from Northern Dipper, Barrie ON due to the many varieties to choose from. It’s preferable to get them into the ground as soon as the last frost date has passed since they can take anywhere from 125-140 days to mature. Because of this Sherry starts hers indoors in April. If they do not mature they will simply rot.

Birdhouse gourds can be grown on small “hills”. However, because they are a long-season crop, they may end up sitting on the ground for long periods and could become rotten on the side touching the ground. One way to avoid this problem is to use 3” or so of mulch around the vines and under the fruit and/or place a piece of wood under each gourd. Some gardeners grow them up trellis’s, fences or cages. A suggestion for doubling up on space is to plant another veggie like peas right up the trellis or fence with the gourds. The nice thing about peas is that they are a legume, so instead of stealing nitrogen from the growing gourds, they actually fix nitrogen into the soil.

When starting the seeds indoors, clip the top corners and soak the seeds in water overnight to give them a leg-up on germination. They need plenty light and warmth. Plant the seeds in their permanent spot as soon as the last frost date has passed. Plant 3 to 5 seeds per composted hill about 5” apart. When seedlings begin to take off, thin them to one seedling per hill.

IMG_1815If you want to train them up a trellis or fence, plant the seeds about 2 – 3 feet apart (intersperse pea seeds in between if you’d like). The larger gourds, due to their size and weight. need to stay on the ground. Birdhouse gourds like well- drained soil and some compost or  composted manure tossed in there once in a while. Sherry suggests protecting the seedlings from slugs, deer and rabbits.

 

You can start the seeds indoors in April (remember to clip edges and soak them first) before the last frost date, but plant them in peat pots so you can plant them directly into their permanent beds without disturbing their sensitive roots. Then go ahead and plant them outdoors after the last frost date.

Sherry hand pollinates her gourds to ensure a good crop. However, where pollinators abound this is not necessary.

At maturity the gourds will tolerate a light frost, so let them ripen on the vine as long as possible. The gourds will be ready to harvest when the stems turn brown, but as I said, if Jack Frost has brought more than two suitcases, he’s there to stay so go ahead and bring the gourds inside.

Handle the gourds carefully because they bruise easily at this stage. Wipe off any moisture and keep them in a cool and airy place to dry. It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take for them to fully dry, but suffice it to say; the smaller ones will be ready faster. If mould appears just scrape it gently off with a knife and then wipe with a soft cloth. If any of the gourds get soft or mushy- toss into the compost pile.

During the curing process, the gourds could go from pale ivories, rusts, beige’s or mottled grey colors: each one will be unique. Bottles that are fully dry or cured will be light weight (nothing like when you first harvested them). The seeds inside will rattle when you give the bottle a shake. Now they can be made into a birdhouse or decorated for a special person or occasion.

So, you plant your gourd seeds. They grow and flower. The flowers lure beneficial insects to your yard, helping to give you a great food harvest. The gourds grow and dry out and you then get your crafty hat on and create a masterpiece for a gift or a home for the birds. The next growing season, you have birds using the condos and acting as vegetable sentries as they eat thousands of bug pests in your garden. Once again, you harvest a bountiful food crop.

The plan is simple, but gardening always brings compelling evidence of how everything on earth is connected.

Thanks to Sherry C. for her help with this post. Pictures are Sherry’s and Brenda’s.

 

Posted in Annuals, Crafts, Gardening | Leave a comment