Author: doubledaisy

Pilgrims’ Progress in Northern Spain

Pilgrims’ Progress in Northern Spain

Syd D. discusses details of his trip with Sylvia M.
Syd D. discusses details of his trip with Sylvia M.

You may not have heard about El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, but Syd & Sandy D. know about it firsthand. Syd’s delightful presentation October 26th took us into the world of fantastic architecture and landscapes spread across the 800 km. of this pilgrimage in northern Spain. For two weeks last spring, they alternately bused and walked with pilgrims who were likewise intent on trekking to the shrine of the Apostle James in Santiago where tradition has it that his remains are buried. Quipped Syd about their using a van from time to time, unlike more orthodox pilgrims, “I hope it doesn’t diminish your opinion of us!” as the crowd of at least 60 people erupted in laughter. From picture to picture of crowded buildings on crowded streets, Syd, a prominent Halifax architect himself, extolled the virtues of fabulously designed housing unencumbered by Canadian municipal zoning constraints. “You could almost touch the neighbors across the street from you,” he said. “It was wonderful.” Ah, the romance of such names as Barcelona, Pamplona, Puente la Reina and La Rioja as well as churches with filigreed cement columns, ornate stained glass and gilded altars. Matched with Syd’s laid-back conversational dialogue, the fast-moving presentation kept his audience captivated throughout the hour. And the interest continued with conversations for another 45 minutes as members and visitors enjoyed delicious refreshments and even some Spanish wine donated by guess who.

More Activities

Club members donned garden gear Monday, November 2nd, to clean up the Cove Garden for the winter season.  President Heather M. expressed her thanks to “Herb F., Sheila S. and the CGC gang for working so diligently” to make it look very special.  Thanks also goes to Sylvia M. and Jane C. for taking the following pictures.

Time to Tidy Containers

Time to Tidy Containers

clip art flower potWell, with the frost now clipping the container plants, it’s probably time to tidy them up for winter. As many of us have observed, Sheila KM displays her award-winning containers to optimum effect. Let’s listen in as she describes her experiences dabbling in this unique gardening specialty.

“I started using pots to provide a barrier to keep people from inadvertently stepping off our patio. However, I may have also been influenced by my mother who always had pots on the doorsteps and lining the driveway, and I always enjoyed them.

“When we moved to Chester, I started planting in pots because I didn’t know anything about gardening. However, I could stick plants in pots and watch them grow. When I went to the nursery, the many beautiful plants were hard to resist.  I discovered that you don’t have to worry quite so much about bugs with pots. As well, I like putting different combinations of plants together and seeing what works colour-wise and condition-wise.   I can step onto my deck in the morning in summer and check my plants, pick off dead flowers, and just generally admire them.

“Potted plants can be fed more easily as you have to water them almost daily. I do feed with diluted fertilizer with every watering. That could be a down side, but I keep trying to devise a way to self-water for hot days or when I am not here. I am very fortunate to have kind friends to water when I am away.

“For a number of years, I’ve had between 50 and 60 containers, between hanging baskets, window boxes and pots [Can any of us beat that?]. I didn’t have quite so many this year, but, there is always next year!

“At the end of the season, I compost the container plants with their soil. When that compost is ready, I put it on my garden beds. In this way, I use fresh soil for the pots every year, and it is recycled to build up the soil in the beds, which do seem to expand just about every year.

“As for tips, I talk to fellow gardeners, read books and magazines, take pictures and just do it. I try to make notes about what works or not, but I could do better with that.”

Sheila finishes off with this comment, “As I am writing this, I realize again how much I enjoy my plants, gardening and the people I have met through it.” I know that our readers can easily reflect those sentiments as well. We continue to learn so much from each other. Yeah, garden clubs, right?

P.S. Before Sheila got down to business cleaning out her containers, she took the following pictures of her glorious late bloomers (mid-October). Enjoy.

Zucchini 101

Zucchini 101

Zucchini 101Remember back in the spring, when the pictures on the vegetable seed cases looked so appetizing? You spotted the zucchini seed packets stacked tightly into display stands. How could you resist? Come fall, however, your mature plants have traveled indiscriminately all over your garden and you know you have a problem: What shall I do with all this zucchini? Neighbors and friends with no gardens immediately come to mind. What are friends for anyway?

How about learning some facts about this prolific vegetable?

  • The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash.
  • Less than 30 years ago it was often referred to as green Italian squash.
  • Its popularity comes largely from its versatility as an ingredient in breads and desserts.
  • The French term for zucchini is courgette, often used interchangably for yellow squash.
  • The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as marrow.
  • Archaeologists have traced the origins of summer squashes (in the family of curcurbita) to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the “three sisters.”
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were squash enthusiasts who enjoyed growing them.
  • If left on the vine or bush longer, the fruit becomes enormous, the seeds larger, tougher, and sometimes inedible, and the flavor less sweet.
  • Today’s farmers are developing attractive hybrids–some are round, yellow, a combination of green and yellow, and some are even across between zucchini and the fluted patty pan squash.
  • With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. (now that’s a bonus!)
  • Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. They also provide some beta-carotene, trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, small amounts of vitamin C and calcium, and a healthy content of potassium.

zucchini clip art

To top it off, zucchinis can be eaten raw, baked, stuffed or steamed. Recipes abound on the Internet. Now you’re ready for that abundant harvest. You’ll know what you’re talking about when you distribute them to your lucky friends and neighbors!

 

Thanksgiving

 

Information taken from:

http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch7.html

http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/zucchinihistory.htm

Basketry at its Best

Basketry at its Best

Garden club members were especially attentive to a slide show prepared by Heather Sanft who ably discussed the complexities of creating baskets at our September 14th club meeting. She had trained in England as well as France to learn how willows grow and how they are harvested. Did you know that France has a National Basketry School? It can take seven years to apprentice. Instructors are diligent and take much pride in the process.

Willow fences captured our attention as she showed how to place them diagonally in the soil and secure them with ties. Seeing the leaves grow out from the stocks as the cuttings took root showed the marvel of the whole process. When she moved on to making baskets, we discovered that willow comes in many colors—red, white, brown, green. To make a basket, you start with the foundation–the bottom–and after conquering that skill, you can complete the sides and handle.

From her home base at the Lunenburg County Winery in Newburne (www.canada-wine.com), she now makes willow backpacks, drying racks and even historical reproductions of bark willow lobster traps. The movie industry has made good use of her talents as well. She certainly inspired us to consider new horizons of creativity.

Jenny’s Fall Garden

Jenny’s Fall Garden

Many of us were charmed by Jenny Sandison’s photo presentation to our club in May, named “Grow Older Gracefully in the Garden.” On Saturday, August 22nd, she opened her garden for viewing, with proceeds going to Nepal earthquake relief ($700 raised!). She advertised, “Lots of annuals in flower, late-blooming perennials and cool woodland retreat.” Your blogger, Jocelyn, together with Nancy M., made the trip out to Mahone Bay and, of course, we were not disappointed. We ambled upward in her garden after enjoying the  spectacular view from her front yard.  I immediately felt captivated by the lush growth as Jenny guided us personally throughout the premises. “Gardeners should always bring pruners when they walk through their gardens,” she said, as she dutifully clipped and shaped her way along. Follow us on the tour in the pictures below and enjoy the variety of plants and their presentations. Notice the fairy garden, a creative idea that can add delight to any garden.

Work and Play Make for Summer Fun

Work and Play Make for Summer Fun

On August 9th, some energetic members caught up on weeding the Cove Garden. Lighthearted laughter made for light work and the job was soon done. The following pictures prove that point. Be sure to enjoy a walk through it this summer and enjoy the beauty.

Ten days later, many more members gathered to party at Jayne and Keith Campbell’s home near Deep Cove. The weather was outstanding and the food was fabulous, thanks to the members’ superb culinary efforts. And the setting only enhanced the flavours. You would have been hard-pressed to find a weed in Jane’s well-designed garden. Enjoy the following photos that chronicle this much-anticipated annual event.

Bonus pictures of Jayne and Keith’s creative garden:

Heather on the Heights

Heather on the Heights

Jill Colville from the Annapolis Valley (www.bunchberry nurseries.ca) charmed us all Monday June 15th with pictures of rolling hills of heather located both in Scotland and its namesake Nova Scotia (New Scotland). She spoke of heaths as well. Do you know the difference? Most heaths bloom in the spring and heathers do the same in summer. At Bunchberry Nurseries in Upper Clements, she handles 50-60 cultivars of the over 600 varieties.

Heaths have the distinction of providing the first flowers for pollinators—even earlier than crocuses! Why plant heaths and heathers? She explained that they can provide diversity, bloom from February to October with foliage that weaves a tapestry of colour.

She proved it in pictures. We saw burgundy, salmon, purple, orange, white and various shades of pink or almost red.   Varieties can fit into any size garden with minimal maintenance. You can’t beat that. As a relative of the blueberry, they prefer full to half sun as well as acidic soil–perfect for Nova Scotia, right? Jill suggested companion plantings of conifers, rhododendrons and junipers, among others. Ornamental grasses, such as blue fescue, add soft texture to heather landscapes.

Jill cautioned that heathers newly planted can lose moisture in March with the hotter sun. Once wilted, they won’t recover. Be sure to keep them watered and covered with boughs. Don’t be afraid to prune them in April to sheer off last year’s flowers. She capped off her remarks by directing the members to three tables with heathers for sale. Irresistible!

Flower Show Practice

Flower Show Practice

This month’s meeting, Monday, July 20th, started early with a tour of Stewart M.’s charming garden. Please see the gallery below for some digital glimpses. Our regular club meeting concentrated on practice–practice making new designs. Members Myra K., Sydney S. and Jane W. lent their expertise to inspire us all to create floral arrangements with flair. Myra reviewed traditional mass designs and introduced us to the modern mass.

Characteristics of Traditional Mass Design

  • Generally a geometric shape
  • Stems radiating from a central point
  • Flowers equally distributed throughout the design
  • Smaller flowers (transitional) placed between larger ones with spaces between.
  • Design size approximately one to one and one half that of the largest dimension of the container.

Myra emphasized that this design type is already well known to CGC members.

Characteristics of Modern Mass Design

  • Bold containers in larger proportion than in Traditional design.
  • Few components in large forms.
  • No elements of transition as in traditional design.
  • Design has a sculptural feel and relies on sharp contrast.
  • Plant material is grouped to form a mass of volume.
  • Materials do not intermingle.
  • The sculptural form is three-dimensional and incorporates space, positive and negative.
  • It is recommended to use only three to five different elements.

Sydney demonstrated the assembly of a Parallel design. (A design in which three or more groupings are placed in a parallel manner with open spaces between the groupings. Parallel direction may vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Design is in one container of containers combined so as to appear as one unit.

Jane W. concluded by encouraging members to try their hand at cup and saucer designs which this year takes on a new tack—a design using a tea cup, not necessarily a design inside a tea cup. Be sure to check out the Show Schedule to decide which designs you intend to enter.

New this year as well — We have been asked to make our “reservations” for our entries to ensure space will be available.

The evening was capped off by another beautiful design—our snack table, ably fashioned by Joanne J. and Tom F.

Myra provided the following pictures of traditional and mass designs to aid you in your plant selections.  And, in case your missed it, enjoy the photo gallery of Stewart M.’s fabulous garden that we toured earlier in the evening.

Chester Train Station Gardeners’ Sale: Still Growing and Going After 9 Years

Chester Train Station Gardeners’ Sale: Still Growing and Going After 9 Years

Weather for this year’s sale proved to be the best in several years, although somewhat cool. Best of all, the blackflies didn’t appear to get the memo for our May 30th date, so sales remained as comfortable as they were brisk. Says, co-chair Herb F., “I was impressed with the quality of the member’s plants. Many were sold at our highest price table for $5.” He reported that community members use the event to mark the beginning of summer here in Chester. “Some of the summer residents even time their return to the sale itself.” As Herb steps down from organizing the event, Jayne C. and Esther A. plan to take up the challenge for next year slated for May 28, 2016. Says Jayne, “I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Herb this year. I realize now that there is a great deal to consider when planning this event. I met many of the vendors and they all felt that the day was worth their efforts in sales and exposure. The plants were very healthy and very reasonable in price.” Lots of comments ensued from members: “Everyone enjoyed it,” “Good atmosphere–everyone chatted away,” and best of all, “We had fun!” Perhaps the following pictures express the day’s event best.

Club Virtual Garden Tour

Club Virtual Garden Tour

Recently, we were invited to enjoy an actual tour of some member gardens.  In case you missed it, here is a virtual tour of even more. May they delight and inspire you!  By the way, if you are experiencing deer/rabbit problems, Myra K. recommends you apply this mixture that works for her:

Into 1L of water, blend 1 egg, ½ c. milk, 1 T. cooking oil, 1 t. dish soap. Place this mixture into 2 gallons of water. Then it’s ready to spray on vulnerable plants.