Tag: witch hazel

Cultivating Japanese Irises

Cultivating Japanese Irises

Members of the Chester Garden Club were introduced to a relatively new plant at their March meeting this week. Allan Banks, of Harbour Breezes Daylilies nursery, opted to switch his presentation from his signature speciality – daylilies – to a less-known speciality – Japanese Irises. Illustrating his talk with photos from his large collection of plants, Allan talked about the various hybrids that he grows on his three-acre property on a sheltered coastal property on Nova Scotia’s eastern shore.

 He mentioned that although the Japanese iris was popular in the 1800s, it fell from favour over the years and has only recently been making a come-back with gardeners.  He pointed out that, although the plant is similar to the Siberian iris, it differs in that its foliage is wider and taller. The cultivars come in single, double or multi-petal forms and their large blooms appear in July.  The colours tend to be in shades of white or blue, which serve as an excellent foil for the yellows so often associated with daylilies.  Unlike the old relaible daylilies, these irises will suffer if neglected.  Although they do well by the sea, they prefer acidic soil and therefore should not be subjected to seaweed fertilizer because it tends to act like lime. The plants should be set  in the soil about 10 cm (4 inches) deep and provided with lots of moisture. They can even be planted in a pond as long as they are lifted for the winter.  Because their roots tend to move up toward the surface of the ground, they should be divided every three to four years and should be moved to a different area of the garden.

Along with tending to his gardens, which is open to the public daily from early May to Labour Day, Allan produces products such as those shown above – jellies, mugs, coasters and trivets, all imprinted with images of his daylilies.   For more information or to view his plant catalogue online, you can contact Allan at Abanks@ns.sympatico.ca

And now, for something completely different… the photo of the colourful Hamamelis above was taken by Sandy on March 17, St Patrick’s Day. The native variety, Hamamelis virginiana (commonly known as witch hazel) blooms in the fall but hybrids from China and Japan bloom in the spring. The plant above is a hybrid (possibly Diane). The white background is the result of a thin layer of snow that was deposited the night before and gone by the evening of the 17th. Such is Nova Scotia’s weather this year.

The photo below shows a Hamamelis Jelena,  with its coppery-reddish blooms lighting up  a woodland corner and snowy background. These shrubs do well in acidic soil and in shady areas. 

Bloom Day North – December

Bloom Day North – December

Most of the blooms and greenery seen in the Chester area at this time of year are boughs of evergreens or holly, but there is one shrub that is perverse enough to put forth its floral contribution only in the late fall. The pale yellow spidery petals of these flowers add an ethereal  effect to our gardens in December.

Hamamelis virginiana

I must offer a a small confession:  although these same blossoms are still present on these branches today – Bloom Day, the 15th of the month – the photos were actually taken a few days ago. Whether known by its Latin name (Hamamelis) or its more common moniker (witch hazel),  the shrub adds a feathery touch to the bare bones of a December garden.

Witch hazel weaves a tangled web

In response to popular demand (well,  a few puzzled queries), I’m adding a few more photos of the gingerbread folk which have been showing up in many locations around the village in recent weeks.

Waiting for the parade


Gingerbread cookies' home base


Snuggled under a hand-made quilt

In the next post, we hope to have some photos of the many gingerbread houses that have been on display in various locations during the last week. The prize winners will be announced on Saturday afternoon, December 17, during the pre-Christmas family party at St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre.