17 April 2016

Local Xpress, Expo, and plants galore


 We are only a few days away from our 12th annual Saltscapes East Coast Expo, so it's really, really busy in my world. More on the Expo later.
However, I had to catch up with a blog post both to tell you that and to tell you about my column in the Local Xpress.
Here's the thing. I don't belong to a union, never did and never will. However--I support the journalists who are out on strike at the 'paper of record' in Nova Scotia (which I will not name nor link to, but I have written a column there for many years). As long as my friends and colleagues are out on strike, I am withholding writing for the paper. I did, however, offer to provide columns to the web-based paper the journalists have formed, the Local Xpress, for the duration of the work stoppage.
Now, I am tremendously busy, and gardening season is begun, so I don't know how often I will be able to do these columns. But the first one is up today and I wanted to include hotlinks to the nurseries involved in the first story, plus more photos. I've decided to link to their Facebook pages because they're all on there, and some don't have regular websites anymore.

The photo above is of hellebores, and one of the best selections you'll find anywhere is at Briar Patch Farm and Nursery in Berwick.


Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia) was perennial of the year a few years back, and rightly so. This is 'Blue Ice', a cultivar of amsonia that looks fabulous in mass plantings, with its pale blue, starry flowers. It's a favourite at Oceanview Home & Garden in Chester


I acquired a very fine plant of Bear's Breeches last year from a private collector, and when my friends from Ouest-ville Perennials in West Pubnico saw it they had to add it to their nursery offerings. 


 I've shared my enthusiasm for Bidens 'Fireburst' in the past, and I'm very pleased that several nurseries have it this year, including Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Centre in Hammonds Plains.


It's also very well known that I adore echinaceas, and many nursery operators share that enthusiasm, too. One of those is Lloyd Mapplebeck at Hillendale Perennials in Truro, who thinks that the All Americas Selection 'Cheyenne Spirit' is simply fantastic. All the flowers in the above photo, except the double in the background, are from several plants of this echinacea. You can see why it's a winner in our books! 


 Several of the nursery owners are excited about baptisias, and I love their gorgeous, elegant flowers and foliage so this is just a gratuitous chance to share another image of Baptisia 'Dutch Chocolate'.


Here's a unique, hardy and beautiful tree that we're seeing in more streetscapes as well as gardens. Ginkgo is an ancient species and a gorgeous one, with elegant foliage that turns butter yellow in fall. It's a favourite and new-to-Scotia Gold Country Garden in Coldbrook


Oxydendron, also known as sourwood tree, is native to eastern North America and related to rhododendrons, pieris, and blueberries. It has cascades of lily of the valley-like white flowers in summer, then its foliage turns incandescent in the fall. It's no wonder that Jill at Bunchberry Nurseries  in Upper Clements is enthusiastic about it. 


Yellow Waxy-bell is a gorgeous and late-blooming perennial, with soft yellow, nodding flowers. It likes a little shade and good moisture, and does well in my garden--and now is available at Baldwin Nurseries in Falmouth. 


This is a unique and very attractive annual called Silver Sand, (Calocephalus), which I first saw at Glad Gardens in Waterville some years back. Daina was not able to source seed for a few years but has it again now. Glad Gardens reopens for the season this Thursday, but I'm going to get my plant tomorrow...because I need it for this weekend!


Daina at Glad Gardens and I share a deep and abiding love for succulents and cacti, especially in container plantings. One of the talks I'm doing this weekend is about gardening with succulents in containers, so I'll be toting a variety of plants with me to Halifax Exhibition Centre to show to others. I'm really pleased to let you know that there will also be gardening talks by Cathy of Bloom Greenhouse, Allan Banks of Harbour Breezes Daylilies and Japanese Irises, and Carol Goodwin of Beneath the Boughs Woodland Plant Nursery and Pottery. Hurray for the gardening season. 

One final note: There are many other nurseries in Nova Scotia, but I didn't hear back from several of them, and some of them I just didn't have time to contact before deadline. But hopefully I'll have more to say about those soon. 

02 April 2016

Spring is springing in Nova Scotia!


So I missed a blog post earlier this week, but with good reason--we're getting ready for our 12th Saltscapes Expo, April 22-24 at Halifax Exhibition Centre (the former Exhibition Park), and to say we are busy is an understatement. We're also busy getting the magazine ready to go to press. For those who have never been to an Expo, it's kind of like the magazine comes to life at the Park. Here's a short video to explain it a little. 


For more information, tickets, etc, you can check our our website.  


I'll have more to say about Expo probably next week, (a teaser about my seminars at the show, but now, let's get back to plants. I've mentioned before that we've had a relatively sensible winter, and we've had some very mild spells. So it's beginning--spring is unfolding slowly outside. If you go inside greenhouses, like I did today, it's unfolding a little more quickly. Let's take a peek indoors and out! 

 I took today off from fact-checking, copy editing, social media work, newsletter writing...in fact, I took off, first for West Pubnico and Ouest-ville Perennials, my friend Alice d'Entremont's wonderful nursery. As soon as I got there, spring greeted me (even more quickly than did Alice and her cats!). The first thing I saw was the quilt of spring bulbs, primarily snowdrops and crocuses, in the front yard.


 This Corkscrew Hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta') is in full glorious catkin production. I noticed some trees alongside the road earlier today also in catkin, probably poplars. Hurray for spring!


One of the hellebore species, I think the so-called stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), and so-called because the flowers can be fragrant, but the foliage smells pretty skunky when it gets crushed. We can deal with that with such striking flowers. 


In Alice's rock garden, a cluster of dwarf iris (probably I. reticulata) are guarded by a stone cat (as opposed to the real ones who live there).


I confess to a small bit of winter-aconite-envy, as I have never been particularly successful in getting these to grow for me. Alice has the right idea--she has them planted in her rock garden, where they get good drainage. Note to self for this fall...try, try again. They are such dainty little bulbs and so cheerily yellow. It was raining today but I didn't care--I was just happy to be out among plants! 


Several years ago, the Nova Scotia Rock Garden Club had Pam Eveleigh of Primula World for workshops and presentations.  Some of us came away completely smitten with primula, and those of us who attended her workshops also came away with plants and seeds. Alice has propagated quite a few of them, including the gorgeous yellow auricula...


And this species, which I bought but which is still out in the car and it's raining too hard for me to go back out there tonight! 


And another auricula primula. These three all came home with me (they insisted--but in my defence, I will use them at Expo in a couple weeks time.) There were a bunch of other plants that followed me home because I also stopped to see my friend Jill Covill at Bunchberry Nurseries in Upper Clements, but those will have to wait for the next post. 


21 March 2016

Interlude: My fondness for old buildings (& other things)


Long ago, I lived in a farmhouse with a huge, round-roofed barn in the back yard. The barn was in tender shape, gradually worn down over the years of use, elements and neglect. One day, it collapsed in on itself, and that was that. I wrote about that barn, and it was well-photographed in its day. 
I'm not sure if that's where my fascination with old buildings began, but it was certainly nurtured by that event. 
So I've been spending a fair bit of time in the past number of months making pictures of various buildings. Many are abandoned, and gone beyond help, like the famous one in Earltown in the photo above. Some are conserved by local groups, and some are well kept but elderly, with stories to tell.
Truthfully, they ALL have stories to tell, although I'm not sure who is around to share those stories.

Look at this house with the carefully built railing. Someone loved this place once. Now it, and its half-dozen outbuildings, stand empty, or at least uninhabited.

There was a time when many of us went to small schools such as this one (now, I believe, used as a hall, but possibly in private hands). My late grandfather owned a former schoolhouse in his community for many years before he finally sold it. Today it is a home, and well cared for by the look of it. So old schoolhouses draw me in. 

I know nothing about architecture. Zip, zilch, nada. I have an appreciation for older, well built buildings in part because they do stand the test of time. This barn further down the Valley is a beautiful thing, well cared for and still used, although I'm not sure for what. 
When I go on my jaunts around the province, I tend to go down sideroads just to see what's there. Sometimes, I find real gems, like this tiny crooked house at the end of a lane. Is it for kids to stand in and wait for the bus? Just an attractive thing to mount a civic address on? I don't know, but I do like it. 


I will never be a wildlife photographer. I don't have the patience, nor the gear nor the ability to trek off through the wilds looking for wildlife. I do, however, have the ability to see eagles on a daily basis, and with a good lens and a fast shutter speed, I can get fairly good captures. 


 Water soothes me, being a child of the Fundy/Atlantic as I am.  I'm learning to shoot moving water in a number of ways, and it's a lot of fun--on a decent day when the wind isn't screaming sideways, of course! This is a waterfall at Baxter's Harbour, going through a man-made culvert under a road and then cascading down the rocky face to the beach. It's always a fascinating place to make pictures.

To go along with the old buildings, I have a fondness for old equipment, be it rusting cars, or farm gear like this ancient rake. This would NOT be a fun thing to ride on a hot summer's day!


 An old pump, someone told me this was. I was just charmed by the name. Darling pump. At an old farmstead. I'm surprised it hasn't been toted off and sold for scrap metal.


One of the oddest things I saw on my trip back to Newfoundland last summer was the abandoned Trinity Loop amusement park. I'll do a whole post about that in the future, but had to share this image of the Trinity Loop railroad track that used to run to the local communities off the main railroad line. When Hurricane Igor blew through the area in 2010, the flooding washed out the track quite badly, and further degraded the once busy park. It's kind of surreal to go back this road and find the remains of a ferris wheel, train cars, and other oddities. 


 Another place I got to explore, although briefly, last summer was the Iles de la Madeleine, aka the Magdalen Islands. I fell in love with the place and the people, and want to go back. Soon. It's an incredibly beautiful place, part of the province of Quebec, and well worth the 5 hour ferry ride there to spend a few days.

To wrap up this little essay of randomness, I always tell people it's good to keep your camera on hand at all times. You never know when you are going to discover a piece of 'found art' like the ice sculpture around this well. You just never know. Keep your eyes open and your camera close, and have fun--at least, that's my motto! 

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