Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ten Book Reviews

The Complete Root Cellar Book:  Building Plans, Uses, and 100 Recipes written by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie.  Review by Charmian Christie, Canadian food and travel writer, in Canadian Gardening
"Whether you grow your own vegetables, buy shares in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or have a neighbour with an emerald green thumb, preserving the harvest over the winter can be a challenge.  If you don't own so much as a single Mason jar, cold storage can be the answer, and The Complete Root Cellar Book:  Building Plans, Uses and 100 Recipes by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer MacKenzie provides everything you need but the lumber.

What makes this book unique:  the sheer range of designs and storage ingenuity is impressive.  Detailed plans range from a complete do-it-yourself, walk-in root cellar to a less ambitioius tune-up of an existing cold room.  Got a yard but no basement?  Try and old-fashioned root clamp or outdoor cellar pit.  For apartment and condo dwellers plans include ways to convert a second refrigerator." 

Making More Plants: The Science, Art and Joy of Propagation, written by Ken Druse.  Review by Andrew Vowles in Canadian Gardening

“After an overview of the science of propagation, Druse begins with a discussion of flowers and seeds. In separate chapters, he discusses methods of collecting, conditioning and sowing seeds. However, seeds are only part of the story. Most of the book deals with the range of reproduction practices, including layering, grafting and dividing, using cuttings, geophytes (bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes) and roots.

Particularly useful is Druse's guide to propagating more than 700 plants, including techniques and cultural information on conditioning, temperature and timing. His information usually applies to all members of a genus, although he includes special cultural notes for such genera as Hibiscus, whose species may be hardy, tender, woody or herbaceous.”

Books by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  Water Gardening & The Natural Shade Garden

A History of Canadian Gardening, written by Carol Martin.  Abbreviated Review by Aldona Satterthwaite, Executive Director of Toronto Botanical Garden, in Canadian Gardening

"Carol Martin's book offers a compact overview of gardening in Canada, and a parallel social history to boot. Cleanly written, it is far from being a dull, dusty tome, and engages the imagination as it examines the tribulations and triumphs of pioneering gardeners. The book's pages are peppered with fascinating historical documents and photographs.
The reader is treated to juicy tidbits of information.
Martin covers vast territory and subject matter in her slim book, including subjects as diverse as railroad gardens, seed companies, landscape architects, modern garden gurus-maybe too much territory. Being a sucker for details, I was left feeling hungry for more information. I would have liked to know much more about the astonishing work of some of Canada's horticulturists, for example. But this is a minor quibble."

Books by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  Local Colour:  Writers Discovering Canada

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces, written by Gayla Trail.  Review by Tara Nolan, co-author of Canadian Gardening Blog, in Canadian Gardening

“I really wish I knew about Gayla Trail’s first book, You Grow Girl: The Groundbreaking Guide to Gardening, when I first bought my house. Gayla has a way of making gardening sound so fun and easy and attainable. Her fantastic follow-up, Grow Great Grub, inspires readers to grow their own fruits, veggies, herbs and edible flowers. Teeny tiny yards and balconies are no obstacle, you just have to work with what you have. That might mean growing tomatoes upside down or raising kumquats in your living room. Delicious, interesting recipes make full use of your harvest and a helpful section shows you how to preserve your bounty so that nothing goes to waste. Gayla’s DIY ethos and conversational tone make you want to reach for your gardening gloves and start planting, salvage containers for plants and grow something you haven’t tried before—like potatoes in a metal garbage can!”

The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks by Ted Jordan Meredith.

This book is the most comprehensive and in-depth guide available to what surely should be the next gourmet frontier. From 'Ajo Rojo' to 'Zemo', Meredith presents illustrated profiles of nearly 150 cultivars. Detailed chapters cover natural history, the history of garlic in cultivation, the nuances of cuisine and culture, therapeutic benefits, plant structure, how to cultivate, curing and storage, taxonomy, pests and diseases, and chemistry. Especially useful are the Quick Guides, which summarize information on growing and buying garlic and provide recommendations for the best-tasting cultivars for specific uses and climates. Lists of garlic sources and organizations are a boon to the aficionado. Whether you share Ted Jordan Meredith's "garlic affliction" or just find the pungent bulb indispensable, you'll understand it as never before with this meticulously researched, lovingly written exploration.  (Publisher's blurb)
“Few books qualify as coffee table books, and botanical manuscripts, and cultural guides, and cooking guides. The Complete Book of Garlic does all these, and more.” Review by Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener

Locavore by Sarah Elton. Review by Margaret Webb, author of Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms

“Lively, compelling and warm-hearted journalism with a generous helping of rigorous research, Locavore dishes up an insightful look at Canada’s food system: how it once worked, why it fails us now and, most importantly, what we can do to create a sustainable, delicious future.”

Locavore was Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the year.

West Coast Gardening Natural Insect and Disease Control by Linda Gilkeson.

This indispensable book for West Coast gardeners describes safe and effective ways to control pests in vegetables, fruit, lawns and ornamentals. Over 60 entries provide information on identification, life cycles, prevention and how to use non-toxic controls successfully. It also includes a guide to the least toxic pesticides, an extensive section on beneficial insects and how to attract them and a section on managing weeds in lawns and other areas.

Please check out another very useful book by Linda Gilkeson, Year-Around Harvest: Winter Gardening on the Coast.  Both books are available at Powell River Public Library.

The Zero-Mile Diet: A Year-Round Guide to Growing Organic Food by Carolyn Herriot.

This definitive month-by-month guide brings gardeners into the delicious world of edible landscaping and helps take a load off the planet as we achieve greater food security. Full of illustrative colour photos and step-by-step instructions, The Zero-Mile Diet shares wisdom gleaned from 30 years of food growing and seed saving with comprehensive advice on:  growing organic food year-round, the small fruit orchard and backyard berries, superb yet simple seasonal recipes, preserving your harvest, seed saving and plant propagation, dirt-cheap ways to nourish your soil, backyard poultry--it's less time-consuming than you think, growing vegetables in the easiest way possible, and A-z guide to growing the best vegetables and herbs. 

Put organic home-grown fruits and vegetables on your table throughout the year, using the time-saving, economical and sustainable methods of gardening outlined in The Zero-Mile Diet. This book is about REAL food and how eating it will change our lives for the better.  (Publisher's blurb)
Other book(s) by this author available at Powell River Public Library:  A Year on the Garden Path:  A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide

The Art of Botanical Drawing: An Introductory Guide by Agathe Ravet-Haevermans

The Art of Botanical Drawing is an introductory guide to the techniques of botanical painting and drawing. Beginning artists and gardeners looking to capture the beauty of the plants in their garden will learn how to recognize and draw a wide variety of flowers and leaves, including succulents, vegetables, trees, perennials, and grasses. Botanists and naturalists who need to understand the fundamentals of scientific illustration will also find the text useful. Lessons on recognizing and recreating the texture and structural elements of plants are also included. The Art of Botanical Drawing is practical and beautiful -- it includes 150 charming color illustrations and the hands-on approach is accessible to even the most inexperienced budding artist.  (Publisher's blurb)

Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis. "This is sure to gain that well-thumbed look than any good garden book acquires as it is referred to repeatedly over the years." Review by Pacific Horticulture, Fall 2006

Teaming With Microbes enlightens readers in two important ways. First, in clear, straightforward language, it describes the activities of the organisms that make up the soil food web, from the simplest of single-cell organisms to more familiar multicellular animals such as insects, worms, and mammals. Second, the book explains how to foster and cultivate the life of the soil through the use of compost, mulches, and compost teas. By eschewing jargon, the authors make the text accessible to a wide audience, from devotees of organic gardening techniques to weekend gardeners who simply want to grow healthy, vigorous plants without resorting to chemicals.  (Publisher's blurb)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Garden Art Makes A Splash at Lang Creek

A school of life-sized salmon sculptures now greets visitors to Lang Creek. 

The "Salmon Garden" is the latest in a series of garden projects coordinated by the Lang Creek Garden Steering Committee and developed by many Friends of the Garden and community supporters.

The new art installation, which has been months in the planning, features thirteen metal sculptures gifted to the project by Powell River metal artist Peter Elvy.  Peter is passionate about the environment and excited to realize his blacksmithing skills could be used to make a statement about the importance of restoration and salmon enhancement.  Always the conservationist, Peter used recycled, plate steel and rebar in the crafting of the fish. 

A host of volunteers, equipment operators and donors were ready and willing to do their part to hatch the new project.  A vote of thanks is due each and every one of them. 

George Illes installed the metal anchoring rods to secure the fish and contracted the landscaping materials.  Terry Gustafson and Adams Concrete supplied and delivered the soil.  Rick Manson looked after the preliminary excavations.  Pete's Plumbing provided irrigation materials.  Dave Williams did a marvelous job with his machine work and artistic placement of the large, feature rocks donated by Mark Hassett.

Powell River artist, Wendy Halliday, and visiting artist, Judith Gilley from Shawnigan Lake, who is Michael Stewart's sister, were most helpful with their suggestions for layout and placement of the fish.

Fortunately, early in the planning stage, the Salmon Garden caught the imagination of grass expert, Ewan MacKenzie.  A horticulturist from Abbotsford, Ewan is well known in gardening circles throughout BC.  He visited Lang Creek in the fall of 2009 as a guest speaker for the Powell River Garden Club.  Impressed with Lang Creek Garden initiatives and the roles played by many volunteers, Ewan offered to design a layout with ornamental grasses to compliment the sculptures.  He generously donated sixty-one plants through his business, Exemplar Horticulture. 

While the Lang Creek gardens feature native plants of southcoastal British Columbia, the design team agreed to use non-native ornamental grasses for impact to lend colour and dramatic highlights to the installation.

On November 13th, Ewan delivered the new arrivals to the site and supervised and assisted with the planting.  Friends of the Garden volunteers enthusiastically spread loads of soil and helped with the planting.  As a result of their work, four different varieties of grasses including Festuca idahoensis, Panicum virgatum, Deschampsia cespitosa and Molinia caerulea now form a beautiful wave-like pattern.

Three pieces of Lois Lake driftwood, contributed by Barb and Dave Rees, add a finishing touch to the new garden.

In the Spring of 2011, the Salmon Garden will be completed with a crushed rock pathway and bench seating constructed by Lane Large with funds donated by the Oceanview Student Council.  

All involved in the project are delighted with the results and agree that it is a joy to see the fish and grasses dancing in the wind and occasional flurries of snow!  Our many visitors are already catching the action with their cameras.

Once again, we gratefully acknowledge all volunteers, donors and contributors for making the Salmon Garden a reality.  It takes a village to build a garden!

For more information about the Lang Creek Garden Projects, please contact Steering Committee Members -- Liz Kennedy, Michael Stewart, Gail Scholefield; Laura Johnson, Powell River Salmon Society Garden Rep; Shirley Cole, Master Gardener

Article kindly submitted by Gail Scholefield

Sunday, December 5, 2010

November 30th, 2010
Presented by Guest Speaker, Bill Reid, Director, Powell River Parks Recreation & Culture

Wintry weather may have postponed our November 23rd meeting, but couldn't deny us the entertaining and educational evening provided by our Guest Speaker, Bill Reid.  Not only did Bill demonstrate the planting of a terrarium, he shared helpful and thrifty hints with us...and much laughter! 

For an informative website on terrariums, please click here   

Bill suggested containers to use for terrariums: 
  • glass carboys (wine making jugs)
  • glass storage containers of varying sizes, with or without lids
  • fish tanks
  • brandy snifters
Basically any clear glass container.   Tinted or cloudy glass greatly  reduces light transmission and interferes with plant growth and health.

Bill added the gravel, charcoal, pre-moistened moss, and soil. 
He prepared planting holes, removed the small plants from their pots, compacted their roots and soil by rolling in paper, and pushed/dropped those 'babies' into their new home. 
Bill kindly donated the Terrarium Extraordinaire as a prize and it accompanied lucky Club Member, Katie Cheung, home. 

As if that wasn't enough fun, we also enjoyed bidding on all the wonderful garden-related donations made by our Club Members.  Proceeds of the Auction will be donated to Powell River's Christmas Cheer.  Thank you everyone for your support!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mycorrhizae for Your Plants by LariAnn Garner

Mycorrhizae for Your Plants by LariAnn Garner
(reprinted with permission from BC Council of Garden Clubs The Bulletin, November/December 2010)

Mushrooms growing amongst pines in a forest can be indicative of much more than merely the rotting of organic matter.  Many fungi have symbiotic relationships with vascular plants.  These relationships involve trees such as pines, oaks, and eucalyptus, and include your garden vegetable plants and flowers.  Knowing about mycorrhizae, what they do for plants, and how you can grow them for yourself in your own garden plot or yard. 

Mushrooms are not just for eating, and that white webby stuff you see under your organic mulch is not necessarily just the mulch slowly rotting away.  Within your soil is a whole hidden world of activity that affects how well your plants grow.  Teeming microorganisms in healthy soil, including fungi and bacteria, work alongside each other to break down organic matter and free up vital elements for use by your plants.  But what about our gardens?  Oftentimes we are trying to grow our plants in severely disturbed soil, plots that were once farmland, or land bulldozed for housing developments.  Such situations are poor in the kinds of soil biota that your plants need.  To make things worse, the application of chemical fertilizer can grow things even further off balance.  The out-of-balance situation fosters the growth of what we call pathogenic organisms.  Our response to those is often the application of toxic pesticides.  Is it no wonder why we sometimes find it difficult to grow a nice garden? 

Does my plant need an innie or an outie? 
Amidst the bustling action in healthy soil are fungi that have special relationships with plant roots.  These fungi actually grow together with, or even within, roots and by so doing vastly expand the ability of the roots to access soil nutrients.  Roots with such assistance are called "mycorrhizae", meaning "fungus roots".  Pine (Pinus) and Barberry (Berberis) are two well-known genera of trees that have ectomycorrhizae or mycorrhizae that grow externally to the root cells.  You can think of these fungi as the "outie".  These are also the types that most often produce mushrooms in the soil near their hosts. 

Another kind of mycorrhizal fungus is known as vesicular-arbuscular (VA), or endomycorrhizae.  These are the type found in association with your vegetable and flower plants.  Hyphae of these fungi actually penetrate the root cells and the tissue of the plants they are in association with.  Endomycorrhizal fungi are the "innies".  The innies are in the group of fungi known as "water molds".  This group also includes such notorious pathogens as Phythium, the cause of damping-off, and Phytophthora, responsible for crown and root rot.  The presence of the endomycorrhizae can help your garden plants fend off the nasties without the use of toxic chemicals.

Knowing whether your plant needs an innie or an outie is crucial to getting the kind of response you want from these special fungi.  Inoculating an outie plant with an innie mycorrhizal fungus will give you little or no results.  Since there are a large number of both types of fungi in nature, commercially available formulations of mycorrhizae are usually a blend of many species of the two types.  Look for blends that include mycorrhizal spores, as some formulations may contain chopped-up fungal hyphae instead of spores. 

Sometimes information on the mycorrhizal fungus specific to your plants is available.  If it is, you can select the particular type that is best for your situation.  Innies are generally non-specific as to their host, while outies are more particular to hosts.

The difference is clear!
I have grown Rainbow Eucalyptus tree seedlings with and without the mycorrhizae and the difference is dramatic.  Eucalyptus happens to require the outie, or ectomycorrhizal, type of fungus.  With the mycorrhizae, the plant is much greener and healthier even when fertilized less often.  The fertilizer that is applied is utilized much more efficiently.  Without the mycorrhizae, more fertilizer is required and the trees lack in overall health.  One caution:  too much fertilizer can defeat the purpose of mycorrhizal inoculation.  These fungi are most helpful in making phosphorus more available to plants, so an abundance of available phosphorus in the soil will nullify their usefulness.  Beside helping with nutrient uptake, mycorrhizae can aid your trees and plants in withstanding stresses such as drought and heat.  They are also vitally important in restoring areas stripped of vegetation, such as some kinds of surface miming sites or waste areas. 

Where can I get mycorrhizae?
Mycorrhizal blends are available from a number of online vendors.  Several of these sources are Fungi Perfecti, Bio-Organics, and Mycorrhizal Products.  **BC supplier, The Organic Gardener's Pantry, of mycorrhizal products**

If you are growing a variety of plants, including woody shrubs, trees, and vegetables or flowers, an endo-ectomycorrhizal blend is your best choice.  For those whose primary interest is vegetable crops, an endomycorrhizal blend will be optimal.  Some blends even include micronutrients with the mycorrhizae.  study the information presented on these and other websites and you will become knowledgeable about the types of mycorrhizae that will be most beneficial for your use.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Dirt on...


Like, Amaryllis, Paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceous, a sub-section of Narcissus tazetta) are popular indoor plants for winter and the holiday season.  Unlike other narcissus, paperwhites do not require a chilling period, so forcing them is as easy as putting the bulbs in water and watching them grow.  The fragrant flower blooms within three to four weeks of planting (may be somewhat longer during winter months).

While paperwhites can be planted in soil, more commonly they are grown in decorative pots, tall glass vases (perfect for supporting the tall stalks, baskets and unusual and/or vintage containers.  Be creative.  The container should be 4 to 5 inches deep and watertight. 

Paperwhite bulbs should feel firm and heavy in the hand, with no bruising nor nicks.  And, with bulbs, bigger is better!
  • Select watertight container
  • Spread an inch or two of decorative stone, coloured marbles, or even gravel on container bottom
  • Position your paperwhite bulbs, pointy side up, onto the stone, marbles, etc.  Wiggle them in.  They not only look better in a large group, the tight fit will help keep them from toppling over
  • Continue to layer more of your decorative material until the bulb is nestled securely in up to its neck
  • Add water until water level just meets the base of the bulb.  This should stimulate growth.  Do not submerse the bulb completely or the bulb will rot
  • At this point the bulbs do not need light
  • Keep bulbs on the cool side - about 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C
  • Once roots have established, provide the paperwhites with light
  • Once the bulbs have flowered, they will last longer if removed from direct sunlight
  • Start pots of paperwhites every couple of weeks for continued pleasure
Although problems with paperwhites are rare, the tendency to topple over does exist.  The researchers at Cornell University Flower Bulb Research Centre discovered that feeding paperwhites a solution of diluted alcohol you could restrict the stalk and leaf size thus minimizing the 'topple problem.'  For the exact procedure, please click here.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Tree Celebrities

Originally, I was going to post this closer to Christmas but this cold and snowy weather has me thinking about the holiday season...

Top Five Trees for Christmas
(Reprinted with permission from BC Council of Garden Clubs The Bulletin, November/December 2010 issue)

The following Christmas Tree species have been voted and ranked as the most popular Christmas trees grown and sold in the US.  The poll is based on the ten most common trees available for purchase.  They are ranked according to the poll popularity.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) reports that millions of US families plan to focus their holiday traditions around a real Christmas tree.  That means that a lot of real trees will be sold this year, starting in mid-November.  NCTA also says that "about 23% of the consumers will purchase their trees from a 'Christmas tree farm' while about 62% will buy trees from a retail lot."  About 300,000 consumers will purchase their real tree over the internet or by mail order.

It is estimated that just as many households plan to use a new or used artificial tree this season.  Real trees are in major competition with the plastic and aluminum versions.

Number 1 is the Fraser Fir.  The Fraser fir is a native southern fir and very similar to Balsam fir.  Some say it is a southern extension of the Balsam fir species and naturally grows at elevations about 5,000 feet.  this fir has dark green needles, 1/2 to 1 inch long and ships well.  The tree has excellent needle retention along with a nice scent.  Fraser fir was named for Scot botanist, John Fraser, who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700's. 

Number 2 is the Douglas Fir.  The Douglas Fir is not a true fir but actually has its own unique classification.  Unlike true firs the cones on Douglas fir hang downward.  Douglas fir grows cone-shaped naturally, has 1 to 1 1/2 inch needles that are persistent and has a sweet scent when crushed.  the Douglas fir tree is shipped to and found in nearly every tree lot in the US.  The tree was named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800's.

Number 3 is the Balsam Fir.  The Balsam Fir is a beautiful pyramidal tree with short, flat, long-lasting, aromatic needles.  Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir have many similar characteristics and some botanists consider them extensions of the same species.  Their geographic ranges do not overlap and the Balsam Fir has to have cold winters and cool summers.  Balsam Fir has a nice, dark green colour and are very fragrant.  The tree was named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on the bark and which was used to treat wounds in the Civil War. 

Number 4 is the Colorado Blue Spruce.  The Colorado Blue is the most familiar to people as an ornamental landscape tree.  the tree has dark green to powdery blue needles, 1 to 3 inches long and a pyramidal form very often sold "living" and with an entire root ball - to be planted after the holidays.  the spruce was chosen in 1978 and planted as the official living White House Lawn Christmas tree.  The young tree is pleasingly symmetrical, is best among species for needle retention and the state tree of both Utah and Colorado.

Number 5 is the Scotch or "Scots" Pine.  This pine is the most planted commercial Christmas tree in North America according to NCTA.  However, this survey does not suggest that it is the most popular.  a true pine, Scots pine was imported from Europe and is not native to America.  It was first used in reforestation efforts in the New World.  Scotch pine tree has stiff branches, two bundled dark green needles 1 to 3 inches long that are retained for four weeks.  the aroma is long-lasting and lingers through the entire season.  Scotch pine does not drop needles when dry - excellent retention. 

What's your personal favourite?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hear Ye, Hear Ye...Read All About It.....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Powell River Garden Club Calendar 2010-2011


Poppies are worn as a symbol of remembrance, a reminder of the blood-red flower that still grows on the former battlefields of France and Belgium.  During the terrible bloodshed of the second battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, wrote of these flowers which lived on among the graves of the dead soldiers. 

The flowers and the larks serve as reminders of nature's ability to withstand the destructive elements of war by men, a symbol of hope in a period of human despair. 
(excerpts from A Day of Remembrance, Veterans Affairs Canada).  To read further, please click here

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"He who shares the joy in what he's grown, spreads joy abroad and doubles his own."  Author Unknown

Sharing Our Gardens

Jayne Fogarty has offered to share with us how she puts her garden to bed in the fall, replenishes existing gardens for spring, and creates new garden beds using a variety of techniques.  In addition, Jayne has kindly offered us the opportunity to return to her garden in the spring to see the results of her efforts. 

Jayne's garden, located at 7318 Alberni Street (between Manson and Bowness), looks like a cottage in the forest.  Watch for the sign and balloons! 

When:  Saturday, November 6th, 2010 from 10:00am til noon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Dirt on...


Everyone knows that pumpkins are enchanted...
Cinderella's godmother turned one into a beautiful pumpkin-shaped carriage, Linus waited for 'the great one' rather than go trick or treating, and every year millions are magically turned into jack o'lanterns!

Pumpkin is the fruit of the species, Cucurbita pepo or Cucurbita mixta.  It can refer to a specific variety of the species Cucurbita maxima or Cucurbita moschata, which all are of the genus, Cucurbita and the family, Cucurbitaceae.

Pumpkins and autumn are synonymous. 

Some pumpkins become scary-looking jack o'lanterns,

some become festive decorations,

and, my personal favorite, some become delicious pies, cakes, and soups. 

for Pumpkin Chowder recipe, click here

To create your own pumpkin vase, choose a relatively flat-bottomed pumpkin, cut off the top, remove the 'guts', pour water directly into the pumpkin's cavity (don't worry, it should be water-tight) or a jar or vase with water can be placed into the cavity (easier clean up) and add your beautiful fall flowers and berried branches (the Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia amabilis is lovely right now). 

Have fun, enjoy your pumpkin...obviously these animals did! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


JoAnne Canning is a well-known master gardener, writer and speaker in the Powell River area.  In Jo-Anne's words, "I am simply a life-long gardener, who decided to keep the world as green as possible and believes if everyone does even a little, it all adds up."

No one at the October meeting of the Powell River Garden Club will be able to 'sleep' through Jo-Anne's talk about "Putting the Garden to Bed".  Please join us on Tuesday, October 26th!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dirt on...

This week's feature plant certainly has history.  Venus considered this lovely fall-flowering plant sacred.  Its flower, held in high esteem by the Romans, was formed into wreaths for the head.  Shakespeare attributed magical love-producing power to this flower in his "Midsummer Night's Dream." 

Can you guess?  It's the Anemone (means wind flower).  In particular, the Japanese Anemone. 

Fall is usually given over to members of the daisy family - asters, chrysanthemums, and the like - but the Japanese Anemone is another fall gem.  These anemones are 2 to 4 feet tall perennials.  The deep green, deeply notched trifoliate leaves are basal with the much branched and many flowered stems held above the foliage. 

Japanese Anemones, members of the Ranunculus family, have 2 to 3-inch pink or white blooms, appear in late summer and early fall, and come in single or double flowering forms. 

Anemones lack true petals.  The showy portion of the bloom actually is the sepals.  The ring of yellow stamens surrounding a conspicous green button-like array of stigmas is an easy-to-spot characteristic of this plant. 

Japanese Anemones prefer compost-rich, loamy, uniformly moist conditions, have poor drought tolerance but are equally sensitive to winter-wet conditions.  They may be slow to establish but once happy in a location will be long-lived, carefree and spread. 

As General Sun Tzu, a 6th century BC military strategist, said "Know thy Anemone!"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Dirt on...

Cyclamen hederifolium or hardy cyclamen

Cyclamen hederifilium, a hardy perennial, is probably the most widespread and hardy cyclamen specie.  Its natural habitat is in woodlands, scrub land or rocky hillsides from sea level to approximately 1300m.  It is well adapted for wet winters and dry summers. 

The corm is basically a fleshy modified stem that stores the plant's water and energy, with roots that grow from around the top.  The dainty flowers appear in fall (September/October), with the leaves coming at the same time as the flower or after. 

Soil requirements:  cyclamen will grow in any soil but prefers loose, well-drained soil with plenty of compost; they tolerate both acid and alkaline soils
Sun requirements:  cyclamen will grow under a wide range of light conditions but prefers partial to light shade
Water requirements:  drought tolerant
Growing cyclamens:  for instructions, click here
Propagation:  cyclamens are self-pollinating and set seed easily.  The flower stalk curls itself around the seed capsule, drawing the capsules close to the corm.  Once the seed have ripen, the capsule breaks open and seeds can be collected (or seed distribution can be left to nature). 

Enjoy these dainty fall-flowering plants in your garden.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Presented by Ewan MacKenzie, Exemplar Horticulture
September 28th, 2010
Powell River Garden Club Meeting

A crowd of approximately 90 Powell River Garden Club members thoroughly enjoyed Ewan MacKenzie's presentation of Waterwise Gardening for Powell River Garden Club on September 28th.  Ewan has kindly given permission for us to publish his presentation (see below) on our blog.  

Waterwise Gardening for Powell River Garden Club

Between climate change and watering restrictions waterwise gardening is becoming more popular.  Waterwise gardening is making informed decisions on water usage based on climate, seasonal watering restrictions and/or water availability, and personal environmental watering goals. 

The first step of waterwise gardening is to set a personal water usage goal.  Then review your garden for exposure to sun and shade as well as wind, and natural soil moisture levels.  Once you have done that you can work with the given zones and plant accordingly.  You can change the landscape to retain moisture, plant shade trees, hedges and windbreaks to reduce water loss.  Review the soil structure, which may vary in different parts of your garden, then amend it based on its requirements.  It may need to be amended with organic matter to help retain moisture.  Deep cultivation promotes deep rooting. 

Traditional lawns are very thirsty and require high maintenance, so carefully consider the percent of your garden you want to assign to lawn.  Alternatively, go with a more drought tolerant seed mix.  A healthy well-maintained lawn is more drought tolerant.  Irrigate lawns wisely, less frequently, but deeply, twice a week should be enough.  An alternative is not to water it and let your lawn turn a golden brown in the summer - it's not dead, it's dormant and will green up surprisingly quickly when you get some rain.

If you are going to irrigate be wise about it and go with low volume drip irrigation.  Regular sprinklers are only 65% effective, as 35% is lost to evaporation or run off.  Low volume drip irrigation is 95% effective due to water being delivered directly to where it's required.  Use of irrigation timers or computers can be handy where you have watering restrictions that happen at inconvenient times, like early in the morning or late in the evening, also solves the problem of getting someone to water for you when you are on vacation.  Also, it is recommended to have an irrigation timer that has an incorporated rain sensor.  Water butts or barrels can be placed on downspouts to collect water during rainy spells.

Your planting plan should first consider big trees and shrubs which can offer shade and act as a windbreak.  Then you should group plants with similar watering requirements into specific zones.  This can either be done using your natural water zones in your garden, or you can create your own water needs groupings.  Within those groupings consider complimentary plant groupings, for colour and contrast. 

Drought tolerant plants do need watering until they are established.  For vest results, plant in spring or fall when there is enough natural moisture and temperatures are not too extreme.  Keep all plants adequately watered until well established.  Depending on the plant this may take anywhere from several months to several years. 

Once planting is done it is a good time to lay down low volume drip irrigation, which can now be covered in mulch.  Mulch is a very important part of waterwise gardening as it reduces water evaporation from the soil surface and also suppresses water thirsty weeds.  A 3-inch layer of mulch is ideal and if it is an organic mulch that decomposes it should be topped up each year with an inch of fresh mulch.  Inorganic mulches can look good but be aware that they usually absorb a lot of heat and are not as effective at reducing moisture loss as organic mulches.  please be careful to avoid choking newly planted plants with mulch.  Mulch should be tapered down towards the crown of the plant.

Useful websites:

Recommended Books:
Waterwise Gardening, Cook, Ian
Burpee Waterwise Garden, Springer, Lauren
High and Dry, Nold, Robert

Ewan's goal was to make us water wise...did he succeed?  I know I went away wiser!!! 

Submitted Karen Munro

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Powell River Garden Club Calendar 2010-2011

Covering Your Assets

Don't worry...'covering your assets' is not about financial planning! 

Soil, your garden's most valuable asset, deserves your attention all year long, but particularly at this time of year.  By using cover crops you can build your soil's texture, fertility, and beneficial microbe populations as well as provide protection from weeds.  Ralph Waldo Emerson's definition of weed:  "A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."

Hairy Vetch and Winter Rye are an awesome couple!

Rye creates a dense groundcover quickly, crowds out weeds and provides winter groundcover while the vetch begins to fix nitrogen.

Rye's dense, fibrous root mass anchors the soil preventing erosion while vetch's taproot houses soil bacteria that are able to convert nitrogen gas from the air into nitrogen that is available to plants, scavenges nutrients from deep in the soil, and carves passages in the soil for drainage.

Rye complements vetch's high nitrogen content with carbon-rich material that will add organic matter when turned under.

Rye is allelopathic, meaning it inhibits the germination of other seeds, reducing weeds.

Oats, tolerant of wet, heavy and poorly drained soils, are planted in late summer or early fall.  The oats mature before Jack Frost makes his mark on our gardens.  They die back, leaving beautifully thick straw mulch by spring.  In the spring, you can plant your crop amongst the oat straw or you can dig the residue under, wait a few weeks, and then plant your crop. 

*picture source:  google images

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


"Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights" quote by Pauline R. Kezer

Like a perennial plant, the Powell River Garden Club has outgrown its current location at Trinity Hall.  Although Trinity Hall has been a wonderfully nurturing place of growth, it is time to transplant the Club to a larger location so it can spread its roots. 

Introducing the new meeting location of the Powell River Garden Club for the 2010/2011 gardening year...The Powell River Seniors' Centre! 

The Seniors' Centre is located at the corner of Cranberry Street and Manson Avenue.  There is plenty of well-lit parking, seating capacity of up to 130 people, and lots of well-lit space inside, perfect for mingling and allowing for different room arrangements.  Just the kind of place a Garden Club can sink its roots into!

Please join us for our inaugural meeting at the Powell River Seniors' Centre on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010, doors open at 7:00 pm, meeting commences at 7:30 pm.  Mr. Ewan MacKenzie will be our guest speaker, informing us on being 'Water-Wise.'

Monday, August 16, 2010

Have you any 'seedy' characters in your garden?

"The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies." by Gertrude Jekyll

Are your flowers, herbs, or vegetables starting to go to seed?  Why not save those seeds to swap at next year's Powell River Seedy Saturday?  Mark March 12th, 2011 on your calendar for the big community seed exchange/sustainable garden fair at the Recreation Complex. 

To help you become a more informed seed saver, Wendy Devlin, PRGC member, will facilitate a hands-on seed saving workshop on her farm (6834 Smarge Avenue at the end of Taku Street in Wildwood) on Saturday, September 11th, 2010 from 2:30 - 4:30 pm. 

This workshop is sponsored by the Powell River Community Resource Center.  The cost of the workshop is by donation.  Everyone is welcome.  Please register by calling 604-485-0992. 

Information kindly provided by Marlaine Taylor

Monday, August 9, 2010

Powell River's Second Annual Edible Garden Tour

On Sunday, August 8th, 2010, many people from the Powell River area were treated to Powell River's Second Annual Edible Garden Tour!  What a great way to see how other people in our community are producing some of their own food. 

Garden #1:  Heinz Becker produces edible produce year-round in a beautiful, but challenging, garden built on rocks, with limited sunlight and visits from local wildlife! 

Garden #2  Will Langlands & Nicole Narbonne used a permaculture model when developing their lush 2500-square foot vegetable garden.  In addition, they raise chickens and bees, cultivate berries and planted a small orchard. 

Garden #3:  Doug Brown's (future home of Wildwood U-Pick) initial goal was to produce all the veggies and fruit that would meet his families needs for an entire year.  He also enjoys growing some of the more uncommon fruits, like the Tibetan Goji berry, and veggies. 

Garden #4  Jennifer Dodd created her first-year garden with the intent of providing enough produce for her family for the summer as well as for canning.  She is using the principles of square foot gardening and succession planting in a small space. 

Garden #5  Elaine Steiger's small garden is producing peas, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, various brassicas, and pole beans.  Her new, large garden has potatoes, peas, bush and pole beans and a green manure crop started of oats and buckwheat. 

Garden #6  Rosie Fleury's garden produces a full season of greens, herbs, veggies, berries, mingled with many varieties of perennial and annual flowers for cut flower bouquets.  She uses the principles of square foot gardening, composting, and crop rotation to increase her harvest yields. 

Garden #7  Connie Thurber's main goal is to grow year-round greens and use space efficiently.  She uses rebar to 'grow up'.  Connie, working with other people, has created blackberry trails through her property.  What fun! 

Garden #8  The Seventh Day Adventist Shared Community Garden offers members of the community an opportunity to grow food.  In addition, the Sprouts program, run through Family Place, has been donated a significant space to grow food for their healthy snack initiative.  Participants help to plant, weed, and water and, in turn, receive a portion of the harvest. 
A small play area for children occupies a corner of the garden. 

Garden #9  The staff and volunteers at the Community Resource Centre's three-year-old demonstration garden organically produce a variety of veggies in raised beds.  There are compost and vermicompost bins and a new small greenhouse.  The Hen House, with its colourful occupants, is an interesting addition. 

Garden #10  Hana-Louise Braun is using lasagna gardening techniques, mulching, and cover crops, like buckwheat and clover, to build soil so that she can eat from her garden year-round.  She intends to save lots of seeds for herself and others. 

Such a pleasant way to spend a sunny August day.  I highly recommend everyone participate in Powell River's Third Annual Edible Garden Tour next year! 

The Edible Garden Tour is brought to you by the Powell River Food Security Project, which is funded by Vancouver Coastal Health.