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.