Saturday, February 26, 2011

Seedy Saturday Workshops

As promised at the last Garden Club meeting, here are the confirmed WORKSHOP topics for Seedy Saturday, March 12, 2011, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, in the Arbutus Room at the Powell River Recreation Complex. 

Am I Gardening Yet?
(Master Gardener, Jo-Ann Canning)

Creating an Edible Landscape
(Urban Landscape Designer, Ron Berezan)

Organic Remedies for Fruit and Vegetable Diseases
(Master Gardener, Myst DeVana)

Attracting Pollinators
(Bee Keeper Instructor, Ted Leischner)

Composting Alchemy
(Master Composter, Carol Engram)

Permaculture Primer
(Gardening Instructor, Rin Innes)

From Seeds to Seedlings
(Market Gardener/Florist, Rosie Fleury)

Seed-Starting 101
(Gardening Instructor/Seed Saver, Wendy Devlin)

Posted by Wendy Devlin
February 25, 2011 11:09 AM

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm no Poet Laureate...

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
They don't get around
Like the Invasive Plants do!!!

Dave Murphy, Welcome Harvest Farm
 January's Guest Speaker, Dave Murphy, from Welcome Harvest Farm, mentioned his interest in invasive plants during his very informative presentation on organic fertilizers/soil amendments.  Being inquisitive, I 'googled' my way through some material I thought might be of interest.  

Invasive plants are spreading aggressively throughout BC.  They are often mistaken as wildflowers.  What defines an invasive plant?  The Invasive Plant Council of BC defines the term "invasive plant" as any invasive alien plant species that has the potential to pose undesirable or detrimental impacts on humans, animals or ecosystems. Invasive plants have the capacity to establish quickly and easily on both disturbed and undisturbed sites, and can cause widespread negative economic, social, and environmental impacts. Many invasive plants have been introduced to British Columbia without their natural predators and pathogens that would otherwise keep their populations in check in their countries of origin.

Second to habitat loss, invasive species have been identified as the most significant threat to biodiversity. In 2000 (updated in 2004), the World Conservation Union collaboratively published a booklet identifying 100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species, four -- Gorse, Japanese Knotwood, Leafy Spurge, and Purple Loosestrife -- of which currently exist in British Columbia. 

There are often several alternate species for some of these invasive plants. For example, instead of English Ivy, consider crinkle leaf creeper (Rubus calycinoides), Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata), or wintercreeper euonymous (Euonymous x fortunei cultivars). Nurseries, garden clubs and websites can provide more information about alternate species suitable for a specific growing area.

Four Questions to Ask About a New Plant:  Before you plant a new species in your garden, ask yourself these questions. 
1.  "Will the plant be invasive outside my garden?"  The very characteristics that make a plant desirable -- easy germination, tolerance to drought and frost, rapid growth, and abundant seed production -- enable a plant species to become invasive.
2.  "If I order a plant from outside BC, could it be invasive in my environment?" 
3.  "What do I need to know from my local nursery or garden centre?  First find out if a plant is a 'fast spreader' or a 'vigorous self-seeder' in your planting zone.  If so, these are warning signs. 
4.  "Is there an alternate plant I can use instead of one with the potential to become invasive?"  Check the availability of alternative, non-invasive plants suitable for your area. 

The Invasive Plant Council of Bristish Columba offers some Outreach Material on their website.  One brochure of interest is "A Snapshot of the Grow Me Instead Booklet." 

Fast Facts
1.  The invasive Purple Loosestrife can make 300,000 seeds in one plant in one year and has    more than 120 different kinds of insects that feed on it in Europe where it’s from but has next to none here.
2.  Invasive plant seeds and parts can get caught in animal fur and spread to new places. We need to pull, bag, and toss them in the trash!
3.  One giant hogweed plant can produce 50,000 seeds per year! These seeds can still grow even after sitting around for 15 years! 
4.  There are an estimated 485 invasive plant species in Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Information found at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Scented Rhododendrons

Reprinted from The BC Council of Garden Clubs Bulletin, January/February 2011

Text and photos from Harold Fearing, Past President of Fraser South Rhododendron Society

One day as I was weeding in the greenhouse, I brushed against the foliage of a small plant and noticed a wonderful spicy fragrance. That got me to thinking. Fragrance is something we don’t normally pay much attention to in rhododendrons. Only a few of the normal lepidote or elepidote rhododendrons have fragrant flowers, unlike azaleas, many of which are quite fragrant.

Of the regular hardy rhododendrons, R. fortunei is probably the best-known fragrant species. It is usually a vigorous, large growing plant with pale pink flowers. The fragrance is subtle, not something you notice across the garden, but still nice when you are near the plant. Others of the Fortunea subsection, such as R. decorum and R. diaprepes have similar fragrances.

Probably the most fragrant regular rhododendron we have in our garden in one distributed in the lower mainland as R. rigidum ‘Bodineri’. This plant originated from the late Frank Dorsey, a long-time rhodophile. While I don’t remember all the details of the story he told, the ‘Bodineri’ part was a name he apparently coined. The plant keys out to R. rigidum, and appears identical to two other clones of R. rigidum I have, except for the fragrance. And this is fragrance you can smell across the garden, especially on a sunny warm day. The plant covers itself with blooms as well, so it is a spectacular plant for the garden.

There are also several relatively tender rhododendrons, which are supposed to have large and very fragrant flowers: R. madenii, R. nuttallii, R. dalhousiae, and R. edgeworthii. I have no personal experience with these, as they are all too tender for the exposed garden we have. I think some people in more protected gardens in the lower mainland are able to grow R. edgeworthii successfully however.

Among the deciduous species there is more choice. One of my favourites is R. atlanticum. This is a smaller plant with grey green leaves. It spreads by stolons and so eventually becomes a spreading bush with lots of stems. The flowers have a long tube with flaring petals at the end and a sweet fragrance powerful enough to smell from some feet away.

R. luteum is another very fragrant plant. It is a deciduous azalea, bright yellow and a native of the Caucasus area of eastern Europe. Many of the fragrant hybrid azaleas have R. luteum in their parentage. Our own west coast azalea R. occidentale can also be very fragrant, as are several of the east coast native azaleas, such as R. viscosum.

I have seen the claim in several places in the literature that most fragrant rhododendrons are white or pale pink. The theory is that the fragrance attracts pollinators and so there is no need for flashy colours.

R. luteum is obviously a glaring exception to this claim. Although many of the others are pale coloured, I don’t really know how strong the scientific evidence for that claim is.

photo by Harold Fearing
But enough of flowers and back to what got me thinking about fragrance in the first place. The plant I was weeding was R. ledebourii, considered a variety of R. dauricum by some. Simply sweeping your hands through the foliage is enough to release a sweet spicy fragrance. The related species R. sichotense, and R. dauricum itself, have similarly fragrant foliage. This characteristic is also inherited by some of the dauricum hybrids, eg., the well-known ‘PJM’. R. ledebourii is a native of Siberia, so is completely hardy, and is also one of the earliest to bloom, even in late January or early February.

Several other small leaved species share a similar fragrant foliage, for example, R. sargentianum, and its selected form ‘Maricee’, and the similarly flowered R. primuliflorum. Among the somewhat larger-leaved plants, the foliage of R. cinnabarinum, with its attractive blue green foliage, is supposed to have a distinctive spicy smell when crushed. However, I could not detect this, at least not on a cold November afternoon, in any of the several clones I have, except for R. xanthocodon, which is now considered a subspecies of R. cinnabarinum. Again according to the books, R. hippophaeoides is another common species with fragrant foliage. A narrow leaved version, var. occidentale, which I recently acquired, does seem to be fragrant, but the more common wider-leaved clone ‘Haba Shan’ has no smell that I could detect.

So while fragrance of either flowers or foliage would probably not be the primary reason for choosing a particular plant, it is another dimension to our enjoyment of rhododendrons. And, at this time of year, when you are crawling around on hands and knees weeding, a few plants with fragrant foliage can certainly make the task more bearable.

photo by Harold Fearing
The small-leaved R. ledebourii, R. dauricum album, and R. sichotense, all have aromatic leaves whose spicy sweet fragrance wafts up when the leaves are brushed or when the sun warms them.

R. xanthecodon is a member of the cinnabarinum family, whose lovely blue-green leaves have a bracing resinous odour if rubbed or crushed.

Geographic distribution of Rhododendrons & Azaleas


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Exclusive Announcement by Wendy Devlin

Exclusive announcement to Garden Club members!
(being the first to know)

I'm selling open-pollinated, mostly heritage seeds, starting this Saturday,
February 5 at the Winter Market at the Community Resource Center, from 10:30am-12:30 p.m.

95% of the seeds are from my garden and the other 5%, come from other local dedicated seed-savers, whose seed quality, I can vouch for. This week, there's an abundant selection of tomato and dry/snap bean varieties and several other vegetable varieties. Each week until Seedy Saturday on March 12, I'll add more vegetables, herbs and flowers (as they get packaged up!)

After this weekend, there will be a list of seeds available but remember I'm so small, that realistically 5-10 packages of each variety is likely be this year's 'stock'.

Introductory Price: $2.50 per package or 5 for $10
Posted by Wendy Devlin February 4th, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Powell River Garden Club Calendar


When:  Starting March 26th through April, including field day (22 hours of fun filled learning), Saturdays 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Where: Community Resource Centre, 4752 Joyce Avenue, Powell River

Instructor:  Ted Leischner, B.Sc., Post Secondary Beekeeping Instructor, Commercial Beekeeper, Native Bee Conservationist

Cost: $150.00 per participant

Detailed brochure available and to register:  contact 604 414-0468 or
[Brochures also available at the Community Resource Centre]