Sunday, 29 November 2015

Celebrate the Season - Final meeting of 2015

Festive wear and festive treats helped us to ring out the Club's year. 

Audrey and Barry hosted us in their beautiful home.  We spoiled each other with holiday baking and other goodies to share. 

A quick recap of our year revealed just how busy we've been as a club and soon we were talking again about plants and our garden plans for the new year.

Until our next meeting (check our events calendar here) : Happy Holidays!   

(Below: One way to preserve the harvest into winter -- delicious root vegetable chips!)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Community Gardeners Mix & Mingle

Join the conversations at this informal session. . Get the information you are looking for, from people who have experienced building a garden from start to finish.

Local community gardeners, COE and Sustainable Food Edmonton staff will be available to answer your questions on a variety of topics including:
  • Get started 
  • Core Group Organization 
  • Volunteer & Time raising 
  • Funding/Grant Applications 
  • City Process 
  • Community Partnerships 
  • Community Engagement 
  • Safety Benefits from gardens 
  • Tour of the Sunshine Garden 
  • Composting
WHERE: Fulton Place Community Hall, 6115 Fulton Drive
WHEN: 6:30 pm—8:00 pm, Monday, November 30th  

Light Refreshments served

RSVP by November 26th to or call 780 496 5857

Arranged by The City of Edmonton, Sustainable Food Edmonton and the Fulton Place Sunshine Community Garden

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Doug Muir of Mystic Wild Craft: Local Artist at Work

Out of sight, in the backyard of a Highlands home is an open air wood workshop.  It is here where Doug Muir of Mystic Wild Craft takes reclaimed wood and uncovers wooden faces and sculptures. 

He graciously let Highlands Garden Club members tour his work space and answered our eager questions about his art and process. 
Some completed pieces were able for sale, and knowing that each one was varnished and weather-proof (perfect for outdoor display) Club members happily adopted some for their gardens.  (Below: See some of the friends we made!)

A more detailed account of his work and our visit will feature in a future Highlands / Bellevue Highlights. Keep your eyes open! 

Side note: Doug is also a carpenter by day.  Give him a call if you need a bespoke wood piece for your garden or home. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

2015 Community League Day

Community League Day started a bit chilly and quiet, but as the weather warmed, more people came out to Highlands Park to visit the community clubs' and vendors' booths.

The Highlands Garden Club table was a hit!

The Club gave away "seed bombs" (seed packets of Margaret's Mystery Garden Flower Mix) and plants divided from Audrey and Margaret's gardens.

People were excited about the giveaways and stuck around to chat about gardening and bees!  We were proud to show people the beautiful plants we could grow in the area without using pesticides.

It was a fun day and we hope to see more of these faces from the community at our next events soon!

A bouquet of Margaret's garden flowers.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

"If you have a garden..." Cicero


Thursday, 20 August 2015

‘Bee hotels’ give solitary pollinators rooms of their own

Excerpt from the article Margaret shared at the August meeting (click on the link to see full article and video):

‘Bee hotels’ give solitary pollinators rooms of their own
Madeleine Cummings, Edmonton Journal 07.19.2015
The “hotel,” which was attached Monday to a tree on the Edmonton Community Foundation’s downtown grounds, is made of wood and hollow bamboo stems. It has about 200 cylindrical holes, where solitary bees can lay eggs.

Unlike honey bees, which live communally in hives, solitary bees live alone, but still need safe spots to stash their eggs. Normally, bees find sheltered nooks and crannies in trees or underground, but these have become scarce in Edmonton and other cities across the country.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

August: Meeting at Margaret's

August's laid back meeting was the perfect chance for members to explore Margaret's garden. 

She created focal points with recovered wooden stumps.  And little springs of wild grasses with usual seed heads nodded between larger plants. 

The front yard's main motif was aquatic - a fish! 

To the one side was a collection of different coral bells.

There were many plants in flower, including (right) a gentian that Ollie declared was an amazing true blue! 

The side of house was Margaret's prairie garden with saskatoons, currants, milkweed, and a native grass (below) that Erica remembers calling "mascara grass" as a kid. 

The backyard was a combination of a flowers and edibles and a haven for insects and natural life. 

(Below) Bees happily foraged, a yellow spider hid among golden blooms, and wasps were welcomed - as carnivores to eat any hand-squished cabbage worms

When the sun started to go low, we headed inside for our meeting.  Over plates of treats, we reviewed articles on monarch butterfly migration, bee hotels, and the "pretty pain" also known as Himalayan balsam.

Margaret also shared her garden bounty - cucumbers yum! 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

George Pegg Botanic Garden and Granola Greenhouses

It was another beautiful day for a field trip!  Club members Audrey, Erica, Margaret, Marie, and I piled into Barry's vehicle and headed out to Lac St. Anne - only slightly breaking the law along the way.  

We chatted about our gardens, ant control, and shared stories about outhouses.  Before long we were at our destination: George Pegg Botanic Garden

It certainly was the best time to visit - there were no other groups there, and we found both raspberries and Saskatoon berries were in fruit - a very lovely breakfast / mid-morning snack! 

Cassidy, our guide, was amused by our enthusiasm.  We toured the historic homestead, paying particular attention to the different plants.  There was wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), amur cherry (Prunus maackii), heritage tree ponderosa pine (Pine ponderosa), poison ivy (Rhus radicans - clearly fenced off), St.John's Wort and many more.  An edible gardening area also featured different kinds of peas and apple trees.  Wouldn't you know it?  Someone started weeding the rose garden.

Various pollinators on common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

It's probably no surprise that with such plant diversity there would also be plenty of animals and insects: multiple bees heading straight for one flower, frogs, a mouse, and even bats!

Cassidy led us also through some educational activities in the barn, a "What can you compost?" exercise.  You can bet there was a lot of discussion amongst our group.

More photos of our visit click here:
2015-07-25 George Pegg Botanic Garden

We left to find lunch and was pleasantly surprised by the cafe at Gunn Esso - real soup!

Next it was to Granola Greenhouses!

The owners greeted us and shared handfuls of Saskatoon berries from their stock.  We got some great deals on interesting plants - so many in fact, we completely filled Barry's truck bed.  And still we probably could have filled more...

What a great day!  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

For All to Enjoy

“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”
— Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Did you know the Highlands Garden Club maintains a native plant garden?  The small plot is located on the southern end of Highlands Park.  Members have been slowly adding to the collection, with a Joe Pye Weed plant being one of the most recent. Come visit and you may even find some native bees in action! 

The Community Garden in front of the Community Hall is also home to many interesting flowers and insects.  Come by at different times of day and marvel at the differences!   

Club Members weed and maintain this garden and other plots throughout spring, summer, and autumn.  If you see us out there please say hi - we'll gladly talk to you about plants!

Note: These spaces are meant for the enjoyment of all - please do not pick the flowers, take the plants, or leave any litter.  With these in mind, we'll have a little place of enchantment to share. 

Saturday, 11 July 2015

A Stab of Stink

Could this truly be "The Year of the Stinkbug"?

Someone at last meeting made the declaration and described them as a black and red, shield-shaped beetle. Yep, they do seem to be everywhere!

Here are some on my Cranesbill geranium (making more beetles...).

Question: Are they a problem and why are there so many?

A quick search for stinkbug comes up with a number of brown beetles. But, Iowa State University's helped me identify it: Cosmopepla lintneriana is also known as the "Wee Harlequin Bug" or "Twice-Stabbed Stink bug".  

Local gardener bloggers have written about them and given some good advice:

1. Once-Edmonton-resident, The Home Bug Gardener, has beautiful high resolution photos including newly hatched beetles and nymphs.  He also states "it is a host generalist, but feeds almost entirely on seeds. So, finding them on your peas is not good, but on your garden flowers, not so bad."

2. Shirley's recent post suggests our relatively mild winter may be one reason why there are so many. 

3. Rob Sproule's "Stink Bus" article is short and to the point on how to limit damage and control.

Both Shirley and Rob Sproule mention they can likely be controlled with non-pesticide means.  They also apparently bite!  And, of course, stink.

Conclusion: As they only seem to be bugging my perennial flowers, I'm going to let them be.

Are they a problem for you? 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Gabbing at the Gazebo - July's Meeting

It was hot.  So hot, we decided to move the meeting out to the Highlands Park gazebo.

Every breeze was welcomed as we talked about club business and our gardening challenges.

One challenge in particular: With all the heat, Marie's garden has bloomed early, so what could fill the gap between now and October?  Our group brainstorm came up with: delphiniums, roses, sunflowers, grasses, asters, sedums, fireweed, rudbeckia ("Prairie Sun" in particular") and echinacae.

There was also some good news: Lori and Gisele have been nominated for Front Yards in Bloom!

Though a number of members were going to zip away for summer vacation, we made some concrete group plans:

1. A trip (suggested by Johanne) to George Pegg Botanic Park on the 25-July-2015. Meet 9 a.m. at the Community Hall car park to car pool to there.

2. Next meeting (12-August) to be held at Margaret's!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tessa: Garden "Helper"

I don't have pictures of our dog, Tessa, caught in the act but she likes to help us garden.

Last week we planted potatoes. When we placed them in the holes ready to cover them up with dirt, Tessa snatched a potato and took off with it.

When I transplanted some nasturtiums she dug them out and I had to chase her around the yard to get the seedlings back.

She dug a young shrub right out of the ground. Perhaps she knew it was dead and was just helping us.

I spend plenty of time chasing her when she steals my garden gloves or small garden tools when I'm working with them and have just laid them down temporarily. She thinks it's great my running around after her.

This week, I hand picked a pile of dandelions out of our lawn and put them in a plastic bucket. She stuck her head in the bucket and ran around the yard spreading them back over the lawn - ever so artistically.

Now if I could only train her to dig when and where we want her to…

- Johanne. Highlands Garden Club Member

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Oh it burns! The science of watering in full sun

"... hot gardening (sort of like hot yoga but even more strenuous!)" ~ Audrey

With multiple days of 30+ degree weather and unclouded sun, it was dry, dry, dry: I poured water onto my plants every chance I could get!  But I might have been doing more harm than good.

It was my father-in-law who actually brought it up with me, "Isn't it bad to water plants when they're in the sun?"  I knew a lot of it probably did evaporate so it wasn't great for water conservation, but was it bad for the plants?  To the internets! 

What I found: Science has caught up to what old wives have known for years - watering plants in full sun can burn their leaves!  In some cases at least. 

Researchers found smooth plant leaves were unscathed, while the fuzzy leaves' "... hairs can hold the water droplets in focus above the leaf's surface, acting as a magnifying glass."
And that's exactly what I saw in the garden: My poor tomatoes and potatoes have tiny burn-speckled leaves while my sunflowers and beans were fine. 

So from now on it's only watering in the morning* and avoiding the leaves for me.

* More reasons why watering in the morning is better from Horticulture Magazine can be found here.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

PSA:(That Rotten) Apple-Maggot

Almost every one of our speakers in the past 12 months has mentioned a rising pest in the city: The Apple Maggot.  One has gone so far to say he's not interested in growing apples because of the likelihood of infestation.

Adult Apple Maggot Fly from Planet Natural
So, what is a gardener who loves apples to do?

Planet Natural's "Apple Maggot", Rob Sproule's "Apple Maggots 101", and University of Minnesota's "Apple Maggot: IPM for home growers" all have plenty of information about this insect and have devised approaches to manage it by interrupting its life cycle.

Tips include:
1. Set up apple maggot traps right after bloom time - trap the adults before they lay eggs on the apple fruit
2. Clean up apples right when they fall and do not compost them - prevents the pupae from leaving the apples, overwintering, and becoming adults.
Do these and convince your neighbours to the same, and we'll all get fewer of these:
Apple Maggot in Apple from Planet Natural 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Neighbourhood Walkabout - June's Meeting

It was a lovely night for a walk so Erica and I took the Garden Club meeting outdoors into the neighbourhood for a walkabout.

Immediately, we could see the Club's hard work paid off: the community garden looked great! Purple irises, pink and white daisies, blue perennial cornflowers, along with the last of the yellow Icelandic poppies made a colouful display.

Happy bees circled the blooms and had the two of us snapping away.

Janis Irwin, NDP Candidate for Edmonton Griesbach, found us thus, and joined us to admire the garden.  She was impressed and thought it was great for the Club to maintain this for the community.  
Erica and I went next to Highlands Park to check on the planters.  They were showing good general growth (pink columbine, yellow day lilies, and lilies in bud), but also bald spots that could use some care.  

We continued our walk into the neighbourhood and was admiring the diverse gardens so close by.  One house in particular was luscious in the shade. As we leaned closer to look in, one of the owners hard at work noticed us and offered a tour!  

The other owner and their two dogs soon joined us and we chatted about plants, gardening, and urban bee keeping until the mosquitoes drove us away.

The neighbourhood tour certainly had us inspired.  So, whose garden is next?