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