Growing Succulents

Christene Gilbey, owner of Sun Worshipper Succulents in Belleville shared her love for these amazing plants at the April meeting of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society. As a child, Christene, remembers harvesting “stones” from her parents’ potato fields! Fortunately, this experience did not ruin Christene’s love for gardening. While she was living in an apartment with no yard, she turned to small easy-care succulents. She opened Sun Worshipper Succulents in November, 2020 and has shared her love for these plantswith others.

Succulents are perfect plants for small places. 

It is necessary to use a well draining soil mixture. Christene mixes her own soil at her store and this succulent mix, “rainbow mix” can be purchased at her store. The mixture is ½ potting soil and ½ perlite.

For gardeners who forget about watering their plants, succulents are perfect for you! The soil should be totally dry before watering…and if you forget, the plants are very forgiving! It is best to water from the top and try to avoid getting the leaves wet. Do not let the plant sit in water. Christene uses bamboo sticks to test for dryness…if dry, then and only then is it time to water. 

These plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. It was interesting tolearn that the amount of water and light can bring out the colour of the succulents. 

No fertilizer is needed…. these plants survive on neglect!

Like all plants, pests like mealy bugs, fungus gnats and powdery mildew can be a problem for succulents. When Christene purchases plants for her store, she quarantines the new ones for two weeks to ensure there will be no bugs. 

Christene enjoys checking thrift shops for containers for her succulent arrangements. Her shop offers a “drilling” service to drill holes in containers using a diamond tip on the drill. That hole in the base of the container is essential for drainage as succulents do not like wet soil.

Although succulents can flower, Christene says the flowers are neither fragrant or outstanding…. flowers fade but foliage is forever!

Members were given the opportunity to “shop” after the meeting. It seems that many members are now becoming “succulent worshippers” just like Christene!

The store, Sun Worshipper Succulents is located at 191 Dundas Street East, Unit # 3. Belleville. Phone: 613-970-1556 email…sunworsuc@gmail.com The hours are Wednesday-Sunday 10-5. 

MAY 7 MEETING @ 7 pm Tweed Public Library

Lorraine Johnson, a writer, editor and community advocate for the natural world will provide practical information about creating a welcoming habitat for insects and other wildlife. 

Some Sunny Succulents

Christene Gilbert, owner of Sun Worshipper Succulents in Belleville, is the guest speaker at the next Tweed Hort meeting on April 2, 7 p.m. at the Tweed Library.

Christene tells us a bit of her story here:

My earliest memory of gardening involved “harvesting” stones from my parents’ potato field. Luckily that didn’t sway me from the love of flowers too.

About 20 years ago I opened Common Scents Garden Consultation where I grew annuals and hardy perennials in my 20X40foot greenhouse. Most plant businesses engage in other winter services in order to have a year-round income. That wasn’t something I wanted to do.  I met my husband, sold the greenhouse and went back to school and obtained my medical office administration diploma. I worked in the healthcare field for many years, but something was missing. I no longer enjoyed the commuting to Kingston for work and longed for plants back in my life. We had downsized to a 2-bedroom apartment and without a yard I fell hard for the small, easy-care succulents that I sell today. The fact that I hate everything “winter” related was the inspiration to name my business Sun Worshipper Succulents.

My past experience includes:

Former Master Gardener- Quinte/Tweed

Past president of the Belleville Garden Club.

Multiple speaking engagements including presentations to both public school and secondary schools, as well as area horticultural groups.

Owner of Sun Worshipper Succulents which I opened on November 6, 2020 which is where you will find me Wednesdays through Sundays 10-5. 

Shoreline Care

Lindsay Nash, Outreach and Stewardship coordinator for Quinte Conservation outlined the responsibilities involved in caring for shoreline properties at the March meeting of the Tweed and DistrictHorticultural Society. Using a power point presentation, Linsday gave members who own land adjacent to lakes and rivers helpful information to maintain a healthy shoreline.

By definition, “shoreline” is the area where land and water meet and this “ribbon of life” is a vital link providing plants and animals the resources they require to exist. It is essential to properly care for the shoreline on the waterfront property. 

One way to do this is by maintaining/planting a buffer zone of native plants, shrubs, trees along the shoreline. This helps to slow erosion, provide food and shelter for fish and wildlife species and protects the landowner’s property and investment.  And a natural shoreline means less work and more time to enjoy its beauty!

Lindsay mentioned several native species that would help with the naturalization of the shoreline…. white birch, sugar maple, red dogwood, wild roses, swamp milkweed, cardinal flower. She provided pamphlets at the meeting that offered numerous possibilities and listed suppliers in the area. She did stress the importance of“biodiversity” in planting to prevent the area from being wiped out completely in the case of a disease.

Waterfront property owners are always concerned with erosion of the shoreline. Any type of construction along the shoreline requires a permit from Quinte Conservation. Repairs to existing rock walls are permitted but construction of new ones is not permitted. For a fee, Quinte Conservation offers a site visit to assist the property owner with the naturalization of the shoreline on their property

For members who do not have property on a lake or river, Lindsay suggested  making a rain garden. Use a mixture of sand and soil to capture the rainwater. Use native plants in the garden that are both drought and water resistant.

As Lindsay said, naturalizing your shoreline may involve some work initially but the rewards far outweigh the work when you can enjoy the beautiful lakefront views from your property knowing that you have protected that “ribbon of life” on your property.

April 2 MEETING @ 7 pm Tweed Public Library

Christene Gilby, owner of Sun Worshipper Succulents in Belleville will discuss the growing and caring of succulents. She will have some plants for sale…cash only.

Gardens Across Canada

Using a power point presentation, Penny Stewart took members of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society on a trip across Canada visiting various gardens throughout the country.  Penny also included the historical background of the gardens she visited. 

Penny Stewart is an avid photographer who has won many design and horticultural trophies throughout her 60 years of gardening. She played a key role in the development of a green garden in front of the Ministry of Environment office located in Kingston. 

The first garden on our tour was the famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia. The gardens provide dramatic floral displays in a variety of garden settings. This garden which has been open to the public since 1904 has been designated as an historical site.

Next stop was the 650-acre Hatley Estate Gardens in Vancouver. This garden is a national historic site which houses hundreds of heritage trees that are known for their size, rarity and diversity. There is a 250-year old Douglas Fir that is among the largest in the area. The formal gardens include the Rose Garden, the Italian Garden and the Japanese Garden. Penny’s photos highlighted the  spectacular rhododendrons in bloom as well as the clematis. 

Nitobe Memorial Gardens are located on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. Although small in size (2.5 acres), this Japanese garden is considered one of the top Japanese gardens outside Japan. The peaceful garden has rock gardens, canopy walks and a feeling of peacefulness prevails throughout the garden. And all the shrubs are hand pruned!

Dr Sun Yat Sen Garden is a walled garden located in Vancouver’s downtown area near Chinatown. It was the first Chinese garden built outside of Asia. Rock and stone material was imported from China.

VanDusen Botanical Garden is also located in  Vancouver. The gardens host a mixture of annuals and perennials in interesting colour combinations.  The gardens contain a variety of Japanese maples. 

Travelling east, the members headed to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON which are the largest botanical gardens in Canada. These gardens consist of formal and informal gardens, lilac displays, roses, hiking trails, interesting combinations of annuals and perennials planted together. Many pieces of “art in the garden” add interest to the gardens. 

The Thousand Island Rideau Canal Garden Tour is a self-directed garden tour of public and private gardens from mid-May to September. To check dates for the tour, refer to their website…www.gardentrail.1000islandsandrideaucanal.com .

Montreal Botanical Garden, located in downtown Montreal contains 200 thematic gardens, 10 greenhouses and more than 22,000 species of plants.  It has one of the largest bonsai displays outside of China. This display is moved into the greenhouse for the winter months. 

Jardin Daniel A. Seguin in Saint-Hyacinthe is just south of Montreal. It is a small garden (11 acres) that is recognized for its large collection of annual flowers. Trial gardens for new annuals are located here. As these are teaching gardens, all the plants are well labelled in the many thematic gardens. Hosta gardens are being developed.

Bleu Lavande is a lavender garden located in the Eastern Townships, south of Montreal. 

Jardin Botanique Roger-Van den Hende is a located on the outskirts of Quebec City. The gardens include an annual trail garden and stunning clematis displays. More than 4000 species of plants are arranged by botanical name. 

The Jardins de Metis/Redford Gardens, located in the Gaspe Bay area of Quebec are one of the most northern gardens in North America. Some 3000 species and varieties of plants are located in the fifteen gardens. Of particular interest is the famous Himalayan blue poppy that grows here. Lupins grow throughout the gardens. 

And finally, the most eastern garden on our tour-Annapolis Royal Historical Gardens located in Nova Scotia. These gardens contain formal Victorian gardens and a rose garden with thousands of colourful blossoms. 

Penny ended her travel presentation with a glimpse of her garden and as she said in conclusion, “wherever you go, there is no place like home!”

MARCH 5 MEETING @ 7 pm Tweed Public Library

Quinte Conservation Staff will outline the responsibilities involved in caring for shoreline property. Helpful tips in maintaining healthy shorelines and river/lake beds will be covered.

Christmas Potluck

Members of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society welcomed the festive season with their annual Christmas potluck dinner at the December meeting. It is always a great way to start the holiday season with gardening friends!

Several members were presented with service pins to acknowledge their years of service to the club. Congratulations to these members and thank you for your hard work and dedication to the club.

Linda Holmes’ annual power point presentation was enjoyed by the members. The presentation highlights the meetings, speakers, gardens and community activities during 2023. Many thanks to Linda for the presentation…always a highlight of the evening. 

Members had fun playing “Quarter Frenzy” as they bid for various prizes using their quarters. Many members were lucky…others maybe not so much but everyone had fun!!!

Wishing our members all the joys of the holiday season and best wishes for a happy 2024!

NOTE: First meeting in 2024 will be on Tuesday February 6th @ 7pm at the Tweed Library. Annual Memberships will be available at the meeting.

An Award

Elizabeth Churcher accepts an award from James Kimmerly of District 3. The award was given to Tweed Hort for their childrens program. The program involved putting butterfly kits in the schools and the Pub

A Lesson on Growing Lavender

Lori Kelly (right) was the guest speaker at our recent meeting. She brought along some of her lavender products to sell and they were a big hit. On the left is Elizabeth Churcher, one of the rotating presidents of the Society.

There was a great turnout at the Tweed and District Horticultural Society November meeting to learn about lavender in a presentation given by Lori Kelly and her husband, Bernie of Stone Mills Lavender. Her power point presentation highlighted their fields, the distilling process and the products they produce.

When Lori retired in 2019, she decided to grow lavender at their farm. They started with 60 lavender plugs the first year and then jumped 700 in the second year! Lori admitted they “learned as they went” …. somethings worked and others not so much. 

Their farm is located on a hill which provides excellent drainage as lavender plants do not like wet roots. Six hours of sunlight is also required. Locating “just the right” landscape fabric to help control weeds and water was a bit of a challenge. Lori feels they have solved that issue.

Although lavender can be propagated, Lori prefers to purchase plugs from a reliable source. Bonemeal is added to the soil in the spring to give it a “boast”. To winterize, the plants are covered with burlap. Their plants are pruned in the spring.

Lori often cuts her lavender before it is fully open -usually mid-July-more vibrant colour and stronger fragrance.  When cut, the lavender is tied in bundles and then hung upside down in a cool dark place. 

Using her lavender, Lori produces essential oils, hydrosol, bug spray, salve, sun blocker….all made with natural ingredients.

Members did some Christmas shopping from the selection of products Lori had for sale at the meeting.

Upcoming Events:

December 5 Meeting…. Details to be announced

Some Lavender and an AGM

Our annual general meeting will be held Tuesday Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Tweed Public Library.

Following the meeting, Lori Kelly of Stone Mills Lavender in Enterprise will give a talk on growing and harvesting lavender and making essential oils and sprays.

Lori will have lavender products for sale.

Everyone is welcome. Cost for non-members is $3.

All About Fungi

Members of the Tweed and District Horticultural Society were amazed that so many different fungi and mushrooms grow in their “backyard”. Through a power point presentation, Donna Fano, the guest speaker at the October meeting, showed members the many different kinds ofmushrooms and fungi that grow locally in Hastings County. Some members even recognized mushrooms that grow in their yards.

For many years, Donna has had a keen interest in fungi and mushroomsand their role in preserving our environment. Fungi are as important as plants and animals for the environment. Fungi breaks down the leaves and decayed wood to ensure that the world has a fertile layer of soil. Even after a forest fire destroys thousands of trees, fungi spores are tough and they often will survive a fire thus assisting the reestablishment of forests.

Fungi are beneficial…. yeast, cheese, cultivated mushrooms are a food source, discovery of penicillin, boasts immune system. On the other hand, fungi can cause plant diseases, infections like thrush, athlete’s foot and mouldy buildings. 

The power point presentation highlighted the many mushrooms in our local area. Donna explained the steps to identify fungi as each group of fungi has its own characteristics. Although some mushrooms are edible, Donna cautioned about tasting until you are absolutely sure of the mushroom’s identity…. if not sure, don’t eat!

Donna often joins groups to look for mushrooms. She mentioned that the group members always take a basket to collect the samples, a knife, plus a whistle and a compass in case one gets lost from the group. A good reference book is always useful to help with the identification. There are many websites and apps available. The question was asked about touching mushrooms…. Donna’s advice was to wash one’s hands thoroughly afterwards but she has not encountered any issues by simply touching a mushroom. 

Donna’s enthusiasm about fungi and mushrooms will have members looking for the many different species in their yards and trying their skills at identifying what they find!

Upcoming Events:

November 7…speaker will be from Stone Mills Lavender Farm

December 5…Christmas Potluck Dinner (members only)