Helen Chesnut’s Garden Notes: It’s harvest time in the home garden


What a beautiful month it’s been, with an abundance of sunny weather and wonderfully usable days with comfortable temperatures. Ideal for gathering in the garden goodies.

Because of the late start to the active growing season, I harvested onion bulbs later than ever before, in the first week of September rather than the usual mid-August. As always happens, I let a few zucchinis grow over-large. Not to fret though. They make a fine puree cooked with garlic and onion in vegetable broth, blended smooth and frozen for soups that are a fine winter comfort food.

The cucumbers have been spectacular — little round ones (Lemon), miniature snacking cucumbers, classic long cucumbers (Sweet Success). I’ve been enjoying the slices daily. They’re a nice appetizer while preparing the evening meal. Slicing them into sour cream or yoghurt with chopped dill makes a pleasant, quick salad.

The summer’s tomatoes, cucumbers and onions announce Greek salad time. It’s another easy salad combining these three with feta cheese and kalamata olives in a simple olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing flavoured with dried oregano.

Lady Di has done it again. Just a few seeds planted against tall wire fencing have produced vigorous vines heavily laden with beautiful, flat beans that are fleshy, juice-filled and flavourful. As I was picking some of the beans to share with a friend on the last day of August, I realized it was the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death.

Over the past two years, seed sources for some favourite varieties have either dried up of changed. It was a challenge to find Lady Di seeds for this year’s planting. Among the sources I use regularly, Plant World Seeds in England was the only one. It’s an interesting seed source, with many unusual listings. Avid hardy geranium fans will find around 20 species and named (cultivated) varieties.

A winner. The most showy, easy-growing and generally successful annual flower among my plantings this year has been a new zinnia in the Profusion series, known for producing an early and long bloom season on compact, nicely mounded plants that require little care.

Profusion Red & Yellow Bicolor has won Gold Medal awards from both All-America Selections and Europe-based Fleuroselect. For me, this zinnia proved to be a winner from the start, germinating in five days and growing quickly into stocky little transplants that formed a mass of flowers quickly in a patio pot.

That container planting drew much admiration at a pot luck gathering on my back lawn at mid-August. Extra transplants, ones that did not fit into the patio tub, formed a bright and perky edging for a front garden bed.

Apart from modest regular watering in the hot, dry weather, the planting required no care as the lovely flowers slowly took on new colour tints through the summer. By the middle of this month, after three months of flowering, the container planting remained showy. Through that time the flower colours changed from bright, shiny red-centred yellow through shades of rosy pink and creamy apricot.

My seed source was William Dam Seeds, but I’m sure Profusion Red & Yellow Bicolor will be on several commonly used seed company lists for 2023.


View Royal meeting. The View Royal Garden club will meet on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Wheeley Hall, behind Esquimalt United Church, 500 Admirals Rd. Entrance is off Lyall St. Abigail Hyde of Satinflower Nurseries will discuss the importance of native plants, in particular their ability to help restore and enhance habitat within the urban context. The talk will include a close-up look at some of the plants and highlight ways for individuals to create pollinator-friendly landscapes that contribute to restoring biodiversity in Greater Victoria. The evening will include a judged mini-show. Non-member drop-in fee $5.

Government House plant sales. The Friends of Government House Gardens Society have perennial plants for sale at the nursery, across from the tea room at Government House, 1401 Rockland Ave. in Victoria, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members receive a 25 per cent discount on plant purchases. Membership cost is $20. In appreciation for community support year round, the discount will be extended to everyone in the community on Sept. 27, 28 and 29. Plant sales end on Oct. 20.



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