Our garden visit in August was to ‘Lift the Latch’ in Forton near Chard, the home of Pauline and David Wright. When they fell in love with the situation (down a quiet and secluded lane) and bought their house in 1984 the garden was just rough sloping pasture grazed by goats with a small vegetable plot and a pond.
We had had a thunderstorm shortly before leaving home but when we arrived the sun shone and as we entered the garden everyone was amazed to see the stunning view, full of colour, in front of us.
The garden has now been created on several levels and paths wander through lovely planted borders, under arches and over a bridge leading behind the pond. The large pond is fed by a stream and has been beautifully landscaped with an island in the middle full of acers, hydrangeas and acid loving plants. As you walk along there are glimpses of the countryside beyond and cameo views over the garden. Here and there sculptures and works of art are hidden among the plants.
Behind the house is a large raised fishpond, full of fish, and a small vegetable patch, before the garden gradually becomes wilder and a part of the countryside.
Pauline is the gardener and assured us it took her only half an hour a day to keep it in shape, including mowing and edging the lawn. All year round colour is achieved through clever use of foliage. She uses shrubs and trees with infills of herbaceous plants, no annual bedding plants. The falling leaves are left to rot and improve the soil fertility, she doesn’t feed the plants. David is the one who has achieved the hard landscaping and transformed the house. Pauline has suffered cancer of the lip and the proceeds from opening their wonderful garden goes to the Face, Head and Neck Charity.
As usual we finished with a welcome cup of tea and a piece of cake while we browsed through Pauline and David’s albums of how the garden used to look and the wonderful colours that the garden now has throughout the year. Several members have said this is now their favourite of all the gardens visited!
Our next meeting will be on Friday 15th September This is our ‘visit with a difference’ when we will be visiting Liberty Orchards at Halstock for a guided tour of their orchards with a talk on orchard management and wildlife conservation, a tour of their production facilities including the Dutch Barn ‘solera’ where the barrels of balsamic vinegar are stored, refreshments and a taste of their products including Porter’s Perfection Vodka, Apple Aperitif and Apple Balsamic Vinegar. We will meet there at 2 pm for 2.15 pm start. Jo is the organiser for this visit, please contact her by Sunday 10th September if you are interested in coming along at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01935 509193.
In July we visited Corton Denham House which is a wonderful 1750 Georgian rectory set in 5 acres of magnificent landscape gardens situated on the Somerset/Dorset border in beautiful unspoilt rolling countryside. Dr Odgers and family were looking to move from a large Palladian property complete with its own deer park into a smaller house where the gardens were more manageable and wouldn’t be open to the public. However they fell in love with Corton Denham House and, to the pleasure of Tintinhull Gardening Club 30 attending members, holds tours of the grounds to show us what we can aspire to!
The gardens have been extensively redesigned and replanted over the last fifteen years on an existing framework of fine specimen trees, extensive immaculate lawns, garden structures, the lake and the stream. Dr Odgers pointed out that planting with mycorrhizal fungi encouraged good growth and helped disease prevention for all the new planting he had done.
The gardens are maintained by Dr Odgers and his wife with help from 2 part time gardeners, one a horticulturist and the other a groundsman. He explained to us how the box plants in the garden had suffered from box blight but efforts were being taken to prevent the disease spreading. There had also been a fatality in the garden – a large wisteria plant on the side of the house was just coming into flower earlier this year when a rather unexpected late sharp frost hit and promptly killed the poor thing. It had to be taken down and as yet there is no replacement.
The Walled Vegetable Garden is laid out in formal potager style with mild flat iron edging of borders (s are the lawns) and a magnificent pleached hornbeam hedge. A huge array of vegetables and fruit are produced for home consumption as well as at the local pub ‘The Queens Arms’. Apple and pear trees were planted in 2002 with the apples selected both for their blossom and sequential fruiting. Dr Odgers explained how to buy young trees and do your own espalier training rather than buying ready prepared trees. We were also informed that we should cross poles for runner beans at waist height not head height so that the beans are much easier to pick as they grow outside of the poles.
There are many borders each differently planted, featuring 150 varieties of roses, herbaceous perennials, shrubs, wall climbers, yew buttresses, knot designs, arbours. It was pointed out to us that climbing roses should be gently trained to twist around poles/frames to ensure that flowers still appeared from the bottom of the plant.
There are large expanses of mown lawns bordered by ancient Quercus Ilex trees, rolling on down to a gigantic London Plane tree beside the small lake. This is spring fed from Corton Hill and is ringed by flag irises, ornamental reeds and grasses. There is a fine Metasequoia tree alongside. We moved on to a stream garden which is an embryonic tributary of the River Yeo, It winds its way through primula, hosta, rodgersia, ligularia, and astilbe amongst much else.
The Arboretum was planted in 2002 with 3ft whips and covers three acres It contains well over a hundred different tree varieties, all growing incredibly well. With a network of mown pathways, it is a glorious space to wander through.
We moved back up to the front of the house to say our goodbyes and thanks for a wonderful tour of what is a quintessential, yet stunning, English Garden.
Several of our club members then adjourned to The Camelot Inn at South Cadbury for a delightful pre-ordered cream tea before heading home.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 18th August when we will be visiting ‘Lift the Latch’, in Forton, near Chard. Mr and Mrs Wright will be showing us round their stunning 2 acre country garden which is densely planted with a wide range of deciduous and evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials. Their impressive pond is filled by a stream and is inhabited by wildlife. We will meet there at 2.15 for a 2.30 start. Jo is the contact for this visit, please contact her by Sunday 13th August if you are interested in coming along email@example.com or 01935 509193.
23 members of Tintinhull Gardening Club enjoyed a guided tour on Friday 16th June of Lawsbrook Garden in Shillingstone, Dorset.
Lawsbrook House was built in 1955 and the original garden was founded by Ken and Kath Nelson in 1959 on a 2 acre plot hedged with beech and planted with native trees. A further 4 acres were acquired in 1994. Over the years they indulged their love of trees, planting many specimen trees, both common and rarer. It was good to see that even they fell into the trap of planting too close, and thinning, or removal is an on-going process. Following their deaths in 2002, Clive their son (and our enthusiastic guide) and his sister took over the management of the site.
When you arrive for your visit a plan of the garden is handed over and this gives a brief history on one side with an outline plan. The majority of the trees are individually numbered and 118 specimen trees are listed with both their common and official names on the other side. Several of the trees are fairly uncommon in private gardens including a rare Wollemi Pine from New South Wales.
The garden is magnificent with trees of all shapes, sizes and colours and there is a sense of tranquillity which belies the work involved in keeping the trees under control. Dealing with Dutch Elm disease, Ash die back and Horse Chestnut canker mean the native trees have to be felled eventually but replanting is ongoing.
Clive is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the garden he has known all his life and made us all feel very welcome. A cup of tea and choice of several flavours of cake rounded off the visit which took place in lovely sunshine.
The garden is open at other times of the year through the NGS scheme and is worth further visits for autumn colour and snowdrops in early Spring.
Our next summer garden visit is to Corton Denham House Garden on Friday July 14th. It is a beautiful garden which we first visited 4 years ago and has been voted our favourite garden. The visit is being organised by Peter. The numbers are limited at the request of our host, so we will operate a “first come, first served” basis. Please let Peter know ASAP, to be sure of a place, if you are coming, and not later than the evening of Sunday 9th July. Peter’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. or phone 826821 (evenings please).
We aim to arrive at the Gardens around 2:15 pm; the tour of the gardens has been arranged to start at 2:30pm. We have arranged for a Cream Tea to be available the Camelot Inn, South Cadbury as we are not able to have refreshments at the garden.
In May we had our first garden visit this year. Leaving Tintinhull in a thunderstorm we all anticipated a wet walk around Minterne Magna gardens but once we had driven through Yeovil the sun was shining and stayed that way for the whole of the visit.
Starting the walk around the gardens we were led down into woodland by the scent of wild garlic. Glorious vistas awaited us with Rhododendrons and Azaleas ablaze in the most wonderful colours. There were several handkerchief trees (Davidia Involucrata) which showed up splendidly around the paths and you always had to be looking up, as well as around, to appreciate some of the many trees and shrubs. Helpful boards were placed around the gardens so that various plants and shrubs could easily be identified.
Down by, and along, the water were various primula candelabra in as many shades of colours as you could think of. There were also some beautiful pink flowered cornus bushes with the flowers looking like butterflies about to take off! Several bushes and trees had copious amounts of moss and/or lichen attached to them which showed how unpolluted the environment was.
At the end of the self-guided tour around the garden everyone stopped on the terrace to enjoy either a cream tea or a slice of various delicious cakes along with a welcome cup of tea.
Dark clouds started threatening again so we all decided that getting to the car in the dry was the best solution but everyone agreed that we had a lovely visit.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 16th June. We will be visiting Lawsbrook Gardens in Shillingstone, Dorset, a garden of over 6 acres with 200 trees including many labelled and unusual varieties, formal borders, wild flowers and wildlife areas and a vegetable garden, all of year round interest. There are gravel or grass paths throughout and it is wheel chair friendly. Arrive at 2.15pm for a guided tour at 2.30pm. Peter is the contact for this visit, please let him know by Sunday 11th June if you are interested, his email address is Peter.email@example.com or phone 826821 (evenings please).
Our Chairman gave a warm welcome to the AGM which was well attended again this year. The minutes and accounts having been circulated prior to the meeting were quickly approved. It was agreed to keep the membership fee as before and continue our pattern of garden visits and talks. The committee outlined the programme which has been arranged for the coming year. Peter Touch offered to put his name forward as our representative on the village hall committee (gratefully accepted). Due to other commitments Margaret Dalton has stepped down from the committee and she was thanked for all she has done. Ruth Sullivan was voted in to take her place and all the rest of the committee re-elected.
After a short break Margaret and David Dalton held a (mainly) multiple choice gardening quiz which had us guessing, with Jo Slade coming up with most correct answers followed by Maggie Touch.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 19th May We will be visiting Minterne House Gardens which hosts a world renowned and completely unique collection of Himalayan Rhododendrons and Azaleas, with Spring bulbs, Cherries, Maples and many fine and rare trees. The gardens boast many other picturesque features with a chain of small lakes, waterfalls and streams. We will be meeting there at 2.00 pm, afternoon tea will be available. The organiser for this visit is Neil, please let him know if you would like to come by 13th May on 826393 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We visited Castle Gardens in Sherborne for a talk and discount shopping for our March meeting.
Mike Burks gave us an entertaining talk on Summer Container Planting. As always we learnt something new as well as being reminded of the best way to do our planting. He advised us to fill the pots with compost without firming it down when potting on or planting up containers and to just make a hole large enough for the root ball when planting. This is called ‘air filled porosity’, which means allowing space in the compost so the roots can grow easily. A good watering will then settle the plant in. It is important for the large pots to have ‘feet’, or be slightly off the ground, to enable drainage. He showed us various sizes of plug plants which can be bought more cheaply and grown on for planting out later. These will need high light levels and be kept frost free before planting out in mid-May. Plants should be ‘pinched out’ if tall or floppy to encourage bushiness. Mike then demonstrated two kinds of container planting – one with plug plants and the other with a mix of dahlia tubers, corms and pansies.
Having collected our vouchers we all headed off for a cup of tea or coffee and our discount shopping.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 21st April at 7.00 for 7.30 pm in the Crown & Victoria. This will be our AGM followed by the usual light-hearted Gardening Quiz. No charge for this evening for members but subscriptions will be due and the plug plants for our growing competition will be distributed.
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2016/17
Friday 15th April
AGM and QUIZ
7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 20th May
BURROW FARM GARDENS, DALWOOD, AXMINSTER
Afternoon visit with private tour
Friday 17th June
BISHOP’S PALACE GARDENS, WELLS
Afternoon visit with private tour
Friday 22nd July
MILL HOUSE, NETHERBURY
Private visit and tour, afternoon
Friday 19th August
SCULPTURES BY THE LAKES, PALLINGTON, DORCHESTER
Friday 9th September
PENN MILL FARM, WINCANTON
Private visit and tour, afternoon
Friday 21st October
TALK ON ‘COMPANION PLANTING’
7.30 pm Village Hall or School Hall
Friday 18th November
7.30 pm to be arranged
Friday 9th December
CANDLELIT WALK, ILLUSTRATED TALK AND MULLED WINE
Private evening visit to High House
Friday 20th January
‘PEONIES AND IRISES’ TALK BY SUE APPLEGATE
7.30 pm Village Hall or School Hall
Friday 17th February
‘GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE’ TALK BY NEIL LOVESEY
7.30 pm Village Hall or School Hall
Friday 17th March
TALK AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING AT CASTLE GARDENS
Afternoon visit to Sherborne
New members always welcome
Mark very kindly invited us to the Crown and Victoria for our meeting in February (no heating in the school!) and we filled the conservatory to listen to our most popular speaker, Neil Lovesey.
Neil talked to us about ‘Wildlife in the Garden’ which as he said was NOT ‘Gardening for Wildlife’ although wildlife certainly takes advantage of us. Wildlife is everywhere including the cities. All the man-made structures in England including buildings, roads and everything could all be fitted into Yorkshire and still have green space to spare, while our gardens could all fit into Suffolk; this leaves 88% of land-mass available for wildlife.
Wildlife uses us and adapts to what we have to offer often preferring our buildings to cliffs, etc. this includes pigeons, house martins, swallows and barn owls. For the most part nature keeps itself in balance; even blue tits could become a plague if they didn’t have predators. There is a dark side too - no peacock butterflies without nettles and we need wasps to control the midges and mosquitoes.
If we want a wildlife friendly garden it is said that all creatures have a priority of needs - Water, Food, Safety, Security, Territory and Reproduction. As each need is satisfied, the next becomes the priority. We need to consider what we can provide in our garden for all of them but the first priority is water, with the Winter months and hottest summer months being the most important, making sure that it is accessible (not steep sided, with floating weed or sponge for insects, not frozen or too warm). Food is next - nectar and pollen is essential from November to February (normally plenty around after that), this is also the most important time to feed birds especially when nesting as it gives the parents an easy feed while they collect soft food for their young. We can provide security by providing cover, include some evergreen shrubs for shelter and cut up old canes into bundles for nesting solitary bees (they don’t sting!).
Greenfly reproduce very fast, be vigilant and if you destroy one in February you could prevent 100,000 by August. Caffeine is toxic to slugs – put the grounds around your tender plants. Don’t put out piles of pellet, just a few just below the surface, they will still be eaten (hopefully!).
Neil finished by suggesting that we provide Shelter, Food, Water and nesting sites and get a small notebook. Keep the notebook near your garden window and keep your eyes open and take photos. The photos he illustrated his talk with were beautiful. He has emailed me a copy of his notes and I will pass them on to any member who is interested.
Our next meeting will be on Friday March 17th. We will be meeting at Castle Gardens in Sherborne at 2.15pm for a short talk at 2.30pm followed by shopping with a 25% discount on everything.
Sue Applegate gave a very interesting talk on ‘Peonies and Irises’ at our January meeting. She told us that her early background was in farming and 20 years ago she was employed by Kelways as a tractor driver. However when the irises and peonies came into flower she fell in love with them and worked with their cultivation ever since.
She told us first about the types of iris and illustrated it with some slides. The dwarf irises are first to flower, they flower from the beginning of April for about 3 weeks and are about 8-10 inches tall. The intermediate bearded varieties come next and flower from the third week of April until mid-May (most Langport cultivars fall in this range, they were developed by John Lloyd of Kelways). Finally the tall bearded varieties flower from May to June. These varieties like a well-drained soil in a sunny spot but iris sibirica (flag iris) likes a damp situation. She told us that this iris is the ‘Fleur de Lys’ and was named for the river Lys in France. There is also a new cultivar iris ensata, or Japanese flag iris which likes wet, acid soil.
Bearded irises should be lifted every 3-4 years between July and September and the old rhizome discarded as it flowers only once. The new side shoots should be broken off and the leaves cut down to a fan shape (about 6 inches long). They can then be planted just below the soil with the rhizome pointing towards the south.
Peonies come from the Himalayas and love cold winters. They are best moved between October and February. If you buy one in flower leave it in the pot until October before planting in the ground. They come in 5 main types – singles, imperial, semi-double, double and triple decker. The older varieties need some support but the newer ones have stronger stems. These new varieties can be very expensive as seeds are difficult to grow and take up to 3 years to germinate, and then take 7 more years to flower. Peonies do not thrive or flower well in the shade but will grow happily in a pot (unlike irises). The most popular varieties are ‘Bowl of Beauty’ and ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.
Sue then gave us a practical demonstration of how to divide and plant our irises and peonies.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 17th in the Village School. Our ever popular speaker Neil Lovesey will be talking on ‘Gardening for Wildlife’. Doors open at 7 pm for 7.30 pm start. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
Lisa and Fred very kindly hosted a wonderful evening at High House for our December meeting.
Members and guests started with a candlelit walk along the drive and around the house, peeping through the windows at various Christmassy themes and even a model railway, before coming in for mulled or sparkling wine and fruit punch. The house was beautifully decorated and with plates of food everywhere no-one went home hungry. Lisa also had a display of photos through the year in the garden and plans of future projects.
As our November Social Evening was on the night of the ‘Children in Need’ fundraising we decided to donate £40 of the raffle proceeds towards this very worthwhile cause.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 20th January in the Village School. Sue Applegate will be giving us a talk on ‘Peonies and Irises’. Sue is a commercial grower and her talk includes practical advice about propagation and husbandry of these lovely plants. Doors open at 7 pm for 7.30 pm start. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
We were made very welcome at the Crown and Victoria for our Social Evening this year. 48 of us took over the conservatory and enjoyed a delicious meal. Thank you to Mark for his quiz sheets which kept us amused all evening and to his efficient staff. Thanks also to our chairman Neil for keeping the evening going with humour and entertaining us with the raffle.
Our next meeting will be on Friday December 9th Lisa and Fred will be hosting a Christmas Candlelit Walk around High House. Assuming the weather is not too inclement guests will follow a candlelit trail along the drive and around the outside of the house which will be decorated for Christmas using materials from the garden. Do be sure to pause and peer in through the windows! Entering through the French doors to the dining room you will be greeted with a warming glass of mulled wine or non-alcoholic fruit punch with mince pies and canapés. There will be a display of photos of their first year in the garden of High House. Tea and coffee will be available to finish. Members are welcome to bring guests along to this evening, £2 a head for all.
Mike Burke, the managing director of the Castle Gardens Group, gave us a very entertaining and enlightening talk on ‘Companion Planting’ at our October meeting in the village hall.
It was an in-depth look at the way that plant communities and associations can have positive and negative results. He started by saying that this knowledge was applied extensively before the use of insecticides and fungicides was widely available. However these chemicals are now gradually being withdrawn or banned and within 3 to 5 years their use will probably be limited to registered contractors who will have to be employed to do any spraying required. There are, in fact, none now available to buy for use on edible crops. Whereas organic gardeners were once a figure of fun they are now in the mainstream.
Mike went on to talk about some of the old ways plants were used to deter predators. Weevils were controlled by bay leaves, pots of basil used to ward off mosquitoes, cinnamon to deter ants (he used this himself, it worked when chemicals didn’t), lavender and conkers against moths and conkers and orange peel to deter spiders. Thyme and other herbs were used as a preservative.
He suggested growing small groups of plants and mixing them up, this helps to fend off large scale devastation of a particular crop. Monoculture studies have shown that huge numbers of pests gather in the middle of the crop whereas around the edges infestation is much lower where the natural predators live. This can apply to our own gardens.
Some companion planting has proved to be effective in warding off pests – marigolds (usually French variety) with tomatoes, onions or garlic with carrots, coriander with tomatoes, and celery with cauliflower. Sometimes the use of a pest resistant variety among the planting will also help.
Some plants can help to eradicate invasive weed species this is known as Allelopathy. It refers to the beneficial or harmful effects of one plant on another plant, both crop and weed species, from the release of biochemicals, known as allelochemicals, from plant parts by leaching, root exudation, volatilization, residue decomposition, and other processes in both natural and agricultural systems. Calendula or pot marigold can control horsetail, ground elder and bindweed, turnips or swede can control couch grass, horseradish will discourage disease among potatoes (but is itself invasive).
Other plants attract beneficial insects; these include foxgloves, buddleias, borage and the poached egg plant. Natural predators are available by post including nematodes which have to be mixed into a solution and watered in (against chafer grubs, leather jackets, slugs, etc.). Pheromone traps are useful to combat box moth, apple coddling moth and leek moth.
Mike concluded that the more diverse the planting the less likely we are to have pests and disease, it is also important to keep up soil fertility and health. Use a mixture of plants and be pro-active rather than spray with a chemical after the problem has taken hold.
Our next meeting will be on Friday November 18th. We will be having a Social Evening in the Crown and Victoria starting with a welcome drink of wine followed by a two course meal at a subsidised price of £10 for members. We will also have a table top quiz supplied by Mark and a raffle. Meeting there at 7 for 7.15 pm. Adrian will be the contact for this event.
We wound our way down country lanes to visit Pen Mill Farm at Pen Selwood near Wincanton for our last garden visit this summer. Mrs Fitzgerald welcomed us and told us a little of the history of the house and garden. The original house was built for the Mill manager in 1833 and actually included inside loos (unusual at the time); the gates were made in the local foundry. Pen Selwood was once an important centre where 3 major battles took place including one against King Canute. Pen Mill Farm has been gardened by the FitzGerald family since the mid 1960s. The garden lies on the edge of the green sands over yellow clay and is situated at the bottom of a hill in a sheltered and mainly frost free position with acid soil.
The present owners’ parents planted the garden for autumn colour and the garden was full of flowers including many varieties of salvias and some lovely dahlias. There are also many unusual acid loving trees and shrubs. It is in a beautiful setting with a large lake, stream and ponds. There are many springs, the newest pond filled with water in only 5 days. We were accompanied by two delightful dogs – Daisy and Pumpkin who enjoyed ducking into the ponds for stones! By the lake is a Turkish domed Shell House built by the present owners. They also have a flock of Castlemilk sheep which they started with 8 rescued sheep and, finding they were a rare breed, have now increased the flock to 20 ewes, the lambs are an adorable chocolate brown.
Despite a rather wet morning the clouds lifted for our visit and we had tea in the garden enjoying the wonderful view.
Our next meeting will be on Friday October 21st. This will be our final meeting in the old village hall. We will be having a talk on ‘Companion Planting’ by a speaker from the Castle Gardens Group. Doors open at 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
Our visit this month is too late for a magazine report but Neil is going to host an afternoon tea in his garden on Thursday August 25th at 3 pm. This is also going to be judging time for our fuchsias. Those who have been members since the start of the club may remember that we visited his garden at Tingel House, Farm Street on very first club garden visit (after touring Tintinhull House garden) and looked at his garden plans. The garden has now matured beautifully and also includes a pond.
Our next meeting will be on Friday September 9th. We will be having a private visit to Pen Mill Farm, Wincanton. This is a romantic, valley garden with a tributary of the River Stour running through and cascading down a sequence of waterfalls into a 1 acre lake. There are many mature unusual acid loving trees and shrubs planted by the present owners' parents, and many hydrangeas. Also late summer herbaceous borders with abundant colour and over 40 salvias. We will be meeting there at 2.15 for 2.30 pm start, cost £5 members £6 guests plus £3 for tea. Please contact Peter by email email@example.com or phone 826821 if you would like to join us or for more information. Contact him by Sunday 4th September please with numbers +/- teas.
In July we visited a wonderful garden at The Mill House, Netherbury in Dorset, home of Michael & Giustina Ryan. When they bought the house in 1993, there was just an attractive but rather run-down garden at the front of the house. They have spent the last 23 years developing their 6½ acres into a stunning garden around the River Brit and the mill stream and pond. Michael told us that it was in a frost pocket but with a mild climate and average rainfall for this area; the soil is quite fertile being clay and river silt.
The old piggery has been replaced with a beautiful walled garden and ornamental pond. There are terraces, lawns, flower beds, wild and bog gardens and a productive vegetable garden. Many rare and interesting trees have been planted including conifers, magnolias, oak most of which are labelled with name and date of planting. There are also many fruit trees.
It was a lovely sunny day and we finished our afternoon sitting in the garden with a delicious tea chatting to our hosts who confided that they would be celebrating their Diamond Wedding anniversary next year (and they manage the garden with 3 part-time gardeners!).
Our next meeting will be on Sunday 21st August. We are having a private visit to Sutton Hosey Manor in Long Sutton. This is a 3 acre garden of which 2 acres are walled. A lily canal passes through pleached limes leading to an amelanchier walk past the duck pond; also a rose and juniper walk from the Italian Terrace, a judas tree avenue, a ptelea walk and an ornamental potager. We will meet there for a 2.30 pm start. Please contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 509193 if you would like to come along or for further information. Entry £6.50 including tea and cake (proceeds will go to the NGS charities).
Our June visit to the Bishop’s Palace Gardens in Wells proved to be extremely popular with nearly 40 of us enjoying the afternoon. We divided into two groups for a guided tour, unfortunately we started with a heavy shower but our guides entertained us with some historical information until the rain passed. The flower beds have been beautifully laid out and were looking very colourful and we were able to appreciate how James Cross, the head gardener, has developed the gardens since he was appointed in 2004.
A lovely wooden bridge leads you from the romantic ruins over the moat to the tranquil pools in the outer gardens which are the source of water from which the City of Wells takes its name. One of these is the holy well of St Andrew. The average flow from the wells is 40 gallons (100 litres) per second. Paths lead on to the new tranquil garden, the productive community garden and the allotments.
Finally after exploring on our own we wondered back to the Bishop’s Table Café with its lovely views over the croquet lawn and Palace for tea and cake.
Our next meeting On July 22nd we will be visiting Mill House at Netherbury in Dorset. There are 6½ acres of garden around the River Brit including a mill stream and pond. The extensive grounds include formal walled, terraced, vegetable, wild and bog gardens with an emphasis on spring bulbs, scented flowers, hardy geraniums, lilies, clematis and water irises. There are also many rare and interesting trees including conifers, magnolias, oak and fruit trees. We will be having a private tour and a cream tea will be available. Meeting there at 2.15 for 2.30 pm start, cost £5 members £6 guests plus £2.50 for a cream tea.
Please contact Peter by email email@example.com or phone 826821 if you would like to join us or for more information. Contact him by 17th July please with numbers +/- Cream teas.
NB Our August visit will now take place on Sunday 21st and will be to Sutton Hosey Manor in Long Sutton.
In May we visited Burrow Farm Gardens, ‘East Devon’s Secret Garden’, for our first summer outing. We were fortunate to have a dry afternoon and Mary Benger showed us around the beautiful garden she has created over 50 years. She explained how she began by clearing an old Roman clay pit on the farm, gradually working her way up the steep sides digging out the brambles and weeds. The garden now covers 13 acres and she is helped by her family and a number of volunteers.
The formal gardens near the house include a rill and pond and there are various areas with different themes and some lovely Mediterranean style pots. The lawns open up beyond with wonderful views from every pathway and lead down to the woodland and wildflower areas where there are many flowering shrubs and beautiful trees. The rhododendrons and azaleas were particularly spectacular. A thatched stone summerhouse looks towards the lake and ancient oak woodland.
We finished, as usual, in the tea room where we enjoyed freshly baked scones and delicious cakes before browsing the plants sales and garden shop.
Our next meeting is on Friday 17th June. We will be visiting the wonderful Bishop’s Palace Garden in Wells for a guided tour, meeting there at 2.15pm. Please contact Neil on 826393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested or would like further details.
Our 4th AGM was attended by 40 old and new members. The chairman reviewed our programme for last year which, judging by the attendance, was well received. He said we have an interesting programme arranged again for this year with a variety of outings and speakers. He thanked Adrian for taking over the role of treasurer after Sandi passed away last year. We have also organised two Big Breakfast coffee mornings and a Film Show for the village hall fund-raising (although we were told at the meeting that the lottery funding is now in doubt). The committee being prepared to stand again were all re-elected. Maggie and Carol were thanked for preparing the refreshments at our meetings.
We had a beautiful display of daffodils in our bulb growing competition and the best exhibit was judged to be Pam Perrin’s. She received a Castle Gardens Group voucher.
After a break for refreshments we had a gardening quiz slide show very professionally prepared by Margaret and David Dalton. There was a tie for 1st place between Maggie Touch and Ann le Flufy, May Dutton took 3rd prize.
Our funds were added to from donations for the plants from our sales table.
Our next meeting is on Friday 20th May when we will be visiting Burrow Farm Gardens. East Devon’s secret garden is situated in the idyllic countryside between Axminster & Honiton. The 13 acre garden has colour throughout the year from the spring flowers through to the stunning Azaleas and Rhododendrons in May. We have arranged a private tour and a cream tea will be available. Arriving at 2.15 pm for 2.30 pm start. For further details and to book your place contact Margaret Dalton on 824183 by 15th May.
We gathered at Castle Gardens on a chilly March day for our discount shopping trip. Brian, one of their gardening team, gave us a short talk starting with jobs to do at this time. These included ‘chitting’ our potatoes before planting, starting onion sets in trays, cleaning greenhouse glass and warming vegetable beds with a tunnel or fleece. He also gave us some advice on dealing with earwigs in dahlias and chrysanthemums and other pests, including some novel ideas on defeating slugs. He finished by showing us some plants that are looking good at the moment and answering our questions. We finished with a welcome cup of tea (or coffee) and an enjoyable search for new plants for our gardens using our discount.
Our next meeting is on Friday 15th April in the village hall when we will be having our AGM and a Gardening Quiz. We will also have a plant table for anyone to bring their spare plants along (to sell/buy for club funds) and judging of the daffodil bulbs we were given for a growing competition will take place. No charge for members but subscriptions will be due, visitors are welcome entry fee £2 including refreshments. Doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start.
The Gardening Club is also hosting a Social Evening with a film ‘Grow Your Own’ on Friday 8th April entry £6 including an icecream or popcorn, doors open at 7pm for 7.30pm start. This is in aid of village hall fundraising. It isn’t a film about how to grow plants and vegetables , it is a comedy centred on some Merseyside community allotments, where the 'harmony' is dramatically disturbed when the motley crew of allotment oddballs have to accommodate change from outsiders particularly by the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers. There is a great cast including some well-known British character actors.
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2015/16
Friday 17th April
AGM, QUIZ AND PLANT SALE
7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 22nd May
HAUSER & WIRTH GARDEN AND ART GALLERY, BRUTON
Afternoon visit with private tour
Friday 12th June
THE OLD RECTORY, MANSTON
Private visit and tour, afternoon
Friday 17th July
VISIT TO SOMERSET LAVENDER FARM
Friday 14th August
RUGG FARM, LIMINGTON
Private visit and tour, afternoon
Friday 18th September
FRANKHAM FARM GARDEN
Private visit and tour, afternoon
Friday 23rd October
TALK BY TERRY HEARD OF DORSET COPPICING
All about woodland crafts - 7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 20th November
TALK ON AN AUSTRALIAN GARDEN & SOCIAL EVENING
7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 4th December
TALK AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING AT BRIMSMORE GARDEN CENTRE
Private evening visit for Christmas shopping
Friday 15th January
TALK ON COMPOSTING
7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 19th February
TALK ON THE BISHOP’S PALACE GARDENS
7.30 pm Village Hall
Friday 18th March
TALK AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING AT CASTLE GARDENS
Afternoon visit to Sherborne
New members always welcome
James Cross, the Head Gardener, gave us a talk on the development of the Bishop’s Palace Gardens at Wells for our February meeting. He illustrated the talk with photographs of the gardens in earlier times and also how he has gradually developed the 14 acres into the colourful gardens that attract so many visitors today.
He came here in 2004 and manages the garden with the help of one other full-time gardener, four part-time gardeners and a number of volunteers. He told us something of the history of the Bishop’s Palace and how different bishops over the years planted various areas of the grounds including making use of ‘romantic’ 13th century ruins. The wells below the gardens gave the city its name and the water levels can rise dramatically in a very short time. The water has been used to create a beautiful setting with newly landscaped pools as well as the famous moat. The Well House was built in 1451 by Bishop Beckington to provide water to the citizens of Wells in the market place, it still controls the flow of the water through the streets of Wells. The waterways are full of wildlife and otters and kingfishers are among the visitors.
James has developed many new areas in the gardens and there are a variety of different aspects for planting including dry areas where ancient foundations lie beneath the soil, deeply cultivated areas where centuries of gardening has taken place, and boggy areas at the source of the springs.
Finally there is a Community Garden where produce is grown and the City Allotments (these are not open to the public).
Neil thanked James and said how much we are looking forward to our guided tour in June.
Our next meeting is on Friday 18th March. This will be a meeting for members only at the Castle Gardens in Sherborne for a talk and a 25% discount on our shopping. Please meet there at 2.15 pm for a 2.30 pm start.
Programme 2016/17 We have been busy putting together the programme for the year 2016/17 and have lots of interesting visits planned during the summer which include guided tours and private gardens opened just for us. These include the Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Burrow Farm Gardens and Pallington Lakes plus visits to gardens in Somerset and Dorset which usually include a cream tea! If driving is a problem there is always someone with a spare seat in their car. During the Autumn/Winter months we have talks on a variety of subjects with something for everyone and a chance to enjoy a chat over tea/coffee and biscuits afterwards. As well as all the above we have discount vouchers from the Castle Gardens Group and Paulls of Martock for members and a free plant for our growing competition. Which altogether is wonderful value for a very minimal joining fee of £5. We are a friendly group and new members are always welcome.
It was good to see so many members turn out on a cold January evening for what was a most enjoyable talk on Composting. It was delivered in an amusing and entertaining style by Mike Burks who is the Managing Director and a founder of the Gardens Group.
He started by saying that it was a wonderful way of creating our own soil improver free of charge, as well as reducing landfill. The fibrous organic material will help to open up clay soil and allow water and roots to pass through more easily. On sandy soils it creates more structure and releases nutrients over a long period.
Most garden waste can be composted although evergreen takes a longer time to break down and is better shredded. Soft material (leaves, grass, young weeds, vegetable peelings) are best mixed with brown material (fallen leaves, prunings, shredded hedge trimmings), the more diverse the mixture the better the compost. Grass mowings should be layered with crumpled newspapers or brown material. It is not advisable to use couch, bindweed, seeding weeds or diseased leaves. Wood ash is fine but not coal ash.
Mike told us about us different types of compost bins, ideally we should use three, first being filled, second maturing and third ready for use. Wormeries are very effective too. It is important not to dig in your compost before it has finished working (is crumbly and doesn’t smell) although it can be used as a mulch on the surface.
He finished by showing us various pots of compost made from different sources and answered our questions.
Our next meeting is on Friday 19th February in the village hall. James Cross will be giving us a talk on the Bishop’s Palace Gardens at Wells Cathedral. He is the head gardener there. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
For our December meeting we met up at the Brimsmore Garden Centre and enjoyed some refreshments while Malcolm Mills from Sherborne showed us a few of his favourite plants for winter interest. These included some Hellebores (which like moisture but prefer a well-drained site), when the Orientalis varieties begin to flower cut off the old leaves. The beautiful Camellia vernalis ‘Yuletide’ flowers from November to February and is slightly fragrant, it needs a shady acid site. The Kaffir lily ‘Major’ was also in flower while the Nandina ‘Blush pink’ had lovely foliage and can be grown in a pot or in the garden. Pinus mugo ‘Orange Glow’ changes colour as the weather gets colder and is good for a rockery or in pots. Other colourful plants are Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ for its stems, Bergenia ‘Overture’ for the red leaves and Heucherella for its foliage. Skimmia ‘Temptation’ is self-fertile and has red berries while Sarcococca ‘Confusia’ has sweet smelling flowers and they both like shade. Cyclamen, winter flowering heathers and winter flowering pansies all bring welcome colour to the garden at this time of the year.
Malcolm finished with advice to use bone meal when planting now (not Vitax or similar), Rootgrow (beneficial fungi for establishing root growth when planting), and he also said the Roundup can still be used now as long as plants were showing green – the gel form can be painted on as normal and should still work well.
After thanking Malcolm we were soon making the most of the discount shopping judging by the loaded trolleys and baskets queuing at the tills!
Our next meeting is on Friday 15th January in the village hall. We will be having a talk on ‘Composting - how to make a good compost heap and why composting is so important’. It will be given by a speaker from the Gold Club of the Castle Gardens Group. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
The village hall was looking very festive for our Social and Guest evening in November.
Everyone enjoyed the talk Margaret Dalton gave us on Australian Gardens, in particular the garden of George Hoad who had stayed in Tintinhull in the summer and visited some of our gardens. George Hoad is president of Killabakh Garden Club in New South Wales and vice-president of the Gardening Clubs of Australia. Margaret described how George has a whimsical take on a garden, with old tools & objet d’art scattered throughout, statues, fountains, a Giants Head, bottle tree (created with real bottles!), also Oriental, Islamic and Jungle areas. He loves touring European gardens and likes to recreate his favourite features in his own particular style. David showed us slides they had taken of the garden when they visited it earlier this year. Margaret also told us about the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden, in Port Augusta, which was established in 1993 to research, conserve and promote the wider appreciation of Australia’s arid zone flora. Located on the shores of Upper Spencer Gulf with spectacular views to the ancient Flinders Ranges, the Garden showcases a diverse collection of arid zone habitats in a picturesque setting of more than 250 hectares. She finished with some slides of a very modern Australian garden.
Neil warmly welcomed our guests, in particular our visitors from Over Stratton Gardening Club, before inviting everyone to tuck into the wonderful buffet that everyone had contributed to.
We ended up with our raffle with such an abundance of prizes that everyone went home with at least one.
Our next meeting is on Friday December 4th We will be meeting at Brimsmore Garden Centre at 6.45 for 7 pm for a short talk followed by a 25% discount shopping evening, this evening is for members only
Sandi Dodding We are very sad that our dear Treasurer who has been on the committee since the inaugural meeting passed away in August. She will be much missed for her enthusiasm and ready smile as well as keeping the accounts in very good order. Our sincere condolences to Adrian and all the family.
Big Breakfast The BBQ was again sizzling on August 22nd for another Big Breakfast. Thanks again to David Dalton and Flora Wragg for cooking the bacon and sausages so ably. Many thanks as well to everyone who assisted with the serving, washing up and the sales and to all those who came along and helped us raise a further £294.35 (less hall costs) towards the new village hall.
Growing Competition A number of our members brought along the geraniums that they had been given for our growing competition this year and they made a beautiful splash of colour in the hall at the Big Breakfast. Ably judged by a member of the parish council, Jan Cushion’s entry was declared the clear winner and was awarded a Castle Gardens voucher.
Frankham Farm We finished our summer garden visits with a tour of Frankham Farm garden in Ryme Intrinseca. This 3 acre garden was created by Jo Earle over a number of years until her death in 2007. Susan Ross, her daughter, told us how her mother gradually clothed all the walls around the farm with climbing plants and extended the garden many times over the years. Jo and her husband travelled widely and often brought back seeds which they nurtured until they found a suitable habitat around the farm. She had no horticultural training, she just loved plants. An initial windbreak of trees became a wood with a large variety of unusual shrubs and trees from around the world. This is still a working farm and we started our tour with a look at the (very tidy) barns and the piggery before wandering though the colourful formal gardens, fruit and vegetable garden and woods. We ended up in the stable tearoom and enjoyed a lovely tea with home-made cakes and sausage rolls (from the home grown pork). Susan donates all the proceeds to local charities.
Our next meeting is on Friday October 23rd at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall. Terry Heard of Dorset Coppicing will be talking to us about the woodland crafts he makes and demonstrating some of his skills. There will be a chance to win a ‘besom’ or ‘witches broom’ for your garden and our refreshments will include a taste of some Halloween fare. Admission £4 (members £2) to include refreshments.
We visited Rugg Farm in Limington for our August meeting. The rain didn’t dampen our members’ enthusiasm and a large party gathered in the barn to hear how two couples, friends of long-standing, had a dream of developing a garden when they retired. They moved from Essex where three of them were teachers, to Somerset, and found this former farmhouse with the ideal separate accommodation and 2 acres of land which they could develop as they wanted. Having divided up the areas of responsibility into mainly planting, mowing, composting and machinery they have never fallen out. Christine did a course on composting (including exams – no problem for an ex-teacher!) and was awarded the title of Compost Champion. Everything is recycled and enough compost made to dress the beds with a 6 inch layer twice a year.
The borders and courtyard garden were full of colour with many varieties of plants and enhanced by the stunning contemporary metalwork which has been created by Andy Stevenson Garden Sculptures for them. There is also a productive kitchen garden with raised beds and an orchard with a wildlife pond. They also keep bees and chickens. The garden is open a few times a year and all the proceeds from the open days and cream teas go to charities supported under the National Gardens Scheme.
Our next meeting is on Friday September 18th, when we will be having a private visit and tour of Frankham Farm Garden in Ryme Intrinseca. This is a 3 acre garden, created since 1960 by the late Jo Earle for year-round interest. This large and lovely garden is filled with a wide variety of well grown plants, roses, unusual labelled shrubs and trees from around the world and also has a productive vegetable garden. Frankham Farm is still a working farm. We will meet there at 2.15 pm for a 2.30 pm start. This will be our final garden visit for the year, October we are back in the village hall. If you are interested please contact Jo by 4th September at email@example.com or phone 509193.
We had a very enjoyable visit to Somerset Lavender Farm in July. We met Judith Green in the Lavender Garden where over 20 varieties of lavender are planted and she told us about their different habits and how and when to prune them. The ‘French’ lavender (grown mostly in Spain) is not as hardy and is the only variety to benefit from dead-heading. We moved on to the Healing Garden where a large variety of herbs are planted and she gave us some useful insight into their usage. We then went to the barn where Judith told us about the history of the Lavender Farm. They started the enterprise when her husband gave up his cow herd. Despite them not having ideal conditions for lavender growing (free-draining, limey, stony) they grew and planted 50,000 plug plants on 5 acres in 2004 using an ancient potato planter. They decided on an English variety Angustifolia as this gives a more intense perfume although it produces less essential oil. A further 5 acres have since been planted with English lavender and hybrid intermedia lavender that flowers later. An old Massey Ferguson tractor from France is used for the harvesting. Judith explained how the distillery process works – it takes 2½ hours to complete and the oil is put into dark bottles for 6-12 months before using. The spent lavender is then composted before being returned to the land. She spoke with a dry humour and was very entertaining. We then wandered round the lavender fields enjoying the colour and perfume, and the immaculate vegetable and flower garden where produce for the café is grown, finishing up in the plant sales and shop for a variety of products made from the lavender grown and made on the farm. Of course we had to try some cake or scones flavoured with lavender after the walk before we left for home!
Our next meeting is on Friday August 14th, when we will be having a private visit and tour of Rugg Farm in Limington. This is a 2 acre garden developed around a former farmhouse and farm buildings and is the home of a ‘Compost Champion’. There are ornamental, courtyard, and kitchen gardens plus an orchard and a woodland walk and the garden also features some contemporary metalwork. We will meet there at 2.15pm for a 2.30pm start. A cream tea will be available after the tour. Please contact Peter Touch at firstname.lastname@example.org (phone 826821) by August 7th if you are interested.
The threat of thunderstorms did not deter our members and guests for our June visit to the Old Rectory at Manston (which had just been featured in Country Life magazine). The rain held off for us to explore the large 5 acre garden which is being completely renovated by the owners Judith and Andrew Hussey (who donate the entry and tea charge proceeds to a Hospice and the local church). Judith explained how the existing borders had been over-run with pernicious weeds and had to be completely cleared. They now have problems with box blight and are trying alternative planting. The highlight was the new 120 foot herbaceous border and the walled Victorian kitchen garden. We also enjoyed strolling along the mown pathways through the wildflower meadow and arboretum to the knot garden. The rain even held off for us to tuck into delicious cake and tea/coffee in the garden!
Our next meeting is on Friday 17th July when we will be visiting the Somerset Lavender Farm near Radstock. We will have a private behind the scenes tour finding out how they plant, harvest and distil the lavender and look at some of the different varieties of lavender plants. There are also lavender, healing, rose and vegetable gardens, a plant nursery, farm shop and café. This is only a small enterprise and our numbers are limited to 35. We will meet at 1.45 pm for 2 pm start. If you are interested please contact Jo at email@example.com or phone 509193.
Our visit to the Hauser & Wirth Art Gallery and Garden proved very popular. We assembled in the courtyard by a huge, dark, thought-provoking statue where our very knowledgeable guide told us about the romantic beginnings of Hauser & Wirth and how the family came to buy the farm and open a gallery here in Somerset. We split in to two groups (so many of us!) and were taken on a guided tour of the buildings and exhibits. This gave an insight into the artist’s thinking and helped us to appreciate the works on show which included sound and architectural exhibits as well as paintings and sculptures mostly of a contemporary nature. We ended with a stroll through the gardens which were designed by Piet Oudolf. They are planted in a classical style but with a less formal feel and are planned to have year round appeal. The gardens have been extended to include a perennial meadow following the installation of the enormous Radic Pavilion which is designed to resemble a shell resting on large quarry stones. The Roth Bar and Grill situated in the old cowshed uses food almost entirely coming from the farm or sourced locally and we enjoyed a delicious cream tea with home-made jam and a welcome cup of tea at the end of our visit.
Our next meeting is on Friday June 12th We will be visiting The Old Rectory at Manston, near Sturminster Newton. This is the home of Andrew and Judith Hussey and is a beautifully restored 5 acre garden which includes a 120 ft herbaceous border, knot garden, walled Victorian kitchen garden and a wildflower meadow. We will meet there at 2.30 pm for our guided tour. Please contact Peter Touch at firstname.lastname@example.org (phone 826821) by June 5th if you are interested.
The Gardening Club held its 3rd AGM on 17th April in the village hall, it was very well attended. The Chairman reviewed last year’s activities and, on behalf of the committee, said how pleased he was at the continued interest and support of the members and at the high turnout for our meetings. The accounts showed an improved balance. Various operational matters were discussed and put to the vote. All the officers and committee members were willing to stand again and have been re-elected for another year. The Secretary outlined the programme for the coming year.
It was agreed to keep the subscription at £5 and all members attending received their free plug plant and discount voucher for Paulls of Martock, together with a note of the programme for 2015/16.
Following a break for refreshments and a chance to buy the plants on our plant table, we held a light-hearted quiz with questions on Gardening, British Birds and Music with a garden related theme. Caroline Brock was the winner with Ann Le Fluffy a close second.
Our next meeting is on Friday 22nd May. We will be visiting the Hauser and Wirth Garden and Art Gallery in Bruton for a private tour of the garden, gallery and buildings lasting about 1¼ hours. The garden has had much interest and been featured on TV. It is a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre, which acts as a destination for experiencing art, architecture and the remarkable Somerset landscape through new and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. A landscaped garden, designed for the gallery by internationally renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf, includes a 1.5 acre perennial meadow, which sits behind the gallery buildings. We will meet there at 1.30 pm for our tour at 1.45 pm. For more information contact Jo on 509193. New members welcome.
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2014/15
Friday 16th May ‘CHIFFCHAFFS’ Afternoon visit for private tour of garden and tea
Friday 13th June HOLT FARM, BLAGDON Day visit to this contemporary organic garden in the beautiful Yeo Valley
Friday 18th July BARRINGTON COURT A guided tour by the Gardener-in-charge of a beautiful National Trust property Evening visit (6 pm)
Friday 15th August TOWN TREE NATURE RESERVE, MARTOCK Afternoon visit followed by tea at 27 Water Street
Friday 19th September KILVER COURT GARDEN Afternoon visit for garden tour of this ‘secret garden’
Friday 17th October ‘BEES AND BUTTERFLIES’ Talk by Gold Club speaker in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm
Friday 14th November SOCIAL EVENING WITH SUPPER AND TALK In the Village Hall at 7.30 pm
Friday 5th December DISCOUNT SHOPPING EVENING WITH SHORT TALK At Brimsmore Garden Centre
Friday 16th January ‘ORGANIC VEGETABLE GROWING’ Talk by Brian Heskith in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm
Friday 20th February ‘12 MONTHS OF COLOUR’ Talk by Neil Lovesey in the Village Hall at 7.30 pm
Friday 20th March TALK AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING AT CASTLE GARDENS Afternoon visit
Friday 17th April AGM, QUIZ & PLANT SALE Village Hall New members always welcome only £5 membership fee
March 2015: We met up at the Castle Gardens in Sherborne for our March meeting. Fran Powell gave us a most entertaining talk and showed us a number of spring plants which were looking beautiful at the moment to brighten up our gardens including Fritillaries, Pulmonarias, Ericas and Primulas, also some lovely shrubs for leaf colour and flowers. She finished by showing us the latest treatment for box blight and some interesting seeds. After a good chat over a cup of tea (or coffee) in the sunshine we set off to fill our trolleys and make the most of the 25% discount on our shopping. Our next meeting will be on Friday 17th April in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. We will have a short AGM followed by a garden related fun quiz. We will also have a ‘Bring and Buy’ Plant Table for club funds so if you have any plants you can spare please bring them along. There will be no charge but the members’ subscriptions will be due for 2015/16 and the free plant for this year’s growing competition will be distributed. The meeting is open to everyone who would like to come along.
Neil Lovesey, one of our most popular speakers, gave us a talk on ‘Twelve Months of Colour’ at our February meeting. He gave us an interesting and down-to-earth insight on how to prolong our flowering season and provide colour in our gardens throughout the year. He also divulged some of the tricks the growers use to prepare their plants to their best advantage for selling purposes.
He propagates all his own plants and will have potted up 40,000 by the end of February.
However it is always the ones in flower that sell so he has to use various means to speed up or slow down that process to have sufficient ready for Plant Fairs at different times of the year. We can also do that by using the natural triggers – less or more daylight hours, soil and air temperatures, more or less sunshine, wetter or dryer. Another way to increase the amount of flowers and lengthen the flowering season is the ‘Chelsea chop’ - many of the herbaceous plants can be cut back by half in May and that half will grow on and flower later. Dead heading is essential otherwise the plant will happily just set seed. Make sure that a third of all your perennials are evergreen so even in winter there is interest.
There are normally about 10 seasons in a year (not just 4) and there is a plant for each of them. We need to know our own garden as each one has its own climate according to the aspect, soil type, rainfall, etc. but there is always a plant for every situation. If you have a dark corner, or an eyesore to hide, a white flower will lighten it and divert the eye.
Go to small nurseries, they have more unusual plants and are better cared for. Beware of large DIY stores and supermarkets that buy in plants from the continent which have been forced, wrapped in plastic, and have little soil in the pots which dries out and stunts the roots, these rarely make good growth. If you have bought a plant and not yet planted it DO NOT stand it on concrete put it on (or in) the soil, the plastic gets very hot/or cold/dries out very quickly/gets waterlogged and cannot drain. They do not drain properly even if stood on bricks and the roots can drown.
Finally always make your own compost and use it, the soil will improve and so will the colour in your garden. (Neil has emailed the detailed notes of his talk and these will be passed on to any member who would like them.)
Our next meeting will be on Friday 20th March. This will be a meeting for members only at the Castle Gardens in Sherborne for a talk and a 25% discount on our shopping. Please meet there at 2.15 pm for a 2.30 pm start. If anyone needs a lift please phone Jo on 509193.
PROGRAMME FOR 2015/16 We have been busy putting together the programme for the year 2015/16 and have lots of interesting visits planned during the summer which include guided tours and private gardens opened just for us. These include the Hauser & Worth garden in Bruton, Somerset Lavender Farm, and visits to gardens in Somerset and Dorset which often include a cream tea! If driving is a problem there is usually someone with a spare seat in their car. During the Autumn/Winter months we have talks on a variety of subjects with something for everyone and a chance to enjoy a chat over tea/coffee and biscuits afterwards. As well as all the above we have discount vouchers from the Castle Gardens Group and Paulls of Martock for members and a free plant for our growing competition. All wonderful value for a very minimal joining fee. We are a friendly group and new members are always welcome.
At our January meeting Brian Heskith gave us a humorous and interesting talk on ‘Organic Vegetable Growing’. He started by reminiscing about the first packet of seeds he bought - ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ -from Woolworths when he was only 8. This started off his lifetime’s interest in gardening. He went on to talk about research into organic foods which, although hasn’t always shown to be more beneficial, some of the latest research has now revealed that they can be more nutritious with less pesticide residues and nitrates, and leave the soil in a better condition.
Soil can be improved in many ways with worm compost and well-rotted animal compost being the highest feed; garden and mushroom compost, green manure, and seaweed meal being medium feed and leaf mould and straw being the lowest. Ideally the ground should never be left bare, sowing a green manure will help suppress weeds, increase soil fertility and help to replace some of the trace minerals in the soil especially deep-rooted ones like buckwheat. The greenery can just be cut down and left to rot as a mulch or even covered with cardboard over the winter which will also rot down and be incorporated into the soil. The roots of peas and beans should be left in the ground to help replace nitrogen.
To reduce insect damage cover the crops with Enviromesh or Wondermesh netting, leave it over brassica until they are well grown, it also helps control leek moth and carrot fly. The only chemical Brian uses is ‘Advanced Slug Killer’ which is approved for organic use; or parasitic nematodes which can be watered on to deal with slugs. He finds well fed, healthy plants stand up well to insect attack; any black fly can be controlled by removing plant tips at first sign of attack on broad beans or using your hose to wash them off French beans. Plant varieties can be selected that ward off pests such as ‘Flyaway’ (carrots).
He encouraged everyone to enjoy the taste of food fresh from the garden by growing bush tomatoes in the flower garden, potatoes in a bag, or just finding a ‘square foot’ in the garden for a few vegetables. He gave us the names of some of the varieties of vegetable he likes to grow and showed us some tools he wouldn’t be without and finished by answering our questions.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 20th February in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. We will be having a talk on ’12 months of colour’ by a favourite speaker, Neil Lovesey. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits
Our visit to Brimsmore Garden in December centre proved very popular with most members coming along to make the most of the discount shopping opportunity.
We started with an enjoyable talk by the manager, Adam Wallis, who showed us an array of plants for both indoor and outdoor situations that provide colour and interest at this time of the year.
For outside planting Heucherella (a Heuchera x Tiarella cross) ‘Brass Lantern’ has good foliage with rich colour except in the very coldest weather, tolerates shade and only needs a tidy up after flowering. Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ has lime green variation turning pink in cold weather and is evergreen. He advised cutting back euphorbias by ⅓ at a time if they are getting leggy, cutting ⅓ more as new stems grow until all old stems are replaced. Hellebores are great this time of year and good for shade with new crosses ‘Eric Smithii’, ‘Winter Bells’ and ‘Anna’s Red’ looking wonderful with their flowers held up above the leaves. Nandina ‘Blush Pink’ gives winter colour and a lovely rustle as you pass its leaves and is a more compact variety. Cornus have great stem colour in winter (cut down end of February) and can be easily propagated, ‘Baton Rouge ‘is very attractive. Camellias are beautiful, particularly ‘Jury’s Yellow’ – white with yellow centre – but the buds may need protection in severe frost.
Adam then showed us some houseplants starting with the group that prefer cool conditions. Hyacinths are heat treated for early growth but keep them in a cooler environment to slow growth and prevent flowers drooping. Always water cyclamen from the base ‘dunk then drain’ and remove spent flower stems from their base to stop rotting of the corm. Don’t leave your azaleas in a draught. They come in a lightweight compost and need to be watered by dunking (as above) and deadheaded to prolong flowering. Christmas cactus can withstand neglect and it can encourage flowering but then give some TLC and feed with phostrogen plant food.
The next group of houseplants like a constant minimum 60-65°F heat, generally they do not like direct sunlight and do not like sitting in water. Amaryllis, the flowering bulb, is colourful. Sephanotis likes indirect sunlight also humidity (bathroom or gravel tray), it does not like cold, keep the leaves clean by wiping with tepid water. Orchids also love humidity and need warmth. They too need to be given a dunk in tepid water about every 7-10 days then drained and given a drip feed with fertiliser. Give them a rest after flowering (put in a dark corner). Cut down the stems of the phalaenopsis orchid to the 1st or 2nd bud after flowering (or cut to the base) to keep the plant compact.
Following a few questions and answers everyone was soon busy enjoying their discount shopping.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 16th December in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. We will be having a talk on ‘Organic Vegetable Growing’ by Brian Heskith. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits
We had a very well attended meeting for our Social Evening and supper in November. There were several guests including visitors from Ash Gardening Club.
The evening started with an informal talk and demonstration by Marion Dale, a Garden Designer, who has recently moved into the village. She showed us how to take soil samples and test whether they were alkaline, acid or neutral (very important as plants will suffer and fail if planted in the wrong type of soil). She also demonstrated how to test the soil condition by diluting some in water and noting the different layers as it settled. A final test was done by rolling a small piece into a ball to see whether the soil was clay, loamy or sandy (could also be peaty or chalky). Clay would be very sticky, sandy would feel gritty and fall apart but good loam feels smooth and just holds together in a ball. Marion was very pleased that her new garden was a good loam but most Tintinhull gardeners felt their gardens were clay. Marion went on to say the next important thing was to take note of the aspect and orientation of your garden; even south-facing gardens have shady areas where not all plants would thrive. It’s a good idea to take photos throughout the day and year before planning new borders. Finally research needs to be done into the ultimate size of tree or shrub before planting and the colour spectrum which pleases you most. Everyone has different likes and dislikes which can make the life of a garden designer very interesting!
After the talk everyone tucked into the wonderful assortment of food and enjoyed seeing Martin’s slideshow of the various gardens we have visited during the summer. Finally the raffle was drawn, thanks to everyone who contributed to the wonderful array of prizes.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 6th December at 6.45 for 7pm. Meet at Brimsmore Garden Centre for a short talk and 25% discount shopping evening, members only. If you would like to join the club please contact Jo (509193) or any members of the committee.
We were back in the village hall for our October meeting. Mike Burke from Castle Gardens in Sherborne gave us a talk on ‘Bees and Butterflies’. He stressed how important our planting was to help the bees and butterflies whose population has been in decline. There appears to be complex reasons for this including changing climate and erratic weather patterns. Neonicotinoids have been banned following fears that they were affecting the bee population. A reduction in the use of chemicals will eventually give a better balance of wildlife but we need to be patient while this happens. Yields of fruit and vegetables will increase with a greater number of bees and we can enjoy a greater variety of wildlife in our gardens.
Mike then showed us some evergreen plants which can provide a food source in the winter months. The common ivy is very good, viburnum tinus (Eve Price is more compact for smaller gardens), mahonias (great for structure, can be pruned hard in spring, scented yellow flowers), and sarcococca (very scented white flowers). In the spring there are many varieties of berberis, also escallonia and hebes all of which have newer smaller varieties now. Give hebes a light pruning when the flower heads are fading and before they set seed to keep the plant tidy. Summer plants include lavender which is long flowering and loved by insects, also pyracantha with its prolific small flowers and berries. Eleagnus will also flower in autumn after a warm season and privet, often unloved, also attracts the insects. Climbers include a winter flowering honeysuckle (suitable for a large garden), also winter flowering clematis and ivy sulphur heart.
Among the deciduous plants prunus incisa 'Kojo-no-mai' has contorted stems, white flowers in spring and autumn colour making a good specimen plant and callicarpa profusion has flowers followed by beautiful bright berries. Buddleia is well known for its attraction to butterflies – shorten branches in autumn to reduce wind rock and prune hard in spring. Other shrubs include new varieties of weigela, hydrangea paniculata, ceratostigma, etc.
There are many herbaceous plants loved by insects including verbena boniarensis, echinacea, phlox, Japanese anemones, geraniums, nepeta and thymes. It is said that single flowers are better than double for the insects as it is easier for them to collect the nectar.
Mike finished by showing us seeds for annual flower meadows. They had great results at Castle Gardens with a long lasting display but experiments showed that it is necessary to replant every year as only one or two varieties survive and dominate even if extra seed is used the following year.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 14th November at 7.30 pm. We will be having a Social Evening with a ‘bring and share supper’ in the Village Hall. Marion Dale, who has recently moved into the village and is a Garden Designer, is going to do an informal presentation with the theme of how to identify the key factors which define your garden, including demonstrating ways to identify your soil type, determining aspect and orientation to enable you to select the ‘right’ plants for your garden. This will apply to both new gardens and to established gardens and help you avoid the ‘mistakes’ resulting from impulse buys at the garden centre! You will be welcome to try some of the ‘hands on’ techniques for yourself. This evening is for Members and Guests only, no charge just a raffle (donation of prizes appreciated.) If anyone would like to join please contact Jo on 509193 or any of the committee (Neil, Sandi, Peter or Margaret).
Despite heavy rain and thunderstorms earlier in the day we had a fine afternoon for our visit to Kilver Court Garden at Shepton Mallett. We met in what was once the Director’s office, a beautiful room overlooking the garden, where we had a talk about the history of Shepton Mallett and this ‘secret garden’.
The gardens extend to 3½ acres and were first created in the early 1900s by Ernest Jardine , the then factory owner, who laid out the gardens for the benefit of his employees. He re-built the old mill pond as an ornamental lake with wild fowl and a rowing boat for his employees use and created allotments where workers could grow their own food. Sadly this model factory was closed down in the great depression in 1929.
The Showering family have made cider in Shepton Mallett for over 200 years and their success in producing ‘Babycham’ prompted major expansion leading them to acquire first the Kilver Court buildings and later Jardine’s Park and mill which were lying empty. The gardens were further enhanced by the acquisition of the viaduct following the closure of the railway.
In 1961 the Showering family was so enthused by an award winning garden at the Chelsea Flower Show that they commissioned a grander version to be planted within the viaduct setting. It was a bold and modern design statement, to which they added water features with water pumped from the original mill pond. They developed a mature rockery built using sandstone boulders from the Forest of Dean to edge a man-made stream and waterfall. The family made use of their lorries returning from making deliveries to pick up the massive rocks used to make the rockery and waterfall! The returning lorries were also used to bring back the beautifully manicured Cumbrian turf.
The current owner is Roger Saul (founder of the luxury brand of Mulberry, the adjoining factory) who redesigned the parterre and herbaceous borders in 1996 when he acquired Kilver Court and breathed new life into the gardens. The gardens are cared for by two full time gardeners who also look after Mr Saul’s private garden at Sharpham Park where he grows spelt (a cereal similar to wheat) on his farm. His spelt flour is used in the restaurant.
Our guide then took us round the garden. The grounds are lovely with mature trees and shrubs and colourful borders. The river Sheppey runs along the edge and the viaduct towers over all making a magnificent backdrop. The old allotments are now raised beds where there are community plots and food is grown for the restaurant. The highlight is still the wonderful waterfall and rockery.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 17th October at 7.30 pm. We will be back into the Village Hall for a talk on ‘Bees and Butterflies’ by a speaker from the Castle Gardens Group. Visitors are welcome - admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits.
For our meeting in August we met at Town Trees Nature Garden in Martock. Although so close most of us had never before visited this truly original and eccentric garden which was created by Chris Burnett after he inherited the farm where he was born and grew up. He developed it over many years planting trees and shrubs and digging ponds in what was previously just flat farmland. There are many surprises along the meandering route of about 2 miles including wonderful creations made by Chris out of horseshoes which he buys by the sackfulls, and other bits and pieces which appear in the undergrowth more like the ‘Lost Gardens of Heligan’ when they were still lost! There are drifts of dahlias and roses here and there and around the 17th century farmhouse where he and his wife live. Although it was, and still is, a garden created just for his own pleasure he was persuaded to open it to the public which he did in 1987 and we enjoyed the sheer eccentricity of it all, very different from our other garden visits.
Everyone then gathered back in Jo and Trevor’s garden in Water Street to enjoy a delicious cream tea in the warm sunshine. The begonia growing competition was judged by Stella, a guest of Flora’s, who awarded joint first prize (£5 Castle Gardens voucher) to Jo and Trevor’s begonias which were well grown and full of flower.
Our next meeting will be on 19th September and is a visit to the Kilver Court Gardens at Shepton Mallett which were featured on Gardeners’ World recently. We will meet there at 2pm for a talk about the gardens before looking round at our leisure. The cost will be £5.75 to include the talk. Please contact Neil on 826393 or Peter on 826821 for further information. New members always welcome, membership fee £5.
We visited Barrington Court on a beautiful balmy July evening for an escorted tour. Christine Bain, the head gardener, took a large group of us around and explained how the National Trust gradually took over the whole estate. We were interested to hear how the Lyle family renovated the court which was nearly derelict and built the lovely farm houses and buildings in the 1920s, completely redesigning the layout of the grounds. The avenue of chestnut trees had to be taken down a couple of years ago and have been replaced by tulip trees which should be making a presence in the next few years. A garden plan was made by Gertrude Jekyll and has been followed to a large extent by the NT but the scheme for the front of the house was never carried out (though may be in the future if a large enough donation is received!). Thanks to Peter for arranging this visit.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 15th August when a visit to Town Trees Nature Reserve is planned followed by tea and cake at Jo and Trevor’s where judging of our begonia growing competition will take place. Meet at the Nature Reserve at 2pm. Contact Jo on 509193 for further information.
We visited the organic gardens of Holt Farm in the Yeo Valley on a glorious day in June. It was in the beautiful Yeo Valley that Roger and Mary Mead founded the Yeo Valley dairy business in the early 1970s. The yogurt is still made here and Holt Farm completed its conversion to wholly organic in 2009. The garden was developed by Sarah, their daughter-in-law. It is the only organically certified ornamental garden in the country. There are many individual areas each with its own planting theme and an extensive gravel garden full of colour with lovely views over Blagdon Lake. Dotted around the garden are some wonderful pieces of wrought iron work. There are also woodland and wild flower meadow walks. They have a large compost area with where you can see the compost in various stages and how they make up various mixes for different types of planting. Certainly everything seemed to grow very well with little sign of insect damage. The café was full of character with lots of quirky bits and pieces and we met up to have lunch there. After a very pleasant few hours we enjoyed a Yeo Valley icecream or home made cake on the terrace before coming home. Certainly a garden to visit again and enjoy at different seasons.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 18th July, meeting at the National Trust garden of Barrington Court where Christine Bain, the head gardener, will be giving us a guided tour. Please let Peter know if you are coming – phone 826821 or email email@example.com
Over 30 members gathered at ‘Chiffchaffs’ at Chaffeymoor, Bourton on a beautiful afternoon in May to enjoy a walk around Mr Pott’s wonderful garden. The mature garden around the house was full of colour with roses, herbaceous plants and shrubs and seemed to go on forever with a woodland walk full of rhododendrons, pieris, etc. and a stream garden. The most amazing part was Mr Potts himself who at 88 years old continues to maintain the garden (which he and his wife started from scratch 37 years ago) with just a little help, and is still full of new plans each winter. We finished with tea and cake and a browse round the plant sales (there always seems room for just one more new plant!)
Next meeting is on Friday 13th June (a week earlier than usual) and we will be visiting the Yeo Valley Organic Garden at Holt Farm, Blagdon. This covers six and a half acres and includes beautiful borders, a woodland walk, an ornamental edible garden and a glass house – something for everyone and has been highly recommended. We will leave the village at 11 am to arrive in time for lunch (they serve light lunches and afternoon tea with their own home made produce) or bring your own. Contact Jo on 509193 for further information.
The Gardening Club held its 2nd AGM in April in the village hall. The chairman reviewed last year’s activities and, on behalf of the committee, said how pleased he was at the continued interest and support of the members and at the high turnout for our meetings. The treasurer presented the accounts which show a healthy balance and the secretary ran through the programme of events which have been arranged for next year. All the officers and committee members were willing to stand again and have been re-elected for another year.
The formal part over Margaret and Peter held a quiz to test our gardening knowledge which was won by Ida Bradley with Mike Eyre a close second.
We finished the evening with a plant sale and everyone went home with their free begonia and compost for our plant competition.
Our next meeting is on Friday 16th May when we will be visiting ‘Chiffchaffs’, in Bourton. This is a mature garden with many interesting plants and an attractive walk to a woodland garden. We need to leave the village at 2 pm to meet up at ‘Chiffchaffs’ by 2.30 pm. The cost will be £6 to include tea and cake. Please let me know by 2nd May if you are coming so that I can let Mr Potts have the numbers. Phone (or email) Jo 509193
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2013/2014 Friday 21st June CORTON DENHAM GARDEN HOUSE GARDENS Five acres of garden with specimen trees, borders, lake and stream garden Afternoon visit (2.30pm) Friday 19th July LYTES CARY A guided tour by the Gardener-in-charge of this beautiful National Trust property Evening visit (5pm)
Friday 16th August
Private visit to
PICKET LANE NURSERY
The nursery has 10 acres built into a series of gardens
Evening visit (5pm)
Friday 20th September
‘LOW MAINTENANCE GARDENING’
Talk in the Village Hall
Friday 18th October
‘HERBS AND THEIR USES’
Talk by Mary Pring in the Village Hall
Friday 8th November
SOCIAL EVENING WITH SUPPER
In the village hall
Friday 6th December
Visit to BRIMSMORE GARDEN CENTRE
For talk and discount Christmas Shopping
Friday 17th January
‘PRUNING FRUIT TREES & SOFT FRUIT’
Talk by Mr & Mrs Robin Small
Friday 21st February
‘PROPAGATION PART 2’
Talk by Neil Lovesey
Friday 21st March
Visit to CASTLE GARDENS, SHERBORNE
For talk and discount shopping
Friday 11th April
AGM IN THE VILLAGE HALL
New members always welcome – subscription only £5
We were fortunate to have a sunny visit to Castle Gardens in Sherborne for our March outing (Tintinhull had a heavy hailstorm). The visit was very well supported and we enjoyed Fran Powell’s lively description of the various spring plants she had on show for us. These included a new syringa lilac) which grows to just 4 ft, a ribes with large flowers (prune out oldest 1/3rd each year to maintain quality as with all currents), and spirea ‘magic carpet’(colourful and drought resistant once established), also two beautiful blue clematis – a macropetala (trim immediately after flowering) and an Alpina which doesn’t need pruning. She followed with a number of new varieties of herbaceous plants including a new form of grape hyacinth which doesn’t spread so rampantly as the common one. Finally Fran showed us some new vegetable seed in unusual colours to try and a new Evergreen lawn dressing ‘4 in 1’ to rescue our lawns after the wet winter. We then enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea before piling up our trolleys with plants and other gardening paraphernalia to make the most of our 25% discount.
Our next meeting will be in the village hall on Friday 11th April at 7.30pm. We will have a short AGM followed by a quiz and a ‘Bring and Buy’ (or just buy) plant and gardening sundries stall. We will also be distributing begonias and compost (free to members) for our plant growing competition and the programme for 2014-2015 will be given out. There will be no charge this evening but subscriptions will be due. Anyone who is interested will be welcome to come along and join in.
For our February meeting our very popular speaker Neil Lovesey continued his talk on propagation. In his straightforward and ‘down to earth’ style he took us through the various ways of propagating our own plants and how to save ourselves a fortune!
He said there are 10 seasons for plants and propagation (though not every year has 10) and the best time for propagating is when the plants are growing well but before they flower. He reminded us the methods he had shown us in his earlier talk before going on to explain in more depth about taking cuttings in various ways. Most important is to put them into free draining, damp compost, control water loss (by using a polythene bag or upturned plastic bottle) and to keep the cuttings in good light but not in direct sunlight. The best medium for cutting is peat. He warned us to be careful of ‘eco’ or recycled compost as it can contain salmonella, e coli and other bacteria – you should always use gloves and be careful not to inhale the dust.
He advised us to take a photo of both the plant and label of any new purchase and to carefully label our cuttings so that we always have a record. Although often told to buy three of any plant for a border he says it is so easy to divide or propagate from one plant it is not really necessary.
Neil said we didn’t need to take notes as he would let us have full details of all his methods for every plant so if anyone didn’t take down his email address let me know and I will email them on to you when I receive the information from him.
Next month We are visiting Castle Gardens in Sherborne, on Friday 21st March for a talk and discount shopping (2.15pm for 2.30pm start). If anyone needs a lift please let me know – Jo on 509193.
January 2014 There was a lot of interest in the talk on ‘Pruning Fruit Trees and Soft Fruit’ at our first meeting in the New Year. Robin and June Small of Charlton Orchards in Creech St Michael who spoke to us were great characters, entertaining and full of knowledge. Charlton Orchards were founded in 1947, they have 40 acres of apple orchard mainly the old traditional varieties with lots of flavour. As well as apples, other crops include soft fruit, plums, damsons, pears, pumpkins and squash which they sell through local sources (not supermarkets). Robin said we must prune every year to get the most and best apples. For most people it is better to grow them as cordons (on a single stem) that way trees can be grown much closer and you can have several different varieties to fruit throughout the season. Only the late varieties will keep during the winter so an early glut of fruit is of little use. Also cordons are pruned later in the year when the weather is more clement! The other way to consider growing fruit is as espaliers, which can be grown in either 2 or 3 tiers. These take up more space but at 7 years are capable of producing 115 lbs of apples. He then took a ‘feathered maiden’ to show us how to prune a cordon tree, choosing only the branches at right angles, not those at oblique angles (which have a tendency to split allowing disease in). The cordons can be planted at an angle, in which case they need some support, or just upright and free standing. The spurs are shortened in winter to encourage growth and in summer to inhibit growth. If you do grow trees keep them to bush size, pruning them to four right-angled branches with the leading shoot cut to a similar height, enabling you to pick all but the very highest without the need of a ladder. Pears can be grown and pruned in a similar way to apples, but plums are better grown in a fan shape with support or against a wall and they should be pruned at the end of May or beginning of June to avoid the silver leaf problem. Peaches and other fruit do not like the cordon system but can also be grown as a fan. Red and white currants fruit on old wood and Robin advocated growing them with just two branches to keep them compact for ease of picking (and protecting fruit against the birds). Gooseberries can be grown this way too. Blackcurrants have a slightly different habit and fruit on new wood but can be grown in a similar way using the upward growing new wood. Blueberries require an acid soil. Old neglected fruit trees need a little longer to get back into shape, taking over three years to gradually remove excess branches and improve the shape. A 3 year old tree could be done in one year – try to get it back to 4 branches (at right angles) tying them to a cane to ease them outwards if necessary. Robin and June ended by inviting us to their Open Day in February for more pruning demonstrations and advice. Our next meeting is at 7.30 pm on Friday February 21st in the village hall and our very popular speaker Neil Lovesey will be back to talk about ‘Propagation Part 2’. As always visitors are welcome admission £4 (members £2) including tea or coffee and biscuits. Only £5 to join with other benefits including discount vouchers. December 2013 About 30 of us went to Brimsmore Garden Centre in early December. After some refreshments Adam told us about the new extension and improvements at Brimsmore and was very enthusiastic about the new biomass boiler which uses the by-products of forestry (sourced locally). Not only is it eco-friendly it also is proving very cost effective. He went on to show us some plants which have good foliage (and some with flowers) at this time of the year. He then gave us some hints about caring for plants often given as presents. Azaleas need a cool temperature and dry out quickly – they needed to be watered from the base frequently. Acclimatise the plant before planting it out in the spring (in ericaceous compost if you don’t have acid soil). Stephanotis likes an even temperature, pot up in slightly larger pot in the new season. Poinsettias like a warm room, they also dry out quickly, put them in a bowl of water until really damp then allow excess water to drain (don’t water from the top). Some outside jobs at this time of year include protecting young trees and whips against wind and rabbit damage, trimming climbing roses back by ⅓ and mulching all roses to help stop blackspot. Bubble wrap to protect pots and lift them off the ground with bricks or similar to prevent frost damage. Mulching the rest of the garden will help enrich the soil and provides a natural habitat that helps to feed the birds. Re-label plants where the labels have faded or been lost (while you still remember what they were!), list the plants that are doing well or have failed. Where bindweed, creeping thistle, etc. is still growing Roundup can be effective. Finally he suggested giving suitable plants a light pruning to use as Christmas decoration. We then went hunting for presents, decorations and plants to make full use of our discount. Sandi distributed the Gold Club 25% discount vouchers for use in the gardening section in January and February together with order forms for delivery if required. Any member who didn’t come can pick one up at the next meeting or collect one from Sandi. Our next meeting is in the village hall at 7.30pm and is a talk on ‘Pruning Fruit Trees and Soft Fruit’ by Mr & Mrs Robin Small of Charlton Orchards, Creech St Michael. They have been highly recommended by other clubs. All welcome admission £4 (Members £2) including coffee or tea and biscuits. New members welcome, membership fee £5. November 2013 We started our November meeting with a wonderful slide show of scenes from our Open Day in July followed by photos of some of the National Trust and other gardens in Cornwall, finishing with pictures of Peter and Maggie’s beautiful roses taken at their best in June. Martin had added some lovely atmospheric music to accompany the show and everyone was very appreciative of all the effort that must have gone into producing it. We had all contributed to the ‘Bring and Share Supper’ and there was an amazing spread of food, which judging by the increasing volume of chatter, was very much enjoyed. The evening finished with a raffle, there being so many prizes everyone was a winner! Next meeting is a visit to Brimsmore Garden Centre on 6th December at 6.45 for 7 pm. There will be a short talk followed by discount shopping - just in time for Christmas! October 2013 Mary Pring of Lower Severalls Farm gave us a talk on ‘Herbs and Other Plants’ in the village hall on 18th October. Her grandfather bought the farm in 1929 and her parents started the garden which she helped develop. The farmhouse is 17th century and built of hamstone and the garden extends to 3 acres. The barns and stables have now been converted into a bed and breakfast business and the plant nursery and garden has been run by another couple during the past year as ‘Useful Plants’. The Plant Heritage Fair which helps to conserve garden plants has been held there annually for over 10 years and they will be holding it again next Easter. Mary started with a slide show of various borders around the garden. The interesting arches were created from recycled farm machinery. There are a huge variety of herbs with culinary, medicinal or other uses. A mixed herb border had comfrey (newer small varieties are available), lovage (celery flavour), fennel (aniseed flavour) and angelica on the shady side, these are all quite large plants. Angelica can be added to stewed fruit as well as being candied (the more common use). Sweet woodruff tolerates dry shade and is an evergreen ground cover plant which can be added to drinks. Hyssop makes a lovely edging plant, cut back after flowering. Its pungent flavour can be used in casseroles and meat dishes. Hedge germander (not wall germander) also makes a good edging plant. Cardoons are similar to artichokes but you eat the stem rather than the flower which is rather small. Bergamot (Monarda) is used to flavour earl grey tea, it likes rich soil and a hot climate so may not survive in our gardens. The many varieties of lavender are good for potpourri, they need to be pruned after flowering to keep compact but do not cut into the old wood. The French lavenders have larger flowers but are more tender – keep them in pots and put in the conservatory over winter for a long flowering season. Chamomile flowers are also aromatic (but use non-flowering variety for lawns). Orris (iris florentina) root can be ground as a fixative for potpourri. The scented geraniums (pelargoniums) come in lemon, orange, rose and apple scents and the leaves can be used to line the baking tins when making a sponge to give a subtle flavour. Culinary herbs include horseradish the roots of which can be grated, lemon juice added and whipped cream folded in for a delicious sauce. The allium family includes garlic chives as well as the more common one, also tree onions where the onions grow on the stem tips. Purple sage is also good for sore throats; the variegated varieties are more tender. Borage is good in Pimms, freeze flower heads in ice cubes. Pot marigolds can be added to salads also used to colour rice instead of saffron. Mary suggested ‘Jekka’s Herb Cookbook’, the ‘RHS Herbs and Their Uses’ and ‘Riverford Farm’ books for further reading and recommended the Riverford Farm tours, she also gave us some printouts of herb ideas of her own. Next Meeting will be a Social Evening in the village hall on Friday 8th November at 7.30pm. Martin will be showing us some of his beautiful photos and we will have a ‘Bring and Share’ supper as last year. Members and Guests only, no charge just a raffle (donation of prizes appreciated.) September 2013 We returned to the village hall for our meeting on Friday 20th September. Steve Fry from the Castle Gardens Group gave us a talk on ‘Low Maintenance Gardening’. He said that a certain amount of maintenance is always going to be necessary unless you are prepared to hire a gardener or cover it with concrete and paint it green! However if you are starting a garden a 5 year plan is a good idea and a Gardeners Journal is a useful tool to keep notes of your successes and failures. Make your lawns first being careful to avoid island beds but do use curves to make mowing easier. If you would like a flowering meadow don’t use meadow seed on rich soil (the wrong plants will grow too strongly). A packet of cornfield annuals is good for a big space; they will make a good show and can be just cut down at the end of the season. Before you start the borders weed control is important – black plastic or wool carpet (not synthetic) will suppress the growth over a season. A new weedkiller ‘Resolva’ is a mix of systemic weedkiller (gets down to the roots) and foliage burner (so you can see more quickly where you have sprayed). Don’t hack down the weeds first; a good leaf area is needed for it to work. Ground cover is good for keeping weeds at bay; he recommended some new ajugas, sedums, heathers and heucheras. A mulch of composted bark makes a good soil improver, use as much as you can afford – up to 2 inches deep. A watering system laid underneath the mulch (you could use old hose with some holes punched in) and linked to timer on your tap not only saves you the effort of watering it is better for the plants to have a steady trickle of water around their roots. Use water retention granules in tubs and pots not just in baskets. When planting trees and shrubs always use root grow – put some in the ground immediately below the plant in contact with the roots – it encourages root growth and keeps diseases at bay. Putting the right plant in the right place makes for fewer problems, the RHS Plants for Places book is very helpful. Certain plants do very well with little attention and are and very good, the latest varieties generally being especially so having been bred for compactness, long-flowering, etc. The Spireas are robust and easy, Berberis are tough (and putting prunings just below the surface will deter mice from eating your bulbs). Other easy shrubs are Mahonia, Hypericum, Eunonymous and Cotoneaster. All these come in many varieties with good leaf colour and/or flowers and berries. If you are growing vegetables try raised beds and have a look at Unwins seeds, they have packets showing good companion planting which help keep bugs at bay. Use varieties that are disease and bug resistant. Steve finished by showing us some labour saving tools and products. He then went on to judge our fuchsia growing competition (we had been given them as plugs by the Gold Club in March). Trevor’s beautiful plant covered in flowers was judged the winner and he was presented with a token given by the Castle Gardens Group. OUR NEXT MEETING is on Friday October 18th in the village hall at 7.30pm and will be a talk on ‘Herbs and Their Uses’ by Mary Pring from Lower Severalls Nursery. All welcome - visitors £4, members £2, including refreshments. August 2013: On a beautiful August evening we visited Picket Lane Nursery in South Perrott. We were given a guided tour by the enthusiastic and charismatic owner Neil Lovesey. He and his wife bought the 10 acre site just a few years ago and hope to complete their plans in about 3 years’ time. Despite arduous (and somewhat surprising) planning conditions they have laid out gardens to trial planting under various types of soil and situations, a sales area, stock holding beds, poly tunnels, orchards and a wild flower meadow. Villagers have also been invited to set up allotments and Neil keeps rare breed pigs and bees.
Although, as he explained, August was the time when the nursery was not looking at its best, being at the end of a busy season, most of us were reassured to see even the professionals struggling to keep on top of things at this time of the year. We were amazed that Neil, his wife and daughter managed the whole site on their own as they propagate all the plants that they sell – an incredible number to cultivate. They hope to take one day off a year – Christmas Day – not achieved due to a pig giving birth to 14 piglets last year and a herd of ponies breaking through into the nursery the year before. Definitely not a way of life for the faint-hearted! We did enjoy our visit and most could not resist taking home some of his very reasonably priced plants. We look forward to a return visit in the future to see how Neil’s plans have progressed.
The 25% discount vouchers for bulbs at Brimsmore Garden Centre are now available for paid up members as well as the Paulls discount vouchers.
Our next meeting will be on Friday 20th September at 7.30pm in the village hall. This will be a talk on ‘Low Maintenance Gardening’ by a speaker from the Castle Gardens Group Gold Club. All welcome - visitors £4, members £2, including refreshments July 2013: Our visit to the National Trust garden at Lytes Cary took place on a very warm Friday evening in July. Over 30 members enjoyed the tour led by the gardener in charge Damien. We started with a refreshing cup of tea or coffee while wandering round the plants for sale and the shop. Damien then escorted us around the garden explaining how the garden has developed over the years and giving us tips along the way. We began with the wonderful topiary and moved on through the various ‘garden rooms’ to the private area where the seeds are planted by volunteers and nurtured through various stages until they are ready to plant out the following season. We concluded with a guide to their compost making and a tour of the potting shed. Another very enjoyable outing, thanks to Peter for making the arrangements with the NT. On Friday 16th August we have a private visit to Picket Lane Nursery in South Perrott which is run by Neil Lovesey, who was our very popular speaker on propagation earlier this year. His nursery has 10 acres built into a series of gardens including a 5 acre flower meadow and a 2 acre shrub orchard garden. He also has a cider orchard, bee hives, rare breed pigs and polytunnels. We plan to meet there at 5pm for an escorted tour. Anyone needing a lift please contact Jo on 823916. New members always welcome.
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2013
Friday 22nd February
TALK ON “PROPAGATION” BY NEIL LOVESEY
Previously a teacher and engineer, Neil now runs a busy nursery which propagates every single plant they offer for sale
This is part 1 of the popular talk covering all the bulbs, corms and tuberous rooted plants, all top cuttings – soft, semi & hardwood, root cuttings and much, much more.
7.00 pm in the Village Hall
Admission £4 (Members £2) includes refreshments
Friday March 15th
VISIT TO BRIMSMORE GARDEN CENTRE
FOR TALK AND DISCOUNT SHOPPING
6.45 pm for 7 pm
Friday 19th April
TALK BY JOHN HORSEY ON “HERBACIOUS BORDERS”
John has a Master’s Degree in Garden History and has many years’ experience in horticulture. He runs courses at East Lambrook
7.00 pm in the Village Hall
Admission £4 (Members £2) includes refreshments
Friday 17th May
AGM and GARDENERS’ QUIZ
7.00 pm in the Village Hall
NEW MEMBERS WELCOME
Membership fee £5 (for year to May 2013)
June 2013: On June 21st we had a private visit to Corton Denham House Gardens. We were very fortunate to have good weather and be able to fully enjoy the wonderful garden. The owner, Dr Odger, gave us a guided tour and we learnt some useful tips along the way. The peonies were particularly spectacular, along with the roses and magnificent trees. The garden had several borders, each differently planted and large expanses of mown lawns bordered by ancient trees rolling down to a lake bordered by flag iris and reeds. This lead on to a shady stream garden full of hostas, primulas, astilbe, etc. We then entered the arboretum which was planted in 2002 and contained well over a hundred tree varieties all now well-grown. These were underplanted with acers, roses and shrubs. The walled vegetable garden, laid out in potager style contained a huge array of vegetables, flowers and espalier and cordon trained fruit. We were amazed to hear that Dr Odger and his wife manage to keep the five acres of garden in such an immaculate condition with just one full-time gardener. It was a garden certainly worth a repeat visit. Afterwards we adjoured to the nearby hostelry, The Queens Arms, for a cream tea after our tour. Our next visit is to Lytes Cary, the National Trust property near Kingsdon, on Friday 19th July. The Gardener-in-charge will be giving us a tour of the many acre, enchanting garden, lovingly restored by Sir Walter Jenner, comprising a stunning array of topiary, statues, herbaceous borders and orchard and a visit to the well-developed community allotments and recently opened nature walk, followed by tea/coffee. Cost £5 a head for all attendees. Meet there by the kiosk at 4.55 pm for a 5 pm start or by 4.30 pm at Tintinhull Village Hall for a lift. Please let Peter Touch (01935 826321) know by Monday 15th July if you need a lift. May 2013: Our meeting on May 17th began with our AGM. This being our first AGM there was more than usual to cover. Our Chairman Neil took us through the various matters which needed to be agreed, a constitution being the most important. All items were passed unanimously. The Secretary (Jo) gave a brief outline of the inaugural meeting held last year and the programme for the coming year. The Treasurer (Sandi) presented the accounts and is in the process of opening a bank account for the club. Peter was thanked for arranging a number of events with the National Trust. The four committee members present were re-elected and we are delighted that Margaret Dalton will be filling the remaining vacancy on the committee. Special thanks go to Carol and Maggie who have been making the tea and coffee at our meetings. Following the AGM we had a Quiz with a gardening theme. The subjects covered fruit, vegetables, trees, shrubs, herbs and herbaceous plants and ended with the mystery ‘Rock & Pop’ category which had a plant or fruit in the title. All was done in great humour and with four people having equal points a tie breaker was needed. Well done to Hilary Ford who came 1st (she knew her Dom Perignon!), Adrian Dodding was 2nd and David Brock 3rd, also a ‘highly commended’ to Ida Bradley who just missed out. We finished the evening with choosing a plant (or plants) from the selection we had brought to swap and a chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Our next meeting on Friday 21st June is a private visit to Corton Denham House Gardens, the home of Dr and Mrs Robin Odger. The garden has five acres of fine specimen trees, extensive lawns and borders, a lake and stream garden, walled vegetable garden and arboretum and is at its best between April and July. Our numbers are limited to 35 so please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to come. A cream tea can be arranged at the nearby Queen’s Arms (Dr & Mrs Odger no longer provide this but liaise with the pub instead) and I will also need to know whether or not you would like to have a tea. As there is limited parking we will need to car share. Our tour is planned to start at 2.30pm and the journey should take just under 30 minutes so I suggest we start from the village hall at 1.45pm. Would anyone willing to drive please let me know. Jo 823916 Anyone wishing to renew their membership or join the club should leave their subscription of £5 with Sandi at 11 St Margaret’s Road. April 2013: The topic for our April meeting was ‘Herbaceous Plants and Borders’. The speaker was John Horsey who has taught horticulture in the area over the last twenty years at both Cannington and Yeovil Colleges. He said that the concept of herbaceous borders with their blowsy style of gardening was started by Gertrude Jekyll in the late 1800s. He showed many slides from around the country illustrating different planting schemes from ‘Prairie’ planting and how the gravel paths of Beth Chatto’s garden can set off the plants, to the colourful borders of Bowood and the enormous borders at Wisley. His own favourite is at Bristol Zoo; however we are very fortunate in having so many beautiful National Trust and other gardens nearby. Before starting a new border it is very important to get rid of perennial weeds especially ground elder, bindweed, etc. as it is almost impossible to eliminate them afterwards. Plan your border before planting and if space permits use larger drifts of colour. Use varying heights with normally the largest at the back (unless an island bed). When choosing plants it is best to pick the newer varieties of old favourites as they have been bred for longer flowering periods. Put supports around in the spring, it saves desperate attempts to tie plants up in August when sudden storms and wind can flatten well-grown plants! Various types of support from commercial frames to wood and mesh, pea sticks, even pig wire can be used – they are all eventually covered by the growth. A good dressing of mulch (after a final weeding) finishes it all off, it is a good idea to leave a slight ridge around the plants to hold the water and allow it to soak in more efficiently. Dead-heading or cutting the flowers is essential to extend the flowering season. Slugs are a huge problem with new young growth. A wildlife friendly solution is to sink plastic cups into the ground with a couple of inches of beer in them (leaving about 2 inches above ground so that friendly beetles etc do not fall in – the slugs will still climb up). Empty your collection of slugs out onto the ground every day or two for the blackbirds to enjoy! Most herbaceous plants benefit from being divided every three years or so. It keeps them healthy and allows you to cut out the dead or unproductive parts. Our next meeting is the AGM this being the end of our first year. We do hope as many members (old and new) as possible will come along and show your support for the committee and let us know what you want from your club. We will keep the business side as short as possible and enjoy a light-hearted Quiz afterwards on shrubs, herbaceous plants, fruit and vegetables plus Neil’s questions on ‘Heavy Rock’ (with a gardening link) so some of us may need to look that one up! Finally if everyone would like to bring along a plant we will have a ‘plant swap’ while we enjoy our tea/coffee and biscuits. MEETING WILL START AT 7.30PM ON FRIDAY 17TH MAY IN THE VILLAGE HALL. NO CHARGE THIS EVENING BUT PAYMENT OF ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION WILL BE DUE. New members welcome contact Jo on 823916. March 2013: We had a visit to Brimsmore Gardening Centre for our March meeting. It was well attended despite a very wet evening. We enjoyed a hot drink and biscuits while listening to Adam talking about the plants he had displayed to show us some Spring colour in the garden. Starting with herbaceous plants there were some wonderful double and single primroses and polyanthus in beautiful shades. Bulbs such as Anemones (blue windflowers), Fritillaries and Asiatic lilies are looking good also Aubretia. Heuchera in many varieties have wonderful foliage and flower later in the season, giving a second flush if given a ‘clean up’ after the first flowers are over. There are new varieties of Jacob’s Ladder and Euphorbia which are also attractive. Shrubs to look out for included Corylopsis (false witch hazel) and Daphne, also some Hebes ‘Heartbreaker’ (rather aptly a bit tender!) and ‘Dark Angel’ (sturdier). Calluna (more compact than Ericas) , Rhododendrons and Azaleas need acid soil and probably need to be kept in pots in our locality but are beautiful this time of year as are Camellias (which are a little more tolerant of a neutral soil). We also saw a ‘Paper Bush’ which was very unusual and highly scented (tender). Adam finished his talk with 3 lovely Clematis, two evergreen varieties ‘Pixie’ and ‘Landsdown’ and an unusual Alpina variety.
Everyone then went shopping and, judging by the heaped trolleys, they made the most of the 25% discount on offer for the evening.
The Gold Club is sponsoring a growing competition for our members and we gave out a fuchsia plug plant ‘Upright Dark Eyes’ together with some compost and growing instructions to each of those present. (Those unable to be there can pick one up from Jo in Head Street.) We will have a prize for the best looking plant at our meeting in September. We have a few spare plants so if anyone would like to join the club by our next meeting in April you can still take part, membership fee £5 for year to May 2014.
We also distributed the Paulls’ of Martock 2013 discount vouchers for a 10% discount on gardening supplies .
Finally a big thank you to the group of nine who helped dig over the proposed school gardening plot in Church Path on a very chilly February Saturday morning and to Hilary who thawed us out with coffee and biscuits.
Next meeting On Friday April 19th John Horsey will be giving us a talk on ‘Herbacious Borders’ in the Village Hall at 7.30pm. He is very knowledgeable and experienced and runs courses at East Lambrook Gardens so we look forward to an interesting evening. All welcome admission £4 (Members £2) including coffee or tea and biscuits. (Please note the later start for this meeting.) February 2013: At our meeting in February Neil Lovesey of Picket Lane Nursery in South Perrott gave a very informative and entertaining talk on ‘Propagation’. Having spent many years as a teacher and engineer Neil now runs Picket Lane Nursery with his wife and daughter where they propagate every single plant they offer for sale (over 1500 varieties), he obviously knows his subject very well!
He started off with the Bulb Group - to understand the differences in propagating the group that includes bulbs, corms, tubers, rhyzomes and swollen roots, we first need to understand the differences between these structures. First, the Bulb which is made up of a series of swollen 'leaves' all joined on to a 'basal plate'. Next the Corm, virtually the entire mass of the corm is made up from 'stem' rather than 'leaves'; it is effectively a swollen stem base and each season grows a new corm above the previous one. Thirdly the Tuber, botanically the tuber is a swollen root, or less commonly, underground stem which stores energy. Finally the Rhizome, which is botanically a swollen stem and, more often than not, grows horizontally. He went on to explain and demonstrate the various methods of propagating from this group.
He then talked about the next group of plants known as the Layering Group. In most shrubs and many perennials, at every leaf axial (the point where the leaf stalk joins the stem) growth hormones lay, sometimes dormant, ready to reproduce the plant. Every gardener knows that by pinching out the growing tip, a plant will become bushy rather than spindly, but these growth hormones have the ability not just to produce new leaf growth, but also other growths like tendrils, aerial roots, flowers and, very importantly, new root growth. Propagation by vegetative means is simply harnessing the plants natural reproductive ability.
Layering is the most simple means of reproducing a number of species, and happens quite readily in nature. Many climbing plants can be propagated simply by allowing the tip of a stem to reach a growing medium. Every leaf node has this ability to produce roots. A number of variations to this theme are available to the gardener including Simple layering, Serpentine layering, Tip layering, Air layering, and Neil’s own modified Pot layering and Plunging system.
He then moved to the Cuttings Group which covered Softwood, Reduced Leaf, Semi-ripe with old wood, and Hardwood cuttings with a number of variations. Early spring to early summer is the very best time of the year to start propagation as 90% of all garden plants can be propagated then.
Neil inspired us all to ‘have a go’, having made it sound quite simple to do. Fortunately he has emailed us full details of his methods to remind us of how it should be done. We look forward to welcoming him back for a return visit as his talk was very much appreciated. We also appreciated the new village hall chairs which were so much more comfortable, thanks to TOG and the Parish Council.
Our next meeting will be on Friday March 15th at Brimsmore Garden Centre at 6.45 pm for 7 pm for a talk and discount shopping. This meeting will be for members only. (New members welcome, contact Jo on 823916).
School Gardening Group
A few volunteers are needed to dig over the school garden plot by the church on Saturday 23rd February. We plan to start at 10 am and should be finished by 12 noon. Please contact Neil on 826393 to volunteer or for more information.
January 2013: Our speaker for the meeting in January was Michael Pollock who is a lecturer, show judge, and RHS examiner and was also an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and head of education at Wisley for 13 years. He had a dry wit which kept us interested and amused.
He has been trained in all aspects of horticulture and used a slide show to illustrate his lecture. He started with reasons for growing your own – for pleasure, exercise and food fresh from the garden tasting so much better. However the concern about pollution of commercially grown food no longer applies as very strict rules apply.
Vegetables can be grown on a small patch of ground and even in containers (using big pots 2 feet by 15 inches minimum, with good compost and regular watering). The site makes a big difference – avoid spaces very exposed, a living shelter of deciduous plants is good and encourages beneficial insect activity.
He enjoys digging, it aerates the soil, though some people cultivate a ‘no digging’ system this requires a plentiful supply of organic material and much weeding is needed. It is important to check the lime levels/acidity of the ground, micro-organisms do not like acid, and lime helps to break down heavy soil. Checking is easily done with a testing kit. Autumn is the best digging time to allow frost activity, though springtime is ok for light or fertile soil. Well rotted farmyard (weedier) or stable (best) manure added at this time is well worth the expense.
Make home compost bins a yard or metre cubed or bigger, with layers of garden or kitchen waste (peelings, etc. not cooked) 9-10” deep, then a layer of straw to let air in, all on a firm base covered with a lid. A compost accelerator can help and it is important to turn the heap to make the best compost. Leaves especially beech or oak are good to compost.
Prepare your seed bed by treading down the soil (but not if too wet). Rake over in all directions keeping the rake handle low. Growmore, blood, fish and bone, or chicken manure pellets are good for dressing the soil. Tomorite and seaweed extract are other useful additives.
Raised beds, 4 feet wide with paths of chippings, make it easier to have short rows and covering with polythene (white for retaining heat, black for suppressing weeds) can also help to keep the soil dryer. Cloches, especially polythene ones that can be easily raised for watering are invaluable, they also reduce insect problems.
A new idea is to plant seeds in seed trays with individual pockets which give them a better start and more protection. This works well for most crops but not for carrots.
Michael then quickly went through vegetable varieties (time was running out) – he said seeds with the RHS Award of Garden Merit and F1 Hybrids are worth looking out for and he gave out a list of varieties that he could recommend.
Our next meeting is on Friday 22nd February and will be a talk on “Propagation” by Neil Lovesey. The talk will cover soft, semi and hardwood cuttings, root cuttings and much, much more. 7 pm in the village hall, admission £4 (£2 members) includes refreshments. New members always welcome. November 2012 On 7th November volunteers from the Gardening Club planted 1000 daffodil bulbs given by the SSDC in various sites around Tintinhull. We hope they will provide a welcoming sight in the Spring. On Friday 16th November we had a talk on Cider and Apple Juice making by Rachael Brewer of the National Trust. She is one of their gardeners but also became their pommelier when Barrington Court no longer had a buyer for its apples during their centenary year. Cider had always been made there in the past and they put out a request for a cider press so that they could once again make their own cider. Their call was answered with the loan of a 150 year old press which they named 100BC (BC standing for Barrington Court). There are 20 acres of orchards in the local NT properties including Barrington, Lytes Cary, Montacute and Tintinhull. These include cider, eating and cooking apples – over 100 different varieties, some with very odd names such as ‘Sheeps Noses’. All the money generated from apple juice and cider sales is pumped back into maintaining the orchards. Apple juice making starts with the early varieties at the end of August. The apples are picked by hand, very gently to avoid bruising, and the process is done very quickly taking only 1½ hours from tree to pressing. Cider making is the opposite – they wait for the apples to drop, as they need to be fully mature for the process to work. Collecting is a cold and heavy job and is carried out by volunteers who put the apples in crates for each variety before they are washed then ground into pomice or ‘pommy’. This is moved into a cider press, wrapped in layers, and made into a ‘cheese’. The press is cranked down and juice starts to flow into a bucket and is then put in 250 litre demi-johns to ferment for about 13 weeks. After this it goes into oak barrels for at least 8 weeks before being bottled, pasteurised and sold in local NT shops. It is naturally a dry variety though some medium dry is produced by adding apple juice or sugar syrup. Last year Rachael and her team were thrilled to be awarded a 1st prize for their cider at a show with over 500 entries. Every year they hold a ‘Wassail’ on January 17th with a bonfire and mummers and cider is poured round the trees, toast placed in the branches and guns fired, all to ensure a good harvest and a good time is had by all. We all then had a good time tasting samples Rachael brought along for us to try. We finished the evening with a supper provided by the members. There was a wonderful spread which, despite the best efforts of the members, their guests and Rachael and her partner, we could not eat it all! Welcome to the new members who joined that night. October 2012: We held a ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’ with a panel of National Trust Head Gardeners for our October meeting in the village hall. Our experts were Lottie Allen from Montacute, Christine Brain from Barrington, our new Tintinhull Head Gardener Jess Evans and our retired Head Gardener Tanis Roberts who were introduced by Peter Touch, a NT volunteer himself.
We had good support from some of our local clubs and were pleased to welcome fellow gardeners from Over Stratton, Martock, Stoke-sub-Hamdon and West Coker.
There were questions covering all aspects of gardening. We started with lawns -problems on scarifying, ants nests, bare patches, fungi etc. and went on to annuals, seeds and bulbs with advice on growing sweetpeas, ‘what is eating my pansies’, and growing basil in winter.
Vegetables were discussed next with advice on a new asparagus bed, club root, flea beetles, white fly and split skins on well watered tomatoes. Soft fruit and trees followed with questions about autumn raspberries, pruning an old plum tree, silver leaf, a non-fruiting tayberry and a gooseberry with disappearing leaves!
Shrubs and perennials covered suitable sites for hydrangeas, overwintering large leaved fuchsias and oleanders, pruning ceanothus and black spot on roses, there was even a mystery plant to identify (American poke weed or Phytolacca).
We finished with a miscellaneous section which included questions on care of a newly planted garden in winter, rabbit proof plants, moss on north facing paths, how to keep leaves out of ponds while still letting frogs and other invertebrates in, and how the ash trees in the NT properties of South Somerset are affected by the disease spreading from Europe and can anything be done to protect them.
During a brief tea break for the panel Mike Eyre spoke to us about the daffodil bulbs that have been allocated to Tintinhull by the SSDC and asked for suggestions on planting sites and for volunteers to help plant them. This will be done under the guidance of the SSDC on 7th November.
The panel was warmly thanked by our new chairman Neil Garnett and much applauded by the appreciative audience who found yet more questions to ask while we all enjoyed refreshments.
Our NEXT MEETING is on Friday 16th November in the village hall and will be a Social Evening with a talk on Cider and Apple Juice Making (with a chance to taste some samples) and supper contributed by the members. There will be no charge this evening but it is only open to members and their guests. Any non-members who are interested in joining the club please contact our treasurer, Sandi (824157), or ask a member if they would bring you along as their guest. We will be distributing the Gold Club 25% discount vouchers for January/February orders at the meeting. September 2012: At our September meeting 5 new members joined our enthusiastic group for a very informative and wide ranging talk on “Putting Your Garden to Bed for Winter” given by Malcolm Mills of the Gold Club. He advised us not to be too quick to cut back our plants in the autumn as many carry colour and interest for an extended period; others have seed heads and berries that provide food for the birds. Carrying out the ‘Chelsea Chop’ in July can also extend the flowering period for many herbaceous plants. Autumn is great for bulb planting. We should only use bonemeal or slow acting fertiliser at this time of year as others cause plants to make too much soft growth, but do apply lots of soil conditioner and other organic matter to improve the soil. November is the time to prune Buddleia, Lavatera, HT and Floribunda roses by half to reduce wind rock (final pruning in February). It is also a good time to split herbaceous plants and rhubarb. He also said it was the best time for work on our lawns, carrying out scarifying, hollow tining, overseeding, topdressing, etc. Ponds should be netted to prevent leaves falling in and if frozen over do not hammer a hole in or pour hot water in directly but make a hole gently with hot water in a bowl to prevent shock to the fish. Other subjects covered included pests and diseases and their treatment, compost making, work to the greenhouse and protecting tender perennials. NEXT MEETING is on Friday October 19th at 7pm in the Village Hall. We are having a “Gardeners’ Question Time” with a panel of National Trust Head Gardeners. Admittance £4 (£2 for members) including tea/coffee & biscuits. Please submit your questions in advance, if possible, to Peter Touch New members welcome £5 membership fee.
July 2012: We are starting our winter series of talks in the village hall with a very topical theme “Putting your garden to bed for winter” on Friday September 21st at 7.00 pm. This will be given by one of the Castle Gardens Gold Club speakers and will hopefully give us some very useful tips. I have a supply of discount vouchers from Castle Gardens Group and from Paulls and will bring them to the meeting for any new members. Everyone welcome – contact Jo on 823916 for any further information. June 2012: A group of 28 including 6 new members and a guest came for our guided tour of Tintinhull Gardens on Friday 15th June. Unfortunately Tanis, the head gardener at Tintinhull, had lost her voice in the morning but luckily another head gardener, Lottie, took over. We were very relieved to see the sun after the previous night’s storms although Lottie had to battle with a very gusty wind. We spent an hour exploring the various garden ‘rooms’ with Lottie explaining Phyllis Reiss’s original concept and how the garden has developed over the years. We also admired the vegetable garden and its impressive array of crops which Mrs Reiss had not intended to be for public viewing when she laid out the garden! Our grateful thanks to Lottie for her entertaining commentary. Afterwards we strolled down Farm Street to Neil and Carol’s garden to see how their newly laid out garden is progressing and see the plans of their planting scheme prepared by Castle Gardens. We enjoyed a welcome cup of tea in the sunshine. Many thanks to Neil and Carol for their hospitality and to Peter for making the arrangements with the National Trust. Our next meeting will be a visit to the ‘Field of Dreams’ in South Petherton on Friday 20th July. Further details will be circulated to members or contact Jo on 823916 or Sandi on 824157. New members welcome. May 2012: The first meeting of the Gardening Club (following the initial meeting in April) was held on Friday 18th May in the village hall. 23 members joined on the night and enjoyed a very light-hearted quiz on various aspect of gardening. Mike Eyre rose to the occasion with the most points and Hilary Cozens was a close second. Everyone then took their pick from the plants we had all taken to swap and enjoyed a chat over a cup of tea or coffee. Our next meeting is on Friday 15th June and we are fortunate in having a personally guided tour of Tintinhull House Garden (including the vegetable garden) by the very knowledgeable head gardener. This will be followed by refreshments at Neil and Carol Garnett's house in Farm Street and a chance to look at the plans of their new border designed by Castle Gardens and see how it is developing. The tour starts at 4.30 pm so please be in the courtyard by 4.20 pm. New members most welcome (£5 membership fee). Any queries please contact Jo on 823916.
GARDENING CLUB PROGRAMME 2012 / 2013
Friday May 18th
GARDENING QUIZ AND PLANT SWAP
In the Village Hall
Friday June 15th
GUIDED TOUR OF TINTINHULL GARDENS
HEAD GARDENER TANIS
4.30 – 6.00
Friday July 20th
VISIT TO THE ‘FIELD OF DREAMS’
This July and August in 2012 Barcroft Hall Estate opens again one of the largest collections of annual wild flowers from around the world and other complimentary and exciting displays covering almost six acres
Saturday August 18th
GARDEN VISIT NGS SCHEME
Farndon Thatch, Puckington, Ilminster
With panoramic views to die for, this 1-acre plantaholic's garden comes complete with C16 thatched cottage. Banks and borders brimming with shrubs and perennials. Planted for year round interest. Terrace and courtyard with pots; sculptures, vegetable garden, fine trees and lawns and areas of natural tranquility
2.00 - 6.00
Friday September 21st
Talk on 'PUTTING YOUR GARDEN TO BED FOR WINTER
in the Village Hall at 7pm
Members £2 Visitors £4 (including refreshments)
Friday October 19th
'GARDENERS QUESTION TIME' with National Trust Head Gardeners in the Village Hall at 7 pm
Please submit your questions in advance to Peter Touche
Members £2 Visitors £4
Friday November 16th
'SOCIAL EVENING - FRUITS OF YOUR LABOUR' and TALK
(Details to follow)
Friday January 11th
Talk on 'VEGETABLE GARDENING' by Michael Pollock
(Details to follow)
Attention all gardeners! During the recent village wide survey over one hundred residents expressed an interest in a gardening club. An open meeting has therefore been arranged for 7pm on Friday 13 April in the village hall to gauge interest and sit in motion measures to establish a club. If you would like to attend on 13 April please notify: Mike Eyre on (01935) 824550 by email or Ray Cozens on (01935) 824220 by email Following a successful initial meeting held on 13 April in which 30 residents attended and an interim organising committee was formed. The initial thoughts and ideas that were discussed at the meeting include: Activities There appeared to be a consensus in favour of having guest speakers, but that they should be on pertinent gardening topics. The club should be aimed at gardeners of all abilities. Visits to gardens either as part of the National Garden Scheme or otherwise not normally open to the public appeared popular, as were; Discounts schemes (eg Brimsmore Gold Card); Organised bulk buying (eg compost); Sharing seedlings and cuttings. Chilthorne Gardening Club Several attendees are members of the established club at Chilthorne, which was set up by Paula Dowding. Mike Eyre has spoken with Paula on a number of occasions to explore the possibility of expanding that club to cover both communities with meetings alternating. The feedback was warmly welcoming of new members but they declined the idea of alternating meetings between the villages. As a guide to finances, Chilthorne has an annual membership of £3 plus £1 payable at each meeting attended. Additional funds were raised by raffles at every meeting and sale of surplus plants brought by members. Chilthorne has a constitution and Sarah Lavers agreed to obtain a copy for our use. Chilthorne Domer gardening club meet on the first Monday evening in the month. Meetings Tintinhull Village Hall costs £12 per hour with additional charges for use of the A/V system. Guest speakers can be expensive ranging from £40 to £80. The hall is available on Friday evenings, but on a show of hands this would not suit 5 attendees. Monday evenings appeared more popular, but the hall is used by the Parish Council on the 3rd Monday and by the Drama Group every Monday during rehearsal season. On a show of hands Mondays would not suit 5 people. Daytime meetings are not ruled out either as again about 5 attendees have day jobs. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, it was suggested that meetings could move with hall availability. Next steps Sarah Lavers is to enquire if NT Tintinhull House will host our inaugural meeting. Mike Eyre agreed to contact Brimsmore and Palmers Garden Centres to enquire what they can offer by way of benefits, speakers and events. Mike also agreed to follow-up a contact name passed on by Martin Wragg of someone who runs Over Stratton Gardening Club, who he thought would provide helpful advice. It was also suggested that members should all solicit ideas and bring them to meetings to help populate a programme of events for 12-18 months hence. A further suggestion was that members be encouraged to bring guests to every meeting to help swell the ranks and the coffers. Interim organising committee Ray Swindell Jo Slade Peter Touch Sandi Dodding