Category Archives: 2016

February 2016 – Annual General Meeting & Group Quiz

This will be a unique entry for the Club files as members of the Gardening Club tend to hide their lights under bushels and never get a mention in dispatches! Sorry about the mixed metaphors! So, having been elected Chair of the Club for another year I thought that readers might like to know the names of those unseen Committee members who support me in every way and help to make the Club a successful one with an evergrowing

Vice Chair for another year is Sue Pinner who will continue to organize the Annual Show in September. Keith Evans is still our worthy Treasurer despite having moved to Girton. Margaret Jackson looks after hall bookings as well as membership matters with over eighty names on the books. Where would we be without Sue Allsworth – our efficient, Meetings Secretary? With Bernard Meggitt at the helm as Website Co-ordinator we have made great IT strides this year thanks to the support and co-operation of villager Nick Wittering. Jill Vinton now has responsibility for competitions and Joan Smith and Michael Pollard between them cover refreshments and raffles.

Two new members joined us at the AGM – both already members of the Show Group. Barry Jones was coopted to the Committee halfway through the year and has already mastered our sound system. We have high hopes for his assistance too with publicity matters. Jenny Brew has already contributed good ideas for future classes for the Annual Show and I am sure that we will benefit from her past experience and extensive horticultural matters.

Beyond the Committee we have many members who give willingly of the time including Glen Link – our Show Day Administrator and Jean Tomlinson – Chief Steward at the Annual Show as well as members of the Show Group and Programme Committee.

Let’s give three cheers for all these wonderful people!

The AGM was followed by the marvelous Annual Quiz, run by Glen Link and this was greatly enjoyed. The quiz was won by Shirley Wittering’s table who all received lovely polyanthus as prizes. The wine and nibbles provided were also enjoyed by all.

Glen Link was thanked most sincerely and was presented with a Garden voucher in appreciation of her efforts. The winner of the competition for the most splendid five snowdrops was won by Jane Dring.

Mary Duff February 2016

Posted in 2016 |

March 2016 – Vegetables for Value – Rodney Tibbs

At our last meeting, the club was treated to an entertaining talk about growing vegetables for value from Rodney Tibbs. Rodney’s credentials are impeccable. He has been growing vegetables for 50 years and is a recognised author and journalist who lectures on a wide range of horticultural subjects.

Rodney reminded us of the war years when we were encouraged to dig for victory, but he believes our current enthusiasm for fresh home-grown produce is more about our drive for quality, taste and security of provenance. The fact that home producers are doing their bit to reduce the carbon footprint is also a key eco factor.

Most agree, there is nothing like a home grown vegetable for freshness and flavour! Rodney believes produce can be grown easily in large and small garden areas, raised beds, containers or on allotments. With careful planning, a gardener can produce delicious edibles all year round. His favoured crop list includes beans, brassicas, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, leeks, onions and courgettes….and Rodney’s view on peas? “Too difficult, leave them to Mr Birdseye!”

Digging into detail, we were taken through each suggested veg in turn and given useful tips on planting, growing and dealing with pests. We learnt about starting some seeds in growing pots and planting out seedlings in stages so that “everything doesn’t come at once”. Rodney’s preferred fine compost is John Innes No.1 or Jacks Magic Compost. The ease of planting carrot seeds in tape was explained, as was planting onions next to carrots to deflect the effect of carrot fly. Rodney shared his method of cultivating tomatoes in grow bags. He found Tornado F1 was a particularly successful variety.

Watering growing crops is of prime importance. Rodney uses a leak hose in his own garden and recommended a clockwork timer to ensure regular watering. He admitted that before he got the timer, there were times he’d had to steal out in his pyjamas at midnight to turn off the forgotten hose pipe!

Need some present ideas for vegetable gardeners? Why not consider one of Rodney’s favourite gizmos; a Brother P-Touch PT-1010 plant labeller for weather resistant labels, a Vegetable Planting
Wheel chart, a Gardeners Journal to keep a year on year record of planting successes and failures and the easy-to-use Earth Maker Compost Bin.

Thank you for inspiring us Rodney.

Rosemary Jones

Posted in 2016 |

April 2016 – Design for Wildlife – Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall. Do check out his website which shows stunning examples of his work.

Stephen had been invited by the Gardening Club to give some advice and tips for how we could design our garden for wildlife. We were not disappointed as the ideas came thick and fast. If you are going to Hampton Court Flower Show this July, look out for a garden designed by him. I will try to summarise some of the ways in which we can all provide for wildlife in no matter what size of garden we have.

Hopefully you will already have bug hotels in your garden (mine is regularly used by leaf cutter bees) – make your own from a bundle of canes tied together. Make room for small piles of logs in your flower beds for beetles and other insects to inhabit. We have a shrew hotel under such a pile! It provides hours of entertainment for our Persian cat who watches and watches until a shrew appears. There follows a quick ‘catch me if you can’ around the garden – our cat always loses and then retires exhausted to dream of what might have been! I digress… that broken terracotta pot can be put to good use – lie it on its side and put some moss inside – this will provide a five-star bedroom for solitary bees.

Talking of bees – try to grow ‘open’ flowers like foxgloves or sea holly (eryngium) and astrantia which are members of the Umbelliferae family. The flowers grow in umbels or clusters forming an umbrella shape like cow parsley which makes it easier for the bees to enter. Double flowers may be fashionable but are not appreciated by the bees. Stephen recommended sedum spectabile,
scabious, annual cosmos,verbena. For their seed heads grow poppies, fennel, allium and phloxes. Remember that hollow stems are used by over-wintering insects so please do not tidy up your garden until the spring! You may not be able to create a wild flower meadow like the one at Great Dixter, but try planting up a small area of your garden with meadow turf for spectacular results. Then there are hedges providing welcome corridors for wildlife to travel along piles of sticks, leaves or mere rubble will be greatly appreciated by newts, frogs,and even the
harmless, non-venomous grass snake which loves nooks and crannies while hunting for small amphibians.

Leave dead tree trunks, if it is safe to do so, for insects to explore, allow a friendly clematis like a montana, to wander over the trunk – this is good for nesting birds as is hedera helix – the common ivy. If left alone beautiful flowers will appear providing berries for the birds and the thick twisting stems will provide many a nest.

Try to make room for a pond – even a small one. Make sure that there is easy access to the water with a sloping ‘beach’ on the edge with e.g. pebbles or a branch to allow creatures who fall in the pond to scramble out. Perhaps we will have another class in our Annual Show next year – “The best wildlife garden!”

Mary Duff

Posted in 2016 |

May 2016 – The Carnation & Pink in Art & Culture – Twigs Way

Every now and then we like to bring changes to our programme of mostly horticultural matters. Of course the clue was in the title of our latest talk “The Carnation and Pink in art and culture” yes, we really were talking about art and culture!

The carnation is a fascinating flower and Twigs Way (that really is her name) described its fascination for artists, writers and people like you and me since time immemorial – Shakespeare called it the ‘fairest flower of the season. Some believe that the carnation’s name derives from the Latin word ‘Carnis’ for flesh because of its original colour. Others think that it is from the Latin ‘corona’ because it was used in wreaths and garlands at Roman festivals. But all agree that the carnation’s botanical name ’dianthus’ is from the Greek words ‘dios’ – God and ‘anthus’ – flower. Translated it becomes the ‘divine flower’ – the flower of the gods’

One myth describes the carnation springing up from the tears of the Madonna. The Carthusian monks appreciated the pink’s beauty for we still call a pretty pink the “Carthusian pink’ because it was first found in the grounds of Carthusian monasteries. Certainly the carnation inspired great artists. Think of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Madonna of the Carnation’ now housed in a Munich Art Gallery.Then there is Raphael’s ‘Aldobrandini Madonna’ where the Christ child shares a carnation with the infant John. Search it out in the National Gallery.

Why is it called a ‘pink?’ Probably because the edges of the petals look as if they were cut with pinking shears. Remember them? A clove carnation was also called a ‘gillyflower’ by Chaucer, Spenser and sometimes Shakespeare. But carnations are very much a flower of the 21st century – look up Allwoods Nursery and you will find a host of popular carnations. The nursery was started in 1910 and specialises in pinks and carnations and has the largest collection of dianthus plants in the world! We are told that ‘pinks make perfect plants for a sunny position, producing scented flowers throughout the summer and can be grown as a cut flower. They can tolerate hot, dry spells and the coldest of winters but are not too keen on getting over watered’. So go on, order Doris, Painted Lady or Mrs Sinkins….. Impress your friends by telling them that Mrs Sinkins was named after the wife of Mr Sinkins, the Superintendent of Slough workhouse! Honestly! Did you know that the emblematic flower of Slough is still the carnation?

Once you start looking you will see carnations everywhere – Elizabeth1 was often painted with the flower in her hand, visit many mosques in Turkey and most will be decorated with the lovely Iznik tiles decorated with not only carnations but also roses, tulips, lilies and hyacinths. Americans still love their Mother’s Day cards covered with carnations. Bridegrooms often choose carnations for a buttonhole. Green carnations remind us of Oscar Wilde. Red carnations often mark revolutions e.g. Portugal and Russia.

Twigs gave many more examples and much more information – a fascinating talk.

With apologies to Shakespeare – especially Mercurio in Romeo and Juliet….stay ‘in the pink’ until next month ……………………….

Mary Duff

Posted in 2016 |

June 2016 – Climbing Roses – Richard Arnott

The busy gardening season is now in full swing. Gardening Club members began the summer season in style with a coach trip to the RHS garden at Wisley. We were very lucky as the sun shone all day and no-one could resist purchasing a plant or two for their own gardens!

Already, though, we have been reminded of Christmas (!) but in a pleasant way – our last speaker, Richard Arnott, advised us to choose our presents early! Of course he was talking about roses! He recommended that we look out for the ones we would like to give as gifts, and order them now for delivery at Christmas as bare-rooted plants!. Yes, you guessed it, we enjoyed a talk about climbing roses by Richard – a local garden designer in much demand. You have probably read his regular articles in ‘The Listing’.

We were reminded that climbing roses do just that – climb! So plant them with other plants to cover the bare lower branches unless you can train them horizontally along wires, Here are some inspiring combinations for you to seek out in the garden centre. Try Rosa Iceberg with Clematis Henryii, the scented Rosa Alfred Carriere with Clematis Hagley hybrid. The evergreen star jasmine – trachelospermum jasminoides works well with climbing roses as does the golden hop – Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’. If you are looking for roses for a north or east walls try Rosa Danse de Feu, Rosa Maigold or Rosa Golden Showers.

Remember to plant roses in good soil – use organic matter, sprinkle with bone-meal or an alternative and then mulch. When you buy bare-rooted roses, plant immediately or heel them in until you have time. Prune regularly, cut back old and weak growth to allow new shoots to develop. Feed every spring followed by mulching though keep the mulch clear of the rose stems. Dead head and water often in dry spells. Better still, look up the RHS website for detailed guidance on the care of roses!

If you need even more inspiration, visit Sissinghurst, Alnwick gardens or David Austin’s show grounds at Albrighton.

Mary Duff

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June 2016 – Club Garden Tour Herefordshire & The Welsh Marches

Gardening Club members enjoy not only garden-visiting but also looking at notable National Trust Houses so two were included on our 2016 tour. En-route we visited Baddesley Clinton, one of the finest moated houses in England, nestling in a lovely setting. The Manor occupies an island hemmed in by a wide moat with water-birds galore. The house boasts several priest holes, fine panelling and examples of stained glass. Nearby at the end of a leafy lane was a delightful mediaeval church dedicated to St Michael – well worth a visit. Next we popped in to Packwood House; here we marvelled at the dramatic atmosphere created by severely clipped conical yews in contrast with the rest of the garden – an excellent example of how garden design should be used to create interest, jolt the imagination and excite the senses. We were charmed by the packed herbaceous borders, many growing against mellow brick walls. A sunken garden with a small stretch of water added a different dimension, creating reflections of light and shadow. Around it were even more flower beds full of mainly hardy perennials. We all loved this garden! Our tour had started in earnest.

A couple of years ago I read an article about Helena Gerrish. She had moved in to a perfect Artsand-Craft house called High Glannau set on a steep hillside above Monmouth, enjoying spectacular views over the Vale of Usk towards the Brecon Beacons. She discovered that the garden had been designed by Henry Avray Tipping, a friend of Gertrude Jekyll but was now very overgrown. Tipping had been the architectural editor of Country Life back on the early 1900’s and had quite a reputation for garden design. So Helena decided to bring back the garden to its former glory, even if that meant digging up a swimming pool – which it did! So herbaceous borders were gradually faithfully restored after Country Life provided Helena with photographs of the original borders printed from negatives from glass plates. Fast forward eleven years and there is now a garden fit for a king – well almost – Prince Charles has already visited and was most impressed!

So when it came to arranging a gardening tour for 2016, it just had to be to Herefordshire and the Welsh Marches. Our visit to High Glannau was a highlight – Helena and her art-dealer husband could not have been more hospitable. They opened the doors to us – literally – and we were treated like house guests with access to the many rooms with wood panelling and mullion windows, coffee and cakes in the dining room and a splendid tour of the garden. And yes, it was the right time of the year to see the herbaceous borders in full bloom with blue delphiniums and blue irises to name just a couple of the plants. We were shown the woodland walk, the grass walk, the pond, the terraces, the 40ft glasshouse still with the original beaver-tail glass and cast iron ratchets that opened all the windows.

t made sense to visit another Arts-and Craft garden designed by Tipping – a challenging drive through beautiful, narrow lanes and the coach eventually reached Wyndcliffe Court. Here we appreciated splendid views of the Severn Estuary with the old and new bridges spanning the water. Formal terraces, lawns, stone walls, – all typical Tipping garden features as were the shady paths leading to woodland walks. This again creating exactly the contrast between cultivation and natural landscape that Tipping loved. But now there was one different factor – this was a sculpture garden, some objects fitted in well but others ………..well we weren’t so sure.

In its day Penpergwm Lodge had been THE garden to visit especially as it was a RHS partner garden. Now it was beginning to be overgrown; never-the-less the variety of plants was stunning. We were very pleased when an exceedingly knowledgeable neighbour joined us to tell us the names of plants which baffled us. Another charming owner entertained us to tea and cakes!

Hedging was another feature of our tour demonstrated in two gardens – similar but so, so different. I am talking about Veddw and the Laskett. Both were created from nothing on small budgets and both rely on hedging to give them structure. Both are highly individualistic, dramatic and theatrical.

On the slopes of the Tintern Valley in Monmouthshire the Veddw has been created by Anne Wareham – author and gardener – and Charles Hawes – the gifted photographer. Another leafy lane for our driver to overcome and a steep slope down to the garden entrance for us. Once inside the garden an equally steep descent meant that it took quite some time for us all to congregate outside the house (painted black so as not to compete with the garden!) where we met our charming host, Charles. The garden is a series of small rooms inside hedges creatively clipped and high! One contains a dramatic black reflecting pool and another is dedicated to ornamental grasses. The Veddw is considered by some to be one of the finest contemporary gardens in the country. Although there were many different, creative touches most of us felt more at home in the splendid flower-rich meadow!

As for the Laskett – there was something here to please everyone. Through the sections of the garden Sir Roy Strong has marked the many landmarks of his long marriage to Julia Trevelyan Oman. With his career as an eminent historian and former Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum and his late wife’s fine reputation as a theatre/opera set designer, it is no surprise to find a chapter of their life together portrayed through plants and statuary in each garden section. There is also an orchard full of unusual varieties, amazing topiary, a triumphal arch at the end of the Silver Jubilee Garden. I could go on and on …..

I hope that this brief summary of our Gardening Club’s 2016 Garden Tour has inspired readers to also visit these interesting and highly individual gardens.

MED 27.06.17

Posted in 2016 |

July 2016 – Summer Soiree Elmfield Cottage – Bernard & Brenda Meggitt

This year’s Gardening Club Summer Soiree was held at Elmfield Cottage, Thriplow, being hosted by Bernard and Brenda Meggitt. Around 50 members enjoyed a warm mostly sunny evening walking round their recently made-over new garden. The old mainly large square lawn had been planned, landscaped and planted mostly by them into four garden rooms separated by mixed herbaceous and perennial borders. The veranda lawn with old sun-dial statuary connected west through a climber clad pergola to the fruit-summerhouse quarter and north to the pond-lawn section. Both had gates in a picket fence (Beagle-proof!) round a vegetable garden with 9 raised beds, a ‘hydroponic greenhouse’ and compost bins.

Members’ gardening knowledge was well tested with Bernard’s quiz on various flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants. Did you know that raspberries belong to the ‘Rose Family’ and lavender to the ‘Mint Family’? That the special adaption in climbing bean leaves was their ‘heliotropism’- turning daily to face the sun and in their roots having the ‘nitrobacter’ nodules – nitrogen fixing bacteria? After 20 challenging questions, the result was close but congratulations to Sue Ainsworth, the worthy winner who was presented with the garden token prize by our Chair, Mary Duff.

Thanks to Robin Dring and Fowlmere Village School, tables and chairs were provided for all members to enjoy comfortably the delicious and varied Club buffet followed by fresh strawberries and cream. With some trepidation, Brenda and Bernard offered their recently made ‘Thriplow Elderflower Champagne’ and were amazed by its popularity with more being drunk than the wine!

The plant stall and raffle managed by Jill Vinton and Jane Dring were well supported with the proceeds going to the ‘Perennial Gardeners Charity’. At the close, Mary Duff thanked everyone who had helped and Brenda and Bernard for hosting such an enjoyable Soiree.

Posted in 2016 |

August 2016 – Wild Flowers – Barry Gayton

Sometimes you feel that you have no control over your life – that things just happen! So it was with the Gardening Club. When I e-mailed our planned speaker (booked a year ago) and reminded him how much we were looking forward to his talk, I did not expect his reply. He had forgotten his arrangement with us(!) and would be taking a group away to the Lake District and would not be back in time to honour his commitment. ‘Spitting feathers’ – as my grandmother used to say – I phoned Barry Gayton, an old friend of the Club, asking for his help. Who would believe that his planned speaking engagement in Bakewell had fallen through and. yes, of course, he could come and talk to us !

There followed one of those magical evenings when we delighted in Barry’s talk on ‘Wild Flowers’ brought to life by his commentary. Every slide had a meaning – no digital powerpoint presentations for this Norfolk born ‘lad’. Every picture of a flower told a story – discovered by him, snapped by him and treasured by him in his store of over 6,000 slides. One of those speakers that you hope will never give up relaying his life experiences to rapt audiences like us. In his own words, Barry ‘eats, drinks and sleeps plants’. From an early age Barry was at one with his environment – he had a glasshouse for his 7th birthday, collected seeds and sold them to a local shop enabling him to purchase another one at 13 years old. Now he has 840 varieties of sempervivum (houseleeks), 300 types of heuchera, 50,000 cacti – in awe, I gave up making notes at that stage. Go to Desert World , near Thetford on NGS Open Days and see for yourself.

Anyway, back to Wild Flowers. As Barry described purple loosestrife we could imagine him sinking into the marshy land as he found the best angle for his photograph. Who knew that Dr. Beeching (you will show your age if you remember him!) that Dr Beeching did us a favour when he closed the branch line from Wymondham. Once the trains stopped, the plants took over, and here young Barry used to gather wild strawberries and sell them locally as they made ‘excellent’ jam! Back in the day Barry was a proficient wine-maker – “try dandelions”, he said “for a very good wine”.

Too many flowers to describe in detail – but take time to study both the Latin and English names for plants. The clue to their properties is in the name. For instance, the Soapwort (saponaria offinalis) derives its name from the fact that when rubbed between the fingers and moistened, it truly becomes soapy, although take care as the saponins are poisonous as well as foamy!

Many of our garden flowers originated in the wild, the Ragged Robin is one of the lychnis family.. Others adorn our borders – scabious, cowslips, primroses, even corydalis. Finally let’s not forget the orchids – well-loved and cared for in both Thriplow and Fowlmere.

Mary Duff (Chair Fowlmere & Thriplow Gardening Club)

Posted in 2016 |

17 September – 2016 Annual Flower, Craft and Produce Show Fowlmere and Thriplow Gardening Club have done it again!

Visitors attending the Club’s Annual Show in Fowlmere Village Hall on Saturday 17 September, were ‘wowed’ by the bright and colourful displays of lovely flowers and foliage. There were amazing and abundant fruits and vegetables, mouth-watering cakes and jams, and a fantastic variety of handicrafts. There were several classes especially for children’s exhibits including miniature gardens, imaginative animals made from vegetables and fruits, and tasty biscuits. The judges had a hard job choosing the winning exhibits in each section!

Mary Duff – Club Chairman – thanked the organising group – led by Sue Pinner – for putting on another successful Show. She then introduced Rev Angela Melaniphy – Rector of Fowlmere and Thriplow churches – who presented the awards. She congratulated all the exhibitors on the high standard and variety of their exhibits.

The highest award in the Show – the Royal Horticultural Society Banksian medal – was won by Jane Dring. Other winners included Barry Jones, Joan Smith, David Warboys, Sue Pinner, Michael Pollard, Jo Fisher, Jenny Brew, Shirley Wittering and Jessica Collings.

The day ended with a lively auction of jams and cakes, flowers and fruit, and other garden produce, followed by the raffle results.

An enjoyable and happy day for all concerned!

Sue Pinner – Show Group Co-ordinator

Posted in 2016 |

October 2016 – Trees for the small garden – Peter Jackson

An interesting talk from a very experienced speaker and a thoroughly nice man – the Scotsdale guru, Peter Jackson, came to talk to us about trees for the small garden. Why small gardens? It is a fact of life that large gardens are not now acceptable to the majority of potential home-owners. Just look around all the new estates springing up near Cambridge and you will see for yourself that small gardens are the order of the day. So, we must move with the times and accept that smaller trees will be flooding our garden centres for years to come.

In years gone by when Peter was learning his trade in Holland, horticulturalists in Great Britain had the edge on competitors with their exceptional knowledge of rootstock and how to graft. Unfortunately, in more recent years countries like Poland and Russia have streaked ahead. Never mind, our day will come again! In the meantime, have a look at the trees for sale in your local nursery. Labels are now much more informative and you can select the right sized tree for your garden with ease. The secret is to know all about rootstock. Rootstock is the part of the plant, often an underground part from which new above-ground growth can be produced. This is the secret as smaller trees can be produced by grafting cuttings from another plant onto the rootstock which is fooled into keeping the new arrival alive until the two parts become one! Still with me? So rootstocks can be selected for their different properties such as vigour (or lack of it), resistance to pests, fruit size and so on.

So – for example a label with the sign M27 means that the resulting tree will be very dwarfing, MM106 semi-dwarfing, M9 – dwarfing, M25 vigorous (what else with a name like that) and so on….. Mostly, but not exclusively, this information is used for fruit trees.

When growing fruit trees in pots choose containers with straight sides, plastic pots – are fine. Root prune every couple of years and replace the compost. There are fruit trees which you can step-over, train against a wall – cordons or just remain small. Get a self-fertile one so you do not have to worry about self-pollination. You will be spoiled for choice. What a lovely family Christmas present an apple tree would make!

If I gave you all the trees recommended by Peter, this article would stretch to pages and pages. So, the alternative is to advise you to decide whether you would like a fruit tree – apple, pear, mulberry – you name it – or a weeping tree like a larch or cherry but don’t forget to cut out the diseased leaves from below. How about a sorbus – the mountain ash – believed by Welsh people to keep the witches away ……. with berries, useful for Christmas wreathes.

Whatever you decide think before you buy – think rootstock and think final size!

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