Garden Group Meetings 2015
February 5th - First meeting of the year and it was very nice to be inside talking gardening whilst it was quite wintry outside. We were able to chat about this year’s programme and some more ideas will be looked into. If anyone has any suggestions for August/October, please let me know.
When we moved onto gardening items loved or hated, they all seemed to be loved. We started with a 1954 book on Tomatoes which was not surprisingly a little old fashioned although interestingly the advice was still good for today.
Next we were entertained with a bath scrunchie! The demonstration was fascinating as we were shown the beautiful pink scrunchie being undone and used to store empty flower pots of any size. This prompted talking about the versatile use of tights and pop socks as gardening ties!
A really amazing memento was someone’s dads hand drawn plan for a garden shed that he had built himself and she remembered as a child. From the ‘Hoe Hoe Hoe’ demo to boxes to sit on and various bits and pieces by ‘Trowel & Error’ we finished with plants from Margot’s garden which she had brought along to show us. They were fought over and had to be raffled to the lucky winners!
Whilst some were enjoying the tea break (thanks Phyllis and Jennie), others tackled Jan’s light hearted quiz. The answers were mused over with sighs and the joint winners shared the chocolate reward!!
Thanks everyone who came for a fun afternoon and that reminds me thanks also to those who let me know they wouldn’t be able to make it today. Next month we have a Speaker booked and until then Happy Gardening or perhaps Garden Planning from an armchair?
March 5th - Before our Speaker we updated the 2015 programme - Carol had spoken to staff at The Gibberd Gardens Harlow and although they do not usually open on a Thursday she had arranged a provisional booking for a talk and tour on the 3rd September with tea/coffee and cake if required. The minimum number is 10 and a show of hands confirmed sufficient interest for her to confirm the booking and nearer the time we will need to give them an idea of numbers. Many thanks Carol.
Margot had then spoken to one of her many contacts and arranged a provisional booking for us to visit One Brook Hall Cottages Latchingdon on the 6th August with the optional tea/coffee and cake. Again a show of hands confirmed that this would be popular and she will confirm the booking. Many thanks Margot.
Sue had brought along her Amarilis which had been a present last October when it flowered and amazingly was in magnificent bloom again. Admiration was duly given as it was a beautiful specimen and lovely to see. I checked that it got home safely!
Linda then introduced John Howden who had come along to show his films and talk about gardens. They were very professional films with variation which kept everyone interested. Thank you Linda for arranging today’s speaker and please let Mr Howden know that the group really enjoyed his presentation.
The presentation started with 3 gardens. Firstly, his own garden at Writtle covering plants and seasons with wonderful shots of birds feeding in the snowy depth of winter followed by picturesque views at Anglesey Abbey and Hyde Hall.
The second film show was of a wonderfully sunny visit to Hampton Court Flower Show. It certainly gave a flavour of the exhibitions and it was muted that it surpasses Chelsea. The 5 minute film on reflections had earned a well-deserved 1st prize and ‘The Doris Plot’ film had everyone laughing. Just shows what may happen to nagging wives!!
The famous local garden at Waterhouse Lane which is open under the NGS was covered with an interesting insight into the owner’s outlook and how it evolved. The film about Fuchsias was amazing from hybridizing to the beauty of these plants. Will we be cutting down our fuchsias to obtain such wonderful blooms?
Whilst Jenny and Phyllis prepared tea and biscuits, thanks ladies, Margot did a free raffle of some of her surplus aconites and snowdrops called S Arnott. Hence some lucky winners were very happy. The bag of flower pots also went to a good home to be re-used. General chats rounded off a most enjoyable afternoon whilst people mingled with their refreshments.
April 2nd - Our Speaker was Spencer from Lauriston Farm Goldhanger and he soon had us really interested in Biodynamic techniques and even the philosophy inspired by Ralph Steiner’s lectures from 1924.
We had an insight into how each autumn they fill 20 cow horns, not bulls horns, with fresh cow dung and bury them over the winter to produce horn manure. This is then used by diluting a very small amount with water to make a most effective spray for the bare soil, a tiny amount being enough to spray an acre.
Similarly a silica preparation made from quartz crystals ground into powder is also put into cow’s horns and buried but this time over the summer months. This is used with rain water to spray foliage and again a few grams would cover several acres.
Spencer talked of composting. How the ripe farmyard compost changes to a sweet smelling heap within 5 days by adding a small amount of herbs and flowers, Dandelion, Yarrow, Chamomile, Stinging Nettle, Oak Bark and Valerian. I should have asked if it would be suitable for our compost heaps!
We heard about planetary alignment and the moon’s cycle where the influence on planting and harvesting can make 2% to 4% difference to yields. Just after the full moon is apparently the best time for planting potatoes!
From talking to the bees to the rare breed cattle and sheep we had heard about a very special way of farming and have a follow up visit to the farm booked for July. (Details nearer the time) For those who are interested, the farm website is www.lauristonfarm.co.uk
Tea and biscuits followed and thank you Jenny and Phyllis for doing this through the winter. Thanks also for the raffle prizes donated and to Yvonne for sorting out the raffle. I was the lucky winner of a ball of Lauriston Farm Wool which Spencer put in so will have to try knit something before July!!
May 7th - Great meeting today at Abercorn's and thanks to Lesley B for organising. The seating was quite novel with the selection of benches and chairs from displays around the Garden Centre and 26 of us enjoyed the afternoon seated very comfortably. David started with members questions on topics raised from lawns to orchids and advised accordingly with information and humour. He then talked us through his demonstrations of Summer Baskets. Actually 2 baskets and a chimney! They certainly looked wonderful but I doubt we will be as brave with the sissors as he recommended.
Following on, tea and coffee was supplied with wonderful cakes brought along by several members. Many thanks ladies. Much appreciated. Many purchases were made and I am sure the plants, pleasant staff, loyalty card and discount vouchers will lure us back again.
June 4th - Those of us who went to Beth Chatto’s today (15) enjoyed a wonderful summer afternoon to stroll around the gardens. The beautiful borders and water gardens were picturesque in respect of their unusual plants mixed with some which were familiar to us. The wooded paths and dry garden with their informal planting were also very impressive.
A relaxing afternoon and we also sang Happy Birthday to Tony, bought the odd plant or two and enjoyed refreshments including ice creams so summer is definitely here.
July 2nd - A visit to Lauriston Farm Goldhanger – a follow up from our February talk by Spencer Christy. We certainly had an interesting visit and well done all drivers for finding their way to the farm. I hadn’t expected the track to be quite so long and bumpy!
Spencer welcomed us and so did Stanley the one eyed ram with a broken horn who as well as servicing the sheep acts as watch dog with the loud noise he makes when anyone approaches the barn. Luckily Stanley was in his pen!
We started by taking a look at the circle of 12 large raised beds, one for each of the Zodiac signs. These beds are planted with food for the bees on the inside and for humans on the outside. What was so fascinating was when Spencer explained how they follow the moon’s phases for when to plant, cultivate and harvest for the star signs.
From here we took a gentle ramble down the track to the Sea Wall stopping a few times to chat about subjects such as the sheep, cattle, and bees or hedge planting. The sheep were soon at the fences as they knew the sound of Spencer rattling the feed bucket.
The climb up the grassy slope to the top of the Sea Wall was well worth the effort for the views and then we strolled back for a welcome cup of tea and biscuits in the Barn. The Barn also had rooms of interest with sheepskins, wool, Spinning wheels and various paraphernalia connected to the enterprise.
A very interesting afternoon and thanks to our drivers for volunteering.
August 6th - A visit to One Brook Hall Cottages Latchingdon - Thanks Margot for arranging our visit, especially as Corrine hasn’t opened her garden for visitors this year. Nineteen of us enjoyed a very relaxing afternoon admiring the garden which won The Daily Mail Garden of the Year in 2013.
The elevated ‘sitootery’ gave a fine view of the garden and the afternoon tea and cakes were really delicious but the star attraction was definitely Coco. She charmed us all.
Thanks also to our Drivers who all found their way there despite the challenge of avoiding the Danbury Roadworks!
September 3rd - well done Carol for arranging our last outing of the year. Great visit and thanks for the review:-
From Carol - Many thanks for all who made the trip to The Gibberd Gardens for my first outing. We had an enjoyable afternoon, spoiled somewhat by the rain which meant we did not perhaps do the garden it's full justice. So much for Marjorie's weather forecast!
The seven acre garden was opened especially for us and Carol Murray gave us a very informative talk on the history not only of the garden, but an insight into the life of Sir Frederick Gibberd himself who, amongst his other great achievements, was the master-planner for Harlow New Town. Having a special affection for the area, his summer house, garden and art works were bequeathed for the benefit of the people in Harlow but following difficulties with his will being contested, the Gibberd Garden Trust was born and his legacy now remains supported by a team of volunteers.
Following the talk, on the way to The Gibberd Rooms another volunteer guide gave us an introduction to the various sculptures and once inside a brief history of the home he occupied. The rooms, in sixties style, are filled with a variety of interesting original furniture, photos, ornaments, books and information on Sir Frederick's work etc. We were then allowed to look around at leisure.
By this time the shower had set in and so we ventured out into the damp garden which is one for all seasons and I think we all enjoyed looking for the eighty or so sculptures, viewing some of the garden rooms and being amazed at the height of the massive wisteria, followed for most of us by tea and very nice cake to round off the afternoon. By which time of course it had stopped raining!
October 1st - A Presentation by Thelma Wilson & Olive Baldwin ‘Warley Place Past and Present: Ellen Willmott’s famous garden, now a unique nature reserve’ The past history was enriched with digital copies of photos taken by Miss Willmott who had not only been an outstanding gardener but also a keen amateur photographer.
The present nature reserve is maintained by Essex Wildlife Trust and I expect many of us will be planning a visit next spring to see the snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and bluebells in splendour. We will be looking for the ha-ha wall which had to be dug out as it had filled in so much that the cattle had got over to rampage over the reserve, or finding the Cheshire milestone path, spotting many species of birds and being able to view Canary Wharf on a clear day.
Many Q&A’s were followed by the very welcome tea and biscuits. Thanks Phyllis and Jenny. Ending with the raffle which of course helps funds so many thanks for prizes.
November 5th - Hanningfield Nature Reserve Talk by Bill Godsafe was very well received.
December 3rd - The afternoon got into swing with Lesley B’s play which she performed with her forced volunteer assistant Jenny. They were very entertaining with suitable props. Part one had 10 words to pick out of the dialogue to do with gardening and similarly there were 10 more words in part two. These words, in any order, could then be paired up to make a gardening plant, eg car+rot. Superb acting but it took a re-play and much laughter and chatter before most of us got the 10 correct answers. Well done Lesley and Jenny.
We went on to this year’s short gardening quiz which was 10 Q&A’s only and yes the Blue Tulip is fiction not fact. The Projector was then working ok and we showed Sue’s impressive photos of the world’s largest flower garden in the middle of the dessert. The Dubai Miracle Garden featuring 45 million flowers over an 18 acre site providing a very colourful oasis with a sub-surface irrigation system that recycles waste water.
Tea was served, Mince pies enjoyed and the Garden Anagrams puzzled over. The Raffle was drawn and Eric looked pleased with the first prize of Blossom Hill gardening wine!
People drifted off and those left mused over the gardening related phobias guessing a fair number correctly. My favourite was Anthophobia- the fear of flowers which can’t apply to any of us!!!
Thanks today to Lin for taking the Register, Anne for doing the Raffle, those who brought along prizes, Phyllis and Jenny for refreshments, and again to Lesley, Jenny and Sue for their input. Also to all who joined in and made it a very happy afternoon.
So that’s it for Gardening Group 2015 and look forward to seeing those who can make it on the 7th January.