Gardening Group History

Report for April 2015 - by Jacqui Burt

On Wednesday 22 April 14 members of the gardening group were treated to a delightful visit to Holehird Gardens. The weather was glorious and the gardens were beginning to show how spectacular they would be later on.
The purpose of the visit was to find out about how they propagated their plants by collecting seeds, division, cuttings and splitting. Our guide for the morning was Pat Murphy who was mainly in charge of the snowdrops, narcissus and meconopsis. She gave us some valuable tips on all aspects, one of which when dealing with seeds is patience.
Our tour included seeing the National Astilibe Collection, we also visited the potting shed where Norma Bates explained how the shed works and the poly tunnel and a large covered area to prepare plants for outside. We also went into another potting area which was were Pat did most of her propagation and others used it to take cuttings: Mary kindly showed us how to take a cutting from a clematis. We then went into the Alpine house which had a fantastic variety of alpines.
Pat spent two hours with us explaining the workings’ of the gardens which are fabulous even more so when all the gardeners are volunteers, who each have a flower bed/section they are responsible for. After our tour we had lunch sitting in the glorious sunshine and were able to wander round in our own time. Everyone had a great day.

Report for June/July 2014

The two meetings, one in June and one in July, were both to members gardens but the contrast could not have been greater. One was an established urban garden and the other a new garden in a farmyard.

We visited Sue’s garden on a lovely sunny day and got in the way of the renovating building work going on. The garden was dominated by trees and overgrown hedges which provided too good a barrier from neighbours and cut out much of the sunlight and made the lawn a bed of moss. Her problem was which trees to cut down, where to get good advice and then what to plant. It will be an interesting project to watch.

Our second garden in July was Sandra’s, she said she hadn’t much to show, only a polytunnel. What we actually saw was a feat of both engineering and horticulture. A large polytunnel with raised beds, semi-automatic watering system and a range of healthy crops. Outside solidly constructed raised beds again with healthy crops. Possibly the only problem was the heat in the polytunnel by the middle of the day perhaps a solar powerd fan could be provided.

What Sandra is now looking for is a garden to sit in where views of Skiddaw and Blencathra can be seen. Some trees will have to go to get the view and a rough area tamed to provide a lawn but the basic elements are all there and a few hardy flowers will soon transform it.

Report on U3A Gardening Group March 2014

9 or 10 members attended on each day.

On the first Tuesday we took advantage of the central resources of the U3A and borrowed a video on traditional gardening techniques. Tom set this up to view on his TV so we had an action packed 55 minutes of all types of digging and planting.

We had a tour round Tom’s garden, yet another garden on a steep slope needing retaining walls to keep soil in place and steps to get around. Sitting at the foot of Skiddaw it does get sun and shelter from the North.

Our second meeting took place in Hope Park greenhouse. Sarah demonstrated sowing seeds from filling the seed tray with compost and tamping it down to get rid of air pockets to sprinkling on the seed and finally watering. We then saw the next stage of using a heated propagator to get seed growing.

Hope Park grows and plants about 9000 flowers for the summer displays. They don’t grow them all from seed but buy in ‘plug’ plants ie tiny plants grown in a 1.5cm square by 4cm deep pot. They come in a block of perhaps 20x30 pots. In a months time the whole greenhouse will be filled with these bedding plants getting ready to be planted.

Many seed merchants now offer plug plants as well as seed packets, without a propagator or a warm windowsill it is a way of getting plants relatively cheaply.

Feb 18th 2014

12 members attended.

We visited not only June and Geoff Davidson’s garden but also Doug Lowther’s 2 doors away.

June and Geoff was work in progress, they had a professionally drawn plan and had done the majority of the hard landscaping and some of the permanent planting. The next stage is to create the effect they want with further planting and to develop the fruit and vegetable area.

The second garden, Doug Lowther’s is mature and immaculate but showed that gardens never stand still. Several herbaceous perennials that he was planning to split to both rejuvenate and create more plants. Keeping colour in the garden all year was demonstrated by underplanting with bulbs wherever possible.

Potato Day
6 of the group visited Caldbeck for the Potato Day on Sunday 23rd February. Everyone came back with plant material, some potatoes but a lot of other plants as well eg fruit bushes, summer bulbs etc. Well worth attending as contact made with Peat Free compost makers and Organic gardeners.