Recent talks

Dionaea mascipula, commonly known as The Venus Fly Trap has many forms, and the advice was to put it on an ants’ nest at
the end of the Summer. Cephalotus follicularis, found in Australia, grows in inhospitable, inaccessible places, such as cliff tops, has flowers on long stems and “in a pot is stunning, or overhanging a fence”. Drosera sundew, found in Australia, South Africa, some in England, thrives, as do most of these plants, in wet areas, especially peat bogs. Its sticky stems capture and wrap around flies.

Sarracenia purpurea “Huntsman’s cup” is one of the genus of perennials with pitchers, formed from modified leaves with hooded tops. The pitchers are tinged and veined purplish red, and in Spring five-petalled purple flowers are carried above.

Pitchers are recurring features of carnivorous plants, which use colour and scent to attract insects, such as flies, wasps and midges, have hairs to trap, catch rainwater, and use bacteria to digest and then feed on the bacteria – a symbiotic relationship. David Tite called it “Nature’s first recycling process.”

Nepenthes, over 100 species is a tropical pitcher plant, found in Australia, Gambia, The Philippines, Sumatra, everywhere where there are volcanoes. A jungle plant, they will attach and climb. They produce nectar and eat ants. Some attract monkeys who drink from the pitchers, consequently called “monkey jars”. They grow in wet conditions such as at the edge of swamps or rice fields.

Utricularia are water plants with bladder-like modified leaves that trap and digest insects. Most are free-floating and some are suitable only for tropical aquariums. David said they have “the fastest trigger action in Nature.”

Pinguicula are Summer flowering perennials with greasy leaves that trap insects which are then digested for food. It has beautiful flowers and is useful in pots under glass among plants at risk from aphids. The Victorians used them to deal with flies. Found in England, America and Mexico. Mexico, in fact, has the only red flowered one. Darlingtonia californica.

David said that cultivation of carnivorous plants is time-consuming. Clearly they must be maintained in wet conditions, but also most need sun. Potting on: avoid root disturbance and trim the previous year’s growth. Most importantly water must be rainwater; tap water will kill. We were shown them in large greenhouses but David has had plants outside for 30 years.

A series of slides showed how striking and colourful they can be, and we saw displays at the main flower shows – Chelsea, Tatton Park and Hampton Court.

A footnote: as carnivorous plants trap so many insects, including wasps, one of the questions asked was “How about bees”? Fortunately it seems they are not attracted to carnivorous plants, though bumble bees may be, alas.

Choose healthy plants, preferably ball-root, and use good compost, Rootgrow (mycorrhizal fungi) and Vitax Q4. Thomas digs square holes,  planting in the middle, an inch deeper than the hole itself, taking the roots to the edges, to encourage root spread. When pruning ensure very sharp secateurs and pruning saws, getting rid of dead or diseased wood, remembering the shape you wish to achieve, and improving air flow.

Bush roses are strong, shrubby growers. When pruning ideally leave no wood older than four years, prune to an outward facing  bud and peg longer stems to produce long arches of flowers. Keep clear at the base.

Shrub roses are weaker in growth, and need the support of older wood. Prune to an inward facing bud, to help to hold the shape. They  need a mix of  stems;  grow 2 to 7 foot. Aim for a free standing, self supporting shrub after 5 years; ensure there is an air flow. Reduce new shoots from the base by two thirds of the height.

Wild shrub roses are normally species of roses or close hybrids. They tend not to require much pruning, just shaping and dead wood removal.

Ramblers are natural clumbers that achieve long growth each year, from 6 foot to over 60 foot and can be wrapped around garden features such as pergolas. All the flowered wood should be removed after flowering, normally in July or August. They are very easy to prune, but are usually thorny.

Climbing roses are basically bush or shrub roses that grow too big, to 4 or five feet, and require support. Prune like shrub roses, and tie in new growth. One of Thomas’s slides showed a lovely specimen, a Constance Spry trained against a wall at Mottisfont, famed for its rose garden. Prune in March, when the leaves have gone, and after the frosts, removing any spent flower heads.

Pruning cuts should be angled, and made just above the bud and pruning saw cuts close to the base. Use wires for support on walls: drill holes 4 bricks apart in the cement, not the bricks, insert Rawlplugs and fix the wire securely.

Many colourful slides showed how effective underplanting can be,,,complementary or contrasting or toning specimens, enhancing, and even protecting their neighbours. The choice is wide: Dianthus, Eryngium giganteum, Geranium pratense, Campanula latifolia, Linaria, AchilleaTaygeta, Lavendula, Iris pallida, Campanula persicifolia, Allium Christophii, Lychnis coronaria are a few.

Rosette- forming and clump-forming subjects work well and proportion matters so that the underplanting does not overwhelm or conceal the roses.

After Thomas’s talk the number of questions asked illustrated members’ interest in his  subject  and inspiring presentation.

Whatever the size or style of our gardens shrubs can form a key element in their framework and the wide range available enables us to maintain year-round interest

Initially, John asked his audience which shrubs in their gardens had coped well in the current hot dry weather: Osmanthus, Euonymous, Hebe and Mimosa were mentioned and John suggested one of the best was Myrtle, also Weigela and Buddleia.

Some striking examples were shown on a screen and we were encouraged to identify these and to suggest others: Stachyurus praecox has drooping spikes of pale greenish-yellow flowers that open in late winter and early spring before pointed, deep gaeen leaves appear. Azara serrata is evergreen and has fragrant yellow flowers in late spring or early summer. Corylopsis sinensis:- leaves are bright green above, blue green below: clusters of bell-shaped pale yellow flowers open from early to mid Spring., Ceanothus:- many forms with densely clustered, mainly blue flowers, deservedly given the AGM, the RHS Award of Merit given to plants of outstanding excellence, and earned by many shrubs mentioned here.

Magnolia: again, many forms with AGMs: – M. x loebneri, “Leonard Messel”: In mid Spring has fragrant flowers, with many pale lilac- pink petals.

Magnolia M.sieboldii – Fragrant cup shaped white flowers, with crimson anthers, are carried above oval, dark green leaves from late Spring to late Summer.

Camellias: again many forms, all with beautiful flowers. They need well drained, neutral to acid soil, and can be seen in their glory in the Hillier Arboretum.

Lilac, abundant, heavily scented flowers variously mauve, purple, white, pink cream and red-purple. Lovely white forms are Madame Florent Stepman and Madame Lemoine.
Tree Peony: apply potash once a month, April to September, so that flowers are stronger.

Judas Tree: cercis siliquastrum Bright pink flowers.

Ornamental apple “Profusion”.

Honeysuckle: Dropmore “Scarlet”, “Graham Thomas”.

Fuchsia – many outstanding forms. F. Mrs Popple, F. Rose of Castile.

Abutilon-A x suntence A. Violetta.

Acer. Many outstanding forms – “Bloodgood.

Euphorbia:” Humpty Dumpty”.

Laburnum – Common laburnum – “Golden Chain.”

Pieris – needs moist acid soil; small, profuse urn-shaped flowers.

Acacia-A. baileyana.

Cistus: (Rock Rose). C. cyprius and Cistus X. agularii maculatus. Prune in Spring, put petroleum jelly on the cuts.

.Choisya C. termata Aztec Pearl.

Cornus-“Dogwood” – “Porlock”

Clematis – old name “Travellers Joy” a happy companion for shrubs – “C. Doctor Ruppel”; C. Crystal Fountains.

Cytisus battandieri – “Pineapple Broom”

Hydrangea, many lovely forms – H. arborescens Annabelle.

Sophora – S. japonica “Pagoda Tree”.

An engaging, interactive talk, delivered and received with enthusiasm.

Richard Loader, a Nurseryman with 40 years experience,  he is also a professional photographer whose photos of flowers appear in journals and magazines.

Richard indentified the main principles. The shape of the pot matters. Avoid a narrow base and a pot that tapers at the top as that makes potting on difficult. He recommends Yorkshire Flower Pots. Drainage is very important, as it facilitates essential aeration , and as terracotta breathes it is a useful material. Summer plants may not need drainage but it is necessary in the Winter when peat decomposes into mud. Use stones, polystyrene pieces or vermiculite to draw out the liquid. Pots can break because they are sodden and frozen, so also use pot feet. If a plant is going to be in a pot for some time use compost with soil in it, eg. John Innes, “to prevent a muddy mess in the pot,” and to make it heavier so it will not fall over,. Use peat-free soil, good for drainage. In Summer place the pot on a saucer. Richard reminded us “The wind will blow”, so invest in good, heavy pots.

Re-potting:- use the same size of pot, scrape away soil that is compacted and add fresh compost.

Potting on: use a pot one size up: the space around the plant is important for access and the plant’s stability.

Top dressing:- if the compost has shrunk and is solid, rake carefully and add compost with Osmocote mixed in (not sprinkled); it reacts to temperature and moisture, so then water.

Feeding:- Tomato and seaweed are effective and Richard reminded us that with pots you are in control. As he has over 100 pots he is indeed in charge! He adds however, “Don’t over-pot”.

Dead-heading:- do this regularly, to produce large, vigorous plants. The secret is to take off the head just before it is dead, taking as much stalk as possible, to encourage more blooms and discourage the plant from setting seed. The effectiveness of the approach was evident in the robust plant specimens Richard had brought to illustrate his talk. So many plants will thrive in containers, he assured us.

This was a pleasingly interactive talk as Richard invited questions throughout and Club members responded with enthusiasm. A truly informative presentation including Richard’s demonstrated technique with a simple garden hose to ensure the all important consistent watering, throughout , morning and evening.

Alan Edmondson Msc, an experienced horticulturalist, former National Mastermind of Gardening and past President of the National Auricula and Primula Society.

So numerous are the forms of this colourful genus that they are split into thirty sections, Alan told us, and the right treatment is needed for each. There are primulas suitable for almost every type of site: the border, scree garden, rock garden, peat garden, bog garden, pool margin, greenhouse and alpine house. Auricula primulas are evergreen, and there are three main sub-groups: alpine, border and show. Alpine auriculas have centres strikingly different in colour from that of the petals. Show auriculas are varied in colour, and have white farina on their foliage. The border auricula group has generally robust garden auricula primulas which are often very fragrant. Candelabra primulas are sturdy herbaceous perennials with flowers borne in tiered whorls up tall strong stems. Primrose – Polyanthus primulas are a diverse group of evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous hybrids, divided into two groups, primrose and polyanthus.

Primulas have varying cultivation requirements, so careful reference is needed, but general advice is to plant from seed,(and the best are from Barnhaven in France), in John Innes 2 with 25% horticultural grit. Neither overwater nor allow to dry out and for moisture retention plant in well drained soil. Some may be difficult to grow as they dislike winter damp or summer heat. Repot pot grown plants annually. Deadhead when flowers fade, and trim foliage. Propagate species by seed when fresh, or in Spring and be alert for slug damage in damp situations and root aphids when in dry conditions.

Overall these are colourful, varied and rewarding plants, as Alan showed us in slide after slide. A few examples:
The true oxlip looks like polyanthus and is “a fantastic garden plant”. Double primroses can be highly perfumed, eg . Elizabethan primroses Double “Jack in the Green” and “Hose in Hose”. Gold laced polyanthus – a variety of colours, with gold laced edges. This is one of the original “florist’s” flowers; at the end of the nineteenth century a “florist” was one who grew flowers to a special standard, to show.
Other examples – P. marginata. P. Pritchards variety.
European Hybrids – P. frondosa (from The Balkans) P. scotia. P. farinosae. P. stricta – native to Iceland. P. bhutanica, for the peat garden, from the Himalayas, P. petiolaris from the Himalayas.
P. saxatilis and P. sieboldiiI are lovely, and easy to grow.
P. denticulata P. alpicola,
Candelabras – P. japonica. P. bulleyana. P.japonica “Miller’s Crimson”. P. “Inverewe” .
For the cold greenhouse – P.forrestii, named after George Forest, plant collector. P. allioni.
Forms for the frost-free greenhouse. P. malacoides. P. sinensis.
P. reidii. williamsii. alba-“a super plant, very fragrant”.
Border Auriculas –“ colourful and tough” – Blue Velvet, Broadwell Gold.
Green- edged Show Auriculas –“ Lancashire Hero” and “Robert” are prizewinners.
Show Auriculas – “Prague” “Margaret Mark” “Everest Blue”
Light centred Alpines – “Argus” “ Stella South” “Victoria de Wemyss”.
Gold centred – “Bilbo Baggins” “Prince John”.

This was an inspiring presentation, delivered with humour and enthusiasm, and warmly received.

President, Ray Broughton, lecturer and horticultural consultant.

Ray has used a powerful microscope to examine and observe a range of the aphids that feed on the sap of plants, as shown in slides. The knowledge gained is necessary for accurate control. We were reminded that milk, vinegar and salt are not now approved and that any pesticides must have approval and that all must be used with regard to safety.

In the vegetable garden plant Tagetes, to deter insects, especially whitefly, noting that it is the dead flower heads that are effective. Plant Alyssum, (now called Lobularia) ,since fungus will go on that, rather than on the vegetables. This is known as a sacrifice plant in companion planting. To avoid disease we must clean our garden equipment thoroughly. A hedge trimmer was found, on examination, to have eight diseases. Leave secateurs in tomato ketchup for 3 or four days to remove burr, which is the plant resin.

The Spanish slug is now spreading in the Home Counties and on contact can cause dermatitis. The Oak Processionary Moth is poisonous. The Asian Hornet, large and fearsome-looking in the slide shown, is here, so care is needed not to bring back its eggs from abroad inadvertently. Ladybirds do not, as commonly believed eat aphids; they bite the head and suck out the liquid. The Harlequin Lady bird does the same and can kill 200 aphids a day, so it is useful. Two Spot Ladybirds tend not fly, they walk, so buy them, as they stay. The Blister Aphid spreads a virus on raspberries and other woody plants, so hose them down in December, which repels the overwintering adults. Red spider mites acquire their red colour on mating, in August. Red spiders in the spring and early summer are not red spider mites and are beneficial.

Use Nematodes now: they do not actively kill the vine weevil: the bacterium in the Nematode is transferred to it, and does its work. The Pea Moth is programmed to fly on to the leaf and then the flower and deposit its eggs, so use leafless pea plants. To deter caterpillars put moss killer the day before on the area to be planted. Rose Gall is disfiguring, but harmless. The Leaf Cutting Bee has many mandibles, hence the “cut outs” on the leaves. There is no chemical control for Fuchsia Mite: remove the flower tops where it settles and use Invigorator. Box Blight starts in May: use Invigorator while it is still white.

For clean, wireworm-free potatoes, plant the seed potatoes one inch down and cover with organic barley straw then spray them with a mix of tomato fertilizer and water. They can be left there as late as October. Brassicas: when spraying use lukewarm water which renders the leaf structure more accessible, and thus will kill aphids. Carrot blight; use malt vinegar and water 50/50 between the rows and not on the plants.

Whitefly and scales: Whitefly is a moth and if using chemicals they must be suitable for whitefly. To avoid scabby potatoes, cut newspaper into squares (Mirror or Sun because these papers are not waxed); dip in water and place on the seed potatoes, then the fungus can’t get in. Star Crack Virus is a common disease when potatoes are collected for up to three years as seed potatoes. Big bud mite spreads the virus like disease known as reversion. Re potato blight: an app is available free from The British Potato Association giving blight alerts for different areas. Cover potato plants with fleece for three days. Leeks: to avoid pest damage, place a 25cm pipe over each plant at planting time.

Ensure you use good quality seed when sowing a lawn as it pays dividends in results. Treat Red Thread with nitrogen, and “Fairy Rings” with moss killer in lukewarm water. Spray molehills with moss killer every two months. To kill slug eggs, use vinegar.

As always, Ray gave us some useful general information and guidance. If plants have too little carbon dioxide they become “leggy”. To avoid this, fill a Tupperware container with lumpy manure; place cling film on top and tie down. Pierce the film with 6 holes and place in the greenhouse; effective and no smell!

To set an accurate temperature check all day in the greenhouse; cover a coffee jar in silver foil and a polystyrene top and put a thermometer through it. This is called a temperature integrating jar. Use static electricity to collect seed cast too densely in a tray by moving a pen around the spot. Use conversion pots for good drainage. Growers are now using lamps which provide a balance of red and blue wavelengths; the blue light makes the plant stocky; the red makes the plant taller.

Runner beans – choose white flowering varieties such as “White Princess” which are wind pollinating – rather than the red. Smart seed is more effective as the seeds germinate very quickly and are resistant to birds.

Thistle in the grass: gouge out the centre and the plant will die. To make your own organic fertilizer, collect stinging nettles before they flower. Break them up. Put fleece in the bottom of a pot. Buy aquatic stones. Put the nettles in the pot, add Vermiculite and cover with fleece and the stones. Use once a week. This is totally organic and has 30 nutrients.

In your planting use SB Plant Invigorator to kill soft bodied insects and fungal diseases, and a final reminder – Clean the water butt!!

A talk rich in interesting, practical information, delivered with Ray’s characteristic style and gentle humour.

Bryan J. Madders, who has been Chairman of the New Forest Dahlia and Chrysanthemum Society and is a public speaker and judge spoke to Club members about these varied and rewarding plants.

The chrysanthemum came from China, and is also the national flower of Japan. They can be grown from seed, the early forms lasting until October, and the later ones, with protection, until early December. After flowering dig them up and put in pots with soil around a 10” stem. No watering during he winter. In February bring them out of hibernation, add fresh soil and remember to label, especially for identifying colour later.  Add some moisture at 50/55 degrees f. When there is some green growth plant out, perhaps with rooting powder, and in compost: no fertilizer needed. A bag over them will provide protection, but check at intervals. They will start growing in 2/3 weeks, (indicated by a dark green centre.) Put into pots and harden off. If too long, too soon, cut off the top, to get plenty of flowers. Look for dormant buds which will vary in number according to the variety.  Take out a single “king” bud, so that all of the stems flower at the same tome. They can be singles or doubles; for the latter start earlier. Disbud, that is, leave one bud on each stem (the others are removed). A bud bag will protect them for a time eg from very heavy rain. The main pest is blackfly: perhaps use soap and water, but if really infested the plant must be binned.

 “The Pinch” may restrict growth, though some grow very tall. This was shown in a slide and we saw other types, for example Anemones, a rich pink, sprays, “Fantasies” from Japan and exhibition chrysanthemums, some with 13/14 heads, or one stem and one flower. “Reflexes” have petals that curve downwards. “Pot Mums” are easy to grow. Feed well, and pinch out some flowers. One slide showed a large sphere of closely growing flower heads, all in a 10” pot. Pots we can move around for effect. These “Mums” last until November. Put in a greenhouse and trim, to keep tidy. Take cuttings, as with the larger varieties mentioned earlier.

The “Korean” keeps on flowering, and provides late colour into October. Chrysanthemums have a variety of forms and colour, offering a wide choice.

Dahlias, Bryan suggests, are having a revival. There is one for any situation, thanks to multiple forms and a raft of colours, many striking. “No shrinking violet,” he says.

They grow in the foothills of the Andes, and were brought back to Spain.

Cultivation: they can be grown from seed, like sunshine, and dislike frost. Sow seeds for this year now. It is all right to leave the tubers in the garden, if well covered. Later he digs them up, and keeps them at a cool, even temperature. Plant in compost, no fertilizer, with grit or vermiculite. After six weeks, when they are 2/3 inches long, take cuttings at the end of May. Ensure that the stem is “solid”. Keep out of sunlight, and spray water gently. After 2 or 3 weeks you get roots. Remember the label! By November you will see a tuber as big as the original. If left, after 5 years there will be a mass of tubers that need to be disentangled and teased apart. Plant out in May and re-pot if pot-bound with a little blood and bone and you can fertilize when buds and flowers are forming. After 2 – 3 weeks pinch out the top, to encourage more flowers.

There are so many varieties, for example “ball” types called pompom by the Dutch. True pompoms last well. Some dahlias are grown to show, eg “Zorro”, a giant true red plant. “Water lily” types close up at night. Named ones – “Star Wars” “Bishop of Landaff”, with dark green foliage, “Pink Giraffe”, “Stargazer”. If feeding is required use one with high nitrogen and potash as the buds are coning out. Earwigs are a problem: they sleep at the top of the stem,  and eat the flowers, so remove them.

Many slides showed various types, and one, a richly planted dahlia flower bed illustrated their vivid appeal.

This informative talk, delivered with humour, was much appreciated by all present.

Andy McIndoe, Writer, Lecturer and Broadcaster gave the Ted Wedge Memorial Lecture to Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club, his subject “Beautiful Bulbs.”

We were reminded that a bulb is the first plant we all grow, often a hyacinth, and that both Spring and Summer bulbs are a great way to add colour, and, in pots, to bring the garden nearer to the house. They are better planted “in the green” and allowed to seed. Many are now used as cut flowers, for example Nerines and Alliums.

Numerous colourful slides illustrated the impact of planned bulb planting, eg in the mass or in groups, also placing certain colours together for contrast. In one slide Muscari and Tulipa sylvestris, blue and yellow, were planted in swathes, to create a natural landscape, the Muscari representing a “river”. The setting is important: think of blue, an amazing mixer, and its impact in light shade, as in a bluebell wood.

A bulb is a power pack, so feed it well. Small bulbs, such as Galanthus Nivalis (snowdrop) have a shorter life out of the ground. Buy in early November, plant in the green three times the depth of the bulb in organic, humus–rich soil. Other spring bulbs are: Crocus tomasinianus (Andy prefers small ones, that die gracefully.) Chionodoxa forbesii “Glory of the Snow” Anenome nemorosa – good on alkaline soil. Anemone coronarii – in pots for the first year, good for cutting. Trillium grandiflorum likes neutral or acid soil, is white then ages to pink.
Narcissus – many forms eg. N. “Jack Snipe” (white), N. Ice Follies.

N.Poeticum var. recurvus blooms until May and is perfumed.
N. Thalia (milk white). N .pseudonarcissus ( Lent lily). Do not buy mixed packs, or on price. They are best planted in groups, the natural way, and left to die down naturally.

Fritillaria – meleagris- Snake’s Head Fritillary. Good for naturalizing in grass, in moisture – retentive soil. Is susceptible to lily beetle. F.imperalis, native to Iran, has impressive orange flowers.
Tulipa – many forms: T. Carnaval de Nice has double flowers which are white, feathered with deep red. T. Prinses Irene has orange flowers, streaked with purple. T.Spring Green: white flowers, feathered with green; anthers are pale green. T. Angel’s Wish. T.Barcelona is pink. Grow tulips in a pot, with less than a bulb’s space between bulbs, or in layers.

Alliums: A. Purple Sensation is cheap and makes an impact. A.Cristophii. A.Schubertii. A.Mount Everest-white. Alliums are self-seeding, and form good seed heads. Hide their untidy foliage in surrounding plants. Eremurus robustus – “Foxtail Lily” is an upright perennial. Agapanthus: Headbourne Hybrids and many other varieties. See the Nursery at Beaulieu in August. Crocosmia (Montbretia) are corms, can get crowded, and stop flowering. Crocosmia Carmin Brilliant “stands up,” as it is smaller.

Dahlia:- Smaller ones may be best. Start in pots, later pinch out tops, and plant out in mid May. D.Bishop of Landaff has bronze and green leaves and dark red flowers. D. Bishop of Leicester. D. Chat Noir. Begonias: “Still incredible value, and have taken over from Busy Lizzies,” Andy says. Calla Lily is good as a cut plant. Cannas are robust, showy perennials.
Lilies: L.regale is best as a long term garden plant. It produces up to twentyfive fragrant flowers. L.Pink Perfection. L.Henryi produces many orange flowers. L. Scheherazade. L.Sweet Lord. In lilies bulb size is the circumference in centimetres, the bigger the better. Look out for them now, and plant soon, placing the bulbs on their sides. They work well in pots. Lily beetle can be a problem; pick them off and squash them. Nerines: are grown for their spherical heads of wavy-petalled, pink to red, occasionally white flowers. N.bowdenii. Cyclamens: there are many lovely specimens eg. C.hederifolium.

To quote Andy,“Flower bulbs are real survivors”, and his absorbing, entertaining talk gave us some charming reminders of that reality.

Jennifer Trehane, Plantswoman, Lecturer and Broadcaster gave a talk on Camellias to the Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club. The Camellia is a genus of flowering plants, (shrubs and trees), in the family “theaceae”, found in Eastern and Southern Asia, from the Himalayas to Japan and Indonesia. There are 300 species and around 3,000 hybrids. The shrubs are evergreen with thick, serrated and usually glossy leaves and bear large, lovely flowers. Colours vary from white, through pink to truly red. Yellow – flowered specimens are found only in South China and Vietnam. All have developed from one – Camellia japonica, and new species are still being discovered. They like shelter and shade, need well drained neutral to acid soil that must not be allowed to dry out.. Whilst most are quite hardy their roots must be protected from frost. Shrubs are best pruned to shape after flowering. Pests to look out for are aphids, thrips and scale insects, which at least are enjoyed by the birds.

Jennifer is an acknowledged authority on Camellias. She has had her own nursery (now run by two previous employees), has travelled extensively in China and Japan and returns regularly, in particular to Izu Oshima Island. It has a flowing volcano and a wild Camellia forest of 3 million trees that have been growing there for probably thousands of years. The fruits fall from the Camellia trees, are gathered up and split open to reveal seeds which are washed, dried and pressed. The oil thus produced is filtered and used in cooking and in cosmetics eg hair care. The husks are used as a mulch in the Nursery, and cuttings are later taken from the highest – yielding trees. There are also charcoal burners in the forest. Camellia sinensis is cultivated for its leaves which are used to make tea. Camellia oleifera produces tea seed oil, used in cooking. Camellia petals are used to make dye for fabrics and also to make jam, and other artefacts can be found in the Camellia Information Centre. There also can be seen a rock with the imprint of a Comellia leaf from many thousands of years ago.

There is a High School on the island, and the students proudly show off the extra curricular orchard they cultivate, making their own oil. In Jennifer’s colourful slides we were shown the island, its lovely garden, temples, festival processions and islanders in colourful costumes, many featuring embroidered Camellia blooms. Other slides showed us striking Camellia japonica and reticulata specimens. (My RHS Encyclopedia has some splendidly colourful photographs).

This was an entertaining and inspiring presentation, much appreciated by Club members.

Vegetable Growing was the subject of a talk given by Kelvin Mason,  Lecturer in horticulture at Sparsholt College.

Kelvin prefaced his main subject by pointing out that the current economic climate in the UK and Euro market is experiencing rising prices, so it is cost effective to grow vegetables now.

Seed catalogues are currently available and it is therefore time to make choices and select sites for cultivation.

The first task is good soil preparation and the effort is well worth while for future successful results. Use a spade to dig out weeds; the ground must be free of them and it advisable to weed every ten days with a hoe to avoid  germination as weeds take nutrients from the soil and therefore reduce the size of vegetables. Double digging is recommended. It is hard work but can be rewarding as this practice will produce better crops. The vegetable beds should be dug annually.

Add organic matter ie lots of manure. Artificial fertilizers were introduced in the 1960s, but these, however are rather expensive and over a period their efficiency is decreased.  Keep the soil loose and create a tilth and avoid compacted soil. Never stand on the bed but keep a narrow strip to access the growth area. The beds should be two to four feet wide depending on the size of the plants. Then add the organic matter. Manure encourages worms which,  should ensure a good crop, but watch out for slugs. Apply the manure about three to ten inches deep. Order your seed requirements at Christmas time. Sow seeds in spring bearing in mind a friable soil is essential.

A smaller number on each plant produces tomatoes with a fuller flavour.  F1 Hybrids are recommended; although more expensive they are resistant to mildew and thrive in greenhouses, giving a good crop.  If possible, encourage bees into the greenhouse to cross-pollinate.  By planting F1 Hybrids every year one cannot be certain of high yields continually, but they are well worth cultivating. They also produce nearly identical plants which impress the Show judge!

 As plants develop together it is advisable to plant at two to three week intervals. The temperature has to be right in the spring. Warmth is required in mid March and April to facilitate germination. Soil thermometers cost £5 to £8. The ambient temperature for broad beans is 4-5 degrees, 7-8 for carrots and 10 degrees for others, but plant these about a week later. Germination tails off in the summer. Again, don’t forget to plant in loose, crumbly soil. The depth of the drill is important so read the instructions on the packet. Roots will not develop if  seeds are planted too deep. Water if soil is dry. Spacing is also very important. Rows should be 2 -8 inches apart. Obviously different vegetables have different space requirements, and, if growth is too close a smaller yield results.

If growing for showing uniformity in size is important. For carrots, the longer the better, with an even taper. Space them well apart. Marrows should be no more than 30cm, courgettes 15cm. Once grown check for and remove slugs, then  thin  the plants out, if necessary. Watch out for pests, mildew, diseases, club root, white fly and aphids which can be a problem. Close netting helps. To combat carrot root fly cover  the plants with fleece

An abundance of foliage on onions produces a smaller crop.  Water potatoes early but not the main crop. Water lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, carrots, beans, sweetcorn and chillies. However, check your water meter !

At the end of his talk Kelvin received well deserved applause for an absorbing and well structured presentation.

 After leaving school Ricky worked on a farm, as a student, with pedigree pigs and Guernsey cows, on a small-,holding with Ayrshires, and again on the 120 acre farm. When it was bought by  Sir Harold Hillier Ricky was retained, and became a permanent member of staff, ultimately for 54 years! Initially working on the rhododendron section on Jermyn’s Lane, he later became a Manager.

Rhododendrons were then a particular feature of the stall at Chelsea, and Ricky helped with the staging; after 5 or 6 years he was asked to be a salesman. The rhododendrons,  azaleas, trees and shrubs were chosen by Harold Hillier to sell. There were always enthusiastic, interested crowds of visitors and the people on the stands were  very knowledgeable so his stay of 14 years there was a time for valuable learning.

 Meanwhile he had experience on another section of the gardens, with conifers, followed by 10 years a Assistant Despatch Manager at Broadgate (127 acres). It had a “huge collection” of trees and shrubs, some rare, exporting to 40 countries, sometimes exchanging plants. Sir Harold Hillier himself spent hours planting, and the Arboretum has the largest collection of woody plants worldwide. Ricky’s job included presenting exhibits at different shows.

 In 1976 John Hillier suggested to his father that they should introduce a wider range of plants on the Chelsea exhibit, with colourful effect and interest.

 By 1980 Mail Order had come to an end because of the development of garden centres.

 In 1987 Andy McIndoe came to Hilliers as Managing Director, and he and Ricky had 20 years working together. The Hilliers team has had great success, as we know, achieving 50 Chelsea Gold Medals for Hilliers Nurseries and for that a place in The Guiness Book of Records.

 It can cost £185,000 or more to show at Chelsea now, so sponsors are needed, and add to the interest. Preparations start at the end of October and early November. Structural elements, such as trees eg acers are brought into the glasshouses. The design plan and theme must be with the RHS by Christmas. Roses arrive before then and Ricky looks after them. Other stock may need protection and flowering stock eg cherries may need to be held back, in a cold store. Careful monitoring continues throughout, to ensure optimum condition for the Show.

 It was a pleasure to hear Ricky’s account of his work with Hilliers. He was given the opportunity by the remarkable Sir Harold Hillier to work with plants, together with dedicated, talented colleagues and to meet a wide range of people who shared his infectious enthusiasm.

David Jewell, former Wisley Superintendent, and currently Head of the Plant Collection at Hillier Gardens spoke to the Club about The Hillier Gardens Throughout the Year.

 Originally created by Sir Harold Hillier who collected seeds and plants worldwide, the Gardens span 180 acres and receive 200,000 visitors annually. It is a charitable trust with a responsibility for horticulture, conservation and recreation, under the aegis of Hampshire County Council.

 A sculpture exhibition is held in the Gardens every year, and David said that as well as the intrinsic interest of each exhibit their placement is important, so as to do justice to the subject and its surroundings. This principle of harmony, (or, indeed interesting contrast) is one he applies to placing plants, shrubs and trees, in relation to colour, shape, size, even scent, throughout the gardens and indeed the year. Those of us who visit regularly, as membership facilitates, can vouch for the variety and consistent beauty achieved in every season. Stunning slides illustrated this, for example the Magnolia Walk with Spring and Summer –flowering subjects, such as striking, scented M. salicifolia, with pure white fragrant flowers and aromatic leaves; M macrophylla with bowl-shaped, parchment-white flowers and M. Stellata, good in small gardens. Brentry Wood has acid soil that suits Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons such as Rhododenron Roza Stevens, a vigorous evergreen, producing masses of saucer-shaped lemon flowers in mid to late Spring, and is excellent in light shade, Dracula, a fiery red, and Electra, a brilliant blue, and Silver Chimes.

 So many flowering shrubs, trees, and grasses featured in the Gardens,  were  used effectively, indeed dramatically, as we were shown, as a foil to other plants. Certain subjects were impressive  seen individually, for example Davidii involucrata, the “Dove or “Handkerchief Tree” and the mighty Redwoods, especially those planted for the Millennium. Others were birches such as Grayswood Ghost and Betula jacquemontii, both with white bark; Quercus suba (the Cork Oak). Sir Harold liked conifers, and planted an area “to look like Little Switzerland” as we saw in an aerial slide.

 The Centenary Walk has benefited from a thinning out of  some trees and shrubs in the background, and from enlarged and replanted borders and the installation of paving which has made it more accessible, especially for visitors in wheelchairs and buggies. As David indicated the latter is in keeping with the inclusive ethos of the Gardens. The borders are richly planted; among them are Asters, Pennisetum, “Redhead” and ‘Dark Desire”. (Grasses give linearity), Kniphofia “ Thorny King”, Anemones, Cosmos “Limpopo”, Nepeta “Cool Cat”, Achillea , Artemisia lactiflora,( a foil to stronger colours,), Persicara polymorph, Monarda (Scarlet) , Acer griseum, Salix, Bamboo (one with blue stems), Cornus (red or orange stems), Helenium. Combining contrasting colours  is done for effect. Space allows for different heights, and large blocks of colour.  Apparently Roy Lancaster told David, “When in doubt, repeat .” A slide showed Alliums in dark and lighter purple together. Clematis, for example “Minuet” and “Broughton Star” scramble over obelisks and through shrubs and each season has its “stars” In Spring unusual Fritillaria imperialis has up to 5 widely bell-shaped orange flowers crowned by small, leaf-like bracts.

Sir Harold loved trees and planted many different subjects., and today his legacy continues. Among then are 426 “Champion Trees” (of exceptional height or diameter), more than anywhere in the UK. A stunning view of the lovely pond in the Autumn showed the trees in their vibrant jewel colours.

 Rabbit and deer fencing provide some protection, and a team of 18, comprising permanent staff, 3 part time, students and highly valued volunteers take care of the 40/45,000 plants. No mean achievement! In one necessarily short report it is impossible to do them all justice, and David was warmly thanked.

“The White Garden” was the subject of the talk given by Chris Bird, a broadcaster and lecturer at Sparsholt College. A knowledgeable and humorous speaker, who engaged with his receptive audience, Chris showed in many slides, how all year round interest can be achieved using not only flowers but shrubs, trees and imaginative features. Starting with Spring he moved through the seasons, providing plant names, their height and spread, ideal site and soil, impact and value.

 Occasionally, another colour may be used, to complement or contrast with the white on white theme. We saw Gypsophilia, white against a background of dark green yew, Myosotis scorpiodes alba, Centaurea Montana alba, and Clianthus puniceus albus, from New Zealand. It is a scrambling climber, grown for its drooping clusters of claw-like creamy white flowers. Lower fertility soil can mean more flowers. Hostas, valued for their elegant leaves, can be of variable sizes and can be used effectively to fill in the gap at the bottom of a flower bed. Hosta fortunei, variety Albopicta, (picta indicates colouration in the middle of the leaf) is a good choice for our  white garden. Malus is striking, trained as an espalier, in rows, as a feature or background. Loved by hoverflies and bees are Anthriscus sylvestris, (good in borders) and Anaphalis (“Pearl everlasting”), a good cut flower. It grows to 3 feet and is thirsty!

Romneya coulteri, “White Cloud” – a Californian poppy with crinkled white petals is pollen-rich, 3 – 4 feet high, with  sage green foliage and flowers in June, July and August. It is good for flower arranging. Actinidia kolomikta is a twining climber; it has 3 – 6 inch long leaves, and the upper section of the leaf is often creamy white and pink. Handsome Hydrangea paniculata “Brussels Lace” has panicles 8 – 10 inches long. Some turn pink, followed by seed pods; it has a long impact. .Camassia cussickii has superb white flowers,  and Verbene rigida “Polaris” has luminosity at twilight, attracting moths and butterflies. Castanea sativa Albomarginata, the Spanish chestnut, is a deciduous, spreading tree, bearing edible fruits in rounded spiny husks (chestnuts) and its wood is used to make castanets. Lysimachia clethroides, two and a half foot high, has curled white flowers. Stachys byzantina is good for edging, and white cobblestones were an effective feature in that slide. Senecio cineraria “Silver Dust” is an evergreen bushy sub – shrub  grown for its deeply lobed silver leaves. (Its yellow flowers  are best removed for our white garden).  Two forms of Magnolia, “Stellata” and “Water Lilly” have striking white flowers.

Exochorda macrantha “The Bride” is a shrub with large white flowers produced in abundance amid dark green foliage. Mulch and water well. Sweet Viburnum is scented, and the flowers of Hesperis matronalis V. albiflora have a strong fragrance in the evening. In the slide it looked striking, backed by a dark green conifer. Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush blueberry) is a deciduous, upright, slightly arching shrub. Saxifraga species and Armeria juniperfolia are useful rock plants. Anemone nemorosa will grow in shade,  and is self seeding.. Alchemilla conjuncta has leaves which are silver on the reverse and is tactile. Zaluziansky ovata is scented and produces crimson backed white flowers over a long period in Summer. Polygonatum X hybridum is Solomon’s Seal. Magnolia sieboldii – can reach 25 feet, and has large white flowers. Rhododendron “Loderi” King George is scented, Trachelospernum asiaticus, evergreen, twining climber is strongly scented.  Cornus “Norman Hadden’, a deciduous spreading tree, bears six weeks of creamy white flowers. Hoheria sexstylosa (Ribbonwood) is a “Woodlander” Gladiolus X colvillii, “The Bride” is a good cut flower.  Cleome Bedding Mixture – attracts insects. Eucryphia nymansensis “Nymansay”, is loved by bumble bees; clusters of large white flowers open in late Summer or early Autumn. Hydrangea arborescens “Annabelle”  produces very large, rounded heads of white flowers in Summer and is a good cut flower.  A tree with white bark is Betula jacquemontii (the birch). The best form is “Grayswood Ghost”. Valerian,  a perennial, is highly scented. A lovely slide depicted a dovecot as a desirable feature.

This was an absorbing talk showing how many plants and creative features can be employed to charming and dramatic effect in a white garden.

Sandy Worth spoke about her “Passion for Poppies”. She previously created a recognized collection of Papaver orientale , went on to trial some Super Poppy hybrids, and thence developed her own varieties, with equal success. Sandy advised that her collection is closed, at present, but she showed us photographs, taken by a professional, depicting stunningly beautiful examples of her poppy creations.
Remarkably all the different poppies we see today came from one original subject. Among the many we were shown:-
Pinnacle – orange; Glowing Embers – orange; Beauty of Livermore – 4 foot, red; Raspberry Queen – apparently described by one observer as having Barbara Cartland eyelashes on its petals; Aglaja – apricot; The Trinity – white; Maiden Blush – white, with pink markings; Big Jim – red, from the USA, as was John III; Erste Zuneigang – pale apricot, with double blooms; Aslahan – very big, white, with pink markings.

Complex breeding, a protracted development, means that some Super Poppies tend to be more robust and flower more than once, in July, August, even September. 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict and of the Veterans’ Foundation and the poppy named for that was indeed “The Falklands” – red, with deeply serrated petals. In 2008 Sandy was invited to exhibit at Chelsea. Heartbeat, a red Super Poppy, was created for the Alton Heart Charity. Jacinth – a dark red; Vesuvius – red, and very big; Tequila Sunrise – orange with serrated petals; Snow White – prolific and second flowering; Alpha Centauri – pink; Aurora – orange. Bright Star, pink, was voted the best in the UK in “Which”. Medallion, deep pink, held the record for the longest flowering – 18 days.

Sandy informed us that the identity of each of the many varieties of poppies is found in the stigmatic disc or seed pod, as each has a distinctive pattern or shape. Cultivation: cut off the flower stems as soon as the petals drop. Once that is finished cut back all foliage to 3 inches above ground. A month later feed with Vitax Q4 and mulch with well rotted manure. To propagate, water well, remove leaves, place cuttings individually in seed tray compartments, add VitaxQ4 and vermiculite and place in a cold frame. When planted out they will need support.

After questions and answers Sandy was applauded and thanked for her informative presentation.

Ray Broughton, Lecturer, Horticultural Consultant, and our Club’s President, spoke to us about “Successful Garden Maintenance”. We were given detailed advice, updating and information on good practice.

Any chemicals to be used as pesticides must be approved by UK law. Milk, vinegar, salt and flowers of Sulphur are now excluded, but recommended is SB Plant Invigorator, which stimulates growth and controls pests such as whitefly, thrips and aphids and the fungus that causes blackspot on roses. Spray them now! Lichen does not cause harm but blue algae should be controlled, so sprinkle with iron sulphate. A power wash to remove moss from a glass roof will be more effective after first spraying with a weak solution of organic washing up liquid and leaving for twenty minutes. A survey of garden sheds prompted a salutary warning about safe storage. Chemical products need to be beyond children’s reach and as the heat makes the chemicals degenerate check dates on containers and keep them cool and secure.

When buying turf ensure that the soil matches that in your garden. If purchasing grass seed Ray strongly recommends buying good quality seed and looking for the name of the grass on the packet. Over-sow bare patches on lawns with “smart seed”. Potassium sulphate helps to harden up the grass. For “fairy rings” and red ants fork in Iron sulphate, and use a Nitrogen fertilizer on Red Thread. Green up yellow patches of grass with water in hot weather, for 10 minutes every 4 days. The garden mole should be moved to another area by using Iron sulphate on the grass in Spring and Autumn.

“Compact” sweet peas are new FI Hybrids. Sow in March in a basket-like framework as we saw in a slide. Sow seed for hardy annuals now, (also shown in a colourful slide,)w for a lovely and cheap display. A striking new Hydrangea, low-growing, will be worth looking out for: two names – “Fireworks” and “Strawberries and Cream”. Remember the tulip is in fact an annual bulb. As soon as they stop flowering feed them and leave until June. If you have a bulb you love dig it up in July, place it upside down, and scoop out most of the basal stem: small bulbs will develop on the remaining stem and grow into more plants.

If you are dividing a plant go to the edge, not the middle, where any viruses will be, that is, keep one third and destroy two thirds. New potatoes do not need earthing up. When the flowers have gone lift them two weeks later. To grow potatoes prepare the ground and plant seed potatoes one inch below ground. Place organic barley straw on top, and the plants will grow through it. Once a week spray as for tomatoes; the tomato fertilizer makes the straw environment too hot for any pests to survive. “Raspberry Red” is the rhubarb recommended, as it is already sweet. In October dig up the remaining rhubarb and leave on the surface. Plant in March to April.

Re cleaning your pond, water recycling units are available; choose one with “hedgehog” filters, as they are easier to clean. Place organic barley straw in (in a shape the size of a brick) in the pond each month, as it attracts bacteria.

More general information:-
By law no new drainage must go on to the public highway. Fibre edging for lawns, heat guns for thermal weed control, and artificial wood (made from recycled coffee cups) may be useful. Reconstituted soil is best avoided. No Nasturtiums near your vegetables, as they harbour pests, and clean your water butt at least once a year, for the same reason! When a frost is forecast go out at 6.30 pm and spray plants with water, a fine covering only, that looks like condensation. (The latent heat produced by evaporation protects from frost damage.) Finally Ray returned to an old favourite, tomato ketchup, to clean tools and keep them free from disease.

A splendidly informative talk, delivered with Ray’s characteristic clarity and humour.

Sixty five members attended the AGM and Spring Show. Club Chairman Ted Ashley, who has completed his three year tenure, spoke about the progress and achievements of The Club, led by a dedicated Committee that has embraced change, whilst maintaining established good practice.

Membership has increased, and over eighty per cent come to our monthly meetings to hear excellent speakers, receive topical tips, and to socialize. A popular focus of interest is the Spotlight Table, where members can choose to display their flowers and plants. Also enjoyed are three well organized annual outings, with Forde Abbey Gardens and House, Hampton Court RHS Show, and Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Wells, in prospect this year. Our stall at the September Littleton and Harestock Show continues to attract many visitors, thanks to the combined efforts and contributions of members. We now have our own website and in his report our Treasurer indicated a healthy balance.

Ted acknowledged the hard work “behind the scenes” of many, thanked all members for their support, loyalty and participation, and welcomed Philip Wallis as the incoming Chairman.

There were 134 entries across 11 classes in The Spring Show and an increase in the number of entries in most classes. The judge was Wilf Simcox,  former lecturer at Sparsholt College.

Class 1. Six bulbs of “Lowin”, a trumpet daffodil  given to members to grow.

Class 2. Three cut daffodils/narcissi.

Class 3. Three cut multi-headed daffodils/narcissi.

Class 4. Three cut miniature daffodils/narcissi.

Class 5. Three cut stems of Hellebores.

Class 6. Pot or bowl of spring flowering bulbs.

Class 7. Foliage plot plant.

Class 8. Flowering pot plant.

Class 9. Arrangement “springtime Medley”

Class 10. Three sticks of forced rhubarb.

Class 11. Jar of three stems of herbs.

21 different people  we placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Garden vouchers were awarded to 1st place in classes 2-11. Ann Wiggle Trophy to 1st place in class 1.

Full details are on the Club Website.

As always many different people contributed to setting up, stewarding and clearing up, – a real team effort.

“Growing Vegetables in a Small Garden” was the subject of a talk by Geoff Hawkins, an experienced gardener, broadcaster and consultant. The particular benefit is that such vegetables will be fresh, but another is interest, as you can be creative in maximizing a limited space, using all manner of containers: bags, pots, boxes, even tyres, as well as planters et al found in recycling centres. Planting can in raised beds, in wall hanging containers, on a ladder-like frame, even in gutters, as well as in the ground. That needs digging to aerate, remove perennial weeds and on the surface good organic material that the earthworms will take down and improve the soil. Whatever the situation light and shelter are important, but particularly in containers regular watering is essential, so a raised water butt helps.
Geoff starts seeds off in cell trays, then transplants, and aims for continual and successional but not excessive sowing, using a four year crop rotation plan. He recommends looking for the F1 and AGM symbol in the catalogues and the Heritage Seed Library. Good compost and organic fertilizers such as Vitax Q4 and those with a John Innes base, are sound choices, Propagators and a well ventilated greenhouse would give additional benefits.
In effect most vegetables, according to personal choice, can be grown in small spaces.

Beetroot and carrots: start in cell trays. Parsnip seeds are sometimes difficult to germinate, so in a warm spot mix the soil with vermiculite, water, add the seed and cover. Gladiator F1 variety. Swede and turnip.
Brassicas, use clubroot – resistant varieties. Brussels sprouts. Cabbages , Savoy and Chinese: Hispi F1 (AGM) and Minicole F1 are small and compact. Calabrese: Belstar F1, Fiesta F1. Use netting! Cauliflower: Gypsy, Clapton. Kale – Pavilion. Kohl rabi.
Salad plants, Lettuce: Cos and Little Gem. Butterhead and Loose Leaf , plant in 4 inch pots. Spinach. Salad onions, start in cell trays, then plant out. Radish, including “Mooli” – very large. Tomatoes, many varieties, effective grown in hanging baskets as well as pots. Two “best for flavour” are Brandywine (a Beefsteak), and Gardener’s Delight (cordon grown).
Legumes, peas (though commercially grown ones are quickly frozen so are very fresh). French Beans. Broad Beans: Sutton. Runner Beans, keep picking them to encourage more; 2 or 3 sowings per season are possible.
Others: Potatoes, many varieties. Use good soil and can be grown in sacks or tubs. Onions, Geoff prefers sets. Shallots, Garlic, Leeks, Asparagus, Sweetcorn, Courgettes. Squash, grow them on tripods. Herbs, in a variety of containers.

A final slide showed an array of vegetables as colourful as any display of flowers. This was a talk packed with information, delivered with characteristic humour and enthusiasm and well received by Geoff’s audience.

“AUTUMN AND WINTER IN ALL ITS GLORY” was the title of the talk given to the Club by John Anderson, since June 2016 Keeper of the Gardens at Windsor Great Park, an extensive and varied area, opened in 1950. Previously John was Head Gardener for over a decade at Exbury Gardens, which he is credited with transforming, and is a renowned rare plant hunter.

His knowledge of many plant species was evident in the stunningly colourful and beautiful slides that illustrated his talk. Among them were some of the following:-

Correa Marian’s Marvel. Correa alba from SE Australia flowering over the winter months for several weeks.

Nyssa sylvatica “Wisley Bonfire” one of the best autumn colour trees with bright orange and red foliage during mid October to early November. This was one of several good Award Winning Tupelo trees for Autumn colour.

Nyssa sinensis  has long narrow pointed leaves that are brilliant scarlet in autumn.

Arbutus andrachne with its cinnamon-brown bark, native to SE Europe and Arbutus X andrachnoides, a hybrid between A andrachne and A unedo with its superb cinnamon-red trunk and white flowering Lily of the Valley like flowers appearing in winter,Decaisnea fargesii. Dead Man’s Fingers with blue broad bean like fruits. The seeds are surrounded within the pods by a jelly like substance. The flowers are quite inconspicuous green-mustard in spring.

Garrya elliptica with its evergreen foliage and long flowering tassels in winter.

Abies koreana which is a small conifer with great displays of small but numerous cones in late autumn and winter.

Hamamelis mollis and Hamamelis x intermedia “Pallida,” the latter with its pale scented yellow spidery flowers.

Galanthus nivalis. (snowdrops) herald the spring.

Lapageria rosea. The National Flower of Chile with its beautiful red and white flowers. Best grown in a sunny, sheltered cool site away from all but the most extreme winters.

Skimmia “Rubella” a male skimmia.

Prunus serrula with its mahogany bark.

Cornus “Annay”s Winter Orange” and Cornus alba “Sibirica” noted for their rich bright stems.

Betula “Graywood Ghost” for its beautiful whie bark.

Strobilanthes and Salvias for flowering colour throughout September and October.

Amicia zygomeris with its very unusual leaves and yellow pea flowers.

Acer griseum. Chinese Paper bark maple an ideal small tree noted for its bark.

Pinus montezumae noted for its fine needles which are glaucous blue and one of the loveliest of all pines.

Japanese maples.



Just a few of the many John mentioned. Autumn and Winter can indeed be glorious!

Doctor Jones is an experienced gardener and an ornithologist. He spent over three years working in Liverpool parks and gardens, organizing the planting of shrubs and cultivating park lawns etc. He is also an active member of The British Trust for Ornithology. The Trust carries out weekly surveys of birds all year round, with 12,000 members submitting data to their headquarters at Fakenham in Norfolk. These surveys have highlighted some surprising shifts in bird populations in recent years,

The number of bullfinches is on the increase. Previously, because they destroyed the buds on fruit trees they were persecuted, however this practice has now been banned. The population of blackbirds and thrushes is falling due to agricultural intensification, furthermore, blackbirds also suffer a high mortality rate in their first year.

Bluetit populations have increased in abundance and this is a long term trend. This is due mainly to food provision in gardens and nesting boxes, which may reduce predation. Bluetits lay ten eggs over a ten day period and each chick devours about 100 caterpillars per day! They have a twelve month lifespan.

Most birds prefer earthworms to snails. They benefit from the shelter of bushes, shrubs, trees and wall plants. Such variation of facilities for nesting sites aids breeding and survival. Gardens make up 10% of available land in the UK.

Other points of interest relating to specific breeds are:-
– Blackbirds do not have yellow beaks at birth.
– Waxwings arrive from Scandinavia and many have been ringed in NE Scotland.
– The fieldfare also arrives from Scandinavia and is a winter visitor to the UK. It loves apples and Dr Jones   suggested that we do not remove fallen apples but leave them in a heap for the birds.
– Goldfinches, like sparrows. live around houses and their numbers are on the increase. They love sunflower hearts.
– The chaffinch population is steady. They inhabit gardens in Spring and move to the fields in Summer.

Parakeets are spreading in the South. They have been spotted in Basingstoke!!
Magpies do not contribute to population decline, CATS do.

In order to encourage birds in our gardens it is recommended that we instal feeders and nesting boxes. The decline in the house sparrow numbers may be due to more secure houses, hence there are fewer nesting sites. The positioning of nesting boxes is important. Furthermore, bird baths are vital. Keep them clean and free from ice in winter. Wood pigeons and starlings often use them as toilets, thus spreading diseases.

Much data is collected by the BTO and this information is shared with the RSPB.

Dr. Jones ended his talk on a positive note regarding the future of our feathered friends and received much applause for delivering such an absorbing lecture.

Despite the increasing popularity of gravel in gardens many people still choose grass, so the subject of Wilf Simcox’s talk “The Lawn” should be of wide interest. Previously a lecturer at Sparsholt College, Wilf still teaches and advises on many matters horticultural. Overall more time is spent by gardeners on  lawns than anything else, he suggests. Most lawns are put down quickly by builders, and thereafter need good light, nutrients and water. Fortunately grass is a forgiving plant, and however bad, it can be improved.

The question is – What do you want it for? For children’s  play? To sit on? To set off the rest of the garden?  Plan for your use: rye grass for children’s activities, finer grasses for display, however the latter need patience, as often most of the seed will not germinate and requires persistent nurturing. Mow once weekly – one and a half inches, perhaps twice after heavy rain. Look at the colour when you mow; it should be the same when you have finished. If you miss a mow, lift the cut; do not overdo, to compensate.

More advice: look at the weed population: clover does not last long, and well fed grass will soon take it over. Plantain likes compacted ground, so aerate. Speedwell develops if the mower box is not emptied enough, and cannot be chemically controlled, so all the contents must be disposed of. Moss develops when the ground is wet, in shade, or infertile. Similarly, wet areas develop black algae. Daisies on the lawn in numbers indicate a wet  and shady surface. Put up with worm casts, (they only appear in early Autumn) Moles like grass which is highly managed; they do not like modern machinery. Brush off mushrooms.

Every time we mow we remove some of the nutrients, so feeding the grass  in Spring and Autumn is key in order to resist weeds and disease. Aeration (hollow tining or spiking) and scarification make the grass more receptive to treatments, but do not use a roller on a lawn. Dig out rogue grass. Fill in any hollows, gradually building layers of compost, (better than “patching,”) and repair edges by cutting out a square of turf  and turning it round. Get rid of corners to make mowing easier, and keep off the grass in icy weather. “It grows by the inch, but dies by the foot.”

Wilf showed us a variety of slides, depicting grass in contrasting situations and garden designs, demonstrating its potential impact and versatility.

“PLANTS FOR SMALL GARDENS” was the subject of the talk given by locally based Thomas Stone, horticulturalist and consultant. After 27 years including experience at Mottisfont and Hilliers he is now freelance.

“ In limited space plants have to earn their place, and give good value for the expenditure involved” is his guiding principle. Useful plants are those with a long flowering season and life; plants that spread but can be cut back and then come again; plants with scent and colour (including foliage) that make an impact, to create year round interest, plants that thrive in shady, dry or damp areas or inhospitable conditions.

The following featured in some striking slides: Gaura lindheimeri; Penstemon “Raven”, Sedum “Autumn Joy”; Geranium renardii, G. Ann Folkard; g. Blue Sunrise; G. phaeum “Joan Baker”; G. “Jolly Bee” (keeps flowering); G. sanguineum var. striatum (flowers all summer long, and good autumn colour); G. Mavis Simpson; Epimedium x versicolor (for a dry shady spot); Dicentra spectabilis (for a dryish shady spot); Agapanthus “Headbourne Hybrids” (Leave until the frosts). Cyclamen, Narcissus (small forms); Allium x hollandicum; Iris “Knick Knack”; small bulbs such as crocus and rock plants and alpines. In Spring Chionodoxa forbesii and Scilla siberica. Other useful plants are Heuchera “Chocolate Ruffles”; Salvia “HoL Lips”; Salvia “Mulberry Jam” (back of the border); Salvia leucantha; Cosmos bipinnatus (to fill spaces, cheaply, from seeds); Dahlia Pompom; Helichrysum; Calendula officinalis; Verbena bonariensis are tall but plants can delightfully be seen through the lavender blue haze of the flowering stems.

Small shrubs: Daphne odora Aureomarginata; D. x Susannae “Cheriton”; Artemisia “Powis Castle”; Pittosporum “Tom Thumb” (trim hard)’ Pittosporum “Irene Patterson”; Polygala x chamaebuxus and var. grandiflora.

Small trees: Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”; Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum; Grevillea rosmarinifolia; Acer griseum (interesting peelng bark); Prunus cerasisfera nigra (cherry plum); Cytisus battandieri (pineapple broom); Magnolia Stellata (slow growing); Betula utilis “Grayswood Ghost’, one of the smaller birches, white bark.

Since no garden should be without roses Thomas recommended: Rosa Bonica (flowers all summer, disease – free ); Rosa Roseraia de l’Hay, strongly scented; Rosa Snow Goose (rambler for a fence); Rosa Mrs Oakley Fisher.

As well as planting every available space Thomas advised planting in pots, sometimes colourful,, in groups, old stone sinks and between paving. He suggested planting a strawberry tower and drilling holes in walls to plant alpines, thus creating colourful features in the garden. Finally, of course when possible take cuttings to extend subjects’ lives.!

Our July speaker was Peter Moore, his subject “Buddleja: The National Collection”. “ A Flower for All Seasons”.

Peter started his career in horticulture working for Hilliers, ultimately for 36 years. He went  to Longstock Park Nursery as a propagator, where for 13 years he has been in charge of the renowned Buddleja Collection.

Since the buddleja is so attractive to butterflies and bees every garden should have one, Peter suggests, moreover its  forms are so diverse that it is possible to have one in flower every day of the year. It is found in many parts of the world, for example South Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Madagascar, China, Australia, The USA and the Isle of Man!

Buddleja tolerates drought, and will grow in acid or alkaline soil, but watering in dry weather will increase the supply of nectar for butterflies and moths, and deadheading throughout the season keeps Peter very busy. Pests to beware of are blackfly, red spider mite and eelworm, and hail will damage the florets. Pruning (any time from the end of February) can be drastic,  10 inches to 12 inches above the ground, “similar to rose pruning.” Colours can be purple, red, pink, blue, white or variegated.

We were given a long and comprehensive list, including b.Silver Anniversary,

  1. Tubiflora, b.Alternifolia (grown as a tree),  Royal Red, Lilac Chip, d. Black Knight (Butterfly Bush), but  there are too many to record here.

Peter, a recognized independent and versatile plant breeder, showed us  varied and colourful slides, and his talk was an inspiration.


As space in The Hampshire Chronicle Community Pages is limited I gave just a few random examples in the report sent, as always to the Editor. Herewith a list with more of Peter’s names.:-

Asiastica – scent of jasmine.                         Lewisana Margaret.

Globosa Officianalis.                                      Delavayii.

Salvifolia.                                                        Myriantha.

Colvei.                                                             Loricata.

Cordale.                                                          Blue Horizon.

Nanho Blue.                                                   Glasnevin.

Buzz Lavender.                                              Purple Rain.

Southcombe Splendour.                               Darts Papillon Blue.

Gulliver – biggest flower 6 ft  high

lilac with orange eye.                                    Griffen Blue.

Purple Friend.                                               Orchid Beauty.

Orpheus.                                                         Buzz Magenta.

Longstock Pink.                                             Autiumn Beauty.

Border Beauty .                                             Sugar Plum.

White Wings.                                                 White Cloud.

Peace.                                                             Buzz Ivory.

Harlequin. Variegated.                                  Santana Variegated.

I apologise for any errors; These were recorded at speed!

The speaker at the June meeting of Littleton and Harestock Gardening club was our own Club President, Ray Broughton. Ray is a highly qualified horticulturist, teacher, lecturer and examiner, with over 30 years experience of addressing gardening clubs and societies. His talk, illustrated with slides, referred to new developments in horticulture, and we were also given detailed gardening information, much of it updating previous practice, as follows;

Legally milk, vinegar and salt are not now approved as garden chemicals.

A special polythene, now available, appears to be clear but is in fact coloured; the blue makes plants more stocky, whilst the red encourages vigorous growth.

Cornflowers are especially nutritious to bees, and can be planted now.

Hebes are soon to be called Veronicas which was their original name. If one is overgrown prune it when it is in full flower.

Gooseberries are now better grown in fans/cordons, against a fence or wall.

Make a clamp for storage, using 4 inches of grit, (not alkaline; this is important). Add barley straw (organic-very important-) and place heavy duty netting over the top. Store potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beetroot in July for consumption in February. Brussels sprouts will still be fresh after 3 months.

Cuttings. Ray recommended taking cuttings from the middle of the plant where the hormones were more balanced, this creates a better quality plant.

Avoid storing seedling plants near any equipment, for example hoses, which are plasticized, (because of the vapours from the plastic could damage young seedlings).

Ray showed us special polythene sheeting, used as a mulch. It has many perforations, which close at night.
He recommended “Raspberry Red” rhubarb which is very sweet.

Use two layers of metal grinding paper to scarify seeds, (for two minutes,) to stimulate germination.

To deal with crane–fly larvae: water infested grass in the late afternoon and place a sheet of polythene over the area.
At 6.30 am remove the polythene and gather up the larvae for disposal.

Block planting of lettuce, (then known as Baby Veg), is more effective than separate planting.
Note: any brown marks on lettuce indicate bacteria are present throughout the plant. So beware!

Tulips: in mid-November place in a high temperature environment for 4 days, then go inside the flower and cut off the female sexual organ. This prolongs the plant’s life.

In early Spring in the greenhouse, plants get “leggy”. Place a box filled with manure among them. Then cover and pierce the box. This releases CO2.

Overgrown potted plants: remove from the pot,, take off the top layer of compost then put a sharp spade through the rest. This stimulates the growth of more roots.

New to the market is a hedge trimmer with a supporting harness.

A dog-wee post: a post covered with a treated plastic membrane which encourages the dog to use it, and saves the lawn!

Hedges:- Feed and prune in October.

Use organic barley straw for potatoes and other plants.

Smart seeds, (expensive at the moment,) have a coating containing nutrients and growth stimulants.

Composting boxes need only a little air between the slats, to work effectively on the layers inside.

The use of Bonemeal is inadvisable.

Mycorrhizal powder is very effective but must be applied directly on the roots, not spread around on the soil on top.

A recommended gourd is “Sweet Lightning”.

When buying a Mulching mower a good model is where the blades are perforated at the end of the blade.

Coffo Compost: organic composted cardboard coffee cups are better than peat,

Shoddy – dig it in, to open up the soil.

Nutro Pots – made from cereal, contain nutrients.

Use organic canes to create a “Bee Home”.

Use sulphate of Iron to deter moles,

Buy Conversion Pots, for good drainage and ventilation.

Prune rambling roses only in August.

New Regulation:- all outside taps must be fitted with a return valve.

New this year – seedless strawberries and raspberries.

This is a sample of the up to date developments and gardening tips in a detailed talk delivered with Ray’s characteristic gentle humour, and well received by an appreciative audience.

Our guest speaker on 18th May was Emma Sharpe, Head Gardener at Winchester Cathedral, her topic “My Life in Gardening.”

Following graduation from Liverpool University Emma travelled in India, Australia and South East Asia, worked in London and later moved to Hampshire. A long cherished interest in horticulture prompted an application to WRAGS (the horticultural training scheme for women). Acceptance led initially to a year’s practical experience. Her placement was at Bere Mill, Whitchurch, (happily familiar to many of us, as it is in the NGS Yellow Book.) A five acre formal garden, bog garden, gravel garden, wisteria garden, double herbaceous border, arboretum, splendid climbing roses, a lake and a river rich in wildlife must have provided a varied learning opportunity.

More followed in her first post as a junior gardener at Hillier’s Arboretum. She later became Team Leader, involved in creating the impressive Centenary Border which absorbed two full years and 30,000 plants!

As Head Gardener at Winchester Cathedral, since summer 2014, Emma aims “to maintain what jewels we have and upgrade priority areas: front gardens (public interest), Refectory Gardens, back and front, The Deanery and Riverside.” One of Emma’s many interesting slides depicted an aerial view of the 23 acres. As the area is so sheltered it is apparently warm, a significant factor. Emma’s “jewels” are: 350 trees (all in a Conservation Area), The Minster, Paddock, Outer Close, Deanery Garden, Riverside, the border at number 9, Allotments, Refectory and Dean Garnier Garden and Herb Garden.

Emma’s aim is “to inject colour”, and we were shown some striking examples. She faces a major challenge in her tasks, but acknowledges the help she receives from her two apprentices and volunteers, after all, as well as the gardens there are 6 acres to mow!

Emma clearly loves her work, and having responsibility for such a special area must be a continuing inspiration.

Annually, throughout the country, gardens are opened for the National Garden Scheme, this year 150, all featured in “The yellow Book”, in Hampshire alone. Mainly privately owned, remarkably varied in size and design, they have quality, character and interest in common. Money raised through the scheme funds a number of nursing charities.

Our speaker on April 20th was Martyn Cox, a horticulturalist with 30 years professional experience, a regular gardening columnist and book writer. In his talk he relayed his experiences creating a garden that he subsequently opened for the NGS. A small South-facing but neglected space in London was entirely changed and transformed. He created structure, with a new patio, painted fences, a wall, a curved path through a lawn, a greenhouse and a small pond. Planting in every space available followed. A few favourites: Phyllostachys Nigra (bamboo); Euphorbia mellifera; Stylophorum lasiocarpum; Begonia grandis subsp. Evansiana. He also planted edibles; Apricot “Flavorcot”; Redcurrant “Roveda”; Ficus Brunswick; Tomatillo; Courgette “Black Forest’ (the first climbing courgette), all of these in pots.”Black Hamburgh” grapevine from “The Great Vine” at Hampton Court.

At the end of six years, when he had filled the garden, “now an oasis”, he applied to the NGS, whose inspector approved it, and prepared for the opening. Having “spread the word” he received so many visitors on the day that he raised £640 for charity. It appeared in magazines and even a film crew from Japan, making a documentary on NGS gardens came along later.

This was a successful project, inspired by Martyn’s knowledge, energy and enthusiasm.

Another successful year for the Club was acknowledged by the Chairman, Ted Ashley at its AGM and Bulb Show.

A wide variety of topics had been covered in talks given by excellent speakers at the monthly meetings held in The Millenium Memorial Hall, Littleton. Well attended, enjoyable group visits to Arundel Castle Gardens and Denmans Gardens and to the Wisley Flower Show had been organized by Philip Wallis, and many people visited the Club’s stall at the Littleton and Harestock Show.

The Bulb Show follows the meeting, and despite the mild winter and some bulbs being early there were 103 entries across 11 separate classes, all of a high standard, much as last year. The Bulb Show judge was Wilf Simcox assisted by stewards Philip Ross and Hazel Booth. The winner, Richard Macer received the Anne Wiggle Trophy.

Scores are given at each monthly meeting for floral items placed by members on the Spotlight Table, organized by Clive Felstead. The winners were


1st. Sally Macer, who gets next year’s membership free.

2nd=. Richard Macer.

2nd=.  Hazel Booth.

4th.  June Forni.

The Club meets at 7.30pm on the third Wednesday of the month, and welcomes visitors and new members.  Our Web Master, Brian Holloway, has created a splendidly colourful and informative new website.

The title of the talk given to the Club by Neil Lucas was “Grasses: More Wow and Less Work”.

Neil is a leading ornamental grass specialist and owner of Knoll Gardens Nursery and show gardens, in Dorset. He describes himself as a “hands on” gardener, “on the job for twenty years,” during which he has shown at Chelsea for ten years, winning ten consecutive gold medals, and is now a Chelsea judge. He travels he world, discovering new forms of grasses, but also finds time continually to develop his gardens, to give advice, to organize tours and a gardening charity, to write a book and, of course, give talks to many interested groups and organizations .

Neil’s talk was illustrated with many slides showing the stunningly beautiful effects to be achieved with grasses, of which there are many hundreds of varieties. “Wow”, indeed! Elegant in form (picture them swaying in the breeze), some change colour throughout the seasons, and are striking when back-lit by the sun, silvered by frost or snow, or viewed against a backdrop of other plants and trees, especially in Autumn. Easy to grow, and flourishing in many different, even difficult terrains and climates some may bear many flowers, providing year-round interest. Referring to one of their special qualities Neil uses the phrase “blur and merge”, to describe the way they soften edges of paths and borders. Additionally they dry well!

Naming them here has to be limited, but gardeners can look for forms of Miscanthus, Festuca, Carex, Molinia, Panicum, Pennisetum, Stipa and so many more.

The main advice is “right grass in the right place”. Grasses can cope with wind and will grow quickly after being cut back. There are two types of root systems: the clump forming stays in one place but the quest forming will spread. All do well in pots and containers. Evergreens should be cut down in April, May or June; deciduous subjects can be cut back at any time. Most grasses stay the same height; their stems add to the overall effect and as well as looking resplendent when massed they can look well amongst some herbaceous plants, such as Verbena Bonariensis.

The talk was given by Roger Hirons, “The Plant Doctor”, an expert on plants and garden design, with over 20 years of horticultural experience. His formal training was at Pershore College of Horticulture, followed by many years working in the industry. He gives talks on gardening, on a wide range of topics. Roger says “In a nutshell, I want to help people get their gardens to work for them, by a combination of the right features and the right plants and trees in their best position.” His work includes advising on plant and tree selection, garden design, training, writing and speaking to a variety of groups and organisations.

Roger had brought a number of plants to illustrate his talk, and spoke in detail about many of them. He reminded us that we have the widest range of plants in the world and that a plant that is left to grow becomes a part of history. He stressed the importance of design (as in planting in groups, for best effect); of planning that retains water in our gardens, (using water butts and mulching); of creating “entrances” for hedgehogs and insect “hotels”; of encouraging wild birds with flowering shrubs and trees that bear colourful berries.

Some of the plants Roger recommended will be familiar and others are rarer:-

Pinus mugo Wintergold. A European mountain pine with seasonal changes in foliage colour.

Ilex crenata. Convexa.

Ilex verticillata. A holly also called Winterberry. Masses of long-lasting berries that remain on bare branches during winter.

Ilex aquifolium Amber. Deep yellow berries. Aphids and holly leaf miners may be a problem.

Thuja plicata. The Western red cedar.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum. A flowering tree native to China and Japan, sometimes called, The Caramel Tree for its scent during leaf fall. Spectacular Autumn colour.

Cornus alternifolia Argentea. Dogwood grown for attractive variegated leaves and white flowers.

Arlia elata. A deciduous small tree or shrub native to Russia, China and Japan, also called The Japanese Angelica tree. Prickly stems, flowers in large umbels.

Berberis stenophyla, blue/black fruit.

Liriodendron tulipifera. The Tulip Tree. Impressive large tree, grey/green flower bud with yellow bract.

Ribes Elkington. White currant.

Garrya thuretii. Flowering. Native to the Americas. Produces catkins.

Larix Stiff Weeping. European larch.

Ligustrum japonicum. Excelsum Superbum.

Sophora japonica. Twisty Baby. S. japonica is The Pagoda Tree. Twisty Baby is the form recommended.

Euonymus alatus. English. Vivid red autumn colour, hence the name “Burning Bush” Also known as The Winged Spindle.

Shrubs, The Backbone Of Your Garden was the title of the talk given to the Club by Geoff Hawkins, Horticultural Speaker, Broadcaster and Gardening Consultant.

He advised starting with a good garden design, remembering that shrubs are there all the time, a constant through the changing seasons, so it is important “to get it right”. Proportion is vital, as is pruning that retains the natural shape- no “lollipops”! Pruning should be done properly; (it is best not to have a shrub that has to be pruned all the time), and going under the shrub to do so is sometimes best.

 A richly varied selection of shrubs, all illustrated in slides, demonstrated their versatility, as Geoff went through the alphabet, naming the following:-

Abelia grandiflora. Abutilon x suntense. Abutilon “Jermyns “ (early). Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpurea. Note, acers need shelter from wind. Acuba japonica. Azaleas.

Berberis atropurpurea (small). Berberis thunbergii and darwinii (both can be grown as hedges).  Berberis x carminea. Berberis x stenophylla Lemon Queen. (Geoff reminded us that yellow plants “come forward” visually, so are best planted far enough away). Buddleja “Blue Chip” (small). Buddleja davidii – “Black Knight”. Buddleja alternifolia (sweet scented). Buddleja Lochlinch. Prune Buddlejia in the spring. Boxus “Buttercup” – as a hedge. Trim, not too gently!

Camellia “Spring Promise”. Camellia x williamsii has double flowers. Ceratostigma griffitii. Cercis Canadensis “Forest Pansy”. Chimonanthus praecox, known as “Winter Sweet” is of course fragrant. Choisya ternata. (Prune after flowering, to control). Choisya “Aztec Pearl” (a handsome plant). Clerodendrum trichotomum. Cordyline “Torquay Dazzler”. Cornus florida “Sunset” (height depends upon the soil). Cornus “Midwinter Fire”. Cornus have wonderfully colourful stems. Corylopsis sinensis (spring flowering). Cotoneaster horizontalis. Cytisus scoparus.

Daphne odorata pygmaea (fragrant). Deutzia.  Diervilla sessifolia (Bush Honeysuckle).

Eleagnus. Euonymous “Silver Queen”. Euonymus alatus. Exochorda macranthe “The Bride”.

Fatschedera. Forsythia (striking grown as a hedge). Fremontodendron. Fuchsia magellanica. Fuchsia riccartonii.

Garrya elliptica (flowers in February). Griselinia.

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel – fragrant) Hebe (many forms; shear after flowering) Hibiscus syriacus. Hollies. Ilex “Golden King”  Hydrangea (prune carefully). Annabelle and Paniculata querquifolia. Hypericum.

Indigofera heterantha

Lavendula stoechas “Regal Splendour”. Leucanthemum (attract flowers). Lupinus.

Magnolia wilsonii. Mahonia.

Nandina “Firepower”.

Paeonia lutea (Tree Peony – “Duchess of Marlborough”. Perovskia. Philadelphus. Physocarpus. Pieris. Potentilla. Prunus incisa (Fuji Cherry).

Ribes (currant) King Edward V11. Rosa moyesii.

Salix exigua. Sambucus, variegated and Nigra Guincho Purple.

 Santolina (cut back in spring). Sarcococca (Sweet Box) – fragrant. Senecio greyii. Skimmia japonica.  Spiraea. Stachyurus. Syringa microphylla (small).

Viburnum – many forms.

Weigela. Wisteria (grown as a shrub!)

It can be seen that Geoff gave his appreciative audience a choice of specimens that would create a garden framework providing interest all year round.

John Baker and his wife June Colley, who has a Masters in Botany, hold the National Collection of Hostas in their Hampshire garden, which has featured in Monty Don’s BBC programme.

John gave the Club an absorbing, detailed account of the plant he terms “The Perfect Perennial”. Originating in Northern China – then Manchuria, they can be seen growing wild in Japan where H. montana leaves are used in stir-fry. Chosen for their beautiful and varied foliage they combine well other plants. Some such as  “H. war paint” change their colour during the year. Shade or dappled shade in rich loam, warm, moist but well drained, and with plenty of organic matter create the ideal environment. They can be grown in the ground or in pots, indeed in John’s garden he has “hanging hostas”, where plants are displayed at eye level creating a “wall” of colour. Planted in Spring, divided in late Summer, those in pots need protection in the Winter but will be safe in the ground. ( John and his wife were invited to visit a fellow hosta enthusiast in Moscow!) Of course a illustrated in the many slides John showed us whilst their foliage is remarkable hostas also produe handsome flowers in July (white or lavender or purple) and some are scented.

 Alas, we’ve all seen hosta leaves resembling lace doilies following attacks by slugs and snails. There are 80 kinds of snails and 20 of slugs. John’s characteristic humour came into play here as he proposed February 14th for the Valentine’s Day Slug Massacre. First clear the garden of all debris then the following may be effective:- slug pellets spread thinly, beer traps, liquid made from coffee grains or Epsom Salts, ammonia or garlic in solution, ashes, gravel or pine needles, copper strips on pots.

Certainly John and June have succeeded in creating a beautiful garden with themed areas, their 1,500 hosta cultivars, including miniature specimens, unusual plants from South East Asia and much loved cottage garden favourites, An inspiring talk indeed.

“DAFFODILS IN MY RUCKSACK” was the intriguing title of the talk given to The Littleton and Harestock Gardening  Club. The rucksack belongs in fact to Derrick Donnison Morgan, who studied as a botanical horticulturalist at Chelsea Physic Garden, London, and the University of Plymouth. He lived in South Eastern Spain for nine years where he studied plants,  in particular Narcissus, and has organized and led Naturetrek tours to various parts of Europe.

Narcissus is a genus of perennial plants in the Amaryllidaceae family. Derrick showed us many slides, illustrating the multiplicity of the forms of narcissus, (especially the wild flowers he seeks out and identifies), together with their Latin names. Daffodils all have a delicate beauty and are so prolific and widespread that they are in flower somewhere for ten months of the year, depending on climate and location. Autumn flowering forms are not hardy in the UK, but can be found, together with others, in Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Andorra. Height is variable: dwarf species have a maximum height of 5-8 cms whilst N.tazetta may grow to 80cms. Left undisturbed some narcissi will spread: one slide showed a carpet of gold in a meadow. Native habitats are varied, predominantly open spaces but also crevices in rocks. They prefer acidic soil, but some will grow on limestone. Colours can range from pure white through to a rich yellow, sometimes with an orange centre, and some are sweet scented, to attract their insect pollinators.

Narcissus were well known in ancient civilizations, were distributed by Man and were probably brought into Southern countries by the Romans. They hybridise easily and dedicated horticulturalists like Derrick are committed to maintaining the original forms of the wild species. He is in the process of making a map of sites of N.pseudonarcissus in Hampshire and hopes people who discover a hybrid form will notify the Isle of Wight Trust, (so as to keep the form “clean”)

 Time unfortunately allowed for only an introduction to a wide – ranging study by Derrick, an experienced, knowledgeable plant-hunter and professional Consultant.

Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club welcomed the return of Nick Morgan as the guest speaker in July to advise on greenhouses. Nick last spoke to the Club in 2009 and is a former Sparsholt College lecturer known to many Club members. He now acts in a senior glasshouse specialist advisor role at RHS Wisley, being one of only 2 such experts in the country. He was also heavily involved in the creation of the much acclaimed new glasshouse at Wisley.

Nick first distinguished between a glass house and a greenhouse as he accompanied his talk with a set of interesting sides. Glasshouses originated from commercial plant growing and greenhouses developed from orangeries.

 He emphasised that the owner is IN CHARGE of the greenhouse and must make the decisions best suited to them on planting, heating, pests and cleaning.  Clean glass in the spring is important to get the best light from the days. All greenhouses must have a cold frame facility of some sort, to allow new plants grown in the warmth of the greenhouse to be ‘hardened off’ before being exposed to open ground growing.

 Location, location, location is an important factor in siting a new greenhouse and if conditions allow, the greenhouse should run east/west to make the most of months when daylight is at a premium.  Heating policy is also a major factor in the life of a greenhouse. In an average winter in the South, it could cost as much as £280 to sustain 50 C minimum throughout the year. Thus ways of insulating and minimising the area to heat are all critical factors and the owner needs to decide what over wintering heat is affordable for them.

 In the early spring, in order to get seeds/plants to thrive, they need heat to the roots. Sometimes just short bursts are required to germinate some seeds. As the outside temperatures warm up in spring and summer then shading, watering and feeding become the main focus. Nick demonstrated several options via his slides. If planting direct into soil is possible he stressed the need to sow thinly and ensure rows are well apart to enable good light to the plants as they grow. He advised peppers to be grown in pots, as the roots tend to keep warmer that way.

 Nick then outlined common fruit problems such as split tomatoes (over watering), blossom end rot (too dry – particularly in grow bags), “cat face” – temperature changes and curled leaves – wind damage.  Some plants need additional feeds such as magnesium (Epsom salts solution) when leaves go yellow. Mildew can be treated with baking soda.  There are of course lots of pests such as white fly, aphids, red spider mite etc. Nick advised on treatments and prevention.  With limited chemicals available these days, biological control is becoming more the norm.  As time sped by Nick had to draw his talk to a close and kindly answered questions from the floor.  Janet Hinxman offered a cheery vote of thanks and appreciation on behalf of the Club.

The speaker at our June meeting was the Club’s President Ray Broughton. Ray is a highly qualified horticulturist, teacher, lecturer and examiner, with 30 years experience of speaking to horticulture clubs and societies. His subject ”How to make gardening easier” must surely have general as well as specific appeal and interest.

 Many slides illustrated much up to date information. Battery operated tools such as hedge trimmers, secateurs and strimmers are now much lighter, have extended battery life and are easier to handle. A double lag drainage pipe(with a double filter) clears flooded ground. Weeds, even ground elder, can be controlled with a thermal device which is light , organic and held just above the offending plants.

 In relation to the plants that we do wish to nurture Ray recommended the use of natural organic fertilizers, a compost based on pine bark, and encouraged us to look again at biological controls, now much more effective than previously. He gave us a helpful list of subjects that are easy to grow: a form of Festuca rubra rubra ‘Glauca’ ablue grass which is easy to grow, called Elymus elegans, which does not have rhizomes and forms a compact attractive plant with blue/green leaves; Brunnere macrophylla “Jack Frost”; Ceanothus “Heavenly Blue”; Iris laevigata variegatum; Lupinus “Gladiator”; Camassia “Maybelle”; Narcissus “Winston Churchill”, improved flowers February, very reliable; Tulipa “Princess Irene”, reliable on chalk; Mammilaria amajacerisis, flowers every year, May to October.

 Ray is involved in plant trials, particularly at Wisley, and told us about a new way of cultivating potatoes, just below the surface, and covered with barley straw which wire worm and slugs will not attack! Other developments: storing pears on pine needles, light lamps (not available yet), decking made from London Plane (easier to clean), pond pads for natural algae control, gooseberry fans for a south facing fence, turf that is light and easy to lay in a difficult area and a natural fungicide to use on mildew. Cleaning tools with tomato ketchup  is very effective as it avoids disease and helps to keep the secateurs lubricated and sharp.

 This is just a sample of topical ideas and information in a detailed talk delivered with gentle humour, and well received by an appreciative audience.

The speaker at Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club meeting on 20th May was Dr Alick Jones. A retired professional biologist, he has been a lecturer at Reading University, has worked in many countries, and has been a member of a winning team at Chelsea.

A potentially serious subject for gardeners was made entertaining in a detailed and informative presentation. Why can we never win? Because weeds are varied, robust survivors, for example excavations for London Tube revealed roots 28 feet down in the clay. Some poppy seeds will survive in soil for 50 years, indeed one acre of soil can contain an average 113 million poppy seeds, (accounting for their extensive growth in Flanders Fields.) Weeds have ingenious ways of spreading seeds, on people and animals, in bird droppings, and with hooked fruits. The Meadow Cranesbill can throw its seed up to 26ft, and we all know about dandelion “clocks”. Many have beautiful flowers and colourful fruits, as we were shown in numerous slides, so attract insects, for pollination. Some, of course, can be dangerous: horses can die from eating Ragwort, which can be toxic for other livestock too. Deadly Nightshade and Lords and Ladies aka Cuckoo Pint look attractive but should be treated with caution.

 It seems that we all have a personal view of weeds, one that may change at different times. We may admire their flowers (we were shown Rhododendron ponticum, flourishing on Brownsea Island] but dislike their  invasive habit. We saw Pearlwort smothering a pot of Sempervivum, and Yellow Rattle, a parasite in grass, is a problem in farmers’ meadows yet is sometimes planted in areas to discourage grass.

How to cope? We can remove early growth using hands, tools, mulches or landscape fabric, or suppress them with heather or gorse, Some we may even tolerate, recalling the saying that “A weed is just a plant in the wrong place”.

 Certainly they are legion, as can be appreciated by referring to “Fascination of Weeds” by Alick Jones and Sarah Jones.

Barry Clarke, a member of Plant Heritage and a botanist and horticulturalist with Hillier Gardens, holds the National Collection of lobelias, among others. What many of us may not realize is that there are over 360 different species of lobelia, spread throughout the world. From the small, snow-hardy alpine species of South Island New Zealand, to the giant plains lobelias of Southern Africa, from the delicate flowered prairie species of North America to the exotic, brightly coloured beauties of the Hawaiian highlands. Slides illustrating lobelias, collected over 15 years, vividly demonstrated Barry’s extensive travels and his dedication.

Familiar to many is the well loved annual L.erinus, with a trailing habit perfect for hanging baskets. Perennial lobelias can be a stunning colourful addition to the flower garden, furthermore they are generally easy to grow. L.tupa’s flower spikes can reach a height of 2 metres. L.siphilitica’s roots are used in herbal medicine.

You can see some of Barry’s excellent photographs by clicking on this link:

Wednesday March 18th saw The Club’s Annual General Meeting and Bulb Show, held at the Millennium Memorial Hall.

Ted Ashley, Chairman, welcomed the 68 members present and acknowledged their contribution to the past happy and successful year. The monthly meetings had featured excellent speakers on a range of topics, including ponds, garden containers, ideas for small gardens, snowdrops and roses, organized by Dorothy Highfield, Programme Secretary. Brenda Johnson had arranged three interesting visits to impressive gardens. Thanks were also due to the Committee, to Derek Phillips for his positive Finance Report and to Sally Macer our tireless Secretary. Dina Jeans and Josie Brooks had given invaluable help to the Club by organizing the monthly raffle as has Graznya Holland who provided refreshments. A number of members had contributed to the success of the Club’s stall at the Show last September, and to the fun Christmas party.

During this next Club year Alan Disher will be Vice Chairman, and Philip Wallis, Outings Organizer, has already identified venues for June and September.

Notably the Bulb Show had 121 entries across 12 classes, all of a high standard.
1st Highest score: Austen Hooker. 19 points.
2nd Highest score: Richard Macer. 18 points.
3rd Highest score: Hazel Booth, Diane Wilkins, Gill Street. 5 points each.
The winner of the Bulb Show received the Ann Wiggle Trophy. Ted thanked our judge and steward.

Scores are given at each monthly meeting for floral items placed by members on the Spotlight Table, organized by Clive Felstead. The winners for this year were:
1st. Sally Macer and Tim Speakman. 66 points to each.
2nd. Richard Macer. 60 points.
3rd. Hazel Booth. 50 points.
4th. Gill Street. 48 points.
The winner of the Spotlight Table gets next year’s membership free.
The Chairman thanked all for their participation.

The speaker at the meeting of the Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club on February 18th was Stewart Pocock, his subject “A Short Masterclass in Roses”

A video showed how Pococks rear roses, (50,000 every year), in two nurseries, near Romsey and in Cornwall. Rootstock is mechanically planted, (20,000 in a day) but much work is manual, such as propagation, pulling out suckers, (not to be cut) and pruning.

There followed a detailed verbal and practical demonstration of cultivation and husbandry of the many different varieties: how to plant, feed, prune and control disease. A few points: placing and preparation are important, ideally not where a rose has been grown before; in a spot where it will have at least half a day in the sun, and with plenty of organic matter (and no bone meal on chalk). Feeding is vital, little and often, as is mulching but never with bark chippings. Prune between November and the second week in March, and hard, to not more than a third of the original height, a little less in a windy area. Train the stems of climbers to grow horizontally. To treat blackspot stop the cycle: clear damaged leaves, mulch heavily and do not water at night. Water the plants only at their base. Leave aphids and other pests to  their natural predators, such as birds and ladybirds. “Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic” is recommended.

This talk by such an experienced rose grower together with some slides of stunning roses must have inspired the appreciative audience.

Wise advice from Stewart “Growing roses is easy if you have a good back!”

And “Do your homework before you buy.”

The speaker at the January meeting of the Littleton and Harestock Gardening Club was Fran Clifton, head gardener at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, her topic “Various Cultivars, The Natural Habitat And The Cultivation Of Snowdrops”

The genus name “galanthus”means milk flower in Greek and they are found throughout Europe and Asia Minor. They appear when daytime temperatures rise above freezing, do not need fertilizer but do require moisture. After flowering they can be lifted, split and replanted,and Fran demonstrated this, showing how a clump of bulbs can be separated then each bulb sliced with a sharp knife to produce more plants. They can be planted as bulbs, or in the green, in flower, when they are however more expensive. It is best to plant them randomly, (not overshadowed by other plants), and to be patient; if left they will increase and become a colony. Hilliers do not mow their meadows until May when the snowdrops are truly over.

Showing some actual specimen plants, and slides Fran demonstrated the three different forms of foliage, – applanate, plicate and volute or super volute and some named galanthus – Ophelia (early) “Elwessii” ( from Turkey), “Magnet” (taller), “Nivalis” and “Woranowii”. We also saw how well they can look against other plants and shrubs; one slide showed Gal.reginae- algae pushing through purple scree.

An exhibition at the Arboretum in mid-February for two weeks will show fifty cultivars.

This was an informative, enjoyable and humorous talk by an experienced and knowledgeable gardener given to an appreciative audience.

The speaker was Janine Pattison whose talk was entitled Big Ideas for Small Gardens. Janine began her working life at Eltham Palace, an English Heritage property where she helped to restore the historic gardens and dry moat.

During her time there she gained qualifications in horticulture and landscape gardening. She is now head of her own award- winning landscape and garden design consultancy.

Janine focussed on the development of a small garden plot measuring 40 metres by 30 metres. She remarked that the smaller plot can be carefully managed and the costs of ownership are relatively low. Among her many tips, Janine suggested that synthetic decking is a good substitute for traditional wooden decking and boundaries of gardens can be enhanced by a range of climbers and by flower walls. An arch made colourful with honeysuckle, roses, and jasmine will lend height and trees such as acer, silver birch and cornus can be planted in containers. Lights can be introduced to accentuate key features of the garden and to add a touch of magic.

After an absorbing session of questions and answers, Janet Hinxman concluded the session by proposing a warm vote of thanks to the speaker.

At the conclusion of the meeting the chairman described the arrangements for the Christmas meeting to be held on the 10th December.