How to make Gardening Easier by Ray Broughton

“How to make Gardening Easier”

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.