2009 to 2010 Season Meetings of the Ashdon Gardening Club
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Hilary Thomas on 17th September entitled RIGHT PLANT, RIGHT PLACE
As usual the meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed by a talk by Hilary Thomas at 8.00 p.m.
She is the former head of Capel Manor School of Garden Design. She has written and taught on a range of garden and planting design courses and now runs a successful garden design practice. Hilary has recently published the Complete Planting Design Course and she will be talking to AGC members about finding the right plant for the right place. You can find out more by visiting Hilary's Web site
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Roy Nunn on 15th October entitled ALL ABOUT CLEMATIS
As usual the meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed by a talk by Roy Nunn at 8.00 p.m.
He is the Vice President of the International Clematis Society having had a keen interest in gardening from an early age, and more particularly in clematis for the past 20 years. He propagates plants from seeds and cuttings and assesses suitability for garden use. Following retirement from his work as a Building Surveyor at Trinity College, Cambridge he spends some time writing for various publications about the merits of growing the small flowered clematis.
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Stephen Poyser on 19th November - Beekeeping and the Gardener
As usual the meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed by a talk by Stephen Poyser at 8.00 p.m.
Stephen's talk about bee-keeping was fascinating and informative. We learned that the temperature always stays the same within the hive regardless of the weather outside because bees behave a little like penguins - huddling together to keep warm and shifting to the outside to let those on the outer edge to come to the middle whilst in summer they spread out; the queen is painted with a coded colour to denote the year in which she was born; a beekeeper can tell what they have been feeding upon from a pollen chart; swarming occurs when a colony decides on a new location but a beekeeper will clip their wings on one side to prevent them swarming. We also learned the difference between the functions of the queen, the workers, and the drones. In fact Stephen explained that beekeeping and gardening werenot necessarily co-existant. Bees travel about a mile and a half every day to find the best source of nectar and pollen. It is the strength of sugar in the nectar that attracts them and a crop such as oil-seed rape has a much higher sugar content than apples. If you want to attract bees to your garden plant grape hyacinths, snowdrops, aconites and pussy willow.
Stephen has kept bees for about 25 years and has been running courses for about 30 years. He is the main tutor for the bee keeping courses at Chesterton Community college, Gilbert Road, Cambridge. The courses are so popular that there were 220 applicants this year but the numbers of attendees had to be capped at 90. More information can be obtained from Cambridge Beekeepers' Association
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Tom Cole on 18th February about Fruit and Vegetable Growing
The meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed with a talk by Tom Cole
Tom Cole provided an absorbing whistle-stop tour of the methods of looking after fruit and vegetables in the garden. He commenced the talk (accompanied by slides) with pruning of fruit trees then moved onto soft fruit. This was followed by vegetables. He advised us about coverings for certain plants, the insects we sould encourage and the best species of potatoes and tomatoes. Lastly we were provided with reference sources to look at if we wanted to obtain further information and advice. Both he and Alan Bidwell, our President, emphasized the need to clean tools after use, particularly if working on diseased plants.
Some of the advice we received follows:
- Prune apples and pears within the next 4 weeks;
- Prune plums and cherries during April and May when the sap is rising;
- Don't overprune Bramley apples;
- Take of whippy growth during summer to let in light and encourage growth of fruit and with grapes and plums, remove some of the fruit within clusters so that the fruit that is left will be larger;
- Remove dead damaged growth and suckers and prune so that shoots grow away from the centre of the plant and will be less diseased.
- Prune blackberries now;
- Cover rhubarb now with black plastic pot over shredded newspaper around the plant to force. Pull, don't cut the stalks;
- New Zelanad spinach can be sown any time during the year and is resistant to temperature changes. Feed;
- Short growing carrots can be grown in raised beds. Hoe on a regular basis between plants to prevent slugs and cover aeverything with a 2mm net, although Autumn broad beans will benefit from a fleece covering.
- Strawberries are great sown in Autumn. Plant into ground covered with polythene and don't plant too deep; Feed existing plants in Autumn and cut down by half
- Try to encourage ladybirds and lacewings with appropriate plants.
- Use a commercial deterrant for carrot fly. Alternatively plant spring onions either side or surround with netting up to three feet. The pest flies low and this will act as a barrier;
- Use certified seed potatoes against blight.
Tom Cole is the Curriculum Area Manager at Writtle College, Chelmsford and previously was Head of Capel Manor College which was established as a centre for horticultural studies in 1968. Established in 1893, Writtle College has been producing leaders in the land-based industries and organisations. It currently supports careers focused on Business and the "Green Industries". Courses range from more than 100 short or part-time areas of study to PhD qualifications with all its degree courses validated by the University of Essex. More information can be found by clicking on the link for Writtle College.
He has been involved in horticulture for most of his life. His grandparents had a market garden then around age 16 Tom Cole started working for nurseries and garden centres, mostly in tree, shrub and perennial growing. In addition to his role at Writtle College he has produced a number of short guides to growing vegetables on the Gardening Resources website.
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Roger Harvey on 18th March about Top Performing Plants to Give Year Round Interest
The meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed by the talk by Roger Harvey who founded Harveys Garden Plants. He started his presentation by telling us about the establishment of the nursery and about some of the thrills and traumas of exhibiting at Chelsea.
He then proceeded to provide us with the names and slides of plants that were suitable for shady patches and others that were more appropriate for a sunny aspect.
Harvey's Nursery is a family run nursery in Thurston, Suffolk, growing an extensive range of hardy herbaceous plants and it was awarded RHS Gold Medals for a display of rare and unusual shade and woodland plants at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The nursery specializes in perennials not commonly found in garden centres, such as a wide range of woodland plants including Helleborus, Epimedium, and Anemone as well as Euphorbia, Monarda and Grasses. More information can be found by clicking on the link for Harveys Garden Plants.
The Gardening Club hosted a talk by Twigs Way on 15th April about the History of the Allotment (subtitled An Inducement to Marriage?)
The meeting started as usual at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers, and was followed by a fascinating talk by Dr Twigs Way.
She started the talk by explaining about the early history of allotments which was created around the middle of the 18th century with the period of the great parliamentary Land Enclosure Acts. This allowed the setting aside of up to a quarter of an acre. However there was a great deal of concern that they:
- would unsettle the wage labourer and entice him into leaving his normal job or make him less keen on overtime;
- would make him too tired to work at his normal job;
- would promote early marriage which would result in too many children;
Some labourers were even threatened with the sack if they took on an allotment!
In a different vein urban allotments were often created for shopkeepers who had no access to a garden. They were often detached, had summerhouses built on them, and may even have been tended by paid gardeners. As Victorian settlements became established they became allotments for town dwellers.
In 1917 during the First World War, the preconception or both urban and rural allotments changed. They became weapons whereby vegetables could be grown to prevent food blockades from being agents of the country's destruction. During the Second World War the goverment was even faster in recognizing their benefits. Growing your own food and digging for vistory campaigns promoted allotments and even more were made available. Those on public land were reclaimed after the war and their use declined as convenience foods became more readily available. More recently the perception of the "good life" has seen a resurgence in their use and many now have flowers, exotic fruit and even wildlife growing on them. Both men and women can be seen tending them these days!
Dr Way gained her PhD after studying the impact of park creation on landscapes in Cambridgeshire. After carrying a series of garden related projects for Cambridgeshire County Council, she designed and implemented a garden history qualification. Dr Way lectures and undertakes consultancy work and research. She has also appeared on local television and radio stations and has published a number of books related to the history of gardening. She lives in Cambridge where she has a unique "rabbit friendly" garden.
The Gardening Club held its Annual General Meeting on 27th May
After being plied with wine or a soft drink the meeting started at as usual at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers. The AGM then followed. The minutes of the previous AGM were read and agreed. The outgoing Chairman then read her report, and was followed by the Treasurer's report. A slight loss of funds over the year had been recorded which was due to the increasing quality of speakers that had been arranged. It was agreed unanimously to increase the annual membership fee to £10.
The outgoing Chairman resigned after carrying out the position for 3 years. She was thanked by all for her work and enthusiasm. Both she and members of the current committee were willing to stand again and were elected en bloc. Philip Marchant had agreed to stand as Chairman and following a proposal and seconding, he was duly elected. Rob Elston had agreed to remain as Treasurer. Two new members, Lisa Swan and Chris Fisher were elected to the committee.
Following the business part of the evening, members were treated to a brief slide show and talk by members of the committee about their own gardens.