Ashdon Gardening Club

2013 to 2014 Season Meetings of the Ashdon Gardening Club

Our October meeting

Joanna Crosby and "Apples and their cultivation today"


The meeting started at 7.45 p.m with Questions and Answers.

Q. I have a 25 year old walnut tree which has not produced any walnuts. What can I do and where can I find advice?

A. Wimpole Hall (near Cambridge) has a national collection of over 60 species of walnut tree and should be able to provide advice. The phone number is: 01223 206000.

Q. Does anyone locally take apples for feeding pigs or for other purposes?

A. There is a pig farmer in Ashdon who may like them.

Q. My hydrangea is in a pot on the patio. Should it be put in the greenhouse during the winter or is it all right to stay outside?

A. It can be left outside but the flower heads should be left on to protect from frost.

Q. I have 3 hydrangeas but none of them bloom.

A. Give them ericaceous feed.

The session was followed by a talk from Joanna Crosby of Trumpington Community Orchard. She was unable to show her slides due to a technical hitch but this was no problem because Joanna kept us all fascinated by talking about the history of apple cultivation for an hour.

She started with the existence of a fruit forest in Eastern Europe in Neolithic times and took us through Roman learning about the art of grafting to superstition and legend. We are indebted to the Victorians whose enthusiasm for grafting led to a lot of the apples now popular today.

Joanna then told us about Trumpington Community Orchard and her involvement in the project. They have 19 apple trees plus a few others including 2 crab apples to aid with pollination. The stock planted needed to be dwarf or semi-dwarf because the Cambridgeshire area is so windy. Voluntary help is used for weeding and local Brownies have conducted an earthworm survey. Beehives create a biodiverse site and funding has been raised to install a swift tower. There have been challenges and learning curves.

Finally Joanna went on to talk about cultivation of apples in gardens. This included their planting, feeding and pruning. She had brought along trays of identified and labelled apples and the session finished with members and guests asking her about their apple problems and to identify their apple species.

For more information access Trumpington Community Orchard web site.

Our February Meeting

Allan Brocklebank on The Art of Compost on 20th February

Allan Brocklebank ("Brock") has been a volunteer Master Composter for the last 12 years. He gives talks to schools and other local societies on the art of composting. He spoke to Club members and guests about all aspects of home composting and how to turn your garden and kitchen waste into "Black Gold" to improve your soil.

What is composting?

Breakdown cycle


What to put in compost bin?

What not to put in compost bin?

Myths about composting

Uses of compost

Cambridgeshire scheme

Help available

Final message

Our March Meeting

Aubrey Barker speaking about the Modern Herbaceous Border

As usual we commenced with questions and answers.

Q: How do I get rid of the yellow fungus type stuff on trees?

A: Jet wash or use a scrubbing brush to gently remove it.

Q: We have a pergola in partial shade and fairly poor soil. We have so far failed to grown anything up it.

A: Suggested plants are: Virginia creeper, grape vine, Trachelospermum Jasminoides, Akebia Quinata (Chocolate Vine) and Hydrangea Petiolaris.

Gardening Club members were treated to a very enjoyable talk from Aubrey Barker this month. He started with a brief illustrated history of the herbaceous border and the influences on styles of planting. Older borders included an irregular placing of plants where many would bloom at the same time so that they would look quite miserable for the rest of the year. Gertrude Jekyll contributed to borders in which colours were grouped and planted for a full year's interest. In later years there has been a more diverse range of plants used, including grasses and the use of island planting sometimes with shrubs.

Aubrey then gave an alphabetical run-through of plants recommended for herbaceaous borders, illustrating some of their qualities with photographs. Unfortunately we only managed to reach letter "L" that evening so are hoping to finish the alphabet at a future date.

Aubrey is the owner of Hopleys Plants Ltd in Much Hadham which was established in 1968.  He became a director in 1980 and took over from his father in 1982.  Originally founded with a large collection of conifer varieties the nursery went on to concentrate on flowering shrubs.  New shrubs introduced included the award winning Potentilla “Red Ace” launched in 1976.  Hopleys offers a Garden Design and Planting service and have a mail order service selling plants to retail and wholesale markets from their ten acre site and at flower shows.  They also exhibit at the major flower shows and have won Gold medals for our displays at Chelsea, Hampton Court, Gardeners World LIVE and numerous RHS shows. The garden centre provides a venue for Open-air Theatre Productions, Sculpture and Art Exhibitions, Christmas Markets, Easter Egg hunts and other events.  They run gardening and art and craft workshops and Aubrey has extensive horticultural knowledge propagating and growing plants. He is keen to share this experience and has for some time been delivering lectures, tours and demonstrations.

For more information access Hopleys Plants Ltd web site.

Our April Meeting

Ian Bull talked about RHS HYDE HALL: Past, Present and Future

As usual we commenced with questions and answers.

Q: Is it to late to halve the height of a large hazel tree?

A: No. It should be able to withstand chopping?

Q: There is currently a programme on allotments on television. Is it any good?

A: The jury is still out. It seems too perfect.

Ian is the Garden Manager at RHS Hyde Hall. He has been at RHS Hyde Hall for about 15 years and he trained at Wisley. He used slides to illustrate the history of the original house and land and the development up until the present time. It was originally a 1,000 acre farm with a 17th century farmhouse. The garden was developed by the wife of the previous owners who donated it to the RHS in 1983. Although much of the original layout has been retained, most of the areas have been dramatically enhanced and developed to take account of the soil conditions and the transference from a private to a public garden which needs better access points. The dell, woodlands, ponds, rose garden and borders have all undergone a transformation. A new dry garden replaced the area of the glasshouse, and more recently a third pond has been created and close by a new visitor centre contains a restaurant and plant, gift and bookshop.

Members who have not visited RHS Hyde Hall were very keen to go after that informative talk.

For more information access RHS Hyde Hall web site.

Site created by: Gillian Brooker

Copyright © Ashdon Gardening Club

Last updated 21/06/2014.