A Review: June Meeting – Microclimates

Visitors are always welcome on the first Monday of the month at Colwall Village Hall WR13 6EQ. We arrive from 7pm and a talk is given by a person well versed in their speciality at about 7.30. Arrive early, meet the members and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee. There are several “Meeting Points” where people with particular interests can exchange experiences on subjects such as Pests and diseases, What is It? Vegetables and garden Visits are but four.

On Monday 1st June we welcomed Nick Wray. Nick is the Curator of Bristol University Botanic Garden. His topic was Microclimates in Your Garden. No one went to sleep, not even the most hardened practitioners. With fine pictures to illustrate how plants adapt to an unlikely situation he explained what made those places so welcoming for the plant/tree/shrub/bulb etc.

No where in a UK garden is it cold and wet”; it is damp and cool. The north and north-east shadows of our houses may seem daunting but there are plants which thrive and add quality to gardens in these conditions; it’s all a matter of learning. Soil conditions vary; the variety of plants adding value to gardens is enormous but several will not cohabit because of the state of the bed.

One, of several, lessons learned by your writer and is plainly obvious when explained concerned Japanese maples; come from a monsoon climate, where they thrive magnificently.

Sun and shade; walls and hedges (preferred) all create their own microclimate and to keep and get the best from our expensive special specimens, it is worth wrapping them up snugly in the winter, against the wet and cold!

Next month, on July 6th, we are visited by Bob Hares with a return visit of inspiration, My Garden in July. On August 8th, Saturday, it is our 72nd Annual Show. Details are obtainable from http://www.wychecolwallhorticulturalsoc.wordpress.com

Come early on the 6th; make/meet friends and discuss your gardening interests (and challenges). There are many experienced and knowledgeable gardeners who are happy to answer questions. Subscriptions, payable in January, are £12.00; visitors are charged £4.00.

Tim Beaumont (Joint Speaker Finder)


Review of March’s Meeting

Visitors are always welcome on the first Monday of the month at Colwall Village Hall WR13 6EQ. We meet for 7.30pm when there is a talk given by a person well versed in their speciality. Arrive early, meet the members and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee.

On Monday 2nd March we welcomed Pauline Pears who gave a very personal, humorous and instructive talk on why she would have five specific vegetables on her desert island. Drawing on her experience as a garden advisor to Garden Organic and an allotment holder for twenty years, we were enlightened on how to maximise the harvest potential of her famous five. The talk was illustrated with pictures of her allotment by Prickly Pears Productions (no evidence of such in the presenter).

Eat fresh or from store is Pauline’s mantra; with little attention and a long cropping season, her vegetables choices illustrated this ethos. Specifically they are chards, beetroot and spinachbeet eaten fresh from two sowings and stored; climbing French beans fresh (always pick from the bottom), dried or “demi-sec”, leeks stand through the winter, potatoes regular picking and storage in paper sacks; pumpkins fresh and store.

The How To part included propagation with seed from The Heritage Seed Library; using fine fleece to protect leeks from the invading Wolverhampton allium leaf miner and leek moth; cooking over wintered beets in a hay box; growing leek seedlings in “soil assisted” modules; storing root crops in boxes; easy routines to help minimise potato blight. All of which means your writer will now have to rethink his veg garden but it does sound so less time consuming; nearly said easy.

The Percy Picton Memorial Fund continues to benefit from the sale of books from the library of the late Merle Stanning. The PPMF helps support horticultural students at Pershore College. The final selection will be available at our next meeting on April 6th.

The presenter at this meeting, Sally Gregson, who holds a National Collection of Epimediums, returns to delight and inform us with a talk on this beautiful species.

Come early, make/meet friends and discuss your gardening interests (and challenges). There are many experienced and knowledgeable gardeners who are happy to answer questions. Subscriptions, payable in January, are £12.00; visitors are charged £4.00.
Tim Beaumont

February Meeting – A Review

Visitors are always welcome on the first Monday of the month at Colwall Village Hall WR13 6EQ.  We meet for 7.30pm when there is a talk given by a person well versed in their speciality.  Arrive early, meet the members and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee.

The February meeting commenced with Megan Taylor announcing good news from the Percy Picton Memorial Fund.  With the proceeds of various events and particularly the Percy Picton Memorial Lecture, the fund had £2200.00 to help with sponsoring horticultural students at Pershore College.

There followed an enthralling presentation on chemistry in plants, soil and the kitchen. The talk was delivered enthusiastically by Drs Natalie Fey and Jenny Slaughter, School of Chemistry lecturers at Bristol University.  Their presentation included revealing pictures, befuddling equations (I write for myself) and Lego representations of stick molecules.  Confused?  But we did learn why Miscanthus grows in arid conditions; why roses scent; how Heleniums and sunflowers draw contaminating metals from the ground and how to use red cabbage as an indicator of acidity or otherwise.

It would be worth looking at their blog www.chempics.wordpress.com/about/ws2014.  It is fascinating.

Megan said, in her closing words of thanks, that as an ex-lecturer in chemistry, she was surprised to learn how much she had forgotten.  The talk was entitled Why is Grass Green?  We didn’t learn that.

There was an opportunity to purchase books from the collection of a well known local gardener, the late Merle Stanning.  A stunning collection gathered over many years, any one of which would enhance a gardener’s library.  The writer found a 1949 edition of The Countryman’s Breakfast Poser for £1.00.  The collection will be available at the next meeting.  All proceeds go to the P. P. Memorial Fund.

The March meeting will feature Pauline Pears who has 30 years experience with Garden Organic and is the editor of The Encyclopaedia of Organic Gardening; her talk is entitled My Desert Island Veg..

Come early, make/meet friends and discuss your gardening interests (and challenges).  There are many experienced and knowledgeable gardeners who are happy to answer questions.  Subscriptions, payable in January, are £12.00; visitors are charged £4.00.

Tim Beaumont – Joint Programme Secretary

Percy Picton Lecture – Chris Beardshaw: A Review

Chris-BeardshawChris Beardshaw bound us to every word. His talk was in two parts. The first of which was the remarkable story of how a group of enthusiastic amateur gardeners gained a Gold Medal at the RHS Show in 2012; the second was a brief introduction to 101 plants That Nearly Changed the World.

The Furzey Garden is in the New Forrest and was created in the early 1900s by two brothers who, already wealthy, discovered gold in Australia and being plantaholics decided to create a woodland garden back home.A beautiful and informal woodland garden offering peaceful walks, exceptional trees and shrubs and views across to the Isle of Wight. Furzey Gardens Trust is part of The Minstead Training Trust who provide residential care and horticultural training to adults with learning disabilities. Having lost local authority funding the charismatic Reverend Tim Selwood, one time barrister, decided to raise the garden’s profile by going to Chelsea in 2012. Chris told of the many obstacles overcome by Tim and his colleagues; a cash shortfall of £200,000 in preparing the garden; recovering an enormous trailer with mature trees stuck going the wrong way in a Wimbledon one way street; recreating the thatched “lantern” which reflected the thatched buildings at Furzey. The lantern included the fairies front door, many more of which are to be found at Furzey and glass leaves created by the students.
Their GOLD medal shocked the local council to restore funding.

Part two included stories of how nettles kept the sock-less Roman’s feet warm; how pineapple became a marinade for gammon (after tenderising unfortunates captured by cannibals) and how carrots became orange, make fly fishing rods and might be used in the construction of warships.

Our next meeting is on Monday November 3rd at Colwall Village Hall. Mark Paviour will present The Year Round Shrub Garden. Come early, 7 for 7.30, have a coffee and make/meet friends to discuss your gardening interests (and challenges). We have many experienced and knowledgeable gardeners who are happy to answer questions. Subscriptions, payable in January, are £12.00; visitors are charged £4.00.

Tim Beaumont

Review of May Meeting

Streptocarpus Grace

Streptocarpus Grace

Our May meeting was held on the most perfect Spring evening with over a hundred members present.

Thanks were passed on from Coddington where we had donated £100 towards the planting of Jubilee memorial trees on Oyster Hill.

We had a very successful plant stall which raised almost £55. Thanks were given to everybody who had contributed or purchased plants.  There will be another plant stall at the  June meeting.

Information was given on local gardens open in May and June – Coddington Gardens on 1/2 June,  The Cross, Coddington and The Hollies, Colwall on 15/16 June, 22 Layton  Avenue, Malvern, on 15 June and Caves Folly on 16 June.

Our speaker was Gareth Davies who had come from Talybont on Usk to talk to us about ‘Using a Small Greenhouse’.  He spoke about the things to consider before purchasing a greenhouse: size, ventilation, benching, eaves height and whether to buy a wood frame or an aluminium frame – he favoured the latter.  Heating and watering were other considerations and we were recommended to partition one end of the greenhouse for heating to save on costs.  Automatic watering  using a leaky pipe system attached to a timer was also well worthwhile.

Gareth then showed us pictures of what he achieves from his greenhouses.  He grows streptocarpus and gloxinia for the house, begonias, fuchsias, pelargonium and coleus for annual bedding.  His pictures of the annual garden display he achieves were truly stunning.

At our next meeting on 3 June our speaker will be Hazel Kaye and she will talk about ‘Water Gardens and Plants’.  New members and visitors are always most welcome – come at 7pm for free refreshments.

Margaret White

Review of April Meeting

Apart from arriving in daylight, the weather for our April meeting this year made us think it was still mid-winter.  As ever it included the Michael Jefferson-Brown bulb competition for which, somewhat surprisingly, there were a large number of entries.  This year the shield was awarded to Margaret Stone for a beautiful display of mixed bulbs.

Our information table contained details of the various local horticultural events we can enjoy in the next weeks and months including several plant fairs and talks.

A copy of this year’s show schedule was available for every member at the meeting and will soon be available on this website

Our speaker was Charles Dowding, a well-known exponent of no-dig vegetable growing about which he has now written four books.  With the help of his excellent pictures he demonstrated both his techniques and his success.  He creates his four-foot wide beds, in the open garden and in polytunnels,  by covering the area with cardboard on which he places a layer of manure and/or compost.  In this he grows a wide variety of vegetables, often with two and even three plantings a year.  The soil is kept weed free and the vegetables are planted very closely.  In this way, from his one acre plot, he produced vegetables with a wholesale value of thirty thousand pounds last year.

At our next meeting on 6 May our speaker will be Gareth Davies who will be telling us how to use a small greenhouse.  At that meeting, and again at our June meeting, we will be holding our annual bring and buy plant stall and we should plan to arrive, with our contributions, labelled if possible, by 7pm.

Margaret White

Notice: Fruit cage  10’x6’x6’  Steel tubular framework  Details from  Margaret Skelton  0168 4541441

Review of March Meeting – Pruning, Made Simple

A large and enthusiastic audience attended our March meeting, including some new members and visitors who were particularly welcome.

The well-stocked information table included leaflets giving details of NGS garden openings in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and a number of other publications of interest to keen gardeners.

Our speaker Geoff Hodge is a prolific garden writer and author of several books for the RHS.  He is also an extremely busy lecturer and broadcaster. His topic for the meeting was “ Pruning – Making it simple”.  His talk began with a live survey of pruning tools and timely advice on the importance of sharpening and caring for our tools.  He then went on to explain the theory and practice of good pruning. He empathised the four Ds  – that is “ cut out the dead, dying, diseased and damaged”!  The theory behind the promotion of flowering in flowering shrubs was covered, with advice on the right timing for pruning for winter, spring and summer flowers.  Geoff also advised on the perennial question of the correct pruning for the different groups of clematis.  All of this invaluable advice was peppered with jokes and informality that was much appreciated by the audience, and Geoff completed the evening by answering a good number of questions.

At our next meeting in April, the Michael Jefferson-Brown Spring Flowering Bulb Competition will take place.  Members are encouraged to bring either a pot of flowering bulbs, corms or tubers or a vase of cut flowers grown from bulbs corms or tubers.  The speaker will be Charles Dowding and his topic is “ Growing vegetables without digging”.

Our meetings start at 7pm with free coffee and biscuits.  Membership is £12 a year.  (Visitors are very welcome – there is a small charge of £4)

PLEASE NOTE:  our April meeting is on the second Monday of the month –


Meg Taylor