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CORONA 2020 ANTIDOTE PHOTO GALLERY

(Photo Sue W.)

Grayshott Gardeners Corona Antidote Photo Gallery is now up and running with more than 30 stunning photographs sent in by members. Do keep sending in pictures, close-ups or areas of garden, also entries meant for the Spring Show which has sadly been cancelled, and take a look from time to time at the Photo Gallery page for inspiration and enjoyment!

World of Plants in your Garden by David Hurrion

On Wednesday, David Hurrion, teacher of horticultural subjects at all levels, broadcaster, editor, designer and a Designated Judge for the RHS, demonstrated the breadth of his knowledge and experience by taking us time-travelling around the world.

He began his fascinating talk with a slide depicting the separation of the seven continents causing plants to evolve into distinct groups, and continued to demonstrate how mountain ranges, rivers and other landscape characteristics, including climate (position vis-a-vis the sun) also impacted on the plant world. Human beings had a huge effect, intentionally (by collecting plants to bring home) as well as unintentionally (by carrying seeds home in their clothing).

David illustrated his talk with colourful slides of a wide range of flowers and plants from all over the world, some of which are reproduced here; he frequently dropped in nuggets of information such as why plants from the Himalayan region (as well as spring bulbs) have their dormitory period in summer, or how the Great White Cherry came to be reintroduced after it had become extinct in Japan.

David’s enthusiasm and passion for plants was most evident towards the end, when he cautioned the audience to be aware of human action and its effect on he plant world, based on the different aspects of his own garden, and his conclusion: East is Least, West is Best.

David has a very informative website with beautiful photographs at http://davidhurrion.com, as well as a YouTube channel with useful instructions.

Olive Robinson

Following the peaceful passing in February of Olive Robinson, past President and Chairman of Grayshott Gardeners, we now have details of the funeral arrangements. The funeral will be held on Thursday, 26th March at 2.15 pm at Guildford Crematorium. All are welcome but it would be helpful to let Anne Waddell know if you wish to attend, tel. 01428 604714, so she can inform John Woodridge of possible numbers.

David Haselgrove: Plants and Places in Patagonia and Peru

David Haselgrove, retired solicitor and former Council Member of the RHS, presently chairman of their Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee, treated us to a breathtaking show of alpine plants and flowers in South America, set against the imposing landscapes of Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Starting in the very southern-most part of the continent, with its snow-covered mountains, blue icebergs and glaciers, we travelled (virtually) across many miles of grasslands, stopping at chrystal-clear lakes, climbing mountains and volcanoes and crossing dangerously windy plains at high altitude in search of alpine plants growing in the wild.

We were rewarded with the most diverse and colourful range of plants, in unexpected shapes and sizes. It came as a surprise that many of the plant names were familiar, and commonly sold in local plant nurseries, yet the shapes and sizes seemed completely different.

The selection of photographs shown here should give some idea of the variety of plants grown in this hostile climate; during questions John indicated that many require a great deal of attention, with drainage foremost, when grown in this country.

If anybody missed this interesting and entertaining lecture, or would like reminding, a number of photographs taken on this trip are shown online here: https://www.alpinegardensociety.net/tours/southern-patagonia-2019/

Olive Robinson

It is with great sadness we have to let you know that our Past President and Chairman of Grayshott Gardeners, Olive Robinson, passed away peacefully at the weekend.

Olive provided inspirational leadership which helped create the wonderful Club we are today with her vast horticulture knowledge and encouragement. We will remember her with much fondness.

At the moment of writing we are still awaiting information regarding funeral arrangements.

What makes your local Garden Centre tick?

Grayshott Gardeners started the new year with a fascinating peek behind the scenes at one of our most popular chain of Garden Centres. Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres, gave our first lecture of 2020, and explained the history and the ethos of this long standing family business. She also gave us an insight into some of the challenges Garden Centres face today, and how they try to manage them.

Squires was founded in 1936 by Sarah’s grandfather, D.J. Squire. It started as a company that took on small scale landscaping work, and soon expanded into plant nurseries. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 60s that Garden Centres as we know them today came about – driven by the fact that people now cared for their own gardens (employing gardeners had become a thing of the past), widespread car ownership, the availability of container grown plants, and the emergence of garden centres in the US.

W hen DJ retired Sarah’s father, Colin, took over the running of Squires. He remained Chairman for 30 years, and still plays a part in running the business today. Sarah took over as Chairman in 2019. She has had many roles different roles in the company, starting off as a Saturday girl, and has worked outside the company as a solicitor specialising in commercial property.

Squires today has 16 Garden Centres in the Surrey/Sussex/Berkshire/West London area – three of which are very familiar to Grayshott Gardeners. Squires are happy to keep this tight geographical footprint, as it allows them to really understand their customers and their needs. They employ nearly 1,000 people, across a whole range of disciplines, from IT and Marketing to plant and animal experts.

Their business is very seasonal, with plant sales peaking in spring and early summer. And throughout the year Saturdays and Sundays are their busiest times. In order to attract customers outside of these peaks, diversification is key – with restaurants and Christmas decorations being good examples of this. However, we were left in no doubt that it is plants that are the raison d’être of this great family business, which raised a cheer from this audience of gardeners!

S.W.

Spring in the Garden with Steve Bradley

Grayshott Gardeners celebrated the last of our 2019 lecture evenings and the return of speaker Steve Bradley and his wife Val with mulled wine and mince pies, enjoyed thoroughly by a very large turnout of members, on a cold December night.

Steve has appeared on TV and writes extensively about practical gardening techniques and skills. Together with his wife Val he answers questions and offers advice on panels and in the Sun newspaper, which entails keeping up to date with new production techniques, products and plants.

Steve’s light-hearted talk illustrated with slides allowed members to reap the benefit of Steve’s knowledge as tips and recommendations, starting with frost protection, and followed by pruning advice (loppers in the case of Mahonia, to protect fingers), lawn care, bulbs and pots and propagation were offered in quick succession. Steve’s love for roses stemming from his youth spent in a rose nursery was evident; experience has taught him that hard pruning produces better and longer-lasting blooms, especially if followed by feeding (well-mixed into soil or compost); he advised to plant grafted roses an inch proud of the soil surface at the graft point, in order to prevent suckers. Another very interesting detail was the latest technique for grafting small tomato and other related cuttings, with amazing results.

Having answered a number of questions from the floor, Steve was then thanked by Gordon Rae, our patron, for a very interesting and useful talk.

Notice to members:

As announced at last month’s AGM, our President for the past 5 years, Gill Purkiss, had to step down at the end of her term of office. This left Grayshott Gardeners with a vacancy, as nobody had come forward to take over from Gill. Gorden Rae has now kindly offered to take up the post in the interim, which will need to be confirmed by members at the next AGM.

Steve and Gordon

Grayshott Gardeners AGM 2019

Our Annual General Meeting held on 13th November 2019 was well attended, well-organised and featured some lively discussions. The Minutes with full details are published on the “From the Committee” page. Gill Purkiss stood down as President after her 5-year term office, and was presented with a bouquet of flowers for all her help and support. Terry Boorman resigned as Programme Director as he and Maureen have plans to move away, and both were also thanked for their unstinting work for the club. The meeting concluded with wine and a delicious spread of nibbles, enjoyed by the members.

Plant Sale 2020: Karen Flood has compiled a list of plants which members may be able to donate to the Plant Sale next year. The Plant Sale generates a large part of the club’s income from which members benefit. Karen is also looking for “plant sitters”. Full details on the “From the Committee” page.

Stuart Lees: Adventurous Container Gardening

The speaker at Grayshott Gardeners’ September lecture was Stuart Lees, a trained horticulturist and experienced head gardener, who now runs his own Garden Design and Consulting business. A keen supporter of the Perennial Charity which helps people and families in crisis who have a connection with horticultural trades, Stuart has donated his speaker’s fee to the charity.

Stuart Lees and Club Patron Gordon Rae (Photo John Price)

A series of slides taken at various client locations illustrated not only the variety of pots available (different sizes, shapes, materials) and the various functions (framing doorways, indicating presence of steps as a safety measure) but also the different effects created by the planting schemes. These ranged from empty but decorative pots, to pots with one plant, or containers with combinations of various species of plants, often with phorbiums to add height and an architectural touch. Stuart favoured shrubs over bedding plants, as the latter are labour-intensive, although excellent for providing colour when planted in window-boxes; we saw slides of some magnificent pub front displays. Nevertheless, colourful displays are also possible without annual flowers, as shown by the Christmas-themed schemes in a collection of similar containers devised by Stuart.

Answering a question from the audience, Stuart admitted to always adding crocks in plant pots “to keep slugs and insects out”.