A packed village hall eagerly awaited the arrival of Nick Bailey, a little later than expected, due to a delay at Waterloo Station caused by an incident on the line. After the warm-up act comprising Gill (upcoming events), Vanessa (Hidden Gardens 2019) and Gordon (Snowdrop viewing on Saturday), the audience was well-primed to warmly welcome Nick Baily, horticulturalist, author, award-winning TV presenter and garden designer.
Nick spent part of his
extensive and varied 15-year career as Head Gardener at Chelsea Physic Garden, which
has its own micro-climate, which Nick
took full advantage of when redesigning the gardens and diversifying the plant
collection. A visit is definitely recommended.
Continuing with the main theme of colour (usually against a general background of nearly 90% green foliage) Nick then told us how to add colour by interplanting, and contrasting or harmonising colours. He identified the gardener’s colour wheel as a useful aid for pinpointing nuances of colour.
All this led up to a series of slides showing colourful flowers and plants taken from his best-selling book 365 Days of Colour, which has tips as well as lists of plants which will provide year-round colour in our gardens.
Our patron Gordon Rae kick-started this season of GG lectures with a raft of marvelously colourful images of his and Judith’s garden photographed month by month throughout the year, in the form of a varied and well-balanced slide show which was assembled by Kathleen Bird. The many different and sometimes surprising colours complimented the “50 shades of green” pointed out by Gordon, who acknowledged Judith’s expertise in setting off the different shades against each other. We time-travelled through the worst of the winter (cue: icy picture of a frozen fountain, but also snowdrops popping their heads above the snow) and interesting architectural shapes – Gordon’s tip: buy winter pansies for a pop of colour – followed by spring with its numerous flowering plants, the high point of this garden. There was still plenty of colour during the summer months, although drought put paid to the lush green of the lawn, which had to be reseeded in the autumn.
also an expert photographer, as demonstrated by the superb landscape images and
amazing close-ups of individual flowers and adorable animal pictures – he
clearly has a soft spot for foxes, squirrels and birds (except for snowdrop-ravaging
pigeons!). He also has an eye for the weird and wonderful (fungi) and tells a
Gordon reminded us that this garden was started from scratch 47 years ago, on land which was completely overgrown; a drop of 50 ft from the house meant that they had to install all of the hard landscaping and terraces before planting could begin. The presentation showed what can be achieved on Grayshott’s sandy soil with dedication, skill and sheer hard work.
Gordon for his interesting lecture, president Gill Purkiss offered Gordon a
donation to give to a charitable cause of his choice.
For an impression of the many colourful plants in this garden, or a reminder, please visit the members’ gardens gallery, as many of the photos featured are by Gordon taken in his garden last year.
Gordon and Judith are kindly inviting GG members and their guests to visit the snowdrop display in their garden on Saturday, 16th February 10 – 12 a.m.
December it may have been, but there was nothing bleak about Grayshott village hall as Grayshott Gardeners flocked to this month’s lecture evening, where the now traditional mulled wine and mince pies dispensed by Terry and his team awaited our keynote speaker Timothy Hall, as well as members and visitors.
Timothy is a renowned botanist, who between 1986-2014 was General Foreman, followed by Horti Praefectus and later Director at the University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum. During that time he has given more than 1500 talks worldwide, while also lecturing in the Department of Plant Sciences Oxford and other Colleges. He was made a Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, has written a number of books, has appeared on TV and is also involved in outreach work.
His informative and entertaining lecture, accompanied by numerous colourful slides, took us from the start of winter in December/January through to the beginning of spring. We were alerted to the difference in appearance caused by changes in the light, the different plants which emerge as temperatures drop, e.g. mosses, and clearer outlines ( topiary), as well as the contrasting images associated with a rapid change in the weather.
Click on the pictures to enlarge
Timothy discussed climate change, the varied effects of snow and ice, of drought, and how mistletoe is increasing due to milder winters and a change in the migration habits of black cap birds: in contrast to mistletoe thrushes, they cannot digest the seeds, but rub them into tree bark when stuck in their beaks.
We heard how Piet Oudolf recommends growing plants “that die well”, and were shown a series of flowering shrubs, common as well as more unusual ones; were told how plant species are determined with the example of snowdrops/flakes, at which point our patron came in for some gentle teasing. A summing up of winter jobs concluded this wide-ranging and topical talk.
Timothy generously shared some of his stunning photographs to be published on our website; he happened to mentioned that next April he will be running the Brighton Marathon to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, details of which in italics below.
Membership fees are now due and the 2019 Handbook with a program of all events will be available at the next Club meeting on 9th January, when Gordon Rae will tell us about A year in a Grayshott Garden.
Bonus picture: our president Gill Purkiss in a seasonal jumper, with treasurer Dennis Homer in the background:
On April 14th 2019 I am running the Brighton Marathon to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. If you could bring yourself to sponsor me I would be very grateful and many people suffering with cancer would be even more grateful. More details can be found on my justgiving page – address below. Thank you! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/timothy-walker6
Graham’s October lecture gave a different aspect to autumn gardening, with his love of plants when the sun is lowering its arc, which enriches the colours of plants. He likened it to a ‘tarts parade’ of powerful colours that brighten the borders!
He advised dispersing clumps of colour throughout the garden so that it is not all seen in one hit. Groups of colours interspersed with a variety of grasses give a wonderful effect. Of the many plants he recommended, and the slides were beautiful, his own favourites were Rudbeckias, Asters, Salvias, Limonium, Heuchera autumn bride, Helianthus, Sanguisorba korean snow, Fuchsia hawkeshead white, Persicara pendula, light blue Agapanthus (when in the border, needs to be mulched well to get through the winter) and many more.
He made a plea for not cutting back stems too early as seed heads can be really beautiful in winter especially when frosted, and provide food for the birds. Some of the best heads for late interest and contrast are:- Artichoke, Eupatorium, Veronicastrum, Phlomis, Echinacea and Panicum. A garden is not just for spring and summer, and an element of autumn flowering should be included in all gardens for maximum interest.
Graham Gough is the owner of Marchants Hardy Plants, Sussex. For a list of Late Flowering Perennials recommended by Graham, click here. More information, as well as a complete catalogue of plants and grasses for sale, is available from the Marchants Hardy Plants website: https://www.marchantshardyplants.co.uk
On Wednesday, Johanna Crawford, Senior Gardener and standing in for Head Gardener Paul Gallivan, entertained us with captivating images of Woolbeding Gardens, situated near Midhurst and presently owned by the National Trust.
Jo’s gardening career started 8 years ago as a complete novice with a notice in the newsagent’s, an armful of gardening books, a fork and trowel. 8 years of practical experience alongside studying for professional qualifications paid off well, as her passion for heritage gardening at Woolbeding clearly shines through.
Originally mentioned in the Doomsday Book, Woolbeding’s 26 acres of gardens, including the Grade I listed house (privately rented) and Saxon church, are set within the “greenest valley and prettiest river”. The gardens match and enhance the setting, and, following a suggested path, visitors are led through various “rooms” each with their own colour (vegetable, fountain, herb, pool garden), past follies and intriguing sculptures (in memory of ancient and monumental trees), ornamental and architectural greenhouses and an orangery fronting the pool. A ”ruined abbey” and a river walk reveal more hidden features.
But the gardens, meticulously maintained in keeping with the original planting but with design tweaks to always offer something new to visitors, are the main attraction and a tribute to the 6 members of garden staff who, aided by a number of volunteers, keep the beds and borders, the climbers and greenhouse plants, including orchids, looking magnificent.
Red white and green marked the theme of Grayshott Gardeners June Club Night: visitors were greeted with a glass of wine and a sumptuous array of Italian nibbles (topped with flags), and entertained by authentic Italian accordion tunes even before Paolo started his talk proper. As promised, we were disabused of any preconceived ideas: the main seed companies in the uk do not produce seeds, most are imported from South East Asia. Wild fennel, growing along Hadian’s wall, is not native to Britain but was brought here by Roman Soldiers who were partial to the aniseed-flavoured seeds. Via the Boer War, two World Wars and their effect on food growing in the UK, we arrived at the present state of vegetable production and supply in this country, and the conclusion that fruit and vegetables taste best when eaten in season.
This was the cue for a Grand Tour of Italy’s regions, towns even, which are each linked with a particular food or variety of vegetable. Not really surprising, as Italy’s climate varies from the Alps in the North to a Mediterranean climate in the South, and has the Apennine mountains running along its spine. Tips for growing vegetables came hard and fast, and the description of food cooked with them was mouthwatering. The final summing-up was done in one word: local.
Lucky for us, Paolo who was assisted by his mother (as appropriate for the oldest family-run seed company in the world) had brought along a wide selection of Seeds from Italy; Brexit notwithstanding, Grayshott at least won’t be lacking in delicious fresh vegetables from Italy next year.
Catalogue of seeds and other products, as well as further information on Franchi Seeds and their distributors Seeds of Italy available on their website www.seedsofitaly.com
The May club night speaker was Sally Gregson, owner of Mill Cottage Plants, which specialises in Hydrangeas and Epimediums, mainly from Japan. She brought along a large selection of rare varieties, many of which were snapped up by members.
Sally was first introduced to the Japanese varieties by her daughter, who had moved to Japan; she explained how originally Japanese plants arrived in Europe through medical officer Franz von Siebold in the early 19 C. (Japan at that time was a country closed to most foreigners).
We admired the photographs of the many different varieties of hydrangeas, some of which do not even look like hydrangeas; Sally offered tips for planting, pruning and propagation, and her suggestions for underplanting were particularly useful (hostas, bergenia and others).
A brief question-and-answer session ended this lively and interesting talk.
With 22 years of teaching horticulture, and 40+ practical gardening books under his belt, Steve, or ‘Brad’ as he is known, was never going to serve us up a long and lazy Summer. Instead, he provided us with a wide range of techniques and skills to make the most of summer-flowering plants, as well as fruit and vegetables, by preparing at the right time, and working with the plants, using their inbuilt defence systems and intrinsic growth and/or fruiting promotors.
Steve punctuated his talk with anecdotes, some relating to his collaboration with Peter Seabrook, and offered many tips and techniques, always explaining the why and wherefores. Pelargonium cuttings, for instance, should be taken in Summer, when the plant hormones are active, rather than wait till Autumn. An avid reader and collector of Victorian gardening books, he revealed that 19th C gardeners used to leave their cuttings briefly in a shady spot in the greenhouse over lunch, as the cut would seal itself and the plantlet’s hormones would flow to the wound and promote root formation – no rooting powder or gel required!
Steve’s eminently practical advice touched on bulbs, seed propagation, pruning, lawn aeration and watering, including getting children to eat fruit, and was illustrated by a series of enjoyable and clear slides. He finished by answering some questions from the audience, who had turned out in large numbers to hear the gardening correspondent of The Sun. Although too late perhaps for the Spring Show on Saturday 14th April, we may expect even better than usual results for the Summer Show if we follow Brad’s suggestions!
Steve answering questions with his wife Val at the Loseley Show 2017
Sue Biggs’ Keynote Lecture on the RHS had been eagerly awaited by Grayshott’s Gardeners, and the packed village hall was not disappointed: Sue managed to convey a wealth of information in the short time at her disposal.
GG members and visitors received a brief yet comprehensive overview of the origins and development of the RHS from its foundation in 1804, via the granting of a Royal Charter in 1861 by Prince Albert, and since favoured by Royal Patrons, to the present large organisation, followed by slides on the structure of the society while Sue explained the many-varied activities the organisation is involved in, such as training/education, science, shows, bringing together communities, and not least its gardens: Bridgewater, Harlow Carr, Hyde Hall and Wisley. The gardens received more than 2 million visitors during the year 2017/18. Sue then moved on to the future of the RHS, involving an ambitious £160m 10-year investment plan for major improvements to the existing gardens and buildings, in order to deliver much improved benefits to the general public as well as its staff. Funding and most schemes are set for completion within the next few years, with Hyde Hall opening in 2018, and Wisley Welcome opening set for 2019.
Sue also pointed out challenges lying ahead: uncertainty caused by Brexit, funding and membership targets to be achieved, the A3/M25 proposal affecting access to Wisley and a number of scientific threats to vegetation.
Members in the audience made full use of the opportunity to raise topics and issues directly with the Director General; Sue’s explanations and promised action demonstrate her hands-on approach and control of the very wide and varied range of RHS activities.
The evening ended with an appreciative thank you to Sue and the presentation of a cheque donation to the RHS. Further information on RHS activities, events and plans on their website: https://www.rhs.org.uk
We knew we were in for a fun evening as we watched Charles Wisden fooling around as our dear president was giving her introductory talk.
What followed was a fun but very informative talk enjoyed by everyone from novice to the experienced gardener. From seeds to slugs with ideas for design and a look at the latest tools – including a rather vicious edge cutting tool with teeth! Potatoes in bags, bulbs in pots, pink primroses, Japanese cucumbers, baby round carrots and how to prune like Phil Mitchell – can’t wait to have a go at that.
In all an inspiring talk on a rather cold wet evening. H.D.
(Charles has kindly offered to provide a list of all plants shown, which will be added here later)