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Although Grayshott Gardeners could not hold their Summer Show, no pandemic was going to stop them holding their annual “Potato Championship”, albeit in a different location from usual and with a different judge. With a total of 13 entries, all bagged, labelled and delivered, the number exceeded what we have had in a normal show for several years.
This year the variety chosen was the First Early potato “Swift”, supplied by Avalon, Hindhead. Members entered into the spirit of the competition and added an element of fun. One exhibit came as a basketful of small potatoes, just like a nest of eggs resting on shredded paper. Another had a potato decorated with the “COVID19 Rainbow”!
Who, it was asked, will judge?
In the absence of a qualified judge from the RHS Register of Judges, in this less than usual year, Mavis Hallt was invited to judge. The cup for the “Potato Competition”, the “Mike Hallt Cup”, was donated in memory of Mavis’s late husband, a keen vegetable and potato grower. With no previous experience, Mavis reluctantly accepted the invitation.
On the day of judging, the potatoes were laid out, 3 per plate, as in the schedule, on a table in the open air to comply with “safe distancing”!
Mavis arrived complete with Mike’s copy of the “RHS Horticultural Show Handbook” opened at the page for “The Judging of Vegetables – Potatoes”, detailing the merits and defects to be considered and the “Advice to Judges”.
Mavis had taken the invitation very seriously and clearly done her homework beforehand. The “Advice” included a checklist of criteria to be taken into account when judging potatoes and a weighted points scoring basis on which to judge Condition, Uniformity, Shape, Eyes and Size (not being of main importance). Once Mavis had carefully looked at all 13 entries, she made a shortlist, each one of which was diligently scored against the RHS checklist. When marked, Mavis then reviewed the scores to ensure her marking was consistent. The process provided a result:
1st Mary Herbert
2nd Leslia Farnfield
3rd Gordon Rae
4th Helen Deighan
As Helen Deighan, last year’s winner, had returned the cup, the opportunity was taken for Mavis to “informally” present the cup to Mary Herbert who had called in to look at the entries. A photo of the “arm’s length” presentation was taken!The cup will be engraved and formally presented to Mary at a future GGs’ meeting when, hopefully, we are back to something nearer normal.
Thank you to everyone who entered this one-off “fun” 2020 competition, which has helped to keep the GGs going in this long period of “lockdown”.
However difficult, “where there’s a will …!”
In the event of Grayshott Gardeners being unable to hold the Summer Show on July 11th 2020, our President, Gordon Rae, has come up with a cunning plan to rescue the Potato Competition (class 49) and grasp the Mike Hallt Cup out of the clutches of the coronavirus (without contravening any Covid19 regulations). Click on the link for alternative entry and judging arrangements: potato competition rules
Grayshott Gardeners members are encouraged to PLEASE ENTER just for the fun of it and to make 2020 a record entry year, just to keep us all sane!
After the event, the President and his lady will eat the entries!! (and Judith will be presented with: 1001 tried and tested recipes with potatoes)
Last year’s result! Photo J. Price
Thank you everyone who sent in photos – over 75, a great variety of flowers and amazing images for website visitors to inspire and enjoy! The gallery will close for entries on Good Friday, 10th April; however, we may consider starting a further gallery for summer plants.
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!
Please note updated programme information under the From the Committee menu tab http://grayshottgardeners.net/?page_id=49
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.
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, 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/
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.
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!
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.