From the annals of history …

It was by chance that Vanessa Thompson discovered a page of “Random Notes on the History of Grayshott Horticultural Society” in an old file. The “Random Notes” describe the revival in 1961 of the old Hindhead and Grayshott Horticultural Society, how a small but determined group of village enthousiasts managed to restart a moribund gardening society virtually from scratch, with a Show, an AGM, a constitution and a democratically elected committee in their first year.

Click on this link: Random Notes” produced by an unknow author to read about a historic concerted effort by this committee, which, aided by early members (as well as the Parish Council) built up a flourishing organisation with a full programme and an assured future, despite difficulties on the way. The document is reproduced in the original manual typewriter script for authenticity reasons and can be zoomed in from the menu in your browser.

More history:

Terry French has kindly compiled a list of Grayshott Gardeners Spring Show and Summer Show Trophies respectively, with a brief history of their origins. Click on the Shows tab and scroll down for links to these pages.

Neil Miller, Head Gardener at Hever Castle

Hever Castle clad in Boston Ivy

Neil Miller, Head Gardener at Hever Castle, conducted his online Zoom lecture, a first for Grayshott Gardeners, in cooperation with the Perennial charity. Having missed out on live talks for most of this year, some 70-odd G G members took up the invitation to participate in an online Zoom lecture. Neil, a Lloyds broker in the City of London, changed tack midlife to retrain as a horticulturist, ran his own business, but nevertheless did not think twice when offered a job at Hever Castle, where he was subsequently appointed Head Gardener in 2006.

Neil did not disappoint. His photographs of the Castle and gardens with the abundant vistas were wonderfully varied and colourful; he managed to fit in a vast amount of information on the history of the estate, the plantings and the layout, as well as inherent values and plans regarding future work, young people and education. A fluent and inspiring speaker, Neil succeeded in conveying his enthusiasm for the different species of plants. The hard work involved in their care was not overlooked either, especially in wrestling (more or less successfully) with the effects of wildlife, such as badgers, rabbits and greenfly.

We heard how Hever Castle dates from the 13th Century, that it was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, and was bought by William Waldorf Astor in 1902, who used his fortune to commission the 125 acre gardens, known then as an Edwardian Pleasure Ground, and which involved 2000 men and 4 years (as well as many litres of beer) to construct.

Amazing photographs took us along the Topiary Walk, past the Yew and Box Maze, the Chess Set, the Tudor Herb Garden; the Italian Garden with its statuary and mostly Roman artefacts, the Pompeiian Wall and its Mediterranean plants, such as pomegranate and pistachio trees, backed by the heat-retaining south-facing sandstone wall; and opposite the 1/8th of a mile Pergola walk and shade-loving camellias and hydrangeas, with a marble structure gracing the well in between. (fact-check by the editor: etymological connection with “well-to-do” may be fake news).

Nearby is a fountain based on the Trevi fountain in Rome, flanked by nude female statues, which in less liberal times used to be cleaned by ladies from the Women’s Institute. (Fact-check required – ed.) A favourite picture is the loggia at sunrise, glowing with warm Italianate colours. The sunken garden used to be filled with water for bathing by the Astor family. The 38 acres lake with its water maze attracts many youngsters, and the wildlife also serves as an educational resource.

Neil is a rose fanatic, and a large part of his time is spent on the walled rose garden with its 4000 fragrant rose plants – greenfly is dealt with organically by birds and hover flies but black spot is regretfully but necessarily kept at bay by spraying.

All the Gardens look immaculate, and it is hard to believe that until last month, 9 members of staff were furloughed, leaving Neil with only 3 members of staff to cope. However, Hever Castle is currently open for visits and stays, with Covid 19 precautions in place. The Autumn colours are particularly fantastic this year, as are the vistas.

Aerial view of the gardens

Many thanks to Neil, and to Perennial who have guided and fronted this Zoom lecture for Grayshott Gardeners as a new fund-raising activity to replace many others lost to the coronavirus. Neil is donating his fee for his talk to Perennial.

Further information on Hever Castle and its Gardens on their website: www.hevercastle.co.uk

Perennial is a charity which looks after former horticultural employees and their families: www.perennial.org.uk

Photographs supplied by Neil Miller

Photographic Competition – My Garden 2020

Grayshott Gardeners Patron and main instignator of the online Photographic Competition, Gordon Rae, reported that members had excelled themselves, with 35 entries; at a Spring or Summer Show, only 4 or 5 entries would be expected in the Photography Class.

Our members rose to the challenge, entering one photo on any aspect of their garden including “humour”. Photos included whole and parts of gardens, in sun and rain, patios, pets, hanging baskets, individual plants and flowers, wildlife, you name it, someone had photographed it.

The judge was Kathleen Bird, immediate past Chairman of Ludshott Photographic Club and a keen gardener herself. Kathleen holds both a Royal Photographic Society (Licentiate) and a Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (Credit) qualification.

Her task was not an easy one, as the range of subjects was wide and the standard was good. After careful thought Kathleen chose her first 3, a Highly Commended, 2 Commended and a group for display on the Grayshott Gardeners website (see photo gallery below):

1st “Bottoms up” by Doris Marjoram £25.00 cash prize

2nd “Flower Power” by Sue Wheeler £12.50 “

3rd “Dragonfly” by Karen Cozens £10.00 “

Bottoms up by Doris Marjoram
Flower Power by Sue Wheeler
Dragonfly by Karen Cozens

Highly Commended “Nymphaea Lily” by Alan (& Pamela) Wright

Commended “Heart Shaped Sunflower” by Keersten Kenny

Commended “Timorous Beastie” by Diana Grant

Of the winner, Kathleen said that this photo totally fulfilled the brief, was cleverly devised and executed having to use a tripod and a delayed shutter speed to take the “Selfie” and introduced a real element of “humour”.

In second place, the photographer had captured a lot of colour in the garden, totally filling the frame.

Kathleen was impressed by the Dragonfly which was awarded 3rd place, showing the insect in its natural environment, actually laying eggs in the pond. The photo was pin sharp and wait for it ……… taken on an Iphone.

Well done to everyone who entered this fun competition for helping to keep the club active while the COVID 19 restrictions are in place.

Our thanks to Gordon Rae for organising the photo competition, and to Kathleen Bird for judging the competition in such a thorough and professional way.

Cordyline by Anne Waddell

Photographic Competition: “My Garden 2020”

ornamental oregano

We always have one in both the Spring and Summer Shows but ‘no shows’ need not stop Grayshott Gardeners from holding a Photographic Competition for its members whilst still being partially “locked down”. Photos may be of any aspect of your garden and must have been taken during this year, 2020, by the exhibitor and submitted by the closing date of 30th September 2020. Click here for rules.

Grayshott Gardeners’ Potato Championship 2020

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 …!”

Now for the ‘blind’ tasting…

G.R.

Potato Competition!

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

CORONA 2020 ANTIDOTE PHOTO GALLERY

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.

(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.