Creating Good Plant Combinations, by Amanda Patton

Amanda Patton

On one of the coldest nights of the year so far Grayshott Gardeners were treated to an inspiring zoom lecture by Amanda Patton – without having to step outside into the cold night air.

Amanda has a background in archaeological drawing and illustration.  Her early career did not involve gardens at all, until the fateful day she was invited to see the garden a friend had created.  It took her breath away, and her first thought was “I want to learn how to do that”.  And learn she did, now running a successful design practice of her own in West Sussex.

One of Amanda’s garden designs

Amanda brings an artist’s vision and ability to critique to the world of garden design.  She showed us many examples of gardens where the design was excellent, but also examples where the design did not work.  Whilst most of us can see and feel the difference between these two extremes, it can be really difficult to pinpoint what is working and what is not.  Amanda tried to unpick the elements for us following four key rules:

  1. One thing the same
    Try to link plants to their immediate neighbours by having one characteristic in common e.g. both could have the same green leaves, but in different leaf shapes, or pair up the same leaf shapes but in different colours.
  2. Rhythm and Repetition
    Rhythms can be used in different ways to create a calming or dynamic feel, and having a theme that you develop through a border will make all the difference.
  3. Layers
    Give your borders layers – vertical, horizontal and seasonal – to give cohesion and avoid a random collection of plants.
  4. Colour and Value
    Use the colour wheel to create harmonious or complementary combinations. And remember that colours have tones (value) too, so shades and tints can be used to great effect.

Amanda gave us many practical hints to take away too.  Make your borders as large as you can; note where your garden catches the sun and plant in front of it, to make the most of light illuminating key plants; and take pictures of your garden in black and white – removing the colour can help you see where you have form, and where it needs to be introduced.

It was a fascinating talk, that gave us much food for thought.   And whilst not all of us will be able to embark on wholesale redesign of our plots, at least next time we come home from the Garden Centre with that inevitable impulse buy, we now have tools to work out where to position it for maximum effect.

Snowy Scenes

Grayshott’s recent snowfall had us rushing for our cameras to capture a world transformed by the White Stuff. Here are some of the scenes photographed by our members to remind you of those frosty days. Brrrrrrr !!!

Sheila Austin

Grayshott Gardeners’ New Year’s Day Flower Count

Grayshott Gardeners started off 2021 with our very own Flower Count.  Our members wandered round their gardens on New Year’s Day and counted all the different flowers they could find, where flowers were fully open, and not just in bud. 

The results surprised us all.  There were a grand total of 66 different plant species in flower, all in Grayshott gardens in January.  Some flowers were obvious for all to see, some needed more detective work to spot.  Some were hanging on from last season, whilst some were braving the icy temperatures to start this year’s display.  But all brought a smile to our faces, not least of which the Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’, which is clearly one very confused plant.

The full list (English and Latin names) is below:

So why don’t you have a look round your garden and start flower hunting? There may be more happening out there than you think.

David Hurrion Zooms in on Pruning Practices

David Hurrion pruning Garrya

Our Zoom lecturer for January was David Hurrion, who came highly recommended after his interesting “World Tour” talk for Grayshott Gardeners in March 2020, our last lecture in the Village Hall. Conforming to Covid restrictions, he did not stray far from home this time, but offered a handy, practical and timely guide on the art of pruning to our Zoom audience of 80+ participants.

As well as writing, lecturing, editing, designing and judging (RHS Shows), David is also an excellent teacher: he managed to pin down the practice of pruning to two rules of thumb: hard pruning at the end of the dormant season for late spring and summer flowering plants, and summer pruning (to remove spent flowers) for everything else. Fortunately he did not leave it at that, there were plenty of examples, illustrated with photos, and a few exceptions to the rules too.

David went on to explain various techniques in order to achieve a specific purpose, whether to correct the shape of a plant, to encourage larger or more flowers or fruit, to extend a plant’s life, or to control pests and diseases, and more. A diagram of the effect of different hormones (sap) rising in the plant’s stem, and the result of clipping or lopping at different areas of the stem was especially illuminating, as was the difference between leaf and flower buds.

To complete his pruning lecture, David demonstrated the different types of secateurs and loppers, not forgetting how to keep them clean, and he ended his talk with a bonus tip: he had it on good authority that we can expect very cold and frosty weather over the next 2 weeks. You have been warned!

Pruning a Wisteria in Summer

David has a website at as well as a YouTube channel with topical tips for 2021.

Newsletter January 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter :

January 2021


Happy New Year to you all and welcome to our first 2021 Grayshott Gardeners newsletter. You will now be turning your mind to ways to enjoy, protect and improve your gardens, and getting ready for a whole year of gardening pleasure and enjoyment. Below are a few ideas for the less seasoned gardeners amongst us.

We very much hope we’ll be able to resume our in-person meetings soon but, until then, stay safe and we’ll continue ZOOMing and keep you posted via the newsletter!  Happy gardening.

Anne Waddell               


Jobs in the garden this month are mostly about keeping things trim and tidy, and getting ready for the year to come. If you’re itching to get growing, there are a few things you can do besides the obvious planting bare root roses, chitting first early spuds and starting off your sweet peas. There are lots of gardening magazines and websites advising what to do. Here’s what Thompson-Morgan say:

– Put your new-year enthusiasm to good use by cleaning pots, tools, water butts and greenhouses in preparation for spring. It’s not the most glamorous of tasks, but it will set you up for a great growing season.

– Start planning what you want to do with your garden in the months to come. Order seeds and plants now from the comfort of your armchair.

– Check your winter protection is still working for you – survey any stakes, supports and ties that might have been damaged in bad weather.

– Continue looking after wildlife – put out food for hungry birds and continue to leave some areas of your garden uncut for shelter until the spring.


We thought it might be fun to start 2021 with a Grayshott Gardeners New Year’s Day Flower Count.

The idea is that you wander round your garden on New Year’s Day (or the nearest date you can get to that if the weather is rubbish) and count all the different flowers you can find.  Flowers must be fully open – not just in bud.  You’ll probably be surprised by just how much is out there if you get out and have a good look.  You can include any flower you find – which might be things you have planted or things that have arrived by themselves (aka weeds).

Make a note of their names (latin or otherwise!) and email your results to Sue, our Programme Coordinator (you can even include pictures if you want to).  It’s not a competition – just a bit of fun.

We will put them all together to show just how much Flower Power there is in a Grayshott January.  Watch out for the results in our next newsletter and on our website.


Our next virtual meeting is on Wednesday 13th January 2021 at 8.00pm, when David Hurrion will give us his ‘Essential Guide to Pruning’. David, gardening consultant and horticultural journalist, has been growing plants for over 40 years. He is an Associate Editor for ‘BBC Gardeners World Magazine’ and is a regular contributor and expert commentator on TV and radio. We hope that the evening will give us some useful tips and reminders, as we all sharpen our secateurs ready for spring.

Please contact Helen Deighan for information on how to register for this lecture. Details automatically will be sent to all those members who registered for the October and December 2020 lectures.


Following the virtual AGM in November 2020, Dennis has indicated that he will not be seeking re-election as Club Treasurer at the next AGM in November 2021. Dennis has been Treasurer since December 2013 and feels it is time for someone else to have a go! Should any of the Members wish to be considered for the role as Treasurer please contact Anne (W) or Dennis who can explain what the responsibilities and role entail.


Please note that the discount offer from Squires Garden Centres at Milford and Frensham is not printed on the back of the Membership Card – a full list of suppliers is in the 2021 Handbook.
Please enjoy a discount at these venues.

WHAT IS IT? Results for No. 1 & Photo for No. 2

Thank you to all of you who had a go at our first ‘What is It’ photographic quiz last month. It drew some interesting responses, including ‘Cordyline Australis’ and ‘Hosta’. The honours however, go to Helen Deighan and Karen Cozens, both of whom correctly identified the leaf of a ‘Phormium’. That said, the ‘top honour’ has to go to John Baker and June Colley, who identified, with uncanny accuracy, the genus, species, sub-species and variety down to the last vowel, consonant and inverted comma as:

Phormium cookianum, sub sp. hookeri ‘Cream Delight’.

Not even Gordon is certain it is ‘Cream Delight’ and it is growing in his garden!

Photo no. 1: Phormium

And here is photo no. 2:

If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae by 15 January 2021.

We will provide the answer and the names of those who correctly identified the photo in our February newsletter.


Grayshott Gardeners now have had two ZOOM lectures with a third coming very soon. We all know that they are not the same as having a live lecture in the Village Hall, with our social gatherings and plants for sale, but they are the next best thing under the circumstances. So far, we have 81 members registered for GG ZOOM lectures, which is great. We would like to get members’ views on the ZOOM lectures. More particularly we would like to receive any ideas you may have on how to improve them.

We also would really welcome your comments on the ‘Catch-Up’ facility. We were very fortunate that Adam Pasco, who gave us a brilliant lecture in December, kindly recorded it for us. We sent out the link to you soon after the lecture. This gave any Grayshott Gardener that could not make it on the night the chance to see what they missed. Or, to give those who joined us on the evening, the opportunity to watch it again (Adam ran through rather a lot of plant names!). As with ‘Catch-Up’ TV, we could even fast forward through bits if we wanted to. At the time of writing, the video has had 36 views. So, please tell us what you think about this ‘Catch-Up’ arrangement.  While it will not necessarily be available at all virtual lectures, as it will be at the discretion of each speaker, we would be interested to know your thoughts to inform future plans for Grayshott Gardeners. And remember, a summary of each lecture is always posted on our website.

Please send your comments and ideas about the ZOOM lectures and the ‘Catch-Up’ facility to Helen Deighan, Sue Wheeler, Anne Butler, John Price or Gordon Rae and your ‘ZOOM’ team will try to deal with them.



As you have heard Gordon say before ‘Every garden in Grayshott should grow a Galanthus’.

There now are 120 snowdrops potted up in his and Judith’s garden ready for sale to Grayshott Gardeners’ members. This year there are about 20 different named varieties with 6 bulbs of each one.  Most would cost about £5 – £12 per bulb, but there are 5 varieties listed in catalogues at £20 – £30 per bulb. 

To raise funds for Grayshott Gardeners, we would like to sell these at £3 per pot or 4 pots for £10 for 15 of the varieties. For the 5 less common varieties, they are £5 per pot or £27 for 6 pots. Some will still be in bud, rather than in flower.

For several years, the snowdrops have been sold at our lectures in the Village Hall from December through to February. As we are unable to do that this year, we will have a different sale.

The snowdrops will be available to buy from the garage of Gordon and Judith Rae on Saturday and Sunday, 6 & 7 February 2021 from 10am until 12 noon on each day (weather permitting!).

You will be free to go into the garden to see the snowdrops which are in flower at that time (COVID restrictions permitting).

Please do help us to sell the snowdrops. Gordon and Judith do not wish to keep them for another year.


As we were unable to hold either the Spring or Summer Shows in 2020, we did not have our usual Photographic Class in each show.

In the Grayshott Gardeners Handbook for 2021, you will find the two themes which have been carried forward from 2020. They are:

Spring Show: “It Looks Like Spring”

Summer Show: “A Cosy Corner”

Assuming the two shows can take place, the photographs will be judged by the members at each show. If, heaven forbid, we are unable to hold our shows, the Photographic Class still will go ahead.

Members will be invited to send their photos, by e-mail, on the given theme to Gordon Rae. Judging will be carried out by an external judge. There will be the usual prize of £20 for the winner of each theme.

So, please start taking photographs as soon as you wish, and we will decide how they will be entered and judged in due course. The closing dates for entries, if we are unable to hold our shows, will be announced later.

Please don’t forget that a little humour in the photos will be much appreciated!

This is ‘Bottoms Up’ – the photo taken by Doris Marjoram and winner of our 2020 virtual photographic competition – well done Doris.


Don’t forget we have a website which is regularly maintained by Anke and is an enjoyable browsing destination.

The write-ups of our lectures are particularly good and they, together with our photo gallery, have some amazing pictures. They serve as a great reminder of the beauty of all things gardening.


Please find attached our second Grayshott Gardeners themed crossword puzzle.

This is much more legible than the one in the December newsletter – so it should be easier on the eyes! We know there is one misspelling in our answer to clue 5 across – the last ‘i’ is missing – sorry; whilst we may have improved the clarity, we have yet to master the new software, so any typos in the early drafts can easily be made – we are not quite there yet!  Please look out for the answers in the February newsletter.

Attached to this newsletter are the answers to the ‘November’ crossword puzzle which featured in our December 2020 newsletter.

Adam Pasco, Gardener for All Seasons

The speaker for our second Zoom lecture needed no introduction: Adam Pasco launched the BBC Gardeners’ World magazine in 1991 and edited it for 22 years, he currently edits the Waitrose magazine, and has worked alongside gardening icons Geoff Hamilton, Geoffrey Smith and Alan Titchmarsh; he also lectures, is a renowned photographer and runs his own media company,

Grayshott Gardeners certainly felt the benefit of Adam’s more than 40 years of experience in horticulture. His talk, entitled Creating a Garden for All Seasons covered 10 different ways of adding interest to a garden, illustrated with a selection of superb photographs from his own cottage-style garden: a magnificent Wedding Cake Tree (Cornus Controversa variegata) added for structural interest, various plants and combinations for long-time colour, (Narcissi got a specific mention) and different features for focal points such as the bench in a shady part of his garden.

Trees also got a mention owing to their various displays over the year. Adam encouraged us to grow something different (illustrated with a photo of his Australian Ptilotus ‘Joey’, featuring a mass of feathery pink cones, and is drought-resistant too) and reminded us not to forget scent (Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’), planting for wildlife to encourage bees and hover flies, and finally, to choose a star plant for every month.

To help us with the latter, Adam proceeded to list suitable plants for every month of the year, illustrated with eye-catching, colourful photographs. He finished his talk with jobs to do in winter, motivating us to identify gaps and to consciously look for something to plug that gap. The evening ended with a Q and A session, leaving the audience of Grayshott Gardeners greatly inspired.

Sue W. is lining up a number of well-known captivating speakers , accompanied by superb photographs and more often than not unmissable tips, plus a chance to catch up with fellow-Grayshott Gardeners for our programme of online Zoom lectures to cover the COVID19 period. Information and a link to participate is included in the monthly Newsletter, or email

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:

Perennial is a charity which looks after former horticultural employees and their families:

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.