All posts by Sue Wheeler

Rhododendrons: From the Himalayas to Chelsea, by David Millais

David is our local rhododendron specialist running the Millais Nurseries at Crosswater Farm in Churt, which was set up by his parents Ted and Romy in 1970. The Millais family has been established at Crosswater Farm since 1947, but their rhododendron heritage goes back to the naturalist, botanist and author J G Millais, who identified and described many Rhododendrons for the first time, and published his great two volume series ‘Rhododendrons’ (1917 and 1924). Since then, the Millais family has travelled widely, particularly to the Himalayas in search of new plants to bring home and propagate, and David is still hoping to find the Holy Grail of a late flowering rhododendron…..

The nurseries regularly enter various shows, and have been awarded five consecutive gold medals at Chelsea, a significant achievement – and David’s talk was aptly titled “Rhododendrons from the Himalayas to Chelsea”.

We followed David on a journey to the mountains of Nepal, sharing beautiful scenic photos and getting an appreciation of the sheer hard work involved on the trek heading towards Mt Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world. The walk took us through temperate forests to alpine regions, enjoying the brightness of the light levels, to get to approx. 2500-3000m where the rhododendrons grow that are hardy enough for the UK climate. David shared details of several beautiful examples – campylocarpum with its stunning yellow flowers that likes the dry, thomsonni with lovely red blooms and a prominent calyx that likes to be near flowing water, and the hybrid of both.

Back at the nurseries, where David and his team propagate 40,000 rhododendrons a year, most of the new plants are created from cuttings, as this gives a more uniform result than planting seeds.  The work starts in late May starting with deciduous, then dwarf, species, hybrids, hardy hybrids and the rest, and the rooting process takes six months.  Great success with cuttings is achieved for evergreen azaleas, though success reduces to 20% for rarer species, mainly due to timing – soft cuttings root better, but need more care. Millais try to use “organic type” products in their plant care regime – feed includes compost tea, mineral fertilisers and maxicrop seaweed, with revive plant tonic, SB plant invigorator, which is also good for bud blight, and biosept citrus seed oil as needed.  Pest control is managed using garlic extract and agri 50 physical pest barriers, mildew counteracted with potassium bicarb and vine weevil handled with nemasys. Irrigation water is enhanced with a copper dosing to help plants keep clear of pests and diseases.

In our own gardens, rhododendrons will love the acidic soil with a PH of 4.5-5.5, although adding manganese to the soil will enable rhodis to grown in limestone areas.  They like moist but free draining soil, and a location with dappled shade to full sun away from trees and plants/hedges so they have a enough room to grow.  Planting is best done between September and March and you need a wide shallow hole, as their roots are not very deep – this is the most common mistake when planting rhodis, the holes are just too deep!  Once planted, water well in June and July, as this is when the buds are forming for the next year and use a light dose of slow release feed in March and again after flowering. If you have a poorly plant, use liquid feed as nourishment. To mulch use bark, wood chips, bracken compost and leaf mould including pine needles. They don’t like stones or weed membrane to control weeds. Deadheading should be done on young or sick plants, and any others if you have time and energy. Light pruning can be done straight after flowering using secateurs, bigger cuts using loppers and saws should be done in early Spring. After any big pruning, help the plant recover with leaf mould and bark, lots of water and some granular feed.

After all this loving care, Millais nurseries exhibit at Chelsea every two to three years – the costs are high, with £30,000 worth of stock required and £10,000 labour. A key challenge is to make sure that the plants flower at exactly the right time, so they are often kept in cold storage.  The main exhibit has five main plants in 90 litre pots, and numerous others, all selected for complimentary shapes and colours.

Not only finding time for Chelsea, the Millais Woodland Garden at the nurseries has been completely renovated and is now open again as part of the NGS, on the Sunday of the first bank holiday in May.

A very interesting and enlightening talk that showed us the journey of a rhododendron from the Himalayas to the Chelsea Flower Show and all the work involved in making these beautiful plants available to us – with some very helpful insights on how to care for them to keep our own plants healthy and blooming.

David very kindly donated his fee to the Perennial charity.

Report by Pamela Wright

New Year’s Day Flower Count 2022

A great way to mark the beginning of a New Year is to get out in your garden and see what is flowering.  That is what a group of Grayshott Gardeners did this year, counting flowers that were fully open on the first day of January 2022. 

Our clever gardeners have planted their gardens so there is a bit of interest in every season, so many of the flowers found were winter favourites – with lots of viburnums, witch hazels, mahonias and pansies (if the deer haven’t treated themselves to a flowery delicacy and pinched all the blooms).  It’s been a mild year so far, so it was interesting to see that some plants were still hanging onto their flowers from the summer.  But perhaps more surprising were the plants that were getting a headstart for the coming season – with one brave pink rhododendron stealing the show.

Here is the list of what they found – hundreds of flowers counted in total, and 53 distinct species.

Newsletter January 2022

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Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

January 2022

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members

In wishing you a happy and safe New Year, I hope you managed to take advantage of the unexpected warm weather in December, as I did, to catch up with those last jobs in the garden before the real winter starts.

Looking forward to 2022, Sue has produced another series of varied and quality lectures which we hope will be live. However, if events turn against us, be confident we will be ready to Zoom if necessary.

The trial of making a video of John Baker’s fascinating lecture on ‘The Gardens of Japan’ went off successfully. We had over 30 viewings on YouTube, which I hope enabled members who were unable to attend not to miss out.

If you enjoy looking at gardens around Hampshire and Surrey, would you be interested in planning a few trips for the club during the summer? This is not a committee role, but it would mean discussing the visits with the owners and setting up dates for us to visit as a group, where we would make our own travel arrangements. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact me or a member of the committee.

Best wishes. John

NEW YEAR’S DAY FLOWER COUNT

We thought it might be fun to start 2022 with a Grayshott Gardeners New Year’s Day Flower Count…..as we did to herald in 2021. Our first count really caught your imagination with Club members identifying 66 different plant species in flower. Let’s see if we can beat that in 2022!

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 Co-ordinator, at programme@grayshottgardeners.net  (you can even include pictures if you want to).  It’s not a competition – just a bit of fun.

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

JANUARY 2022 MEETING

Our first meeting of the new year is on Wednesday 12th January. At the time of writing, we are scheduled to meet in the Village Hall, at 7.30pm for 8.00pm, but please check your e-mail and/or the website for up-to-date information, nearer the time.

This month we have invited a local lad to speak. He may be local, but he is renowned throughout the world as a Rhododendrons and Azaleas specialist. David Millais, known to many of you, I’m sure, as the person who runs the Millais Nursery in Churt.

David’s nursery grows one of the widest ranges of Rhododendrons and Azaleas in the world; he has an unparalleled experience of the genus and has achieved 5 consecutive RHS Gold medals at Chelsea. The Millais family has been established at Crosswater Farm since 1947, but their Rhododendron heritage goes back to the naturalist, botanist and author J G Millais, who identified and described many Rhododendrons for the first time and published his great two volume series ‘Rhododendrons’ (1917 and 1924). Ted and Romy Millais started the nursery in 1970, and as septuagenarians they organized many exciting plant hunting trips to the Himalayas, and introduced several wonderful new species, some of which are offered there now.

We look forward to seeing you on the 12th.

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NAME THAT PLANT

Thank you to the people who responded with suggestions about the photograph of the flower featured in the December newsletter – Pat Barrett, Anne Butler, Karen Cozens, and Gordon Rae.  Both Karen and Gordon think it is a Eschscholzia californica – Californian poppy – while Pat thinks it’s a Eschscholzia caespitosa – tufted poppy (USA).  It’s difficult to tell exactly which, as they are very similar. Knowing how the whole plant looks, I’m tempted to think it’s a caespitosa – but will take a more detailed look at the next flowers just to be sure!

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Both these poppies do well in poor well drained soil, so good for our gardens. They both need full sun to flower fully though.  The E. californica is a vigorous bushy, spreading annual to 30cm, with finely divided blue-green leaves and orange, yellow or red flowers to 7cm across in summer.  It can also be grown as a drought-tolerant pot plant. The E. caespitosa is an annual forming a low mound of finely divided grey-green leaves with fragrant, 4-petalled bright flowers to 5cm across in summer.

For more information, see this link from the R.H.S.

For our February newsletter, please do send in a photo of any plant you would like help identifying – the deadline for submission is 15th January to Pamela Wright at shows@grayshottgardeners.net 

PLANT OF THE MONTH IN GRAYSHOTT

This month, our President, Gordon Rae, is providing information on the Winter Pansy. Please do let us know what you think of this feature which was introduced in response to reader request. You can contact Gordon at president@grayshottgardeners.net

WINTER PANSY

Our New Year’s Day survey of what is in flower in a Grayshott garden will yield an unexpectedly long list of plant names. From the list, the simple Winter Pansy will probably produce the widest range of riotous colour for the longest period of times of them all.

Planted in November/December they will flower continuously until spring. Winter Pansies (four (4) petals up and one (1) down) is a Pansy. Two (2) petals up and three (3) down is a Viola) are easy to grow from seed or plugs, are hardy and do particularly well in pots with spring bulbs, especially in a sunny position. The downside……the deer love them. In pots, in our front garden, they will continue to nibble all the new growth as it appears and this year we will not have any flower at all!

Here’s a link from the R.H.S. about the Winter Pansy as part of a winter collection in a container to brighten up a patio or balcony giving colour and interest over the cold season.

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Winter Pansy in January

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Winter Pansy eaten by Roe Deer

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Winter Pansy in a pot, still in flower in April

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN IN THE MONTH OF JANUARY

1.Prune apples and pears

2.Clean pots and greenhouses ready for the spring

3.Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already

4.Disperse cast worms in lawns

5. Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out

6.Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch

7.Start forcing rhubarb

8.Plan your vegetable crop rotation for the coming season

9.Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds

10.Make a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect against peach leaf curl

The above list was taken from the R.H.S. website but you also may wish to see these links for more information:

Thompson-Morgan

Gardeners World

Bunny Guinness – who has been dreaming of a green Christmas

Sarah Raven

SOME GARDENING PODCASTS

And for those you into armchair gardening, here’s a link to some podcasts which member Karen Cozens has come across: The English Garden

Japanese Gardens, by John Baker

John very kindly stood in at short notice for our scheduled speaker who was unwell.  Out of a long list of topics upon which John lectures we chose “Gardens of Japan”.

John Baker (right) with our Chairman John Price

John told us about himself and his partner June Colley.  John was an engineer who designed and built furnaces used for making optical fibres. June, who has a Masters Degree in Botany, is a renowned expert in perfumes.  Their common interests are plants, particularly Hostas, and travel, particularly to the Far East, so John’s topic of “Gardens of Japan” was extremely apt. And although Jonn and June now have about 1700 types of Hosta in their garden, “Hanging Hostas of Hampshire” at Lindford, Hostas hardly had a mention.

John related how Japanese gardens were brought to the West through Josiah Conder in the late 1800s, but pointed out that our Japanese gardens are but a caricature of those in Japan, some of which date back 500 years.

John took us carefully through the three main types of Japanese garden: the Hill and Pond Garden, Zen Garden and Stroll Gardens, built by the rich and famous to impress their friends, the great and the good.

Japanese gardens originated in China, but under the influence of Buddhism, developed from gardens with plants, to places for contemplation with stones and raked gravel.

We were taken on a journey from gardens of Tokyo south, to the old capital of Japan, Kyoto, then on to Okoyama and finally to Hiroshima, with photographs of the very moving “Peace Park”.

This talk was not just about gardens, azaleas, cherry blossom, Hostas, moss and gravel. John also peppered his talk with a pot-pourri of history , geography , religion, social history and food. He was delighted to find Hosta shoots for sale as a vegetable in the supermarket, but was annoyed when he got thrown out trying to photograph them!

He concluded by showing how your own corner of Japan might be created from rocks, stepping stones, water , bamboos, hostas , ferns, moss and lanterns. A fascinating talk from a knowledgeable and accomplished speaker.

John very kindly donated his lecture fee to the Perennial charity.

Report by Gordon Rae

Newsletter December 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

December 2021

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members 

My first pleasurable task as your new Chairman is to thank the three committee members who have resigned after many dedicated years of service. They, together with the rest of the committee, have successfully led us through the recent difficult times. They are Rosario Henshall (Secretary), who is succeeded by Anne Butler, Dennis Homer (Treasurer), who is succeeded by Alan Wright, whose wife Pamela is also taking over as Shows Co-ordinator from Leslia Farnfield.

For myself, those of you who were unable to have attended the AGM, it is my privilege to follow Anne Waddell who has been our Chairman and led us for the last three years.

For identification, I attach a picture of myself when out pursuing my other hobby as a serious photographer, taken when hunting stags (to photograph)! Together with existing committee members, I believe we have a strong and professional group of enthusiasts again to continue taking the Club forward.

It will be my pleasure to welcome you to our last lecture of the year on 8th December by Harry Baldwin. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best wishes, John

DECEMBER 2021 MEETING

Our Christmas meeting this year is on Wednesday 8th December.

The speaker is Harry Baldwin, a young dendrologist (study of trees and shrubs) and horticultural taxonomist; he has worked at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. His CV lists an impressive number of diplomas, honours and awards, as well as an array of practical experience and botanical travel trips worldwide. His articles have been published in botanical publications, he has been involved in organising and giving lectures, and is particularly passionate about reaching out to youngsters faced with making career choices.

Harry last came to speak to us in September 2019 and told us of his many travels. His lecture this year is entitled: ‘Oaks of the World’.

Mince pies and mulled wine will be served and there also will be a raffle. The meeting will be held in Grayshott Village Hall. Doors open at 7.30pm ready for the lecture to begin at 8pm.

Harry Baldwin and Gordon Rae

NAME THAT PLANT

Thank you to the three people who identified last month’s plant as an Astrantia – Anne Butler, Susan Erler and Gordon Rae.  Both Anne and Susan further clarified the plant as “major” with Anne suggesting the full name might be Astrantia Major Shaggy.

This plant likes full sun or partial shade, in fertile, moist, humus-rich soil. It flowers from June to August, dies back to below ground every Autumn, when it’s a good idea to mulch it, then new growth appears in the Spring.

This masterwort has very long, green-tipped white bracts that are often incurved to the middle and raggedly toothed towards the ends.  The bracts surround umbels of greenish white flowers, creating larger than average flower heads.

There are many different Astrantia Majors, it would be interesting to know if any other members are growing them, and if any do particularly well in Grayshott gardens.  Please email Anne, our newsletter editor, at newsletter@grayshottgardeners.net, so this feedback can be shared with other members in the next edition.

And here’s a link to the R.H.S. website giving more information.

The next plant we’d like some help with please is below – we could of course ask the bee!

If you think you know, please email Pamela at shows@grayshottgardeners.net by

15 December 2021. Hopefully, we will be able to “name that plant” in our January newsletter. 

Also, for our January newsletter, please do send in a photo of any plant you would like help identifying – the deadline for submission is 15 December.

GRAYSHOTT GARDENERS COMMITTEE 2022

Thank you to all of you who joined our AGM on 10th November….and special thanks to Chrissi Dye who, with her team, put on a wonderful spread for us all to enjoy once the formalities were over.

We now have a new committee with John Price as Chair. We shortly will be posting the full list of Committee members on our  website.

PLANT OF THE MONTH IN GRAYSHOTT

This month, our President, Gordon Rae, is providing information on Fothergilla major, Mountain Witch Alder. Please do let us know what you think of this feature which was introduced in response to reader request. You can contact Gordon at president@grayshottgardeners.net

FOTHERGILLA MAJOR

It may be unusual to choose a shrub such as Fothergilla major for Plant of the Month, but there is good reason. It has spectacular red, yellow and orange foliage in late Autumn, to complement the feathery, bottlebrush-like creamy white spikes of highly scented flowers in Spring, coming before the dark green foliage of Summer. See the photos in the next column.

Fothergilla is a native of the Appalachian Mountains of south-east USA. It is a slow growing shrub, reaching only 2-2.5m tall after 10-20 years, ideal for a small garden. It will thrive in the acidic soils of Grayshott in a well-drained spot in sun or partial shade. It is hardy, responds to mulching and the flowers attract bees, butterflies and moths.

Please see this R.H.S. link

for more information.

Flowers in Spring

Foliage in Autumn

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN

IN THE MONTH OF DECEMBER

1. Check your winter protection structures are still securely in place

2. Check that greenhouse heaters are working

3. Insulate outdoor taps and prevent ponds from freezing

4. Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls)

5. Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding

6. Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops

7. Trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted

8. Take hardwood cuttings

9. Keep mice away from stored produce

10. Reduce watering of houseplants

The above list was taken from the R.H.S. website, but you also may wish to see

these links for more information:

Thompson Morgan

Gardeners World

Bunny Guinness

Sarah Raven

NEW YEAR’S DAY FLOWER COUNT

We thought it might be fun to start 2022 with a Grayshott Gardeners New Year’s Day Flower Count…..as we did to herald in 2021. Our first count really caught your imagination with Club members identifying 66 different plant species in flower. Let’s see if we can beat that in 2022!

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 Co-ordinator, at programme@grayshottgardeners.net  (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 February newsletter and on our Grayshott Gardeners website.

SNOW DROP OPEN MORNING

Gordon and Judith Rae again are going to have a snowdrop open morning – it will either be Saturday 9th February or Saturday 16th February 2022. We will confirm exact date nearer the time and will let you know the details. In the meantime, you might want to note these dates in your diary.

Newsletter November 2021

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members 

It was lovely to see so many of you at our keynote lecture last month when James Alexander-Sinclair talked about “A Life in Five Gardens” – well actually it was more than five! He was very entertaining.

This month on 10th November we have the A.G.M., followed by a buffet and drinks – see page 3. I, together with Rosario, Dennis and Leslia all stand down – with new officers at the helm for next year. I should like to convey warm thanks to my retiring colleagues and to thank all the Committee for what they have achieved in particularly challenging times. Our member numbers are as high as they have ever been, and we can look forward with confidence that Grayshott Gardeners will have even more success in the future. We are looking for new Committee members – particularly someone who can organise our outings. If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy gardening and hope to see you at our A.G.M. on 10th November.

Best wishes, Anne Waddell

NAME THAT PLANT

The good news is that we’ve identified the plant featured in the October 2021 Newsletter as a Spirea – Sorbaria sorbifolia. Many thanks to Barbara Homer for confirming. 

This plant likes full sun to partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline. It’s fully hardy and the feathery foliage emerges each spring in a bright pinkish-bronze flush, which quickly turns to fresh lime – and then a rich, dark green. Forming an attractive leafy mound, it is topped from midsummer with large cone-shaped clusters of small white flowers. The interest continues well into autumn, when the foliage changes colour once again – this time taking on reddish tones before the leaves are shed. It grows to 1.5m x 1.5m in 2-5 years, and it’s been awarded the RHS AGM, so a great addition to a Grayshott garden.

The next plant we’d like some help with please is:

If you think you know, please email Pamela Wright at shows@grayshottgardeners.net by 15 November 2021. Hopefully, we will be able to “name that plant” in our December newsletter.

PLANT OF THE MONTH IN GRAYSHOTT

This month, our President, Gordon Rae, is providing information on Nerines which do well in the local area, and which flower in the month of November. Please do let us know what you think of this feature which was introduced last month in response to reader request. You can contact Gordon at president@grayshottgardeners.net

NERINES

There are few plants to match the long-lasting burst of vivid reds, pinks, or whites of Nerines. They belong to the Lily family and are natives of South Africa. Not surprisingly, Nerines thrive best in sunny borders or under walls in free-draining soils.

There are over 20 different species of Nerines, but Nerine bowdenii is best suited to our Grayshott soils and conditions. N. bowdenii is fully hardy. It produces its leaves in spring. These die back in the summer and the bulbs flower without leaves in October/November.

Bulbs are best planted in spring, just below the surface and left for several years until they become crowded, at which point bulbs should be lifted, divided, and replanted.

Our Nerines came from my mother about 40 years ago. Nerines are highly recommended and cannot be bettered for a show of colour in October and November, when little else is in flower.

Please see this R.H.S. link for more information

And here’s a place where you can buy them……. although Grayshott Gardeners does not endorse any particular supplier and you may wish to shop around.

A.G.M.

10th November 2021

As notified to you already, this month, on Wednesday 10th November, we have our Annual General Meeting. It is in the Village Hall at 8pm; doors open at 7.30pm. This will be followed by our ever-popular light buffet with wine and soft drinks. Given that COVID is still prevalent, we will be doing all we can to keep us all safe – the nibbles will be ‘stand-alone’ items (so no diving into communal bowls of crisps or nuts!) and beverages will be served in disposable, compostable cups. You are encouraged to go onto the Grayshott Gardeners website for previous minutes and reports.

Our Chairman, Anne Waddell, Hon. Secretary, Rosario Henshall, Hon. Treasurer, Dennis Homer, and Shows Coordinator, Leslia Farnfield, all will be standing down from their roles and from the Committee. We warmly thank them for their many years of service to Grayshott Gardeners. It is hoped to confirm successors to Anne, Rosario, Dennis and Leslia at the meeting.

We ask that face coverings are worn on arrival, when moving around and on leaving the Hall, but optional when seated.

Chairs will be appropriately spaced out and you are requested not to move them.

The Hall will be well ventilated, so please come suitably dressed in case it is chilly.

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to seeing you on the 10th.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN

IN THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER

1. Clear up fallen leaves – especially from lawns, ponds, and beds

2. Raise containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging

3. Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display next year

4. Prune roses to prevent wind rock

5. Plant out winter bedding

6. Cover brassicas with netting if pigeons are a problem

7. Insulate outdoor containers from frost – bubble wrap works well

8. Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees, using grease bands around the trunks

9. Put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden

10. Use a seasonal bonfire – where this is allowed – to dispose of excess debris unfit for composting

The above list was taken from the R.H.S. website, but you also may wish to see

these links for more information:

Thompson-Morgan

Gardeners World

I’ve been advised that Bunny Guinness’ videos – on YouTube – are extremely good … lots of gardening hacks, design information and money saving suggestions

Sarah Raven

Thanks to Karen Cozens who suggested the last of the above two links.

BONFIRE NIGHT

It’s that time of the year again – Bonfire Night! It is a tradition on November 5th to light sparklers, fireworks, bonfires and eat candy apples and treacle toffee for the anniversary of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, known as the Gunpowder Plot. Did you know that it’s a common fact that the most firework bursts and effects are named after flowers/plants/trees? There are, for example, Chrysanthemum, dahlia, willow, palm, and peony bursts. In fact, several firework arrangements are known as bouquets. So, if you don’t want to head out to the local park to see the community fireworks display, you can lay out in your garden (in the warmer months!) and just look at nature’s version. The colours are just as spectacular, except it’s a lot quieter.

See the JParkers website for information about some spectacular blooms to light up your garden in the spring, summer and  autumn, together with safety  tips for bonfire night in the garden.

 

10 EXPLOSIVE BLOOMS TO LIGHT UP YOUR GARDEN

Allium Fireworks

1.      Allium Fireworks

2.      Agapanthus Mixed

3.      Allium Schubertii

4.      Asters Alpinus Mixed

5.      Monarda Mixed

6.      Euphorbia Bonfire

7.      Pieris Forest Flame

8.      Salix Caprea Pendula

9.      Astrantia Moulin Rouge

10.   Aquilegia Barlow Mixed

Euphorbia ‘Bonfire’

A Life in Five Gardens, by James Alexander-Sinclair

In October 2021, Grayshott Gardeners welcomed James Alexander-Sinclair, who gave us a really entertaining talk about his Life in Five Gardens.

In fact, the title above undervalued James’ talk because, with his rapid fire delivery and enthusiasm, James gave us 10 gardens for the price of 5.  On introducing James, our President came armed with an A4 sheet listing  James’ curriculum vitae but the modest  James soon asked Gordon to cease his recital before he had reached halfway down the page.

From an unpromising start to his working life as waiter,  jeans salesman, Harrods’ Father Christmas  and being an unwilling helper in his parents’ garden James designed his first garden in 1983 although “design” was probably a loose term as against a backdrop of corrugated iron it comprised only a few flower pots on a pile of bricks “borrowed” from the adjoining building site.  Despite this small venture, James received a few requests to dig relatives’ gardens, tasks he found he rather enjoyed.

In 1992, James moved into an old farm building which provided plenty of scope for him to design his first proper garden.   As with all his gardens,  James aims to make a seamless transition from garden to the adjoining countryside often including in his gardens strong structures softened by additional planting (which he describes as “loads of fluff”) such as the use of square columns of beech with softer planting around.   The beech keeps its leaves throughout the year with lovely autumnal colours and, in Spring, the new green leaves appear, the trees avoiding a boring interim of bare wood through the depths of winter.  James manages softer planting by instructing his Bulgarian gardener to scatter plants and bulbs on the ground to fall in a haphazard manner thus producing no tight, neat groups.   He enjoys watching the foliage plants going through their seasonal changes; grasses add movement and look particularly lovely in frost and snow. 

When designing clients’ gardens  James is a great believer in not retaining something just because it has always been there.   He suggested that, if a plant doesn’t give one pleasure, then get rid of it but resist being too hasty to cut back everything in the autumn.  He urged that seed heads and foliage can look wonderful as the season changes and also provide food and shelter for wildlife.

In 2016, James became involved with the design of the gardens in Spinal Injury units in Scotland and Salisbury.   Horatio Chapple, the son of a doctor who specialised in spinal injuries, was inspired to create a garden area in each of the 11 Spinal Injury Centres throughout Britain where patients, their families, and staff could relax and enjoy the surroundings.   Patients typically spend up to 6 months recovering from spinal injuries and peaceful, accessible, and beautifully planted areas are particularly important for their recovery  Sadly, Horation didn’t live to see his dream fulfilled as, in 2011, he was killed in a tragic accident at the age of 17.

In 2017,  James designed “The Garden of Five Senses” for Chelsea in which sound is transmitted through water, the different frequencies making different patterns across the surface.

One of James’ least successful ventures was at Chatsworth where a large imitation bowler hat was made to rise slowly from the ground to expose a garden beneath.   In its second season the electric motor caught fire turning the mobile into a flaming disaster. 

During his delightful talk we all warmed to James’ easy, unstuffy, and joyful approach to gardening.  His message was that, whereas a garden doesn’t have to be perfect, it must give pleasure.   A final bon mot: “When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it and, if it comes out easily, it is a valuable plant”

Jan Bebbington

Newsletter October 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

October 2021

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members 

It was lovely to see you at September’s lecture when Harriet Rycroft talked to us about planting pots – and gave us a nifty demonstration using her mobile phone!

This month we have a key-note lecture when James Alexander-Sinclair is going to talk about “A Life in Five Gardens”. James is a celebrity gardener, often recognisable by his hat! We are sure he will delight us with his brilliant communication skills.

In this newsletter, we report on the results of the survey which was undertaken in July to get your views on the newsletter and website. You will see a few changes to the newsletter based on what you told us – thank you to everyone who did the survey. Your feedback is important in helping make sure that Grayshott Gardeners club meets your needs.

We also are reminding you that next month is the A.G.M. We are looking for new Committee members – particularly someone who can organise our outings. If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Happy gardening and looking forward to seeing you at our next meeting on 13th October.

Best wishes, Anne Waddell

WHAT IS IT?

Results for No. 10

The answer for September 2021 was an acorn. Three members correctly identified the photo – Anne Butler, Karen Cozens (again!) and Anne Preston. Congratulations.

This is the last of our ‘What Is It?’ section for the time being – based on feedback you gave us in the GG Survey – see more on page 2. Warm thanks to Gordon who provided the photos and to the many of you who entered – it was a good bit of fun during the pandemic.

WHAT YOU TOLD US

An on-line survey of Grayshott Gardener members was conducted in July 2021 to elicit views on the newsletter and website. Over 25% of members completed the survey. Thank you! Your feedback will be very helpful in shaping future the future of the club.

The results of the survey have been analysed and considered by the Committee. A clear message was the need for more Grayshott-specific gardening related items. With some of the feedback, we have been able to get on and do things; there are other areas that require your help to make happen.

Some of the actions under way include:

  • ‘Retiring’ the Crossword – well done to Leslia for producing it monthly for the last 9 months. It served us well during the pandemic.
  • Replacing the ‘What Is It’ photographic quiz – thanks again to Gordon – it certainly achieved the aim of helping to foster a sense of community (even competitive!) spirit amongst the Grayshott Gardeners – with ‘Name that Plant’ – see next page.
  • Including routinely in the newsletter links to websites that offer tips on ‘What to Do in the Garden This Month’.
  • Including within the annual programme some lectures with an ‘eco’ content – so on a topic that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.
  • Setting up a Seed Swap. The idea is that a member brings their surplus seeds in an envelope(s) to a table in the registration area on the lecture night/show day and, in return, takes an envelope(s) with seeds they want. After the lecture/show, members will be e-mailed to let them know what seeds are still available if members are interested. Helen has offered to get this going and she plans to also have on the table some gently used gardening books for sale, with the proceeds going to GG. Look out for when this starts.
  • Continue with our mini-plant sales from Committee members’ houses – a pandemic initiative which has proved a welcome income stream for club funds; members will be notified of these via e-mail.

Other ideas put forward require your help, so we would love to hear from anyone who thinks they can volunteer or would like to comment – please contact any Committee member or e-mail newsletter@grayshottgardeners.net

  • Develop a buddy system…..where a ’newbie’ gardener is matched with a more experienced gardener to provide mentoring support.
  • Have practical workshops – hosted by a member and open to members to give advice/share tips/talk about successes and failures e.g., on pruning, on growing fruit, on growing vegetables etc.
  • Set up a ‘blog’ on our website – a forum where members can ‘talk’ with each other, ask questions, provide answers – in a more immediate way than provided for with the monthly newsletter. Initially, we are going to determine the feasibility of doing this, but we would love to hear from you about whether you think the idea of a blog is a good one.

OCTOBER 2021 MEETING

This month, on Wednesday 13th October, we are delighted to welcome key-note speaker James Alexander Sinclair. The lecture is entitled “A Life in Five Gardens”.

James is a renowned gardener designer, writer, broadcaster and R.H.S. judge. Who doesn’t love his wonderful column in Gardeners World magazine!

For more about James see this link.

The lecture is at 8.00 pm. Doors open at 7.15 pm as we are expecting this to be popular.

The arrangements are as follows:

-face coverings to be worn on arrival, when moving around and on leaving the Hall, but optional when seated

– owing to the volume of members expected, the chairs will be spaced a little closer than at our September lecture

-the Hall will be well ventilated

-there will be NO REFRESHMENTS

-there will be NO PLANT SALE

-there will be a RAFFFLE

-in order to avoid over-crowding, on arrival there will be four people manning the ‘Sign-In’ desks; there will be an additional table for visitors (for whom there is an £8 entry charge)

– no pens will be used by attendees, so please give your name clearly to the Committee Member who will tick off your names on the attendance list (we don’t always recognise people when wearing masks!).

Thank you for your cooperation.

NAME THAT PLANT

Thank you to everyone who entered our virtual summer show.  There were some beautiful entries – although the judges couldn’t quite identify some of the plants.  Perhaps you can help with this one?

If you think you know, please email our Show Coordinator, Pamela Wright at shows@grayshottgardners.net by 15 October 2021. Hopefully, we will be able to “name that plant” in our November newsletter.

No doubt many members have lovely plants in their gardens, but they are not sure what they are.  Please do send in a photo (to newsletter@grayshottgardeners.net) for a future newsletter, and others can help with their identification!

PLANT OF THE MONTH IN GRAYSHOTT

One of the messages in the survey was that you wanted to know about what will grow in Grayshott. So, we are introducing a new feature where we will showcase, each month, a plant which should do well in the local area, and which should be in flower in the month of the newsletter. It is planned to provide a little bit of information, a photo or two and link(s) to a website where you can read further details. Please do let us know what you think and what would enhance this item. You can contact Gordon at president@grayshottgardeners.net.

CHINESE ANEMONE

The Chinese Anemone or Japanese Windflower (Anemone hupehensis) is a native of China and East Asia and a member of the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).

In September/October, it produces a display of the purest white or pale to dark pink petals around a circle of bright yellow anthers and a green central dome. It is a deciduous, herbaceous perennial, growing easily in most soils, in all conditions from full sun to shade, spreading, once established, by suckers.

For pure white try the single ‘Honorine Jobert’ and ‘Wild Swan’, for pink, ‘Praecox’, ‘Hadspen Abundance’ and “Splendens’.

For more details see this link.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Anemone hupehensis var. japonica ‘Splendens’

NOTICE OF A.G.M.

10th November 2021

You all should have received an e-mail giving notice of our A.G.M. on 10th November 2021 at 8pm. Included with this notice was an agenda and a nominations form for the 2022 Committee. If you did not receive, please contact Rosario, our secretary, at secretary@grayshottgardeners.net.

Rosario also should be contacted if you wish to propose items for consideration at the A.G.M. – the proposal needs to be submitted no later than 27th October 2021.

CROSSWORD PUZZLE

The crossword puzzle now has been ‘retired’; based on your feedback in the survey. Thank you again to Leslia who has been our crossword puzzle creator extraordinaire! Attached are the answers to September’s crossword.

WHAT TO DO IN THE GARDEN

IN THE MONTH OF OCTOBER

1.Divide established rhubarb crowns to create new plants

2. Cut back perennials that have died down

3. Divide herbaceous perennials

4. Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into a greenhouse or conservatory

5. Plant out spring cabbages

6. Harvest apples, pears, grapes, and nuts

7. Prune climbing roses

8. Finish collecting seeds from the garden to sow next year

9. Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas

10. Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf

The above list was taken from the R.H.S. website, but you may also wish to see

these links for more information:

Gardeners World

Thompson-Morgan

Planting Pots for Winter Interest and Spring Joy, by Harriet Rycroft

In her enlightening and humorous talk Harriet brought a completely new and exciting dimension to planting pots and showed us the wonderful results that can be achieved.  She emphasised the importance of planning and writing everything down for ongoing reference, showing us her much treasured and much thumbed planning notebook!  Planting in groups for impact, thinking about foliage, form, texture and height, shapes and sizes, blending foliage with flowers and considering the time of blooming of each plant for continuous flowering over a long period. The idea of layering is a great way to maximise the flowering period from pots. Harriet has over 600 pots covering the wall by her back door, with tall shrubs with interesting foliage and structure at the back and smaller pots in the front planted with a wide variety of tulips, narcissi, muscari, crocus, pansies. She suggested using interesting evergreen plants such as black mungo grass, a mixture of grass carex which look lovely during the winter with frost and dew on them and then in the spring allowing narcissi and tulips to grow through them. When there is snow on plants don’t brush it off as it hurts the leaves and shoots, and the melted snow gives nitrogen which is good for plants. 

Planting pots for Spring flowering should be done in October/November and left to sleep over the winter.  Make sure you place pots where you can see them, by the house, driveway, terrace rather than way down the garden!  Be adventurous, try out different combinations of plants and colours – if it works great, if not try something else!!! A good idea for Spring pots with crocus and small bulbs is to scatter small pebbles or grit on the top to prevent squirrels, snails etc. from eating them.

Harriet talked through the months with wonderful photos of February with snowdrops, which she suggests you bring in and enjoy on your windowsill for a few days and then put outside again, and the pretty early iris, like Iris ‘Katherine Hodgkin’. In March there are lots of her favourite narcissi like Rip van Winkle and Snow Lady, Hyacinth ‘Miss Saigon’, chionodoxa, masses of stunning tulips like dark red ‘Hearts Desire’ and ‘Armani’, the peachy ‘Apricot Beauty’, orange ‘Ballerina’ also many Parrot Tulips which always steal the show. The April colour explosion of multi headed narcissi ‘Freedom Stars’.  Remember to place tulips in a sunny spot and if using Wallflowers, you must firm them in well. Hostas are best left to make a statement in a pot of their own.

Harriet demonstrated how to plant a pot with layering.  A suitable pot should have a drainage hole large enough to put your thumb through, also only use one piece of crock to cover the drainage hole, because lots of crocks can damage the root system of the plant when removed. Use peat free compost with added loam and add some slow-release fertiliser, soil should be loose without lumps. The root ball of the plants must be damp when planted so that they can absorb the water, and the root ball should be one inch below the rim of the pot, making sure all the root balls are at the same level in the pot.  Have the tallest shrub at back and the tallest bulbs in groups next to that, plant bulbs an inch apart and not touching. Then plant variety of other bulbs that bloom at different times plus other small plants. Make sure there are no gaps in the compost around the plants. When finished, tap pot on ground, smooth the surface and water in well.

Our thanks to Harriet for a most informative and enjoyable evening.  We are looking forward to planting a fair few pots of our own …. although maybe not 600!

Newsletter September 2021

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members 

It was lovely to see so many of you in person at our August lecture when Roger Hirons talked to us about ‘The Plant Doctor: Acidic Soils and Dry, Shady Locations’. Roger was very entertaining, and a good time seemed to be had by the many members who attended – far more than was anticipated. The arrangements that were put in place by the Committee to keep us all safe have been reviewed and we will continue with the same measures for our 8th September meeting, when Harriet Rycroft will be talking (I am told that her talk is very good!). The details are on page 2.

From October onwards you will start to see some changes to the newsletter and website, based on the comments received in the survey. Thank you to all of you who took part. Your feedback is very valuable in helping determine future interaction with club members. The Committee, at its September meeting, will discuss the results of the survey, and agree what can be done to make improvements for the membership. It is really encouraging to see your positive feedback about what we managed to achieve as a club during the pandemic – as well your ideas for the club’s future development.

Happy gardening and looking forward to seeing you at our next club meeting on 8th September.

Best wishes, Anne Waddell

WHAT IS IT?

Results for No. 9 & Photo for No. 10

The answer for August 2021 was an emerging conifer seedling. No member correctly identified the photo. Is it too difficult or are members wanting something different? Watch this space!

                                   Photo No. 9

And here is photo no. 10:

If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae at president@grayshottgardeners.net

by 15 September 2021. We will provide the answer and the names of those who correctly identified the photo in our October newsletter.

SEPTEMBER 2021 MEETING

This month, on Wednesday 8th September, we are really pleased once again to be hosting a lecture at the Village Hall. The lecture is being given by Harriet Rycroft and is entitled “Planting Pots for Winter Interest and Spring Joy”. Here is what Harriet says about herself: “Ex-Head Gardener at Whichford Pottery, now free-range gardener, speaker, writer. Gardening is my focus, but I may stray into natural history, rural matters, travel, art…..we’ll see”. Here’s a link to Harriet’s website: Harriet Rycroft.

The lecture is at 7.30 for 8.00 pm. The arrangements are as follows:

– face coverings to be worn on arrival, when moving around and on leaving the Hall, but optional when seated

-seats will be a chair width apart (approx. 18”)

-the Hall will be well ventilated

-there will be NO REFRESHMENTS

-there will be a PLANT SALE

-in order to avoid over-crowding, on arrival there will be two people manning the ‘Sign-In’ desk

– no pens will be used by attendees, so please give your name clearly to the Committee Member who will tick your names off the attendance list (we don’t always recognise people when wearing masks!).

Thank you for your cooperation.

MEMBERS OF GRAYSHOTT GARDENERS

As of August 2021, our membership was 228 plus 6 Life Members. We have had 22 new Members in 2021 which we think is pretty good – considering we had no ‘live’ lectures and no ‘live’ shows for well over a year. This suggests that despite the restrictions placed upon us, our virtual lectures and virtual competitions have been a great hit. Our membership fees help to offset the lower plant sales and also mean that we can programme some really good speakers …. they are always thrilled at the numbers in the audience. Members can enjoy discounts at local gardening outlets in addition to the social benefits of being part of a thriving and vibrant gardening club.

Well done to everyone on the Committee for making this possible and special thanks to Jane Jones, our Membership Secretary. If you know of a neighbour or a friend who would like to join Grayshott Gardeners, please encourage them to contact Jane at membership@grayshottgardeners.net. Our website is open to all – see this link . Not only does it provide helpful write ups of all our lectures, but there is the wonderful photo gallery showcasing your flowers, gardens, and some of our visits.

RHS HILLTOP

THE HOME OF GARDENING SCIENCE

Have you visited R.H.S. Wisley recently? It is well worth a trip to see the new Hilltop, the UK’s first dedicated horticultural scientific centre of excellence – protecting the future of plants, people, and the planet.

The exciting new spaces include:

-three purpose built laboratories that support research

-a herbarium and digitisation suite

-two learning studios and a teaching garden

-three new gardens designed by RHS Chelsea medal winners

RHS Hilltop, the Home of Gardening Science, is a place to inspire the next generation of scientists; it officially opened on 24 June 2021. It cost £35 million and was the largest ever investment in horticultural science. You can step inside and see the RHS’s research being carried out, learn about the invaluable work of the RHS with interactive displays, marvel at the world-class collections and enjoy a bite to eat at a café where the produce is fresh from the gardens outside. And if that isn’t enough, you can enjoy unparalleled, panoramic views across the flagship garden while enjoying a drink on the Sky Terrace.

This drone footage captures the breath-taking scale and grandeur of Hilltop:

Hilltop Drone Footage.

See this link for more information.

In the next column, there are some photos of this amazing development.

LOCAL EVENTS IN SEPTEMBER

*** CHAPS (Churt Horticultural and Produce Society) Autumn Show in Churt Village Hall on Saturday 11th September from 2.30 to 4.00pm. Tea, coffee and homemade cakes are available.

*** RHS Wisley Flower Show 7th to 12th September; see here.

*** Heritage Open Day: Garden Tour of Chawton House 10th to 19th

September; see here

*** THE BRILLIANT AUTUMN GARDEN: THE POTAGER; 28th September at West Green House, Hook

The potager makes an autumn garden stunning. For here in traditional companion planting, often in geometric patterns, the bounty of a garden, its fruit, vegetable, flowers, and herbs mingle making this style of autumn garden the season’s most colourful.

The traditional garden techniques of espaliering fruit, the choice of vegetables that have both colour and abundance are explained to ensure your potager gives late season colour and goodness.

Morning coffee on arrival, with lunch featuring home-grown produce, served with wines from West Green House’s cellar.

Tickets are £55.00 pp. See this link for more information.

CROSSWORD PUZZLE

Attached is our Grayshott Gardeners crossword puzzle for September.

Please look out for the answers in the October newsletter. For those who can’t wait a whole month…or perhaps need a clue, the answers to the crossword will be posted on the website on 7th September 2021, in the ‘newsletter’ tab.  Attached to this newsletter are the answers to the August crossword puzzle which featured in our last newsletter. These answers also are on our website.