Category Archives: Grayshott Gardeners activities

New Year’s Flower Count 2023

In what has become a bit of a tradition, Grayshott Gardeners went out into their gardens at the beginning of January to count as many blooms as they could find.

The very cold spell we had before Christmas (down to -10 in this chilly garden) and the lack of sunshine since then, meant that the pickings this year were slim.  None of the summer flowerers had held on to their blooms from last season, as we saw in previous years.  And the inclement conditions meant that many of the winter performers had yet to really get into their stride.

But that doesn’t mean that our gardeners came back in with empty lists.  They may have been shorter lists than in previous years, but some plants were still braving the elements, and between us we racked up a total of 34 species.  And how heart lifting those diminutive flowers were.  A tiny reminder that spring is on its way …..

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.

The Results are in for the GG Virtual Summer Show

Firstly, a very big thank you to everyone who entered our virtual Summer Show.

In total there were 99 entries across the eight classes, and the quality of the entries was very high.  The judges had a hard task to agree the placings, as you will no doubt see from the photos – which are displayed here  Shows | Grayshott Gardeners

There were some very interesting and unusual plants entered – if you would like to know what a particular plant is, please email, and we will contact the entrant and let you know.

Grayshott Gardeners Summer Show goes Virtual!

We’re delighted to announce that we will be holding a virtual Summer Show this year!

This is just for fun and there are no prizes, but we do  hope you will get a lot of pleasure out of going round your garden to take your photos and then deciding which ones to enter. If nothing else you will have a wonderful record of your garden this summer.

The deadline for sending in your photos is 5pm on Friday 9th July, and the classes are:

1One large flowered rose
2One spray of cluster flowered rose
3Three leaves of different hostas
4One hydrangea bloom
5A single stem of any garden plant
6One stem of a hardy (herbaceous) perennial
7One stem of a flowering tree or shrub
8A floral arrangement of mixed blooms from your garden

You can enter one photo for each class, and you can send your entries separately.  You cannot enter a class more than once, and members are asked that the photos have been taken in the month leading up to 9th July.

Please send your entries to:

Emails should have the subject line “Show entry from (your name)”, and  your attached photos should be named with “Your name and class being entered”.

If you have any queries regarding taking photos of your entries, please contact John Price.

The judging will be undertaken by members of the Show Committee, and results will be published on the website.

Please do enter – and enjoy!

Spring Photographic Competition

Unfortunately our Spring Show was cancelled this year. Gordon Rae stepped into the breach, once again, and organised a photographic competition.

KathleenBird LRPS, CPAGB, and past chairman of Ludshott PC kindly agreed to be the judge for this competition.

Kathleen was impressed by the number of members who had entered and by the wide range of interpretations of the theme ‘It looks like Spring’.

First place ‘My Garden’ by Carol Wass.

The Judge said that this totally filled the brief with Spring colour. Well balanced and the cock pheasant made it!

Second Place ‘It Looks Like Spring’ by Liz Munson

Kathleen loved the soft colours offprint, soft Spring blossom and blue sky and the smiling face which added some ‘happiness’ to the photo.

Third place ‘Spring Colour’ by Alex Anderson

An imaginative interpretation of the brief. The repetition of red and yellow across the photo was well seen by the photographer. The single figure added further interest to the photo.

Highly commended ‘Spring Iris’ by Sue Wheeler

Gorgeous colour which just shouted ‘Spring”!

We had asked for a touch of humour if possible. These two photographs were chosen for their originality.

‘Rhubarb and Custard’ by Jan Bebbington

‘Spring has Sprung’ by Karen Cozens

Thank you to everyone who entered. There were 21 entries. Normally we would have received about 4 or 5 maximum at the Spring Flower Show.

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 !!!

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.

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