Newsletter December 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

December 2021


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


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


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, 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 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.


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.


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


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



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


We thought it might be fun to start 2022 with a Grayshott Gardeners New Year’s Day Flower Count… 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  (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.


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.