What have plants ever done for us? by Timothy Walker

On 14th April 2021 Grayshott Gardeners gave a virtual welcome to Timothy Walker who gave us a Zoom lecture exploring “What have plants ever done for us?”.  Timothy is a botanist, gardener, lecturer at Hertford College, Oxford, presenter and author, and gave us plenty of reasons to look at plants in a new light.

Timothy started by answering the question his lecture posed.

Q: What have plants ever done for us?


And he then went on to explain why.

Plants are unique in their ability to harness energy from the sun.  Their ability to photosynthesise is something science has not been able to replicate.  All the energy we use has been created by plants – either today, or over many millions of years.  A sobering thought.

Plants created soil, by their decay over millenia.  Plants are the green glue that ensures that the soil stays on the land.  The ability to cultivate plants played a key role in human evolution.  Civilisations were built around areas of cultivation, and plants gave us food, fibres for cloth, many medicines …… not to mention coffee and chocolate.

But 2 in 5 plants are currently threatened with extinction.  Given our complete dependence on them, this is a scary statistic.  So is it time that we turn the question on its head, and ask “What can we do for plants?”

Timothy believes there are three key principles:

  1. There is no technical obstacle to the conservation of any and every plant species
  2. Habitats can be restored and rehabilitated
  3. Gardeners and horticulturalists have a pivotal role to play

To illustrate how gardeners can put back things that have been destroyed, Timothy showed us the progress of projects in Oxford that have turned arable land back into flower rich meadows.  He also referenced National Plant Collections, that can preserve plants whose populations are in vulnerable areas, by propagating and distributing samples all around the world.  Gardens, with plants and ponds, bird boxes and hedges can support many mammals and invertebrates that would otherwise be threatened.

Gardeners have the skills to recognise what the problems are, and the knowledge to be able to make a difference.  So maybe the biggest question of the evening was “Will we gardeners rise to the challenge?”

Newsletter April 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter :

April 2021


Welcome to our April newsletter. I hope you are staying safe and have managed to get out in your gardens and enjoy some of the lovely weather.

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel both our April outing to Wisley and our Plant Sale. We will still be selling plants to help generate some funds – this will be at in-person lectures later in the year and our Summer Show on 10th July – which we hope can go ahead. In the meantime, we will sell plants virtually so look out for e-mails with details.

Happy gardening.  Anne Waddell, Chairman


(with his agreement and at his expense)

This month, we thought we would start a feature ‘Grayshott Tales’ and this one is from Gordon Rae about our local vicar, Jeremy Haswell. Coincidentally, three of us happened to meet in the churchyard when Jeremy emerged at speed from the vestry. Having exchanged afternoon pleasantries, we told the vicar that we were discussing the fact that the trees in the churchyard came from different parts of the world. “For example,” I said, “that tall one on the boundary with blue grey leaves from Australia”. Keen to proffer his knowledge, even as a self-confessed non-gardener. Jeremy said he knew that one. “That is”, replied the reverend “a Eucharistus tree”. “Very nearly”, we told him. “That is a Eucalyptus, not a Eucharistus tree”. Not a bad guess for a non-horticultural man of God”!

If you have Grayshott Tales you’d like to share, please get in touch with the editor: newsletter@grayshottgardeners.net

WHAT IS IT? Results for No. 4 & Photo for No. 5

The answer for March 2021 was the end of a banana. Congratulations to members Karen Cozens (again!) and Bronwyn Pennington who correctly identified the photo.

Photo no. 4: the end of a banana

And here is photo no. 5

If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae.

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


This month we feature the ‘Top 5 Plants’ of our patron and president, Gordon Rae and his wife Judith. Here is what they said:

As Karen Cozens found last month, choosing just five favourite plants is near impossible. We have chosen plants which have done well in Grayshott on our lighter, acidic soil.

  Daphne bholua  Judith has chosen this plant variety ‘Jacqueline Postill’ because of its abundance of purplish pink to white flowers in the bleak month of January. They are highly fragrant and the scent hangs on the still air in the border of our patch of woodland garden. The plant is evergreen, and the flowers are followed by black seeds, which germinate quite easily.  
  Galanthus  The Daphne is followed by a collection of Snowdrops, the true harbinger of spring, although our Snowdrops have a succession of shapes, sizes and markings from November until late March.  
  Camellias    Camellias and Rhododendrons are well suited to the acidic soils of Grayshott. Different species of Camellias will provide us with flowers from early (C. sasanqua) to late (C. transnokoensis) winter and throughout the spring (C. sinensis) in a colour palette ranging from deep red, pink to yellow and the purest of white. Camellias also provide evergreen foliage, but the buds and flowers do suffer from frost and rain damage.  
  Hostas  Judith now has a collection of 60-70 different Hostas growing happily in pots, pans and open borders. The variety of leaf form and colour combinations of green, white, cream and yellow, followed by spikes of blue flowers is infinite and come in any size from miniature to very large like ‘Sum and Substance’ and ‘Big Daddy’.  
  Acers  A large genus of over 100 species, again with a wide variety of size from small shrubs to large Maple trees, with a choice to suit any Grayshott situation. Acers have been chosen for their beautiful crisp, clean and fresh foliage and particularly their spectacular deep red, brown, orange and yellow intense autumn colours. A must for any Grayshott Gardener.  

Next month our Programme Coordinator, Sue Wheeler, is going to share with us her list of her top five plants. Don’t forget that any member can submit an article; it can be about your ‘Top Five Plants’ or about any garden related topic – the only criterion is that it is about your garden! Please get in touch with our editor at newsletter@grayshottgardeners.net, if you have a possible article or would like to discuss an idea


Our Zoom lectures continue to be very popular. The talk this month on Wednesday 14th April is given by the celebrated Timothy Walker, entitled ‘What Have Plants Ever Done for Us?’. Rarely does a minute go by when we are not involved in an activity that would be impossible without the help of plants. This talk looks at mankind’s dependence on plants for everything from food to film and from painkillers to paint.  It also examines the ways in which our exploitation of plants could keep up with demand from an increasing global population and what we as individuals can do to help future generations.

Timothy Walker is a British botanist. He was the Horti Praefectus of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum. From 1977–1980, Timothy studied for a BA degree in Botany at University College, Oxford. From 1980–82, he was a trainee gardener at the Oxford Botanic Garden. From August 2014 he was a stipendiary lecturer in Plant Sciences at Somerville College, Oxford, and now holds similar positions at Pembroke College and Hertford College.

Timothy gives many lectures to groups up and down the country and is obviously very popular and we are very lucky to be able to welcome him into our homes via Zoom.

One quote: “If you haven’t heard him, his lectures are the equivalent of sparkling vintage champagne” Val Bourne (Oxford Times). 

This event is open to all members starting at 8pm but as always you can log in at 7.30pm for a bit of a chat, before we are all ‘muted’ ready for the lecture.

Further details about logging in can be obtained from Helen Deighan if you are not already registered. Details automatically will be sent to all those members who registered for the previous ZOOM lectures. On the night of the lecture, it will be possible to admit up to 100 people on ZOOM – so first come, first served.


Don’t forget that, when possible, we record our lectures too and they are available, after the lecture, for a time limited period if you didn’t have a chance to ZOOM in or you want to listen to it again. The recording of the February lecturer, garden designer Amanda Patton, had an amazing 118 hits, (even more than the ‘pig’ lookalike of our ZOOM coordinator John Price!), while there were approximately 70 logins for the live event. You will receive details of the recordings via e-mail – so do watch out for them.


Our plant sale which was to take place on 8th May cannot go ahead because of the difficulty of complying with COVID-19 requirements. However, undaunted, we are proceeding to sell plants that we have painstakingly divided and nurtured throughout the winter. Please keep your eyes peeled on your e-mail in-box – and act FAST. The Chrysanthemum Frutescens (marguerite daisy) which our Chairman, Anne, had for sale last month were all snapped up within half an hour!


And, sadly, the easing of restrictions roadmap also does not allow us to proceed with our scheduled GG outing to R.H.S. Wisley on 28th April. Watch this space about other GG outings (see your yellow 2021 Handbook) which we hope it will be possible to hold.


As reported in our last newsletter, our Spring Photographic competition is going ahead, even though we regretfully have had to cancel the Spring Show. The title is “It Looks Like Spring”. You are invited to e-mail one photo to Gordon Rae. Judging will be carried out by an external judge. There will be the usual prize of £20 for the winner.

The closing date for the Spring entries has been extended until 30th April 2021.  Please don’t forget that a little humour in the photos will be much appreciated!


An article has been spotted on NextDoor Grayshott which may be of help, if your box hedges are suffering from box moth. This is a ‘home remedy’ and an unproven technique to our knowledge, but you may want to give it a try.

With the slices of warm spring weather becoming more frequent, the highly destructive box moths are coming back. They can strip a plant in weeks. Please could you keep a look out and take action if you find any? We really need to act as a neighbourhood on this J. They are fairly easy to pick off by hand, though if you have lots of box, this might not be practical.

Having tried all the more natural remedies, this one seems to work the best:

250ml water

3tsp Neem oil (easy to find on-line)

1tsp lavender or rosemary oil

Squirt washing up liquid or liquid soap

Mix in spray bottle and mist over whole plant, especially around the base. Keep your pets away for a few hours at least. I use it fortnightly or more often if heavy rain. It does smell strong, but works SO well.


One of our popular lecturers, David Hurrion, and well respected in the horticultural world, has a really good website here. You can sign up to receive David’s regular newsletter by going to the form at the bottom right-hand corner of his home page.

And don’t forget our own website here, which is regularly updated.


Another of Britain’s much-loved gardeners is Monty Don. For years, he has been leading us down all kinds of paths to show us why green spaces are vital to our wellbeing and culture. It seems like the Americans agree too – see this article here from “across the pond” on the British institution that is Gardeners’ World.

Apart from the fact that the dogs are Golden Retrievers (not Labradors), we think it’s a pretty good piece.

Making the Best of What You Have, by Benjamin Pope

On 10th March 2021 Grayshott Gardeners held the latest in their series of Zoom lectures.  This time it was Ben Pope who brightened up our evening, with a virtual tour around the beautiful garden where he is Head Gardener, and some valuable lessons to help us make the most of our own spaces.  It certainly took our minds off the howling winds outside.

To set the scene, Ben showed us round the garden he curates.  It has a romantic style, but is careful to make sure it sits sympathetically in its Sussex landscape, whilst making the most of the borrowed views.  The periphery of the garden is less formally planted than the beds near the house, helping the garden to seep out into the countryside. 

Ben explained how much focus he and his team put on extending the season in the flower borders – using a combination of spring bulbs, herbaceous perennials and frothy annuals to make sure there is colour and interest from February to November.  The garden has many distinct areas, so to make it hang together they choose “signature” plants to repeat throughout the space to give a sense of coherence.  They also use topiary and hedges to cleverly link the architecture with the planting.

Ben then drew out some key principles that we can all use to make the most of our own gardens.  To start he urged us to take time to understand our own site and soil – and to appreciate the problems and opportunities that both bring.  And then to extend that to really knowing the plants we are going to use – not just when they are in flower, but how they behave before and after.  This knowledge provides a sound basis for creating harmonious plant partnerships.

Make maintenance a pleasure not a chore, by tackling a job before it becomes too big.  It really is true that “a stitch in time saves nine” in a garden.  And get ideas and inspiration from other people, visiting gardens and speaking to fellow gardeners (of course that’s what GG is so good for – when we can finally meet up again).

We all love getting produce from our gardens, but grow like an artist.  Mix up ornamentals with vegetables to give a lovely effect.  And finally take time – to stop and look, to take notes and to think.

And the most important lesson of the evening?  Mistakes are great lessons!  Don’t let the things that don’t work out make you afraid to have another go, putting your new found experience into practice.  That’s what will turn us all into great gardeners 😀

Newsletter March 2021

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Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter :

March 2021


Welcome to our March Newsletter.  Spring is here at last and we have got through the mainly dull days of winter and can look forward to more daylight, more sunshine and more gardening.

We will be deciding if our Plant Sale in May can go ahead at our next Committee Meeting in March but, if not, we will find ways of selling to you the plants we have ready.

And thank you to everyone who took photos of ‘Snowy Scenes’. What an amazing response. Some of the pictures can be found on our website -grayshottgardeners.net or use this link

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all our new members who have joined us and we look forward to meeting you when we are all back together enjoying our usual activities

Anne Waddell, Chairman


Various gardening magazines and websites advise what we need to do this month – here’s what Thompson Morgan say:

– Fertilise your beds. Once your soil is workable, dig a 5cm (or more) layer of compost or well-rotted manure into your beds to prepare for the growing season ahead. You can also work in a general-purpose fertiliser, such as pelleted chicken manure, or fish, blood and bone.

– Put supports in. If any of your garden plants need supporting this year, put them in now, so plants can grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is trickier and often looks unattractive.

– Move deciduous trees or shrubs. Now is the time to do this task, provided the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged.

– Resurface paths before plants start to grow and smother them.

WHAT IS IT? Results for No. 3 & Photo for No. 4

The answer for February 2021 was the floral parts of Paeonia officinalis. Other suggestions were hellebore and dahlia. Karen Cozens was the only member who correctly identified the plant. Well done Karen.

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             Photo no. 3: Paeonia officinalis

And here is photo no. 4: (and no it is NOT a teddy!)

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If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae.


One of our members, Karen Cozens, has suggested that we have a monthly feature provided by a member. What a great idea! So, this month we kick off with Karen’s ‘Top 5 Plants’ – she has written the words and husband Jim has taken the photos, so we are delighted to showcase these.

My top 5 plants… really, how tricky can that be?  As it turns out – very!  I pick up my pen and start to list the plants that I absolutely cannot live without … I put down my pen as I reach 15 as I’m barely getting into my stride.  To help me focus I try to imagine what my garden would look like if I were restricted to only 5 plants – a miserable thought, immediately dismissed!  So, in the end I’ve decided to go with the first 5 I wrote down on the list! I will just have to save my top 5 roses and top 5 clematis for another day…

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’I love alliums in all their forms.  The flowers are stunning but so too are the seed heads and they quietly multiply over the years.  Many to choose from but this is my favourite.
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfeniiYes, I know you need gloves to handle them because the sap is an irritant, but this plant is interesting all year round… a large structural plant with bright lime green flower heads.  My favourite is Humpty Dumpty, mostly because of the name.
Tithonia rotundifolia (Mexican Sunflower)A striking annual for a sunny spot – easy to raise from seed, rich orange flowers on a tall plant, non-stop flowering later in the season if you keep deadheading, loved by pollinators and produces loads of free seeds for propagation next year!
Verbena bonariensisMy absolute favourite plant. Lovely colour, easy going, self-seeds, tall, light and airy.  This year I decided to leave the seed heads on and so glad I did.  It turns out that our visiting squadron of goldfinches love them!
Wisteria floribundaAt my previous house I inherited and nurtured a wonderful old wisteria, but I had to wave it a tearful goodbye when we moved.  Upon arrival in Grayshott I bought two new plants already in flower and nestled the pots in amongst the building works where they sulked and waited.  Battered and neglected, they eventually got their feet in the ground a year or so later and pretty much scaled the pergola in a single year to produce much needed shade but alas only one flower… I have high hopes for this year – wish me luck!

Thankyou Karen and Jim. Our April newsletter will have a feature provided by Gordon and Judith Rae. We welcome articles from members for future newsletters – let’s see if we can do one every month this year – there is so much horticultural enthusiasm in Grayshott, it would be lovely to have contributions from members and share them with our readership. It has been suggested that one article could be on water features, another on a recycling/eco project, a before and after story, wildlife visitors to the garden etc., etc. Or we could just stick with the heading ‘My Top Five Plants’. The only criterion is that it is about your garden! Please get in touch with our ‘editor’, Anne Butler, if you have a possible article or would like to discuss an idea.


Our Zoom lectures continue to be very popular. This month Ben Pope will be giving us some advice about “Making the Best of What You Have” on Wednesday 10th March starting at 8pm, although as always members can log in at 7.30pm for a bit of a chat before we are all ‘muted’ ready for the lecture.  Ben Pope has been in the horticulture industry for the last 19 years, studying and training at Merrist Wood and RHS Wisley, where he was awarded Best Practical and Best Overall Student. His work experience ranges from nursery practices and propagation in Australia through to design and horticultural research in London for the practice of Arabella Lennox-Boyd. For the past 10 years he has been leading a team of four to maintain and develop a private garden in West Sussex, whilst growing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers for the house.

Please contact Helen Deighan for information on how to register for this lecture if you are not already registered. Details automatically will be sent to all those members who registered for the previous ZOOM lectures. On the night of the lecture, it will be possible to admit up to 100 people on ZOOM – so first come, first served, as amazingly we have over 100 people registered with Helen to access our ZOOM lectures.

Don’t forget that, when possible, we record our lectures too and they are available, after the lecture, for a time limited period if you didn’t have a chance to ZOOM in or you want to listen to it again. Warm thanks to John Price for making this a possibility after our last lecture. You receive details of the recordings via e-mail so do watch out for them.


We would also like to let you know about a change to our Programme in May 2021.  We are still not sure whether we will be back in the Village Hall by then, so have changed our May lecture to one that could be offered as a Zoom lecture if needs be.  So, on Wednesday 12th May Andy McIndoe will be talking to us about “Beautiful English Gardens”.  Pandemic permitting, there will be a GG outing to Andy’s own garden, Sandhill Farm, on 23rd June, so perfect timing! We have arranged for our original May speaker, Pamela Holt, to visit us in 2022 instead.


Those of you who are enjoying the virtual world of gardening might also be interested to know that the National Garden Scheme (NGS or Yellow Book Gardens) is offering virtual garden visits on their website – here’s the link. These are made up of gardens nationwide, but there are a couple of little gems from Hampshire amongst the gardens on offer.

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We have received from the NGS their Hampshire Yellow Booklet. It is attached to this newsletter.

The booklet is very different this year to previous years – there are no advertisers and no photos, but all the information is here. The hope is that in 2022, we will be able to view the booklet in all its glory. Please check the NGS website before you venture to any of the gardens.


As reported in our last newsletter, our Spring Photographic competition is going ahead, even though we regretfully have had to cancel the Spring Show. The title is “It Looks Like Spring”. You are invited to e-mail one photo to Gordon Rae. Judging will be carried out by an external judge. There will be the usual prize of £20 for the winner.

The closing date for the Spring entries is 1st April 2021. 

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

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

Newsletter February 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

February 2021


Hello everyone…. I hope you all are staying safe and enjoying seeing the beginnings of Spring ….it is just lovely to discover crocus, snowdrops, primroses and hellebores…and more. We had great interest in the first ever Grayshott Gardeners New Year’s Day Flower Count (see page 2) so thank you all who braved the cold to wander around your gardens. Because the safety and well-being of our members are paramount, we have had to cancel our Spring Show, but have high hopes that we will be able to hold our Summer Show and, maybe, the Plant Sale so please keep potting-up and cherishing any plants you have for the Sale.

In the meantime, happy gardening.

Anne Waddell, Chairman


Here’s some timely tips of what to do in the garden this month. More detail is available in various gardening magazines or on websites – here’s what Thompson Morgan say:

– Prepare your seed beds. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can cultivate beds and start to warm up the soil, with fleece, polythene or cloches, in preparation for sowing in the coming months.

– Organise this year’s seeds by sowing date. Get hold of a box with dividers, and file your seed packets by the month they need to be sown in. You’ll be so glad of this effort in the weeks to come.

– Check your tools are sound and your garden machinery is working. Give your tools and equipment the once over and apply a little TLC to anything that needs it.

– Blitz perennial weeds in your beds and kitchen garden. Dig them up, roots and all, to get a head start on the blighters before the weather warms up.

WHAT IS IT? Results for No. 2 & Photo for No. 3

The answer for January 2021 was Iris foetidissima, which has the common name of stinking iris. Two members correctly identified the plant – Karen Cozens and Margaret Penfold. It was not that easy.

Photo no. 2: Iris foetidissima

And here is photo no. 3:

If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae.


Our next virtual meeting is on Wednesday 10th February 2021 at 8 pm when Amanda Patton will be giving a lecture ‘Creating Good Plant Combinations’. Amanda runs an award-winning garden design practice with 20 years’ experience creating modern gardens throughout Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. With a background in professional illustration and archaeology, Amanda is inspired by colour, touch and texture.

Please contact Helen Deighan for information on how to register for this lecture if you are not already registered. Details automatically will be sent to all those members who registered for the previous ZOOM lectures. On the night of the lecture, it will be possible to admit up to 100 people on ZOOM – so first come, first served, as amazingly we have over 100 people registered with Helen to access our ZOOM lectures.


The Spring Show might be cancelled, but we still are going ahead with our Photographic Competition. The title is “It Looks Like Spring”. You are invited to e-mail one photo to Gordon Rae. Judging will be carried out by an external judge. There will be the usual prize of £20 for the winner.

So, please start taking photographs as soon as you wish. As well as the Spring competition, there will be the Summer one too, entitled ‘A Cosy Corner’, so you can start taking photos for that too, although entries will not be needed until the Summer.

We will let you know in the March newsletter the closing date for the Spring entries. 

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

Here are a couple of photos (taken by Gordon) to inspire you.


The Committee recently met (virtually!) and reluctantly decided that we need to cancel the Spring Show – in view of the continuing uncertainty about the impact of the pandemic. We know this will be a great disappointment to many of you, but please be assured that we will do what we can to continue to offer to Grayshott Gardeners virtual meet ups.

There has been a suggestion of members being able to notify others of plants they have for sale or plants they are looking for……possibly on an exchange basis. These notifications can be posted in the newsletter – if there is support for this suggestion. Please use the contact e-mail on our website (info) if you have any views about this.

In the meantime, we give below details of our Photographic Competition and Potato Competition

We will review at our next Committee meeting in March the position on the Plant Sale due on 8th May and the Summer Show, scheduled for 10th July.


If we are not able to hold the Summer Show on Saturday 10th July 2021, we will still be able to hold the annual ‘Potato Championship’ (Class 49).

Leslia, our Show Coordinator, already has obtained, bagged up and delivered to Gordon Rae’s house, 27 bags of second early potatoes for members to grow however they wish, in open ground, pots or in ‘grow-bags’ for example.

Please let us know that you would like to enter and have your three, free, seed potatoes. We will arrange collection or delivery to you.

We had 13 entries in 2020 and it became a lot of fun, so please try again and get us up to 20! We will arrange the judging later if we are not able to hold a full show.


BBC Radio 4‘s ‘Open Country’ aired a really lovely programme last month about snowdrop mania – when galanthophile Alan Street, head nurseryman from Avon Bulbs, walked us through his snowdrop landscape. The link is here – it makes great listening.


Please find attached our Grayshott Gardeners themed crossword puzzle for February.

Please look out for the answers in the March newsletter. If possible, in future we will try to upload the answers to the crossword puzzle on the website at the same time that the newsletter goes out – so you have the questions and answers at the same time – we know that, for some of you, a wait of a month for the answers is just too long!

Attached to this newsletter are the answers to the January crossword puzzle which featured in our last newsletter.

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 www.davidhurrion.com 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.