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.

Just what the Doctor ordered, by Roger Hirons

What more suitable subjects could there be for our return to the Village Hall, than “The Plant Doctor”, Roger Hirons, talking to Grayshott Gardeners about plants which like Acid soil and Shade!

Roger, who is  Dorset born and bred, could call on over 35 years in the horticultural industry with his experience from his education at Pershore, plus running plant centres such as Hilliers and broadcasting on all things plant related.

Roger gave a fascinating talk with tips on how to get the best out of our plants, projecting colour images to clarify the points and recommendations he was making of what we should plant and where.

He stressed how important it was to think ahead prior to planting, and to spend as much time and effort as possible preparing the planting hole which will give our plants such a good start in life. He gave us many useful tips, such as incorporating a handful of chalky soil at the bottom of a deep hole for Clematis.

A further interesting tip was to mark your garden into sections and set up a chart on a calendar, then regularly annotate the chart with the date, colours and plants which are in flower as the year progresses. Thus you are able to move or add different plants to create ongoing colour during the growing season.

Roger advocated the benefit and the importance of good mulching for fast draining and dry Grayshott soil to ensure plants can survive. This included using mulch from broad leaved trees where pines are present to reduce the acidity of the soil, and vice versa.

He also explained how to obtain the best flowering from a Camellia in the spring is to ensure it is well watered during the previous September and October, plus ensuring it’s roots are confined and competing with other trees and shrubs rather than in free soil, in which the shrub will grow well but not flower well.

Roger was an inspirational speaker whose knowledge of plants was encyclopaedic, and who shared that information with us with enthusiasm and humour.

Newsletter August 2021

Grayshott Gardeners Newsletter

August 2021

FROM THE CHAIR

Dear Members 

I do hope you are enjoying your gardens – despite the contrary weather. The plants and shrubs might be getting a watering, but so too are the weeds!

I am so delighted that our August lecture ‘The Plant Doctor: Acidic Soils and Dry, Shady Locations’ is going ahead in-person. You received an e-mail recently with the details to help keep us all safe. These are set out again on the page 3.

I am also thrilled that we had so many entrants in the virtual Summer Show. This was our first ever virtual show – and I hope our last!  Thank you to you our members for entering and the Shows Committee for making it happen, congratulations to the winners. The number of entries was high as was the quality of ‘exhibits’ – the entries can be seen on our website at this link and we include some photos on the next page.

Looking forward to seeing you on 11th August.

Best wishes, Anne Waddell

YOUR OPINION MATTERS!

Thank you to all of you who completed the survey seeking feedback on the newsletter and the website. Your opinions really are important in terms of shaping the club’s future development. The results currently are being analysed. They will be considered by the Committee in September, and we will report back in October/November.

WHAT IS IT? Results for No. 8 & Photo for No. 9

The answer for July 2021 was chits on a potato. No member correctly identified the photo.

Photo No. 8

And this is Photo No. 9

If you think you know what it is, please e-mail Gordon Rae at president@grayshottgardeners.net by 15 August 2021. We will provide the answer and the names of those who correctly identified the photo in our September newsletter.

FIRSTS IN GG’S VIRTUAL SUMMER SHOW 2021

This month we are featuring photos of the first placed winning entries of the eight classes. There were 99 entries in total and the quality of the entries was very high. The judges had a hard task to agree the placings – see all the entries on our website. Thank you to everyone who entered and warm congratulations to the winners.

Large Flowered Rose: Doris Marjoram

One Spray of Cluster Flowered Rose: Karen Cozens

Three Leaves of Different Hostas: Gilly Coleman

One Hydrangea Bloom: Dennis Homer

A Single Stem Any Garden Plant: Pauline Hudd

One Stem of a Hardy Perennial: Pamela J Fox

One Stem of a Flowering Tree or Shrub: Dennis Homer

 A Floral Arrangement of Mixed Blooms from Your Garden: Carol Wass

Photography Competition

“A Cosy Corner”

This year there were 12 entries in Class 76 of our virtual photography competition – far more than we would normally expect to see at a Summer Show in the Village Hall.  There was a wide range of interpretations of the brief “A Cosy Corner”. Once again, Kathleen Bird, President of the Ludshott Photographic Club, kindly agreed to judge the entries. 

Kathleen chose the photograph of Karen Cozens of a snake tucked away in the corner of her little pond as the winner.

Kathleen said that it fitted the brief perfectly and was the most imaginative of all the entries.  It would have been difficult to capture that instant, but it had been well done.  The photograph was well exposed and composed.  The snake eyeing the fly on the rock made it! Karen wins the £20 first prize.

Karen Cozens’ winning entry

Kathleen also highly commended:

-Liz Munson’s “Cat amongst the Fuchsias”

-Sheila Aitken’s “A Cosy Garden Scene”

-Carol Wass’s “Squirrel in the Feeder”

These photos are on the GG’s website.

Thanks to all who entered – it is much appreciated.

AUGUST 2021 MEETING

This month, on Wednesday 11th August, we are really pleased to be holding an in-person meeting in the Village Hall. The lecture is being given by Roger Hirons and is entitled “The Plant Doctor: Acidic Soils and Dry, Shady Locations”. Roger has over 35 years’ experience in the horticultural industry and is an enthusiastic speaker and broadcaster on all things related to plants. He qualified at Pershore College of Horticulture, after which he spent many years running plant centres. Roger’s talk will give ideas and tips to help us achieve good results with minimum effort.

The lecture is at 7.30 for 8.00 pm. The arrangements will be slightly different due to present circumstances:

-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 three people manning the ‘Sign-In’

– 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.

NAME THAT PLANT

There were some very interesting and unusual plants entered in the virtual Summer Show; if you would like to know what a particular plant is, please email shows@grayshottgardeners.net, and we will contact the entrant and let you know. We can also include the photo and the identification in a future newsletter if several people ask about the same entry. Don’t forget, all the photos are on the website.

POTATO COMPETITION 2021

A huge thank you to everyone who entered the Potato Competition this year (class 49 of the Summer Show), to Mavis Hallt, judge, and to Gordon Rae for organising it. You have excelled yourselves. There were 19 entries out of the 25 who collected their seed potatoes in February, more than any previous year. One more and they would not have fitted on Paul Coleman’s table!

Our judge, Mavis Hallt, the wife of the late Mike Hallt, after whom the cup is named, arrived armed with her list of ‘Judging Criteria and Staging Hints’, ready to make some difficult decisions – see our website for what Mavis was looking for and photos of the exhibits. First prize was won by Andy Karayianni – well done Andy.

Mavis Hallt, judge, with Anne Waddell, Chairman

Andy Karayianni

Winner of the Mike Hallt Cup

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 shows@grayshottgardeners.net, and we will contact the entrant and let you know.

Grayshott Gardeners Summer Show 2021: Class 76 – Photography “A Cosy Corner”

This year there were 12 entries, far more than we would normally expect to see at a Summer Show in the Village Hall.  There was a wide range of interpretations of the brief “A Cosy Corner”.

Once again, Kathleen Bird, President of the Ludshott Photographic Club, kindly agreed to judge the entries.  Kathleen chose the photograph of Karen Cozens of a snake tucked away in the corner of her little pond as the winner.

Kathleen said that it fitted the brief perfectly and was the most imaginative of all the entries.  It would have been difficult to capture that instant, but it had been well done.  The photograph was well exposed and composed.  The snake eyeing the fly on the rock made it! Karen wins the £20 first prize.

Kathleen also highly commended:

2nd Place: Liz Munson’s “Cat amongst the Fuchsias”

3rd Place: Sheila Aitken’s “A Cosy Garden Scene”

4th Place: Carol Wass’s “Squirrel in the Feeder”

Highly Commended: Lynne Callender

Thanks to all that entered – it is much appreciated.

Daisy Days, by Helen Picton

On 14th July 2021, Grayshott Gardeners virtually welcomed Helen Picton from Old Court Nurseries and the Picton Garden in Colwall, near Malvern. Helen comes from a long line of horticulturalists and is the third generation of her family to be involved in the breeding and cultivation of Michaelmas Daisies. Her talk was entitled ‘Daisy Days’.

Michaelmas Daisies are of the Asteraceae family; Helen explained that they are the second largest family of plants. Despite appearances, the head of a Michaelmas Daisy is made up of hundreds of tiny florets – which make up the centre of the bloom known as the disc floret – the part of the plant which is attractive to the insect pollinators. Gardeners are generally more interested in the petals (or ray florets) of the flower and in particular the range of colours.

The name Aster means star-like, and the plant has been known since ancient times. In earlier times it was called Starwort. From the 1920’s it became known as the Michaelmas Daisy; in recent years there has been a re-evaluation of the many different species from different parts of the world with new names now being attributed to the existing groups. There are five main groups: Aster Amellus and Associates (the first to be introduced into the U.K,), Symphyotrichum Novi Belgii (New York, the biggest group), Symphyotrichum Novae Anglicae (New England), Small Flowered Species & Cut Flower Hybrids and Other Species.

The heyday of the Michaelmas Daisy was in the large country estate gardens of late 19th century and early 20th century with the development of the more naturalistic approach to borders as extolled by such famous gardeners as William Robinson, Gertrude Jekyll and Edwin Beckett. The founder of Old Court Nurseries, Ernest Ballard (who was in cider vinegar production and from a wealthy Herefordshire family), led the way in the breeding of new stronger colours and more complex flowers (from about 1907 onwards until his death in 1950) making Michaelmas Daisies freely available to the ordinary gardener. Post the Second World War, Helen’s grandfather – Percy Picton – took over as Nursery Manager and the 50’s and 60’s saw Michaelmas Daisies become hugely popular with numerous new varieties coming onto the market. By the 1970’s, however, they fell out of favour (as did many old herbaceous border favourites) and many cultivars were lost. Largely thanks to the work and dedication of two ladies from Bristol, Miss Isabel Allen and Miss Joy Huish, who began collecting in the 1940’s, many cultivars were saved and eventually the Michaelmas Daisy was recognised by the Plant Heritage Society as one of the first National Collections.

The most important requirements seemed to be to provide a rich, moisture retentive soil and to divide regularly. Helen said that in Grayshott, with its acidic, free-draining soil, probably the best Michaelmas Daisies to grow are from the New England group and the Small Flowered Species group.

Helen’s closing advice to her attentive audience was that there is no excuse for poor colour in autumn and her slides certainly demonstrated this – from good companion plants with other herbaceous perennials, good performance in containers and excellent cut flowers.

Grayshott Gardeners Summer Show 2021: Class 49-Potato Competition

Gordon Rae thanked everyone who entered the competition and was delighted with the results. Grayshott Gardeners excelled themselves. There were 19 entries out of the 25 who collected their seed potatoes in February, more than any previous year. One more and they would not have fitted on Paul Coleman’s table!

As we were unable to hold a Summer Show in the Village Hall, undaunted, we held the potato competition out of the rain, in the garage.

There was a wide range of shapes and sizes. Helen Deighan’s were the largest by far and looked as though they had been fed on steroids and Helen Sanderson’s were very close behind.

That said our judge, Mavis Hallt, the wife of the late Mike Hallt, after whom the cup for class 49 is named, arrived armed with her list of ‘Judging Criteria and Staging Hints’, ready to make some difficult decisions. Mavis used the following guidance to come to her final decision.

The three potatoes exhibited should :-

  • Be carefully washed
  • Be shallow eyed
  • Be of uniform size
  • Be similarly sized as this is more desirable than being the largest/heaviest.
  • Have clean unbroken skins
  • Have no sign of disease or scab
  • Be of a good size

After considerable deliberation, sorting and re-sorting, Mavis delivered the result.

First Prize and the Mike Hallt Cup     Andy Karayianni

Second Prize                                      Dick Smith

Third prize                                           Gordon Rae

Fourth Prize                                        Mary Herbert

Mavis considered that Andy’s potatoes, taking into account and balancing all the above criteria were worthy winners of the First Prize and the Mike Hallt Cup.

The cup will be presented to Andy, by the chairman Anne Waddell, at the first meeting we are able to hold back in the Village Hall.

Thanks once again to everyone who entered what is a fun competition when the GGs cannot hold a proper show.

There are particular thanks from the President and ‘Mrs President’ who have several fine boilings of exhibition spuds!