BGA Annual General Meeting

The Biddenham Gardeners’ AGM was held in the Village Hall on 17th July.

The Chair reported on another successful year with a good variety of outside speakers and two meetings presented by our own members. There were outings to Ascott House near Leighton Buzzard in April and Deene Park, Leicestershire, in July. Attendance at meetings was slightly down on last year and the Committee are arranging a leaflet drop advertising the BGA to go to all the houses in Biddenham, including the King’s Field estate north of Bromham Road … Continue reading

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Biddenham Show 2018

The 2018 Biddenham Show will be held on Sunday, September 9th

St James’ Primary School & Village Hall, Main Road, Biddenham – 12 noon – 4pm 

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This Month In The Garden – July & August 2018

When misfortune strikes we often say that life isn’t fair. One of my dahlias must be feeling like this at the moment …
Last year I ordered five new dahlia mini-plants and they arrived in April. I potted them up in the greenhouse where they grew well and I planted them outside in mid-May. (still with a risk of frost but the long-range weather forecast looked benign). One of these plants is already flowering strongly, three others are coming on well and one is a three inch high desiccated stump with a few tiny shreds of leaves. Continue reading

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Easy ways to better Gardening with Adam Pasco

The Gardeners’ Association were delighted to welcome the well-known and respected horticulturist Adam Pasco to June’s talk. Adam was the founding editor of Gardeners’ World magazine of which he edited for 22 years. Adam is the current editor of Waitrose Garden magazine. Adam’s talk commenced with his recommendations for obtaining a colourful garden by the use of plants, which are ‘good doers’ …
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This Month in the Garden – June 2018

Until the middle of May the weather continued its record-breaking behaviour. After the wettest, coldest April we have ever experienced we had the hottest and driest May Bank Holiday.  I was lucky and went on holiday in the Canary Islands for the second half of April so I escaped the worst period of cold and rain. When you get back from a holiday, the first thing to do is a tour of the garden and a look in the greenhouse to see how things have grown. This year they hadn’t; hardly anything had changed except the three varieties of beans sown in the greenhouse had germinated well …  

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Warden Abbey Vineyard – Janet Rose

In May we were pleased to welcome Janet Rose from Warden Abbey Vineyard, especially as she had brought samples of wine for us to taste. Vines were first planted at Warden Abbey in medieval times by the Cistercian Monks. They themselves mostly drank beer, but the wine they produced was used for the sacrament and for their guests and pilgrims, hundreds of travellers stayed with them every year. They also used the wine for preserving … Continue reading

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Antiques Roadshow at Helmingham Hall – 31st August 2018

Those BGA members that visited Helmingham Hall on the 17th June 2015 will have the opportunity to ‘revisit’ this fabulous House and its gardens. For those that didn’t, this is an opportunity to see it from the comfort of your armchairs ‘during’ the BBC Antiques Roadshow on the 31st August. Click to view broadcast

Please click link for details of the BGA outing (17th June 2105)

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This Month in the Garden – May 2018

My hope that the weather would improve after a dismal March was not realised and April up to the time of writing has been even worse. At this time last year I wrote happily about a lovely Spring and I noted how the apple blossom was taking over from the wonderful display of plum blossom and the brilliance of my amalanchier tree. This year the plum blossom is just beginning a muted show and the amalanchier has not yet blossomed, and probably won’t do much because the wood pigeons have been busy nipping the buds. In the first week of April  I was able to take advantage of the only day when the soil had dried out enough and I  sowed  carrot, parsnip and beetroot, a month later than usual. One compensation has been that, once the daffodils came out, they have stayed out for a long time because of the cold …

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Acers – Care and Cultivation of Acer Palmatum

The speaker at our February meeting was one of our own members, Joanna Baxter, who gave us a fully illustrated and beautifully presented talk on the cultivation and care of Acer Palmatum. There are 128 species of Acers, or maples, divided into 700 cultivars. Acer Palmatum is just one of these species and cultivation has resulted in over 1,000 different cultivars.

Joanna’s talk was the story of a love affair which began while away with her newly married husband but was centred on a little scarlet plant that attracted her with deep fascination. She couldn’t resist buying it and it marked the beginning of a collection of 103 acers of which 98 are cultivars of acer palmatum. Joanna’s garden is now entirely devoted to trees and shrubs.

Joanna demonstrated to us very convincingly the fascination of acer palmatum ( referred to from now on as ’acers’). They come in a fascinating variety of trees and shrubs which range enormously in size, shape and colour. Their distinguishing feature is the nature of their leaves which have between five and nine lobes separated in a way which resembles fingers spreading from the palm of a hand; hence ‘palmatum’.  They are  beautiful, shapely and strikingly colourful plants. The colour not only varies between cultivars but one cultivar may change colour three or four times a year. The leaves on some varieties may at time be bi-coloured and colour variations extend to flowers and fruit. The fruit form like little helicopters.

Acers make excellent companions to other plants but if you are looking for a combination of particular colours this will not be consistent throughout the year. Leave the acer space because their shallow but fibrous and spreading root pattern doesn’t like competition. Epimedium make a good companion plant.

Colour depends not just on the cultivar but on the position, soil and moisture level in which they are grown.  The conditions which suit most acers are acid or neutral soil in dappled shade without full or prolonged exposure to sunlight but there are exceptions to this. Green varieties are more sun tolerant although red varieties need some sun. They can be grown in the ground or in pots so that even those with alkaline soil can enjoy the beauty of acers by growing them in pots. Ensure the pot is widest at the open end or you will never be able to get the plant out without breaking the pot.

Acers are widely available but the cheapest plants may well be poor specimens and wrongly labelled. Look out for a strong growing and well-balanced structure. Get the best plant you can afford, get the right plant for the right place and see that it is labelled. Aluminium labels are best.

Joanna then dealt with the care and cultivation of acers and again stressed the importance of the right location. Moisture level is also important . Acers need to be kept moist and never allowed to dry out but they don’t want to be waterlogged. Plants in the ground won’t need feeding but mulching with bark is beneficial.

After two or three years plants will need some pruning. Prune in winter and before there is any danger of the sap starting to rise. Removing dead or damaged wood and cut out any crossing or interfering branches and thin straggly growth. Use sharp bypass secateurs (not guillotine) and don’t overprune.

The care and cultivation of pot-grown plants is very much the same as in the ground apart from the use of a little long lasting fertiliser. If you grow pot plants on soil rather than  a hard surface use a saucer to prevent the plant putting roots into the soil. Joanna recommended this soil recipe; 1/3 good quality multi-purpose compost, 1/3 ericaceous compost, 1/3 John Innes compost – No 3 for ground plants and No 1 or 2 for pot plants. One pound or more of horticultural grit or sharp sand or a good handful of vermiculite or perlite.

Acers may have some problems, chief or which is leaf scorch which can come from wind. sun or frost. Frost can be the most damaging but recovery in time is likely so don’t despair too soon. Try to plant in situations protected from frost. Watch out for black and green aphids and treat with diluted washing-up water. Verticillium wilt can be a real problem. Cut out dead wood but a badly infected plant should be removed.
A small selection of photos:

Click for more photos from Flickr

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 20 march when nursery owner and Chelsea exhibitor Annie Godfrey will give a talk entitled “Good in Bed” (Annie is a specialist in herbaceous plants)

Jeremy Arthern

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The Art of Tree Moving

The subject of our meeting on 17th April was The Art of Tree Moving. The speaker was Deric Newman who is the General Manager of Civic Trees a company which specialises in moving mature trees. The scale of their activities, the size of trees moved and the size, power and complexity of the machinery employed are mind-boggling; a very different matter from the domestic scale of the horticulture we are normally concerned with at our meetings. Deric’s beautifully illustrated presentation was lively and entertaining and held the attention of a well-attended meeting …

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This Month in the Garden – April 2018

There is still snow on the grass as I write and a bitter northerly wind. This is not what we should expect near the end of March but we have the prospect of a return to normal temperatures quite soon and I sincerely hope that, as you read this, things will be back to normal. They won’t be truly normal though because everything in the garden is bound to be behind what it would normally be …

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