This Month in the Garden – April 2019

There are firm historical and theological reasons for having Easter Day on a variable date  but it does mean that sometimes the Church’s celebration of new life  gets rather widely separated from the new life of spring  in the garden. This is one of those years and, by the time we get to Easter, the snowdrops will be a distant memory and the glory of  the daffodils will have faded. That means that one of the jobs for the Easter weekend may well be attending to the daffodils so that they are in good shape for next spring … Continue reading

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Plant Hunting in Eastern Anatolia by Timothy Walker

The title of the talk given by Timothy Walker at our meeting on 19 March was Plant Hunting In Eastern Anatolia″. Timothy is a former Director of the Oxford University Botanic Garden, a lecturer at several Oxford colleges and is also semi-retired while having a busy life as a speaker on horticultural topics. 

The subject of his talk prompted the question of where is Eastern Anatolia ? The answer on the internet is that it borders the Black Sea and forms the eastern boundary of Turkey. It  has “the highest average altitude, the largest geographical area and the lowest density of all the regions of Turkey.”

Timothy’s talk was based on an expedition that he made with the Alpine Garden Society. The primary object of the expedition was to see alpine plants growing in the wild and this provided a strong contrast with most of the talks we have which are concerned with garden cultivation. Contrast was in fact a theme for the evening brought out by Timothy in all sorts of ways through his presentation. His illustrations varied from the minute scale of the alpine plants shown in close-up to the grandeur of the mountain scenery rising two thousand feet above the valleys and from very primitive farming and living conditions in the countryside to modern oil-rich towns. The contrasts of the area showed horticulturally in the meeting of three different plant groups from the Mediterranean, Armenia and Georgia and from the South and in the history of the area with invasion and  the change from Christianity to Islam, The architecture of the region was illustrated in pictures of  ancient churches, monasteries and mosques. The strongly contrasted growing conditions ranged from alpine meadows to arid scree.

From a horticultural viewpoint we were interested to see many plants growing in the wild that we are familiar with in our own gardens.  Some come from plant families that we recognise but grow in very different forms that are almost impossible to cultivate in our environment while others transfer very readily to our conditions. Examples of some of these that we saw illustrated are iris reticulata, gentiana pyrenacia, veronica gentianoides, cyclamen, primulas and, particularly, tulips in dwarf form.  Timothy made the point that, in contrast with animals which are the same wherever they live, plants have the ability to change their growth habit according to the conditions in which they grow. Thus some  plants which are small in alpine conditions grow in substantially larger form elsewhere.

Timothy’s presentation was  hugely entertaining and informative; so much more than  a purely gardening occasion and very much enjoyed by the audience. It was probably the funniest talk we have ever had with many asides and general comments and we learned that the jelly-like consistency of Turkish Delight comes from the roots of orchid dactylorhiza and  aristolchia pontica  acts as a kind of “uterine syrup of fig”  in bringing on a tardy birth.

Jeremy Arthern

A small selection of photos from Timothy’s presentation:

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 16th of April at 7.30pm. It will be  on the subject  “Strictly Day Lilies” by Paula Dyason the owner of  a specialist  Day Lilly  nursery at Histon north of Cambridge. New members and visitors are always welcome. 

For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747

 

 

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This Month in the Garden – March 2019

This is the time to come out of hibernation and to start being really active in the garden. There is a lot to be done and a good start now will pay off for the rest of the year. Where you start will depend on your gardening priorities. Do  you just want to keep things tidy and ticking along quietly ? Is the ornamental garden your pride and joy with the aim of  colourful all year round interest or do you fancy the Good Life, being as self-sufficient as possible with vegetables and fruit ?   …
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Flowers from the Farm – Home Grown Talent

On Tuesday 19th February we were pleased to welcome Rachelle Merrill who stepped in at very short notice when our scheduled speaker was unable to be with us.  Rachel and her husband run a family Christmas tree, foliage and flower growing business in Oakley.  In 2017 they opened up their farm to allow local florists to buy flowers direct from the farm.  In 2018 they started co-hosting workshops with local florists and also introduced “Pick Your Own” tours.  On their 70 acre site they have 8 acres of trees (five plots with 5,000 Nordmann fir trees on each plot) and 2 acres of flowers.  Since 2017 they have built two polytunnels for flowers which need more protection.

Merri Flowers, as their business is called, is a member of the “Flowers from the Farm” consortium.  This is a not for profit association which was founded in 2011 and now has 500 growers across this country, two of whom are in Bedfordshire.  This organisation provides British grown wholesale flowers, flowers for events, workshops and tours.  They also exhibit at most of the RHS shows, winning a Gold medal at Chelsea in 2018.

There are many reasons to buy British grown flowers.  Air miles and the chemicals needed to keep foreign grown flowers alive in transport are eliminated.  Wildlife tends to flourish on farms where flowers are grown – food is provided for the pollinators and British grown flowers tend to be more scented.

The flower season at Merri Flowers is between May and October.  The Early Spring sees narcissus, then follows ranunculus (grown in polytunnels), scabiosa, peonies, roses in mid June through to the dahlias in the early Autumn.  Of particular delight was the view of the sweet pea tunnel – we could only imagine the perfume!  Amongst the most requested flowers are antirrhinums, delphiniums, statice, roses, dahlias and sunflowers.

Rachelle and her husband are clearly passionate about what they do.  The flowers in her photographs looked stunning and their farm is very local to us.  They welcome visitors, but by appointment, as Rachelle’s husband works on his own and therefore needs to arrange his work schedule carefully.  We were very grateful to Rachelle for stepping in at such short notice and providing such an interesting and pleasant talk.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 19th March when Timothy Walker will talk about Plant Hunting in Eastern Anatolia.  Please do join us – just come along to the Village hall for a 7.30 pm start – you will be made very welcome.  

                                                                                                                       Linda Truscott

New members and visitors are always welcome.  For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747

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This Month in the Garden – February 2019

Here we are again at the start of another gardening year. As usual, we wonder what the year will hold for us and, in particular, what the weather will be like. Already, this year has been unusually dry and many of our lawns are still showing the damage from last year’s drought. I have been hoping for a natural recovery but this looks increasingly unlikely and some re-sowing may well be necessary.  It will be a good idea to scarify and aerate the lawn before any sowing. You can do this yourself on a small lawn, raking out dead grass and moss and going over the grass with a fork held vertically to dig holes in the soil. Professional lawn care companies will gladly do the job for you, at a cost but with a lot of saving in effort …

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My Garden – 2019

This year, at our meeting on 15th January, our speakers  on the subject “My Garden” were two BGA members; Liz Hurford and Rosemary Harris. Liz spoke about her garden in Church End and Rosemary talked about her garden in Nodders Way and her allotment in Queens Park on the Allen Park site … Continue reading

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Snowdrops for Nurses / Pavenham, Bedford MK43 7PD

Two gardens on the High Street – open for the National Garden Scheme raising money for Macmillan and Marie Curie Nurses
February 3rd, 23rd and 24th  1.00 – 4.oopm

 

 

 

 

Click for the link to the NGS website link

Admission £5. Disabled parking. Refreshments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This Month in the Garden – December 2018, January 2019

What can a gardener do in December and January except sit indoors in the warm and think of Spring ? That idea has attractions but they are not very profitable ones when there is a lot you can do which will make Spring, when it comes, more rewarding. To start with you can say goodbye to Autumn by clearing up any leaves that are still laying about. Particularly on the lawn, leaves are not just unsightly but will damage the grass.

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This Month in the Garden – November 2018

After weeks of being passed by when most of the country was getting some rain we have, at last, had a significant amount of rain. The water butts have been filled up and my pond water level is where it should be. The rain comes too late to make a lot of difference to the immediate appearance of the garden but let’s hope it’s the beginning of normal rainfall to prepare for next year’s gardening, and that is really the main gardening theme for this of time of year; looking ahead, preparing and planning for next year …
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A zest for herbs by Caroline Holmes

The speaker at our meeting on 16th October was Caroline Holmes who gave a talk entitled “A Zest for Herbs”. Caroline is a well-known gardening author and lecturer who has written eleven books including works on garden history, studies of water lilies,  herbs and dung and books of general gardening advice. She has travelled widely giving lectures and speaking on cruises and giving tutorials.

Caroline started by giving us an opportunity to handle and smell a number of herbs  with examples of myrtle, rosemary, lemon-scented geranium, golden bay, rue, fennel, lemon verbena, lavender and thyme …

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