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 …
Liz has a long fairly narrow plot of a third of an acre running down to the Coffin Path with distant views of the trees edging the Bromham Road. A marked feature of the view is a large conifer in her neighbour’s garden. Liz has lived there for over twenty years but her passion for gardening really started when she retired three years ago. The front garden has a lawn edged with shrubs and a sheltered courtyard area with container plants near the house. This is the sunny side of the plot. The back garden is north facing but is large enough to get a good deal of sunshine. Features in the back garden are an ornamental bed backed by a trellis which breaks up the long run of the lawn and beyond this, on the left-hand side there is another large ornamental bed. Both beds are stocked with flowering shrubs and perennials with some spring bulbs. Beyond these beds there is a fernery backed by trees and shrubs which makes good use of a dry shady area. The final feature is a wild flower patch which is sown with a commercial wild flower seed mixture and is at its best in late June, July and August. The garden was formerly an orchard and has well-drained sandy alkaline soil. This is easy to work but needs compost to maintain productivity.
Liz illustrated the growth of the garden with a succession of photos of the same sites taken at different times of the year. She then demonstrated the form and flowering of individual shrubs and perennials in a series of very informative photos. This was complemented with pictures of the wild life that inhabits the garden. Some of the highlights in the front garden are a white tasselled garrya eliptica, a lovely laburnum tree and a fine splash of gold from a tree which lights up Church End. The trees and shrubs in the back garden make a colourful picture in Autumn and there was a striking colour combination with the pink of nerines backed by a dark purple–leaved cotinus.
Rosemary’s talk was an excellent partner for Liz’s but a complete contrast in its subject matter. Whereas Liz concentrates on the ornamental garden Rosemary’s chief concern is with edible productivity. Both the garden and the allotment are chiefly used for vegetables and fruit although flowers are not forgotten. Garden and allotment have the same type of sandy soil as Liz’s garden but Rosemary commented that the soil on the allotment site varies a good deal between the different plots and previously she had a plot with much heavier soil which was hard to work.
Rosemary also moved through the gardening year with illustrations showing the range of techniques that she uses and the different stages of growth from seed germination to harvesting. This made for a very practical and informative talk laced with some self-deprecating humour. Rosemary said that she is not self-sufficient in vegetables but the range of things she grows and the sheer amount harvested was. to say the least, impressive. This allows her to have a continuous supply of vegetable throughout the year extended by freezing, bottling and pickling and with carrots stored in dry sand. We were shown pictures of root vegetables, brassicas, beans, squashes of many kinds together with a good supply of sweet corn. The allotment is clearly of a generous size even though a third of it was left fallow, covered with discarded astro turf to prevent weed growth.
The talk was interspersed with useful growing tips. Particularly helpful was the idea of germinating large seeded plants, such as courgette, cucumber, melons and squashes, in the airing cupboard. These are sown on damp kitchen roll in closed plastic boxes. Germination takes only a few days and it is essential to check progress frequently and to bring the seedlings into the light as soon as they show leaves. They can then be potted on with the leaves just showing above the seed compost.
Rosemary’s photos were mainly taken during 2018 which reminded us that many things suffered in the drought (potatoes and runner beans being particular victims) but Rosemary was especially pleased with her sweet corn and a magnificent crop of strawberries. The talk ended with pictures of vegetables that Rosemary exhibited at the Biddenham Show and which earned well-deserved success
A small selection of photos …
The next meeting of the BGA will be on 19th February when Rob Brett, curator of the RHS garden at Hyde Hall, will speak on “Yours and my need for plants”
New members and visitors are always welcome.
For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747