Annual General Meeting  2022

This took place on 19th July.  Paul Fricker, Chair, welcomed all members and guests present.  Paul went on to ouline the many highs of the Association during the year.  We were able to keep going from September 2021 to February 2022 via Zoom thanks to the tremendous efforts of Paula Church who hosted the meetings and managed the technology so well.  Since then we have had good attendances in the Village Hall with a number of new members and guests each month.  Paul went on to praise all the committee for their hard work and commitment to the Association and all members and guests for their enthusiasm and support.  Ralph Harding presented the financial report for the year to 31st December 2021 which was accepted by those present.  Brian Cheyne was thanked for auditing the accounts.

Ralph Harding Treasurer, Paula Church Secretary and Josie Duchenne are standing down from the Committee and Janet Bird is relinquishing her role of Visiting Speaker Secretary but will remain on the committee.  All were thanked by Paul for the huge contribution they have made to the Association.

The following were elected to the committee:-

Charles Duchenne  Treasurer
Proposed by Ralph Harding
Seconded by Janet Bird

Gilly Cowan
Proposed by Janet Bird
Seconded by Liz Hurford

Jan Page
Proposed by Linda Truscott
Seconded by Ron Bessey

Ron Bessey  Website Admin
Proposed by Linda Truscott
Seconded by Ralph Harding

Paul Fricker, LindaTruscott, Janet Bird, Liz Hurford and Marie Willis have agreed to remain on the committee for the following year and all of the above was accepted by those present at this meeting.  There was approval for Paul and Charles to be the signatories for the BGA account at Natwest.

Gilly Cowan reminded everyone that the newly planted trees in Biddenham do need watering and asked everyone to play their part in this.  Liz Hurford reminded everyone about the Biddenham Show on 11th September.  There was one question from the floor concerning the roles and responsibilities of the new committee.  This will be discussed at the first committee meeting in September. 

Everyone was reminded of the date of the next BGA meeting on 20th September when Jane Perrone will help us to get our houseplants thriving.  In October Nick Bailey (Gardeners’ World presenter) will be talking about 365 days of colour in the garden.

Everyone then enjoyed the cheese and wine – many thanks to Liz and her helpers for providing such a lovely spread.                                                                                                                                     

Linda Truscott

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This Month in the Garden – July 2022

‘a few flowers from the garden …’

There is nothing so satisfying as growing things – a sentiment I heard recently and I would add to that  – and watching the rain fall gently on the things that are growing.  Not a day to be gardening today but a day to be in my office starting on my article for July.  As I write this contribution during the first week of June I am reflecting that it is now six months since I took up the baton from Jeremy … Continue reading

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The A – Z of Foolproof Gardening

On the 21st June we were pleased to be joined by Chris Day.  Chris is the Publicity Manager at Buckingham Nurseries and Garden Centre.  He has worked in a variety of horticultural environments and has also spent many years involved with gardening journalism. Chris’s enthusiasm for all things horticultural shone through during his talk which was illustrated by the plants which he had brought with him and which were for sale at the end of his presentation  This was an alphabetical wander through horticulture with an emphasis on garden plants and Chris was keen to help us make the most of our outside spaces. 

Starting with A for Allergens – the most common being pollen.  Chris highlighted the plants which produced more limited amounts of pollen and were therefore better for hay fever sufferers, these included geraniums, busy lizzies, vincas, azaleas and rhododendrons.  B for Bees and Butterflies came next with details of how to hard prune buddleias in the Spring to maximise the length of the racines.  There was much      discussion about C for Compost.  The target date for all peat free compost is now 2025.  Members agreed that the peat free composts dried out more quickly.  Chris had a good tip – he uses a very small amount of washing up liquid in his watering can, this provides a good wetting agent.  Dual purpose plants came next and Chris gave lists of plants which provided coloured foliage as well as flowers.  Sarcococca – the sweet box was particularly mentioned for its glossy dark green foliage and very fragrant small white flowers.  E gave us Easy care plants and Edible flowers.  F for Fighting growth and Chris advised cutting out dead, diseased and damaged growth in trees and shrubs in the first instance – followed by shaping and pruning directly after the plant has finished flowering and then feeding.  Chris continued with plants for Ground cover and he suggested putting bark chips around plants rather than slate or grit as these become too hot in the summer and damage or even kill the plants.

Lots of useful information was provided when we reached H for House plants which are good for health and well being and help to remove impurities from our indoor spaces.  Very good tips on  growing phalaenopsis or moth orchids.  Making sure that their roots have access to light and mist spray the backs of their leaves with an orchid feed.  And so it went on through Innovation, Japanese maples, Kitchen gardening, Lasagna planting – putting into the bottom of the pot those bulbs that flower last – so one might layer, alliums then tulips, narcissus, crocus and finishing with miniature iris – for a display lasting many months.  On and on through the alphabet – much discussion when we came to S for Slugs and Snails and W for weed control.  Until we reached  Z z z z z – as Chris said if we had followed all this gardening advice we would all need a good rest.  Chris was so full of brilliant ideas, tips and really useful  gardening advice and it was a pleasure to listen to someone who was so knowledgable and presented in such an engaging way.

Please join us next month on Tuesday 19th July for a brief AGM, followed by a talk by Corinne Price who is a member of the Bedfordshire Gardens Trust, followed by cheese and wine.  The meeting will be open to all members, new members and visitors we look forward to seeing you then.                                 
Linda Truscott                                                

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

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Capel Manor’s Flower and Gardens Festival – 2022

Capel Manor’s Flower and Gardens Festival will be taking place this weekend on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June!

Please see below some information. More details and tickets can be found on our ticketing page here (tickets are also available on the day).

Visitors can enjoy a family fun day out to celebrate summer in full bloom.
Admire stunning floral displays (vote for your favourite!), wander around the various craft, plant, garden, food and drinks stalls as well as Capel Manor’s 30-acre grounds.

Children can enjoy:

  • Bouncy castle*
  • Face painting*
  • Plant a seed to take home
  • Animal talks and feeding at our mini zoo
  • Gardens stamp trail
    *Additional fees apply

As well as all the above, see the time table below for an exciting programme of talks, tours and performances throughout the weekend.







Events Team


We are London’s only specialist environmental college, offering a diverse range of full and part-time courses in further and higher education for young people and adults.

We embrace and promote inclusivity in land-based careers.

Students across our six campuses are immersed in a hands-on and creative outdoor learning environment, with exceptional industry-experienced tutors.

We are committed to engaging with the local community and invite the public to visit our estates, gardens, farms and zoos across London. These include Capel Manor Gardens, Forty Hall Farm, Crystal Palace Park Farm and Brooks Farm.

Find out more at

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This Month in the Garden – June 2022

As I write this I have just returned from RHS Malvern Garden Show.  The ticket was a Christmas present from my daughter.  We were accompanied by my son and my sister, tickets courtesy of Abigail as well, so it was jolly band of keen gardeners .  As Abigail put it “Out for a day of Floral Fun.”  I think Malvern is my favourite show – a lovely time of the year when there is the promise of everything to come.  Last month in my article I sang the praises of umbellifers and here they were at Malvern in abundance.  The show gardens were awash with wild flowers and cow parsley featured strongly – soft planting – so different from the manicured plots of the show gardens of yesteryear – and what a delight they were.  We played a guessing game on the way as to what would be the “in” plant this year.  Well it was Camassia.  I had not seen these until I went to Prince Charles’ garden at Highgrove many years ago.  The Biddenham Gardeners’ Association had arranged a visit.  Security was very tight in those days and clutching our passports, which had been checked off by the police who boarded our coach, and leaving all cameras and mobile phones behind we set foot in the gardens.  We were amazed by the sea of blue in one of the meadows and not one of us knew what the plant was.  Now Camassias are everywhere and what a lovely blue/violet show they provided at Malvern especially as many of the displays were paired with the orange of Geum “Totally Tangerine” on the opposite side of the colour spectrum – no wonder they looked so good.  Geums have been having a resurgence for the last couple of years and the frilled varieties like “Pink Petticoat”, which I am growing this year, are just lovely.  But back to Camassias – they are in the same family as asparagus and are native to North America. Plant out the bulbs in the Autumn roughly double the depth of the size of the bulb and they will produce their lovely flower spikes from mid April to mid June.  They do need a moisture retentive soil, so if your soil is light some compost into the planting hole will help them.  After flowering cut down the whole of the flowering stem and let the foliage die back as you would do for any other bulbous perennial.  The good news is that slugs and snails do not touch Camassia! 

Talking of slugs and snails – have you tried a garlic wash to deter them?  My friend on the Isle of Wight suggested to me that I boiled a cut up garlic bulb until it was soft, strained the cooled liquid into a spray bottle and used that as a deterrent.  I couldn’t face the smell of garlic throughout the house so I have just cut up a garlic bulb and put it into my spray bottle with the water.  I am currently using it on my hostas – I will keep you posted as to how it works.  Thankfully I am having extra help with keeping the snail population down.  I have a beautiful thrush who visits my garden on a daily basis.  Any snails I find I just throw them into a particular area of the garden where he has a favoured stone for bashing them and I hear him tap tapping on a regular basis – a very pleasing sound I have to say.  Actually I quite like slugs and snails and I am more than happy for them to chomp away around by my compost bin and woodland area – just please keep off the plants I have specially nurtured in my plant house!

June – what a fabulous month in the gardens and the countryside – the hawthorn is so lovely at this time of the year and good for Autumn berries to feed the birds – I think we should all grow more of it in our gardens.  The year is progressing so fast.  Already, although I am writing this at the beginning of May, my rose bushes are budding up even though they have had very little care and attention.  Out and about some early roses are already in flower.  Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit David Austin’s nursery.  As well as the plant centre the site has five wonderful themed gardens where over seven hundred rose varieties are shown in garden settings.  There is also a lovely restaurant for lunch.  It is so worth a visit at this time of the year when the roses are at their peak.  It is a little way off at Albrighton in Shropshire but well worth a detour if one is travelling in that direction.  At his time of the year, when the spring bulbs are over and before the summer plants come into flower alliums provide an excellent source of colour,  The first alliums to appear tend to be Purple Sensation – and as their leaves die back back before the flowers are fully open it is a good idea to plant them amongst something else – say forget-me-nots so that their shabby foliage is hidden.  A backdrop of lime green euphorbias is a good combination.  Making an appearance a bit later will be Allium Cristophii and then Allium Schubertii – with its huge fire work display – quite a short stem so plant it towards the front of the border.  Last of all comes Allium Sphaerocephalon with its small egg shaped, claret coloured flowers on tall stems.  It flowers between July and August so it is possible to have alliums in the garden over a long period.  Some of my alliums grow alongside my grasses. If you have grasses now is a good time to divide them.  If done too soon before the plants have started to shoot they will be a long time taking off again.

Biennials can be sown at this time of the year so that they can form a good root system and foliage base before flowering the following Spring.  Sow them in seed trays and place outside in a sheltered spot over the Summer.  They can be pricked out and potted on before planting into their final positions in the garden in Autumn.  Most biennials set seed freely so once established they will continue self-seeding from year to year.  Many gardens in Biddenham will have been a sea of blue with forget-me-nots in April and May; they provide a lovely foil for narcissus and tulips.  As the forget-me-nots go over and are taken up just give the faded plants a shake to release the seeds.  They will produce new plants freely (if we ever get any rain) and in the Autumn just pull up the plants you don’t want and leave small clumps to provide a beautiful display next Spring – it is easy gardening.  Good biennials to sow at this time of the year are hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) and foxgloves (Digitalis).  The Halo series is a group of selected hollyhocks that have single flowers with darker throats.  Single flowers are always better for the pollinators.  Colours range from apricot and maroon – Halo Apricot, to white and green – Halo White.  For foxgloves I really like Sutton’s Apricot with its soft pinky- apricot flowers.  Hollyhocks and foxgloves once planted out in the Autumn won’t need protection over winter as they are fully hardy.  When pricking out seedlings handle only the seed leaves – never the stem of the plant as this bruises very easily.  Get a pencil or stiff plant label right under each plant and tease out as much root and soil as possible.  Hollyhocks love the sun and if you plant them beside a fence or wall this will give them protection and reduce the chance of them blowing over in a strong wind.  Foxgloves love shady positions.

My tulips have been a great source of joy to me this year and I have included some photos of them on the BGA website.  For the last few years I have grown Tulip Ballerina.  An orange, lily-flowered tulip that was recommended by Nick Bailey, on Gardeners’ World, and it is certainly worth considering – I have grown it in pots and in the ground and it seems to do well in either.  It has an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society – always a good sign that one is on to something special.  In case you are interested Nick Bailey will be in Biddenham in the Autumn.  He will be our speaker at the BGA on 18th October and everyone is very welcome to attend that and, of course, any other meetings.  Just a further reminder that the Biddenham Show will take place on Sunday 11th September.  So whether you are growing flowers or vegetables do have a think about what you might enter in the Show.  A dahlia or tomato plant given a little extra TLC from now onwards could be a winner!
                                                                                                          Linda Truscott
More Photos:


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Have Garden, will Travel – Steffie Shields

On Tuesday 17th May we had good sized socially-distanced audience including a several new members to welcome our speaker Steffie Shields, an accomplished writer, speaker, garden photographer and historic landscape consultant, talking to us primarily about the several house and garden moves she has made over the duration of her long marriage to a gentleman in the Royal Airforce.   Naturally her talk was titled ‘have garden, will travel’ and so she did …
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Pettifers – 11th MAY, 2022, OPENING FOR UKRAINE

Please see this announcement from Pettifers, click link below


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Biddenham Show 2022

The 2022 Biddenham Show will be held on Sunday, September 11th 2022

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

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This Month in the Garden – May 2022

One of the things that I enjoy in my garden is seeing the old favourites that come up every year.  The plants that I have forgotten about until they appear at their appointed time.  I sat by my pond a couple of weeks ago and spotted fritillaries and epimediums.  Also just peeping through the grass were the shoots of the erythroniums all planted many years ago but still doing their thing and bringing such joy.  Like most people I have many plants which have been given to me by friends and family members.  The friend who gave me the white foxglove plants last autumn will be pleased to know that they are doing well and will zing out like beacons of light in their shady corners later on in the year … 

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Virgins, Weeders and Queens – A History of Women in the Garden – Dr Twigs Way

We were so pleased to be joined by Dr Twigs Way for our April meeting.  Twigs has visited us in Biddenham on many occasions and she is always greeted with great enthusiasm. Twigs is a well known researcher, writer, speaker and consultant in garden history and designed landscapes.  Many of us have enrolled for Twigs’ courses at the Rothsay Education Centre or visited Wrest Park or Cambridge Botanic Gardens where Twigs has been involved with research projects …

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This Month in the Garden – April 2022

The feature in my garden which provides me with most joy at this time of the year is my pond.  It was excavated, constructed and landscaped by my son in 1989.  That summer the extension to our house had just been completed and the garden had taken a hit.  So we agreed that our son could make his pond.  He was thirteen and for a number of years this had been his ambition.  Cue – lots of research in garden magazines and books, visits to pond specialists and garden centres with aquatics – all good as reading had never been Giles’ passion and now he was reading and researching with enthusiasm.  The finished pond is a kidney shape 5 metres long, 1.8 metres at its widest point and just over one metre in depth.  It might have been much bigger.  Fortunately I looked out of the bedroom window as Giles was laying out the rope on the lawn to get the shape before cutting the turf.  What he was proposing would have taken over half the garden.  However, after heavy banging on the window from me and frantic gesturing to make it smaller plus a rational discussion with his father we reached a compromise – phew! …

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“Ferns”  Fifty Shades of Green by Colin Ward

On Tuesday 15th March there was a buzz of excitement in the Village Hall.  After two years we were back!  We had an excellent turnout of members and visitors – we    welcomed familiar faces and new people.  Colin Ward from Swines Meadow Farm Nursery joined us to talk about ferns.  He specialises in shade and woodland plants and his nursery is one of the UK’s leading growers of exotic and rare plants … Continue reading

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Jeremy Arthern

Jeremy’s contribution to the gardening world
Jeremy has made a wonderful contribution to the gardening world, especially in Biddenham.   He is passionate about gardening and is a fount of knowledge. He has visited many gardens and sites of horticultural interest and we have benefitted from the photographs he took which are now on the BGA website.  He has given encouragement and support to so many people.  Our Secretary Paula recalls , ‘I had recently moved to Biddenham and was in the front garden planting a hedge, when Jeremy and Susan appeared and introduced themselves. They both showed great interest in my garden and Jeremy very kindly and authoritatively informed me that the 5 foot weeping willow on the edge of my lawn bordering the public pathway was best removed!  Sound advice indeed.’  Jeremy has given helpful advice to so many other people. 

Role as Chairman
Above all, he made a great impact in his role as Chairman of the Biddenham Gardeners’ Association.  He joined the committee with our Membership Secretary, Linda,  in 2007 and rarely missed a meeting.  He was Chairman for a number of years. He led the committee meetings in a very efficient and committed way and the BGA grew in strength, inspired by his leadership. He was thoughtful in his preparation for BGA meetings.  When a Speaker had to cancel their gardening presentation to a BGA meeting, he gave a presentation he had prepared earlier to cover this situation. All of us on the committee would share Paula’s words. ‘Thank you, Jeremy, for being such a wonderful Chair of our amazing gardening club. It was a pleasure to have worked with you on the BGA committee.’

Biddenham Show

Jeremy was a great supporter of the Biddenham Show and his gardening expertise showed in the many prizes he won.  As you walked around the exhibits, you were impressed by the quality of his plants, and especially his vegetables)  and by the just awards he received for them. 


Jeremy’s passion for gardening was reflected in the wonderful articles he wrote for the Biddenham Bulletin and latterly, for the Loop. His garden is full of interest and is beautifully designed. Everywhere you walk around his garden, there is a different vista. Jeremy is extremely knowledgeable about plants and gardening and is always ready to impart that knowledge. His articles gave very practical advice. As Josie, our newest member of the committee,  wrote, ‘His gentle style of general encouragement and recommendations for gardens of varying sizes, in sun and shade, covering all aspects of horticulture including lawns and the veg plot, has been invaluable.  It is as though we have our very own, all year round ‘Monty Don’ in Biddenham!’ 

 Open Garden scheme
Jeremy and Susan have kindly opened their garden on many occasions for the Red Cross and it has been a very worthwhile experience for all those visiting. Jeremy and Susan have been very engaging to those who have visited and have shared their love of gardening.

Our appreciation of Susan’s contribution
We have really appreciated Susan’s contribution not only to BGA meetings but also to the Biddenham Show. Susan rarely missed a Tuesday meeting and provided tea and cakes on a regular basis. Liz, who is on the  BGA committee, mentioned that when she first volunteered to take on the catering role for AGMs and Christmas parties, Susan was a guiding light and continued to support in respect of providing the tableware.  With regard to the Biddenham Show, Susan helped Liz with the scoring of points after the judges had completed their tour of assessment in the Exhibitors’ tents. Furthermore both Jeremy and Susan were there on the Saturday to set up the tables in the Exhibitors’ tents and put away after the Show.

Our very sincere thanks
Jeremy has made a lasting impact on many people through his role as Chairman of the Biddenham Gardeners’ Association, through his many articles and through his personal contact with people. We really appreciate all that he has done. We have also appreciated the contribution Susan has made to the BGA. We will miss Jeremy and Susan when they move and we wish them every happiness in their new home in Devon.

Paul H Fricker
(Chairman of the BGA)

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This Month in the Garden – March 2022

Well here we are in March and how wonderful to see the spring bulbs bursting through the soil and the colours appearing in the various shrubs.  The garden visiting year has begun – hurrah!  Time to get out and about and enjoy the daffodils that brighten up the Spring.  Ickworth House, near Bury St Edmunds, has swathes of heritage daffodils that are lovely in late March/early April.  At this time of the year one can also see all the new lambs so it is a good place to visit.  I like to have flowers in the house all the year round and try to grow as many of my own flowers as I can.  Because my garden is not large enough to have a cutting garden I have cutting pots.  In the autumn I plant up large pots of daffodils.  These I place at the back of the garden by the shed.  These daffodils are now in bud and I can pick 3 or 5 or 7 on a regular basis for the house without vandalising those in the borders.  I particularly like Bridal Crown, Avalanche, Cheerfulness and Geranium daffodils.  All these varieties have good sturdy stems and lovely fragrance.  They flower in succession so I have a supply of flowers for the house for many weeks.  I feed after they have flowered and give them plenty of water, plus a top up of compost in the autumn and  they have been producing flowers for the house for a number of years.  

The Chaenomeles or flowering quince is providing a vibrant burst of coral in my back garden …

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Designing a Border from Scratch  (Part 3)

In February we were joined by Lucy Hartley a garden designer from Warwickshire. We have had, of course, two previous talks by Lucy on designing borders so this was the final installment.  In earlier talks Lucy had outlined basic design essentials and had discussed low maintenance plants.  Her third talk featured plant choices and plant combinations for a year round border.  The main message was to layer plants so that as one goes over another will come to the fore … Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – February 2022 (revision)

Last year when I was asked if I would take over from Jeremy in writing this column I was very reluctant to follow him.  Jeremy has provided us all with such excellent gardening advice during the last eight years.  However, after some deliberation, I have agreed to give it a go.  So, with fear and trepidation, here goes and many thanks to Jeremy and enjoy your “retirement”.   Firstly, I thought perhaps I should introduce myself.  My interest in all things horticultural stems from the late 1940s when, at the age of 4 or 5, my sister and I would help our grandfather on his allotment.  My grandfather was a champion vegetable grower and one of my earliest memories is spending afternoons picking off the caterpillars, of which there were hundreds, from the brassicas and gooseberry bushes. The poor creatures were then thrown into a small pit and covered with soil.  My grandfather was, by and large, an advocate of organic gardening.  A lot of my horticultural knowledge stems from watching what he did and hearing his take on how to produce the best crops. At home I had my own small patch of garden and planted vegetables and flowers.  In the sixth form I investigated the possibility of going on to a Horticultural College and visited a couple.  However, in the early sixties horticulture was not in vogue as it is now and so I decided upon another career path.  The first garden I owned, with my late husband, was a mature 1940s corner plot.  The gardens all around seemed to be owned by older keen gardeners – so no pressure there then!  But we were young and enthusiastic and did our best to keep up the high standard.  Seven years later we moved to a brand new house and had to set about designing a garden from scratch.  During this time we also took on an allotment and grew many of our own vegetables.  Most afternoons, accompanied by our two young children I would take a picnic and dig and plant and harvest and encourage them to do the same.  Little wonder, I guess, that my son was a keen horticulturalist from a very early age and pursued this as a career.  We moved to Biddenham in 1982.  My garden is small, however, I have a conservatory and an unheated plant house which I keep well ventilated, even throughout the winter, as this provides ideal conditions for the auriculas which I love.  The garden has a pond, built by my son when he was thirteen and a huge Chusan Palm which he grew from a seed when he was eight or nine and then planted out – far too close to the house.  Like most gardens it has lots of happy memories.  So that is me and I hope that over the months you will enjoy reading my column …

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My Garden 2022

We started our new Biddenham Gardeners’ Association year with an excellent turn out of members and visitors, on Zoom.  The “My Garden” talks which we feature every January are always popular and this year was no exception.  We were treated to presentations on two stunning gardens in the heart of the village.  Marihelen and John’s garden on Main Road and Heather and Peter’s garden on Biddenham Turn.  Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – December and January 2021/2022

Jeremy in the garden

Perhaps I should have warned you what was coming but this is the last time I shall write “This Month in the Garden”. I have been writing the article for nearly eight years now and, as I enter my late eighties, I think it is time for a quieter life. Also, I am not spending nearly so much time working in the garden as I used to so have less to say about what I have been doing in the garden. I have enjoyed writing the articles and it has been a good discipline to try to do the things that I have encouraged you to do. Many of you have been kind enough to tell me how much you have appreciated the articles and this has made it all the harder to give up … Continue reading

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Illustrated story of my Garden by Chris Bamforth-Damp

Chris Bamforth-Damp joined us on Tuesday 16th November to give us an insight into his garden.  Chris is a Minister at The John Bunyan Meeting House and his house and garden are near Bedford Park.  Since 2015 Chris has opened his garden to the public under the National Garden Scheme and he began his talk by telling us about the Scheme. The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927 when, in order to raise money for district nurses, garden owners were asked to open their gardens to the public for a shilling a head.  That year 609 gardens were open and raised a total of £8,191.  Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – November 2021

As the pace of jobs that have to be done slackens this is a good time to do some work on longer-term projects. I have, at last, done a job that I have been thinking about for several years. When we moved here many years ago we had a wilder area along the back of the T-shaped land at the bottom of the garden. Over recent years I have worked on this to change it to more of a spring garden and I now have a line of camellias flanked by hellebores and snowdrops with an area of long grass growing daffodils, bluebells and a patch of snake’s head fritillaries in front … Continue reading

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Artists and their Gardens – Twigs Way

On Tuesday 19th October we were so pleased to be joined by Dr Twigs Way.  Dr Way is a researcher, writer and consultant in garden history and designed landscapes.  She is well known to members of the BGA as, amongst other things, she lectures at Rothsay Education Centre, gives talks to The Arts Society and has also visited us in Biddenham on numerous occasions.  Twigs started the session by saying that she would be talking about artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and that although many of the gardens depicted were from the heartland of France she would also be referring to gardens in England and Germany.  Twigs presentation was wide ranging – here is a small snapshot of her talk:

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This Month in the Garden – October 2021

You will be familiar with the British Rail logo of parallel arrows pointing in different directions. When asked what the logo meant, I once heard someone say that it meant that BR didn’t know whether they were coming or going.  The logo also serves as a theme for this month’s activity in the garden as it is a time for looking in two directions; dealing with the aftermath of the year that has gone and looking forward to the months to come through winter and on to spring … Continue reading

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Designing a Border from Scratch part 2 – Lucy Hartley (21 Sep. 2021)

Lucy Hartley

We were very pleased to welcome again Lucy Hartley, who gave us an excellent presentation on this extensive topic and I suspect we can all take on board some of her recommendations, whether now in the Autumn or at other times of the year. Lucy is an award winning Garden Designer based in Stratford upon Avon. 

The main theme of her talk was the establishment of sustainable low maintenance borders, including reducing weeding and watering, as well as ensuring that you have the right plant for the right place. For example a mixture of annuals and perennials make for a high maintenance border. She showed a photograph of bedding in a supermarket, which had low and slowing growing shrubs interspersed with cornus for variety, though these shrubs do need pruning at the right time in order to maintain their colour …
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This Month in the Garden – September 2021 (late posting)

Sadly there will be no Biddenham Show again this year when we can celebrate the productivity and beauty of our gardens by displaying our fruit, vegetables and flowers.  All I can do is tell you some “anglers’ ” tales about the wonderful things I have grown this year and how they would have swept the board if there had been a competition. In practice, many things have been disappointing, small carrots, few French beans,slug-eaten lettuces and cabbages and poorly developed onions and leeks. It wasn’t all bad, though.
I have the longest runner beans I have ever grown (rain and the variety grown helps), there is  a lot of sweet corn coming along nicely and I have a good display of dahlias from a collection I bought a couple of years ago …

Many people think of September as the start of the gardening year. After a lull in August there are a lot of things to think about, jobs to be done now and work or planning for next year … Continue reading

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Biddenham Gardeners’ Association AGM 2021

The Annual General Meeting of the BGA took place on 20th July 2021.  We were joined on Zoom by 35 members.  Ron Bessey is standing down from the committee after ten years of very committed service to the BGA.  He was thanked by Paul Fricker and was presented (virtually) with a gift.  It is due to Ron that we have such an outstanding web site.  Josie Duchenne was proposed as a new committee member by Ann Ebbs and was seconded by Linda Truscott.

Paul then thanked all the committee members for their hard work for the Association.  Paul also thanked Brian Cheyne for auditing our accounts, Rosemary Harris for her assistance with the web site and Peter Carter for devising our Christmas Quiz.  Paul then went on to say how the garden had become a life line for many people during the last year.  Gardens and gardening have enriched people’s lives and provided a source of fulfilment and contentment.   We are fortunate that our Association has been able to continue to provide friendship through our monthly meetings.  The speakers have been varied and knowledgeable and have been well received by members and visitors.

We were then treated to a really fascinating presentation on the work of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners by Kate Jones who was invited to be a member of this organisation 20 years ago.  This Company was first mentioned in 1345 and is a survivor from the many medieval craft guilds .  These guilds exercised control over the practice of their particular craft and ensured a proper training through an apprenticeship system.  The Gardeners guild received a royal charter in 1604 and thus enabled the gardeners to sell their produce in the city.  Current members are both professionals and amateurs who are actively involved in the craft and all are united by a common bond of horticulture and gardens.  The coat of arms bears the insignia “In the sweat of thy brows shalt thow eate thy bread”

The purpose of the Company is to support charitable activities connected with horticulture – for example Perennial, Gardening for the Disabled Trust, London in Bloom, Thrive – to name a few.  The Company also promotes the horticultural trade and provides friendship for keen amateurs and professionals. The charity presents awards to students of horticulture at Capel Manor College, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, RHS Wisley, Writtle College and the Royal Parks.

Kate went on to talk about the make up of the Company and how it is organised and managed.  She finished her talk by showing lovely photos of some of the countries and gardens visited by members.  Thank you Kate for a most interesting presentation.  

Linda Truscott

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Grow the Best Glorious Plants

On 15th June we were joined by Adam Pasco who explained to us exactly how to do this.  Adam, who runs his own gardening media company, is a well known writer and radio and television presenter.  In 1991 he launched the BBC Gardeners’ World    Magazine which he edited for 22 years.  He is now editor of the Waitrose Garden Magazine and works as a consultant to several gardening, retail and trade organisations.  So we were very fortunate that he was with us, on Zoom, to share his expertise and horticultural knowledge …

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This Month in the Garden – June 2021

For half of the time since I last wrote I have not been tending my own garden because I have been able to take advantage of the gradual easing of Covid restrictions and my wife and I have been away for two weeks with our caravan just outside Chichester. It is a lovely area combining the attractions of the shoreline around Chichester Harbour and the beautiful South Downs centring on Midhurst … Continue reading

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My favourite plants & shrubs by Colin Ward

We were pleased to welcome Colin Ward to our May meeting.  Colin is the owner of Swines Meadow Farm Nursery at Market Deeping.  The nursery is open to the public and specialises in rare plants and shrubs.  There is an excellent website detailing all the plants available and a mail order service is provided for those people who are   unable to visit.  However, having listened to Colins’s fascinating talk and realising that here is someone with an in-depth knowledge and passion for unusual plants I am sure there will be many BGA members beating a path to his nursery door.

Colin showed a series of excellent photographs of his favourite plants and shrubs.  He told us that he is a particular fan of plants with green flowers and showed many examples of these.  He described in detail the characteristics of his favourite plants, highlighting the unusual and those with odd features,  He was able to tell us, not only, the Latin names but the more colloquial names which stem from the plant’s use, its shape and form, where it is found etc.  To give an example, Euonymous Cornutus is also known as the jester plant as its pinkish-purple fruits are characterised by five slender horn-like extensions with the appearance of a jester’s cap.  Colin gave us a wealth of useful information on plants for all the different seasons, those plants which were good for pollinators and information on their care and propagation.  Colin described flowers, fruits, scents, foliage, form and bark but it is clear that his main love is foliage.

It was pleasing that Colin spent some time describing plants that do well in dry shade, plants that give good ground cover, plants for woodland areas and plants to attract the pollinators – all the things that we gardeners want to know.  The number and variety of plants Colin described is far too numerous to mention here but I would certainly       recommend his website as an excellent source of information.  It is clear that gardening is for all the year round and there is something for every season.  Many thanks to Colin for an excellent talk which provoked a lot of questions and interest from members.

Please join us next month on 15th June when Adam Pascoe will be giving us advice on how to “Grow the Best Glorious Plants”.  Details can be found on our website.  As usual this meeting will be open to all members and visitors.

                                                                                                                  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 – May 2021

This has been a slow spring with much of April continuing cold and dry.  This has meant we have been able to enjoy the daffodils over an unusually long period but many things have been slow to get going and hard frosts have done some damage.  Seeds that I sowed in my vegetable patch in the middle of March are just beginning to show a tiny bit of green here and there and the onion sets look much as they did when I planted them, and I am writing now in the third week of April.  The ground is exceptionally dry after a long period with no appreciable rain and, unless things change soon, watering will be high on the job list for May.  You will need to pay particular attention to newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials, soft fruit and freshly sown areas.  Established roses benefit from regular watering.  Concentrate on getting the water where it is most needed and, if you have time, use a hose at the base of plants rather than a sprinkler which waters indiscriminately. Continue reading

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Distinctive Containers by Kathy Brown

We were so pleased to welcome Kathy Brown to our Zoom meeting on 20th April. 
We were looking forward to her talk as Kathy is well known to us as she lives at The Manor House in Stevington and many of us have visited her four acre garden as it is open to the public on certain days during the year … Continue reading

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Peonies and Alstoemerias by Alec White / Primrose Hall Peonies

On 16th March Alec White joined us to talk about Peonies and Alstroemerias.  Alec is the owner of Primrose Hall Peonies an eight acre nursery in Westoning, Bedfordshire.  In 2012 Alec started exhibiting Peonies at the major garden shows and in 2019 the nursery won its first gold medal at Chelsea.  Exhibiting peonies is tricky as they have a short flowering window and do not respond well to forcing.  The stand at Chelsea takes about a week to build, the flowers are put into the display on Saturday and the judges start their rounds at 7am the following Monday.  All the hard work paid off as his gold medal was the first to be awarded for peonies in eight years … Continue reading

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rare Amazonian Cactus – Cambridge Botanical Gardens …

If you look on the Cambridge Botanic Garden Website you can see the live webcam on the cactus plant which grows up a tree.  I have been monitoring it for the last few days and today it has flowered. Apparently  it has never flowered before in this country and its flower only lasts for 12 hours. 


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Gertrude Jekyll by Andrew Sankey

On 16th January forty three members took part in our BGA Zoom session. We were joined by Andrew Sankey who gave us an insight into the life of Gertrude Jekyll, one of the most well known horticulturalists of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century and recipient of the RHS Victoria Medal of Honour …

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Our Gardens

The Gardeners’ programme for 2021 began on 19 January with two members talking about their own gardens. Once again Zoom came to the rescue and the monthly programme will continue to be presented in this way for the foreseeable future. The speakers at this first meeting were Linda whose garden is in Ison Close and Josie with a garden in Darlow Drive. One of the pleasures of having two speakers with a common topic is the contrast it  provides in the size and nature of the gardens and differences in the style of presentation …

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This Month in the Garden – December 2020

The disillusioned philosopher Ecclesiastes writes in the Old Testament “Of making many books there is no end”.  This is no less true of gardening than of any other subject and in the run-up to Christmas when there is likely to be less to do outside in the garden I am devoting my article to books on gardening.  Maybe this will offer some ideas for Christmas presents or just improve your gardening knowledge … Continue reading

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‘Designing a Border from Scratch’ with Lucy Hartley

Lucy Hartley

On Tuesday 17th November Lucy Hartley, an award winning Garden Designer based in Stratford-upon-Avon, joined us via Zoom to talk about the principles and pitfalls of designing a border.  Lucy started her talk by advising that a border should be viewed from different angles  She went on to say that borders should combine restfulness with interest.  The principles of designing a border are the same as those involved in painting a picture.  Lucy illustrated this by showing us an example Van Gogh’s painting of  “Starry Night.”  Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – November 2020

The quieter winter months are a good time for planning and carrying out a garden project.  Two projects that I am hoping to get done, with the help of one of my sons, are replacing broken glass in an old greenhouse and generally improving its appearance and, the big one, clearing out the silt of many years accumulation in our pond.  This will also mean taking out all the plants in baskets, weeding and replanting them.  It will be necessary to drain out the water in the pond and, as it is always best to use rainwater if possible, I am hoping to pump some of the existing water into dustbins so that all the refill will not be tap water.  I shall put the silt on plastic sheeting round the pond edge so that the wildlife in the pond has a chance of getting back where it belongs.  Once dried, the silt can be spread on borders or the vegetable garden.  One of my hopes is to clear out most of the roots of a rampant waterlily that has escaped from its basket and is dominating much of the pond surface.  The moral is to check the ultimate size of any plants that you plan to put in the pond and to be careful to avoid invasive species.

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Bedford Market – Plants & Flowers

Dear BGA member,
We, at the BGA, hope that you and your loved ones are keeping well during these very trying times. We are so pleased to be able to continue with our monthly meetings/ talks via Zoom.  It is wonderful to see so many of you come together to be part of the talks.  We hope that you are enjoying them!

Today (Saturday 31st October), I ventured into Bedford market to purchase plants for my pots to get me through Winter.  I discussed the ‘possibility’ of a further lockdown with the proprietors, Bootsies Nurseries, and subsequently, the Prime Minister this evening has announced a second lockdown, albeit not as severe as the initial lockdown in March. This means that only essential shops will be permitted to remain open. Given this, you may wish to know that Bootsies Nurseries which is a Bedfordshire business trading at Bedford market will be happy to deliver orders to Biddenham and Bedford (delivery charge:£5)  Furthermore, they will soon be delivering Christmas items such as Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths etc. If you are interested, their contact details are as follows:
Lloyd Cleverly 07824368443 and Karen Cleverly 07788920501

We look forward to seeing you on the 17th November when Lucy Hartley will give a talk titled ‘Designing a Border From Scratch’.

Until then, take good care …
Best regards Paula Church.

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