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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