Highlights of Chelsea and Hampton Court

Meeting of the Biddenham Gardeners Association on Tuesday 18th June 2024

There was a good turn out for this month’s meeting which was on the subject of “Highlights of Chelsea and Hampton Court” by Simon White of Peter Beales Roses, Norfolk. 

Simon, who has given talks to this society on previous occasions, explained that he had 43 years’ experience with Peter Beales Roses, having been with them since July 1981. In his initial comments he mentioned “Uncle Toms Rose Tonic” which although apparently expensive, the quantity produced when diluted was such that it was in fact very reasonably priced and which he recommended as being the best rose tonic which should be applied every 14 days; it was also good for potatoes and other vegetables …
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Grow Your Own Vegetables by Geoff Hodge

Geoff is a freelance gardening writer, editor and broadcaster who specialises in pests and diseases, vegetable gardening, pruning and propagation.  His interest in growing vegetables started at the age of 14 when he began growing leeks in his mother’s garden in Wales.  He peppered his talk with amusing anecdotes from his broadcasting and judging days. Continue reading

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Cottage Farm Nursery, Cardington

Cottage Farm Nursery is located in the village of Cardington.  It was established in 1971 and is well known to many of our members.  It stocks a large selection of plants and the staff provide knowledgeable and friendly advice to visitors.  We were so pleased to be joined by the owner Martin Cooper for this meeting.

Martin began his talk by telling us about his early career in horticulture when he began a 3 year apprenticeship at Willington Nursery (Frosts Garden Centre is now on this site).  He then studied at Oaklands Horticultural College in Hertfordshire – we understand that Alan Titchmarsh was also a student there before he went on to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.  Martin met his wife at this horticultural college and after a few years running a nursery elsewhere they moved to Cottage Farm Nursery where they have been tenants of the Whitbred family for 42 years.  The nursery supplies plants to the general public and they also have large contracts to supply plants to other organisations. Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – April 2024

I used to think that May was the month for bluebells.  When I was a child we celebrated Bluebell Sunday in the middle of May close to my mother’s birthday.  We would walk through Crackley Wood, Kenilworth and be overwhelmed by the scent and the amazing carpet of blue.  In recent years, as our winters have become milder, bluebells seem to appear earlier and are now often much in evidence in April.  Bluebells are one of the last spring flowers to bloom before the woodland canopy closes over and becomes too dense as the new leaves filter out the sunlight.  So head out to Mowsbury Park, Great Ampthill Park, Steppingley Bluebell Woods between Tingrith and Steppingley villages or Moggerhanger Park.  In Cambridgeshire Waresley and Gransden Woods is a Site of Scientific Interest due to its diverse flora and its bluebells are stunning.  It is managed as a nature reserve by the Wildlife Trust.  Another of my favourite places to see bluebells is Coton Manor Gardens in Northamptonshire open from 11.30 am – 5pm Tuesday – Saturday.
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A Complete guide to Clematis

Meeting of the Biddenham Gardeners Association on Tuesday 19th March 2024

There was a large turn out for this month’s meeting which was on the subject of Clematis. The speaker was Peter Skeggs-Gooch who gave a talk “A complete guide to Clematis”. This is a combination of his talks on “Clematis for Every Season”, “Different Ways with Clematis”, and “Planting, Pruning and Care”  … Continue reading

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Nick Bailey’s ‘Planting Design’ course opportunity

The following alert has been sent via the BGA website:
 
‘It’s Nick Bailey here (Garden Designer, Plantsman and BBC Gardeners’ World Presenter) and I was wondering if you might be kind enough to share the details of the planting design course I’m running in Rutland this spring with your members? The course is tailored to keen gardeners who want to improve the planting across their garden whether starting from scratch or elevating an existing plot. We’ll be looking at planting design techniques, colour, succession and unusual plants along with numerous tips, tricks and ideas’
 
Details for the course are noted on the flyer (see link below).
 
I hope to see you or some of your members there.
 
Many thanks, Nick Bailey)

click Link for further details: Link

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This Month in the Garden – March 2024

This month, in March, I sing the praises of narcissus – a huge genus with, I understand,  more than 25,000 registered hybrid cultivars. They hybridise readily both among international growers and in the wild.  From tiny miniatures like Minnow which only grows to 15cm tall to Actaea which reach 50cms there is something for everyone.  Tulips, although lovely, do not always fare well after the first year whereas, narcissus will continue flowering for many years, even when planted in pots. 
The narcissus season starts in very early January or even late December with Rijnveld’s Early Sensation a stunning golden yellow variety which has been given an RHS Award of Garden Merit – always a good indicator in that it has earned the RHS seal of approval for reliable performance in gardens.  The last narcissus to appear in my garden, usually in mid May is the Pheasant Eye – pure white with a yellow and orange centre – hence the name I guess.  This is a highly scented old fashioned variety also with an RHS award of garden merit …

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Pumpkins and Squash

We were delighted to welcome back Russell Attwood who had taken us through the principles of  “no dig” gardening last year.  Russell was so informative and entertaining during that session that we knew we were in for a real treat this month and we were not disappointed.  Russell is a very experienced gardener and retired Biology teacher.  He is secretary of the Kettering Allotments Society and is a very keen pumpkin grower.  Russell’s slide presentation was entitled “A Passion for Pumpkins” and he certainly demonstrated that.  We understand that he, not only grows them on his allotment, but he eats them every day.  Russell also showed wonderful examples of pumpkin carving undertaken by his wife at Halloween. 

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This Month in the Garden – February 2024

Well here we are in February – what a fabulous month.  The days are lengthening and there is the promise of everything to come.  This month the long awaited snowdrops are the stars.  The Victorians associated them with death which was why they were often planted in churchyards – St James’ has a magnificent display.  But today we associate them with joy and hopefulness.  In the words of Mary Robinson in her Ode to the Snowdrop written in the eighteenth century  “A beauteous gem appears”  Of course the winters Mary Robinson experienced were likely to be much colder than those we have now and her poem reflects, not only the struggles of the snowdrop against the elements, but also her own rather chequered life …

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RHS Wisley Closure alert !

Just in case you were planning to visit RHS Wisley in February…

Dear Mr Duchenne,
On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February 2024 RHS Garden Wisley and the Garden Centre will be closed to all visitors due to the A3 weekend closure, as part of the ongoing M25 junction 10/A3 Wisley interchange roadworks …
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My Garden – 2024

At the first meeting at the beginning of the year, it is usual that the talk is given by a member of the Association about their garden and on this occasion we were fortunate in having two speakers, Gilly Cowan and Caroline Hay Davison, talking about and describing their own, quite different, gardens in Biddenham. 

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BGA Christmas Party

On Tuesday 19th December we held our annual Christmas Party in the Village Hall.  Members provided delicious food and a good time was had by all.

The Committee really appreciated the assistance from the many willing volunteers who helped to set up and clear up. Special thanks were given to Peter Carter who devised the quizzes and competitions and acted as Master of Ceremonies throughout the evening.

 Linda Truscott

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This Month in the Garden – December 2023

As I write this article the Autumn foliage has reached its peak.  When the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, trees prepare for winter by withdrawing nutrients from their leaves, leaving us with a spectacular display of autumn colour.  However, by the time this article is published the trees will be bare and we will have been kept busy clearing leaves from our lawns and paths.  Walking around Biddenham has been a great joy and has been especially enhanced by the wonderful holly berries which seem to be better than ever this year …

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The Twelve Plants of Christmas by Timothy Walker

Timothy started his excellent talk by discussing plant blindness – caused by the fact that we are so used to seeing plants, they are so ubiquitous that we do not not them. For instance, he referred to notices outside National Trust property saying “ Don’t damage Trees or Plants” which ignores the fact that trees are plants.  Constable’s picture of the Haywain includes numbers of elm trees, which are plants. The picture of lions in a tree is generally thought of as a picture of lions, and the tree is overlooked.

Plants are fascinating. The Catharanthus roseus, or Madagascar periwinkle, is a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat various types of cancers. 

Christmas cards, he said, have one plant, 23 birds and 66 mammals, but Christmas should be about plants. Neither the apple tree nor the pear tree is mentioned in the bible, but there are many references to Almonds which is the main constituent of marzipan, so much used in Christmas cakes. Wild Almonds are toxic and the edible sweet ones came from a genetic mutation thousands of years ago. The Mediterranean climate encourages mixed orchards of figs (which existed over 13,000 years ago) and almonds.

Figs have their flowers in the fleshy part and are pollinated by different wasps for the various type of fig. The female wasp penetrates through a hole in the fig pollinates the fig and then dies. A male wasp then mates with another female wasp and the male then dies; the female wasp then emerges from the fig and the cycle continues. Nowadays, enormous numbers of figs and almonds are grown in California (unsustainably because of the amount of water required). Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – November 2023

Well yesterday (I am starting to write this in October) the garden and allotment came to St James’ Church.  Thank you to everyone who provided fabulous flowers and foliage – you know who you are – it made decorating the church for the Harvest Festival so easy and such a pleasure.  There were some lovely arrangements  – they were all splendid – but sadly to accompany this article, I only have room for one photo.  I have chosen the one which I think will show up best in the print version of The Loop.  As we worked away in the church I was remembering Joy and Maudie and Nancy and Sheila and Janet to name just a few of those who have given their time so willingly in the past to enhance the beauty of our lovely church and long may these traditions continue …

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The History of Suburban Gardens – Dr Twigs Way

We were so pleased to welcome Dr Twigs Way to our meeting on 17th October.  Twigs is well known to many of us and it is always a pleasure to see her in Biddenham.  Twigs is a researcher, writer, speaker and consultant in garden history and designed landscapes and really knows her stuff so we were looking forward to her talk on the history of suburban gardens and we were not disappointed.  Twigs illustrated her talk with the musings and writings of authors and the paintings of artists from various times and eras and from the words of the Pet Shop Boys to the words of John Betjeman.  The suburbs are continuously evolving and expanding as rural areas are built over and everything starts again …

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This Month in the Garden  –  October 2023

Well here we are in October and into the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” as described by Keats in his Ode to Autumn.  It is time to gather in fruits from our gardens and hedgerows and store and preserve them for the winter.  Perhaps not now so vital as in years gone by but still a satisfying activity.  In his poem Keats describes the beauty and bounty of the autumn season.  How lovely to see the berries developing and the spider webs in the dewey grass early in the morning – a sure sign that Autumn is upon us …
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“Flowers through my viewfinder” by Hemant Jariwala

After 43 years in the Defence Industry, Hemant decided in his retirement to take an entirely different line of work and to become a photographic expert taking beautiful images of flowers, landscapes and gardens. His photographs are used in Calendars and greeting cards and he has obtained numerous honours for his photography, and is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society. He is passionate about photography and walking … Continue reading

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Biddenham Show (BGA Tent entries) – September 10, 2023

The 2023 Biddenham Show was held on Sunday, September 10th 2023 at St James’ Primary School & Village Hall, Main Road, Biddenham – 12 noon – 4pm 

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Annual General Meeting  2023

Annual General Meeting of the Biddenham Gardeners Association on Tuesday 18th July 2023 at the Village Hall, Biddenham, Bedfordshire.

  1. The chairman, Paul Fricker, gave his report which is attached. The treasurer Charles Duchenne produced the accounts which had been passed by Bryan Cheyne, the Scrutineer. These accounts are also attached.
  2. Linda Truscott on behalf of the BGA committee presented Paul with the book “The Gardens of the National Trust” and thanked Paul for his hard work as chairman during the past 4 years, and also Kathy Fricker for the support she had given during that period. Kathy was presented with flowers from Linda’s garden. A bottle of sparkling wine was also given to Paul and Kathy.
  3. It was agreed by the AGM that Linda Truscott and Charles Duchenne should be the joint chairs of the Association, Linda remaining as membership secretary and Charles as treasurer. The other members of the committee would carry on in their previous positions. Chris Charlton had kindly agreed to join the committee (and subsequently agreed to become the secretary).
  4. The Biddenham Horticultural Society challenge cup was handed over to Linda Truscott by Paul Fricker.
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This Month in the Garden – July & August 2023

The show gardens at Chelsea this year proved that you can have a lovely garden and still encourage wildlife.  This was also borne out in the fabulous gardens in Biddenham that were open in June in aid of the Red Cross.  I noted with interest the wild areas and the bug hotels in these stunning gardens some of which have been cultivated for more than a 100 years.  Many thanks for the hard work of the owners of these lovely gardens – you gave us such pleasure on a brilliant sunny afternoon. There were more so called “weeds” in the less manicured show gardens at Chelsea this year …
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“No Dig Gardening” by Russell Attwood

Well – who would have thought that a talk on “No-Dig” gardening would be so riveting – but it absolutely was. From the moment Russell Attwood started his  presentation we were captivated.  Russell is a very experienced gardener and a retired Biology teacher.  We understand that he has been cultivating his allotments (he has 3) for over 25 years.  He is secretary of his allotment society in Kettering – he used to dig but not any more.  As soon as he uttered the words “No digging means no watering” he had our attention.  He is clearly a convert but he suggested that we try the no-dig method on a patch of our own garden or allotment as an experiment.  Russell gardens on clay and for him this method really works…

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This Month in the Garden  – June 2023

What a fabulous month when everything in the garden is blossoming and burgeoning and especially with all the rain.  Such a delight to be out and about savouring the beauty and wonder of nature.  I have been visiting numerous gardens in Biddenham and elsewhere during May.  Each one so different but delightful in its own way and with the owners so enthusiastic and proud to show off their efforts, highlight their challenges and bemoan their disasters.  May was the month of the tulip.  Gardens everywhere were show casing them in abundance, as in my own garden.  And, like me, have you been swept away by the beautiful displayed on The Embankment in Bedford.  The Parks Department of Bedford Borough Council deserve high praise for putting on such a wonderful display each year …

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Biddenham Show 2023 – Tent Entries

The 2023 Biddenham Show will be held on
Sunday, September 10th

  SHOW TENT – Entries
  BIDDENHAM FLOWERS AND PLANTS

CLASS

 

1

Asters x3

2

Cactus dahlias x3

3

Pompom dahlias x3

4

Decorative dahlias x3

5

3 Annuals (same)

6

3 perennials (same)

7

Mixed flowers x3

8

Flowering pot plant

9

Foliage pot plant           

10

Selection of herbs in a vase

11

Small flower arrangement ‘Celebration’ max 25cmHx25cmWx25cmD

12

Large foliage arrangement  max 90cmHx60cmWx60cmD

13

Colourful flower arrangement ‘God Save The King’ max 90cmHx60cmWx60cmD
  BIDDENHAM FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

14

Eating apples x3

15

Cooking apples x3

16

Pears x3

17

Carrots x3

18

Onions x3

19

Shallots x3

20

Runner beans x3

21

Longest Runner Bean

22

Potatoes x3

23

Cherry tomatoes x3

24

Standard tomatoes x3

25

Heaviest Truss of Tomatoes

26

Cucumber x1

27

Sweetcorn x3 cobs

28

Courgettes x3

29

Any other fruit not specified above – at least 3 of the same variety

30

Any other vegetable not specified above – at least 3 of the same variety

31

A Biddenham Whopper

32

Show Disaster: A fruit or vegetable which did not turn out as you would have hoped!
  BIDDENHAM BAKE OFF
  Biddenham Preserves

33

A jar of sweet preserve – jam, jelly, marmalade

34

A jar of chilli chutney
  Biddenham Baking

35

Red Velvet Cake following published recipe on Show website

36

A Coronation cake fruit or sponge decorated to reflect the occasion of the king’s coronation

37

Flavoured Sourdough Bread

38

Show Disaster: A bake which did not turn out as you would have hoped!

 

 

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‘Trees” by Andrew Mikolajski

On Tuesday 16th May we were joined by Andrew Mikolajski.  Andrew is a writer and lecturer who was an adviser on the new edition of the RHS A-Z Encylopedia of Garden Plants and the RHS Encylopedia of Plants and Flowers, he is also an RHS judge.  There was a good turnout of members and visitors and we were treated to a really fascinating talk.  Andrew began by asking “What is a tree?”  He then proceeded to tell us about the evolution of trees and the way in which they adapted to life on land around 420 Million years ago.  Andrew described the genetic diversity of trees and went on to list those trees to be cautious about for smallish gardens.  The list  included eucalyptus which, because nurseries tend to grow them from seeds rather that grafting on root stock, which is the norm, they will grow very tall unless pruned frequently.  Andrew also included in the list Robinia pseudoacacia frisia as, being so brittle, strong winds will bring it down and Acacia dealbata – silver wattle as it is too cold for it in this part of the country …

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Outing to Elton Hall – 6th July, 2023

The BGA has arranged to visit Elton Hall and its stunning gardens near Peterborough on Tuesday, 6th July 2023

Further details will be given at the next meeting of the BGA on 16th May

 

Gardners Association Lunch Form

 

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‘Diluted’ by Darren Lerigo

On Tuesday 18th April we were joined by Darren Lerigo. Darren is a gardener who specialises in topiary and pruning but today he had come to talk to us about water conservation and how to cope with and manage the extremes of too much rain and not enough rain.  In recent years we have experienced both.  In developing countries where there is more emphasis on growing crops much more water is used for irrigation than here in the UK.  In fact, Darren told us that 92% of the water we use in this country is for cooling power plants and very little is used for irrigation …
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BGA Meeting on Tuesday 18th April

Dear Members and Supporters
We look forward to seeing you at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall.  Darren Lerigo will be joining us.  His talk will focus on how to use water in the garden – when we have too little or too much.  In view of the times we now live in in terms of climate change his talk should be of interest to all of us in how to manage our gardens.  Darren will be giving practical advice on ways to water and plants that can cope with too much heat or flooding.

At this meeting we will be starting a new venture.  A table will be set out so that members and visitors can bring surplus plants.  So, if you have divided your herbaceous plants or you have too many seedlings please bring them along to the meetings so that they can be given a new home.  It is expected that members will give a small donation to the BGA for any plants taken – so please do bring some cash with you to the meeting.

With best wishes
Linda Truscott
Membership Secretary

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This Month in the Garden – April 2023

So here we are in April – the time of blossoms and new beginnings. The month of April gets its name from the Latin word aperio, meaning to open or uncover and at this time of the year trees and shrubs and flowers really do begin to reveal their beauty. By April we start to feel that spring is here and, if we are lucky, the weather will reflect that optimistic view. I am, of course, writing this article in March and as I started there was a snow blizzard outside my window, but now the sun is breaking through …
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BGA Open Garden(s)

Marysia who gave an inspiring talk for ‘My Gardens’ at the BGA meeting in January is opening her garden for the village Ukrainian fund for the week commencing 17 April. Marysia lives at 5 Nodders Way, Biddenham MK40 4BJ.  Marysia can be flexible about timings of visits as the weather can be unpredictable. If you would like to visit her garden during the week of 17th April, could you please email her first on marysia.k@hotmail.co.uk or phone/text her on 07772 090707 to make sure that she is at home. If you would like some of her delicious cake to eat, please give Marysia 24 hours notice and she will get baking! (She cannot bake nut free or gluten free cakes or for any allergy.) Her garden will look very beautiful with tulips and many other flowers during the middle of April and it will be well worth a visit …

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A Passion for Heucheras

We were very fortunate to be joined at our meeting, on 21st March, by Richard and Vicky Fox.  They are the owners of Jubilee Cottage Nursery in Cheshire.  Over the last 33 years they have been growing Heuchera, Heucherella and Tiarella and now hold the National Collection in all three Genus.  So far they have won a row of 11 gold medals at Chelsea Flower Show.  Their displays at the many national flower shows are always stunning and their tally of 130 medals is well deserved. Plants can be ordered from their websitewww.plantagogo.com. 

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Dear Members and Supporters

We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Tuesday 7.30pm in the Village Hall.  We are delighted that Vicky and Richard Fox from Plantagogo will be speaking to us about Heucheras, Tiarellas and other perennials.  Vicky and Richard have been exhibiting at Royal Horticultural Shows for many years.  Since 2009 they have won a Gold Medal for their display at Chelsea every year.  They are travelling down from Cheshire and will be well worth listening to.  They will be bringing a selection of plants for sale so if you wish to purchase please bring cash with you.
 
We hope to see you on what should be an excellent evening.  All friends and guests are welcome at a charge of £5 for non members.
 
With all good wishes
 
Linda Truscott
Membership Secretary.
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This Month in the Garden – March 2023

Well – did you take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch at the end of January?  For many years I have recorded the birds in the garden on the appointed day with children and grandchildren – quite often having little to report as the birds seem to know we are recording them and go elsewhere for the day.  I wasn’t going to take part this year but on the Sunday morning I looked out of my office window and there on the front lawn were a flock (10 in all) of Redpolls pecking up the seeds that had fallen from the silver birch catkins.  I had seen them a couple of weeks before hanging upside down on the branches of the birch taking the seeds.  I was so pleased that they were back – birch seeds being their favourite food according to my RSPB bird book …
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Inspiring Gardens

Many of us gain great enjoyment from visiting gardens large and small throughout the year. Paul Fricker, our Chair of BGA, is no exception and we were so pleased that he agreed to share with us some of his stunning photos of the most beautiful inspirational gardens …

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My Garden – 2023

There was a good turn out of members and visitors to our January meeting.  This month, when we invite people who live in Biddenham to talk about their gardens, is always very popular.  We were pleased also to welcome some new members and we hope you enjoy the series of talks we have planned for 2023

The first garden we visited was that of Marysia and Vince.  They have a medium sized garden with three very large, long established ash trees.  To begin with these had to be pruned and shaped and once conifers had been removed from their garden they were left with a blank canvas, rectangular in shape.  Marysia said that she read Alan Titchmarsh’s book on “How to Design a Garden” made a long list of plants she would like to feature and then just got on with it.  Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden – December/January 2022/23

On a chilly, dismal, drab Sunday in early November when I was contemplating what to write for my December and January article I was reflecting on what I want from my garden at this time of the year.  I came up with three things – structure, colour and scent.  I have written about structure before in the way that grasses and other plants will give this, so my piece for the winter months will focus on colour and scent.  I was reminded of the importance of colour when my daughter and I visited Cambridge Botanic Garden last week.  The alpine glass house was stunning.  All the plants in superb condition and at their peak flowering time – such an uplifting display.  I have recently been planting small, terracotta pans with a gritty compost mix to give the ideal conditions for the miniature Iris Reticulata which I always plant at this time of the year.  I am particularly fond of Iris Pauline, Harmony, George, Katharine Hodgkin and this year I have been growing Frozen Planet again as I so enjoyed its ice white and pale blue flowers.  They are now safely tucked away in my plant house until I notice, one morning after Christmas, that they are showing their spiky shoots – what joy they bring in the dark winter months.

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The Autumn Flowers of the Peloponnese

We were joined on 22nd November by Joe Sharman, the owner of Monksilver Nursery in Cambridgeshire. Joe is a renowned plantsman with a particular interest in snowdrops. However he lectures on a wide variety of topics and today he came to Biddenham to talk to us about the autumn flowers of the Peloponnese. The Peloponnese is a peninsula in Southern Greece.  It is connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth, where the Corinth Canal was constructed in 1893.  The peninsula has a mountainous interior and deeply indented coasts.  In 776 the first Olympic Games were held at Olympia in the western Peloponnese …

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Janet Bird – Memorial Service

A memorial service for Janet (Bird) will be at held at 12.20 on Saturday 12th November at St James church, Biddenham. The Association will make a contribution of £100.00 to the Just Giving website in her memory “In memory of Janet with grateful thanks for your friendship and commitment to Biddenham Gardeners’ Association”.

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This Month in the Garden – November 2022

What a wonderful time of the year.  We are so lucky to live in a country where the seasons are so defined.  The Autumn colours really come into their own in November.  The gleditsia tree in my garden is such a delight in the autumn.  My late husband and I planted it soon after we moved to our house in Biddenham in 1982.  I cannot recommend it highly enough for small gardens.  In the spring the leaves are a vibrant lime green, in the summer the bees just flock to the flowers and at this time of the year its’ autumnal orange foliage is a joy to behold.  As I look out of my office window I am blown away by the colours of the Norwegian Maple which stands at the end of my Close.  It was planted in the late 1980s (I forget the actual date) by John Congdon who was the tree warden in Biddenham at the time.  I applied to John for a tree for our road.  John planted the small sapling and my children and I watered it copiously every few days to ensure its survival through the summer months and here it now stands in fully grown magnificence – I always think of John when I look out at it.  I understand that John also planted the oak tree on King’s Corner.  I do hope the trees planted in Biddenham this year will survive …

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365 Days of Colour – Nick Bailey

Tuesday 18th October was an evening to remember.  The village hall was packed with members and visitors all eager to see and hear Nick Bailey, a regular contributor on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World.  This programme is, for many keen gardeners, a must on a Friday evening – there is always something to be learnt.  Tonight was no exception as we learnt loads!  Nick is a garden designer who, in 2016, won a silver gilt medal for his design on Main Avenue at Chelsea Flower Show.  He is also a former head gardener of the Chelsea Physic Garden.  Nick took as his theme 365 Days of Colour in Your Garden – the title of his latest book.  He illustrated his talk with outstanding photos taken from the book.  Nick explained that he would be talking about the science and art of working with colour, horticultural techniques, plants and doing less work to get more colour into our gardens – the last had considerable appeal for the audience … Continue reading

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This Month in the Garden October

Well the rains came and we survived the heat of the summer – now our gardens and our poor beleaguered trees can recover.  I understand that, to date, this has been the driest year since 1976.  However, I have to say that I have had the best crop of Sun Gold tomatoes ever this year and the sunshine on the days when it wasn’t too hot was lovely.  Mercifully we did not have a hose pipe ban in this area and so managed to keep a selection of plants ticking over.  When I was holidaying with my family in Cornwall during the last week in August it was plain to see that the drier weather and hose pipe ban in the South West had really taken its toll on the tree ferns and hydrangeas in some of the lovely gardens my son and I visited whilst the rest of the family were paddle boarding, surfing and coasteering.  There is something for everyone in Cornwall!  With the Autumn approaching now is the time to cut down the tomato plants and make green tomato chutney – always a favourite in our family.  October is the month when most of us start to take up the summer plants and refresh our hanging baskets and tubs ready for winter.  However, do not be too tidy in the rest of the garden, piles of logs and leaves provide winter habitat for overwintering insects and invertebrates and leave as many plants as you can with seed heads for winter structure and food for the birds.

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How to get your House Plants Thriving

On the 20th September we were pleased to welcome Jane Perrone.  Jane is a freelance journalist specialising in plants and gardening.  She writes for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Financial Times, Gardens Illustrated and The English Garden.  Jane is a house plant expert who presents and produces an indoor gardening podcast entitled “On The Ledge”.  She is also a member of the Royal Horticultural    Society’s Advisory Committee on Houseplants.  So a very good person to advise us on how to get the best out of our own specimens. 

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Biddenham Show 2022

Dhushy Vedavanam

The 2022 Biddenham Show was held on Sunday, September 11th 2022 at St James’ Primary School & Village Hall, Main Road, Biddenham – 12 noon – 4pm 

 

For competition entries and winning results please click here 
 
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This Month in the Garden – September 2022

At the end of my July article I wished you all Happy Harvesting – and here we are now in full swing enjoying the fruits of our labours.  Hopefully some of the produce will be making its way to the show benches of the Biddenham Show …

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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.
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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 …

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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

Email: Bookings@capel.ac.uk

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 www.capel.ac.uk

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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! 

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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

11 MAY, 2022, OPENING FOR UKRAINE

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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. 


Articles

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 …

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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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