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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