Hellebores – a passion or addiction?!?

At our regular meeting on the Tuesday after our show, our speaker was Mike Byford of Hazles Cross Farm Nursery whose original hobby of growing hellebores that started 30 years ago became a passion then a self-confessed addiction! He spent considerable time and money travelling Europe to see the dainty forms and stunning foliage of the species in their native habitats. This led to his collecting seed and growing the plants in the UK, and he now holds the National Collection of hellebores. He shared with us his extensive knowledge of growing & breeding different species & hybrids, and gave us an alternative perspective of the Balkans which are the native habitat of these beautiful plants. He sells plants from the nursery but hadn't brought any with him as he explained that it's not the best time of year to buy them, but he has invited us to visit the collection next spring - a number of members seemed very interested in this so it could be our first coach trip of 2019! There is a photo of Mike with our programme secretary Val Lewis on the left plus the winning entry of our monthly competition for a vase of cottage garden perennials, won by new member Debbie Robertson.

Annual Show 8th September

We held our annual Garden & Home Produce Show in the village hall on Saturday 8th September & were delighted that we had even more exhibits than last year (269!) despite rain all day after the summer drought which has been a challenge to all gardeners! The judges & the visitors who came along in the afternoon were impressed with the display & high standards so thank you to everybody who entered & helped. June Morris won the Tom Ethelstone Memorial Trophy for the highest number of points overall, which was presented by Sue Ethelstone who had travelled down from Yorkshire for the event (top photograph). Ivy Evans won the Lewis Cup, presented by Val Lewis, for the most points in the vegetable classes. Congratulations to them both & to all the individual class winners, & well done everybody for making it such a super day! We all enjoyed looking round in the afternoon & the opportunity to have some homemade cake with their cup of tea or coffee. Please check out all the photographs on our gallery page.

My Famous Women Gardeners

Not long after Sylvia’s open evening we had a beautifully illustrated talk from Howard Drury of Kings Heath on “My Famous Women Gardeners” at our regular August meeting. These were all women who had influenced his career, ranging from his mother in the early days when he started selling lettuces at age 6 to the local shops, through many well known horticulturalists such as Margery Fish & Vita Sackville West to the more contemporary such as Carol Klein & Christine Facer Hoffman (who had an eminent career in medical science before turning to garden design). Some of his photographs were accompanied by classical music & others by his anecdotes from his career, trips & shows. After drawing the raffle Howard had the unenviable task of judging the excellent entries for our competition which was a poem about women gardeners composed by members, eventually choosing Anne Wallbank’s “In Memory of Beth Chatto” as the winner.

As the competition entries didn’t lend themselves well to photography, the snaps shown are Howard with our programme secretary Val Lewis (who finds us all these marvellous speakers) plus Stan Griffin & Vicki Newman from Craig House Cactus who gave a presentation to us November 2013. They won Gold at this year’s Chelsea then Gardeners World in June. There’s also one of the acidanthera bulbs that we gave out earlier this year to be grown for the members’ only class in the produce show in September. The very warm weather appears to have brought them into bloom sooner than anticipated but all members were asked still to enter them even if they’ve finished – and of course enjoy the beautiful display & perfume in the meantime! The last photo is the start of the second flush of roses which has been delayed due to the weather (works both ways) but hopefully bodes well for the show. Full schedules were available at the meeting & can also be collected from our secretary & on the day – the list of classes is on the show page.