Christmas Social Evening 2021

One of the beautiful table decorations

It was beginning to look touch and go but with some extra precautions we finally made it on Tuesday 14th December! Our members and guests enjoyed a delicious hot and cold buffet by John of Coach House Catering, with beautiful table decorations by Ann and Brenda. This was followed by festive entertainment from the Cherrywood Singing Duo with a selection of traditional and more unusual Christmas songs, some performed a capella, plus amusing poems and anecdotes. We drew the raffle during a short break with a good selection of prizes, several kindly donated by members, and concluded with season’s greetings.

We were delighted to have good feedback afterwards, with many saying they were so pleased that we went ahead and they had found it a relaxing antidote to all the stresses and strains since March 2020. We’re not sure what 2022 will bring but we wish everybody a safe peaceful hopefully Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year!  

A very small part of John’s cold buffet
Cherrywood Singing Duo

November meeting – Dahlias

Art Deco Dahlias from our 2016 annual show

To brighten a dark autumn evening, Jason Smith, a National Dahlia Society judge and champion, shared his knowledge of how best to grow the wide range of dahlias available which are often seen as a ‘marmite’ plant. His photos showed us that they’re not just bedding pompoms and included some of his prize-winning displays. He had some unusual tips on organic solutions to any pest and disease problems that might arise, such as treating mildew with a milk and water solution. He was passionate about his hobby which he started as a boy helping his father, and made us laugh when he explained that he’s usually asked to judge at an event after he’s won it several times. Looking at the pictures of his show entries, we weren’t surprised. Looking back through old photos afterwards, we found a selection of Dahlia ‘Art Deco’ that members grew for our annual show in 2016 – on our July blog there’s also a shot of the one that Judy has kept going for five years!

Jason chatting to Anita after his talk

Jason drew our raffle and Blodwen passed on the WI’s thanks for our members’ contributions to the village poppy displays. We also announced our 2022 programme with a good variety of speakers and topics; details are on the programme page. But before that we are very much looking forward to our members and guests Christmas Social evening with a buffet by Coach House Catering and entertainment by Cherrywood Singing Duo, something to celebrate after everybody’s long hard slog since March 2020!

Rhus typina with yucca spotted locally
Cornus stolonifera ‘Flaviramea’

October Meeting

This month we welcomed Justin Harrison who was last with us a couple of years ago. He brought a good supply of plants to show how we can achieve year-round colour in our gardens with different types of compact evergreen shrubs and perennials that work well together, very much a “hands-on” demonstration also explaining which conditions each plant preferred. Justin is an enthusiastic advocate of complementary foliage and flower colours, for example compact new variety of Phormium ‘Back to Black’ with Coprosma ‘Lemon and lime’, not forgetting Gaura ‘Butterfly white’ and a new compact wallflower ‘Sugar Rush’. Osmanthus, Nandina domestica and dwarf Myrtle were included amongst others. After his talk he drew our reinstated raffle then we were able to browse and make purchases – for anybody who missed the opportunity Justin can be found at Burton outdoor market every Thursday to Saturday

Phormium ‘Back in Black’, Coprosma ‘Lemon & lime’, Leucothoe Scarlettta
Justin with hesperantha, helenium, sarcococca and asters

Members also brought along poppies that they had made to contribute to the village collection for remembrance day, and we congratulated Anna on her excellent performance in the London Marathon raising funds for the Saxon Hill Academy School Pond Project. Ticket sales for our Christmas Social Evening continued apace too! The last two photos are of Judy’s Selinum wallichianum grown from seed given to her by Sylvia and one from Rosalie’s recent visit to RHS Bridgewater – perhaps a future coach trip?!?

Autumn border RHS Bridgewater
Selinum wallichianum (milk parsley)

Gardening for Butterflies

Comma on Rudbeckia

For our September meeting, the second of this new season, we were entranced by Christine Maughan’s photographs of butterflies and she has kindly given us two examples to include here. Her husband Max explained that they & moths are sensitive indicators of the health of our environment, and how we can all manage our gardens, patios and allotments to attract more of them. This includes trying to provide sources of nectar throughout the season, especially for butterflies coming out of hibernation, and creating breeding habitats. They gave their talk on behalf of which is full of useful information. 

Small tortoiseshell on dahlia

It was also lovely to see even more members returning and putting their names down for our newly announced Christmas Social Evening! After general discussions we agreed to continue bringing our own refreshments to the monthly meetings and as we will not collect annual subscriptions until next year’s usual renewal date, we have asked members who come along to pay £3 on arrival towards costs, which will include entry into our reinstated monthly raffle. And finally, as the seasons change, Sylvia has shared with us some lovely photographs of her autumn garden. 

Hot border
Hydrangea Annabelle

Dahlia Pipers Pink, Phlox Bright Eyes & Santolina

We’re back!!

We were thrilled to be able to restart our regular club meetings in the Village Hall on Tuesday 10th August and our first speaker was the ever-popular Jeff Bates whose subject this time was Vegetables for Small Gardens. His breadth of knowledge is always imparted in a relaxed and cheerful way which everybody enjoyed, including reminiscences from his early days working on a farm and photos of different veg gardening styles in allotments and potagers, as well as answering questions on specific veg problems. He reminded us how many chemicals (now banned) were used back in the 70s, and made us laugh with extracts from old allotment manuals referring to very high levels of brassica consumption! The photos are of him showing us his favourite courgette and white bean varieties (plus a couple of shots to continue our “in-the-pink” feeling…)    

It was so good to meet up again after such a long gap, and before we all left we had a discussion about format, with agreement that we should continue with our altered layout, bringing our own refreshments and no raffle or competition for the time being. As they say on gardeners’ question time – onwards and upwards!!

Rosa “Wild Eve”
Phalaenopsis orchid

The joys of July!

…not least of these being that we can resume our monthly meetings on Tuesday 10th August!! We have emailed our members and further information with the list of speakers is on our programme page . Initially we will be running without our usual refreshments, raffle and competition based on feedback we have received and we will review this as we go forward. We are just so pleased that we can all meet up again! Zoom meetings will continue to be available for any members who are unable to attend the face-to-face meetings (and for those who just wish to take advantage of the extra talks!)

Judy’s Art Deco Dahlia still flourishing!

Can anybody remember which year we gave out dahlia ‘Art Deco’ tubers for our annual members’ competition?! Amazingly it was 2016 and much credit to Judy who has carefully lifted and replanted hers so that it’s still flourishing happily in her garden 5 years later – well done Judy! 

The weather has continued to be ‘all or nothing’ in terms of rainfall, with thunderstorms a regular feature. Some plants have put on massive amounts of growth and others have suffered, but there is always something in our gardens, allotments or window boxes that puts a smile on our faces.   

Clematis ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’, sadly a gift for somebody else
The first tomatoes always taste sooo good… 
Roses ‘Wild Eve’ and ‘Munstead Wood’ with persicaria affinis & alchemilla mollis 
The perfume of R. ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is quite stunning

June update

Persicaria affinis & alchemilla

We are delighted that this month more normal summer weather finally arrived. Everything is growing away happily now and the earlier delays will make us really appreciate nature in all her glory.  Our spring Zoom meeting season finished with two good talks at the end of May, one about the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas and the other covering the history, design and symbolism of the ‘Gardens of Paradise’. The Zoom meetings are taking a break now till the middle of August.

New back door bedding

We know that most of our members are keen to resume our in-person monthly meetings in the Covid-secure village hall with our usual excellent range of speakers, who are all lined up ready to go as soon as we can. As we are remaining in Step 3 of  the government roadmap at present we cannot go ahead with reopening due to the size of our group but we will keep everybody advised about our plans. In the meantime happy gardening!

More alchemilla with very old rose!
Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

The bustling month of May

It’s all go this month with much-needed rain for gardens, vegetable patches and allotments, a touch on the heavy side sometimes and hailstorms – still we can’t have everything! The growing season is behind due to the weather but it’s catching up. This week sees the Royal Horticultural Society’s virtual Chelsea Flower show, and their new Bridgewater garden in Salford opens tomorrow, visits are by booking only with spaces filling quickly.   


We’re also now on Step 3 of the roadmap and we remain hopeful that we will be able to resume our face-to-face meetings in the not too distant future, new variants notwithstanding. Our Zoom talks have continued with recent subjects ‘Successful Fruit Growing’, ‘Plant Hunters’, ‘Extending the Season in your Garden’ and ‘The History of Herbs’. 

These photos, including Pam’s wonderful Strelitzia that she grew from seed and has been in flower since February, are a selection from our new members’ gallery.

Thank you also to Rosalie, Sylvia and Val for sharing their super spring snaps too, please do click the link above to see the rest.

Rhododendron ‘Cunningham’s White’ with Betula ‘Jacquemontii’ 
Ballerina Tulips

April showers?!?

Chaenomeles Crimson & Gold 

April has lived up to its reputation with many of the showers being white and very chilly, but now we find ourselves in need of rain! The sunshine has spurred us all on whether our gardening interests are edible or ornamental, and there is plenty to keep us busy. Whilst we monitor the roadmap developments, we are continuing with our Zoom gardening club meetings and a full list is on our Programme 2021 page with plant lists where available. Some members are choosing to watch the talks via YouTube which they find more convenient. 

Pear blossom

Amongst recent presentations were ‘Succulent Gardens’ with some great photos from the West Country & Scilly Isles plus guidance on growing and propagation; ‘Millenium Seed Project’ on the background to the Kew Seed Bank and others around the world; a very interesting & useful talk on ‘Drought Tolerant Plants’; most recently ‘Seasonal Changes in the Dorothy Clive Garden’ with beautiful illustrations of all the work that has happened to make this a garden of year-round interest. Like many it is now open to the public within the guidelines, and we have also forwarded details of the Plant Hunters Fairs to our members. All just something to keep us going till we can meet again as a large group! Plus a small selection of spring flowers….

Hellebores in the border
Hyacinth & muscari
Potted hellebores
Snakeshead fritillary
Narcissus & companions
2nd flush Viburnum bodnantense Dawn
White snakeshead fritillary

Springing into March

Iris reticulata

We gardeners have been enjoying a few days of fabulous weather after that dreary greyness that followed the snow, with hopeful signs that spring really is on the way! And we’re on day 1 of Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown so onwards and upwards… Whilst we continue to wait for the time when we can safely restart our regular group meetings, some of our members have been enjoying our Zoom talks (as part of the Tender Shoots Garden Club Network) and a list of those is available on our Programme 2021 page, with downloadable handouts and details of how to watch via YouTube instead. Discounts are available to all members and included in our monthly update emails, with kind email buddies passing on the information to those who aren’t online. We will monitor the roadmap developments closely and continue to keep in touch.  

Gorse on Hednesford Hills
Sunrise from the back door Hazel Slade
Brave primula in the late February snow