New members’ gallery

At this time of year we would normally be posting photos of our annual produce show so in the sad absence of that, thank you to Mark & Elizabeth, Pam, Rosalie and Sylvia, who responded to our request for photos to keep us all in touch until we can hold our meetings again. Here are a few to start, and you can see them all by clicking on http://www.cwggc.co.uk/gallery/  

Mark & Elizabeth’s radishes
Pam’s oleander

We hope that you enjoy looking at these, and will be encouraged to send in photos of your own garden, veg, fruit or wildlife during the coming months, especially as we move into the next season, and we will create more galleries to share them all. 

Rosalie’s pond
The hot border in Sylvia’s garden
Alfie!

And into the autumn…..

We have recently contacted all of our 90 members (some via their “email  buddies”) to advise that we have taken the reluctant decision that the sensible way forward in the current circumstances, with a club of our size & demographic, and with some of our planned autumn speakers unable to attend, is to cancel all our meetings for the rest of this year and review the situation in January.

We have already had some positive feedback on this decision and some suggestions which we are currently considering. We are truly sorry that we cannot all meet up at present and we look forward to the time when it will be possible. In the meantime, we hope that everybody continues to enjoy their gardens and stay safe.

Whilst we are unable to meet in person we have invited all our club members to share photographs of their gardens, favourite plants, vegetables or wildlife to keep us all connected. We gave three different ways that photos could be sent to our coordinator and we will post a few every month on our website blog, hopefully with enough for a gallery page too. To start us off, here are are a few favourites from my own garden: 

Munstead Wood, superb old rose perfume
Casa Blanca lilies by the back door, more heavenly perfume!  
Last but not least, an Abelia which is adored by bees 

June update – the next chapter!

We hope that you are all keeping well and have been able to take full advantage of the good weather that’s been with us for a while to enjoy your gardens. And we did need this recent rain!

We know that many of our members are shielding, and others are busy helping family, friends & their community during these challenging times. We’ve heard some heartwarming tales from those of you who have put out spare plants for free collection by passers-by, and been unexpectedly rewarded by thank you notes and small gifts from the grateful recipients!

Lockdown is gradually easing but we appreciate that most of you will not relish the prospect of being in a room for a couple of hours with a large group of people even when permitted. As the health and safety of our members is our priority we have reluctantly taken the decision to cancel our July and August club meetings plus our August produce show. Val our programme secretary is working hard to rearrange all the speakers for the future as she had such an excellent programme for us. We’ll be contacting all members by email or phone call about this as we know that not everybody has access to the website.

 Our club has been thriving, with membership numbers at their highest, regular meetings and all events well supported. We’ve missed out on our cheese and wine evening after the AGM, coach trips, a summer social event that was in the planning and of course last weekend we were going to support Val & Steve Wroe’s garden opening in aid of the Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre  https://gf.me/u/x3mq3w 

But we look forward to brighter times – onwards and upwards as the saying goes!

COVID update

We hope that all our members are keeping safe and well. In line with current Government advice we are cancelling our 12th May AGM. The invitations and paperwork were ready for distribution but in view of the situation we will simply continue all memberships for the time being, and as garden centres are currently closed, it doesn’t matter that we can’t reissue membership cards.

Our treasurer Lesley prepared the year-end accounts which have now gone to the auditor as usual, and organised the labelling and distribution of the Bessera elegans corms which had already been purchased for our Produce Show ‘members only competition’ – many thanks too to Sophie Griffiths, Val Wroe and other kind helpers for popping those through members’ letterboxes when they were out on their essential journeys. The Show might not go ahead but we hope you enjoy them anyway.

Lesley has also contacted everybody who had paid for our first coach trip of the year which was due to take place this coming Sunday 26th April but now cancelled – thank you to her for all this hard work!!

 Our 9th June meeting is also cancelled and our Programme Secretary Val Lewis has been in touch with speakers to rearrange their talks. At present our July and August meetings are “on hold” although likely to be cancelled too. It is a shame but we must all “do our bit” and we appreciate that a number of our members may want (or have) to continue their self-isolation beyond any official lifting of social distancing.

We will post further updates on this blog and at some point contact all members by email,letter or telephone. In the meantime we hope that you can all continue to enjoythe health & wellbeing benefits of gardening at home, until we all can meet again.

 

April Meeting Cancelled

Following the recent Government announcements, we regret that our April meeting is cancelled. We will consider other pre-arranged future events and issue further updates. In the meantime, we hope that everybody stays safe and well to enjoy their gardening which we all know is so good for us!

Wines from my new garden

Ken chatting to Bob over a cup of tea
Barbara & Jean sharing a laugh!

Our March meeting was a bit different from normal when our speaker Ken Marshall brought samples of wines that he had made from produce in his new garden, sometimes with added hedgerow blackberries, dried fruit & the odd banana! He thought that his wine-making hobby was finished when he & his wife Barbara moved house a few years ago,but he came to see it as an opportunity which has clearly worked out well, judging by everybody’s enjoyment of the evening.

Ken guided us through how the experts taste wine (drinking it all was not compulsory & spittoons were provided!) and there were four different ones to sample – white, rose, red & a fortifiedsherry/dessert-type. We were encouraged to identify the source fruit and other ingredients, and it was apparent that his previous career as a science teacher had enabled him to become an expert winemaker. Recipes and advice were available!   

The winner of our monthly competition was Ros with her lovely vase of daffodils. All the spaces on our coach trip to Chomondeley Castle are now taken but things are changing rapidly and as the health & safety of our members and guests is very important to us, we will stay vigilant and follow government advice concerning Coronavirus. If our April meeting cannot go ahead we will post a notice on this blog, ditto the coach trip. Hoping everybody stays well! N.B. STOP PRESS – The SAGG Spring Show & AGM at Walton on Saturday 21st March is cancelled.  

Snowdrops and friends

Helen with Galanthus ‘Priscilla Bacon’

We had a very enjoyable evening on 11th February when our doughty speaker Helen Harrison from Stone fortunately persevered in finding us after somebody had turned round a signpost in the lanes, sending her in the wrong direction! She explained how her passion had transferred from dahlias & chrysanthemums originally to snowdrops, and that their accompanying “friends” tonight were an onion, a shallot & an amaryllis (artificial but looked real!) – all part of the same plant family. She had brought many delightful snowdrop specimens with her in pots & vases, which she passed round the hall as she chatted to us. This enabled us all to see closely the different flower types & markings, and to experience the wonderful honeyed perfume of many – although interestingly there was great variation within our audience as to who could smell which ones! She explained the particular botanical aspects of snowdrops in an easily understandable way and gave advice on how to grow them, where best to buy if not propagating our own, plus good gardens to visit for the best displays.

Artificial amaryllis!

After giving her talk and answering questions, Helen drew the raffle then judged our monthly competition – this time snowdrops! There were plenty of entries and she was impressed with the quality & selection, choosing Rosalie as her winner with Ros 2nd and Val 3rd. 

We also announced our first coach trip of the year on Sunday 26th April (see events page for details) to Cholmondeley Castle Gardens including entrance to their spring Plant Hunters’ Fair, with names quickly going onto the list, but spaces still available. 

“Genus Lavandula”

Lavender bags
Robin with members buying products

Our first meeting of 2020 was well supported by members & visitors even though the weather was rather inclement again, to say the least! Robin Spencer of Shropshire Lavender near Newport explained how he & his wife Joanna’s farm began in 2002 with a trial plot of 200 lavender plug plants, and despite some setbacks became a thriving enterprise based on their sunny & (mostly) sandy slopes. They have been selling fresh & dried lavender with an extensive range of products & gifts such as essential oils, bags & sachets, hand cream & shower gel, complete with tearoom and of course lavender scones. He also gave some very useful advice on the most suitable varieties to grow in this part of the country, and which ones are best for colour, fragrance or oil, also how to care for them. He brought some products along for us to buy, and the colour of his dried lavender bunches was stunning (down to choosing the right variety & picking at the correct time!). 

Oils, lotions & potions!

We were fortunate to have this talk as he & Joanna are now selling up & moving to Scotland, so we wished him well for their future. He hopes that the new owners will keep opening the farm to the public so maybe one for a future coach trip! After his presentation Robin drew our raffle and judged the monthly competition of “A vase of winter-flowering shrubs from your garden”, won this time by Sylvia, with Blodwen second.

Christmas Social Evening

Nicky and Cliff – “Eternity Duo” 

We held our Christmas social evening on a very wet & windy Tuesday 10th December, and despite the weather it was a well-attended event with only a few unfortunate absences due to illness. There was a welcoming atmosphere as all the tables were decorated with beautiful wine bottle lights & evergreen sprays made by committee members Ann & Brenda with help from Judith (the photo doesn’t do them justice – they looked particularly effective when the lights were dimmed), plus colourful reindeer napkins and salads.

First our members & guests were reinvigorated with piping hot jacket potatoes & fillings. Then after our desserts we were entertained by the popular duo Eternity, with a good selection of songs from several different decades plus Christmas tunes. Nicky & Cliff encouraged everybody to join in with the singing – how did we know the all the words to such old songs?!?

In the break we drew the raffle, which included a number of generously donated prizes, then enjoyed a second set from Eternity and tapped our glasses & bottles for the grand finale of Jingle Bells. Thank you to everybody who helped us tidy up at the end of the evening, and we also wish members who couldn’t attend and all visitors to this site a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Visions and Music

Colin & Phil 

Our November meeting saw the welcome return of Phil Colclough & Colin Henshall who were last with us in May 2018. These cheerful & talented chaps take beautiful photographs on their travels around the country then add a musical soundtrack to suit. They started with a fireworks display set to Vivaldi Four Seasons followed by gardens such as Consall, Hopton, Kiftsgate, Ness & Lea, then equally stunning landscape views from all around the UK, with a bonus of Picton’s national collection of Michaelmas Daisies. Next was a glorious display of autumn colours and finally a winter wonderland, all showing the best that our country has to offer.

Pam’s competition winner

Everybody had their personal favourites with some of the autumn shots being particularly breathtaking. The music was very varied and included pieces by Birmingham-born Stephen Rhodes and Mexican composer Pablo Arellano, plus a touching vignette of American poet George Cooper’s “Come little leaves”.

After the presentation they drew both the usual monthly raffle plus the special one for a timber garden storage box, which was won by Wendy Skelding. Pam Collins took first place in the monthly competition for a table decoration with a fireworks theme, the only entry but a well-deserved winner nevertheless. Tickets for our Christmas social evening were all sold and our paper 2020 speaker programmes were available, so we’re raring to go for next month & year!