Autumn Coach Trip

Cosmos at Wildegoose

We were lucky to have wonderful weather for our last outing of this year. First we were taken through the attractive Shropshire countryside to the delightful Wildegoose Nursery which talented young couple Laura & Jack Willgoss have transformed from its derelict overgrown state into a nursery & walled garden showcasing many unusual plants, working in tune with nature. In front of the recently restored unusual curvilinear Georgian greenhouse, Jack explained the background to their venture then took us on a tour of the garden, with time to for us to browse round, make plant purchases & visit the tearoom before the coach took us on to the nearby Morville Hall. 

Those of us who are National Trust members took up the opportunity to tour the hall which is tenanted & only open 3 days a year. Others explored the adjacent Dower House Garden owned by historian & writer Katherine Swift, telling the history of English gardening, with hidden gems in the nooks & crannies. Some even managed to visit both before enjoying refreshments at St. Gregory’s church, completing a lovely day out. Please do have a look at many more photographs on http://www.cwggc.co.uk/gallery/ with links to all three gardens on http://www.cwggc.co.uk/events/ 

Topiary at the Dower House
More autumn colour at Wildegoose

The Colours of Autumn

Justin with a grin!

Justin Harrison our September speaker arrived early & set up a beautiful plant display for his presentation and to welcome us into the village hall, laid out a different way to keep us all on our toes! With his usual energy, he kept us all captivated as he showed how contrasting leaf colours & plant structures are as important as flowers in achieving a vibrant picture. He had brought a wide variety of plants, from autumn stalwarts such as Rudbeckia through striking evergreens to salvias, grasses, unusual irises & rosemary ginger. His display was all for sale after his talk concluded, with many snapped up quickly.  

There weren’t any entries for this month’s competition of a pot of autumn bulbs, which is a shame, but it meant that Justin only had to draw the raffle after answering questions before his well-earned cup of tea. Now we’re looking forward to our Autumn coach trip to Shropshire on Friday 13th (we’re not superstitious!), with Wildegoose nursery/garden/tea room in the morning then on to Morville Hall for a choice of gardens in the afternoon. 

Dianthus
Members browsing the plants

Leucothoe Curly Red

Everything you need to know about bulbs..

Jeff Bates is most definitely your man for this topic – he can even make basic bulb botany sound interesting! A freelance lecturer, consultant and RHS examiner, his amusing delivery captures everybody’s attention & we all listened closely whilst he explained how to choose a range of bulbous plants to provide flower all year round. His talk was beautifully illustrated too, & he helped us to understand how “bulbs” (including of course corms, rhizomes & tubers) will thrive best when grown in similar conditions to their natural habitat. The fact we haven’t a photo of him is due to pesky gremlins & not related to his comment that he has a good face for radio! So instead we have a poor substitute of stored hyacinth bulbs instead.   

Our meeting on 13th August came shortly after our wonderful annual show (see blog entry below) but despite that we only had 2 entries in our monthly competition for a tray of 5 vegetables, which Jeff judged after his talk & drawing the raffle (winner Robin Wainwright, 2nd Rosalie Allden). We also announced our  autumn coach trip on 13th September, please see our events page for further details. What a busy year this is turning out to be! 

2019 Garden & Home Produce Show 10th August

Home Grown Flowers Classes

When we were inundated with rain the day before our show, having had to change the date, and the morning itself started under threatening black clouds with strong winds forecast, we admit to being apprehensive! However as one of our members said, you can’t keep a good gardening club down, and the show was well supported by both exhibitors & visitors. We had similar entry numbers to last year & an excellent standard of exhibits. We feel as if we’ve come of age now that we’ve had several successful years in a row!  

June receiving the Tom Ethelstone Memorial Trophy

The exhibits in the Home Grown Flowers classes looked particularly stunning against the light of the windows – please also have a good browse through the gallery page. Competition was close and Martin Plater won the Lewis Cup for the highest number of points in the vegetable classes, with June Morris retaining the Tom Ethelstone Memorial Trophy for the most overall points. The members-only class 37 Fuchsia “Dollar Princess” was won by Derek Roberts who is currently deciding which of the two donated prizes to accept…the other one will be retained by the club for a future competition. Our Honorary President Mrs. Maureen Hemingsley was able to attend for the presentations & had some luck in the raffle, which also included generously donated prizes.  

Winning fuchsia in the white bucket container at the rear

Members & visitors enjoyed hot drinks & homemade cakes before battening down the hatches & braving the gale force winds to make their way home. A very big thank you to everybody who helped & supported this event.  

The Garth Summer Evening Visit

Calycanthus

On 18th July sandwiched in between two wet days we were lucky to have lovely weather for 40 of us to visit Anita Wright’s beautiful garden on Cannock Chase. We really enjoyed her talk in February & our expectations were met with this visit! It is difficult to describe or photograph to do full justice to this half acre garden which surrounds the house built on a sandstone ridge, containing a wealth of interesting and unusual shrubs &  herbaceous plants. Many hidden seating areas, rock-hewn caves & quirky touches add to its delights. After exploring the garden we were made most welcome in the house with hot drinks and cakes, which rounded off a lovely evening. Please do have a look at the rest of the pictures on our gallery page!    

Walking down to the lower gravel garden

  

Salvias & ornamental grasses

Gordon Malt from Shropshire gave an illustrated presentation to our July meeting on these two types of plant which go so well together. Salvias flower over a long period and there are many to choose from with a wide range of colours from the unusual peachy-orange Salvia x jamensis  ‘California Sunset’, through the deep blues such as S. patens ‘Guanajuato’, to the intensely red S. ‘blepharophylla.’ Gordon explained how the coloured calyces that protect the buds are retained after the flower petals have fallen, giving an extended display, and all aspects of the plant contrasting with the fluffy flower heads of the grasses. He had brought varieties of both for us to browse & buy, & several were sold before the meeting started – Anna was the lucky purchaser of the one in the photo, a really electric blue!     

Gordon with Salvia cacaliaefolia

After drawing the raffle, Gordon judged  the competition which was won by Ivy Evans with Pam Collins second, both beautiful arrangements in wine glasses as you can see. Members & visitors collected schedules for our annual show which has been brought forward to Saturday 10th August & we announced a special prize for the members-only class, definitely worth mollycoddling those fuchsias! There will be new entries for discounts & growing advice on our links page shortly, and we’re all looking forward to our summer evening trip to The Garth next week too.  

Open Gardens Weekend

So much for “flaming June”!! The heavy showers on Saturday afternoon & gloomy skies on Sunday morning impacted on the number of casual visitors but despite this we raised £1600 from programme sales, refreshments donations & the plant stall, which will be divided between the village hall and gardening club.

Eileen & Stan’s cheerful pot of violas 

 We are delighted with this figure and also that everybody seemed to have such a good time as summed up by this feedback received via our contact page: “We thoroughly enjoyed touring the open gardens. Whether large or small, formal or with an element of randomness, all were a credit to the gardeners and their ‘helpers’. Whatever your tastes in gardens there was something for everyone and we particularly liked the ingenuity demonstrated dealing with the differing shapes and contours. And the abundance of wild flower areas for bees and butterflies was noteworthy. Well done!”

Ros’s striking elephant by her famous pond!

Visitors commented too on the warm welcome that they received as they walked round, and many thanks go to all our garden owners & everybody who helped or supported the event in any way. Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling enjoyed a couple of hours between showers visiting several of the gardens and made some purchases at the plant stall to take home.  

Admiring the surroundings of Bill’s wildlife pond in between the showers

There are additional pictures on the gallery page but as we didn’t have an official photographer and  everybody was rather busy (!!) doing other things please do let us know if you have any snaps that you would be willing to share. We hope that other garden owners living in Cannock Wood & Gentleshaw will be inspired to join in what we aim to make a biennial event, with the next in summer 2021. 

Secrets of growing & showing

Ken (in red) talking to members

Toni (in blue) with plants brought for sale

At our June meeting  we were entertained by Ken Whittaker with his “Secrets of Growing & Showing”, to help us prepare for our annual show in August. Ken,who is a show judge, clearly had a possible alternative career as a comedian and much laughter accompanied his useful advice. He explained why the presentations of exhibits is important & ways of achieving this. His wife Toni describes herself as his Executive Logistics Facilitator (ELF) and kept him from straying too far from the point. He also covered basic aspects of growing from seed, and we were all impressed with his dibber boards made using recycled silicone gun nozzles. 

Rosalie Allden had a walkover in our monthly competition with her charming display of wild flowers from her garden (maybe the rain deterred other competitors!) & we sold programmes for our Open Gardens this coming weekend 15th & 16th June, all hoping that the weather improves. members were asked to deliver their cuttings & divisions to the plant stall this week. There are a few spaces left on our summer evening trip to The Garth on Thursday 18th July. 

2019 AGM

At our very well-supported AGM in May, our Chair & Treasurer gave their annual reports & the club members endorsed an increased membership fee of £15 to cover basic costs for the 2019/20 year. The seven committee members who were willing to stand again were re-elected & we then appointed our retiring secretary Mrs. Maureen Hemmingsley as our Honorary President to reflect her contribution to the club since its inception in 2007. Maureen gave a short speech of gratitude and was also presented with a wrapped gift which she opened at home to reveal the vase below. We also thanked our other retiring committee members Anna Stanley & Shelley Tunnicliffe with cards & gifts (Anna is away so hers will be delivered). 

Maureen’s vase


After the official business was concluded we all enjoyed complimentary cheese & wine whilst listening to John Spire’s interesting talk and demonstration debunking many of the myths about growing Orchids. He explained about the different types, growing conditions, feeding and general care including practical demonstrations of when & how to re-pot. Who knew about the secret properties of cinnamon?! He had also brought along some beautiful examples of plants and finished his talk with a screen show of other varieties. We don’t hold a monthly competition on AGM night but we were pleased with the immediate response to our summer evening outing in July (only a few spaces left on the coach!) and we reminded everybody about saving spare divisions & cuttings for the plant stall at our Open Gardens Weekend in June (see events page for more information).      

John re-potting! 
John finishing his presentation 
We had over 60 people attending including previous guests now joining the club!

Teabags, bras & tights Part 2!

Our April meeting welcomed the return of Darren Rudge who lived up to his reputation as the Laughing Gardener with part 2 of his talk on using common household items for a more environmentally sustainable approach to gardening whilst saving money, & we agreed that fewer chemicals in the world can only be a good thing! He started with quotes including Mark Twain’s “A cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education” and interspersed his hints & tips with fascinating facts about architects using plant structures as the basis of design - who imagined that the hollow square stem of a nettle could have inspired Robert Stephenson's Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits? He also brought along some unusual alcoholic drink for a few brave (but enthusiastic!) souls to sample & they assured us that the Giant Hogweed Liqueur was very tasty!  It was another informative & lively evening, with fact sheets available at the end. Here's a link to his website: https://www.darrenrudge.co.uk/ 

Before having his cup of tea & chat to members & visitors, Darren drew the raffle & but didn't have to judge the monthly competition as there was unusually only one entry for a decorated hen's egg, a deserving win in any event by Brenda Brittle who had obviously put a lot of thought into it, as you can see! Invitations were distributed for our AGM in May and fuchsia plug plants were handed out to be grown on for the members'-only class in our annual show in August (maximum pot size 5"/13cm). Anybody who was unable to attend the meeting will have their AGM papers delivered & Brenda has the plugs available for collection. We also reminded members to save their spare plant divisions etc for the plant stall at our Open Gardens weekend on 15th/16th June (now with 11 gardens to view!).