AGM 2023

Pelargonium plug plants for collection

At our AGM on May 9th the usual reports were received then all the committee who were standing for one more year were re-elected and members endorsed a proposed annual membership fee of £20 for the 2023/24 year. The official business was followed by a raffle then an amusing multiple-choice gardening quiz with some very close scores and the winning table received their prizes. Members brought their own drinks and nibbles to enjoy whilst participating and collected their free plug plants to grow on for the members’ only class at our Produce Show in September.

The prize-winning photos and SAGG silver salver

Anita had also mounted all the photos from the SAGG competition on a board for everybody to look at and these were displayed alongside the trophy that our club won for gaining the the most points in the show – see previous post below – members were very impressed, and hopefully inspired!

SAGG Trophy Winners!

Pets – 1st Place

Hot on the heels of our coach trip was the SAGG (Staffordshire Association of Garden Guilds) AGM on Saturday 22nd April and for the first time ever we had entered the Photographic Competition. Much to our delight we won the trophy for the most points in show, with three first and two second places in the different categories. Very well done to Anita, Pam and Rosalie for their wonderful photographs which will be on display at our own AGM this month together with the trophy, and apologies in the meantime to Pam that the reproduction here of the storyboard hasn’t done it justice!

Storyboard Lifecycle 1st place
Storyboard Lifecycle 1st place Image 4
Churchyard – 2nd place
Cactus – 1st Place
Scarecrow – 2nd place
The trophy received on behalf of the club!

Spring Coach Trip

Starting our tour
Bulb display on the patio

We finally made it back on the road for our first trip of the year to John’s Garden Ashwood Nurseries on Wednesday 19th April. Our club members and guests were whisked by coach to Kingswinford with time for a coffee before our personal guided tour with Head Gardener Nigel Hopes. The garden is an absolute delight at any time of year and Nigel gave us an insight into its background as well as many useful tips on growing the various plants for the best display.

Striking trilliums

It was dry if rather chilly but we’re all hardy perennials and it gave us an appetite for lunch afterwards in the excellent tearoom. Then everybody had an opportunity to browse the garden again at their leisure or explore the rest of the nursery including plant sales, gift shop and orchid/houseplant displays before our coach was loaded with the various purchases and returned us to the village hall after a very full day that was enjoyed by all. Please do have a look at more lovely photos taken by members on our gallery page.

Growing Herbs through the Seasons

Mountain Cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea!)

We were pleased to welcome Malcolm Dickson of Hooksgreen Herbs to our April meeting on a very wet and windy evening. He gave an interesting presentation about their herb nursery and how they prepare for plant fairs and flower shows, where they have won several prestigious gold and silver-gilt medals with their displays. He talked about many different types of herbs with both culinary and medicinal uses, including some that we might not have considered as herbs, giving us tips on growing them and their general dislike of wet winters! Their website also gives advice on uses and preferred conditions for every plant they sell.

A selection of Malcom’s herbs

After his talk, Malcolm drew our raffle then we all enjoyed refreshments whilst browsing the plants that he had brought along, some are pictured here, as well as our usual free magazines. There weren’t any tulip entries in this month’s competition due to the weather we’ve been experiencing recently.

We are all looking forward to our visit to John’s Garden at Ashwood Nurseries on 19th April with a full coach including guests from other clubs. Then at the end of that week it’s the Staffordshire Association of Garden Guilds AGM at Walton near Stone and we’re hoping that our entries into the photographic competition will be successful!

Primula veris (cowslip) generally thought of as ornamental but with many uses
And some smaller pots…

The Secret Lives of Solitary Bees….

Wool carder bee

After day of snow, sunshine and hailstorms, at our March meeting a good number of members and guests were enthralled by a beautifully illustrated talk from Ron Rock, an enthusiastic volunteer for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, on some of the many different species of solitary bees, which number over 200 in total. These very effective pollinators vary in their appearance, nesting habits and methods of pollination which Ron shared with us in a really understandable way, and finished his talk with a quote from a sign at his favourite football club Forest Green Rovers “when nature wins, we all win”. The two photos here, given to us by Ron, are a snippet from this fascinating evening.

Leaf cutter bee

After his presentation Ron answered more questions from members, drew our raffle and judged our monthly competition which was won this time by Ivy, with Sue W 2nd and Joan 3rd. Members also took home several different varieties of spare plants kindly donated by Sylvia to grow on ready for our stall at the Village Fete, and for their own gardens too. Our coach bookings for next month’s visit to John’s Garden at Ashwood Nurseries have gone so well that we’ve been able to hire a larger coach and invite other clubs to come along with us.


Ron answering questions
Our monthly competition winners

Staffordshire Gems

Ruth tidying up after her talk

In February we welcomed Ruth Williams with her fascinating whistlestop tour of the many interesting locations in our county, some well known and others much less so, even for those who’ve lived here all their lives. A real mixture of gardens, nature reserves and buildings, many with extra snippets of information that you won’t find in guide books! And of course all the best tea rooms if you’re out for the day…

After drawing the raffle, Ruth judged our monthly competition which was a posy of snowdrops. Well done to Pam who was first, Joan second and Rosalie third; all the entries were excellent as you can see from the photos. The most points earnt in these competitions over the year will win our Trudi Brearley Challenge Trophy.

Then we enjoyed refreshments with an opportunity to ask Ruth more questions, and bookings for our first coach trip since 2019 are going very well! And the last two photos on this blog are of the amazing aeonium that Anita bought from Howard Drury (our September speaker) at another garden club meeting about 2 years ago, its height and flowerhead are amazing.

Aeonium Velour flowerhead
Anita’s amazing Aeonium Velour

First 2023 meeting

Primula ‘Zebra Blue’ – the photo doesn’t do it justice!
A selection of the Hillview plants

We started our 2023 programme on a wet and windy evening with an amusing and informative talk on Primulas and Auriculas from Ingrid and John Millington of Hillview Hardy Plants. Ingrid showed us all the different types and colour ranges available, how they were bred and the various growing conditions they all prefer. She also had some fascinating historical information on their medicinal uses – apparently the wonder cure for almost every ill known to mankind! John then followed with what Ingrid called his “doom and gloom” section on pests and diseases, plus propagation, to complete a very good presentation.

Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’
The excellent monthly competition entries

After the raffle, our members were able to browse a selection of plants from the Hillview nursery to purchase before they enjoyed their refreshments. Ingrid also judged our monthly competition of a “vase of winter flowering stems from your garden” which was very well supported with colourful and fragrant entries despite the rather inclement weather! The Points awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places are totalled at the end of the year for the award of our Trudi Brearley Challenge Trophy. Joan was the winner, with Rosalie second and Ivy third, well done to them and everybody who entered.

Christmas Social Evening 2022

This year the weather was looking a bit touch and go but luckily although it was bitterly cold there was no snow. We kept our members and guests Christmas social event very local, starting with Ted’s Baked Potatoes to warm us up, with a choice of six tasty fillings and side salads. Ted has an outlet in Sutton Coldfield, does outside catering and lives in the village! After a choice of desserts we were entertained by Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw Amateur Musicals Society (CWAGMS – see their facebook page) with a wide range of songs, stories and carols including some hilarious audience participation! Fortunately there are no incriminating photos available :))

The tables were decorated with Ann’s beautiful lamps and fresh foliage, and members turned into Santa’s elves to help clear away and wash up. They also generously donated extra prizes for our special raffle which we drew during the interval. It was a very cheerful evening that put us all in the mood for Christmas and looking forward to a happy healthy 2023!     

2nd time unlucky!

A vase of long-lasting Chrysanthemums

Our November meeting didn’t quite go to plan as unfortunately our speaker Nigel Hopes, Head Gardener at John Massey’s Garden Ashwood Nurseries was ill and unable to attend so we wish him and his family a speedy recovery. We’re pleased that quite a few of our members still came along and we agreed to have John’s Garden as the first of our coach trips next year.

Lithops from last month’s talk now in flower

We chatted instead about the speakers and events in our newly printed 2023 programmes, plus the classes that members would like to see in our reinstated annual Show and squeezed in a quick floral quiz before our raffle and refreshments. The monthly competition for the splendid Trudi Brearley Challenge Trophy (which was on display) will start again in January too. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to our Christmas social evening next month with Ted’s Tasty Jacket Potatoes and ‘Songs from the Shows’ by Cannock Wood and Gentleshaw Musical Society to entertain us afterwards.

Blackbirds love the Leycesteria berries!
Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

October meeting

Vicki & Stan

This month we welcomed Stan & Vicki of Craig House Cacti in their cheerful outfits with a hands-on talk on the care of cacti and other succulents, after they updated us on their latest Gold Medal and this year’s show season. Stan explained the different growing requirements of this wide range of plants and showed us how to (safely!) repot when necessary, also the best ways to propagate. Vicki gave a practical demonstration on seed-sowing and they both shared their knowledge in an amusing understandable way.

Agave ‘Cream Spike’
Rebutia (L) and Glottiphyllum (R)

After their talk they drew our raffle then whilst we enjoyed refreshments we had the opportunity to ask them more questions as well as choose from the good choice of plants for sale afterwards, some of which you can see in the photos. Members also started reserving their places for our Christmas social evening and took home the free magazines that are available every month.

Some demonstration specimens
Assorted cacti & lithops