2023 Garden & Home Produce Show 16th September

Sue and Anita with the Tom Ethelstone Memorial Trophy

It was great to have our Show back, our first since Covid interrupted what used to be an annual event. We were delighted with the support from exhibitors which provided a wonderful display in the hall that was enjoyed by members and visitors alike. Despite the vagaries of this summer’s weather, there were over 200 exhibits of excellent quality across all the classes.

Deborah and Martin with the Lewis Cup

Scoring was very close and our chairman Deborah Jackson was honoured to present the Lewis Cup, on behalf of the Lewis family, to Martin Plater for the highest number of points in the vegetable classes. Sue Ethelstone was down from Yorkshire to award the Tom Ethelstone Memorial Trophy, this time to club member Anita Harper, for the highest number of points won across all sections and classes. To celebrate the return of the show, both trophies were accompanied by donated gardening gift tokens, and Brenda Brettell won the members-only class of Pelargoniums. Our judge had also commented on one outstanding individual exhibit so a special award of a donated gift token was given to Clive Hancock for his Eucomis.

Clive’s Eucomis

We were pleased that several first time exhibitors had a go and enjoyed it, as well as taking home some of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places cards for all classes – well done to all entrants! After the presentations Sue drew our raffle which included some kindly donated prizes, and there were afternoon refreshments of hot and soft drinks with delicious homemade cake. There are some photos on our gallery page which give a flavour of the day.  Many thanks to all the committee, judges, helpers, exhibitors and visitors for putting this show back onto the calendar as a wonderful village event. Happy gardening!

Open Gardens & July meeting

It was a great pleasure to welcome over 300 visitors to the 13 gardens taking part – a wonderful result, many thanks to all our garden owners and helpers. We had mixed weather on the Saturday, then Sunday was mostly warm and sunny apart from the hailstorm finale! Several people said it was the best village Open Gardens they had been to this year with the variety of sizes, styles and settings, wonderful views, excellent refreshments and a warm welcome everywhere. “An absolute delight” was one of the many great comments. The net proceeds from programme sales will be divided between the Village Hall and the Gardening Club. Hopefully this will now return to being a biennial event in our calendar and if you have any photos, please do share them!

July monthly competition entries

Just two days after that busy weekend was our monthly meeting on July 11th, a very informative and amusing evening with Phillipa Cooper, an enthusiastic member of the Eckford Sweet Pea Society of Wem and an excellent speaker. First she explained the difference between “Spencers” and “Old Fashioned”, how they are grown and propagated, before moving on to the best way to prepare them for showing, with details of the upcoming Wem show.

She also gave us a spring pea Lathyrus vernus for our raffle that she drew afterwards, then judged our monthly competition which had some great entries. Members and guests chatted to Phillippa over refreshments and took home some of her information leaflets also our usual free gardening magazines.

3rd place Sarah (Spencers)
1st place Sue (Spencers)
2nd place Jean (Old fashioned)

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!

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

2021 February update

The weather hasn’t been on the side of gardeners lately and most of our our forays outside have been to knock snow off weighed-down evergreens or cut back sodden perennials where we could reach without trampling the ground. However our walks in the local neighbourhood or even peering out at the the winter wonderland have lifted our spirits and we’ve been sent some stunning photographs by Anita, Sophie & Rosalie this month to share with you all – many thanks. There are plenty more on our Gallery , please do take a look.

A wintry day on Cannock Chase
A glimpse of green amongst the snow..
We hope somebody’s bringing the hay soon!

We have some good news that our members now have the opportunity to join Zoom gardening club meetings and a list of is available on our Programme 2021 page. We know that not everybody can join in but it’s something that we can offer to keep us going 
until we’re able to meet up again in person, which is of course what we all look forward to!