Confessions of a Plant Manager

At our June meeting we enjoyed a lively talk from Mark Smith with a combination of anecdotes from his 30 plus years working in horticulture and useful advice on growing plants. His suggestion of chopping back all deciduous clematis hard in the autumn then several times the following year, regardless of type, to keep producing successive flushes drew gasps from the audience but his photos demonstrated the results of the tactic. He regaled us with tales of what goes on behind the scenes at garden centres, nurseries & flower shows, and how things have changed over the years. Not just an amusing speaker though as he volunteers in schools & clearly cares passionately about inspiring the gardeners of the future. His column in the Derby Telegraph resulted in him appearing regularly on BBC Radio Derby doing live question & answer sessions plus live coverage of Chelsea Flower Show, where he was nearly thrown out for taking a photo on press day! He also had some very interesting photos of all his activities shall we say from the sublime to the ridiculous - clearly a good sport.

After his talk he judged our monthly competition (a vase of 5 stems of a variety of roses) which was very well supported. As you can see from the photos (thank you to Anna) there were some beautiful colours and types. Mark found it a difficult to choose but eventually went for 1st Deborah Jackson, 2nd Sylvia Nunn and 3rd Maureen Brearley. Deborah & Sylvia had both included Munstead Wood in their entries which is the fabulous deep wine colour with a wonderful scent, although there were several other lovely fragrances & types too.