News Archive

Talk: Wildlife-friendly Gardens

On Tuesday 4th November 2014, the Saffron Walden Horticultural Society enjoyed a delightful talk by Professor David Newland about wildlife in gardens especially butterflies and moths. He recommends leaving an area of long rough grass which some species need, and planting herbaceous borders for nectar sources. Flowering cherries will help tortoiseshell, peacock, and comma butterflies through the winter.

Out in the countryside, populations of different butterflies and moths thrive, depending on the season, the geology, and the vegetation. Some sites within a few miles of Saffron Walden are Wicken Fen Nature Reserve (Cambs), RHS Hyde Hall (Essex), Broxbourne Wood (Herts), where White Admiral & Purple Emperor butterflies can be seen in July.

Kate Chambers thanked Professor Newland for a most enjoyable talk which inspired many of those present to go out looking on a fine day (with a camera to keep a record of specimens to identify later)!

Jill MacLoughlin

Talk: Colour & Seasonal excitement with Herbaceous Plants and Grasses

An evening meeting was held at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane on the 7th October 2014, where the speaker was Hilary Thomas. She gave an inspiring talk on the subject of 'Colour and Seasonal Excitement with Herbaceous Plants and Grasses'. She said mixing perennials with annuals, roses, bulbs, grasses and shrubs gives a longer display and even some winter interest.

Some suggested plants were penstamon, pulmonaria, bergenia, euphorbia, salvia and sedum arranged according to size, colour and leaf shapes etc, which would fill borders with colour for most of the year.

Mrs Thomas was warmly thanked by Doreen Townley on behalf of the committee and members present.

Jill MacLoughlin

Autumn Show – 20 September 2014

The Saffron Walden Horticultural Society held their last show of the year – the Autumn Show – at the Community Centre, Ross Close on Saturday 20th September.

The lovely flowers, fruits and vegetables showed off the best of the season's bounty. Robin Crouchman was awarded the most points overall in the show, and most points in all three shows of the year. Peter Cranfield won most points in the vegetable section, and Teresa Pitts had most in the domestic classes, but it was Storm Bowden's needle point scene which was awarded 'Best Exhibit' in the Domestic classes.

Winner of most points in the Junior Section was Keira Walker, aged 10 years. Her decorated Swiss Roll 'Sweet corn' was much admired, and was 'Best in Show' in the Junior classes.

The theme for the floral arrangements was 'Five a Day'. Ruth Coe's winning entry included fruits of the hedgerows, hips, haws, blackberries, nuts and apples amongst red foliage and flowers. Trophies and prizes were presented by the Mayor, Cllr Sandra Eden.

Jill MacLoughlin

Spring Show - 12 April 2014

The Spring Daffodil and Floral Show was held on Saturday at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close.  There was a delightful display of different daffodils in the various classes, ranging from some with large yellow petals and trumpet to white petals with a small cup and fascinating double varieties.

The undoubted champion of the day was Robin Crouchman who exhibited the daffodil ' Inverpolly' which was judged 'Best  in Show', and was awarded the Society Medal, also the Townley Trophy for most points in the daffodil classes, also the Adams Harrison Cup for the most points in the show. Charlotte Heales was the winner of the class for the first time daffodil exhibitors. Mrs Yvonne Bishop was awarded the Barnard Vase for gaining most points in the Flower Section, including her floral arrangement 'Reflections'. Ken Peck was awarded the Ida Hawthorn Vase for the Best Society Daffodil, grown from bulbs supplied to members in the Autumn for showing in the Spring.. more

Jill MacLoughlin

Talk: Seasons of a Woodland

Saffron Walden Horticultural Society held their first evening meeting of the 2014 on Tuesday 4th February at the Bowls Club. The speaker was Barry Kaufmann-Wright who gave a most informative talk on 'Seasons of a Woodland', beautifully illustrated by his own slides. He explained how many of our 'native' trees have been brought to our shores over the centuries, and also the plants, mammals and insects which thrive in deciduous woods. This helped members present to gain some idea of the importance they have in our woods, largely unseen, but all having a part to play.

Mrs Storm Bowden thanked Mr Kaufmann-Wright for his excellent talk. The next talk 'My Gardening Year' will be given by Mr Rodney Tibbs on March 4th at the bowls club at 8pm.

TALK: You should have been here last week

On Tuesday 5 November 2013 the Saffron Walden Horticultural Society met at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane to hear Mrs Margaret Lynch give a talk entitled, "You should have been here last week". 

This was a light hearted look at the trials and tribulations in the garden, with illustrations of her own garden, some 4 acres nr Royston, through a period of time, in which she had , with part time help, coped with flooding,  replanting and huge problems with pond weed.

Margaret Lynch's special fondness was daffodils, of which we saw many sample slides, together with campanulas.  She is co-author of a book on campanulas.

We were given tips on planting and especially plants that were good "doers".

Mrs Lynch was thanked by Mrs Storm Bowden

Pat Marks

Autumn Show - 21 September 2013

The Saffron Walden Horticultural Society Autumn Show took place on Saturday, 21st September, at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close.

In the flower classes, colourful dahlias from ball shaped and pompom, to cactus and semi-cactus, to decorative and collarette, stood alongside impressive chrysanthemums. Jose Rumbeo was awarded the John Coe Trophy for his chrysanths. Robin Crouchman's winning dahlia was 'Mary's Jomanda'. Other classes were for roses, orchids, fuchsias and cacti, also containers of plants as grown, and arrangements of foliage. The subject for floral arrangements this time was 'Sunset', and the entries were very colourful using mostly shades of yellows and orange. The winner of this class was Claire Cox, who was awarded the Harry Green Cup, and Doreen Townley's Red Rose was judged the Best in the Rose Section, for which she was awarded the Harry Green Trophy.

Peter Cranfield gained most points in the Vegetable Section, with Hamish Davidson as runner up. Very large cabbages, leeks, and onions were on display, also tomatoes including trusses of ripe and unripe varieties.

The Acrow Bowl was awarded to Robin Crouchman for gaining most points in the Fruit and Vegetable Sections, and also the Babington Smith Trophy for most points in show. Ken Peck was runner up.

In the Domestic Section, Annie Erdman won the Walker Trophy for most points, and Kath Bartram was awarded the Rickett Shield for her meringues which were judged 'best entry' in domestic class. Lucy Henderson did very well in the Junior Classes, and won the Scrivener Trophy and her miniature garden in a seed tray was best in section. more

Summer Show - 15 June 2013

The Summer Rose and Floral Show was held on Saturday 15th June in the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The scent of roses and a burst of colour on the display tables greeted visitors as they entered. There were many flowers, shrubs, and pot plants including cacti and orchids.

There were 2 entries in the floral arrangement class 'Outer Space'. The winner was Mrs Helen O'Neill's arrangement of long white wisteria blooms 'Milky Way', and Mrs Ruth Coe included 7 alliums to represent the planets, and gypsophila for the stars in her arrangement.

The rose judged 'Best in Show' was 'Compassion' also entered by Ruth Coe, who was awarded the Veerman Rose Bowl and SWHS Cup. The three large flowered HT rose classes were each won by Eric Hammond... more

Jill MacLoughlin

Spring Show - 13 april 2013

Saffron Walden Horticultural Society Spring Show- Daffodil and Floral was held last Saturday April 13th , at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. Any fears about the lack of daffodils due to the late arrival of spring were soon allayed as exhibits were set up in the different classes, creating a lovely display for visitors.

Robin Crouchman was awarded the Adams Harrison Cup for most points in the show, the Townley Cup for most points in the daffodil classes, and the Daffodil Society Medal for the best daffodil in the show. This was a narcissus with yellow petals and deeper cup called 'Ombersley'. more

Jill MacLoughlin

Talk: Right Plant – Right Place

On March 5th our speaker was Mrs H. Thomas. A lecturer for many years at Capel Manor Gardens, she spoke on the subject of 'Right Plant, Right Place', illustrated with beautiful views of the gardens. Her advice was to choose well; consider the origins and requirements of plants before buying, and whether you can provide the conditions they need to thrive.

Mr Robin Crouchman thanked her for her informative and enjoyable talk.

Jill MacLoughlin

Talk: Happy, Healthy and Good Growing

Saffron Walden Horticultural Society held a meeting at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane, at 8pm on the 5th February

Our confirmed speaker for the evening was unable to attend, but we were fortunate to have a member of the Society, Robin Crouchman, to speak instead.

Robin gave a talk entitled "Happy, Healthy and Good Growing" – if your plants are all of these things they will do well.  A table was laid out with products that are sold to produce the perfect plant.  Robin ran through all the products before him, taking questions as he spoke.  A plethora of items were covered from compost to what size is a miniature daffodil? – it seems height does not matter it is governed by the size of the flower!  An extremely informative talk with many tips along the way.

Robin Crouchman was thanked by Yvonne Bishop.  Ken Peck arranged the raffle.  The 2013/2014 Members' Handbook was available at the meeting.

Pat Marks

Talk: Climate Change and Associated Planting

The Horticultural Society's last talk of the year on the 6th November was 'Climate Change and Associated Planting' by Mr George Thorp, Head Gardener at Trinity College Cambridge for 18 years. He noted that weather patterns had become less predictable, affecting the ability of plants to adapt to the seasons. He advised the use of tough drought tolerant plants instead of more tender varieties. Mrs Doreen Townley thanked him for a very interesting talk.

Jill MacLoughlin

Autumn Show 2012

The Saffron Walden Horticultural Society Autumn Show took place on Saturday, 22nd September at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close.

Visitors could not help but be impressed at the sight of a wonderful array of dahlias, chrysanthemums as they entered. Beyond them, roses, gladioli, displays of flowering trees and shrubs, fuchsias and pots vied for their attention. Jose Rumbo won trophies for best dahlia and chrysanthemum. more

Summer Show 2012

At 2pm on Saturday 16th June, the doors were open at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close, and the public began to arrive to see the Summer Show exhibits, and which had been awarded prizes.

Competitors did well to present such a lovely array of roses in the various classes in spite of recent unseasonal weather! Robin Crouchman won Best Bloom with his Rose ''Irresistible''. Visitors also enjoyed the delphiniums, sweet peas with their delicate scent, clematis blooms and orchids, planted containers and lovely pot plants. more

Spring Show 2012

The Spring Show was held on Saturday, April 14th, at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close.

Visitors were delighted by the many varied displays of daffodils, not only yellow, but white and many other colour combinations shown to their best advantage. The Daffodil Society Medal was awarded to Robin Crouchman for the Best Daffodil in Show (called Bossa Nova) which had lovely curved symmetrical petals and a dark orange centre. This attracted a lot of attention. There were also other flowers on the tables. more

Talk: Eighteenth to Twentieth Century Garden History

Saffron Walden Horticultural Society held a meeting at the Bowls Club Abbey Lane, at 8pm on 3rd April. Ken Akers gave a talk entitled 'Eighteenth to Twentieth Century Garden History’, illustrated by photos from his own travels. He explained how wealthy travellers and young men on the 'Grand Tour' brought new garden styles to England from the continent. Landscape gardeners and architects were engaged to emulate the beauty of the Italian countryside, with many trees and sweeping views, lakes and romantic focal points often in the Palladian style.

Mr Akers was thanked by Robin Crouchman, Ken Peck arranged the raffle. The next talk will be 'Mike Thurlow and William Cresswell' by Mr Mike Thurlow at 8pm on October 2nd at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane.

Jill MacLoughlin

Talk: Plant Names Explained

A meeting was held on 6 March at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when John Walker gave an illustrated talk entitled, "Plant Names Explained".

John asked, “What’s in a name?” A great deal it seems.

Why do we use Latin names to describe plants? Is it purely being elitist? It seems that across not only the UK but the world, names in common usage can refer to not just a single plant but to a myriad of plants, bluebells being a fine example and used as a name for several different species, so to keep to the Latin aids everybody.

John then gave a very interesting talk, starting with Theophrastus – 371BC – first western man to identify plants and the systemization of the botanical world – Chinese were already there! - through to Gutenberg’s press – enabling the masses to have this knowledge. Leonardo da Vinci’s, as could be expected, also had an interest in plants. The first Botanical Garden was formed in Pisa in 1544. We then covered flat dry flower pressing, herbal remedies and in 1621 this country’s first Botanical Garden at Oxford.

On a local note, a man almost forgotten but famous in his day, was John Ray, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Born in Black Notley in 1627. It was Ray who first attempted to put into book form the biological definition of the term species.

Then in 1735 the Swede Carl Linnaeus sorted and catalogued the plant kingdom.

John spoke of Joseph Banks, who accompanied Cook on his first great voyage of the Globe and returned with a major collection of plants. Banks subsequently became adviser to George 111 on the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.  He also spoke also of Charles Darwin’s visit to the Gallipolis.

Did you know our most common species today are the daisy and the pea.

What could perhaps have been a dry subject turned into an extremely absorbing one.

Robin Crouchman gave the vote of thanks.   Ken Peck ran the raffle.

Pat Marks

Feb 7

Talk: Unfortunately, this meeting had to be cancelled due to bad weather

You should have been here last week – Mrs Margaret Lynch

Talk: Garden-worthy plans with added value

A meeting was held on November 1st at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Andrew Jackson gave an illustrated talk entitled Garden-worthy Plants with Added Value.

Andrew is in his last year of giving talks so we were lucky to hear his comments and see his slides of a large variety of garden plants. In his own garden he attempts to provide plants with interesting foliage, with varied bark, with perfume, with fruits and berries, seed heads, autumn and winter colour, in short as much colour and interest as possible over as long a season as he can manage. He showed hedges, ground cover plants and those which, planted together, can provide both height and colour contrast. His talk fell into three main sections: trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, all illustrated by slides. He gave many suggestions for familiar plants as well as some rather more unusual ones.

On behalf of all those present, Robin Crouchman thanked Andrew Jackson for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs

Publicity Secretary

Talk: Fruits and Berries for Colour

A meeting was held on October 4th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Ian Seager gave an illustrated talk entitled Fruits and Berries for Colour.

Ian set out by explaining the definition of 'fruits' meaning 'containing seeds'. This definition encompasses many different fruits, e.g. tomatoes, cherries, cucumbers, peas, beans, conkers, acorns, to mention only a few of the examples given. Fruits are generally colourful and thus attractive to wildlife and in this way the seeds can better be disseminated. In addition their colour can very much enhance and extend the colour season in the garden with berries providing colour and contrast. There are also many ornamental fruit trees. Ian then continued his talk using slides and showing examples of well known and less well known shrubs and trees in berry or in flower.

On behalf of all those present, Mary Adams thanked Ian Seager for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs

Publicity Secretary

AUTUMN SHOW 2011

The Autumn Show was held on Saturday, September 17th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The number of entrants and entries saw a good increase as compared with last year and at times the hall was packed with visitors.

The flowers and in particular the dahlias were wonderful with Jose Rumbo winning the prize for best dahlia and best chrysanthemum. Roses were also shown with David Livermore winning for the best rose. The subject of the flower arranging was 'Rainbow' and each of the exhibitors managed to work in all seven colours of the rainbow.

This is though the show in with fruit and vegetables take pride of place.... more

SUMMER ROSE AND FLORAL SHOW 2011

The Summer Rose and Floral Show was held on Saturday, June 18th  at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. As always, the quality of the exhibits was excellent with  entry numbers only very slightly down on those of last year. There were lots of  visitors and we were pleased to see our usual members as well as quite a number of people living nearby.

Roses give their name to the show but they are not the only exhibits. However, the roses made a very good display with the prize for best rose in the show being awarded to David Livermore for a rose called Savoy Hotel... more

Spring Show

The Spring Daffodil Show was held on Saturday, April 16th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The exhibits were of an extremely high quality but unfortunately the number of entries was rather down on last year. This was predictable and understandable given the very early appearance this year of all spring flowers and the virtual disappearance in particular of daffodils and tulips by the middle of April.

Members did excel themselves and daffodils were nevertheless still the dominant exhibits at this show and made a fantastic display. Robin Crouchman who swept the board with his daffodils, also grew the best in show daffodil called ''Ombersley'. Tulips,  primulas, other seasonal garden flowers, flowering shrubs and houseplants made up the rest of the plant exhibits....more

Talk: New Zealand

A meeting was held on April 5th  at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr  Robin Carsberg gave an entertaining and informative talk entitled Beautiful New Zealand: Flora of the Southern Hemisphere illustrated by is own high quality slides.

Robin started his journey with a stopover in Singapore and a visit to the botanic garden there. The largest collection of orchids in the world is on display there, helped by the humid climate. Through the north and south islands of New Zealand, Robin concentrated on the many plants and trees which are found nowhere else in the world. About 85% of  the plants found there were unique to New Zealand but of course nowadays, many of those have been transferred and established themselves in other parts of the world with a similar climate, e.g. in the UK where the climate is similar although not exactly the same. However, in some locations, tropical, semi-tropical and carnivorous plants flourish. Robin was not only able to supply the normal names but also the maori names for some of the plants which make them sound much more exotic. For example there is the giant Tane Mahuta tree which can grow up to 55 feet and was around at the time of the dinosaurs. Its appearance is rather strange as it looks as  if it is upside down with branches that look a bit like roots. Another interesting tree which is not indigenous but was introduced by Captain Cook, is the Norfolk Island pine. Every pine has what appears to be a crucifix at the top. The talk was concluded with a short film showing lovely beaches and accompanied by a maori song.

On behalf of all those present,  John Bullen thanked Robin for his thoroughly fascinating talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run Ken Peck.

This was the last meeting of the season. The first meeting of the new season will take place on October 4th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane, starting at 8pm when Ian Seager will give a talk entitled Fruits and Berries for Colour.

Talk: Container Gardening Vegetables

A meeting was held on March 1st at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Peter Morris gave an illustrated talk entitled Container Gardening Vegetables.

Peter Morris showed slides of a variety of containers in which he was growing all kinds of vegetables, fruit and flowers. The trick with any kind of container is to provide good drainage. Regular watering is an absolute must for any plants grown in the confined space of a container and this can of course be rather a time issue in the hot summer months. Along with buckets with holes in the bottom and other recycled containers, growbags are also useful for growing various vegetables, for example tomatoes. The growbag can be re-used for a second year if fertiliser is added. Peter grows onions in the second year. He uses flower pouches for growing courgettes and he has a cucumber plant growing in an old electric kettle which he has hanging on a wall.Growing in containers allows those gardeners with limited garden space to enjoy growing some of their own vegetables as well as providing points of interest in their gardens.

On behalf of all those present, Storm Bowden thanked Peter Morris for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Ken Peck.

The next talk entitled New Zealand will be given by Robin Carsberg at 8pm on April 5th at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Gardening Then and Now

A meeting was held on February 1st at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when the journalist and author, Rodney Tibbs gave an illustrated talk entitled Gardening Then and Now.

On encountering a painting of gardening in the past, Rodney began to wonder about how certain aspects of gardening had been dealt with through the centuries. In early paintings, the rectangular bed was prevalent changing from utilitarian to rather more ornamental use in the mid seventeenth century. He claimed the first lawn mower to have been sheep but the first actual mower appeared around 1830. As they developed, they became heavier so that for their operation someone was required to pull from the front as well as someone else pushing from the back. At one point they became so big that a horse or donkey was used to pull the mower. This led also to the invention of special shoes for the horses which  reduced the damage to the turf. After this came steam powered machines and then petrol engines. In order to cut hedges which were generally very high, equally high ladder-like frameworks were used. There were also a very large variety of hedge clipping tools. For digging, a drawing of about 1400 showed what appeared to be the first hand trowel which was very similar in shape to the modern version. Another illustration showed wooden spades and a garden line, again almost the same design as today. Before glass was available, sacking was used to protect plants from night frosts. Subsequently glass bells and other glass devices were used for frost protection. All in all, it seems that garden tools have not changed all that much over the centuries. It is rather the materials from which they are made which have always made a difference.

On behalf of all those present, Kate Chambers thanked Rodney Tibbs for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Ken Peck.

The next talk entitled Container Gardening Vegetables will be given by Peter Morris at 8pm on March 1st at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Planning Borders the Easy Way/Quick Tips

A meeting was held on January 4th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when local garden designer, Helen Riches gave an illustrated talk entitled Planning Borders the Easy Way.

Helen's current career as garden designer and magazine illustrator developed from her previous work as a graphic designer and amateur painter. This has given her invaluable skills in her present work. She began her talk by advising on how to plan a border, stressing preparation of site and soil and taking account of the particular micro-climate in question, as well as giving hints on existing surrounding planting. Continuing maintenance also should also be an important consideration. Her first stage in planning a border is to draw up a ground plan which she follows up by producing a colour illustration of what the border would look like in full flower. This she illustrated with slides. Further slides showed a newly planted border and then the same border again after one year. Later slides illustrated colour and shape combinations in the design process. She concluded her talk by giving a few hints on preparing the garden for winter.

On behalf of all those present, Joan Shadbolt thanked Helen Riches for her interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Ken Peck

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Wildlife found in a Typical Garden, from Birds to Butterflies.

A meeting was held on November 2nd at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Barry Kaufmann-Wright gave a talk entitled Wildlife found in a Typical Garden, from Birds to Butterflies.

Barry has given talks to the society many times before but he always manages to find a new subject area to entertain and inform. His talk, accompanied by slides, wandered through gardens looking at birds and butterflies as well as animals, insects, bees, dragon-flies and even weeds. He strolled anecdotally through all of these explaining their uses or the problems they cause in the scheme of things. For example, the chaffinch is the most common bird in Britain; when robins fight they fight to the death; the male wren builds an average of 8 nests every year to offer a choice to the hen; the dunnock is the most amorous bird although details were not supplied; there are about 10 million pigeons living here; dragon-flies were on the planet 360 million years ago and well before the dinosaurs. Many species are protected as they are in crisis. Bees were mentioned in particular as they are so important for the ecosystem and there are measures which ordinary gardeners can take to encourage bees as well as other endangered species such as some butterflies, frogs, newts (numerous in our region but quite rare elsewhere) and grass snakes. Barry also spoke of climate change and the effect which he believes it is already having. His example was primroses growing in his garden which normally flower in the spring. Some of his plants are now flowering only in the autumn.

On behalf of all those present, Barry Kaufmann-Wright was thanked  for another of his interesting and colourful talks. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond.

The next event will be the AGM followed by the Sociable Evening for members and friends. Both will take place on December 7th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane. The next talk entitled Planning Borders the Easy Way  by Ms Hilary Riches will be held at 8pm on January 4th also at the Bowls Club, Abbey Lane.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Seed Saving at Home

The first meeting of the 2010/2011 season was held on October 5th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Patrick Hughes gave a practical talk entitled Seed Saving at Home.

Patrick Hughes began by saying how much better and cheaper it is to save seed rather than to buy it commercially. He used the example of tomatoes. There are probably more seeds in one tomato than in an expensive packet of seeds where much of the cost is allocated to providing the packaging. Seed saving is also not difficult but it is important to remember two main things: to save seeds from healthy plants; and to make sure that the seeds are perfectly dry before being stored. They should also be stored in a dry place or container and the use of plastic bags or plastic containers is not a good plan. Ideally, seed should be kept in small paper envelopes. Patrick Hughes keeps his seed envelopes in his sock drawer! It is also possible to store seed packets in the presence of the silica gel sachets which are often found inside new handbags, suitcases or electrical goods.

On behalf of all those present, Patrick Hughes was thanked for his interesting and helpful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Autumn Show

The Autumn Show was held on Saturday, September 18th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The number of entrants and entries was a little down on last year's show but the quality of the exhibits was extremely high. Another positive factor is that the number of visitors to the show continues to increase.

As always at this time of year, all the flowers were ....more

Summer Rose and Floral Show

The Summer Rose and Floral Show was held on Saturday, June 19th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. As always, the quality of the exhibits was excellent and entry numbers were about double those of last year. Visitor numbers were also up and there were times when it became quite crowded.

As the name of the show suggests, roses are the focus of the show and they were certainly much in evidence...more

Iris Day

Society Member Clare Kneen held an Iris Day on Saturday 12 June at Stonebridge Farm, Little Walden Road, Little Walden. Clare runs a small iris nursery, selling on-line and is also a trials garden for the British Iris Society. More details of the nursery are at IrisesOnline.co.uk

Spring Daffodil Show

The Spring Daffodil Show was held last Saturday, April 10th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The sunny day outside showed the bright and colourful display of flowers and plants to their best advantage. The exhibits were of an extremely high quality, with entries up about 10% on last year. A significant number of new exhibitors was also very welcome...more

Talk: From Conception to Compost of Clematis

A meeting was held on April 6th  at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Roy Nunn gave an informative talk entitled From Conception to Compost of Clematis.

Roy Nunn is a plant breeder concentrating on clematis and helebores. In the process of breeding better, different and hardier plants, many specimens which do not live up to these qualities end up on the compost heap, hence the title of the talk. He illustrated his talk with slides showing the processes of controlled pollination, germination, treatment with fungicide, layering and taking cuttings. For clematis lovers the talk provided information on new and forthcoming clematis plants as well as hints on how to make a start on breeding.

On behalf of all those present, Jean Petchey thanked Roy Nunn for his practical and useful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

This was the last meeting of the season. The first meeting of the new season will take place on October 5th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane, starting at 8pm when Peter Beale will give a talk entitled Light among the Trees.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk:

A meeting was held on March 2nd  at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr  Patrick Hughes should have given a talk entitled Seed Saving at Home. Unfortunately Mr Hughes' car broke down on the M11 so Robin Crouchman, one of the committee members bravely stepped in to give a very interesting and useful talk on showing.

Robin is a very experienced show judge and was able to give lots of advice about getting the best out of exhibiting flowers, plants and vegetables and how to walk off with prizes. One of the most important things for the exhibitor to do is to read the show schedule and to make their entries fit the schedule. For example, if the class specifies a particular number of flowers, e.g. 6 blooms, then an exhibit of only 5 will be disqualified even if the flowers themselves are perfect. Generally, show flowers and vegetables, etc should be as perfect and damage-free as possible. If the particular class specifies a number of  items, e.g. 4 carrots, then these must be as uniform as possible as well as perfect. Of course this total perfection and uniformity is not often achieved but getting close to it will put the exhibitor top of the class. A handy tip is to always bring one extra flower or vegetable so that if anything is damaged in transit, a backup is on hand. Robin then went on to give a few other useful hints, one of which was to use a hair dryer to encourage a tulip flower to open.

On behalf of all those present,  Mary Adams thanked Robin for such a practical and valuable talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Vertical Gardening, Wall Shrubs and Climbing Plants - Hilary Thomas

A meeting was held on January 5th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mrs Hilary Thomas gave an interesting talk entitled Vertical Gardening, Wall Shrubs and Climbing Plants.

Hilary Thomas had at one time taught at Capel Manor. She illustrated her talk with excellent slides from a variety of gardens showing plants in their growing positions on walls, fences, trellises, pergolas, arches, arbours and on other natural and metal structures. Some of the structures would only be suitable in a large garden. But others would fit into a much smaller one giving height and points of interest. A number of 'thugs' of the garden were mentioned, for example Boston ivy (sometimes wrongly known as Virginia creeper), climbing hydrangea, golden hop and some ivies. These will grow very tall and take over and smother other smaller and less vigorous plants. Walls, and to a lesser extent fences, provide a very sheltered location for plants so that in south and west facing positions, some tender Mediterranean plants can survive and thrive. On the other hand, hardier shrubs like winter jasmine, cotoneaster and pyracantha are suitable for north and east facing walls

On behalf of all those present, Hilary Thomas was thanked by Collette Biggs for her interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Painful and Poisonous Plants – Mr B Gayton

A meeting was held on November 3rd at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Barry Gayton gave an entertaining and enlightening talk entitled Painful and Poisonous Plants.

Barry Gayton's excellent slides showed pictures of trees, shrubs and plants which can be poisonous or painful, most of which are normal indigenous plants to be seen in gardens or the countryside around us. Barry has been gardening since he was very young and was so successful in propagating and selling plants that he was able to finance his own greenhouse at the age of 12. He now lives in Thetford Forest on the edge of Suffolk and Norfolk and has a large garden which fortunately does not contain the deadly plants he listed and described in order of their deadliness. Whilst some plants can be regarded as particularly dangerous even if only a small amount is ingested, many perfectly ordinary garden plants can be poisonous too. For example, apple pips contain a minute amount of cyanide but to do any harm, a huge quantity would need to be eaten. Some thorns can be toxic, for example those of roses and blackberries, and injuries caused by them should be cleaned as soon as possible. On the other hand, cacti thorns are painful but not toxic. Of course there are many plants, for example stinging nettles, with irritant hairs or prickles but these only cause discomfort and are not a serious problem.

On behalf of all those present, Barry Gayton was thanked by Mary Adams for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Plants for Winter Interest Inside and Out – Peter Jackson

A meeting was held on October 6th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Peter Jackson gave an interesting talk entitled Plants for Winter Interest.

Peter Jackson is convinced that gardens can look as attractive in the winter as at other times of the year. His slides showed how this interest can be achieved through a variety of colours and textures in flowers, leaves, stems, bark and berries. They showed how this interest can be maintained through the whole of the winter months both in the garden itself as well as on the patio. Peter Jackson suggested a way in which pot plants on patios can always appear fresh and colourful. He locates his basic set of outer pots which he then leaves in position. He then has 'insert' pots containing plants which he only uses when they are in good condition. As soon as a plant starts to fade, the pot is removed and replaced by another one containing a plant in good condition. His patio plants are therefore always in mint condition but it also means that he has to plant up and keep a good running stock of reserve plants. His talk gave many suggestions for suitable flower and foliage plants for this purpose too.

On behalf of all those present,  Peter Jackson was thanked by Peter Hanson for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

The chairman, Doreen Townley announced that the Horticultural Society has just received a generous donation of £400 from the Stansted Airport Community Trust in order to replace exhibition vases used at society shows. She also made a presentation to Vic Mallion who has just retired from the the committee, thanking him for his many years of service.

Autumn Horticultural Show 2009

The Autumn Show was held on Saturday, September 12th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. Numbers of exhibits were a little up on last year, an increase of about 6%. There has also been a significant and welcome increase in visitor numbers for all three shows this year held in the new venue...more

Summer Rose and Floral Show 2009

The Summer Rose and Floral Show was held on Saturday, June 20th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. The quality of the exhibits was excellent and numbers were over 20% up on last year so that the show was a definite success.

The roses which generally form a significant part of the show were perhaps less in evidence than usual, this due to weather problems. Many potential blooms had flowered too early....more

Spring Daffodil & Floral Show 2009

The Spring Daffodil Show was held last Saturday, April 18th at the Golden Acre Community Centre, Ross Close. This was a new venue which proved to be very successful. The hall is very light and bright and ideal for displaying plants to their best advantage. It also provided a whole new visitor pattern with people from the immediate locality participating and the show was busy all afternoon.

There was the usual marvellous display of flowers and other produce...more

Outing to The Savill & Valley Gardens

On Sunday 10 May twenty-eight members and friends had a wonderful day out to these marvellous gardens. The rhododendrons, azaleas, camelias and magnolias were magnificent and the sun shone all day. There are some photgraphs on our Picture Gallery page.

Local Iris Grower

and Society member Clare Kneen was featured in the garden article in the March edition of Essex Life.

Clare and her sister Matilda Herd, set up the company IrisesOnline.co.uk in 2007, specialising in irises in all the colours of the rainbow.

"Irises are a fabulous plant," explains Clare. "There are varieties which will survive in any planting situation: dry or wet, in direct sun or in shade. With water in increasingly short supply, and hosepipe bans becoming more frequent, it is good to know that all bearded irises are drought tolerant once established." If you have any queries about growing these beautiful plants, you can email advice@IrisesOnline.co.uk

To view the full range, simply visit IrisesOnline.co.uk.

Talk: Design and Colour in the Herbaceous Border - Ken Akers

A meeting was held on November 4th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Ken Akers gave an interesting talk entitled Design and Colour in the Herbaceous Border illustrated by an excellent slideshow.

Ken Akers began with a little history exemplified by a number of large gardens. He began in the 18th century when it was kitchen gardens rather than herbaceous borders which were in evidence. In the 19th century gardens and gardening developed, the lawn mower being invented at this time too. Later, cottage garden style became more popular. He went on to speak about the many enthusiastic plant collectors, plantsmen and plantswomen. A particularly keen one of the latter was Ellen Willmott of Warley Place (near Brentwood). She spent vast sums on her 33 acres and at one time she employed 104 gardeners. However she overreached herself and ended her life penniless. Warley Place now belongs to the Essex Wildlife Trust. The talk continued with slides of Ken Aker's own impressive garden in Great Saling. He explained how to develop a harmonious arrangement of form and texture by planting in groups with something of architectural interest located centrally in the bed. The slides showed his magnificent garden with beds providing colour throughout the whole year.

On behalf of all those present, Ken Akers was thanked by Collette Biggs for giving members such a fascinating evening. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Kirtling Towers, the making of a Garden - Richard Ayres

A meeting was held on October 7th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Richard Ayres gave an interesting talk entitled Kirtling Towers, the making of a Garden.Richard Ayres was formerly head gardener at Anglesey Abbey for 27 years and was subsequently also involved in the reinvigoration of the Gibberd Gardens in Harlow. For some years though he has been central to the work of refurbishing the gardens of Kirtling Towers, a tudor mansion just south of Newmarket. He showed many slides of the different parts of the grounds throughout the year. He is particularly pleased with the carpets of snowdrops in the winter and the tulips sylvestris in the spring. This particular yellow tulip dates back to tudor times and is unusual in that it is perfumed. In addition, every year some 5000 red tulips are planted. An even more staggering statistic is that 36,000 grape hyacinths were planted to provide a kind of blue avenue which was a very impressive sight. Oxslips were shown flowering on the side of the moat and there were also beautiful drifts of narcissus and daffodils. The grounds are divided into a number of discrete areas: the so-called Secret Garden is walled; the Victorian Garden was created by Penelope Hobhouse in the 1970s and currently has a number of enormous pots containing privet (shown in flower) as well as paeonies; the Cloister Garden is essentially a scented garden; and the Cutting Garden was filled with all kinds of flowers and shrubs suitable for cutting and arranging. Last year 2000 tulips were planted in this cutting garden but unfortunately were all eaten by rats.

On behalf of all those present,  Richard Ayres was thanked by Mary Adams for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Autumn Show 2008

The Autumn Show was held last Saturday, September 13th in the United Reformed Church Hall in Abbey Lane. At a total of 282, the entries were a little up as compared with last year and the show was as colourful as always. In the flower section, the dahlias were the stars of the show and the winner of the best dahlia in show was Julia Thornton. The winner of the class for a flower arrangement in a wine glass judged by the public was Jean Petchey... more

Talk: History and Development of Madingley Hall Gardens.

A meeting was held on April 1st at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Richard Gant gave an interesting talk entitled the History and Development of Madingley Hall Gardens.

Richard Gant has worked at Madingley Hall gardens for twenty years and his talk and slides illustrated the ancient and more modern history of the house and gardens. The original house was built in the 16th century and passed through many hands before being sold to Cambridge University in 1948. Originally used as postgraduate accommodation, from 1975 the hall began to be used for extra mural studies and conferences. 1979 was a turning point when a new director decided to get something done about the rather neglected gardens. Since then the gardens have been restored and developed. The original gardens had been formal but in the 18th century Capability Brown was brought in to make changes. The grounds include a walled garden, croquet lawns, a topiary garden with a total of 14 examples, a woodland border as well as a new ornamental garden. There are many interesting trees, shrubs and plants to be seen including the bee orchid. Richard Gant mentioned two open afternoons at Madingley Hall later in the year: July 13th and September 7th.

On behalf of all those present, Richard Gant was thanked by John Bartram for his interesting and colourful talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

This talk was the last of the season. The next season of talks begins again on October 7th when Mr R Ayres will talk on Kirtling Towers, the making of a garden. Society activities during the summer include various outings to interesting gardens and parks. There will also be three shows, the first of which, the Spring Daffodil and Floral Show will take place on April 5th. The Summer Rose and Floral Show will take place on June 21st and the Autumn Horticultural Show on September 13th. All three will take place at the United Reformed Church Hall in Abbey Lane.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Deep Bed Gardening

A meeting was held on January 8th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Mr Peter Morris gave a talk entitled Deep Bed Gardening illustrated by excellent slides.

Mr Morris spoke from the point of view of a practical gardener but also with his extensive knowledge as a National Vegetable Judge as well as an Essex Judge. He began by showing slides illustrating traditional and deep bed vegetable production in his former garden at Great Saling. He showed how he had achieved early and successive cropping of a wide variety of vegetables. In order to increase his personal experience, he makes a point of growing a new vegetable every year. He continued his talk with a story about a local allotment society which was having problems with overgrown and neglected plots and Mr Morris was invited to show how this situation could be improved. Starting in the early spring he managed to demonstrate that a plot overgrown with brambles could be cleared and made to produce vegetables within nine months. Suitably encouraged by his success, all the allotment holders now also have tidy and properly tended plots. Finally Mr Morris turned his attention to the showing of vegetables. He gave very useful advice, in particular the absolute necessity of reading the schedule and sticking to it in order to succeed in winning prizes.

On behalf of all those present, Beryl Love thanked Peter Morris for his interesting and inspiring talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Mr Eric Hammond and Mr Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

December meeting

The December meeting was held on December 4th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane. The AGM was held in the first part of the evening, during which the officers and committee were elected en bloc.

Following this, John Walker gave a talk illustrated by slides entitled Solanaceae and the Humble Spud which he subheaded “the potato, its family, a social and economic history”. The Solanaceae family is a large and diverse one and he divided his talk into flowers, poisonous weeds and useful plants. The flowers category includes petunias, Nicotiana (tobacco plants) and Datura. Weeds include various nightshades (black, woody and deadly), henbane and mandrake. Useful plants include tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, tobacco, and of course potatoes. John Walker went on to talk about how potatoes came to Britain. They were discovered by the Spanish in 1537 in Latin America and brought to Europe in 1570. It is thought that Sir Francis Drake brought them to Britain and that Sir Walter Raleigh was responsible for their introduction into Ireland, where of course their cultivation played a very significant part in that country’s history.

On behalf of all those present, Mary Adams thanked John Walker for his interesting talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Eric Hammond and Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Going Dutch

A meeting was held on November 6th at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Margo Bishop gave a talk entitled Going Dutch illustrated by excellent slides.

The tour around Holland began in Leiden at the Botanical Garden where the first tulips brought in from Turkey flowered in 1594. This began the so-called tulipomania which led to hugely inflated prices being paid for bulbs and a subsequent market crash leading to many fortunes being lost and lives ruined. Keukenhof was the next destination. There were magnificent slides of the masses of tulips and other spring flowers inside the gardens and the 5000m² of tulip fields outside the grounds. The plants are grown for the bulbs and not for the flowers, so that the flowers of about 10 billion bulbs are cut off and destroyed in their prime. The slides then went on to show the magnificent Het Loo Palace which had once been owned by William and Mary and subsequently by the Dutch royal family. In 1977 they were handed over to the Dutch equivalent of the NT and the palace and wonderful gardens were restored to their former formal glory.

On behalf of all those present, John Bartram thanked Margo Bishop for her extremely interesting plant tour around Holland. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Mr Eric Hammond and Mr Ken Peck.

Collette Biggs
Publicity Secretary

Talk: Michaelmas to Candlemas in a Suffolk Garden

The first meeting of the season was held on October 2nd at the Bowls Club in Abbey Lane when Rod Leeds gave a talk entitled Michaelmas to Candlemas in a Suffolk Garden illustrated by excellent slides.

Rod Leeds gave a very interesting and illuminating talk focusing on flowers and shrubs in his own garden in Suffolk during the autumn and winter period between September and February. The slides were of a particularly high quality and showed some of the flowers which we can soon expect to see. He had particularly wonderful displays of cyclamens under trees and some very interesting snowdrops.

On behalf of all those present, the chairman Doreen Townley thanked Rod Leeds for his interesting talk. A raffle in aid of society funds was run by Mr Eric Hammond and Mr Ken Peck.

Autumn Show

The Autumn Show was held on Saturday, September 22nd in the United Reformed Church Hall in Abbey Lane. From 1994 to 2005 this last show of our season was held as part of the Gardeners' Weekend at Audley End. Regrettably this event was cancelled at short notice in 2006 so that our show also had to be abandoned. This year we were pleased to be able to be one of the first events to take place in the newly refurbished United Reformed Church Hall....more

Summer Rose Show

The Summer Rose and Floral Show was held on Saturday, June 23rd at St Mary's School, Castle Street. The quality of the exhibits was as high as in previous years...more

Hampton Court Flower Show

Thirty four members visited Hampton Court Flower Show on Sunday 8 July. The Show was a great success and the weather was marvellous, with sunshine all day.