Getting quizzical

Our first meeting of 2018 was the return of the highly enjoyable quiz. It wasn’t a particularly nice night, but a good number of members turned up, ready and waiting to show (or explain away) the extent of their gardening knowledge.

How about a few test questions? Answers are at the end of the post.

1. Charles Darwin described this carnivorous plant as the most wonderful plant in the world. What is it?
2. Harry Wheatcroft was a renowned breeder of what?
3. Aspen is from what family of trees?
4. What is pomology the study of?
5. Britain’s oldest botanic garden is found in which town?

6. Which two plants, when crossed, form the hybrid Tayberry?
7. What name was given to the UK campaign during World War II encouraging people to grow their own vegetables?
8. Which fairly widespread plant can, if touched, cause a serious chemical reaction when the skin is exposed to UV light?

And how about some common names for these?
9. Buxus sempervirens
10. Helleborus niger
11. Aesculus hippocastanum
12. Leucanthemum ‘Superbum’
13. Spartium junceum

14. Salix babylonica
15. Hyacinthoides non-scripta

And then some anagrams for ‘gardening-related things’, which had us scratching our heads – unless we had experienced crossword addicts on the team…
16. Bra Where Owl
17. Tailor Curl Hut
18. Teapot Dose
19. Frank Gored
20. Tattoos Weep
21. New Corset

Hearty congratulations to Team Tomato, who won. Highly appropriately, as one of the first questions was ‘the “love apple” is the original name for what?’. Yes – the tomato.

1.Venus Fly Trap. 2. Roses. 3. Poplars. 4. Fruit. 5. Oxford. 6. Raspberry x Loganberry. 7. Dig for Victory. 8. Giant Hogweed. 9. Box. 10. Christmas Rose. 11. Horse Chestnut. 12. Shasta Daisy. 13. Spanish broom. 14. Weeping willow 15. Bluebell. 16. Wheelbarrow. 17. Horticultural. 18. Seed potato. 19. Garden fork. 20. Sweet potato. 21. Sweetcorn.


Show warning

First, apologies – both for the terrible pun at a time when there are indeed snow warnings (but not in this immediate area, at least not yet), and for the gap in posting, which was down to pressure of work. Hopefully the volume of work is now more sensible. Second, the news:


It seems incredible, but the club’s Spring Show is round the corner. There are some changes this year, notably the venue and the day. We’ve outgrown the Church Hall, so we’re moving the show to the bigger Village Hall (where the Summer Show is held). And its not on a Monday or a Wednesday, its…


This gives us a bit more room to play with, so we’ve taken the opportunity to add another flower arranging class. Schedules will be available very shortly, but head over to the Spring Show tab and you’ll find all the details (plus some help on daffodil classes). There are two flower arranging classes with themes – ‘New Beginning’ and ‘Trip the Light Fantastic’ – and two without, specially for all those whose minds go completely blank when confronted with a theme.

Winter was not only coming, winter has not only come (sorry about the Game of Thrones sound to these), but winter will be on its way soon. At least the cold snaps will – hopefully – be killing off some of the pests. Let’s have some more daffs for cheerfulness.

And if anybody needed more cheering up, the next meeting is a wine tasting…


Late summer colour

In gardening, ‘late summer’ traditionally meant August. Nowadays, though, that could be anything up to early October, and there’s little doubt that we are  experiencing a longer growing season. As Karen Hall said in her September talk, ‘it’s important that our gardens don’t run out of steam by July’.

She gave us some wonderful examples of plants which can really help.

(This is Rudbeckia Herbstone.) Rudbeckias and Heleniums are brilliant for this, and Rudbeckias in particular can continue to look good even after their petals have dropped. And both, like this yellow Helenium, are popular with wildlife…

Another favourite is Echinacea, and particularly the old species E. purpurea. They need good drainage, and don’t like being crowded by other plants.

This can be grown from seed; they’ll flower in their first year if sown early enough in the spring.

Karen’s special loves are the Salvias, and when you look at examples like this one,

which is Royal Bumble, it’s easy to understand why. Salvias can flower for months, and one of the secrets, Karen said, is not to cut the shrubby ones down in autumn. Wait until the spring, when they have started into growth, and cut them back to a low green shoot. This is at the top of Karen’s list:

It’s Salvia Hadspen. And as long as Salvias aren’t standing in wet soil over winter, they should cope (unless the winter is unusually cold, that is).

Ornamental grasses look wonderful with many of the late-season plants we were shown. But they also look pretty stunning by themselves:

Now we have no excuses!

Thank you, Karen, for your inspiring talk – and your even more inspiring images, showing us just what can be achieved!


Summer show, 2017

Every year it seems that the summer show can’t get more colourful or more inspiring, and every year it does. There were some beautiful blooms,

like this hydrangea (which won best in show for its section, unsurprisingly), some perfect vegetables, amazing flower arrangements, amd mouthwatering cakes, bakes, pickles, jams, wines, fruit spirits…

It was, yet again, impressive just how so many of the entrants in the vegetable, fruit and flowers classes had achieved such good results given the rather peculiar weather we’ve been having.

But it’s still worth entering, even if you think your geranium or dahlia or marrow or garlic is not up to scratch – you might just be expecting impossible levels of perfection. The only thing we would prefer not to see is wildlife – caterpillars, basically, though slugs are also unwelcome. And, of course, there’s always the produce table to tempt!

Here’s a gallery from the day; just click on an image for a slideshow. Huge thanks to everyone who made the day such as success, and congratulations to all the entrants!

A day out

We have an annual trip, generally to a local garden of note. This year’s also involved a visit (and a delicious lunch) at a garden centre, Glyndwr Plants near Corwen. There was a definite run on the geraniums, and most of us left with at least something!

We then went on to an NGS garden, Aberclwyd Manor,

which opened exclusively for us. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t quite as cooperative, and there was intermittent light drizzle. One of the most interesting things about this garden was the use of texture and here is a gallery of images, many of which reflect that.

How many of us will be looking for interesting containers in which to grow sedums now?


The best gardens in Wales…

Our May meeting saw the BBC broadcaster and writer Tony Russell take us on a whirlwind tour of some of his personal favourites among Welsh gardens. He is also a coordinator for the North Wales Festival of Gardens, started last year, and many of the ones he chose were, ressuringly, in the north.

Plas Brondanw, image courtesy of

But not all… One of his personal favourites is Dyffryn, now run by the National Trust, near Cardiff, which has superb summer borders.

Dyffryn Gardens, image courtesy The National Trust

and there are other gardens for all seasons, such as the Dingle, great for autumn colour,

The Dingle, again from

and Erddig, near Wrexham, which he thinks is at its best in winter ‘when you can really see the structure of the garden’, with its topiary and pleached limes.

And there are also gardens reflecting all periods and types of garden design, from Dyffryn’s grand-tour-inspired recreation of a Pompeiian garden to modern designs such as those at Veddw. Really, we are very lucky – and many members will have left the meeting with a whole new appreciation of the sheer variety of wonderful Welsh gardens. And with lots of prospective visits in mind!


A member’s garden on the Mawddach

It’s always a risk, when you decide you’re going to open your garden to the Club. Not the gardens – the gardens are always beautiful. But the weather… well, sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. But a good garden is a good garden whatever the weather throws at us – and, after all, we’re gardeners. Weather doesn’t worry us.

Our April garden visit was to a house with one of the most sensational views that we have yet seen:

even if, as you can see, the incoming rain was an interesting feature. Fortunately the house has rather a lovely verandah, so it’s perfectly possible to enjoy the garden whatever the circumstances. But it would have been a shame not to have explored when there are such delights as these to find when you wander into the garden a little:

There are beehives up here, too, incidentally. Bet the honey is delicious!

The present owners have been working on the garden since they moved into the house in 2001, the last really keen gardener having moved out a couple of years earlier. One of their major tasks was terracing the top middle lawns, making access for a tractor mower.

Working to improve the lawns was also important. In addition, some trees were removed and others planted, like these fruit trees:

with, in the background, the view along the Mawddach estuary towards the sea. And there were many other jobs as well, like consolidating a ruined outbuilding, improving access, creating a wood store, working to improve parking – and, of course, planting.

Here’s a small gallery of some of the other delights we found:

Thank you so much for the chance to visit such a lovely garden!