9 December 2013

December 2013 outing to London lights.

London was dressed in all it's glory for our visit, somebody must have told them we were coming (along with many thousands of others). The pavements were heaving with people everywhere the eye could see. 
After boarding the coach we set off to see the lights on our way to Master's Fish & Chip shop. The meal was delicious, with prawns, gherkins and crusty bread and butter, along with a welcome pot of tea to start with, followed by the very tasty fish & chips. It was cooked to perfection with crispy batter and lovely fat chips.
Nearing the end of the meal.
After the meal we re-boarded the coach and headed towards the West End to see the lights around Knightsbridge and from there towards Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland. Here are some of the decorations:
Harrods in Knightsbridge.

A beautifully dressed store.
Down a side street.

We arrived at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and were given an hour to look around. Some of the members elected to stay on the coach, as it was so busy. Unfortunately, it was so crowded the gates had been closed to further visitors for safety reasons. The estimated queuing time was nearly two hours, according to one of the security guards. Needless to say the area outside was heaving, I think they had transferred the crowd problem from inside to outside . There was no point in waiting around, so Loretta and I squeezed our way through the crowd and headed off to walk around the perimeter. At least I got some photos.
The fairground.
More brightly lit rides.
Can you see the swings on the tall blue tower?
The swings went up and down the tower, I don't think it would have been a good idea to have eaten for a while!
A spooky tree.
Father Christmas is arriving early.
The tall colourful ride on the left went round & round with the passengers on the car on the end. I was quite glad I didn't attempt it.
When we arrived back on the coach we  were each given a little goody box with a mince pie, some sweets and a small cracker. That was a really nice touch. The next port of call was Canary Wharf, here there were many more lights. We stopped where it was fairly quiet and the crew got off, re-appearing with a tray of sherry glasses. That was a very welcome gesture. From there we went back to Dagenham and home. It had been a really enjoyable trip.

28 November 2013

November 2013 meeting

The November meeting, as usual, was a social event. Everybody brought contributions for the buffet and a good spread appeared. At the beginning of the evening Peter had a chat with us and gave out some notices, thanking the many helpers of the club, also stressing about the usual problem of getting the outing balances paid on time. They need to be in 3 weeks before the date of the outing. He also asked for members help in collecting items for the meetings and bringing them to the hall, as he and Kathy are no longer spring chickens!
The next years programme was given to all the members, together with the form for next years subs. These are staying the same, at £3 per month.

Peter doing his talk.
A presentation was made to he & Kathy from the members to thank them for all their hard work during the year.

The presentation to Peter & Kathy.
Following the more formal part of the evening the buffet was declared open and everybody headed for the food, of which there was a good selection. The tea makers had the evening off, as there were various selections of pop and squashes on hand.
Laura, the singer for the evening, had arrived and started her songs whilst people were eating. She ended up with "The twelve days of Christmas", complete with audience participation doing the actions. Here everybody is doing the pear tree:
A partridge in a pear tree!
Peter will be busy doing his horn playing,  carolling for the Salvation Army at various venues between now and Christmas. His favourite place is Marks & Spencers at Westfield, as it is inside in the warm, no standing on drafty street corners, and they keep all the band supplied with hot drinks.
The evening closed and everybody headed for home.

24 November 2013

November visit to Van Hage nursery and Finchingfield, Essex.

The morning was cold and bright for the outing so we were all wrapped up well. The journey to Van Hage in Ware, was uneventful. As we entered the gates we saw the sign that said they had an ice skating rink there, the driver commented that he didn't do hospital visits so we had better leave well alone!
Betty & Cynthia with the massive reindeer at the entrance.
 It was a veritable winter wonderland inside, with almost every Christmas decoration, trees and lights you could imagine.
Just some of the Christmas figures.

Deer amongst the trees.
The ice skating ring was doing a roaring trade, with families out in force. There were several  young children doing really well on their ice skates.
Ice skating with Mum.
We all had a really interesting visit, many of us stocking up on food for the birds. They had massive suet balls there, reduced to 10p, as well as  seed and feeders. The range of things for sale was amazing, from plants, garden sundries, seeds, candles, decorations and gifts galore. There was also a large pet department with a very big resident moggy in it.
Jeannette peeping out from the giant reindeer.

At the allotted time we all boarded the coach again to make our way to Finchingfield and a tasty meal at Bosworths Tea Room, suitably decorated for the occasion.
Members await their meals.
Finchingfield is a village situated in the Braintree district of Essex. It is in the north-west of the county, which is a primarily rural area. It is situated approximately six miles from Thaxted and somewhat further from the larger towns of Saffron Walden & Braintree. 
Sign on the roadside.
Ducks hoping for dinner.

Finchingfield is often called the most beautiful village in England and it is regarded as a 'picture-postcard' village and one of the most photographed in England with a duck pond and village green surrounded by Georgian and medieval cottages; a church, St John the Baptist Church, which is on the hill; an 18th century windmill; three public houses; tea rooms; a hall; a primary school; and a doctor's surgery.

Some of the beautiful old cottages.

Finchingfield has often appeared in television programmes and films and in television and film commercials. Also it has been seen frequently adorning chocolate boxes, biscuit tins and other quality products.
Finchingfield was the later home and resting place of Dodie Smith, the author of several books including The Hundred and One Dalmations written in 1956. Dodie Smith lived in The Barretts at Howe Street, a hamlet in Finchingfield Parish.
We had a lovely lunch there, a carvery with a choice of 3 meats, lots of tasty vegetables and the biggest Yorkshire puddings I have ever seen, with all the appropriate sauces. This was followed by a choice of desserts and tea or coffee. Everything was delicious.
A close-up of some of the decorations.
Once we had finished the meal some of us strolled around the village until the coach came to pick us up. The drizzle started and the light began to fade, very quickly it was nearly dark, so it arrived just in time. There was much snoozing on the way home!

5 November 2013

October 2013 meeting.

We had some really wild & windy weather for this meeting, but in spite of that, it was quite well attended. The forecasts were correct in that they foretold of  gales, with gusts of up to 100 miles an hour in places, on Sunday night & Monday morning.  Everybody was advised to "batten down the hatches" and move as much as possible to cover.  Luckily, it had calmed down a lot by the evening. Unfortunately, it was too late for the speaker, Steve Edney, who is the Head Gardener of the Secret Garden of Sandwich, to be able to attend. His small village was virtually cut off, also the Dartford Bridge was closed, leading to severe congestion on the roads. He rang Peter in the afternoon, when it was obvious he would not be able to make it, to express his regrets. That left Peter with some quick thinking to do as to how to fill the evening. He turned to his trusty computer to sort some photos to show us. 
The first ones were of Chenies Manor, where we will be returning to next year, as everybody enjoyed that visit.
Chenies Manor.

 Following that he showed us some photos of his favourite garden plants, here they are:
Magnolia Grandiflora
Daphne Odora
Hardy geranium.
Other plants he mentioned were Tradescantia "Maidens Blush", the Ladybird poppy, Alstromerias and, of course, Hucheras.

As well as speaking about his plants, he gave out general notices and information about the forthcoming visits. He asked everybody to ensure they paid the balance of the trips in good time, at least 3 weeks before, as the coach companies have to be paid ahead of time.

A list was passed around everybody for them to put on it what food they were bringing to the next meeting, as November has no outside speaker, it is an informal social evening with a buffet.

The meeting closed and everybody wended their ways home.

10 October 2013


ITS BACK FOR THE 3RD TIME               
                                                        THE HANDMADE MARKET
                                                        AT THE FANSHAWE COMMUNITY HALL
                                                                   BARNMEAD ROAD
                                                                            RM9 5DX       (behind fanshawe health centre

                                                       TIME OPENING AT 10 AM - 2 PM

FREE ENTRY                                    REFRESHMENTS                                AMPLE PARKING 
          we have gathered together the best of our local crafters to put on the handmade market  

4 October 2013

September 2013 meeting.

This months speaker was Tim Carter, from Longhouse Plants. He has a nursery which grows & sells hardy plants, it is situated in Noak Hill, Romford. They are now closed, and looking forward to a well earned holiday. They re-open in March.
The hall begins to fill up.
Tim speaking about one of his plants. 

As you can see, he brought a lot of plants with him, all of which emphasized the amount of colour which can still be around at this time of the year. He gave a brief account of his career at the start of his talk.  A short introduction to each plant was given as he moved along the table.
A lot of plants.
During the interval the raffle was called and members were able to purchase the plants, still having time for their cuppas and biscuits. 
Before Tim continued with his talk, Peter reminded everybody about the outings and the necessity of paying the balance of the costs at least 3 weeks before, as the coach operators need their money earlier now.
After the break Tim continued with his talk, advising which plants go together to give the maximum impact, also telling us about how he uses the various grasses in his garden.
It was a most informative and entertaining evening, the time passed all too quickly and it was soon time to go home.

23 September 2013

Waterperry Gardens, Oxford.

The weather was quite kind to us on Saturday, most of us came prepared for rain, but thankfully, only a few spots fell. 
The sign at the entrance.
It was a most enjoyable day, Waterperry is famous for it's late summer borders and Asters. They were certainly spectacular, the colours were mainly lavender & purple because of the abundance of the Asters, but really bright yellow, statuesque plants had been added at the back of the borders to create contrast and height.

Part of the  colourful border.

There was a small museum in the grounds which contained many quirky things, from Ronny Barker's till,  through an antique tricycle, a model steam train  and a hammock and rubber wellies for sheep!
Loretta about to open the till.
The till opened, showing the very old cash inside.
It did indeed nearly take your fingers off when opened, as was famously shown in the T.V. series.
The back of the till with Ronnie Barker's picture.
Apparently, Ronnie Barker used to have a small garden centre, which was where the till came from. He sold it on for £50 (at least that was what the man in the museum told us, but he was a bit of a joker, so could have been making it up). The sheep's wellies however, were genuine,there was an advert. for them from Dunlop displayed. They were used to try to prevent foot rot.

What all the best dressed sheep were wearing!
Here are some other interesting items:

The ancient tricycle & part of the dolls pram.
The model train.
There were numerous old farm implements and lots of curious looking tools, it was a most interesting place. The sheep's hammock was used when they needed their feet attending to, not to have a rest in. They were put into it upside-down.
Outside there were plants for sale, also home-made preserves and gorgeous looking cakes. A tombola stall was raising funds. There was an old church in the grounds with some of the oldest stained glass in it's windows known in the U.K.
The cafe in the grounds was not to be recommended if you were in a hurry, it took nearly one & a half hours to get lunch. Although the lunch was very nice, the serving staff were all new and seemed to be either falling over themselves or staring into space while the queue became longer and longer.
Part of the grounds.
When we returned to the coach we headed for Bicester garden centre and shopping complex. Here it had Hobbycraft and Lakeland stores amongst others, and most of us seemed to purchase some things from there.
We returned to the coach at the allotted time and headed for home. Thankfully, there were no holdups and we returned safely.

22 September 2013



22 August 2013

August 2013 meeting,

August is the month when we have the fuchsia competition, and this year was no exception. The only difference was, we had an external judge this time.  Dominic Shields did the judging and gave us a potted history of his career. He has been a frequent visitor to Greenfingers Gardening Club in the past. After horticultural college he did various gardening related jobs before opening his own  nursery, but it eventually failed due to the big companies undercutting prices. He did two jobs to keep his family fed , but eventually had to stop and take stock of where his life was going. His wife suggested he did gardening and landscaping, which he loved anyway, and it was a great success. In fact, it grew so much, he had to stop taking on new clients. His stepson joined him and they shared the work, then separated the estates where they worked into two, each with their own geographical area.  
Dominic examines a fuchsia.
During the tea break he examined the plants carefully, before deciding on which were first, second and third place. As he announced them he gave the reasons why he had chosen them in that order.
First place went to Christine Cregan, second to Hazel Smith and third to Mary Tydeman   .
From Lt. to Rt: Mary Tydeman, Hazel Smith and Christine Cregan.
One of the exhibits was a very dead plant which was just a dried twig (Peter did say to return them dead or alive!). The grower said it had just popped out of its pot one day, and on examination had no roots. This had happened to several of the other members too. Dominic examined it closely, looking for signs of Vine Weavel, but found none. Peter thought it may be due to the presence of the pot in which the cutting  had been grown in. This is supposed to allow the roots to grow through it, but that may not have happened. Discussion followed as to whether it would be a good idea to cut the material away before planting, but Dominic said this would be risky, as it may damage the roots. 
I have just had a thought, it may have been a squirrel which excavated it, looking for somewhere to bury his nuts (or to dig them up), destroying the roots  in the process. I have found a few up-rooted plants in my garden, accompanied by a peanut in its shell sometimes. Anyway, that's my theory!
A very dead Fuchsia!,
Peter gave a brief report about his open garden, which had been the previous day. Not a good idea, they realised afterwards, much too tiring. Anyway, they had about 100 plus visitors and raised about £550 to £600 for charity. His lawn needed a "pick me up" and somebody recommended liquid Miracle Grow sprayed on with a hose-end applicator. He used it about three times, and the lawn was greatly improved as a result, much to his great relief. I must try it on mine.
He is going to trial some new plants over winter, especially a new Petunia called Zero Petunia, which is supposed to be winter hardy. We will see!

31 July 2013


sylview has left a new comment on your post "Parham Garden Show. July 2013.":

I noticed quite a few plants of Hordeum Jubutum for sales at Parham. I bought one last year on an outing with Green fingers but I can't remember where. What I do remember is, I didn't pay anywhere near the price they were charging!
I really love it and it did survive last winter. Mine had already lost it's pink tinge when we went to Parham. I wish I had loads o

Posted by sylview to GARDEN FRIENDS at 31 July 2013 16:29

July 2013 meeting.

The meeting this month was all about Clematis, and  Pauline and Gerald, of Priorswood Clematis Nursery, were there to educate us about them. They had bought along a lot of plants to show us also to sell, it made a very colourful display.
Pauline with the plants.
They gave us a lot of hints and tips for planting and pruning  them. Soil preparation is very important as they are going to be in that same position for many years if they are started off correctly and cared for.  Gerald says to dig a large hole, much bigger than the plant, put the top soil and sub soil in different piles and add manure to both, mixing it up well. Fork the sides and base of the hole to ensure good drainage & water well. plant the clematis deeper than it is in the pot, fill in with the soils and heel in firmly. Keep well watered and fed. They had bags of feed for sale, also catalogues with all the varieties of clematis and their care, a good buy for anybody who was still concerned about how to look after their own plants.
Pauline had a good tip for planting into pots, she said to use a large pot, about 18 inches to 2 feet deep, line it with foil, shiny side to the pot, then thick layers of newspaper, finally multi-purpose compost. This helps the pots from drying out.
Every year the compost will need to be topped up with fresh.

Gerald with their catalogue.

After the tea break, during which time the plants were on sale and the raffle was called, Gerald showed us some photos of the various varieties. there were a lot of different colours and forms, some like little bells. He stressed that when choosing a plant, to bear in mind the position it will occupy and when you want it to flower. Pruning was discussed, as it was causing a lot of confusion among many of the members.
It was a very thought-provoking evening and we all came away with new knowledge about Clematis.

22 July 2013

Parham Garden Show. July 2013.

As we wended our way to Parham in the middle of a gorgeous heatwave, the driver decided to take the scenic route, he had been sitting in traffic jams on the M25 all week, so decided to go the country way. I must say, it made a change, and was definitely better than sitting on the motorway breathing all the fumes. My son and his family live in Brighton, so I got to see all the pretty little villages I had only seen the signposts for previously. It made a good start to the day and only added a short time to the journey.
We were the only coach there, so it was not too crowded, there were just enough people to make it interesting and create an atmosphere. The house was lovely. It was divided into two sections, one part for the family living there, and the other open to the public. We were not allowed to take photos, so I'm afraid I couldn't get any from the interior (being a good law-abiding citizen)! However, here is the outside:

Parham House.

There were lots of stalls selling plants and sundries, the local Scout troupe were doing a roaring trade, ferrying the purchases to peoples' cars. They also had a plant creche so plants could be left there for people to collect at the end of the day.

A loaded trolley to be transported to a car.
The Scout band was playing music throughout the day, alternating with another local band, they were both really good and added to the atmosphere.

Here are some of the plants that were for sale:
Erygngium 'Sapphire Blue"
Delphinium "Coral Sunset".
Albizia julibrissin "Silk Tree".

This looks a bit like a fern when it is small, and will take about 2 years to flower. It is hardy down to minus 15, the label says. Unfortunately, the mother plant was not for sale, but I did buy a baby.

Hordeun Jubatum.
Although not obvious in the photo, this grass had a lovely red tinge to the feathery seed heads, most attractive. It self seeds as well, so I thought it would be a good buy.
There were hoards more plants and sundries, too many to show here, so it made for a very interesting day. The marque did a roaring trade in lunches , snacks and drinks and there were also various exotic burger stalls.
Lt. to Rt:  Anne B, Annabell, Susie & Kathy.
After an initial walk around, members headed for a shady spot and some refreshments.
The house had the largest walled garden I have ever seen, it was huge. Part of the garden is undergoing a change of use, from the area where the compost and leaf bins used to be stored, to growing squashes & marrows. This was accomplished by clearing old logs and perennial weeds then bringing in two Tamworth pigs to clear the area, all for regular cabbage and apples! The fruits will be harvested in September, leaving the ground fertile & weed free. The aim is to grow more spring flowering bulbs to increase bio-diversity.

In another part of the garden were these water lilies growing under a grating, they looked most effective.
There was a small church in the grounds which was serving refreshments, there was also a raffle in aid of the church funds. When I first went in I noticed heads poking out of the gated pews, and thought people were praying, but it turned out that the pews were being used as an extension to the cafe, and they were actually consuming tea and cakes!
By now the day was drawing to a close and we all wended our way back to the coach to load our purchases into the luggage compartment. We went back via the scenic route again, as there was yet more trouble on the M25. No wonder it is known as "The biggest car park in Britain!"