22 April 2013

April 2013 visit to Beth Chatto gardens & Matthew's nursery.

The weather for the trip was typically April showers, with wind, showers & occasionally a glimpse of the sun, it was also quite chilly. However, it didn't dampen our spirits, everybody enjoyed themselves. Our first port of call was the Beth Chatto gardens, Colchester, where most of us headed for the cafe to refresh ourselves before exploring the garden, of which there is 5 acres. Around the cafe is the gravel garden which emulates a winding dried-up river bed. There were grasses with colourful flowers peeping out from amongst the gravelThe nursery had a good variety of plants for sale, mainly perennials. Several purchases were made by club members.

The sign at the entrance.

A gentle descent took us into the dramatic water gardens. Four large ponds have been created, complete with quacking ducks and moorhens. It is very tranquil with the bees humming and birds singing. Several cheeky robins were flitting around and singing us a song, their breasts very bright red. There were numerous benches amongst the edges of the lakes where we could sit and enjoy the scenery and the sounds of running water, birds and bees. One of the ponds had a rowing boat moored on it and the reflection of that and the overhanging planting around the pond made it very atmospheric.

Rowing boat reflection.
 One of the other ponds had several "Skunk Cabbage" plants around the edge.

"Skunk Cabbage" plants around the edge of the pond.
The woods echo a medieval tapestry,  embroidered with drifts of species daffodils, scillas, fritillaries, primroses and Helibores, there is also a very beautiful silver birch tree amongst the other trees. Here are some of the club members enjoying the scenery:
Club members enjoying the scenery.
Just as we were getting onto the coach to leave, the heavens opened and large hailstones landed on those of us who hadn't made it inside. However, it was short lived and we headed to Matthews nursery in Roydon Hamlet to browse and do some serious spending. It was a hive of industry there, plants were being potted up and hanging baskets were being made. There was a conveyor belt system used to put the potted up plants into their trays ready for sale. 
Assembly line.

The massive greenhouse floor was covered in trays of plants and over-head, 14 inch baskets were being hung from the steel girders ready for sale, many were to fulfil existing orders. One staff member was making up the baskets and another was hanging them up and watering them with the drip watering system, each basket had its own dripper. I would love the job of assembling the baskets!
Hanging baskets being assembled.
We could have done with a lot longer there, time passed very quickly. The staff had kindly made refreshments for us, including delicious cakes. 
Peter, Susie, Kathy, Tracey and David.
 David is the driver, Tracie is his partner, they are engaged and getting married soon.
Everybody had made a lot of purchases, Peter had warned us before that everything had to fit into the boot, nothing was to go inside the coach, so David had to re-organise his boot space to accommodate all the plants.
Any more to go?

This was supposed to be the compartment where the oil and water for the coach is stored, but had to be requisitioned for the plants, the other ones were full up.
The ride home was uneventful, apart from the slow traffic during the rush hour, as is usually the case. 
When we arrived back to Dagenham everything was disgorged from the coach and we all wended our ways home, having collected our purchases from the pavement.

11 April 2013

Millie in the news!

Millie Winter, one of the founder members of the Greenfingers Gardening club in Dagenham, has been in the news.  Gemma, one of the members, sent a letter to the Amateur Gardening magazine and it was printed, complete with a nice photo. Here it is: