4 April 2014

March 2014 meeting.

This month's speaker was Jim Buttress, a great friend of Green-fingers Garden Club. 
Before he started speaking, Peter gave out a few notices and welcomed the new members to the club. The fuchsia plants for the competition were supposed to be distributed at this meeting, but unfortunately, were not ready. They will be there next month when, appropriately, Dave and John will be doing an evening workshop, called "It's Fuchsia Time".
The next outing, to Great Compton Gardens and a garden centre in Kent, will be on May 10th. We get an hours lie-in, as the pick-up is not until 9.30am.

Jim Buttress & Peter deep in conversation.

Jim started his talk by telling us about the Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society which celebrated it's 100th  anniversary last year.  Jim assisted in doing a garden at Chelsea to help celebrate the occasion.  They also run a debt counselling service which totalled 2 million pounds of debts last year, employing 4 full time ladies to staff it.
The charity is part funded by two gardens which were bequeathed by their  previous owners, one of whom is now deceased. York Gate is one, the garden is owned by Perennial - originally known as the Gardeners' Royal Benevolent Society - a charity that helps those in need from the horticultural profession, by providing advice and financial support to arborists, gardeners, plantsmen and others associated with gardening, who have fallen on hard times. York Gate was bequeathed to them in 1994 by  Sybil Spencer, who had lived and gardened there for more than forty years with her husband and son, who both died prematurely. Today the garden is a visitor flagship for the work that Perennial does helping horticulturalists. 
The other garden is Fullers Mill, near West Stow. Bernard Tickner moved to Fullers Mill in 1958 and created the garden you see today from rough scrub and woodland.  In 2004, he and his late wife Bess formed the The Fullers Mill Trust, a registered Charity, which was established to manage the garden and to ensure its future. At the beginning of 2013 Fullers Mill Garden was gifted to Perennial (The Gardeners Royal Benevolent Society) but remains fully funded by its creator Bernard Tickner.
Although Jim retired from judging a few years ago, he has been persuaded out of retirement by the BBC. His newest venture is judging in a new TV series based on the "Bake Off" series. We've had baking, we've had sewing and, surprise, surprise, now we have gardening. Never ones to under use a good format, the BBC are launching a new contest to find the nation's best horticulturalists.
Presented by Fern Britton, six-part competition Grow, Make, Eat: The Great Allotment Challenge will see nine pairs of enthusiastic gardeners pulling on their trusty gloves and sewing the seeds of success (or not, as the case made be).
Each duo will be filmed as they toil in their allotments every week, demonstrating their skills in growing vegetables and making jams and chutneys. But whose preserves will claim first prize at the village fair and which couple will dig themselves a deep hole?
Instead of labouring under the watchful eyes of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the green-fingered hopefuls will be trying to impress three experts – horticulturalist Jim Buttress, floral arrangement expert Jonathan Moseley and preserves specialist Thane Price – who will weed out the weak and select one pair for elimination at the end of each episode. The action starts on April 15th this year on BBC 2. They have all ready been signed up for a second series.

Jim has assisted in building three gardens for display at Chelsea, on behalf of Homebase, the only large conglomerate to set up apprenticeships for horticultural staff.

Than it was time for tea and the raffle to be called. These were some of the beautiful prizes:

Some of the raffle prizes.
After the break Jim bought us up to date with Tom Hart-Dyke's news from Lullingstone Castle. Prince Charles recently visited, arriving by helicopter. He met all the volunteer staff and thoroughly enjoyed his visit, staying much longer than he was supposed to and saying he was going to return again.
On 28th & 29th of June there is going to be a display of 35 vintage fire engines, one of which was the first fire engine ever made, by one of his relatives. It is being returned to them from where it has been stored for decades, and presented by Miranda Hart, the actress, who is Tom's cousin.

Before Jim closed, he told us about the Britain In Bloom competition, it is having it's 50th anniversary. There is to be a garden at Chelsea to celebrate.
He will also be at Hyde Hall Gardens on  July 30th to the 31st, for the flower show.

It was a most enjoyable evening, and we reluctantly wended our respective ways home at the end,  looking forward to next months meeting.