24 May 2014

Matthews' visit to Garden Club. May 2014.

Our club friends, Matthews' Nurseries, attended Heathlands for this meeting, instead of us going to them. Whenever we went before,  the coach was so packed with plants, it was difficult to get them all in.  This worked well, the weather was breezy but not cold, so the plants could go outside where we could all browse. It was all hands on deck when the van arrived and the plants were soon laid out for all to see.

Plants for sale
Ken & his assistant did a sterling job, taking the money & bagging up the plants. Their mental arithmetic got good exercise!
The plants were gorgeous, as usual, with fuchsias, pelargoniums, Petunias, and trailing basket plants of all sorts, with many others.

Plants & money change hands.
Here are some of the plants for sale:

Pretty Pelargoniums.

Some more.
Decisions as to which ones to buy!
When most of the buying was done, everybody retired to the hall, where the tables & chairs had been laid out so the members could sit around and chat, also listening to the announcements from Peter while they drunk their tea & nibbled on a biscuit. His announcement about the new newsletter being available resulted in a flurry of sales, I am glad to say.

This was a very different meeting and I think it met with everybodies' approval, giving us all a chance to chat for a change. 

14 May 2014


As a fan of Great Comp, I'm glad you've discovered it. Do make a note in your diary about their Summer Show on Saturday & Sunday 9th and 10th August 2014. There will be specialist nurseries, ornamental gardenware suppliers and a select group of local artists and craftspeople. Music is supplied by jazz ensemble ‘Strings & Things’ and ‘Pimm’s’ is available on the lawn. Teas, lunches and delicious homemade cakes are available from the Old Dairy Tearoom. We love the gentle festive holiday atmosphere generated by the Show (enhanced be theJazz Band and the Pimms). The quality and variety of the plants is excellent. on May 2014 outing, Millbrook Garden Centre & Great Comp garden

11 May 2014

May 2014 outing, Millbrook Garden Centre & Great Comp garden.

The weather forecast was really bad for the day, so everybody came prepared for the worst. Thankfully, it was not too bad, although very windy and chilly.
Our first stop was at Millbrook Garden Centre, in Gravesend, Kent. It was very large, with a good variety of bedding, basket & container plants, vegetable plants and herbs. There were statues, pots, hanging baskets and a lot more. A lot of the members took advantage of the cafe for refreshments.




Everybody took advantage of the goodies available. I especially liked the solar lights that were for sale, to replace some of my "old faithfuls" that are rather coming apart after several years being out in all weathers, although still shining bravely on  when the weather is bright. I also purchased a gorgeous Bougainvillea  plant to replace an old one. One of the members, Sylviane, found a rather large plant she had been searching for, but hadn't been able to find until then. She purchased that, but managed to resist the lovely little donkey statues that would have set her back a few hundred pounds. Here she is, taking it to the coach:

The coach was well loaded when everybody had finished putting their bags in, this is only one part of it.

When everybody had re-boarded we carried on to Great Comp Gardens, near Sevenoaks. The journey was down tiny, windy roads and the trees were touching the coach on both sides, as well as overhead at times. Needless to say, it was a sedate ride there most of the way.

Great Comp Garden, near Sevenoaks, has built up an enviable reputation over the years as being one of Kent’s finest gardens to visit.
It is a wonderfully quirky garden showcasing 7 acres of beautiful and rare plants surrounding a 17th century manor house.  This hidden gem of a garden is home to an Italian Garden, romantic ruins, enchanting woodland walks and the Old Dairy Tearooms, where a lot of us went for our lunches.
In Spring this tranquil garden had erupted into bloom with numerous Magnolias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, underplanted with large drifts of Helebores and bulbs. The colours of the plants were amazing, there were pinks, white, yellow & vibrant oranges. Beautiful! Here are examples:

There were many statues as well, both metal & stone:

The thing which fascinated everybody most, I think, were the follies. They looked like they had always been there, but in fact, were put there only from 1976 by Roderick & Joyce Cameron , the then owners. They dug the ironstone out of the garden, mostly by themselves, made the foundations, and put them up. Here are a few:

They even had a coat of arms and gargoyles!  See below:

Later in the year, the summer brings warmth and extravagance from one of the most comprehensive and exciting collections of Salvias in Europe, the National Collection is housed there.  Ornamental grasses in great variety punctuate the colourful borders and combine beautifully with the  myriad colours of late autumn.
The garden is the delightful creation of Roderick and Joy Cameron who moved to Great Comp in 1957.  They opened the garden to the public for charity in the early 1960s.  The gardens are now run by the Curator William Dyson, assisted by two full time gardeners, 1 part time gardener and a small team of volunteers.  It is an amazing place, throughout the year they hold events, both garden and music related.
 There was a spectacular rainbow to the right hand side of the coach to see us on our way home and the rain didn't reach us until we got to Dagenham, we were so lucky.

2 May 2014

April 2014 meeting.

Before the meeting proper started, Peter gave out some notices, the main one being that next months meeting will be earlier than usual, as the last Monday in the month is a bank holiday. Therefore, the date is May 19th. He is hoping the weather is fine so we can have it outside, as Matthews' nursery is coming to bring plants for sale to us, instead of us having to travel there. There are contingency plans in place in case of it being wet.  It will also be an opportunity for all of us to have a chat to each other, and to get to know the new members, of which there are several.  He also reminded us that some members hadn't paid for the next outing, and the date was fast approaching.  We do get a little lie in on that day, as we do not meet until 9.30 am, later than usual.  It is the "Garden Centre" trip, starting off at Great Compton, the date is 10th May.
The competition fuchsias were available for sale, the variety this year is "Garden News", a hardy upright  plant with double salmon-pink and magenta flowers.

He then introduced  Dave and John , who are members of several Fuchsia societies and show their plants regularly. They have talked at Greenfingers' meetings several times before, and their talks are always entertaining. This was no exception, a lot of useful tips were given and it was as entertaining as ever. They bought several display fuchsias to illustrate the various ways of using the plants, bushes, standards and in hanging baskets, also a lot of small plants for sale. Dave has bred a hardy fuchsia called "My Grandchildren" which should be going into the garden centres soon. He has also won a prize for the largest flower head with this  one:
Fuchsia" Windhopper"
They bought a selection of flower heads to show some of the different ones that are available, varying from this huge one to the tiny single triphylla.
A selection of different flower heads.
Propagators were demonstrated, with different ways to make them, recycling where possible. The simplest one was made of a cutting in a small 2 inch pot, placed inside a clear plastic bag, and then another 2 inch pot on top.
A selection of recycled propagators.
They advised rooting several cuttings & growing them on together to make a good, large plant in one season. Typically, I had just rooted cuttings of "Autumnal" and "Tom West"together, which I don't usually do, but decided to try this time, and spent some considerable time separating them & potting them up individually, only a few days before the meeting!  I may put them back together when they need re-potting.  Composts, feeding and watering were discussed, also the use of moss added to the base of the pot when potting on, was advised. This maintains moisture, although they stressed that more fuchsias were lost to over-watering than under-watering, so not to overdo it. When they took cuttings, they only gave a short spray of water to each one. They feed with half strength feed at each watering, rather than feeding every week or so. Fuchsias are heavy feeders but are not fussy as to the type of feed they have, Tomorite or Miracle Grow were favoured by them.
While Dave was demonstrating how they took cuttings, I asked them about cutting off the netting of commercial plugs, this is an on-going debate in the club (see August blog or November newsletter).  They said they always cut theirs off, as they are sure it does inhibit the growth of the plants, but it needs to be done carefully so it does not cause any damage.
Dave selling the plants in the tea break.
Another tip they gave us, was how to get a trailing fuchsia that is not trailing, to do so. Quite simply, they advised adding a clothes peg to the lower leaves. Within a week, they should trail better.  I have tried this a few days ago on my hanging basket of hardy fuchsias, I'm sure you will recognise the varieties. Much to my surprise, nobody has commented on it yet, perhaps they think it should be like that!
Hilda's "Peg Fuchsias"?
I will report on its' progress in the next blog and newsletter.
Unfortunately, John was not feeling too well and needed to sit down for some of the time, although he and Dave still made a good team. We wish him better.
All too soon the meeting was over, although I am sure that Dave & John could have carried on, were it not for the time constraints of the hall. We all thoroughly enjoyed the evening.