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Reports on the 2020/21 Season of Lectures

10th March 2020
RHS Wisley: Horticulture and New Developments – Emma Allen

Emma showed us many of the recent developments at Wisley with an interesting presentation. Some of the new areas well worth a visit are the exotic garden, the wisteria tunnel (75m long), the top terrace bedding, the canal shores which have been planted up with hibiscus and topiary, ivy used for standards and decorative ‘wall panels’, the heather garden, the riverside, etc. So lots of work for their 100 strong team of gardeners and 100+ volunteers. Wisley are building a National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning including a Wellbeing Garden. So much as ever to see at RHS Wisley.

All other lectures scheduled for 2020/21 season were cancelled due to coronavirus.

Reports on the 2019/2020 Season of Lectures

12th March 2019
Propagation: New Plants for Free – Tom Cole

An excellent lecture on propagation providing many useful  tips on seed sowing e.g. using coir compost with vermiculite. If sowing indoors make sure it is not too warm and that there are sufficient light levels or else your seedlings will be leggy. He spoke about when you can take cuttings as these can either be soft, semi- soft or hardwood cuttings. Also included were layering and budding which included the use of very sharp knives so watch those fingers! Lots of helpful diagrams and Tom made it sound so easy. It was amusing when Tom mentioned how long a plant would take to establish using any of these methods as there were slight groans from the audience when he mentioned that it may take 2 to 3 years to flower!

9th April 2019
Climbers and Wall Shrubs – Tim Carter

We were joined by Tim, our local nurseryman from Long House Plants, who gave us much food for thought with a presentation of many and varied climbers and wall shrubs. He outlined the different methods used by plants for climbing – both self-attaching and those need tieing in – and discussed various supports we could use. Many wall shrubs were mentioned, including the useful chaenomeles (quince) which will thrive on a north or east facing wall or fence. There was so much information in this new talk, that we will think about asking Tim to come again, perhaps with an evening dedicated to clematis.

14th May 2019
Central Royal Parks – Jim Buttress

Once again Jim enthralled and entertained us with his life story and tales of his varied experiences in the gardening world. Always one to tell a good story, Jim had us all laughing at some of his adventures as he progressed through his career in horticulture. From humble beginnings, his work with the Royal Parks in Central London, his time as an RHS Judge and his work with Britain in Bloom, Jim  has definitely led an interesting life.

8th October 2019
Story of the Pemberton and Bentall Roses at Havering-atte-Bower

Laura Hill started the evening by telling us a little about the work of St Francis Hospice and giving us the background to the Pemberton Family. This led on to the development of the Pemberton Roses and the Bentall Roses, a fascinating story with information on many of the roses and the hunt to complete the collection. Following this, Andrew Bentall explained how Jack’s Place Charity came about and its development helping lonely, depressed and anxious people through gardening therapy.

12th November 2019
Upminster Court and Gardens – Lois Amos

A very informative and lively talk from Lois who had lectured at Upminster Court and assisted with the changes when it went into private ownership in 2006. Built in 1905/6 for the Williams family in grand style with croquet lawns, Italianate garden, orchards, glasshouses, stable block, etc. over 33 acres. The site was reduced and the hall used by the LBH as a respite care home, for training and a nursery and for teaching students from Capel Manor. Lois had ensured listing of 76 trees in the grounds and the garden is the only Grade II listed garden in the LBH. During renovations since 2006, many of the original features (windows, doors, door furniture, plasterwork, ceilings and floors, have been restored. A pity it is no longer part of the annual Open House programme.

10th December 2019
Get that Exotic Look – Nina Lewis

Nina invited us to try growing many exotic plants in our own gardens – she successfully grows them in Woodford Green. These fall into three categories: tropical plants such as canna, ginger, etc. which need lots of water and food; desert plants such as agave, cordyline, palms and succulents which need hot dry conditions (preferably potted in terracotta) and Mediterranean plants which include the more usual plants we grow. Why not set yourself a challenge next year and try to grow something different? Nina has kindly sent us two plants lists: one of exotic plants  and one of plants  she grows in her garden.

14th January 2020
What do I do with this Space? - Darren Lerigo

A very entertaining and informative talk from a working gardener who specialises in topiary, pruning and bee-loving plants (best is helenium). Darren gave out a seedball to everyone – a clay ball containing wild flower seeds and mentioned buying seeds from realseeds.co.uk (no F1 hybrids or genetically modified seeds). To achieve a garden with less maintenance, Darren recommended mulching, improving the soil, planting perennials not annuals, reducing the lawn, using bigger pots and trying to see weeds as flowers. If you missed the talk, you also missed the chance to buy some Japanese garden tools and garden hats from recycled material.  Dareen has sent us two contacts for garden compost Dalefoot  and Melcourt


Reports on the 2018/19 Season of Lectures

th March 2018
History of the NGS and Essex Open Gardens - Linda and Neil Holdaway

Well, after our February break, our March event was very well supported with about 140 people turning out to hear Linda and Neil Holdaway tell us about the 91 year history of the National Garden Scheme (NGS) and some of the Essex gardens that are open this year for us to visit. What beautiful photos to tempt us out. We learned about the many charities supported by the NGS including MacMillan Nurses, Marie Curie, etc. and were able to pick up a copy of the Essex Open Gardens booklet. A very interesting and informative talk and many trips to note in our diaries for 2018.

10th April 2018
30-360 acres: the delights and possibilties of RHS Garden Hyde Hall - Robert Brett

Rob Brett, Curator of RHS Hyde Hall for the last three years, gave background about the RHS and the development of the new RHS Bridgewater garden near Manchester. Rob was very enthusiastic about the many changes that have taken place since the Robinson family donated the Hyde Hall site to the RHS in 1993. Of the £7.8m given to Hyde Hall by the RHS, much had to be spent on infrastructure projects and preparing for the increased visitor numbers. There have been several new garden projects including the Global Growth Vegetable Garden and the new Winter Garden. Over 60,000 trees have been planted around the perimeter of the site and a collection of Pemberton roses has been started. Well worth a visit whatever the season.

8th May 2018
Bulbs for All Seasons - Steve Bradley

Steve Bradley, an experienced horticulturalist, gave us lots of tips about bulbs. The more silver in the leaf of a cyclamen, the deeper they will take shade; remove seed heads of allium leaving steam/leaves; don’t plant agapanthus deeply – top should be visible; wear gloves when handling colchicum; plant bulbs in mesh pots and sink in the garden with labels; grate perfumed soap over bulbs to deter squirrels; use Sork bulbs to deter moles; Grazers 4 for lily beetle and feed bulbs after flowering to help build up reserves for next year. Steve answered many individual questions from another large audience to finish our season of lectures.

9th October 2018 - Charity Evening
Rainham Hall Gardens - Jesse Lock

Jesse Lock, Community Gardener at NT Rainham Hall Gardens gave us an inspired talk about the work he and his team of volunteers have done over the last three years. After a brief history of the hall itself, he explained that he is working on a ten year plan for the garden, so still a way to go. Lots of hard landscaping had been done and various areas improved and developed such as the orchard (old mulberry tree still there), wildflower area to increase wildlife, woodland space and the ‘amphitheatre’, the latter an area to be used in the future for small theatre productions. As community gardener, Jesse has developed links with local school children and runs an after-school club. The garden will look great in the Spring – pop along and see the snowdrops. More information on the website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rainham-hall/features/gardens .

13th November 2018
Gardening in the Third Age: Gadgets and Gizmos - Anne Luder

Anne Luder, recently retired from Capel Manor as a lecturer, presented many things for the audience to think about relating to gardening in the third age. Keep on gardening – good for relaxation and health. Do you need to change your garden to enable you to carry on? Think trip hazards and raised beds. So many hints and tips for making life easier including using easy plants, mulching, vertical gardening, use old furniture to raise plants, ergonomic tools, fisherman’s gloves, ratchet secateurs/loppers, lightweight hoses and tools, pipe cleaners for plant ties, making a comfortable kneeler from old pillows in waterproof coverings, etc. Lots of think about!

11th December 2018
The Orchid Hunter - Leif Bersweden

We were joined tonight by a young PhD student, Leif Bersweden, who had spent his gap year chasing from Britain and Ireland in the summer of 2013 to find all 52 wild orchids. We saw photographs of some special ones such as the bee orchid, the fly orchid and the man orchid, all with tales to tell about their structure and attraction to insects. Leif has written a book about his search - ‘The Orchid Hunter’ and read some beautifully written excerpts. It was a very different and entertaining evening and enjoyed by many, some of whom bought a copy of his book on the night.

January 2019 - there was no lecture as the New Windmill Hall was closed for refurbishment.

Reports on the 2017/18 Season of Lectures

March 14th 2017
Control of Pests and Diseases with and without Chemicals - 
Tom Cole

Tom deputised for Ken Crowther who was unfortunately not able to join us. Tom’s wide experience and knowledge and some interesting, though sometimes gruesome, slides took us through pests, diseases and plant disorders that we all might encounter. He suggested Epsom salts for yellowing leaves, lime for clubroot and once our rocket crop had bolted, we could eat the flowers. Many of our gardening problems could be overcome, or at least discouraged, by good cleanliness and housekeeping in the garden.

April 11th 2017
Growing and Using Plants in Containers – Robin Carsberg

A new speaker for the Society, Robin delighted us with many photos of plants in unusual containers. Some of his tips involved staging containers in groups at different heights. This can sometimes be done by simply placing one pot upside down and another on top. He recommended thinking about the contents of each pot using the maxim “thriller, filler and spiller”. Use an eye catching plant in the middle, some trailers over the edge of the pot and fill in the space in between. So, think carefully next time you plant up a pot and how much better it might look if placed in a group.

May 9th 2017
Happy Healthy Roses – Geoff Hodge

Geoff entertained us very well on our last lecture of the season and generously donated several gardening products to increase our raffle prize selection. He gave so much information about roses and their care including adding sulphur chips to acidify soil, tearing off suckers at the point of growth and to just cover the knuckle of the rose when planting. He recommended controlled release fertiliser lasting six months and systemic insecticide and fungicide. Discussing pruning (do you regularly sharpen your secateurs?) he recommended hybrid teas to be pruned hard to 4-6” and floribundas 6-9” from ground level in late February/early March. A great end to the lecture season.

October 10th 2017
Therapeutic Horticulture at Corbets Tey School – Sarah Young

Sarah, a teacher at the school for over 15 years, more recently trained with Thrive, an organisation specialising in therapeutic horticulture. Sarah showed us with enthusiasm the principles of introducing horticulture, particularly outdoors, to the children at the school. It was clear from the presentation that the children benefited enormously from the contact with the outdoors and having responsibility for their own little piece of ‘garden’. The School has a variety of garden areas including raised beds and two biodomes which allow activity whatever the weather.

Daffodils – Reg Nicholl

Reg, a long term member of the Society and of the RHS Daffodil and Tulip Committee, introduced us to some of the 27,000 varieties of daffodils, some of which he had personally developed. Some lovely photos and interesting anecdotes, unfortunately terminated due to lack of time.

November 14th 2017
Say it with Poison – Russell Bowes

What an entertaining evening you missed if you were not there! Russell delighted us with an amusing and surprising journey as he accompanied us through a garden fraught with plants that might cause injury or death! With references to Agatha Christie, Shakespeare, operas and fairy tales, we were drawn into the possibilities of death by poison from many of our ordinary garden plants. His cautionary tale ended by concluding that modern forensic methods could now identify any poisons that might be used.

December 12th 2017
Growing Organic Vegetables – Brian Carline

On a cold winter’s evening, those who turned up for this lecture were not disappointed. Brian’s knowledge and personal experience of growing as organically as possible was well narrated and photographed. He recommended the improvement of Essex clay soil with much compost, leaf mould, sand and grit. Organic fertilisers should be fish, blood and bone and pelleted chicken manure. Companion planting: basil with tomatoes and lavender with roses. Lots of hoeing to aerate the soil and remove weeds and a garlic wash for pests. White Lady runner bean and Montfavet and Ferline tomatoes recommended.

January 9th 2018
Growing for the Flower Arranger all Year Round – Maike Windhurst

Maike, a local Essex gardener, brightened a grey winter’s day with some very colourful examples of plants that can be grown in the garden each month of the year to provide colour and floristry displays. In the winter months, when flowers are not so readily available, make good use of berries, buds, leaf colour, and contorted branches as well as hellibores, bergenia, skimmia and early narcissus. Of particular interest were hardy chrysanthemums for winter colour and physocarpus (both green and dark leaved).



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