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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).
 


 

Reports on the 2016/17 Season of Lectures

8th March 2016
Garden History and Follies – Caroline Holmes

Caroline, a garden historian, gave us an insight into the development of gardens, sometimes as seen through art, from Roman times to the current day. She showed us how excavation of various sites, including that at Hampton Court, had revealed the structure of gardens from long ago. We looked at the move from geometric structures to the open unstructured landscapes of Capability Brown. The latter often featured areas which would earn their owner income such as grazing for sheep, tree felling, pheasant shooting, etc. We looked at Ickworth, the earliest Italianate garden in the country through to the arts and crafts gardens of Gertrude Jekyll. The Gibberd garden near Harlow was also examined for its use of garden follies.

12th April 2016
Plants for Difficult Places – Tim Carter

Tim, from Long House Plants, returned with a new talk which sought to answer one of the topics members requested in our 2014 questionnaire survey. Tim outlined various physical factors such as soil type, light/shade, environmental factors, other plants, animals, etc. which impact on how well our plants survive. If we are unable to change the difficult conditions, then we need to find plants which suit them. Day lilies (hemerocalis), for example, are happy in clay soil and honeysuckles can tolerate dry shade. As always, Tim brought along plants from his nursery for sale.

10th May 2016
A Gardener's Year – Harry Brickwood

An experienced gardener who has in the past opened his garden to the public and also had involvement at Chelsea, Harry took us through some of the plants we can see in our gardens during the year. His slide show had some excellent photographs and his talk also touched on the history of gardens such as Abbotswood and Hidcote. He also gave us a taste of what we might see at Beth Chatto's garden on one of our summer outings. An entertaining end to our season of lectures.

11th October 2016
Essex Wildlife Trust, Ingrebourne Valley Visitor Centre One Year On – Becky Gibson

A warm welcome was given to Becky as she revealed the story and progress of the Ingrebourne Valley site and visitor centre. Becky described the varied programme of events which regularly take place at the centre as well as showing us beautiful photos of the wildlife flourishing in the country park. A valuable local asset, this is a place well worth supporting and visiting as it develops. Becky told us about the wide selection of food and drink available in the visitor centre where you can relax and enjoy the views out of the panoramic windows.

8th November 2016
Starting with Alpines – Mike Sullivan

A new local speaker for our Society, Mike entertained us with some stunning photographs of alpine flowers which we could all grow in our gardens. The evening started with photos of alpines in their natural settings high in the mountains and progressed with beautiful colour from alpine shows and Mike's own garden. For little cost and very limited space, we were shown how we could all grow this group of plants either in well drained soil or in containers with lots of grit and very little soil. Something we could all try when we perhaps can't manage to garden on a large scale.

13th December 2016
Soft Fruit – Mike Abel

Mike returned to us after a successful talk on fruit trees two years ago, this time giving us lots of advice on growing soft fruit. This talk covered pollination, protection, propagation, pests and diseases, longevity of plants, etc. He did recommend that we should all buy certified plants rather than accept donation mainly because of the possibility of transferring viruses. Mike ended with possible uses for the harvest and noted that he often combined gooseberries with strawberries or raspberries when making jam.

Mike recommended specific varieties of fruit to grow:-

  • Strawberries: Alice and Malling Centenary (summer fruiting), Buddy (everbearer)
  • Rasps: Malling Minerva (floricane), Polka (primocane).
  • Blueberry: Reuben (primocane)
  • Goooseberry: Invicta (not Careless)
  • Blackcurrant: Ben Connan
  • Redcurrant: Junifer

10th January 2017
Langtons Gardens: History & Restoration – Nigel Oxley

Nigel, Historic Buildings and Landscapes Officer at Havering Council, gave a most interesting illustrated talk on the history and recent restoration of Langtons Gardens in Hornchurch. Over the last few years much of the garden and its buildings have been renovated with the help of grants from the Lottery Fund and other organisations. A tea room and toilets are additions to the gardens together with a new main entrance from Billet Lane. Ilex crenata has been introduced to replace box hedging to avoid box blight. A local gem to put on your list to visit and explore.

14th March 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 experience. 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.

11th April 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 sometime 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.

9th May 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.




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