Thursday, 21 March 2019

The Fruit and Veg Expert, March's meeting.

I have recently been reading up on fruit trees before buying some for my allotment, but I learnt so much more from Tom Cole’s talk than from the books I was reading, Tom certainly knows about fruit trees. Many members have told me how much they enjoyed Tom’s talk and how informative it was, so many thanks to Tom from all of us.   

Tom is a natural speaker, and keen to answer everyone’s questions, explaining the details of planting, soil care, plant choice and pruning with ease. Tom explained some of the golden rules; apple and pear pruning is from November to February, stone fruit is later from early spring to mid summer to avoid fungal  infection. Tom advised using grease bands on fruit tress in November and again in February to prevent insects climbing (such as the wingless cankerworm)  up the trunk.

During the second half of the talk Tom explain how to get the best out of organic fertilisers and the importance of applying the right amount. Tom also explained that lime, if required, can be applied at the start of the season and not only in the autumn as previously thought.

As a result of the interest and questions Tom received from members he was pushed to cover all of aspects of his talk, however fear not as due to Tom’s popularity we will be inviting him back. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The Wonders of Easton Lodge, Clare. February's meeting.

A big thank you goes out to Clare and Gary for a most fascinating talk last month about the idyllic gardens of Easton Lodge, which are situated just outside Great Dunmow in Essex.  

Clare is a Trustee at the Lodge as well as a volunteer in the gardens and a tour guide, which was very much reflected in Clare’s knowledge of the Lodge  and gardens. The site of the gardens has a long history, in 1590 Queen Elizabeth I granted the estate to Henry Maynard. 

We heard how in 1865 Frances Maynard, at the age of three, inherited the Lodge and estate.  Frances became the Countess of Warwick and in 1902 she commissioned Harold Peto, a leading British garden designer, to create stunning formal gardens, these included a lime tree avenue with its own treehouse (which has recently been rebuilt), terraces, formal lawns, a yew walk, a Japanese Garden and many other features.  

During the second world war the Lodge was requisitioned by the Army and thousands of trees felled to make an airfield. The gardens were abandoned after the war and forgotten for almost 45 years. In 2008 the Lodge Trust took over the day to day running of the gardens.

The gardens are now open on various days during the year, where visitors can see some of the restored gardens along with the continuing restoration.  You can find more information about the gardens at:

Monday, 21 January 2019

Magical Christmas Social

At last year’s social the club broke away from its traditional entertainment, a  singer or band, and invited Alan Day to show us his magic. Alan was described as an accomplished sleight of hand magician who performs magic that is usually only seen on TV, but  Alan’s magic is performed right in front of you. Alan did not disappoint. 

Alan’s magic was captivating from start to finish, during the first half of the evening Alan performed his magic at the top of the hall, then during the second half Alan showed his close up magic to small groups at their tables. This allowed everyone to become personally involved with the magic.

I have always been fascinated by magic, how did that a specific playing card get into that sealed envelope? How did Alan get out of those chains (well done to Bob for being Alan’s trusted assistant!). And how do magician’s make objects disappear?  Perhaps I will never know.

Many members have told me how much they enjoyed the evening, Alan provided the entrainment, and it was also time for members to relax and catch up with each other before Christmas. Our thanks go to Patrica and Jo for preparing all the food, a big thank you to June for the wonderful glowing table displays and all those who helped on the night.  

It was a great evening with a good atmosphere throughout, and good start to Christmas.  

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The 2018 Annual General Meeting November

Our AGM was well attended, with 32  members present, so a big thank you to all those who came along. 

It was good to report that the club has had another good year, we had several new speakers as well as returning favourites. New speakers included Michael Radley, from the Lea Valley Orchid Society, a wonderful talk from Eric Beaumont, Chairman of the Epping Forest Beekeepers Association. The Waltham Forest Bonsai Club gave us a comprehensive talk on these wonderful trees and Richard Allen told us all about the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. I must not forget Nick Dobson who gave us two great talks, one on Fuchsias and the other on tulips. Once again Nick came along at short notice when the scheduled speaker was unable to attend, so many thanks to Nick.

Our two outings, Pashley Manor Gardens and Hyde Hall were very successful as was our Flower Show. A big thank you to the committee for arranging these events and to our members for supporting them. All your support and hard work is much appreciated! 
The club’s finances have been good this year, which meant that the club was able to provide members with a free outing to Hyde Hall, along with no increase in subscriptions. 

Our membership reached 57 this year which is a very good result. The success of the club is solely a result of our members support, your support makes the club what it is. I also thank the committee for all their hard work over the year, it is your efforts that make the club work.

In line with the club’s constitution the committee stood down. As agreed at the 2016 AGM the committee members who were prepared to stand for re-election were nominated in one block rather than individually by Joan Norris and seconded by Chris Saunders.

The committee is as follows:

Chairman John
Vice Chair Patricia
Editor Jill
Treasurer Julie
Membership & Outings   June
Committee Members        Bob and Gillian

At the end of the AGM, a first for the club, a Beetle Drive commenced.

The Beetle Drive certainly created a lively atmosphere, if not a little confusion for those who had never played before. There was heated dice throwing throughout the seven rounds and shouts of Beetle!  There was a great atmosphere during the evening which made it all the more fun. Congratulations to our winners; Jean, Karen and Nina.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Tulips From Chigwell, Nick Dobson, October's meeting

If at the start of last month’s meeting you were not sure about the history of the tulip, how today’s tulip evolved or how to care for tulips, then you certainly knew by the end of the evening. This was all down to one of our favourite speakers, Nick Dobson, who shared his knowledge along with stunning slides of tulips.
The tulip has a long history with the first official date of a flowering tulip being 1594! It was interesting to learn that the tulip played a big role in the Ottoman Empire being owned and sought after by wealthy Sultans who organised tulip festivals. The Dutch have also been interested in the tulip, and in the 1600s their value increased immensely creating a ‘Tulip Mania’ where tulips were sold for enormous sums of money, however this collapsed in 1637.
In some respects this history contributed to the huge selection of tulips that are available today. Tulips come in various sizes and in many different colours. Tulips can be planted from October up to early December, so November is ideal (this helps to reduce the problem of a disease called tulip fire). Bulbs should be planted between six and eight inches deep in a fairly free draining compost or soil and in a sunny position. Don’t forget to dead head after flowering but do Not remove the foliage until its turned yellow.  
In our second half, Nick presented a wonderful slide show, A Year in The Garden, what a busy year Nick and his family had. 
The club would like to congratulate Sophia, Nick’s daughter, on writing her first book, well done Sophia.
Our thanks go out to Nick for a most enjoyable and enlightening evening! 

Monday, 1 October 2018

September’s Club Meeting, Darren Lerigo from Modern Mint Ltd

Speakers all have their own individual style for presenting their talks, and Darren Lerigo from Modern Mint Ltd was no exception. Darren’s style, which was well received, was to embrace his audience with great enthusiasm!  
Darren shared his passion for gardening throughout his talk, encouraging members to share their stories and gardening experiences, this resulted in a great atmosphere during the evening.
The title of this talk, Green Elements, covered a range of topics including the importance of using the correct tools for specific jobs,  the importance of continually improving your soil, planting by moon cycles, topiary and less conventional ways to deal with slugs. 
Darren brought a wonderful selection of tools which he invited members to handle, these were top quality tools from Japan. Darren explained the benefits of using well made tools and demonstrated how to sharpen tools using a whetstone. 
It was interesting to hear about the vital role that microbes, bacteria and fungi play within the soil’s ecosystem. These microbes can be purchased to further boost the quality of your soil.
If you would like to know more about Modern Mint, and the items for sale, along with Darren’s gardening advice, the link to the website is below. 
Darren is offering members free delivery on any purchases from Modern Mint until the end of December just apply whittingham18 at check out. Modern Mint is at -

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Flower arranging, Joan Norris, August's meeting

A huge thank you goes out to Joan Norris for a wonderful evening last month. Joan is modest about her floral design abilities but its clear that Joan has a real talent for flower arranging. Joan’s style, good humour and relaxed approach created a fantastic atmosphere that evening, with club members chipping into Joan’s commentary, as she created one amazing arrangement after another.

It was interesting to hear how Joan became involved in flower arranging, when she discovered how expensive the flowers would be for her daughter’s Wedding. Joan wasted no time in joining a six week flower arranging course, after which she was able to do the finest arrangements for her daughter’s Wedding. 

Joan shared some of her flower arranging secrets with us, such as the three, five, seven and nine rule, which I hope you have all remembered? Joan also gave us her top tip for obtaining foliage for her displays, she visits her friends gardens, so don’t leave Joan alone in your garden!
Joan offered her arrangements up for the club raffle so several members had a real treat. Thank you again Joan for sharing your passion for flower arranging with us.