Tuesday, 17 May 2022

The Birds and The Bees, Andy Sands, April's meeting

 Our thanks go out to Andy Sands for his spectacular presentation on British Birds and Bees last month. Everyone one of Andy’s photographs captured an amazing shot, full of detail and colour, he certainly pays attention to detail. Andy  told us how he has been interested in natural history since a child and now travels across the UK photographing wildlife. Andy’s knowledge of his subjects was also very impressive, telling us about their habitats, migration patterns and their nest building skills.

It was interesting to hear that photographers often place their own natural perch, this could be tree branch or fence post, in the area they expect the birds to be. This helps to obtain a better shot and at a distance close to the photographer.

Andy’s photographs of bees were equally as impressive as the birds, I never knew there were so many species. The close up pictures reveal the wonderful detail of the bees’ markings and their delicate wings. Andy told us how many bee species do not live in colonies but live solitary lives nesting in a variety  of places including trees and even the underground. Andy did mention that all bees have stings!


Monday, 28 March 2022

Life time career in horticulture, Steve Dowbiggin, March's meeting


What a fabulous start we had to our first meeting in the hall with Steve Dowbiggin’s fascinating talk on his life time career in horticulture. Steve’s talk  was appropriately titled; Started at 13 and Still Going Strong. Steve’s family were self sufficient Essex Crofters and all the family had to do their bit, so from an early age Steve was learning how to farm and grow vegetables. At 13 his mates all had paper rounds but Steve could drive a tractor and grow potatoes!

One of Steve’s amazing stories was about him having to drive a nine ton lorry from the farm in Essex to Covent Garden market when he was only 16! Steve had no trouble with this task and his reward was an extra £10, which  was a real bonus in the 1960s. Steve’s early experience in horticultural and farming soon landed him the role as a Farm Manager before going on to work at Capel Manor where he remained for 35 years and became the CEO.

It was wonderful to hear Steve’s experiences and stores of working on fund raising with the Duchess Devonshire. Steve is a natural speaker and makes a great connection with his audience, he certainly kept us entertained throughout the evening and I was most grateful for Steve being able to present his talk at such short notice as our original speaker cancelled a few days before. Thank you Steve for great evening.


Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Beautiful Butterflies, Dr Ian Bedford, February's meeting


A big thank you goes out to Dr Ian Bedford for his fascinating talk into the world of butterflies and moths. Ian, a respected entomologist who is well known for his TV and radio shows, has been studying butterflies, moths and insects since a child. Ian shared his amazing acknowledge of butterflies telling us about their intriguing lives, the difficulties they are facing due the destruction of their habit and climate change. Ian also told us what we can all do to make our gardens wildlife and butterfly friendly and help make a difference to their future.   

I was amazed to hear about the Painted Lady Butterfly (pic) who’s yearly life cycle involves flying from North Africa to Europe and the UK, what a spectacular migration.  As a thank you for supporting his talk, Ian has offered our members a 15% discount at the The Garden Superstore https://www.thegardensuperstore.co.uk  Simply add the discount code BEDFORD15 when purchasing goods.


As gardeners we know the importance of having insects in our gardens, Ian certainly emphasised this and told us how to attract butterflies and moths. Ian’s top three plants to grow are;  Buddleias (good varieties are Pink Pagoda, Sugar Plum and Summer House Blue), Perennial Sunflower Helianthus x laetiflorus) and Perennial Wallflowers (Erysimum). As Ian said give them the plants they like and they will come!  

I am sure you will all be keen to play your part in planting a butterfly friendly plant (of course three will look even better). To further this I am asking all our members to take a pledge to plant a butterfly friendly plant. Take the pledge by completing the form at the end of the Newsletter, your name will entered into a free draw and the first 5 members drawn will win a butterfly friendly plant, the next 10 members drawn will win a pack wild flower seeds. Please ensure that you return your pledge by April.  At the end of the summer you are invited to provide photos of your plants, prizes will be on offer to the best plant displays.    Good luck to you all.


Sunday, 30 January 2022

Best Wishes For 2022

 A big welcome to all our members to the start of our gardening club year. This year we are looking forward to having our usual events that we love so much. We are planning to hold our flower show on Saturday 23 July, so please note this date in your diary as its your support that makes our show a success. We will also be looking to run an outing or two this year. The committee is keen to know how interested members are on an outing so could you please let any committee member have your views. 

Our club meetings, after this month, are all planned for Unity Hall with a superb selection of speakers who will be presenting some most unusual gardening topics, six of the speakers are new to the club. This year’s speakers list is now available for details.     

It will be good for everyone to meet up again next month, the committee looks forward to seeing you all in the coming year. 

The Magical Mike Marandi, December social


It was good to see those members who were able to come along to our Christmas Social. We were treated to a lively evening from Mike Marandi with a great selection of songs from the past to the present. Mike who first performed for us in 2015 was on top form once again with his nimble moves soothing tones.  One of Mike’s most popular songs was his Tom Jones number which was a great success and was very much appreciated by his fan club.   

In addition to our musical entertainment there was a great buffet for all to enjoy. A very big thank you goes out to Nina who purchased all the food for the club and thanks also to all those who helped to set out the buffet and clear away at the end.

Friday, 26 November 2021

Making Connections - Re-Wilding Hearts and Gardens, Frances Dismore/AGM November's meeting


This year’s AGM was followed by a wonderful talk from one of our very own members, Frances Dismore, which included amazing photographs of wildlife,  their habitats and insect houses to help support wildlife. 

Frances highlighted the problems that all wildlife is facing as a result of climate change, but also the problems that wildlife faces as a result of its habitats are being destroyed by development. However, we can ALL play a part in supporting the wildlife in our own gardens, by growing particular plants that attract insects, especially those we want to see in our garden. Insect houses, which are easy to build or can be purchased will attract a whole range of in insects, in turn this benefits your plants and bird life. By growing UK wild flowers and allowing an area of your garden to go natural you will encourage wildlife including solitary bees and a variety of butterflies. Nettles (grown in pots) are also ideal as caterpillars feed on them.

It was fascinating to hear about the stag beetle, Britain’s largest beetle, with its distinctive antler-shaped jaws. The stag beetle larvae lives in decaying logs for up to seven years, so their habitat must be undisturbed for the long term. I am please to have been involved in building a stag beetle loggery on Leyton Marsh last year organised by Frances.     

A big thank you to Frances for a great talk, which even included a questionnaire as the talk progressed. Frances asked us to take a pledge to introduce one new habitat for wildlife to our garden, allotment or window box to help wildlife flourish, I urge you take this pledge and do your bit!    

 British Wildflower Suppliers:

The Wildflower Nursery -  https://www.thewildflowernursery.co.uk


Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Clematis For Every Season. Peter Skeggs-Gooch, October's meeting.

If you were not sure which variety of clematis to grow in your garden before last month’s meeting, then you would certainly know following Peter’s talk. Peter Skeggs-Gooch, from Thorncroft Nursery, was a most professional speaker with an abundance of knowledge on clematis. Peter’s nursery specialises in clematis from around the world, and has won twelve Gold Medals at the Chelsea Flower Shows.

Peter explained how clematis make excellent companion plants as they easily grow through larger shrubs along with trees and are ideal at covering up old sheds or fencing. Some clematis, such as vanilla scented Montana Van Gogh, is a vigorous grower where as Integrifolia Alba, is small and has dainty sweet scented bell shaped flowers, making it ideal to scramble through other shrubs. Peter reminded us of the importance of planting most clematis into a deep hole below the first leaf joint, to avoid dieback and wilting. It is important to keep the roots cool, in shade and moist.

We were treated to a wonderful selection of stunning photographs from Peter’s collection most of which are available to purchase. Peter provided a useful handout of clematis for the different seasons, if you would like a copy let John know.  Peter’s nursery has two sites the one at Eversham in Worcester is for collection but plants can be ordered online at:  thorncroftclematis.co.uk.
If you are looking for a great variety and selection this is the place to go to.