Garden at the Garrison Church

This week I was delighted to attend a special Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden reception at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. The event was to progress the funding and plans for a Commonwealth garden designed by Juliet Sargeant, and was also attended by their patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.

We were blessed with a lovely sunny day and entertained with music during the afternoon tea. After the speeches I was very interested to be shown around the garden site by Juliet (who is a multiple Chelsea Gold Medal winner, including this year’s Blue Peter garden with the theme “Don’t treat soil like dirt” and a fabulous green roof) https://www.julietsargeant.com/cfs/

Continue reading Garden at the Garrison Church

Thinking outside the box

One of the things I like best about RHS Wisley is how useful it is – beautiful to walk around, pleasant to visit, but also how just being there can answer a multitude of gardening questions: ‘Will this plant survive outside?’ ‘Just how big can an Indian Bean Tree get?’ or ‘How best can I display alpine plants in my small garden?’

But one of the most useful parts of RHS Wisley helps to answer a question that has become louder and more frequent with every passing year, especially here in the South East:

‘What can I use to replace my ravaged box hedges?’

'Thinking Outside the Box' garden at RHS Wisley May 2022
Continue reading Thinking outside the box

OPG Diary – May/June

It’s been a while since there was an update on the walled gardens, it’s been busy! The Volunteers are going strong, and the Old Pond Garden is looking particularly wonderful.

Old Pond Garden 26 May
Old Pond Garden 26 May 2022

The Long Border started to run away with us, but is getting under control and looking incredibly full and interesting, even if it doesn’t quite have that “designer” look yet! We are waiting for the quote for works to the vandalised iron gates and hoping to create step-free access to the gardens.

We are continuing to point out a “Star Plant” each week. The latest is Silene armeria ‘Electra’, or Garden Catchfly. The Catchfly group of plants exude a sticky brown substance on their stems, just below the flowerhead, where insects get stuck. Have a closer look next time you pass by!

Silene armeria Electra
Silene armeria ‘Electra’

New ideas: we have started a “What’s in Flower” display in Frilly’s café, to entice visitors to come into the garden and see the flowers in situ. Also an Information table in the gardens (when we are there) showing a bit of the background and pointing out the plants coming into flower that week. Looking for more volunteers to do this, if anyone is interested? It’s a sitting-down job!

What's in Flower - display
What’s in Flower? Examples from the garden.

Kathy was very pleased to be awarded a Certificate of Recognition from the Volunteer Centre Greenwich/ RBG, although she considers that the recognition is for all the volunteers, not just her! Terry accepted the award on her behalf from the Mayor of Greenwich. Thank you to the Trust for nominating us, we do feel appreciated.

And here are some more recent photos from the gardens this month:

Coach trip to RHS Wisley

On Wednesday 11 May, a coachload of CABAHS members went on a much anticipated trip to RHS Wisley. This was my first experience of a CABAHS coach trip and it was brilliantly organised by Anna (thank you Anna!).

RHS Wisley May 2022
Just before the rain started… RHS Wisley May 2022

After experiencing dry weather for weeks, the forecast was for rain mid-afternoon, so it felt important to pack as much in as possible before the rain started. Several members had signed up for a tour with a Wisley volunteer, but as the tours started, so did the rain – several hours earlier than forecast! We were, however, undeterred.

Continue reading Coach trip to RHS Wisley

Plant Sale and Community Day at Charlton House on Sunday May 22nd

Thank you to everyone who came to our Plant Sale and Community Day at Charlton House on Sunday May 22nd, what a fabulous day, sunny and successful!  Plants were either donated by members or grown on by the Volunteers in the Old Pond Garden. We were slightly staggered by how popular our plants were, and we had pretty well sold out by 1pm, which was amazing. Everyone was very generous, either buying plants or donating for our home made lavender bags, or the Discovery Trail.

Our Community event was shared with Charlton Community Garden, who ran the “Pot up a plant” stall, Blackheath Flower Arranging club, Friends of Greenwich Park, The Charlton Society, Montessori Moments, Greenwich Music School and the Charlton Toy Library. And of course the Greenwich & Blackheath WI cake stall.

We were very pleased to be part of the Trusts “Sustainability Sunday”, it was certainly lively and great to see so much going on. The Producers Market was on the Front Lawn, there were tours of the House, talks about Heritage and garden tours with our very own Head Gardener, Jason Sylvan. Frilly’s café was open and the Old Library had items from the Greenwich Archive on display as well as installations by local artists Fiona Veacock and CraftA, and other childrens activities.

Funds raised from plant sales will go to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, our Speaker programme and the Walled Gardens revival. Thank you all!

Kathy

May 2022: Val Bourne on ‘Butterflies in Gardens’

CABAHS welcomed Val Bourne to speak at our May meeting, sharing her photographs, experience and knowledge of butterflies in the garden. She emphasised that she is not a butterfly expert (but she knows one!), she’s an organic gardener who has spent a lot of time observing butterflies, their habits and preferences – and, sadly, their decline in recent years.

Photograph of the FSC's Butterfly ID chart

As a starting point, Val recommended a book and a tool: ‘The Philips Guide to Butterflies’ and the Field Studies Council’s butterfly identification chart. Butterfly Conservation also provide a range of identification guides online. Photographs of a wide range of species – 24 different ones have been spotted in the Spring Cottage garden – showed us the beauty of even the smallest, brownest examples!

Val explained how useful even a small meadow area is for many species, how some species rely on quite a narrow range of plants for nectar, and how the timing of a butterfly lifecycle is intrinsically linked to the lifecycle of their food plants. She stated that climate change – causing plants to flower at different times – is demonstrably messing up this synchronisation, so as gardeners it’s important to grow a wide range of butterfly-friendly plants to try to mitigate that situation.

Some examples of butterfly-friendly plants, and the butterflies that particularly need or enjoy them:

Continue reading May 2022: Val Bourne on ‘Butterflies in Gardens’

Harrogate Flower Show and Harlow Carr

Late April is a great time to remind yourself that spring happens outside of London, and I had the joy of meeting a group of friends in Yorkshire for the Harrogate Flower Show.  This is quite a major show, running over 4 days, but it’s not run by the RHS and it has quite different emphases.  It does, though, have lots of exhibitors and we enjoyed a full day there, in brilliant sunshine.

First off, we looked at the flower arranging, clearly a major component with several training colleges nearby.  There were lots of competition categories, from big set pieces to carefully chosen themes.  We admired long-horned cows fashioned from garlands of flowers, and saw a heavy emphasis on arum lilies, which featured on the Best In Show winner, for instance. 

By contrast, the show gardens were a very minor element of the event.  They were small, commercially-sponsored but not carefully themed, and quite underwhelming.  And they had very few people looking at them. 

The area for various Societies was dominated by the Daffodil Society Northern Group, where competitors were vying for prizes in nearly 100 categories.  The variety of blooms was extraordinary, with a strong emphasis on precision and newly-developed cultivars.  Among others, the Yorkshire Bonsai Society was also showing beautiful specimens, as were the National Auricula and Primula Society, the National Dahlia Society, and the West Yorkshire Hardy Plant Society, which won a Premier Gold award for its spectacular display. 

Continue reading Harrogate Flower Show and Harlow Carr

Plant Sale and Community Day

We are very pleased to be running our Plant Sale and Community Day again, on Sunday May 22nd from 11 am. This year, we will be part of the Charlton House event Sustainability Sunday, so lots of other exciting things will be going on too. Put it in your diary now! More details to come, but as well as plants and cakes for sale there will be lots of children’s activities including our popular Discovery Trail around the grounds and crafts to make. As well as the Horticultural Society, you can find out what lots of other local groups are up to. Look forward to seeing you there!

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