Charlton House held another very successful Horn Fair on Sunday 16th October and CABAHS contributed to that with a range of opportunities for adults and children. We focused on the Old Pond Garden, with a Spooky Spider, Bat and Pumpkin trail for the children, and well-attended tours by Head Gardener Jason Sylvan who explained the work he is leading with the volunteers there. Just outside the Peace Garden, we held one of our famous plant stalls – it was as popular as ever! Here are some photographs of all the activities. Thank you to everyone who contributed to its success.
Our Autumn Show was held on Monday September 26th in the Old Library of Charlton House, having been delayed a week for the Queen’s funeral. We counted 56 attendees and there were nearly 100 entries across all the classes, a marvellous effort!
Our guest judge, Joe Woodcock, had agreed to undertake this onerous task again this year. He made it clear how impressed he was with all the entries, providing an encouraging commentary on the horticultural skills demonstrated, and explained why he selected the winning entry in each class.
The classes and winners were as follows: 1. Vase of flowers, 3 stems – Nicholas B 2. Bowl of mixed flowers – Georgina P 3. Vase of shrubs or foliage, 3 stems – Liz K 4. Display of ornamental seed heads – Viv P 5. Five Fuchsia blooms – Viv P 6. Ornamental pot plant – Pat K 7. Display of fruit, mixed – Lynda F 8. Display of vegetables, mixed – Annie H 9. Tomatoes (dish of 5) – Karen S 10. A display of herbs – Maggie T 11. Preserves – Maggie T 12. Baking – Coconut cake – Kathy A 13. Floral arrangement in a teacup – Debbie W 14. Largest Sunflower – Ruth Y 15. Highest yield, Potato – Ann F
Joe presented trophies to Annie H for Class 8, to Viv P for Class 5 and to Georgina P for Best in Show for her bowl of mixed flowers in Class 2.
The Sussex Prairie Garden is a six acre garden with naturalistic planting, created by Paul and Pauline McBride, who worked with Piet Oudolf some years ago. The garden is on a farm and surrounded by oak trees, featuring a wide range of herbaceous perennials, Veronicastrums, Thalictrums, Persicarias, Sanguisorbas, Kniphofias and Hemerocallis. Huge drifts of ornamental grasses and Asters extend the season of interest hugely. In addition to the planting in the borders there are some massive pots beautifully planted up with huge salvias, Melianthus Major and splendid Pelargonium Tomentosum. The expansive beds are planned with winding rough paths to allow visitors to wander through, brushing grasses and Heleniums as they pass. It is definitely a garden for a late summer visit and seems to have managed remarkably well through this hot summer of 2022.
The plant fair on the day of our visit was spread out through the garden and accompanied by a band and stalls selling refreshments. It had a decidedly festive air! There are dozens of varieties of Miscanthus, Panicums, Molinias, Sporobolis and Penisetum and several of the plant stalls capitalize on this by selling a good selection of grasses.
The garden is at its best in late summer and into the autumn as might be expected from the nature of the plants. I have visited earlier in the year when there is far less to see.
The planting is bold and on a grand scale, not much of it less than a metre tall, but for anyone interested in growing prairie type plants or simply just interested, this is a garden well worth visiting.
A lovely day was had by all, despite the rain, for our visit to Pashley Manor Gardens, on Wednesday 14 September. The first wow factor was the magnificent and absolutely huge 500-year-old spreading oak tree that is the same age as the frontage of the Manor House. The second wow factor are the gardens: exquisitely beautiful, divided into several colour-co-ordinated garden ‘rooms’ which lead to the fabulous terrace, with sweeping views of the long borders, lawns, lake (once a moat) and surrounding trees to the countryside beyond. After a refreshing coffee, many joined a half-hour gardener’s dahlia ‘talk and walk’ around sections of the garden’s long borders. I loved the gardens so much that I am aiming to visit again on a sunny day so that I can relax on the terrace and absorb the spirit of the place.
During this blistering summer a number of people have commented on the colour in my garden (such as it is). I think this is down to a very few plants. (For those of you not enamoured with Sarah Raven, look away now). The top photograph is of Begonia ‘Glowing Embers’. These have flowered continuously all through the summer and I think the contrast of the leaf and flower is lovely. Although often grown as an annual, I have found that if I keep them in a sheltered and frost-free place over the winter they will flower again year-on-year. But be patient! The little stone-like tubers look thoroughly lifeless for a long time and, just when you might think they were totally dead, little green shoots appear.
The bottom photograph is of Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Red Velour’. These were originally plants in pots with cosmos and coleus, the latter two turned up their toes leaving only the petunia to inhabit the pot. It is only one plant and this too has continued to flower continuously through the summer. The pots have only been watered with waste water and have had no additional feed.
Both of these hard workers have come from Sarah Raven and, no, I don’t get a discount!
Thinking we would take advantage of the extra days made available for visits to Perch Hill, we chose the one for container planting. However, on the day it was the dahlias that stole the show and which we will remember!
Although rain was not forecast, we arrived to a little bit of a mizzle and a very grey sky – in the photographs this has tended to deaden the exuberant colours. We were knocked out by Penhill Watermelon, Geri Scott and the delicious Apricot Desire, but it would be impossible to choose one favourite out of all the lovely colours. Although some are critical of the Sarah Raven enterprise, there is no question that the gardens are beautifully styled. Of course, plants are labelled so that anything you see you will find on their website, but it is a commercial business. In fact, it is good to find a label so that you can identify what you are looking at! Salvias are everywhere, edging the herbaceous borders, in pots as well as mixed through the beds. These are such versatile plants.
People today garden for a whole host of reasons – as a hobby, a delight in horticulture generally, exercise, well-being and being out of doors, to grow their own produce – but, historically at least, gardening has also been seen as a highly moral activity.
By the end of the 19th century the garden was advocated as a way of keeping the working classes away from the public house, where they could be usefully engaged in a more wholesome and productive activity. William Hogarth’s cartoons of ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Gin Lane’ are visual reminders of the conditions which were a cause of concern.
John Claudius Loudon (1783 – 1843) championed the creation of public parks to improve both the mental and physical health of working people, so that ‘the pale mechanic and exhausted factory operative might inhale the freshening breeze and some portion of recovered health’. It was Joseph Strutt who picked up on these ideas and put Loudon’s vision into practice to create the Derby Arboretum in 1840. Strutt was very clear on the rationale behind this work: to wean people away from the ‘brutalising pleasures’ they might seek elsewhere and to offer them a new form of ‘rational enjoyment’. In Edinburgh recreation in a park was thought to be a solution for drunkenness and in the Midlands it was thought to lead to a decrease in crime rates.
‘In 1919 the Conservative MP for Chelmsford was reconciled to spending money on housing by the thought that good garden plots would ensure that when the man of the house got home at night “he will find not only a healthy family, but healthy occupation outside where they can go and work together as a family”’. A well maintained garden was also viewed as an indication of a well maintained (and thus moral household). As late as the 1920s and 1930s inspectors were employed to visit the gardens of council estates to ensure that they were being kept tidy.
 Loudon, J.C. (1822) Encyclopaedia of Gardening.
 Floud, R. (2019) An Economic History of the English Garden, Penguin Books, p247.
I love hostas, but they have a reputation for being difficult, not least because of their attractiveness to slugs and snails. They are commonly thought to do best in moist partial shade, but this shockingly dry year has been a surprise. As Chris Beardshaw points out, there are several that do well in dry shade, the sieboldiana types in particular. Although many of mine in direct sunshine for most of the day have scorched this year, there are also several that have done surprisingly well in quite dry and sunny conditions.
Hostas were originally named in honour of the Austrian botanist Nichloas Host, but in 1817 the name Funkia was used by a German botanist in honour of botanist Heinrich Funk. The name Funkia remained in use for some time and there are a number of horticultural texts written over this period which refer to Funkias. In 1905 Hosta was reinstated as the genus name by the International Botanical Congress.
I quite like the name Funkia. It makes me think of the plants secretly having a good time after I have gone to bed.
I found this photo posted on the blog of Garden History Girl. It’s one of the blogs I have at some stage signed up to and now get regular posts. It is worth checking out (overlook the name) and this one contains some fascinating information on pelargoniums / geraniums and snippets of plant history. If you have never been clear on what are pelargoniums or geraniums, this is the one to look at! And there are some lovely pictures too!