A Cosy idea for Hot Chocolate in the Garden

Basically, melt chocolate and let it set in old teaspoons. Then use them as stirrers in a cup of hot milk – hey presto, hot chocolate! Wander round the garden hugging your hot cup and planning for next Spring…

A Candle Pot heater

A useful DIY way to heat up the greenhouse! You just need two terracotta pots, a large nut, bolt and washers, a couple of bricks and a nightlight candle. Watch the YouTube link to find out how (skip the Ads!).

Spring bulbs blog

Our star speaker from last year, Nick Bailey, has a very informative Blog on his website, link is below. “New Ways with Spring Bulbs”. Worth a read before ordering hundreds of bulbs from those enticing catalogues!

New Ways with Spring Bulbs

Green roof on the bin store

A new “green” initiative at Blackheath Standard

The September edition of the Westcombe News has an interesting article about a “greening” initiative to tidy up Delacourt Road.  Led by financial planning company Gingko Financial, there are some lovely new planters on show and a clever green roof on the bin store. It is hoped that making the area smarter will stop some of the littering problems. It certainly looks prettier!  The idea is led by owner Daren Wallbank who has set up a “Grow with Gingko” page, have a look here:

When you are next in the Standard area, make time to have a look, Delacourt Road has some interesting businesses.

Mottingham Open Gardens – August Bank Holiday

Thank you to all members who visited Fran, Viv and Vija’s open gardens this weekend. They have raised £319 in total for Macmillan Cancer Support, such a very good cause. The gardens all looked fabulous and everyone had a great time. More photos are on the Members Gardens page.


Best way to ripen green tomatoes

September’s Which? Gardening magazine says: Our findings show that placing green tomatoes in a dark place with a gentle, room-temperature level of warmth, such as in a kitchen drawer, is the most effective way of ripening them quickly and keeping them healthy and edible. It’s also best to start this process immediately after you pick them, rather than refrigerating them first and trying to ripen them later.

They don’t need sunlight to ripen, although a sunny windowsill does provide a good alternative as long as it doesn’t get too hot. It’s best to avoid using ripe bananas or any other type of ripe fruit as this isn’t faster and results in too-soft and fewer edible tomatoes.

Courgette Alert

An alarming article in Gardeners World magazine.. taste your courgettes!

Courgette alert

CABAHS Plant Sale, 9th August

Thank you to everyone who donated plants, or helped set up or bought plants, we raised an amazing £1,070 from the day! If you had to queue, we do apologise, but we are also pleased that it was so popular! We had sold out by 2pm. Half the funds will go towards the walled garden restoration, and half will be donated to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. Thank you again! The video below shows some highlights from the day. More will be planned!

New President of the RHS

The new President of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), Keith Weed, was appointed on 31 July 2020, and commits to increasing the gardening charity’s focus on sustainability and helping to mitigate climate change as a key priority.

Keith will be calling on all gardeners, both existing and the many recent new gardeners, to help the gardening revolution grow by not only continuing to make our gardens and local areas more beautiful but to make our environment more sustainable too.

Helen Yemm on “How to take pictures of your garden”

Some good tips here, download to view.

Tips to take photos in your garden

Rare Plant Fairs – News, and list of Nurseries

All the recent Rare Plant Fairs have had to be cancelled, but it’s worth keeping an eye on their very good website for latest news. A past CABAHS speaker, Colin Moat of Pineview Nurseries has just written an article on ferns, and there is a very good one on Salvias this month too. All the contributing small nurseries are listed on the website and a lot of them offer mail order.

Kent Wildlife Trust’s advice on “Soil your Undies”!

The Trust asked farmers to bury a pair of cotton underpants in their fields, then find out how long they took to start decomposing! A bit of fun, but also a serious issue. Read how they got on here (and have a go yourself?).


Garden Museum – Mollie Salisbury writing competition

This is rather “old news” as the competition date has now closed for this year. But the link below is to the winners from last year and they are a really wonderful read. The subject was The Problem with Gardening. The winner Tim Relf submitted a very funny-but-true article. Have a read!

Memoir Competition Winners

Watering the Community orchard in Charlton Park

If you live near Charlton Park, the Community Gardeners are asking everyone to take a water bottle with them and water a fruit tree as you go past.

If your regular exercise includes walking past either the Playground Orchard, near the Children’s Playground, or the Cafe Orchard, near the Old Cottage Coffee Shop, please take a small bottle of water with you and water a tree. If you prefer to take an empty bottle with you, the toilets near the Cafe Orchard have been open, so water could be taken from there. Most of the trees have a watering inlet, as shown in the picture, which ensures the water gets directly to the roots that need the water.

Ice Cube Herbs and flowers

A great idea, to keep ready for cocktails or salads. If you want the ice cubes to remain clear, remember to use pre-boiled and then cooled water.

Ice cube herbs and flowers

“Know Our Members” Survey

Remember the survey we asked you to fill in, way back at the February AGM? The results are interesting anyway but will also help us tailor our events and talks in future. Full details downloadable here: KnowOurMembers2020

No Mow May – Every Flower Counts

Plantlife are running their No Mow May campaign again this year. Don’t mow, then between 23rd and 30th May, count the flowers in a random 1m square of lawn. Send in the results to Plantlife and they will calculate a National Nectar index to show how our lawns are helping pollinators.

Specialist Nurseries – Plant Fairs Roadshow

The roadshows are cancelled, but have a list of all the independent nurseries that were to take part, good to support them if we can.

Tree Talk

Create a walk via common and unusual trees, starting at your postcode. Such a good idea for your daily lockdown walk!

RHS Chelsea Exhibitors – A-Z List

The RHS is busy planning its Virtual Chelsea Flower Show, which will take place from Monday May 18th. In the meantime, they have put the whole A-Z list of exhibitors up on their website, and its a very good place to browse. Click on the exhibitor name and you get a short description of the Nursery or company and the web link to their site. Good to support, some of these are small companies.

(Also note, RHS Hampton Court has been moved to 10-15 September, fingers crossed!)

Flower Photography

Below link is to a great article in the Guardian about taking photos during lockdown. Some fantastic ones of tulips, very topical following our recent Spring Show photos!

And on another note, here’s a photo lifted from our Facebook page – a Bugs Eye view of a tulip, which someone says makes it look a bit like the Coronovirus!

Tulip Bugs eye view

Horti-Aid 20 Gardening competition – more photos!

If you have enjoyed taking photos for our online Spring Show, you might like to know that the Horticultural charity “Perennial” has launched a nation-wide garden photo competition, as part of its own fund-raising activities. Judges include Alan Titchmarsh, Jim Buttress and Rachel de Thame. It’s £5 to enter, there are lots of categories and it’s for a great cause.

HortAid-20 Gardening Competition, supported by Suttons and panel of well-known judges, kick starts Perennial’s emergency Covid-19 appeal

Garden Day

Sunday May 10th is “Garden Day”. This idea is sponsored by a plant app, so avoid the advertising bit, but the website has some fun ideas for things to do. (eg rosewater, apple & rhubarb mocktails…)

NGS video on Sweet Peas

The National Garden Scheme has some good tutorials from their Open Garden owners. If you are going to risk planting out sweet peas due to the recent good weather, have a look at this one for some tips.

Now’s the time to plant out your sweet peas

Gardeners World – Where to buy Plants and Compost Online

GW have come up with a list of companies selling plants and compost online, it may go out of date (Apr 2) but is a good place to start:

Plantlife Road Verge Campaign

Plantlife say “In these challenging times, wild flowers on our verges and waysides are an uplifting sight, contributing significantly to our wellbeing. It’s been wonderful to see on social media many photos of botanical gems that people have spotted whilst out for their daily exercise; there is some solace to be found in nature.” Have a look at their Road Verge Campaign here:

Latest Buzz

matt cartoon bees

How Green Nursery, on BBC Radio Kent

Simon Sutcliffe, one of our most popular speakers last year, was on BBC Radio Kent this morning being interviewed about the difficulties facing independent nurseries like his. As a trade nursery, 25% of his business comes from supplying garden centres and that dried up immediately. A further chunk comes from professional landscaping projects and those are not all cancelled but are very delayed. Keeping these plants adds a cost in potting on and Nursery space, and there will be a knock on effect later in the year. Simon has launched a contactless delivery service, although this is really aimed at large orders (but you may have time for a big project..!). Anyway, keep an eye out for his Open Days (probably September) as they are an excellent opportunity for the public to visit his wonderful Nursery.

who we are

International Carrot Day – April 4th

Who knew? Celebrate by planting some, or making a carrot cake 🙂

International Carrot Day

Here’s the link to the National Trust’s recipe:

Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster

Planning permission for building a Holocaust Memorial and Learning centre on Grade 2 listed Victoria Tower Gardens was unanimously turned down by Westminster City council in February. But the Government is calling for a Planning Inquiry to be held, so this could still get the go-ahead. There is so little green space left in that area that  somewhere else could surely be found?  Read about it on the London Parks & Gardens Trust website to find out more.

Rachel de Thame: How to beat the Coronovirus blues by getting back to Nature. (The Sunday Times Mar 29th)

Great article, read the whole thing if you subscribe. If not here is an extract:

“While we remain largely confined to our homes, really take it all in during your daily walk or run through the park. Above all, make the most of any outdoor growing space you have, be it a narrow suburban strip, roof terrace, balcony or window box. No matter the size, each can provide an escape from the news and break the monotony of being cooped up. Encourage others in your household to get involved. Especially children, who might just tire of games consoles and Snapchat for long enough to become hooked on this “growing things” malarkey. Gardening teaches that the effort and patience required to achieve long-lasting rewards can feel as good as instant gratification.

Getting out in the garden makes us fitter, and growing our own food can transform our diet. Fresh vegetables and fruit are essential for good health, so if you are sowing seeds now then pick as many edible plants as you can. It’s easy, and if you don’t want to dig up your ornamental borders then grow herbs and salads among your roses and dahlias, and sow curly-leaved parsley as an edging for the front of flower beds.

Gardening engenders a sense of wonder and is as good for the soul as it is for the body; the benefits to our mental health and general wellbeing are well documented.”

I love the idea of parsley as an edging for flower beds!

Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice Open Gardens

The June dates have been cancelled, but the Hospice is rearranging  their annual fund raising open gardens to August 8/9 for Greenwich & Blackheath and August 15/16 for Charlton, Eltham & Bexley. If you are spending lots of time sorting your garden out, why not show it off to people and raise money for the Hospice at the same time? They are especially looking for gardens in Charlton. Contact to be put in touch with the organisers.

Paint  a Daffodil!

Member Jenny S has sent in this video on how to paint a daffodil, why not have a go!

One Exercise a Day…

If you live anywhere near Angerstein Lane, just off the Heath, it’s worth making a detour for – Stephen’s garden is looking great and all the tulips are coming out.

Angerstein Lane Mar20

Seeds for Bees – free seeds..!

38Degrees are running a campaign to help the bees, by planting more bee-friendly plants. You can sign up for some free seeds to be sent to you in April. (There’s an optional box for receiving information from them, so make sure you unclick it if not interested, and an optional donation box too).

Seeds for Bees!

Dig For Victory – Talk by Russell Bowes at our March Meeting

As we had quite a small turnout on Monday (understandably!) I thought you might like to know a little about Russell’s great talk. Russell started his talk with some facts, such as when the war broke out in 1939, nearly 80% of Britain’s food was imported. Imports were by ship and German blockades threatened supplies almost immediately.

A “Dig for Victory” campaign was started and people were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables – this included parks, golf clubs and even the moat at the Tower of London:

Tower of London allotments

The campaign featured lots of posters, this one was interesting because as Russell pointed out, the man is using the wrong foot. In fact the photo was taken using a mannequin’s dummy leg!

Dig for Vic poster

Much of the campaign’s success, which was overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, was thanks to the Royal Horticultural Society’s role in teaching men and women across the country how to grow vegetables year round.

Another way of increasing food production was down to the War Agricultural Executive committees which were formed in Autumn 1939 and given expansive powers over farmers and landowners in the United Kingdom. After performing surveys of rural land in their county, each Committee was given the power to serve orders to farmers “requiring work to be done, or, in cases of default, to take possession of the land”. Committees could decide, on a farmer’s behalf, which crops should be planted in which fields, so as to best increase the production of foodstuffs in their areas.

Russell told us about the Womens Land Army too. This started in WW1 but was re-established shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, in June 1939. It was finally disbanded in 1950. At its peak in 1943 over 80,000 women worked as ‘land girls’. They came from a wide range of backgrounds including towns and cities as well as the countryside.

He included lots of anecdotes about how dedicated the girls were, telling a story about one girl who turned up late with plaster in her hair, and asked the farmer not to mark her as late because she got there as soon as she could. Her house had been bombed that night! Another walked miles through waist-high snow to get to her farm and then apologised for being late.

Russell told us that one of the most missed vegetables was the humble onion. As they were nearly all grown in France, there were shortages immediately. One time, the post office received a parcel of onions where the address label was missing, so it went to lost property. They had 38 people turn up to claim it was theirs!

There were children’s campaigns too. Doctor Carrot popularised the myth that carrots could make you see in the dark.

Dr Carrot

We also heard about Cecil Middleton, who was really the first “celebrity gardener” on radio. He broadcast in Britain during the 30’s and 40’s, especially in relation to the “Dig for Victory” campaign. He was very knowledgeable but his programme went out on Sunday afternoons, and he had a soothing voice, so his main claim to fame was that he sent people to sleep after their Sunday lunch!

We thanked Russell for his entertaining talk and asked him to judge the Show Table and call the raffle. (We should really have had a loo roll as a raffle prize..!) It was a good evening, especially as we are going to have a bit of a break in meetings now. Take care everyone, stay well!

Glass Flowers

Have you ever heard of the Harvard Museum’s collection of Glass Flowers? This is a huge collection of over 4,300 flowers from some 780 species. The models were made because one of the professors wanted life-like models for teaching botany, and only paper mache or wax models were available at the time. Could you ever guess this picture shows a glass model of apple blossom?


The website has a wonderful video about the collection, follow this link then go to the Exhibit video “Harvard restores its famous glass flowers”.

Spring aphid advice from Charles Dowding

Good advice in the latest Gardeners World magazine from Charles Dowding of no-dig gardening fame. He says aphids can be reduced by watering both roots and affected leaves, because aphids like plants that are slightly stressed by lack of water. He says that insecticides applied to aphids in spring are likely to kill their first predators (ladybirds, earwigs etc) before they can build up a population – then the gardener is on a treadmill of needing to spray repeatedly.

Windy Days..

windy bulbs

Campaign to save Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage

Read here about a crowd-funding campaign to save Prospect Cottage on Dungeness. It would be sad to lose the iconic cottage and its amazing planting scheme on the bleak shingle of Dungeness point. Visit this summer if you can, in case it disappears (don’t go in winter!).


Seed Suppliers

Mary has spotted this excellent article from Gardens Illustrated, which comprehensively lists a huge choice of seed suppliers:

Garden News magazine Jan 4th

We get a mention in a national magazine! Thanks to Alex & Joe, who mentioned us in their regular “Over the Fence” feature in the magazine.

GardenGuys Jan4

Catalogues arriving soon!

It’s that time of year, such a welcome distraction..

thumbnail_Attachment-1 (1)


Some Christmas Gift ideas – please send your ideas in to cabahshortisoc@gmail and we will show them here.

1. Members Mary & Kathy both recommend this book as a good Christmas read. It certainly helps with a quiet garden life, if we can learn to live with weeds. Jack Wallington (garden designer, blogger and contributor to the Telegraph gardening page) describes which “weeds” we can happily use in garden schemes, and which ones to avoid at all costs.

2. If you are stuck for a gift for a gardener, remember Kew’s Adopt a Seed scheme, see website for details. £25 to adopt a Giant Sequoia or a Christmas Bell.. (Instant download so a good last minute one!)

Chuckle for a cold autumn day

(Thanks for sending in Mary!)

perennial bed


If you came to the November meeting, we do hope you enjoyed the inspirational talk by Nick Bailey! It was a really great evening and we would like to thank all members who contributed to the refreshments, raffle or winter berries display. There are pictures of the evening on the Gallery page of this website. We have gone out on a high!

FELCO Servicing

CABAHS member Beth has recommended Burton McCall group for servicing Felco secateurs. She reports that it costs £25 and takes 2-3 weeks and they are returned as good as new! A good time of year to be doing this. Check out their website here.

Perennial Charity Christmas cards

Check out some good gardening cards on the horticultural charity website here:

Christmas Catalogue

Happy Halloween

Here’s an idea for an unusual Halloween decoration. Succulents are getting everywhere these days..



Q : What’s a pumpkin’s favourite sport?

A : Squash!


The Rothschild Nerine collection

CABAHS member Melanie has advised us about an unusual collection:  Exbury Gardens in Hampshire, perhaps best known for the springtime magnificence of its rhododendrons, is also home to a special collection of Nerines.

As its quite a long way to visit, you might instead like to see photographer Lisa Creaghs website, where she has captured the extraordinary quality of this South African native “Jewel lily” in some stunning images:

(Once on the site, click on Exbury:The Rothschild Nerines.) Lisa gives a super description of the collection’s history as well as describing the drama of the nerines’ lifecycle.

If you can visit Exbury, the collection is on view until November 1st. This year has been the centenary year of Exbury gardens, acquired by Lionel de Rothschild and nurtured by his descendants ever since. Lionel’s great granddaughter, Marie-Louise Agius designed and planted a Centenary Garden, which was opened by the Prince of Wales in July and Milais Nurseries produced an award winning display of Exbury hybrid rhododendrons at Chelsea.

London in Bloom awards 2019

Congratulations to local heroes Charlton Community Gardens – Charlton Station and the Community Orchard in Charlton Park for achieving Gold and Outstanding awards at “London in Bloom”.  An inspiration to all of us gardeners!

Autumn is coming..

Autumn trees

The importance of going Peat Free

In case you missed the recent ITV Tonight investigation in to peat use in Garden Centres, here’s a video clip from it. The aerial view of peat bogs in Ireland that have been stripped of their peat layer was truly shocking.



Here’s a topical article on making your own compost. With all the talk in the news recently about the need to go peat-free, the more compost we can make ourselves the better!

Nick Bailey Compost

RHS advice for Holidaymakers!

Here is a link to the RHS advice on bringing plants back to the UK from your holidays (ie DON’T!). They have no less a personage than Dame Helen Mirren supporting their campaign, and its a very important message.

Mycenae House ParksFest – 2019

Thank you to everyone who donated plants, or helped on the stall, or came along and bought some! We had a great time and raised an amazing £490 which will go towards our speakers programme next year. Well done everyone.


Mycenae House1.jpg

Mycenae house collection


July Meeting – Question Time and Salvias

Here is our panel of amateur experts, getting ready to answer members questions! It was a very enjoyable evening for the 63 members who came out on a hot summer’s evening (and braved the night filming going on at Charlton House masquerading as a gothic mansion!)

QTime2019 Panel

We had some very varied questions, a useful demonstration on taking cuttings (thank you Terry), some good debates about composts and chemicals and some very funny anecdotes. Hope you all enjoyed it!

We also collected a beautiful range of Salvias from our gardens, here are the pics:


July Meeting – Flower Sprig time again!

We created a wonderful display of flower sprigs back in January, so we thought now it’s summer we should do it again! This time we will stick to one type of flower – we have picked SALVIA as there are so many different varieties to choose from. Pop a sprig in your pocket and bring it along to Monday’s meeting (July 15th).

Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, with nearly 1000 species of shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. Probably the best known plant in the family is Sage, or Salvia officinalis.  The name Salvia derives from the Latin salvere (“to feel well and healthy, health, heal”), referring to the healing properties of some of the plants in this group.

The genus also includes many ornamental plants prized by gardeners, such as Salvia “Hot Lips” and “Amistad” (photos above)

There is a huge range of Salvia varieties available now, in all sorts of sizes. They generally like a sunny position and look wonderful in a border. Some varieties can be tender, so taking cuttings as over-winter back up is a good idea. Taking salvia cuttings is easy and straight forward ( the trick is to find a non-flowering shoot).

Bring a sprig along to our meeting and lets see how many different ones we can get! 

Chihuly glass sculptures at Kew

Thoroughly recommend visiting this exhibition if you can. We combined it with a visit to the Marianne North gallery and took all day over it. The sculptures are all based on plants and have been beautifully set around the gardens. Details on the Whats On page.

Chelsea Bits & Pieces

Plant of the Year at the Chelsea Flower Show was this unassuming but rather pretty Sedum “Atlantis”.

Sedum takesimense Atlantis

Kathy had a great week volunteering at the Show, and was able to have a quick word with Nick Bailey as he was passing by and remind him he is coming to talk to CABAHS for our November meeting. I don’t suppose it was top of his To Do list that day but he was very kind about it!

Kathy at Chelsea

I expect everyone has been following the BBC coverage of Chelsea – but they didn’t cover very many of the trade stands and some had really fabulous planting.  Here’s a pic to give you all “Urn Envy”…


Topical Telegraph cartoon..!

Matt cartoon (2)

More Name changes – Salvia

The latest plant to have its name changed following DNA testing is herb garden favourite Rosemary. This has been reclassified to the Salvia family and its latin name is now Salvia rosmarinus.

Another common garden plant, Perovskia, has been renamed Salvia yangii.

I don’t know about you but I’m still getting my head around Asters being renamed Symphyotrichum, which is not one that trips off the tongue. I’ll stick to “Michaelmas Daisy”..

RHS Orchid Show (April 2019)

Members Lori and Mary have been to visit the RHS Orchid Show, at the Horticultural Halls in Vincent Square, and sent in these pictures of orchids awarded Gold. There is a marvellous display from the Writhlington School Orchid Project, which is an enterprise run mainly by Years 7 to 13, where income generated goes to fund school trips to places like Rwanda and Sikkim to promote conservation.

“Moon Garden” at Charlton House

Planting for the Moon Garden at Charlton House is expected to start in May, and we are about to start some seeds off in readiness. If you are interested in helping with seed growing or planting or watering later, please e-mail  We checked on the garden at our recent coffee morning, it was looking very spring-like.

Moon Garden 1 April

Moon gate 1 April

Special Horticultural emoji meanings…


Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden

The TV programme is looking for big and small projects to feature in their next series. If you are interested and want to know more, contact Anna – details as shown on the poster below.


Bean-eating Bugs

The Southern Green Shield bug has jumped into the top ten “worst garden pests” for 2018 on the RHS lists. It is a sap-feeding bug and affects runner beans.  Our native Green Shield bug is not a problem, so here is a picture so you can identify the bad guy.

Southern Shield Bug

The common green shield bug (left) poses few issues but the southern green shield bug (right) can devastate runner bean plants CREDIT: RHS

RHS top ten pests and diseases

Top ten plant pests 2018:

  1. Box tree caterpillar
  2. Slugs and snails
  3. Viburnum beetle
  4. Vine weevil
  5. Wooly aphid
  6. Southern green shield bug
  7. Fuchsia gall mite
  8. Capsid bug
  9. Cushion scale
  10. Ants

More information about the top ten pests and diseases is available on the RHS website:

The Nunhead Gardener – nursery/shop

This is a little gem tucked in under the railway arches by Nunhead Station. Not a large space but they have really made the most of it. A wonderful range of indoor plants, and some well-chosen outdoor plants plus lots of pots and accessories and quirky garden art.  (I didn’t mean to, but I had to buy a Kiwi plant…)

Thank you to Joyce for the recommendation.

IKEA “Stonewool” plugs – February 2019

IKEA stonewool plugs

As part of my Garden Resolution to go peat-free, I have just bought these plugs to try growing seedlings in. I’ve never seen this product before, and will feedback at the March CABAHS meeting how I get on!  Email to the usual if you have tried them already.

IKEA Greenwich roof garden – February 2019

Ikea roof garden

This is the roof garden on top of the new IKEA on Greenwich Peninsula. Its not quite open yet, they are still working on it, but it does look rather good for a visit and a coffee. Avoid weekends if you can, traffic a nightmare!

David Marsh – blog at the Gardens Trust

Further to the excellent talk Dr Marsh gave us at January’s meeting, here is the link to his weekly blog for the Gardens Trust. The blog is full of entertaining and interesting articles on garden history. A good one to follow if you are new to blogging!

Whats in Flower in your garden? – January

Well we had an amazing response to this, so many people brought in a flowering sprig that we almost ran out of space on the piano! What you can’t tell from the picture below is the SCENT, it was lovely. I rather think we have better flowers than the Chelsea Physic Garden 🙂  More photos are on the Gallery page.

january flowers 1


Whats in Flower in your garden? – For our Jan 21st meeting

The Chelsea Physic gardeners pick some sprigs of whatever is in flower and take a photo as a record. Below is their beautiful December picture. At our next CABAHS meeting, we want to try to copy them! If everyone brings in one flower sprig, we will attempt something similar and publish it next month.

Pop a flower sprig in your pocket as you set off for the meeting on Monday!

chelsea physic gdn dec

New Gardening Year resolutions – For our Jan 21st meeting!

What are your resolutions this year? Mine are (i) to keep my secateurs sharp and (ii) to only buy peat-free compost. As an incentive to keep them going this year, we thought it would be fun to collect all our members’ resolutions at our next meeting. Then we can remind you of them at our November meeting and see how many were kept!

Sarah Raven – Black Spot & Mildew – does it work?

Sarah’s latest catalogue suggests underplanting roses with Salvia nachtvlinder to reduce black spot. This was a question that came up in our 2018 Question Time (and we weren’t able to answer it) – so lets test it out this year and see if we agree with Sarah.  As its a variety quite widely grown by members – lets take cuttings and share please!

salvia and roses

Use your old Christmas tree!

According to the BBC, we buy 8million trees each year, and 7 million end up in landfill. But trees are biodegradeable and reusable. Send yours for composting by the council, or here are some other things you can do:

Pine needles are a good mulch for acid loving plants like Blueberries.

When the needles have dropped, put the whole bare tree in the ground and grow climbers like sweet peas up it, like a tepee.

Or, shred the smaller branches and use the chippings as mulch. Cut the larger branches up and stack in undisturbed areas of the garden as wildlife piles. Use medium-sized branches to lay over tender plants like Eucomis for some winter protection from rain and frost.

Use the thickest part of the trunk to create bee hotels by drilling holes into the end of the trunk. Tuck into a sunny spot.

Slice the trunk to make coasters.

Make Pine needle tea! Pine needles are edible, just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals. Tea is usually 1 part pine needles to 5 parts black tea leaves. Or make a simple syrup for use in lattes – boil fresh needles with sugar water & lemon juice.

Any other ideas? Send them in and we’ll post them here!

Best Christmas Joke?

Q : Why does Father Christmas need not one, not two, but THREE gardens?

A : So he can ho,ho,ho…


Christmas Cards from Perennial

We like to support the charity Perennial, which is a gardening charity dedicated to helping people who work in Horticulture. They have some great Christmas cards for sale this year if you fancy a browse:

Cards & Stationery

Apply for free trees!

Enter a ballot to get two free trees for your garden to help make London greener and wilder – an offer from the Mayor of London and the Woodland Trust & Sainsbury’s. Apply by Nov 9th. (You have to sign up for the newsletter, but.. free trees!)

Wonderful idea from Brockley residents:


Don’t Forget the Date! Sunday October 14th

HornFair Save Date 2018

Gooseberry Curd

As requested, you can download here the recipe for Gooseberry Curd, which was such a hit at the recent Autumn Show.

Gooseberry curd recipe

More Box Moth

A pretty visitor on my patio window tonight… or maybe not, now I’ve identified this as a Box Moth…!

Box moth

Aquatic Caterpillars

Yes, there is such a thing! Still reeling from the discovery of Box caterpillars all over the hedge – then to discover the Brown China Mark Moth caterpillars have infested the pond. What a year. But on the plus side – no duckweed now!

Brown China mark moth

Sempervivum ideas

Seen at RHS Wisely – on an old airbrick. Send in your photos if you have a quirky way of growing them!

air brick

Spread of “New” diseases

Our members have reported problems with some pests that are relatively new to the UK. Below are links to the RHS website for Fuchsia Gall Mite (first reported in the UK in 2007), Box Tree Caterpillar (2011, but now widespread in London) and Aquiligea Gall Midge (2009). The RHS advice is not very encouraging about control of these pests. At our next meeting we will be asking members to let us know if you have encountered them in your garden, and how you have dealt with them.

Ragwort menace

Here is an amusing article about the rise of Ragwort, but its a very serious issue so its worth a read. Kill on sight!

Drought Tips

Drought Tips - Copy

Spider-y lunch

There have been a lot of well-camouflaged spiders in the garden lately, have you noticed? Here’s a white one hiding under a Dahlia flower in Kathy’s garden, making lunch from an unsuspecting butterfly. One less for the Big Butterfly count then.. 😦

spider lunch


RHS London Plant Shows moving out of London in 2019

Sad news from the RHS that most of their London plant shows will move to Wisley and Hyde Hall next year.  Apparently last year “only” 12,000 visitors came to the shows at the Lawrence and Lindley Halls (where they have been held since 1904), and the RHS thinks they will make more money if they move them out of London.

Probably, but that’s 12,000 disappointed people in London.

Mycenae House Parksfest 2018

We had a very successful day running a plant stall at the Mycenae House Parksfest on Sunday July 1st. Thank you very much to all members who helped or donated plants. We had sold out of plants by 4 o’clock and made £152 for the Society. Everyone had a fun day, but we just about melted in the heat! The Parksfest was a wonderful event, with music, Morris Dancers, food etc., a very good day.

Mycenae 1.jpg


Advertising at the Great Get Together

Here is committee member Angela and friend John at the Great Get Together in Woolwich. Note our advert on their Noticeboard! As part of the Patient Participation Group, they were telling everyone how healthy gardening is for you.

InkedAngela and John at GGT 18_LI

Oxleas Woods Apiary

In case you missed it, here is the information flyer that John brought in for his wonderful June talk. Charlton-Blackheath-Horticultural18-06-18

Eat your Weeds!

Brilliant recipe from new book “Food you can Forage” by Tiffany Francis. Click here for her recipe for Dandelion Cookies:  Tiffany Francis Dandelion Cookies Recipe


Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice heart Nurse appeal

Proceeds of our Plant Sales table in May will be donated to this appeal, please buy generously!

Heart Nurse

RHS Chelsea’s Feel Good Garden – by Matt Keightley

With health and wellbeing now so high profile, there has never been a better time to focus on the role gardens have to play in promoting it. Matt’s garden at Chelsea this year will be transferred to Camden NHS mental health trust after the show has finished. Read about his 6 tips to create your own Feel Good garden, towards the end of this article:

Beautiful orchid on a cinnamon tree

Annette has shared this lovely orchid growing on a cinnamon tree in St Lucia. If you are an orchid lover, check out Coolings Nursery on May 19th, they will have an expert on site to help with repotting and advice on how to grow orchids if you don’t have a St Lucian climate!

Orchid on cinammon tree

V&A Fashioned from Nature exhibition (until Jan 19, £12)

How fashion has been influenced by nature, this V&A exhibition is an eclectic mix of items from the 17th century up to today, exploring their complex relationship. The dress below is decorated with green jewel beetle wing cases, and the waistcoat is embroidered with plant designs.

Huws Nursery – organic grower and YouTuber

Plastic bottles and soda bottles accumulate quickly in many homes however they are an excellent resource for growing vegetables and in particular small-space gardens. And no these aren’t simply 7 different shaped pots, these 7 hacks range from seedling guards to slug traps and seed storage.



To “age” new terracotta pots to make them look vintage, paint with sour milk or watered-down yoghurt. Does it work? Let us know.

To stop slugs getting at potted Hostas, smear Vaseline around the base of the pots.

NGS Photography Competition

If you are visiting any NGS Open garden this year, take your camera or phone and snap an image for their competition. If you enter the Fantastic Flowers category, your image might get on the Gardeners World calendar next year. Entries up to 28th August. Details here:

Calling all amateur photographers and garden enthusiasts!


At this seed-planting time of year, here’s how to go Green and reduce the dreaded plastic.


KENT LIFE – Amateur Garden of the Year

If you fancy entering this annual competition, details are on their website. It is for “passionate home gardeners” and large or small gardens. Sounds like us!


Love this, especially at the planning / dreaming stage of the year!



Lovely little double daffs round the base of this Community pear tree in the East Greenwich Pleasaunce today – brightening up a dull day.

Pear tree.jpg


An unusual way of giving a rose!

Check out this video, a fun way to propagate a rose, using a potato.

A visit to the Woodland Dell at Mycenae House

Snowdrops are out as you walk through the Woodland Dell from Beaconsfield Road. Its a very small woodland area but full of plants and wildlife, including woodpeckers.  Its kept up by volunteers, who have been gradually cutting back the brambles and nettles and have sensitively planted woodland plants. Click below for more details.


Annual Food Growing Conference

Growing Conference Flyer-page-001

Digging techniques – what you should and shouldn’t do

The RHS & Coventry Uni have teamed up to investigate the best way to dig safely. Check out the BBC Breakfast clip on the link below. They used Gardeners World presenter Frances Tophill and Hollywoods motion capture technology to see which muscles were affected.

The overall message is to use regular, repetitive movements, bend at the knee and keep the spade close so you don’t lean forward too much.

RHS Plants for Bugs 2

The RHS has just published its second study on Plants for Bugs, with results from 36 test plots and analysis of nearly 23,000 specimens. See the RHS website for more, but the overall recommendations are below:

  1. The more plant cover,  the better for plant-living invertebrates – so put in plenty of plants and let them grow vigorously.
  2. The more nectar-rich plants your garden has, the more pollinators it will attract and support.
  3. Introduce native British plants and their related cousins from the Northern hemisphere.
  4. Hemp agrimony, primrose and purple loosetrife are examples of good native species.
  5. Extend the flowering season for pollinators with some non-native late flowering exotics. Near non-native plants are not much less welcoming to invertebrates than native ones, especially if densely planted.

Capital Growth website

Following the excellent talk Tim Andersen gave us about Maryon Park Community Gardens, here is the Capital Growth website he told us about, its a very interesting site to follow.

RHS Wisley- appeal to Highways England

An update on the Save RHS Wisley campaign – the petition has now closed, but received an astounding 134,000 signatures. Latest update is that the Dept of transport has agreed to a change of route and many trees will be saved as a result.

 PlantLife wildflower hunt

Have fun surveying wildflowers ( a good activity for children in the school hols) and submit your results to help with serious scientific research. Spotter sheets provided.

PlantLife petition

Sign the petition to protect wildflowers in our grass verges by asking local councils to cut grass later in the season. Greenwich Council is pretty good about this (Blackheath verges are thriving) but still worth encouraging them to do more.

Slugs and Snails

RHS research shows that “organic” pellets are almost as effective as ordinary pellets, and so much better for wildlife.


A great success! Here is our stall, it looks really professional.  We made a very respectable profit of nearly £200 as well as advertising the Society and hopefully attracting new members (as well as the local constabulary!).  Thank you to everyone who donated plants and time (and the gazebo – special thank you, Ron).


GGT Plants

Springhead Nurseries

Just off the A2 at Northfleet.  Member Joyce visited recently and says they have a very good stock of bedding & basket plants, salvias and marigolds at very good prices. Worth checking out!


Provender Nurseries

Members Jenny and Beth visited Provender Nurseries this weekend, and used the special discount cards available to all CABAHS members. You can borrow a card from any committee member if you are planning to go. Here is their review, and the website link is below:

A “ serious” nursery quite near to Ruxley Manor, but put on your Sat Nav as it’s down a narrow country lane.

If you want half a dozen Olive trees or a row of Yews this is the place to come. However you can also buy 1 litre,2 litre pots of your favourite herbaceous plants. Laid out alphabetically shrubs, herbs and annual bedding are easily found, but only large trailers are available to push around – no wire baskets or trolleys!

Prices are not always on the pots so read the signs on the walls,the CABAHS discount card definitely helps at the till, approx 25-30% discount.

The choice and selection of different sizes of the same plant gives you a wonderful range to choose from and the staff are friendly and helpful.Go with a prepared list of what you want and you won’t be disappointed!

P.S.There is no Coffee Shop and the”Shop” does not contain any fripperies!

Angerstein Lane garden

The below issue of the Westcombe News has an interview with Stephen Whitefield of Angerstein Lane. The lane is just off Langton Way by the Heath and well known to local dog walkers. It was an unkempt public right of way which Stephen has developed into a garden over the last 12 years and it is now a real feature. Download the May issue below, the article is on Page 5.

The garden can be seen at any time, but will also be part of the Open Gardens Festival, raising funds for the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice on 17-18 June 2-5.30pm.

Blossom-heavy trees

If you came to our March meeting, you will have heard our Chairman Jim Heath note how much blossom there is on the trees this Spring. He wondered if any trees would break with the weight of it all.  Well, one of our members has sent in this photo to prove his point!  Poor tree, we hope it recovers for next year.


Pineview Nurseries Plant List

In case you missed Colin Moat’s great talk about Plants for Shady Gardens, or didn’t manage to pick up a plant list, it is attached here for your interest.

Pineview Plants Shady plant list