The Changing management of Blackheath, Greenwich & Charlton – May talk on Zoom
Our May talk was presented by local naturalist Joe Beale, who runs surveys of local wildlife, training, guided tours and talks and is active on Twitter. He discussed the changing management of the local area, including Charlton Park, Greenwich and Blackheath and the impact this is having on local plants as well as lichens and animals.
He discussed the approach to take to habitat management. That there were lots of things worth fighting for. He discussed the need to carry out research and ecological surveys. The need for a conservation action plan and to take conservation action appropriate to the conservation site. Also the necessity to work in collaboration with local residents, communities, landowners, specialists and the local council. He commended the support given by Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces and its willingness to assist.
Joe began by showing a photograph of the Vanbrugh Pits in 1983 when vegetation there was scarce, but rich in bio-diversity, and now, when it is dense with brambles and Holm Oak which are killing off the flora and fauna. He pointed to the need for pursuing in management a middle path there, including getting rid of the Holm Oak, Cherry and Turkey Oak (as well as the dogs mess!).
Key diverse wild life plants in this area he suggested were species that needed low nutrient soil e.g. blackthorn plantain and lichens such as Cetraria aculeata and Chaldonia furcata. He said 29 types of butterfly had been found on the Greenwich Park side of Blackheath in 2010 which was about half of the UK total and 173 species of bees and wasps.
Also found in acid grassland and sandy soil are sheeps sorrel (Rumex acetosella), birds foot (Ornithopus perpusillus), spurry (Spergularia rubra ) and lichen (Cetraria aculeata).
Blackheath and the Greenwich Park side of it is well known for plants and clovers which thrive on soil of of low nutrient value. Such as hare’s foot clover (Trifolium arvense), knotted clover (Trifolium striatum), woolly clover (Trifolium tomentosum,) and clustered clover ( Trifolium glomeratum).
Wildlife included gorse( Ulex europaeus) for the whinchat birds, ragwort visited by 43 bees and wasps, the burnet and cinnabar moths and small copper butterflies.
Joe said sympathetic mowing was crucial in particular the need to remove the hay to promote biodiversity as it was nutrient rich. Always have wildness at heart. Leave the edges of sites, leave verges and banks and mow in rotation. Expose earth and deadwood. Consider the food, plants, shelter, nesting and breeding needs of key wildlife.
He described the increase in biodiversity in verges in Blackheath since it has had relaxed mowing as well as Charlton’s Maryon Park. He also referred to the Wildlife Meadow which is being constructed in Charlton Park. The policy there of not sowing wild flowers, just digging the area over and seeing what grows. He pointed out the value of cemeteries in promoting biodiversity. He mentioned that cemeteries such as Charlton cemetery are expected to be neat and tidy, but, in fact are bustling with wild life and like Charlton they should have an area left to encourage biodiversity.
To help promote and encourage more biodiversity Greenwich Park has also taken a more relaxed approach to mowing and is allowing grass to grow in some areas as well as setting up biodiversity friendly habitats. This policy has been incorporated into its multimillion pound Heritage funded renovation programme. Many CABAHS members are already keen promoters of biodiversity and wild life. Hopefully Joe’s enthusiastic talk will encourage the rest to consider the needs of biodiversity and wildlife in their own gardens.
Angela, May 2021.
Create a Garden for all Seasons – April talk on Zoom
Our recent April talk featured Adam Pasco, horticultural journalist and editor of Gardeners World magazine for many years, who provided ten tips and ideas on how to create a garden for all seasons that would provide garden interest and colour throughout the year. He used as a backdrop and example his own beautiful back garden in Peterborough which he had created over the last 30 years. A garden that we amateur gardeners could relate to and achieve.
1) CHOOSE PLANTS WITH STRUCTURE AND FORM: Adam suggested as examples, the Wedding Cake Tree – Cornus controversa variegata, Hydrangea paniculata, Cardoon – Cynara cardunculus.
2) PICK PLANTS THAT HAVE A LONG SEASON OF INTEREST: He suggested putting the perennial Spanish Dagger – Yucca Gloriosa variegata in a large pot and surrounding it with annual bedding plants which could be changed each season.
3) USE PLANTS AND COMBINATIONS FOR CONTINUITY OF COLOUR: For example Phlomis russeliana (AGM) and Nepeta racemosa.
4) ADD FEATURES AND FOCAL POINTS: He gave examples such as seated areas with benches, painted wooden fences, paths, arches and water features. He gave East Rushton Old Vicarage garden, Barnsdale Gardens, and Old Wallerton Hall as examples.
5) CREATE STUNNING SEASONAL DISPLAYS: So that you have a display in each season. He gave the red border at Hidcote as an example of a summer display.
6) ADD VALUE ACROSS ALL SEASONS: Also design your garden so that it looks good all the year round. Focus on one area that looks good for one season. Adam suggested Camellia ‘Garden Glory’ Feb – March, dwarf Rhododendron ‘Snipe’ Feb – March, Camellia ‘Contribution’ Mid March-April, Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ (AGM) – April, Lithodora ‘Heavenly Blue’ – Spring through summer, Azalea ‘Sheila’ – May, Rhododendron ‘Yakushimanum’ – May, Rhododendrum ‘Surrey Heath’ – May, Kalmia latifolia -Early June, Clematis ‘Oh La La’, Boulevard Series, Hydrangea -Summer into Autumn, Taxus baccata ‘Standishi’ (AGM) -Year round, Tibetan Cherry Prunus serrula.
7) EXCITE THE SENSES: He suggested sensory plants such as Nemesia ‘Wisley Vanilla’ and Lilium ‘Pink Romance’.
8) GROW SOMETHING DIFFERENT: He suggested Sophora ‘Sun King’ (AGM), Hollyleaf Sweetspire, Itea ilicifolia (AGM), Phygelius ‘Moonraker’ and Ptilotus ‘Joey’ for a sunny patio pot.
9) PLANTS THAT ATTRACT WILDLIFE: He suggested Alstromeria initicancha ‘Sunshine’ and Cotoneaster horizontalis for berries.
10) HAVE A STAR PLANT FOR EVERY MONTH:
EARLY SPRING: Plant Narcissus ‘Tete- a- Tete’, Camellia x Williamsii ‘Saint Ewe’ (AGM) and Summer Snowflake ‘Leucojum aestivum (AGM) with Brunnera Jack Frost (AGM).
MID SPRING: Star Magnolia – Magnolia stellata, ornamental fruit and trees e.g Self fertile Pear ‘Concorde’ (AGM), Epimedium x Perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’.
LATE SPRING: Rhododendron ‘Yakushimanum’ (AGM), Perennial Wallflower Erysimum ‘Bowle’s Mauve’, Clematis koreana ‘Amber’.
EARLY SUMMER: Roses including ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ and ‘The One and Only’, Allium ‘Globemaster’ (AGM). Annual climbers e.g. Sweet Peas, Thungbergia alata ‘Superstar Orange’, Spanish Flag – ‘Ipomoea lobata’, Cup and Saucer Vine – Cobaea scandens.
MID SUMMER: Astranta major ‘Roma’ (AGM), Echinacea magnus, Lavender Fathead ‘Pretty Polly’, ‘Willow Vale’, L. Viridis.
LATE SUMMER: Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ (AGM), Rudbeckia ‘Goldstrum’ (AGM), Sedum Thundercloud’, ‘Purple Emperor’ (AGM), ‘Rose Carpet’, Sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’.
FOLIAGE FAVOURITES THROUGHOUT THE SEASONS: Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ (AGM), Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (AGM), Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ (AGM), Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’, Physocarpus ‘Diabolo’ (AGM), Elder – Sambucus ‘Black Lace’ (AGM), Viola ‘Heartthrob’, Acer palmatum ‘Seiryu’.
EARLY AUTUMN: Perennial Sunflower – Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (AGM), Aster x Frikarti ‘Monch’ (AGM), Japanese Anemones ‘Pretty Lady Susan’ ‘Honore Joubert’ (AGM), Prinz Heinrich ‘Pamina’ (AGM) and ‘September Charm’ (AGM).
MID AUTUMN: Autumn colour- Stag’s Horn Sumach – Rhus typhina, ‘Kashmir’, Rowan – Sorbus ‘Cashmiriana’ (AGM).
LATE AUTUMN: Crab Apple – Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ (AGM), Skimmia japonica ‘Pabella’ (female for berries).
EARLY WINTER: Silver Birch – Betula ‘Silver Shadow’ (AGM).
EVERGREEN FORM AND COLOUR FOR ALL SEASONS: Japanese Sedge – Carex ‘Evergold’, Helleborus argutifolius (AGM), Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ (AGM) (male), Chamaecyparis ‘Boulevard’ (AGM), Choiysia ‘Aztec Pearl’ (AGM), Choisya ternate ‘Sundance’ (AGM), Hebe ‘Margaret’ (AGM), Evergreen Fern – Soft Shield Fern Polytsichum setiferum (AGM).
MID WINTER: Mahonia x Media ‘Winter Sun’ (AGM), Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ (AGM), Winter Aconite – Eranthis Hyemalis (AGM),
LATE WINTER: Crocus ‘Tricolor’ (AGM), Snowdrop – Galanthus nivalis (AGM).
Finally, Adam suggested garden jobs for April: it is a good time to transplant and split Agapanthas. Also he recommended buying seeping hosepipes, and that timers could be attached to taps. A time too for testing old seeds to see if they are worth using. Take a few, soak in water overnight, dry them and cover them with cling film. Check after a couple of days to see how many have germinated.
Angela, April 2021
Elephants in the Garden – March Talk on Zoom
At our recent talk, Dr David Marsh, a garden historian, gave a detailed account of the history of elephants in gardens focusing primarily on menageries and then on large scale mechanical elephants. His interest in elephants was stimulated by a visit to a café at the grade I listed Chiswick House and gardens where he noticed a coaster had an elephant depicted on it.
The earliest mention of a menagerie in the UK is in 1199 in the grounds of Woodstock Manor situated on the site of the present day Blenheim Palace.
The monarchs over the centuries were very keen on menageries and elephants. Elephants were often given as gifts. Henry 111 was given an elephant in 1255 by the French King which cost £24.14s.3p to feed over a period of 9 months. A colossal sum at the time. So too were Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. James I was especially attracted to menageries. He was given one by the King of Spain.
Henry 111 set up a menagerie in the Tower of London where an area was set aside for it. Over the centuries the menagerie became a tourist attraction. A viewing platform was erected in 1597. The animals were sometimes baited to entertain tourists. In the 18th century the entrance fee was 3p or if you could not afford it a cat or dog to feed to the lions.
Elephants over the centuries were often fed and housed inappropriately. One was fed wine. Not surprisingly some did not live very long. Henry 111’s elephant only lived 2 years.
By the mid eighteen century menageries became must have features found in many country estates. There were estimated to be as many as 40 at one point. Though rare that they had elephants. One well known elephant was Sadi who was given to the Duke of Devonshire at Chiswick House by the Marquis of Hastings of India fame as a present. He even introduced her to the Russian Czar. The animals in menageries became increasingly varied and exotic. A reflection of the expanding British empire overseas.
By the early 19th century menageries had also become commercial enterprises. The Exeter Exchange was set up in the Strand near Somerset House in 1815. One elephant there, Chunee was taught tricks. She was hired out to theatres, but eventually had to be killed as she became too dangerous.
The early nineteenth century was the heyday and also the swansong of menageries. The tide turned on Chunee’s death and a more humane and educational approach was introduced during the 19th century. George 1V had a menagerie set up at Windsor using a more enlightened approach.
In 1826 the Linnean Society spear headed by its members, Sir Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy and the Stamford Raffles founded the present day London Zoo in Regents Park where the animals were provided with more spacious accommodation within beautiful gardens. In the 1830s William 1V closed the Tower menagerie and its animals were moved to Regents Park. It did not have an elephant so the new zoo quickly bought two.
The Exeter Menagerie was moved to a site in the Walworth Rd by its owner Edward Cross. He situated it in a large beautifully designed and laid out garden. It became a major tourist attraction.
Dr Marsh then moved on to mechanical elephants They were first mentioned by Jules Verne in 1880 and started to be manufactured at the beginning of the twentieth century. Frank Smith and then in the 1940s and 50s, Frank Stuart , developed and manufactured and sold world wide large scale mechanical elephants. They became major tourist attractions. They were also used for advertising purposes, including by Chipperfields Circus. One in Australia called Nellie played a central part in the annual Adelaide Christmas Parade. One huge automaton in Nante took 20-30 passengers and shot water from its trunk. Some still exist. One is in the Bewley Motor Museum. One was even sold on Ebay in 2011 for £1,600. Another featured in Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear!
NestBox Week – February 14th
British Nestbox week starts every year on Valentines Day, have a look at their website to get tips on siting nestboxes to get the best chance of an occupier. Our feathered friends need all the help they can get. https://www.nestboxweek.com/
Living in Greenwich – Tales through Time
The Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust has just launched an online exhibition from the borough museum archive, including a place where residents can record their personal experience of living through the pandemic. Most of the featured “tales” are from Charlton, but the idea is to collect stories from all over the Borough. There are currently no stories about gardening! Why not submit a story about your experience? https://tales.greenwichheritage.org/
British Orchid Council – Photo competition
This stunning photo has won the photo competition run by the British Orchid Council. For more pictures, see their website
Go Wild Gardening
CABAHS Committee member Paula, reminds us that even the smallest urban garden can attract and help wildlife. She suggests you can select a small space in a patch of lawn to sow Wild Flowers as well as well known plants. Plants such as Echinacea, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks and Lavender there is a huge choice to pick from, or how about letting the grass grow and think of the time you will save in not mowing! It will attract insects, bees and who knows what else will show up.
Has your “wild bit” attracted any unusual wildlife? Let us know!
Check out the RHS tips for more info here:
Woolwich Garrison Church Gardens
The Woolwich Garrison Church Trust (https://www.stgeorgeswoolwich.org/site ) has commissioned Chelsea Gold Medal winner Juliet Sargeant to create a Commonwealth and Gurkha garden on their site. They already had outline drawings, above, by local designer Don Albrecht, and are now looking for feedback about the plans. The idea is to have an English Orchard and wildflower garden on one side of the church, and the Commonwealth countries and Gurkhas reflected in the planning on the other side. Chair of the Trust, Tim Barnes, says that in Gurkha villages there is always a central tree which acts as a focal point for village life – so there are plans for a circular seat around the base of one of the trees to reflect this tradition. There are some lovely ideas, download the full document below if you are interested.
Re-using your Christmas Tree
Don’t just throw it out! In the US and UK combined, an estimated 40 million trees are cut down each year, according to the best-seller Christmas book “How to Eat your Christmas tree” by Julia Georgallis. The average tree is 7-10 years old when cut and the total could absorb 880 million tonnes of carbon emissions throughout their lives. There are loads of websites suggesting ideas for re-using old trees, here are just a few ideas:
Cut off the branches and use as winter-protection on top of pots or around tender plants. Use the main tree trunk as a pole for climbers like sweet peas. Use the pruned tree as a winter bird food hanger. Keep branches of no-needle-drop trees for decorations next year, spraying the dried leaves silver. Twigs can be painted to make gnomes, or slices of wood will make snowmen decorations, or chunks of the trunk make good candle holders:
Or see the Blog page for some recipes to cook your tree! https://cabahs.com/blog-2/
Charlton Champion Post
The Charlton Champion has recently posted about the Christmas wreaths on the gates at the Old Pond Garden. There’s still a couple of days to take a walk there if you haven’t seen them. Read the full post here:
Christmas Message Tree at St Luke’s
Isn’t this a great idea? St Luke’s Church in Charlton Village asked residents to send in their Christmas messages and they would be hung on the tree outside, so everyone can read them as they walk past. There are some lovely childrens drawings and heartfelt messages. CABAHS has added a message on members behalf too.
Raffle Winner and Christmas Message
President of the Society, Sir Nicolas Bevan, draws the raffle from last month’s Zoom meeting and gives his Christmas message. Congratulations to Janet H on winning the £30 Garden gift voucher.
Easy Christmas Ideas
Lots of ideas in the magazines this month, send in if you spot a clever one! This is a lovely easy way to show table place settings, just the tip of a pine branch in a wooden peg:
How about these for window decorations: pieces of pine or fir branches in the shape of a star, held together with wire and a dab of glue.
Have a go at a DIY Christmas wreath, just using any pliable cuttings like grapevine, or I used wisteria and it worked very well. You can leave it ‘au naturel’ or add any seed heads, berries and leaves.
Westcombe News Article – December 2020
One of our regular volunteers, Anne R has written an article for the Westcombe News, all about her experiences of volunteering at the Old Pond Garden. It’s a great advert for us, and will hopefully encourage even more people to come along and help, especially if we are to expand into the Long Borders as well!
East Greenwich Pleasaunce wildflowers
EGP volunteers have laid 40m of wildflower turf all along the west side under the lime trees, so we can look forward to a wonderful display next year. RBG gardeners kindly weeded all the Alkanet plants out of the border, and three pallets of wildflower turf was donated by a local developer. Fingers crossed now!
The latest Alex cartoon is very topical!
Wreaths at Eltham Palace Gardens
Wreaths everywhere in the gardens! Lovely idea, and lots of benches to sit on if you are wrapped up warm. I especially like the wreath in the old Mulberry tree.
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!
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: http://www.ginkgofinancial.com/grow/
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.
An alarming article in Gardeners World magazine.. taste your courgettes!
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!
Helen Yemm on “How to take pictures of your garden”
Some good tips here, download to view.
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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!)
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!
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…) https://www.gardenday.co.uk/2020/04/17/sip-back-and-relax-on-garden-day/
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.
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: https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/inspiring-stories
International Carrot Day – April 4th
Who knew? Celebrate by planting some, or making a carrot cake 🙂
Here’s the link to the National Trust’s recipe:
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!
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.
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).
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:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!).
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.
Catalogues arriving soon!
It’s that time of year, such a welcome distraction..
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!)
LAST MEETING OF 2019
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!
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. https://www.burton-mccall.co.uk/brand/felco/
Perennial Charity Christmas cards
Check out some good gardening cards on the horticultural charity website here:
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. https://www.exbury.co.uk/plan_your_visit
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..
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!
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.
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!)
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”.
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!
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”…
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.
Special Horticultural emoji meanings…
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.
RHS top ten pests and diseases
Top ten plant pests 2018:
- Box tree caterpillar
- Slugs and snails
- Viburnum beetle
- Vine weevil
- Wooly aphid
- Southern green shield bug
- Fuchsia gall mite
- Capsid bug
- Cushion scale
More information about the top ten pests and diseases is available on the RHS website: www.rhs.org.uk
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…) https://thenunheadgardener.com/
Thank you to Joyce for the recommendation.
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.