News and Reports

January 2022: Anne Barnard from Rose Cottage Plants on Dahlias

CABAHS member Angela reports on our January meeting:

Anne Barnard from Rose Cottage Plants nursery in Essex has many years experience of and is a specialist in growing dahlias, as well as exhibiting widely including at RHS shows.  Dahlias, which originate in Mexico and Central America, come in a wide variety of colours from pastel to rich reds and mahogany. She described how planting dahlias in summer beds can transform them and suggested how to choose and use them to best effect. Anne said they provide an outlet for personal creativity, style and artistic expression. She used her own garden, field displays in Holland and Chenies Manor as illustrations.

Dahlias had gone out of fashion, but in recent years there had been a revival of interest in them.  Their rich colours were particularly attractive and ‘jewel’ gardens had become common.  Many new and more popular and often exotic looking varieties had been developed. Many originate in Holland and she visited several important and influential growers. She said after bulbs, tulips and alliums have flowered by June/July,  gardens begin to look tired and dahlias wide variety and rich colours give life to the garden and make a good display right up to the first frosts.

 Anne went on to describe a wide variety of dahlias:

1) IMPERIALIS: the giant bell tree dahlia which can grow several metres high. She said taller dahlias like this come into flower much later than the short ones as they need more time to grow. 2) SINGLE FLOWER: e.g. Bright Eyes,  Dahelgria, Dovegrove. She said they were very good pollinators as insects were attracted to single flowers. 3) BALL SHAPED:  e.g.  Jowey Winnie, Frank Kalka,  Boom Yellow, Gipsy Night. Very good as a cut flower. 4) CACTUS: e.g. Urchin, Sophia Holy hill, Spider Woman. 5) ANEMONE: e.g. Blue Bayon, Platinum Blonde, Purple Haze, Mambo. 6) DECORATIVE: e.g. American Sun, Crème de cassis, Crème de cognac. Some have mixed colour petals which are very attractive. 7) GIANT PLATE DECORATIVE: e.g. Café au Lait, Penhill Dark Monarch, Great Hercules. 8) WATERLILY: e.g.  Karma, Pink Perception, Irene, Lily petals are long lasting. 9) COLLARETTE: e.g. Kelsey Sunshine, Famoso, Swan Island. Dahlias which have both an inner ring of petals and an outer ring which are attractive to bees and butterflies. 10) ORCHID: e.g.  Honka Rose, Verones Obsidian, Destiny’s Teachers, Crazy legs. 11) THOSE WHICH DO NOT FALL INTO ANY CATEGORY: e.g. Mexican Black which is a hybrid cross with Chocolate Cosmos, Bishop of Llandaff. 

Citing Chenies Manor as an example, with regard to planting up borders, Anne pointed out planting scheme fashions had changed  over the years. Previously borders had been more formal and structured. Now their style was much looser. Examples of plants, both annuals and perennials, that made good partners and contrast to dahlias included Verbena bonariensis, Cosmos, Nicotiana, Fennel, Castor oil, Salvia Amistad.  She said mixing blue flowers with coloured dahlias in borders should be avoided as they make them look more purple. White dahlias also did not make good companions to other dahlia colours and suggested instead those that had a more cream tone should be used. If planting tulips in the same border she recommended following on with the same coloured dahlias. She left her dahlias in the ground over winter and cut them back in January and mulched the crowns. She intermingled   for example bulbs, tulips and Fritillaria persica with them.

Anne said that she started her dahlias off in pots, and when planted out they need fertile soil, regular watering, moist but not waterlogged soil and sunshine. She mentioned that she provided buyers of her dahlias with cultivation instructions.

For further information look at Rose Cottage Plants website.

It is having an open weekend during August Bank Holiday (27- 28 August) at their farm Bay Tree Farm, Epping Green, Essex. CM16 6PU. Opening times: 10am-5pm. Mobile: 01992 573 775. The RHS website also provides useful cultivation instructions.

October meeting: Murder Most Florid

CABAHS Member Sharon reports on our October meeting:

The guest speaker for October was Dr Mark Spencer who gave a fascinating glimpse into his experience of working as a forensic botanist. It became clear that forensic botanists are a rare find throughout the UK and the world.
He explained that from being brought up within a rural farming background in Warwickshire, he studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. However he realised he did not want to pursue horticulture as a job and moved onto studying Botany culminating in a Doctorate looking at the evolution of fungi. While working at the Natural History Museum where he had become an expert on various aspects of botany, he was approached by a Police department asking whether he could help work out how long a body had been in a canal.
He has now worked alongside numerous police forces and an array of other experts such as soil scientists, experts in the study of pollen and forensic entomologists (study of insects) to assist in missing person searches, assessing how long human remains had been in-situ and linking suspects to crime scenes.
As a forensic botanist, Dr Mark Spencer looks for useful evidence using his knowledge of the rhythm, structure and behaviour of plants within their eco-systems. This can range from observation and interpretation of how vegetation is growing at a scene being investigated, to a microscopic identification of fragments of foliage found on clothing, to looking at the stomach contents and understanding the botany within a person’s digestive tract.
He explained how the roots of plants can help provide understanding of how long ago human activity occurred at the scene. Brambles ( Rubus Fruticosis) can be very useful tools for estimating how long bodies had been lying in woodlands or hedgerows through the knowledge of how they grow at different stages, when they send out side shoots and number of stems produced. I have a feeling that my walks through Oxleas Woods, which are full of brambles, will never be quite the same again!

Dr Mark Spencer on Murder Most Florid

October: Horn Fair 2021

A super-successful day at our CABAHS plant stall at the Horn Fair Charlton House. This annual festival on St Luke’s day has had a re-boot by the new team at Charlton House and was a very lively event. Our stall made £760, thank you to all who donated plants or helped on the day, these things cannot be done without you all! Lots of commercial and artisan stalls, talks and exhibitions.

August meeting: Amateur Gardeners Question Time “GQT”

CABAHS committee member Angela kindly took notes at our recent GQT meeting, and reports back here:

Our amateur “GQT” was attended by over 50 members and OPG volunteers and was held outside, in the Peace Garden behind Charlton House.  Our president, Sir Nicolas Bevan, introduced the panel experts – guest panellist Joe Woodcock, plus Vija Vilcins and Pat Kane. It was an exceptional meeting.  As Sir Nicolas said, this was the first time members have met face-to-face since the beginning of the pandemic. To celebrate this it was also a social event with wine and nibbles provided – and appreciated!


QI Stella B: I would be grateful for some suggestions for a small or medium sized tree for my back garden. It’s a ’coming along’ garden begun a couple of years ago. There are now 3 apple trees (2 half standards and one espalier), so not another fruit tree. I really need it for some screening (it’s a terrace house) so maybe 12-15ft full grown? Not too wide a spread.


a)Joe:  i)Although Stella was not keen on fruit trees the crab apple would be a good tree. e.g.   Malus ‘Red Sentinel’ with its wonderful golden leaves.

ii) Japanese maples (Acers) e.g.Senkaki with  its yellow leaves in summer and its beautiful golden tints in autumn when its leaves become tinged with pink. Or  Acer palmatum ‘Garnet’  a low growing acer.

iii) Rowans such us Sorbus acuparia and Sorbus ‘Joseph Rock’,  yellow flowers with superb autumn colour.

iv) The Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata).  But maybe too large if the garden is small.

v) The Fox Glove Tree (Paulownia tomentosa).  Because it grows into a large tree, buy it young and coppice it. It will then grow into a low growing shrub with very large leaves.

b) Pat: i) The Paper Bark maple ( Acer griseum) and the Snake Bark Maple(Acer capillipes).

ii)Amelanchier lamarkii.

iii) Prunus ‘Snow Showers’ which hangs down.

c) Viya: i)Amelanchier.

ii)Cornus canadensis.

iii)Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ with  burgundy leaf.

Q2 Chris Bartleman: I was given a Geoff Hamilton rose at the end of May and it flowered beautifully, but there have been very few flowers since then. It is supposed to be a repeat flowerer. Is there anything I can do to encourage more roses?


a)Joe: It’s a modern shrub rose. If bought in a pot it needs time to establish. The roots need tweaking out before planting and it needs time to acclimatise  to the soil and develop the  energy  for flowering and will very likely  flower better next year  when it has had time to acclimatise. In spring give it a mulch  and feed it with Tomorite.

b)Viya: Referring to roses in pots she said she had  kept an Emma Hamilton rose in a pot and it needed a regular feed  because the soil gradually lost its nutrients.

Q3 Pat K: I’ve got scale insects on the trunk of my Viburnum bodnantense Dawn. It’s planted in a pot as no room in the garden. The best way to get rid of it without any chemicals, please?


a)Joe: Using cotton buds with methylated spirit, and squish them! Systemic fertilisers have been mostly withdrawn nowadays. Ants may form nearby which harvest them, but they are harmless.

b) Viya: She said she has used a fingernail scrub. A labour of love. But they didn’t come back.

Q4 Carolyn H: My clematis (several varieties) are covered in black fly this year. The flowers are also being eaten. Are these two problems related? Is it a particular problem this year? How can I prevent it happening in future. Three questions actually!


a)Joe : He said that his clematis were the best they have ever been this year! But the black fly problem may be due to the weather conditions this year. Use a hosepipe to wash them off or squash them with your fingers. If you use chemicals use a fatty acid one not a systemic . They may have been eaten by slugs and snails. Well known ways of getting rid of these include using egg shells, beer traps and   wool. Also there is the book ‘50 ways to Kill a Slug’ by Sarah Ford.

b) Pat: Go out at night with a torch and pick them off.

Q5 Kathy A: Do you have any suggestions or rules for how to space perennial plants out in a herbaceous border? I always start off ok but by about now everything looks squashed and lots of fighting for space going on. I was always told not to leave bare soil between plants as then you get weeds, but I don’t seem to be able to find that happy medium.


a)Joe: I do the same. I suggest you cut back the thuggish plants in summer and make space for others. If it is a new border plant in odd numbers e.g. 3, 5, 7 etc. Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter has produced a video showing how to space out plants.

Q6 Melanie A:  I would appreciate some suggestions for plants to go in a shared space. This is the scenario: our houses are fortunate to share a fairly large open space for which the householders are jointly responsible. We keep maintenance costs to the minimum by doing much of the work ourselves. Some of the trees planted many years ago by some householders help shield us from the horrors beyond, but they cast a lot of shadows. It would be great to have some thoughts  on how to put some items of interest in this space, something that can’t be mistaken for lawn by enthusiastic mowers.


a) Joe: In shaded areas plant Mahonia, Camellia, Elaeagnus and in damp shade ferns e.g Dryopteris wallichiana and Dryopteris filix-mas. Also plant in groups: Epimedium , Pachysandra terminalis, Pulmonaria  ‘Sisinghurst White’. Foxgloves (Digitalis) and Japanese anemones(e.g.Honore Joubert) to show up in the shade. Spring bulbs like Tulip Red Riding Hood and Tete-a-tete.

b)Viya: Miscanthus which initially only needs minimal watering just to get it going. Also Nandina domestica and Hydrangea ‘Vanilla Phrase’.

Q7 Angela B: Have you any suggestions for getting rid of pond duck weed?


a)Joe: You can never get rid of duck weed. But use waders and a metal rake to clear it. Do leave it on the side for a day so that any organisms in it that need to live  in the pond can return to it. Also, if new, place your pond near a bit of shade. Put in oxygenators and pond plants that will help maintain a balance such as irises and marsh marigolds(Caltha palustris). Try to maintain at least one third cover with lilies and marginals. Also a fountain would be useful.

Q8 Anne R:  I have a Sorbus (Rowan)  which I think is Sorbus ulleungenis ‘Olympic Flame’.  It’s about 8 years old and still quite small and every year some of its growth dies back. It’s in a north-by-northwest  garden, so it gets some sun, on heavy clay but well drained. Am I doing something wrong or is it the wrong tree for the space. I know I’m not the only person with a die-back problem I saw a Sorbus in Greenwich Park recently with the same problem.


Joe: The rooting of Sorbus is vulnerable to extremes of environmental conditions. It doesn’t like heavy wet soil in winter and cracked soil in summer. Take a garden fork and lift and reduce compaction around the roots. Waggle the fork in the roots (“terra vent”). Mulch in winter. Monitor the tree and cut out dead wood.

Angela, August 2021

Excalibur Estate, Catford

CABAHS member Anne R has sent a link to this rather lovely short film. The Excalibur Estate in Catford is being redeveloped, and the gardens will disappear.   The film is produced for the Garden Museum, and features Matthew Wilson.  

The video is available for your viewing pleasure at

July talk : Roof Gardens

Our July meeting was recorded, and is available to view for a limited time, click here:

Dusty Gedge was welcomed to the meeting. Dusty is a professional photographer and green structure and nature conservationist.  He is President of the European Federation of Green Roof and Wall Associations.  He said he was pleased to talk to CABAHS as he was local, Lewisham and Blackheath based, and had done a lot of work in the area. He saidhe is not a gardener but is involved in plants and soil.

Dusty made the point that green roofs and roof gardens have a local history, firstly showing a photograph of  the 1997-built sustainable green roof  on the now demolished Sainsburys on the Peninsular, followed by  one  of the 2019-built IKEA roof garden. In fact, Greenwich and Lewisham have the second and third most green roofs in London. Nowadays in England, including the City of London, it is planning policy that all tall buildings should have green roofs.

Greenwich Peninsula £8.4bn regeneration | Greenwich | U/C | Page 35 |  SkyscraperCity
IKEA Greenwich - Green Roof

Dusty said that nowadays green roofs are becoming numerous. He showed photographs of a wide variety of them from Europe and the UK. From roofs in parts of Europe where traditionally turf and sedums were used to  modern schemes, including nearer to home  such as the roof garden at the National Theatre.  He said there were 4 types of green roof (intensive, semi-intensive, biodiverse and extensive) and discussed the environment, conditions and maintenance needed for the various types to flourish. 

Green roofs and roof gardens are taking soil and plants into the cities.  He referred to ‘plumbing with plants’ using soil and vegetation as they store water, helping to ameliorate floods. They also help in heatwaves and the green space they provide fosters health, wellbeing and social cohesion.

He discussed two projects, the Museum of Home and Design which balances diversity with formal garden design using mediterranean and native plants and then IKEA with its four different sections. He said he would be happy next year to take CABAHS members on a tour of IKEA’s roof garden.

Afterwards, Dusty took questions and was asked by a member (who is also a surveyor) about infrastructure needed to support the roof and prevent leaks. He agreed that is an issue and said there were many structural strategies existing to prevent this happening.  Another asked what would be the effect of wind on tall buildings. Dusty pointed out that the roofs of tall buildings were generally less windy than at ground level due to the funnel effect. He also reassured members that he collects local wildflower seeds in a sustainable way.

Angela, July 2021.

Dusty gave several links to useful websites and a podcast, below. He said members are welcome to contact him for advice, at

Shed green roof in WA – an update

June Talk: Managing Greenwich Park and the impact of Covid-19

Graham Dear was welcomed to our meeting. He said he was pleased to talk to some fellow gardeners, though he hadn’t gardened himself for many years, as he had moved from being Manager of Greenwich Park to heading up the Greenwich Park Revealed Project (GPRP).  This is a 4-year project aimed at revealing, restoring, protecting and sharing the park’s unique heritage now and for future generations.

Graham said the pandemic had had a profound impact on Greenwich Park and the way it is managed. From March 2020 all recreational activities and events in all the Royal Parks ground to a halt, which resulted in an overall revenue loss of £20million, some 50 percent of annual spend. In Greenwich, the Pavilion Café, boating lake, tennis courts and even the rose garden had to be closed as its gates needed pushing and touching. There was no income from bandstand concerts, filming or car park fees or catering. The park was also unable to get insurance to cover events in 2021.

It had a particularly devastating impact on the GPRP which originally had had a £10m budget allocated to it.  £4.5m was funded by the Heritage Fund which had already begun to be implemented. Graham said he was faced with the challenge of making economies due to the loss of park revenue. He aimed to save £2m, so the GPRP budget has been cut to £8m. The cuts included the Nursery Yard reorganisation and the Sustainable Learning Centre.

Not all was bad though. Closing the through road and avenues was beneficial to pedestrians. Although the park no longer had tourists, there was a massive increase in local visitors to the park – who often arrived by bike or on foot – and used it for exercise and recreation. Rubbish was an issue but the staff coped well with the challenge and more bins are now a feature of the park!

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Visitors were naturally more spaced out because of social distancing needs. An informal poll showed they were much younger as well.  Ethnic diversity also increased by 5 percent.

Graham then went on to discuss the revised plans they had for the park and showed a range of slides to illustrate the programme. He said the GPRP had now begun again.

1. They plan to preserve, renovate and manage the avenues of trees which have been decimated by diseases, pests and squirrel damage. The horse chestnuts are riddled with bleeding canker and the sweet chestnuts by ink stain disease.

2. The area around the grand ascent giant steps and parterre banks is to be renovated. Recreating a series of grass steps on the hill leading to the Royal Observatory following the original 17th century design.

3. The viewing space in front of the area around the statue of General Wolfe is to be increased and opened up. A café will open in the space behind.

4. The Old Wilderness and deer park community facilities will be enhanced including a new classroom. The deer herd is to be sent on holiday to Richmond Park for 2 years.

5. Vanbrugh Yard: The area in the SE corner of the park is to be reorganised.  There will be a cafe aimed at taking pressure off the Pavilion Café. The boundaries of nursery yard, will be shifted and opened up to the public.  It will feature a new glass house, kitchen garden, wildlife orchard, volunteer room and public toilet facilities.

6. The seating in One Tree Hill will be improved.

7. Car parking at the pedestrian entrance at Blackheath Gate will be removed and the pedestrian entrance will be improved.

8. The Victorian bandstand is to be improved and a power supply for community events installed.

9 The wildlife habitat is to be increased and mowing will use a meadow cut rather than an amenities regime.

10. The Victorian drinking fountains to be reinstated.

11. Two self-seeded mature trees are to be removed from Flamstead House to improve the view.

Finally, he discussed the park’s engagement with the wider community, including training schemes that were being introduced  such as three year apprentices  and  cultural events such  as the Tramshed and dance. Graham then answered members questions, and was thanked for such an interesting talk.

Angela June 2021

Thank You from the Hospice – June2021

We received a lovely letter of appreciation from Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, when we sent them £950 raised at our recent Charlton House plant sale. They looked back over the last 17 years and sent us this certificate showing how much we have raised in total for them. Well done everyone!

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).

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.

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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.

Hollyleaf Sweetspire

9) PLANTS THAT ATTRACT WILDLIFE: He suggested Alstromeria initicancha ‘Sunshine’ and Cotoneaster horizontalis for berries.


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.

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?

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 ( ) 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!

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:

Volunteer power boosts Old Pond Garden restoration at Charlton House

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!

East Greenwich Pleasaunce (West side)

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!

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!

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.

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


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

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

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.

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”…


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…


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.

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