My husband ( a beekeeper) recently treated me to a visit to the National Honey Show, which is sort of like going to RHS Chelsea if you are a beekeeper. Apart from an enormous number of jars of honey, there were talks available, and we attended one from Dr Nick Tew on “The role of gardens in supporting Insect Pollinators”. It was a really good talk, with scientific research explained in easy terms.
A few slides stood out for me – for instance, the time period for flowering plants in a garden, compared with a hedgerow or pasture. Most gardeners love to have something in flower all through the year, so although the volume of nectar/pollen in a garden might not be as high as in a meadow or hedgerow in full swing, it is available for a much longer time span. So in fact such a garden is more useful to insects.
There are some downsides to a garden – Nick calls it “horticultural bling”, a lovely phrase which unfortunately can be applied to a few parts of my garden (but luckily not many!)
A version of the talk is on Youtube, the link is below, it’s a good watch.
The Show was held at Sandown Park racecourse, and it was huge. It reminded me of a Horticultural Show in that it not only had classes for honey, but also eg craft and baking classes. The sunflowers shown here are made of wax!
I bought some sparkling mead from one of the stalls, took down a recipe for “Gin & Tonic Honey cake” and bought a couple of seed packets to convert my lawn into a meadow at some point in my dreams. The final stall we visited worried me a little, as it is giving my husband ideas!
Our annual amateur Gardeners Question Time meeting was once again held in the Peace Garden at Charlton House. Some members will remember last year, when everyone was in thermals and anoraks and it was the coldest August evening for years – ah, not this year we thought, it has been so warm and dry for weeks! Well, best laid plans as they say. Everyone was settled and happily getting in to the swing of questions about the drought. And so of course, the heavens opened!
True to type, we gardeners just picked up our things and decamped to Frilly’s Tea Room for a little break. Thank you to our stalwart committee and helpers who covered things up in the garden (do you know what Doritos and Pringles look like when they are soaked? ugh!). As the thunderstorm carried on, so too did we and the questions continued in the Tea rooms.
Thank you to our panel, especially guest panellist Joe Woodcock, for cheerfully answering our questions, and to Charlton House for letting us drip all over their cafe. It was still a very enjoyable evening, but sad that not many members saw the old Pond Garden in the dusk, lit up with solar lights and looking magical.
The committee will be having a think about whether to have next years GQT meeting in the safety of the Old Library!
This week I was delighted to attend a special Commonwealth & Gurkha Garden reception at St George’s Garrison Church in Woolwich. The event was to progress the funding and plans for a Commonwealth garden designed by Juliet Sargeant, and was also attended by their patron, HRH The Duke of Gloucester.
We were blessed with a lovely sunny day and entertained with music during the afternoon tea. After the speeches I was very interested to be shown around the garden site by Juliet (who is a multiple Chelsea Gold Medal winner, including this year’s Blue Peter garden with the theme “Don’t treat soil like dirt” and a fabulous green roof) https://www.julietsargeant.com/cfs/
In a fit of New Year zeal, we started (note that I said ‘started’) a bit of a clear-up of what for want of a better word you might call ‘stuff’. Out of this stuff emerged some old family photographs, reminding me that I should organise them a bit better and finally get around to finding out more about the people featured in them, adding to sometimes unreliable family tales. Those with subscriptions to Ancestry or other genealogical databases will know immediately what’s coming: I was soon addicted.
What might this sorry story have to do with horticulture? Bear with me, please.
Amongst the stuff were box-loads of index cards recording research material that we had produced literally decades ago in pre-Google times. The purpose of the research was to compile a database of British and Irish Journalists – at least that task was accomplished and published!- and my Ancestry addiction offered the chance to do a bit of editing.
Here we reach the point of this post. Among the information gleaned from the records of the Society of Women Journalists at the British Library and other sources was a biographical sketch of Helen Colt, a fellow of the RHS. In the 1911 census Helen Ann Mary Colt, of 4 Priory Court Mansions, Mazenod Avenue, West Hampstead, gave her occupation as ‘jobbing gardener’. Indeed the project had already noted one of her appearances in print on the subject:
Woman’s Platform, interviewed on jobbing gardening as a career for women, March 1912.