OPG Diary – September /October

September started off with the tail end of The Drought and as it became wetter the Volunteers were very grateful to get back to some proper gardening. The great news is that we hardly lost any plants at all.

The Peace Garden has benefited from our attention, with the last of the annoying stones on the path edges being removed, and work on the shrubs and climbers along the walls making them look much more defined and trim.

Removing stones in the Peace Garden
Removing the last loose stones, saving the lawn mower!

In the Old Pond Garden, many perennials went to seed earlier than usual, due to the drought, but the seedheads are quite spectacular.

The Volunteers were thrilled to receive a donation of jars of honey from the Charlton House Beekeepers. The bees had a bumper year, partly due to our lovely gardens. To stop any squabbling, we held a raffle to decide who got a jar and the happy winners are shown here:

Volunteers with Honey
Thank you for the lovely Honey!
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Autumn Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Display 2022

Our Autumn Show was held on Monday September 26th in the Old Library of Charlton House, having been delayed a week for the Queen’s funeral. We counted 56 attendees and there were nearly 100 entries across all the classes, a marvellous effort!

Attendees at Autumn Show 2022

Our guest judge, Joe Woodcock, had agreed to undertake this onerous task again this year. He made it clear how impressed he was with all the entries, providing an encouraging commentary on the horticultural skills demonstrated, and explained why he selected the winning entry in each class.

The classes and winners were as follows:
1. Vase of flowers, 3 stems – Nicholas B
2. Bowl of mixed flowers – Georgina P
3. Vase of shrubs or foliage, 3 stems – Liz K
4. Display of ornamental seed heads – Viv P
5. Five Fuchsia blooms – Viv P
6. Ornamental pot plant – Pat K
7. Display of fruit, mixed – Lynda F
8. Display of vegetables, mixed – Annie H
9. Tomatoes (dish of 5) – Karen S
10. A display of herbs – Maggie T
11. Preserves – Maggie T
12. Baking – Coconut cake – Kathy A
13. Floral arrangement in a teacup – Debbie W
14. Largest Sunflower – Ruth Y
15. Highest yield, Potato – Ann F

Joe presented trophies to Annie H for Class 8, to Viv P for Class 5 and to Georgina P for Best in Show for her bowl of mixed flowers in Class 2.

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Perch Hill

Thinking we would take advantage of the extra days made available for visits to Perch Hill, we chose the one for container planting. However, on the day it was the dahlias that stole the show and which we will remember!

Although rain was not forecast, we arrived to a little bit of a mizzle and a very grey sky – in the photographs this has tended to deaden the exuberant colours. We were knocked out by Penhill Watermelon, Geri Scott and the delicious Apricot Desire, but it would be impossible to choose one favourite out of all the lovely colours. Although some are critical of the Sarah Raven enterprise, there is no question that the gardens are beautifully styled. Of course, plants are labelled so that anything you see you will find on their website, but it is a commercial business. In fact, it is good to find a label so that you can identify what you are looking at! Salvias are everywhere, edging the herbaceous borders, in pots as well as mixed through the beds. These are such versatile plants.

Dahlias at Perch Hill
Dahlias at Perch Hill
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Autumn Flower Fruit & Vegetable Display – classes to enter

Our Autumn Show will be on Monday, 26 September 2022 in the Old Library at 7.30pm. Please note the change of date, due to The Queen’s funeral. Even with the recent drought problems, there are hopefully some classes that you can enter!

Vase of Dahlias
2021 Winner

Most plants seem to have adapted to the hot, dry conditions, although much has ripened earlier than expected. If all else fails, go for the dried seed heads class or bake a cake!

Classes are similar to previous years, but we have been made aware of some confusion between the Floral Arrangement (Class 13) and the Bowl of Flowers (Class 2). In the past, bought flowers were allowed for the Floral Arrangement, but this year we have decided that ALL flowers should be home grown. The emphasis for Class 13 is on the arrangement style of the flowers in the teacup. For Class 2, the Bowl of mixed Flowers, these should also be home grown but judging will be based on the content, the quality and type of flowers, no matter how they are arranged. Hope that helps!

Thanks to Chris and Anna for this year’s Coconut Cake recipe – as many entries as possible in this category please ( but do remember that Members are allowed to eat it after judging, so there is usually none left to take home!)


1. Vase of flowers, 3 stems of 1 cultivar

2. Bowl of mixed flowers (emphasis on quality of flowers, not arrangement).

3. Vase of shrubs or foliage, 3 or more stems, mixed varieties

4. Display of ornamental seed heads

5. Five Fuchsia blooms, single variety or mixed (flower heads only)

6. Ornamental pot plant (incl. cacti & succulents)

7. Display of fruit, any mixed.

8. Display of vegetables, mixed

9. Tomatoes (dish of 5)

10. Display of herbs

11. Preserves: jam, jelly or marmalade, chutney or relish

12. Baking – Coconut cake (recipe supplied here)

13. Floral Arrangement – display in a tea cup, all flowers to be home grown. Emphasis on floral arrangement.

14. Competition: largest sunflower head (from Russian Giant seeds supplied in April)

15. Competition: Yield from one potato supplied in April. (washed, in named transparent bag)

Please bring your own vases, except for the Fuchsia heads (Class 5), where containers are supplied. Water will be available.

Finally, remember this is not an RHS show, it’s a competition for fun and perhaps a Winners certificate, not for perfection!

Autumn Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Display 2021

This was held on Monday 20 September in the Long Gallery of Charlton House. As one of many new members of the Society since meetings were forced to stop by COVID-19, it was my first indoor meeting!

It was a very impressive event with a total of 66 entries and I didn’t envy our guest judge, Joe Woodcock, his task. But Joe made it clear how impressed he was with all the entries, providing an encouraging commentary on the horticultural skills demonstrated, and explained why he selected the winning entry in each class.

The classes and winners were as follows:

1. Vase with single stem of any flowering plant – Viv P

2. Bowl of mixed flowers – Margaret T

3. Five Fuchsia blooms – Ruth Y

4. Ornamental pot plant – Pat K

5. A display of fruit and vegetables – Mandy & Brownie

6. A display of herbs – Ruth Y

7. Floral arrangement in a teacup – Anna L

8a. Potato Competition – Pam D

8b. Sunflower head competition – Annie H

Joe selected as Best in Show Margaret T’s wonderful display of varieties of dahlia in Class 2. Class 7 the Floral Arrangement was selected by popular vote (using buttons) and the Potato Competition was weighed by the trusty scales of Hugh P.

Joe was kind enough to answer a few gardening questions at the end of proceedings, and tea, coffee and biscuits were provided to round off the evening.

We counted 56 attendees. Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and be grateful to be able to meet up in person again. Long may that continue!


Online Autumn Potato Competition 2020

The winner of 2020’s competition was Tim, with an enormous harvest weighing 3lbs 13 oz! The prized packet of crisps was donated to the food bank instead of being presented to Tim as meetings were suspended. Close runner-up was Peter with a yield of 3lbs 8 3/4 oz. Peter’s consolation was that he had a well deserved bangers & mash supper. Thank you to everyone who competed and sent in their photos!

CABAHS annual potato competition 2020

A visit to Hall Place

We had a lovely relaxing day at Hall Place on 9 September 2020. It has been maintained very well considering lockdown issues. This “tropical” display near the main entrance was particularly colourful, with cannas, castor oil plants, dahlias and sunflowers. The topiary “beasts” looked very smart and the long borders were interesting for ideas as they were laid out by colour. After a picnic lunch, visiting the small but very good quality plant centre finished off an excellent day.

Hall Place, September 2020