Autumn Newsletter 2019

September 8, 2019

Although we are rapidly approaching our Autumn Show the weather is anything but autumnal. We have just experienced the hottest August bank holiday on record, almost matching July for its scorching temperatures. How this will affect entries for our show will be seen on Saturday 14th September. The heat will not only have tested the resilience of our fruit and veg. but also our gardeners! Water is the key to bumper crops but watering is an arduous task; so whilst the crops are being plumped up the poor gardener is melting away. Hopefully there will be lots of lovely fruit, vegetables and flowers to fill the Memorial Hall.


What to enter? As with most of our shows there are classes specifically for certain flowers. In the Spring Show it is Daffodils with their sunny yellows, in the Summer Show Roses and Sweet Peas that fill the hall with their perfume and in the Autumn Show Dahlias brighten up the hall with their exuberant colours and shapes. If you don’t grow Dahlias don’t worry as there are opportunities to show many different types of flowers as well as fruit and vegetables. For those of you who have a serious competitive streak you may want to see if you have grown the longest runner bean or heaviest onion, potato, pumpkin or marrow. Size however is not everything and taste really matters so why not enter one of the cookery classes. If the heat has driven you out of the kitchen you can resort to the “here’s one I made earlier” strategy. Scan your cupboard shelves for those jars of pickles, jams and marmalade's that you squirrelled away earlier in the year. This is the only show where you can enter your homemade drinks; perhaps you have a bottle of last year’s wine made from your own grapes or fruit. Beauty of course is very important and our local floral art designers always put on a good show but sadly the number of entries is declining. We would like more people to have a go and encourage beginners with class 166, a simple jug of flowers for the kitchen table. Anyone could do this, even one of your children or grandchildren. So come on everyone let’s make this a bumper show! All entries should be in by Thursday 12th September either at Jarman’s or online.


This has been a Summer of contrasting weather periods, but luckily our Summer Show fell during a hot one not a wet one. Despite this the entries for the show and visitor numbers were down on the previous year; perhaps the hottest show day in recent memory was just too much for some people. The Memorial Hall however was very cool and whilst visitors may have been wilting once inside they were able to view the exhibits in relative comfort. The Sweet Pea entries were of a very high standard, but it was the children’s section that created special interest. The imaginative bug models were fascinating and showed imagination and creative skill. Bovingdon Academy pottery club put on a lovely display of Highland cattle that they had made. These were very much admired and we would like to say thank you to all the children and staff for taking part in our show.


Gardening is a tough occupation, but when your “garden” is hanging three metres above the pavement, exposed to all that the weather can throw at it, then yes a bottle of wine is an appropriate prize for your efforts. I am referring to our annual hanging basket competition that brightens our High Street. This year the baskets, supplied by Steve Foskett, were particularly showy. We have a new winner too, our local Community Library. Well done to all those volunteers who not only had to battle with complex computer skills but also found time to tend those lovely baskets. Second place went to Pendley Estates and third to Fyfes the butchers. The prizes will be presented at the autumn show.


I am quite relieved that there is a move towards wildlife friendly gardening. At least my rather shaggy front garden is in vogue and the pressure off as far as deadheading and weeding is concerned. My main reason however for this partial neglect is that I genuinely love nature. When you have time to look it is amazing to see what is actually out there. In the last year the number of bird species visiting my garden has increased and I now have regular pairs of Greenfinches and Coal Tits. It is not only the feeders that attract the birds but seed heads in the border too, hence the reluctance to deadhead some plants. I have noticed that Goldfinches love Verbena Bonariensis seeds after the bees and butterflies have had their fill of nectar. Birds need insects and caterpillars too even though it is hard to tolerate some of them. I have stopped using chemical sprays altogether this year, quite difficult when a swarm of aphids arrive but without them what are the Blue Tits and Ladybirds going to eat?  This year I have seen several Painted Lady butterflies and many bumblebees in my garden hopefully enjoying a nearly chemical free environment. (apparently some chemicals are quite persistent) Perhaps you too could try the chemical- free route and see what happens in your garden.


Good luck.                              Doreen Woods.