Winter Newsletter

January 7, 2020

A grey December day, but as I look out of the window a filament of yellow is fluttering in the breeze. The first petals of the witch hazel, Hamamelis Mollis, are emerging to lighten the winter gloom. There are also signs of snowdrop flowers emerging in the bed by my front door. Although we are enduring the shortest days of the year these tiny signs of a spring yet to come lift the spirits and turn our minds to a new gardening year.


The Society programme for this year begins on Wednesday 18th March with a talk by Russell Bowes titled “The Devil’s Garden”. This may sound sinister but those members who were lucky enough to hear Russell speak last year will know that he delivers an entertaining and humorous talk with drama and panache. Expect the unexpected and learn some astonishing facts. Do not miss this! The talk will be in the Baptist Church at 7.30 and includes a question and answer session and tea and coffee.


The second talk on Thursday 23rd April is by George Lockwood, a lecturer on all aspects of gardening. His talk is entitled “Acers for Small Gardens and Their Companions”. Who doesn’t love an Acer? We have all been encouraged to plant more trees and this lovely jewel- like specimen could fit into the smallest garden or even a pot. Come along and pick up some tips on varieties and how to grow them. For each talk the charge is £4 for members, £5 for non-members.


As an affiliated society of the RHS we are entitled to a free group visit to one of their gardens each year. The obvious choice for our visit is the RHS garden at Wisley in Surrey, which can be reached in under an hour the M25 permitting! Some years ago we visited Hyde Hall in Essex, but this is quite a drive and also seemed less popular with members. Wisley is the flagship garden for the RHS and in recent years has undergone extensive re-styling. Last year we visited in April but to allow members to enjoy a different array of plants we have booked this year’s trip for Sunday 19th July. We will be using our own transport and nearer to the date we can organise car sharing.


This year we have a second visit for our members, an afternoon at Chenies Manor Gardens on Sunday 13th September. There will be more information on this nearer to the date. Please put all of these dates, including the three shows and plant sale, in your diary and tell your friends and family about them.


Looking back to the Autumn we ended our 2019 programme with our annual social evening in November. This year we avoided sharing space in the hall with ferrets, skittles or horses and plumped for a simple format where we all had to use our brains – in other words a quiz evening. The event was very well attended with 10 tables of approximately 10 people competing over 10 rounds to be the best brains in Bovingdon. Fuel for this marathon was the bags and bottles of goodies brought along by members to share with friends. The tickets for the evening and a raffle raised £640 which will help to subsidise our shows and talks for the next year. In addition we will be making a donation of £50 to Perennial, the gardeners’ charity.


As we approach another gardening year it is time to take stock and plan for the future. We have already taken delivery of a seed order from Thompson and Morgan. This year however the company did not send out catalogues and asked us to use their website to make our choices. I do not think I am alone in saying that this was not as straightforward as browsing through a catalogue. We have to have a minimum order of £200 to qualify for the 50% discount. Our order just made it but I wonder if the lack of catalogues put some members off ordering. Thank you to those members who did order. I have expressed my concerns to Thompson and Morgan but I do not hold out much hope of seeing catalogues next year either. This is probably company cost cutting.


Over the last decade we have seen many more pests and diseases causing havoc in our gardens and the wider countryside. Like many of you I grow Box in my garden as balls and topiary for structure and decoration. So far I have managed to avoid the dreaded Box Blight, but now a new pest has invaded my plants. The Box Tree Caterpillar is a voracious creature stripping the leaves off the bushes in a matter of weeks. The adult moth is whitish with brown edges to its wings. You will probably not see the moth but look out for the caterpillars in silky webbing among the foliage of the Box plants. This is a recent invader from Asia and difficult to eradicate. I have used Ultimate Bug Killer from the garden centre and by spraying every couple of weeks during the growing season have managed to contain it. Do keep an eye on your plants as these creatures work devastatingly fast!


As many of you will know we have sadly lost our lovely membership secretary Jill Leon. She worked tirelessly over many years to keep track of our numbers and help support all aspects of the society. Many thanks Jill we will not forget you. Mike Leon will be taking over the membership duties as well as continuing to organise the hanging baskets and the plant sale. We appreciate your hard work too, Mike.


Snowdrop Viewing in Bovingdon Jill Mayo is opening her garden to view a lovely display of snowdrops together with hellebores, other early Spring flowers and maybe a few late aconites. Sunday 9th February from 10 am to 3 pm Lane Farm, Longcroft Lane, Bovingdon HP3 0JL Donations welcome in aid of Labrador Life Line Trust. The committee would like to wish all members a Happy New Year and we hope to see you at one of our events. Happy Gardening! Doreen Woods