HARDINGTON GARDEN CLUB
NEWSLETTER JULY 2017
Our Next Meeting - 27th September - “Veg for Small Spaces” by Dinah Lindon-Critchley.
Meeting on September 27th - The speaker we had booked for this meeting has had to cancel. However, Eve has managed to do some swapping around and we are now going to hear from Dinah Lindon-Critchley on Veg for Small Spaces. Greg Morter will now come next April.
Flower & Craft Show - Saturday 26th August. We hope as many of you as possible will enter something into the show, be it vegetables, flowers, cookery, craft, photography or floral art. Schedules are available in the village shop and on the Hardington website.
AGM Meeting - 22nd November - We are planning a meal, cooked and served by The Royal Oak in the village hall as we did last year. More details to follow in the September Newsletter. Once again we will be looking for new members to join our committee. Both Rod and Shirley will be stepping down at the AGM having served the full nine years of our existence! Please do give it some thought and if you would like to consider joining us please speak to any of the current committee members or email me on email@example.com
Newsletter – There is no newsletter in August but it would be very interesting to hear other members' gardening stories in September. How did your garden grow this year? There must be something you can tell us about!
- What vegetable can tie your stomach in knots?
- What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
- What did the carrot say to the wheat?
- What gets bigger the more you take away?
It is the silly season after all – Ed.
VISIT TO COMPTON ACRES
Earlier this month we were staying at Sandbanks and visited Compton Acres on the outskirts of Poole.
It was a very hot day, so the winding path between an avenue of tree ferns was welcome. This led to a small circular courtyard garden and formal pool at the start of the Italianate garden and grotto. The splendid Grand Italian formal garden had some wonderful statues and fountains as well as an Italian villa but, for me, it was spoilt by the ‘municipal’ bedding plants which looked more like Bournemouth in the 60s than Isola Bella.
The mature pine woodland garden led to waterfalls and, eventually, the children’s play area. A bog garden had been constructed in 2009 and was a haven for wildlife. If you like rock gardens, Compton Acres has the largest one in private ownership and boasts over 300 kinds of plants, including many alpines and spring flowering bulbs.
Walking further through the garden, in dappled shade, there was plenty to admire in the sculpture and heather garden, but the views across to Poole Harbour, Brownsea Island and the Purbeck Hills were even more splendid and congratulations to the garden designers who had provided good view points in the 1920s, when the garden was conceived.
Finally, the highlight has to be the Japanese Garden, recognized as one of the best in Britain. An authentic Tea House, bedecked in Wisteria floribunda is beautifully sited as you wind down into the garden. The many bronze works of art were imported from Japan in the 1920s by Thomas William Simpson, who created the garden which has undergone extensive refurbishment in the past ten years. The planting in the Japanese Garden is superb and the Kurume hybrid azaleas must look stunning in the spring, together with the many Japanese maples and Asiatic flowering shrubs.
We “escaped” through the ‘sheep-dip’ shop and plant sales area into the boiling hot day, having been cooled and refreshed by this diverse garden.
SUMMER IN THE POLY-TUNNEL
This first summer in the poly-tunnel has been a steep learning curve and we have had successes and failures.
Having planted a wide variety of crops including tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, chard, peppers, sweet potatoes, lemon grass as well as a range of squashes we have watered well and sat back and watched.
The leafy spinach and chard romped ahead and we can barely keep up with one short row of each. The tomatoes and peppers are coming along well and we have already had a lot of lovely cucumbers. Fortunately the grandchildren are very fond of cucumbers so we have given them plenty.
The squashes started well but then rotted on the plant probably because it was too hot. We have high hopes for the lemon grass and sweet potatoes both of which are looking really healthy. Two lemon trees grown from seed are also coming on a treat and we hope that next year we may have our first fruit from them.
We have now put in some aubergines and later in the summer we will plant some salad crops for autumn when space becomes available.
All in all we are very pleased with our poly-tunnel and it is a lovely place to work or just sit when it is cool or damp outside.
Good customer service is something we all expect and appreciate, so here is an example which you can judge for yourself.
Earlier this year I opened a packet of Thompson and Morgan Sweet Red Cherry tomato seeds and found one specimen inside the packet which, after close inspection, proved not to be a seed. I put pen to paper and addressed my genuine disappointment together with the seed packet to the Customer Service Department of T & M. Less than a week later a free packet of six seeds arrived accompanied by a letter of apologies and an explanation that, though very rare, an empty packet can be missed out by quality control.
A couple of days ago I noticed that my four courgette plants, grown from one packet of T & M Defender F1 seeds, are covered in flowers but they are all male flowers with not a single courgette in sight. Too late to start all over again with seeds so I visited Brimsmore Gardens to buy four plants.
I asked an assistant whether I should remove all or most of the male flowers and whether, later in the season, I would then enjoy some courgettes. The assistant admitted to being unable to advise me but immediately paged someone she referred to as being an expert in such matters. The expert arrived grasping a T & M book but then proceeded to ask me how I knew the difference between a male and female courgette flower because she herself had never grown courgettes. After a very short conversation, the expert offered to call T & M Customer Service. The person at T & M put me on hold and eventually came back telling me not to remove the male flowers but she could not guarantee courgettes would grow on my plants. The outcome is that a free packet of seeds is heading for Hardington.
Has anyone come across this problem with courgette plants? Advice from a true expert would be most welcome!
GARDENING AT HOME AND AWAY
By now those who have spoken to me know that, although I work as a gardener, I am not a ‘plants person’! Unfortunately names just fly out of my head as soon as I hear them (maybe due to only falling in love with gardening at the age of 30?), but according to my customers I’m quite good at my job (hopefully). And I learn so much from them and can’t believe I missed out for years on the lengthy conversation you can have about the joys of things growing!
Recently my work has mostly consisted of endless weeding and grass cutting (somehow I seem to miss all the rain!) But down in Cornwall I called myself a demolition gardener as I always seemed to be strimming, pick-axing big roots out of the ground and clearing overgrown gardens, one with brambles and plants three times my height! I think I counted 23 dumpy bags which I filled from that particular one. Up here in Somerset I haven't had any jobs like that (luckily!) but I seem to learn more due to caring for individual plants.
In my own garden I have planted so many plants and shrubs recently which is also increasing my knowledge. These are growing in a huge planter which I made. After deliberating on various materials with which to build the planter I have gone with decking because I love the texture and it was easy to cut to size. I needed to create height, wind breaks and partial shade so I added another tier by plonking a huge electric cable reel at one end. Then I screwed decking around the edge and finally filled it with six tonnes of soil which I wheelbarrowed 100 metres up the garden! The callouses are only just disappearing.
Hence, another project completed. Now onto the other 50 ideas for projects I want to start...
COOKERY CORNER - Green Bean and Courgette Salad
This is one for the summer glut - Ed
- 8oz (225g) green beans trimmed & halved
- One tablespoon virgin olive oil
- One clove garlic peeled & crushed
- Half a level teaspoon dried tarragon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- One medium courgette cut into matchsticks
- One small red onion peeled and chopped
- One and a half teaspoons cider or white wine vinegar
Cook beans in just enough boiling water to cover for two to three minutes until slightly softened but still crisp. Rinse in cold water and drain. Mix all ingredients. Cover and chill. Serve as a side salad.
CARNIVAL PRAISE - Song of The Flower by Kahlil Gibran
We thought you all might like to read the poem Rod read on our behalf at the Carnival Praise service.
I am a kind word uttered and repeated
By the voice of Nature;
I am a star fallen from the
Blue tent upon the green carpet.
I am the daughter of the elements
With whom Winter conceived;
To whom Spring gave birth;
I was Reared in the lap of Summer and I
Slept in the bed of Autumn.
At dawn I unite with the breeze
To announce the coming of light;
At eventide I join the birds
In bidding the light farewell.
The plains are decorated with
My beautiful colours, and the air
Is scented with my fragrance.
As I embrace Slumber the eyes of
Night watch over me, and as I
Awaken I stare at the sun, which is
The only eye of the day.
I drink dew for wine, and hearken to
The voices of the birds, and dance
To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.
I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath;
I am the memory of a moment of happiness;
I am the last gift of the living to the dead;
I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.
But I look up high to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow.
This is wisdom which man must learn.
SUMMER TIPS FOR GROW-YOUR-OWN
Here are a few reminders of things to do on the veg plot.
- Lift garlic. Do not wait any longer for bulbs to bulk up if rust has taken hold of the leaves as it will spread to the bulbs.
- Cut off the stalks of broad beans but leave the roots in the ground to supply nitrogen to the soil.
- Do not leave early potatoes in the ground too long or keel slugs will tunnel into them.
- As space is released from early crops, sow salads, beetroot, spinach and spring onions to give a late harvest.
- Water greenhouse plants at least daily. (Tomatoes are sweeter if watered twice a day, I'm told.) Feed regularly to replace the nutrients used up from the compost.
- Drape over-ripe bananas over the green trusses of tomatoes to speed ripening. Remove any fruits with blossom-end rot.
NGS Gardens - See ngs.org.uk
Taunton Flower Show, Vivary Park, TA1 3QE Friday & Saturday, 4th & 5th August. www.tauntonfs.co.uk for tickets and details.
Yeovil & District Chrysanthemum & Dahlia Society
Saturday/Sunday 16th/17th September, Holy Trinity Scout Hall. Lysander Road, BA20 2PZ 2-4.30pm
ANSWERS TO FUN QUIZ
- String beans can tie your stomach in knots.
- If you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter you get Pumpkin pi.
- The carrot said to the wheat “Lettuce rest, I'm feeling beet.”
- A hole gets bigger the more you take away.
Thank you to all this month's contributors. Please members, do write something. More writers make the newsletter more interesting - anything you like about growing or gardening. Please send items, even a few lines, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Articles for next time requested by 4th September.
“I DO NOT LIKE BROCCOLI. AND I HAVEN'T LIKED IT SINCE I WAS A KID WHEN MY MOTHER MADE ME EAT IT. AND I'M PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND I'M NOT GOING TO EAT ANY MORE BROCCOLI.“
~ George Bush, U.S. President, 1990
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