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Our meeting this week - 22nd November - AGM & Social Evening

Our Meeting next month - 24th January - Propogation by Neil Lovesey

AGM Meeting & Social Evening - 22nd November - Welcome to our AGM and Social Evening. As you now get this Newsletter a day or two before the meeting, I will take the opportunity to remind you we will begin at the earlier time of 6.45pm for a prompt start to the business meeting at 7.00pm, followed by the meal starting at 7.45pm. Please remember to bring your own wine/beer/soft drinks. Jugs of iced water will be on the tables. We will have a raffle which will include the table decorations!


As we are going to be a much smaller committee of only five next year, there may be times when we cannot form a quorum (currently four) to hold committee meetings. To resolve this matter, we have decided that we will need to amend the Club Constitution such that a quorum can consist of three people. In order for you, the membership, to vote on this matter, we will hold an Extraordinary General Meeting at the beginning of our January meeting, simply for you to vote “yes” or “no” on this matter. The motion will be as follows:

We agree that the quorum for a Garden Club Committee Meeting will be three members.

We would also like to have a list of six or so members who would be willing to be Committee Associates whom we can call upon to attend a committee meeting when we are few in number. It would really be preferable to having a meeting with just three of us. If you can help us in this way, please sign the board this evening. Thank you.


The new rota for 2018 is available for signing please.


Our old friend Neil Lovesey will be with us again to talk about Propagation. Thank you to those of you who signed up to make soup or bring bread rolls. I will leave the board out as a reminder!


A reminder that subscriptions of £12.00 per person are due for payment at the January meeting. On the advice of our auditor, we would prefer the subscriptions to be paid by cheque please. Payable to Hardington Garden Club.

You will receive your membership card/programme. A draft programme is available to see on the notice board tonight.

New members are always welcome so if you have friends or neighbours who may be interested in joining, do bring them along. They don't have to join straight away - guests pay just £3.00 per meeting.

Rachel Moulden


Many of you will know that this month marks the end of my fourth and last year as Chairman of Hardington Garden Club. I shall be stepping down from the committee as from the end of the AGM after having served a total of 10 years, which also included three years as Treasurer.

I have enjoyed playing a (rather small) part in running your club alongside the other committee members during those years and my thanks go to them for the time and effort they have put in, which has made my job relatively easy. I should also like to thank all our other members for the support that they have given the Club, whether it be helping with the refreshments, helping to clear tables and chairs, or just by coming to the meetings and buying a raffle ticket.

My best wishes go to the remaining members of the committee for next year as they carry on the good work with a reduced complement (I am still hoping that one or two kind volunteers will come forward to help them out).

I know there is another varied programme of speakers and outings lined up for you in 2018, so hopefully you will all rejoin in January.

In the meantime, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Gardening Year.



I am stepping down as Treasurer, so please give a warm welcome to Annie Mollett, who is taking my place. She is very experienced and capable, but please give her all the assistance you can whilst she is getting into the swing of things. I have enjoyed my time on the Committee, which I joined at the inception of the club in 2008. I will miss the committee meetings, which are harmonious and great fun, but now feel I need to step back and just enjoy being a Garden Club member. I only hope that two or three of you will come forward to join the committee, so that the club can continue. It would be a great shame for it to close, through lack of committee members. It is up to you!

To help Annie at the January meeting when subscriptions are due, please put a cheque for £12, in an envelope with your name on the front. This will make it easier for her.

Thank you to everyone for making my job as Treasurer so enjoyable.

Shirley Heal


  1. What type of conifer is the traditional Christmas tree?
  2. 'Bedford Fillbasket', 'Cromwell' and 'Wellington' are all varieties of what?
  3. Traditionally, white Chess pieces are made from wood from which type of tree?
  4. What are Poinsettia flowers said to resemble?
  5. The tradition of burning a Yule Log stretches back to when Pagans celebrated the Winter Solstice. In England, the log would usually be Oak. What type of log is traditionally used in Scotland?
  6. For the UK to have an official White Christmas, according to the Met Office, how much snow has to fall?
  7. Christmas Bush is a plant with small green leaves and cream coloured flowers which turn a deep red in the run up to Christmas. In which country is it often used as a decoration?
  8. What is placed in front of the Temperate Glasshouse at Kew Gardens over Christmas?


I have only been gardening for five years but this year has been by far my annus horribilis. Yet again I spent too much money on compost, seeds and plants. I tried to manage the dry and wet spells, and, at every prospect of frost, I ran around the garden placing cloches to protect young and vulnerable specimens, and covering my immature fruit trees with garden fleece. All that work was done in vain as the ever-present slugs and snails love the shelter of cloches and fleece.

After a very wet spell I decided to take charge and I collected a large number of slugs to feed to my hens. This was a mistake because I soon found out that slugs can seriously harm hens since they are carriers of gapeworms. I did not gather snails at that point in time because I had a plan for them later in the year when I hoped to revitalise the lettuce and spinach leaves which my resident gastropods had enjoyed.

However, I was misguided in delaying, because when I did a grand tour of my garden last week, leaving no stone unturned, I ended up with just one (inedible) snail. Where had all my snails gone? I had hoped to collect a crop of edible specimens! On the plus side, I shall save myself a lot of work and will order a hamper from Fortnum and Mason. That hamper will contain two tins of ready-to-use good quality edible snails leaving me to prepare my own special parsley and garlic butter to accompany them. I usually serve these delicacies at drinks parties during the festive season.

While desperately searching for my snails I noticed that my Weigela florida and my Cotoneaster, which “died” suddenly two years ago, are showing signs of life at the base of each plant. So all is not that bad after all. I shall most definitely be gardening in 2018 when I am hoping for a bumper crop of snails.

Annie Mollett


Perlite and vermiculite are both used to improve moisture retention and aeration in soil. They are used in a similar manner, but they are not interchangeable and are quite different in composition.

Perlite is volcanic rock that has been crushed and heated until it explodes into small white pieces. It has porous pumice-like granules that sometimes are mistaken for tiny plastic foam balls when used in potting mixtures. The microscopic bubbles in perlite granules absorb and hold water but they also hold air. Its capacity to hold water is rated as medium, while its capacity to hold nutrients is rated as low.

Vermiculite is a spongy material that is dark brown to golden brown in colour. It is shaped like flakes when dry. It is an aluminum-iron-magnesium silicate that resembles mica in appearance. For use in horticulture, vermiculite is heated to expand the particles. This expansion enables it to absorb moisture when used as a potting medium. Vermiculite can soak up three to four times its volume in water. It also attracts plant nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.

Perlite and vermiculite are both good at retaining water, Perlite retains water because of its large surface area with nooks and crannies available for water storage. Because it is porous it allows excess water to drain more readily than vermiculite and improves soil aeration.

Hence the way that each material retains water, and how much water is retained, makes each one suitable for different plants. Vermiculite is ideal for plants that prefer lots of water, such as forget-me-nots and some irises. Perlite would dry out too rapidly for water-loving plants. However, the amount of water vermiculite holds is not ideal for plants such as cacti or rhododendrons, which need a well-drained soil. The moisture retained by vermiculite would lead to root rots or plant death.

Vermiculite and perlite are both odourless and sterile, which means they are disease, insect and seed free. Neither deteriorates or rots. They are used in potting mixes and soils for seed cultivation, propagation, transplanting, containers and hydroponics.


Perlite improves drainage and helps insulate plant roots against extreme fluctuations of temperature.

Vermiculite acts more like a sponge, holding much more water than perlite and offering less aeration for the plant roots.

Vermiculite is also used as an anti-caking material in dry pesticides and fertilizers. Perlite is used as a coating on pelleted seeds.

Rosie Richards

COOKERY CORNER - Vegetable Crumble with Anchovies

The anchovies give a delicious twist to this everyday dish but they may be omitted if you are feeding vegetarians. This makes a change from all the meat eaten over the festive season and uses seasonal vegetables.

Peel and halve the potatoes and parboil them in salted water until just tender. Drain and cool. Cut the leeks in half lengthways and wash them thoroughly. Drain and slice in 1 cm/½ inch pieces. Melt the butter and cook the leeks and carrots for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sprouts. Season with pepper. Transfer to a 2.5 L/4 pint ovenproof dish. Heat the oven to 200° C/400°/gas 6. Chop the anchovies and scatter them over the vegetables. Slice the potatoes and arrange them on top. To make the crumble, sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter or process in a food processor. Add the breadcrumbs and mix in the remaining ingredients. Spoon over the vegetables and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

Rosie Richards


FORDE ABBEY’S WHITE CHRISTMAS - 15.30-20.00 from December 7th to December 21st excluding Mondays and Tuesdays. Normal admission prices apply. The long borders and champion trees will be illuminated plus, inside the house the great hall, chapel, dining room and drawing room will be decorated for Christmas. The restaurant will be open for mulled wine, mince pies etc.

LIBERTY ORCHARD, CLOSWORTH ROAD, HALSTOCK, BA22 9SZ - The tasting shed will be open on Saturday 9th December, 11.00-15.00 for festive refreshments in aid of Halstock Village Community Room. Special offers on Liberty Orchard products - good Christmas gifts! Their Apple Syrup (Dorset’s answer to maple syrup) is now available.

Rachel Moulden


  1. The traditional Christmas tree is Picea abies (Norway spruce)
  2. 'Bedford Fillbasket', 'Cromwell' and 'Wellington' are all varieties of Brussel Sprout
  3. Holly is traditionally used to make white Chess pieces
  4. Poinsettia flowers are said to resemble the Star of Bethlehem
  5. In Scotland, birch is used for the tradition of burning a Yule Log
  6. One single snowflake within the 24 hour period is considered an official White Christmas
  7. The Christmas Bush is used as a decoration in Australia
  8. An ice rink is placed in front of the Temperate Glasshouse at Kew Gardens over Christmas

Thank you to all this year's contributors. If you get a gardening book or tool in your stocking, let's hear about it. Please send items, anything you like about growing or gardening, even a few lines, to rosemary.richards@icloud.com


~ Sara Coleridge

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