Help Needed for Plant Life Wild Flower Walk and Orchid Count June 17th

Wild Flower Walk & Orchid Count

June 17 @ 10:00 am4:00 pm

Plantlife have put out a request for more volunteers to help with this orchid count – details below or click here for more.

Cae Blaen Dyffryn, near Lampeter, Carmarthenshire

Join us at beautiful Cae Blaen Dyffryn for the annual survey of the wild flowers and greater butterfly orchids at the reserve. With thousands of flowers to count, every pair of eyes is needed! You don’t need to be experienced in identifying wild flowers – just let us know and we’ll make sure someone can help you on the day.

The morning will include a guided walk around the reserve to help you can get familiar with the wild flowers and orchids found there, and a survey activity to find out which plants we can spot. We also hope to set up a moth trap to learn more about the insects using the reserve (weather dependent).

During lunch at a nearby school, you will have the opportunity to learn more about the annual survey, how we use the information to help us manage the reserve and what the results have shown in recent years. The afternoon will focus on counting the beautiful greater butterfly orchids found at the reserve.

To book please email or call 02920 376193. Further details will be sent following your booking. If you would like to come along but can only make the morning or afternoon just let us know.

For more information contact Helen Bradley, Plantlife Cymru Outreach Officer,, 02920 376193

Westonbury Mill Water Garden and Hergest Croft Outing

Westonbury Mill Water Garden and Hergest Croft Outing

For this year’s club visit we decided on a day trip taking in two well-known gardens in Herefordshire. In the end 14  members and guests met up at Westonbury and started the visit with a welcome cuppa (of course!) after which we descended on the plant sales before even venturing into the garden itself.


Of course this meant we could give our undivided attention to appreciating the ingenuity of design and planting flair. It is indeed a very special garden. The follies were stunning and the planting lush and colourful.




An excellent lunch set us up for our next stop, Hergest Croft Garden.

Here the plant sales were again swooped upon before anything else was even thought about! Satisfied with our success we then set off to explore the garden itself and Park Wood. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas were looking fabulous as can hopefully be seen from the photos.






Tea, more plant purchases and we were ready to head home.

All in all a highly successful and fun day.

Cothi Gardeners Garden Safari

The club Garden Safari took place on a beautifully sunny day in May. Those of us who went had a wonderful time not only looking at fellow member’s gardens and the issues they had to cope with, but also enjoying each others’ company with more time to chat and exchange ideas and tips.

The gardens were all very different.


Donna has a very steep garden up the bank behind her house. She has stabilised it with stone filled gabions and retaining walls incorporating witty and clever insets such as a water pouring teapot into a cup and saucer. The views from the top were spectacular.



Elena entertained us for lunch in her garden hut………………………..


followed by a gentle stroll around her garden.

A very different location, and being valley bottom meant that the garden suffered very badly from the effects of the recent frosts.Not to be thwarted, Elena quickly replaced the frost damaged flowers with some of her own creations complete with labels!


We were up in the hills again for Tina’s garden at Ffarmers.


On a bigger scale than the previous two, incorporating fruit and vegetables, herbaceous beds…………..



……………. yet to be tamed areas currently great for wildlife, ponds and a beautiful hidden valley full of bluebells and other wild flowers.


More ingenuity was in evidence – note the border edging materials! (Upturned bottles, slates, and bricks if you are unable to make them out in the 3rd photo above)
Tina, Derek and Kate very kindly provided us with tea and cake after the tour round their fields, which was much needed and much appreciated.

The safari ended with an unplanned visit to Jane and Steven’s garden which was also much enjoyed. The following pics courtesy of Jane……..



Very many thanks to all our hosts and all those who participated for making it such an enjoyable day.

Plant Fairs, Festivals and Crawls! Snowdon Night Hike

National Botanic Garden of Wales

Make a date for some blooming bargains at the National Botanic Garden annual plant sale.

Hundreds of plants, donated by Garden staff, volunteers, members and the public will be on offer over the two-day fundraising effort on Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13.

There’s still time to donate plants – for details of how to do so, call Jane Down on 01558 667118 – but, mostly, you should be thinking about clearing a space in your backyard for the upcoming deluge of botanical bargains.

Last year’s volunteer-run sale raised more than £4,000 for Garden coffers and this year’s fair is again promising an interesting mix of stalls offering vegetables, bedding plants, perennials and plants for wildlife.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales is open from 10am to 6pm, with last admission at 5pm, and the Annual Plant Sale will run on both days.

Admission to the Garden is £10.50 for Adults (including Gift Aid), £8.75 for Concessions and £25 for a Family Ticket (2 adults and up to 4 children). For more information about this or other events, call 01558 667149 or email





Team Large’s Snowdon Night Hike

At our meeting in April Anne explained to us the challenge she and members of her family have undertaken as a positive response to the cancer diagnosis she had last year. In aid of Breast Cancer they are aiming to climb Snowdon at night! The Night Hike takes place on May 20th. Do follow the link to Team Large’s Justgiving page to learn more about it. All support gratefully received. (Click here)


April Green’s Leaves; May gardens at a Castle, Mill and Croft

Paul from Green’s Leaves gave us a lively insight into the plants his nursery grows. Paul’s philosophy is that a plant needs to earn its place in a garden by any of four main criteria: coloured foliage, scented, southern hemisphere or sheer weirdness! He then proceeded to illustrate his talk using plants that he had brought with him and giving many tips on the best way to grow them.

  • light improves the depth of colour of dark foliage plants
  • judicious pruning helps limit size and in some encourages repeat flowering. With early season flowerers prune by 1/3 to improve shape.
  • Planting in a ratio of one dark to two light gives a good contrast.
  • Hardiness is on a scale of H1 to H7 (less to more) but the degree of hardiness of a particular plant will also depend on its age, moisture, size of pot/in the ground,wind, location in the garden, etc

In case any of you didn’t get a name or missed the meeting, below is a list of most of the plants Paul mentioned:

  • Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ – prune after flowering to keep size manageable
  • Polemonium ‘Heaven Scent’ – trim whole plant after flowering to encourage repeat flowers
  • Physocarpus – good for clay soils and can be pruned
  • Actea ‘Black Negligee’ – good for moist soils
  • Rogersia ‘Bronze Peacock’ – also good for moist soils
  • Black Catkin Willow
  • Black stemmed Dogwood
  • Prostanthera rotundifolia (Australian Mint Bush) – hardiness H2
  • Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ – bullet proof and copes with poor soil
  • Hollies – 1 male needed to 20 females to produce berries. Examples included ‘Sliver Hedgehog’ and the Chestnut Leaf Holly.
  • Spirea vanhouttei ‘Gold Fountain’ – good in pots; in sun foliage is gold, in shade, lime green
  • Epimedium frohnleiten –good for shade and ground cover
  • Hakonechloa
  • Sorbaria – this plant suckers so plant in a large pot buried in the ground. Lovely early foliage, flowers, and autumn colour.
  • Eupatorium ‘Mask’ – great for butterflies. Needs sun or part shade and a moist soil.
  • Gillenia trifoliata – white flowers in June and very good autumn colour.
  • Buffalo Currant – yellow flowers, smells of cloves and great for bees. Plant in sun.
  • Acers – the more dissected the leaves, the less wind tolerant
  • Cercidiphylum japonicum pendulum
  • Sarcococca ‘Winter Gem’ – an alternative to box.
  • Brunnera ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘Alexander’s Great’

All in all a highly entertaining, informative talk.

Topical Tips

The topical tips for April were from Anne and Julian.

Anne showed us her bulb planting trowel which is much narrower and more pointed than a conventional one. She says it is the only sort she now uses and not just for bulb planting but weeding and many other things too. When buying one remember to check the weld as this can be a weak point.

Julian’s tips: firstly, our preferred method now for weed control on our quite extensive paths and yard. Having previously tried Pathclear, steaming, hot air (from an electric paint stripper – not Julian’s mouth) and a flame thrower. We use an 8 litre watering can with a fine rose, 750 grams of table salt and a small amount of liquid washing machine detergent (say half a cap full). Dissolve with stirring and using water as hot as you have, and then water the paths. Ideally do this at the beginning of a dry spell. It needs repeating maybe 6 or 7 times a year, and occasionally you may need to do a little hand weeding as well, but it’s better than anything else we’ve ever used, with surprisingly little collateral damage. We usually begin as soon as the first seedling leaves appear, in very early spring or late winter, and repeat as necessary. One watering can full will treat between 10 and 12 sq yds. Of course this being the UK he couldn’t possibly advise that any of you do this. We’re just telling you what we do!

Secondly, a plug for specialist nurseries. 2 examples. We now grow a lot of daffodils, particularly late flowering ones, many of which we get from Ron and Adrian Scamp in Cornwall. ( They have a huge selection, a great physical and online catalogue and these 2 later flowering favourites which are about halfway through their flowering time now (mid April). The one, rather appropriate for Carmarthenshire being called “Merlin”,

N. Merlin

and the others are called “Oryx”.

N. Oryx

All Scamp’s daffs are grown in Cornwall and most seem to cope very well in our conditions. Most people order daffs in the autumn, but some of his good varieties sell out even by now, so have a look soon if you’re interested.

Richard Bramley, who most of us know, has recently built up an amazing collection, in flower now in one of his polytunnels at Farmyard Nurseries Llandysul, of Primula sieboldii.  I’d urge anyone who likes the look of them to go and visit Farmyard whilst they’re still in flower.



May Meeting – Roddy Milne from Picton Castle

Our meeting on May 17th promises a restful departure from the busy time that most gardeners are having this month.

The topic is “The Woodland Garden and its Plants” and the talk will be presented by Roddy Milne, head gardener at Picton Castle. Some of you may already have visited Picton Castle, but do come along as enjoying an hour with Roddy as he gives us tips and advice is not to be missed. If you are planting up a wooded area yourself then you’re sure to get some hints on how to proceed. There will be time to ask questions and a plant sale, plants brought along by Roddy and of course those grown by our members.

If you would like to know more about Picton Castle, near Haverfordwest, and perhaps plan a visit this spring, have a look at for more information. This 40 acre site is at its best at this time of year, especially the woodland walks and spectacular display of rhododendrons.

Garden Safari

This is taking place on Wednesday May 10th. If you haven’t already given your name to Julian please do so asap. We need to know numbers to organise car sharing to Donna’s. The plan is to meet in the car park at Cymdu pub at 11.50 am and sort out filling the 4 cars Donna can accommodate from there/organise a shuttle service if needed. After Donna we go on to Elena for lunch – remember to bring a sharing plate of food; and then on to Tina’s for about 2.30 ish.

Westonbury Mill and Hergest Croft Visit

Anyone interested who hasn’t done so already and would like to car share, please let Julian know. The date for this is 24th May. The aim is to meet at Westonbury Mill in the morning, when it opens at 11.00 am and go on to Hergest Croft for the afternoon. Lunch can be had at either. Details will be finalised at the May meeting.

Cardiganshire Horticultural Society

The members of Cardiganshire Horticultural Society have very kindly said that any members of Cothigardeners who would like to join them on any of their outings would be very welcome to do so. Click here ( ) to go to their website if you are interested. Visits this year still to come include: Swansea: the Clyne Gardens & Penllergare; Powys: Bodfach & Bryn y Llidiart; Shropshire: Ruthall Manor & Dudmaston Hall; Chester Zoo Gardens. Details are also on our Members Offers page (click here)