The Dreaded Gardener; Members Social; Garden Safari; Drought Busters; Gardener’s World; Other Events

Malcolm Berry – The Dreaded Gardener:  ‘Weaving the Web:Towards a Natural Garden’

Malcolm’s talk about how he tries to garden in a way to create ‘dynamic stability’ where flora and fauna exist in harmony struck a chord with many of us. The State of Nature reports indicate that in Wales 1 in 14 species are heading for extinction, in a large part due to loss of habitat. To try and offset this even those with small gardens can help. Biodiversity was at the root of his message: diversity creates diversity, the greater the diversity in flora the greater the diversity in fauna.

 

Ideas he has implemented in his own garden:

  • Varied habitats such as a pond, mini meadow, deciduous and evergreen hedges, mature trees and shrubs, dry stone walls, log piles, stone piles.

Mini Meadow © Malcolm Berry

  • Flower counts throughout the year to assess where/when there is a lack. Self seeding annuals to increase flower numbers
  • Polyculture rather than monoculture: mixing veg in with shrubs and perennials. More naturalistic and gives better protection against pests and disease.
  • Clear areas for veg planting in Spring, weed through growing season, stopping in August. By winter the mix of weeds and crops cover and protect the soil which is better for both soil and habitats. Weeds are also a good winter flower source.
  • No power machinery, he uses only hand tools

© Malcolm Berry

  • Compost: use comfrey in layers when turning compost as it is a good activator
  • Seed saving: from most veg. Some such as parsnips, runner beans and leeks require a minimum of 16 plants to save seed from in order to retain diversity. Only save seed from the best plants/fruit. Store seeds in an air-tight tub in fridge with silicon gel packets as this significantly reduces conditions required for germination.

Parsnip seed saving © Malcolm Berry

  • The Moon: He uses the Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar which shows the optimum days for sowing, pruning and harvesting various plants and crops.
  • Non-interventionist approach, no pesticides or herbicides, nature will balance things out. He grows sacrificial plants to avoid significant predation on veg.
  • Minimum tillage, he does not turn the soil, practices good crop rotation and uses green manures to maintain condition and fertility.

It was a very interesting talk and generated many questions from the audience.


Members Social and Growing Challenge 7.30pm Coronation Hall, Pumsaint

Our August meeting is our members’ social evening when we meet for a relaxed get together bringing a plate of food to share. This year due to our increasing numbers, it is being held in the hall rather than a member’s home.

Pots planted for pollinators – with varying degrees of success!

The evening is also when we share the results of this year’s growing challenge. We were asked to plant up a pot with plants for pollinators. Do bring along your pots even if they haven’t turned out quite as expected – it has been a very challenging year weather-wise, but we can all learn from our successes and failures! If you can’t manage to bring the pot itself do try and get some photos of it and bring them along instead.

 

The evening will also be when we will be handing over our donation from the proceeds from the plant fair, a cheque for £500,  to Wales Air Ambulance.


Garden Safari

The garden safari is a club event in which we get to visit the gardens of those club members who wish to participate. The number of gardens taking part varies year to year, this year there will be just 2, Yvonne’s and Tina’s. The date on which it will take place is Friday September 7th. More details will be given at the summer social.


Drought Busters

A tip from Elena for watering…

  1. Place a large tub in a wheelbarrow.
  2. Fill with old washing up water – You can also add feed to the tub
  3. Dunk hanging baskets in the tub holding underwater till all the bubbles stop
  4. Lift out and rest on the rim of the tub to drain, some will also drop into barrow and can be re-used!
  5. Rehang you well-watered basket. Works well with small pots too

And from Julian: we’re now having to use my huge number of water filled polycarbonate drinks bottles as a valuable water resource with our spring running low, but I also found that if you drill a tiny hole in the top of the bottle cap, upend it, and ram it into the soil beside squash, courgettes or tomatoes, it’ll deliver variable, but fairly slow water release over a few days – good if you have to go away for a weekend in hot weather.

From the white board: water Camellias and other Spring flowering shrubs now to encourage flowers next Spring.

Some plants which seem to be coping well with the lack of rain, and don’t need watering:

Jenny says….

  • Rudbeckia, Antirrhinum, Sweet William and Californian poppy.
  • Yellow Loosestrife, hostas and several unknown varieties of alliums have all flowered really well with minimal watering.

Sandy says…..

  • her 3 foot high unknown Phlox are doing well, and her Gunnera! She does live by a river which might help explain it.

Plants John and Helen have found are drought resistant are:

  • Erodium manescavii, Platycodon grandiflora and Scutellaria albida

Erodium manescavii with Geranium sanguinium

Julian and Fiona have found

  • Sea campion, Knapweed and Bird’sfoot Trefoil are all tough native plants to try, plus roses and clematis all seem to be thriving.

Ty’r Maes NGS Open Day

John and Helen had their NGS open day on Sunday. All John’s hard work watering to try and keep the garden looking good along with a little bit of help from the storms of the previous week certainly paid off. The garden was looking beautiful. The sun shone and the visitors flocked in – John said it was their best day for several years.  As always, thanks from them to all their helpers and cake bakers and to John and Helen for their donation to Cothi Gardeners funds.


Upcoming Events

Gardener’s World: Keith Brown whom many of us know for his lovely garden and talks he has given to Cothi Gardeners in the past, has been filmed for Gardener’s World. The piece is due to be aired THIS FRIDAY 10th August at 9pm

Llandeilo Permaculture Group: Llandeilo Permaculture Group have scored a coup, booking Permaculture designer Geoff Lawton for a talk in the Civic Hall on August 24th, 7pm. He’s done TED talks and lots more. This is his only date in Wales. Tickets are £10, includes a light buffet.

September Meeting

Paul Green from Green’s Leaves Nursery will be paying us another visit after his very enjoyable talk last year….. and he will be bringing plants again! Put the date in your diaries: Wednesday September 19th at 7.30pm


 

Cothi Gardeners Plant Fair

Cothi Gardeners Inaugural Plant Fair

Sunday 8th July dawned clear and sunny and turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year, perhaps not ideal weather for anyone organising a plant fair! Fears that the heat would deter visitors and stallholders alike proved unfounded and the day was a resounding success with over 300 visitors.

The site was enjoyed by all with easy access for nurseries and stall holders, good parking for visitors and wonderful refreshments in the hall. Huge congratulations and thanks to John Brooks and his team for masterminding the day and putting so much time and effort into all the planning. Also thanks are due to all members of Cothi Gardeners who pulled out the stops to help in one way or another, cake baking, supplying plants, manning stalls, setting up, taking down, car parking supervision and much more. It was a real team effort and one of which we can be justifiably proud.

  

The nurseries and other stallholders seemed unanimous in giving it a ‘thumbs up’ and hope to join us again next year. A big thank you to all the nurseries and stall holders who supported us.


Next Meeting Wednesday, July 18th

Malcolm Berry – The Dreaded Gardener on Facebook will be giving a talk entitled “Weaving The Web: Towards A Natural Garden”
His website is dedicated to helping educate people about how to produce their own healthy food, and encourage biodiversity, using a mix of approaches combined under the banner of ‘Natural Gardening’. This includes aspects of permaculture, organic and biodynamic practice, and what comes naturally to him.
All welcome, starts at 7.30pm, £3 for non-members (includes refreshments).


 

Programme changes; Film Entertainment; Glorious Primulas; Mad Hats & Tea at Aberglasney

The Quiet American Gardener and Terry Walton

Following the last minute cancellation of Terry Walton’s talk to us last month due to family circumstances, we brought forward the film which was to be our November entertainment. The good news is that we won’t miss out on Terry’s talk as he has now confirmed that he will be able to come in November instead.

Hidcote Manor Garden

The film we watched, ‘The Quiet American Gardener’, was about the history and development of Hidcote Manor Garden by Major Lawrence Johnston. He was born into a wealthy American family of stockbrokers, which gave him the necessary funds to create this now revered English garden, once his mother had bought the Cotswold estate in the early twentieth century. It was passed to the National Trust in 1948 on his retirement to his estate, Serre de la Madone, on the French Riviera.

The film was a fascinating insight into how the garden evolved and the influences that played a part: Italian garden design, architectural perspectives and their manipulation to create a particular effect are some that come to mind. The love of the place was apparent in the way the more recent gardeners talked about it and how they were trying to restore the garden to how Lawrence Johnston envisaged it. Click here for a trailer and transcript of the film.

 


Richard Bramley talking about Primulas – Wednesday May 16th at 7.30pm.

Primula sieboldii at Farmyard Nurseries

Another speaker cancellation occurred for May. Fortunately Richard Bramley, a popular and entertaining regular for Cothi Gardeners, was able to step into the breach and will give us a talk on Primulas. Richard has developed a fabulous collection of Primula sieboldii for which he is in the process of applying for National Collection status, and will no doubt tell us much about these beautiful Spring plants along with others in the primula family. He will of course be bringing plants for sale. More info on his website for Farmyard Nurseries (click here).

Primula sieboldii at Farmyard Nurseries

Candelabra primula in a garden setting

 

 


Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Aberglasney

There is a club outing to Aberglasney on Wednesday 6th June. Entry to the garden is at a reduced rate of £7.25 (free to members of Aberglasney) and the special afternoon tea (£12 per person) has been booked for 3.30pm.  Come early and enjoy this fabulous garden before sitting down to a  ‘proper tea’ with sandwiches, cakes and pretty china on the terrace overlooking the pool garden. Mad Hats to be worn (but not obligatory) to add to the entertainment! If you would like to join us but haven’t put your name down yet, there will be a list at the next meeting, or let Julian know directly. We need to give Aberglasney names  so that those attending can get the discounted rate.


Club Plant Stall

Now that we have had a welcome change in the weather (at last!) things have started to recover from the dreadful winter and spring. Do try and bring any surplus plants you may have to the next meeting for the club plant stall. The proceeds from the stall give a significant boost to club finances and all help both with supplying the plants and buying them is much appreciated.


 

Hardy Geraniums with Richard Cain; Media Allotmenteering with Terry Walton; Spring socialising with Cothi Gardeners…….

Richard Cain – Hardy Geraniums

Our March meeting was, sadly, the last one at which we will hear Richard Cain from Penlan Perennials as he is retiring in September. Richard has given us several entertaining and informative talks over the years on a variety of subjects and this one on Hardy Geraniums was no exception.

Erodium manescavii and Geranium sanguineum var. striatum

The Geranium genus includes

  1. Pelargoniums – not hardy annuals
  2. Erodiums – soft velvety foliage which doesn’t like wet conditions
  3. Geraniums – generally fully hardy to -25 Deg. C, although there are a few non-hardy types.

 

  • Appearance: they all have a crown of leaves at the centre but then can vary considerably from straggly stems to compact mounds. Leaves can be dissected, blotched and some are scented.
  • Smaller Geraniums can be vulnerable to winter wet when the crown can rot.
  • Species Geraniums only flower for 3 – 4 weeks as they attract pollinators and once pollinated, the flowers fade.
  • Hybrids have a longer flowering season as they are usually sterile.
  • There is a Geranium species for almost any site or situation! Eg Ground cover – G. macrorrizum; G. riversleaianum ‘Mavis Simpson’ (also flowers for 4 months). Shade – G. monacense, G. nodosum, G. phaeum, G. sylvaticum, G. versicolor & G. wlassovianum.

G. macrorrhizum

  • Most are pest and disease free and rabbit and deer resistant. However they are susceptible to vine weevil.
  • Thug like Geraniums such as G. oxonianum can be effectively controlled by cutting hard back before flowering has finished – this has the added benefit of encouraging a second flush later.
  • Many x hybrids are sterile but flowers are often larger and last longer eg  G. ‘Eureka Blue’, G.wallichianum ‘Crystal Lake’ and G. ‘Alan Mayes’ (like Magnificum but flowers for months).
  • Good plants for pollinators: usually have reflexed petals. G. sylvaticum, G. ‘Cloud Nine’. Hybrids and alpine varieties are not so good.

G. phaeum

 

Propagation:

  • Seed: collect when ripe – they usually go black. Hold seed head between fingers and put in a bag or the capsule will ‘explode’ scattering the seeds everywhere. Sow when fresh in vermiculite or coir (water before sowing) and cover with a very thin layer of vermiculite. Seeds can be kept in a bag in the fridge until ready to sow.
  • Division: do when dormant in spring. Pull off surplus compost, twist and pull crown apart. Tap off and replant.
  • Root cuttings: use this technique for sterile types and those with tap (carroty type)roots. Only take root cuttings when plant is dormant as if the sap is rising the cuttings won’t take. Use a root with fine roots on it. Note which way is up (cut lower end on an angle and top end flat). Take 1 ½ to 2” cuttings approx. the thickness of a pencil or more. It takes a year to get a small plant, success rate approx. 70 – 80 %.
  • Cuttings from rhizomes – take newish shoots from around the edge of the plant and gently tease apart. Balance top leafy growth and bottom root structure, removing leaves as necessary.
  • Stem cuttings: take these from the straggly stemmed Geraniums. Cuttings should be approx. 3-4” long. Peel basal leaves off. Cut square across under a leaf node, they should then produce roots at the node. Push into soil round the edge of a small pot.

We will miss being able to access Richard’s immense knowledge for future talks and wish him well for the next exciting phase of his life. Click here for his website


April Meeting

It’s hard enough getting those fiddly seeds into compost or trimming just the right side-shoots without holding your mobile phone to your ear and providing a running commentary to thousands of Radio 2 listeners at the same time.

If you haven’t already guessed, our speaker in April will be Terry Walton. “The Life of a Media Allotmenteer” promises to give us a look behind the scenes as Terry tells us about life on his allotment in the Rhondda and how he has given growing advice on the radio each month for over twelve years.

A gardener of over 40 years’ experience, Terry has worked plots on the same site since he was a boy, learning from his father and other allotment gardeners. Many of you will be familiar with his enthusiastic style, so do come along on April 18th to meet Terry. Mobile phones not necessary! Click here for his facebook page.

Guests and visitors welcome, £3, to include refreshments. The talk begins at 7.30pm.


Spring Social

We now have a date for a spring social – which will be very kindly hosted by Elena, for a lunch gathering at her home Glanranell Barns on Wednesday May 9th. 

Please bring a plate of food to share, and to ease parking issues, it would be good to car share if possible.


Plant Fair

Another reminder to put your names down for helping out with the plant fair – sheets for signing are on the meet and greet table at our meetings


NGS Garden Opening

Gelli Uchaf Garden

This year’s final opening weekend for Julian and Fiona’s garden, Gelli Uchaf is 21st and 22nd April. There are still some spaces left for the Saturday afternoon (2.30pm) and Sunday morning (10.30am). Contact them to book in : 01558  685119


TOPICAL TIPS

It’s probably still OK to cut back any Viticella, or later flowering Clematis, if you didn’t manage to do it in February, since there’s been so little growth so far this year.

Also Fiona’s tip is it’s not too late to take willow wands for making green sculptures or plant supports.

 

Finally if you’ve got any nectarines or apricots flowering under cover, don’t forget that there are very few pollinators around, or certainly not many that will make it into a greenhouse or polytunnel, unless you have a very nearby honeybee hive, so it’s worth hand pollinating the flowers – Julian uses a feather rammed into the end of a cane, to reach those high up flowers.


 

Pies, Bumblebees, Topical Tips and Events

              

After another excellent pie night at the Dolaucothi – sadly our last with Dave and Esther as they move on to pastures new, we enjoyed our first talk of the year given by Clare Flynn from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust on the Plight of the Bumblebee. It proved to be one of the best talks we have had with much post talk discussion.

The Plight of the Bumblebee

Clare took us through how bees evolved from wasps, the different types of bee species (approx. 275 native species in total of which there are 245 solitary bees, 24 bumbles and 1 honey bee species). We learnt about the differences between the different types, their lifecycles (bumble bee colonies die at the end of the year with the exception of the queens who hibernate and emerge in spring to start a new colony), Cuckoo bumble bees, the commonest types and how to try and identify them – not always easy! Click here for more information.    She then went on to talk about the decline of bumblebees both in numbers (2 species are extinct in the UK and 2 are on the brink) and range, the causes of this decline–

  • Habitat loss
  • Intensification of farming with increased use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, loss of hedgerows, heavy grazing, loss of 98% of the flower-rich grasslands since 1940
  • Agrochemicals – harm non target species, chronic exposure, cumulative effects
  • Pathogens – global movement with commercial colonies imported which escape/are released and spread disease through shared flowers.

Important as pollinators (honey bees can’t do it all!) for

  • commercial crops,
  • domestic food,
  • wildflowers
  • every 3rd mouthful comes from insect pollinated food
  • bumble bees are one of the most efficient pollinators
  • bumble bees are the only insect able to ‘buzz pollinate’ essential for crops such as tomatoes.
  • They are also important for their intrinsic value.

Clare then ended with ways we can help:

  • Habitat – gardens are very important
  • Plant bee friendly flowers
  • Plant flowers to give continuity of forage from March through to October
  • Create nesting sites
  • Create hibernation sites
  • Plant in swathes rather than singly
  • Plant different plants for different bumble bees

and why this should worry us.

Examples of good plants for bumblebees:

Spring: crocus, willow, dandelions, flowering currant, comfrey, pulmonaria, spurge, fruit trees

Early summer: Cranesbill, herbs, clover, bugle, currants, soft fruits, borage, dead nettle, cornflower

Summer: lavatera, weigela, eryngium, sunflowers, stachys, tansy, echinacaea, verbena bonariensis, open, single roses, lavender

Late summer: Knapweed, wild carrot, borage, asters, late raspberries, bramble

More can be found on the Bumblebee Conservation Trusts website (click here). Julian has also observed over several years the plants in Gelli Uchaf’s garden that pollinators, including bumblebees, favour. (Click here)

The following is taken from the bumble bee conservation website and is something that gardeners should be aware of : Recent research into garden centre plants has found that some ornamental plants on sale can contain pesticides, including neonicotinoids and fungicides at levels known to cause sub-lethal harm to bees. Although we do not yet know whether the net effect of exposing pollinators to contaminated food plants is positive or negative, gardeners wishing to lower the risk of exposing bees to these chemicals can buy from organic nurseries, plant swap with others, and or grow their own plants from seed.

Much more information is available on the bumblebee conservation’s excellent website: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/

Plant Fair

Arrangements for our plant fair are coming along well, many thanks to John for all his hard work. We are now at the stage when we need members to come forward and offer help. A sheet for you to do this will be on the meet and greet table at all our meetings. We now have a separate page on the website giving more details about the fair so do keep checking for any updates (click here).

Growing Challenge

A reminder that the member’s medley/plant challenge for the August meeting will be to grow something in a pot which you can bring along on the night, and which is attractive to pollinating insects, and then maybe tell us a little about it, and what you’ve seen visiting the flowers. We’ll hopefully confirm a member’s home as a venue to host this event shortly, but as with last year, we’ll have a fall back of the hall, if the forecast looks poor, and/or numbers attending are too great.


Topical tips

Tip 1 (from Julian): A top tip for the whole of February, and indeed any rare dry sunny weather in January as well, involves using my most valuable garden tool. – A fine artist’s paintbrush.

Anyone who came to either our garden NGS open weekend on Saturday/Sunday or indeed the committee meeting knows why.  As Mark jokily summarised it, it’s for my Sex with Cyclamen encounters. I’ve spent years looking at the early flowering spring bulbs in our garden, and what insects actually visit them to pollinate them. And for us, before about the third week in February – there are no bumblebees about. And with perfect timing I yesterday heard and then saw our first emerged bumblebee queen of the year visiting Crocus tommasinianus flowers, complete with hordes of mites, looking almost as desperate for some spring warmth and sunshine as we are! Also if you don’t have a honeybee hive actually in your garden or very close by then you’re unlikely to have any of them around either. Many of these spring flowers have a Mediterranean origin, but as you know we don’t have a similar climate, or insect population in this part of the world. But a lot of these bulbs or corms – if they’re not sterile hybrids – are quite capable of setting seed if they flower this early, just so long as they do get pollinated.

But if there aren’t any insects around then this clearly won’t happen, unless you help them out. So an hour or 2 spent now stooped over the flowers with a paintbrush tickling the flowers might worry your neighbours, but really can result in thousands of viable seeds later in the year. In addition you’re eventually likely to end up with a population of plants – (whether they’re Crocus, Cyclamen coum or even Snowdrops  – you can use it on all 3 plants) – which will flower earlier and are likely to thrive in your garden’s conditions – compared with bought in plants.

And finally you’ll then value the work that pollinating insects do for us much more highly!!If you just rely on later insect population you will probably end up with a population of these flowers with a much narrower period of flowering, based on the nursery bred plants you started off with. Pretty much as soon as I spot a few bumblebees, I put the brush away, so you’re not depriving them of any valuable pollen.

Tip 2: It’s still a good time of the year to lift and divide any clumps of snowdrops. This is really the best, and only, reliable way to gradually end up with a better display each year. But I would pause if we’re heading into a prolonged dry spell with freezing Easterlies. So maybe for now hold fire and wait until wet weather returns….. I’m sure you won’t have to wait too long…. Plant them singly if you’ve got a big area to cover and are patient, or in 2’s or 3’s about 4 inches apart and 2 inches deep if you’re in more of a hurry to get a small area nicely covered.

Tip 3: Donna recommended Charles Dowding on No Dig veggie gardening videos on YouTube – click here for his website http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk


Finally a reminder that Lechryd Gardening Club are holding their own version of ‘Gardener’s Question Time’ on 14th March starting at 7.30pm at Boncath Community Hall. Everyone is welcome, £2 for visitors.

 

AGM; SNOWDROP AUCTION & QUIZ; INAUGURAL PLANT FAIR; BUMBLEBEES & PYO WILLOW

AGM

The club AGM was held on January 17th and was very well attended with an excellent turnout of current members plus some new ones joining on the night. The chairman and treasurer’s reports indicated that the club is thriving but the point was made that we shouldn’t rest on our laurels but should actively encourage others to join. Thanks were given to retiring committee members, Avril and Jenny, for their hard work over the last 3 years.


Snowdrop Auction and Quiz

Once the business part of the meeting was finished Julian took up his meat tenderizer, sorry, ‘Gavel’,  to conduct an auction of snowdrops. This proved to be a highly amusing event and raised over £60 for club funds. Grateful thanks to Julian and Fiona for donating the snowdrops.

 

Food was next on our minds and we all enjoyed the varied offerings brought for our sharing supper.

With appetites satisfied we girded our loins and attempted to get our brains in gear for Derek’s quiz. He assured us it was easy this year with all answers some kind of plant. We were deceived! Plants ? Certainly. Easy ? ?? Nonetheless it was great fun and enjoyed by all.

         

Stumped?


Cothi Gardeners Plant Fair Sunday, July 8th 2018

The planning for our inaugural plant fair is progressing well. The date is confirmed, excellent nurseries, growers and other participants are booked. Detailed organisation for the day itself will need the active participation of all members to make it run smoothly and successfully so PLEASE PUT IT IN YOUR DIARIES NOW and be prepared to be involved! More on what this will entail at our next meeting in February.


“The Plight of the Bumble Bee” , Wednesday, February 21st.

“The Plight of the Bumble Bee” will be presented by Clare Flynn from the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust. This is a charity doing excellent work and research across Britain. Click here for more info.


 

Cut-your-own willow – January 2018 – available for approx. 6 weeks.

Donna has basket makers’ willow ready for cutting. Varieties include:  Fantail, Continental Purple and Golden. No charge, but I’d happily swap for a small basket! Please phone Donna, 01558 685717

Fantail: A vigorous ornamental willow known for its curiously flattened, recurved stems used in floral arrangements.  Click here for more info.

Continental Purple: Tall, with dark purple to mahogany stems, and a beautiful but very delicate pale purple bloom on the bark. Click here for more info.

Golden: A spreading medium-sized deciduous tree with bright deep yellow shoots bearing narrowly-lanceolate mid-green leaves and insignificant, slender yellowish catkins in early spring. Click here for more info.


 

Farewell 2017, and a Happy New Year to all for 2018

Christmas Social and Buffet

Our last event for 2017 was the Christmas meal and get together at the Dolaucothi Arms. In spite of the weather doing it’s best to thwart the event with excessive snowfalls the weekend before, the thaw set in in time for everyone to make it.

 

 

This year we opted to have an evening do to accommodate those members who work and are therefore unable to come to a lunchtime meal. We also opted to try the buffet format as our numbers have increased to the point that a sit-down meal is less easy to manage.

It proved to be one of our most enjoyable Christmas meetings, the food was excellent with both hot and cold options and plenty of it! Seating was much more relaxed, less cramped and folk were able to move round and chat to different people more easily. All in all a resounding success and our grateful thanks to Dave and Esther and their staff for their warm welcome and hard work to make it so.

(My apologies, there are no embarrassing photos as I forgot my camera!)


AGM, Snowdrop Auction, Supper and Quiz

2018 kicks off with our AGM. Once the official business (usually mercifully brief!) has been dealt with we will be having a mini auction of a few snowdrops for club funds. Julian & Fiona are kindly donating these and the photo below shows some of the snowdrops they had in flower on New Year’s Day – each flower in the photo is a different variety.

 

 

Click here to see a guide on how they grow theirs,  plus pictures of many of them which will (hopefully) show that there’s a bit more to snowdrop forms than you might think! After the auction we will enjoy our ‘bring a plate to share’ supper and finish up with Derek’s light-hearted  quiz.

The AGM is a members only meeting but if anyone wishes to become a member and join on the night they would be very welcome.


2018 Programme

The 2018 programme finer details have almost been sorted and programmes will be available from our February meeting. In the meantime take a look at what is in store for us on the website programme page (click here). A big thank you to Brenda and Yvonne for doing such sterling work as our programme secretaries.

Our first open meeting is on Wednesday, February 21st. “The Plight of the Bumble Bee” will be presented by Clare Flynn from the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust. This is a charity doing excellent work and research across Britain. Click here for more info.

      


BACK COPIES OF GARDENING MAGAZINES

We have back copies of the following magazines available for a small donation to club funds for anyone who would like them. Nearly all are from 2016:

  • Gardens Illustrated
  • The English Garden
  • RHS The Garden

If anyone is interested email Julian and Fiona at cothigardeneers@gmail.com, and we will bring them along to the next meeting.


 

Frank Cabot – Les Quatre Vents; Christmas Buffet; Sad News

Les Quatre Vents – slideshow illustrated DVD lecture by Frank Cabot

At our November meeting rather than having a speaker we opted to show a film by Frank Cabot of his garden, ‘Les Quatre Vents’, near Quebec in Canada. In spite of quite a number of members being away or ill, we had a very good turnout.

Julian gave a brief introduction explaining Frank Cabot’s relevance to Carmarthenshire and his background ……

He was actually an American, born into a wealthy family, and made enough money in financial services to retire early at 48 and devote himself to gardens and horticulture.

Like Bob Brown, he was awarded the Veitch medal by our Royal Horticultural Society, and he also established the Garden Conservancy charity in America to help save and preserve significant gardens mainly in the USA and a few around the world.  Through contacts made by Carmarthenshire based William Wilkins, he was persuaded to become involved with the Aberglasney Restoration Trust, he and his wife donating over £1 million to the restoration of Aberglasney in its very early days. A man of great charm and enthusiasm, he produced in his latter years not just a wonderful book on the creation of his major family garden at Les Quatre Vents, The Greater Perfection) but also a slideshow illustrated DVD lecture which is what we showed to Cothigardeners. This selects 5 of the 32 design elements of his garden and discusses how they came into being. Many took decades to reach fruition, from the initial idea and planning to the final execution or maturity of plantings.

Although  the film showed gardening on a grand scale we were able to appreciate themes it highlighted which are pertinent to all gardeners……..

  • patience – the long term  nature of designing/planting a garden
  • ruthlessness – if a plant doesn’t perform, move it to a better location or get rid of it altogether – all plants should earn their place.
  • continual appraisal, reassessment and editing. Walk round your garden regularly throughout the year making notes of things that work and those that don’t and be prepared to change them where necessary.

Click here for both a 4 minute video clip from the film, and a detailed biography  of Frank Cabot on the site of The Garden Conservancy.


Christmas Buffet

A reminder to those who have booked their place for the Christmas buffet ………………….

Wednesday December 13th at the Dolaucothi Arms, meeting at  6.30 pm for a 6.45 to 7 pm start.

The Dolaucothi Arms – Cothigardeners Christmas Buffet 2017

£15 per person

Hot

Dinefwr Venison sausages with red onion, apples and sage

Mushroom, chestnut & red wine bourguignon (gf, ve)

Buttery mashed potato (v)

Root vegetables roasted with thyme (gf, ve)

Cold

Home cooked glazed ham with cranberry and orange stuffing (gf)

Raised rainbow vegetable pie

Spiced red cabbage slaw ~ Chicory, celery & walnut salad ~ winter salad

(all gf, v)

Sweet (all v)

Mince pies with brandy butter

Orange, almond & polenta cake (gf)

Mulled pear and gingerbread trifle


Sad News

Many of us in Cothigardeners knew John Smith and had enjoyed his and his wife Liz’s company and beautiful garden at  Llwyn Cyll near Trapp on several occasions, as well as his highly entertaining talk on the development of the garden. Sadly news came this week that he died of cancer in Glangwili hospital on Saturday night.

John’s funeral/memorial service is to be held at Llanelli Crematorium at 12.00 on Monday 27th, with ‘tea’ at Llyshendy (Jane and Ivor Stokes home near Llandeilo) thereafter.  Liz has asked that if folk are coming, bright colours please and black only if you have to!


 

Brilliant Bob Brown; Quatre Vents – Gardening on a Grand Scale; Christmas Buffet

Bob Brown –  “Too many plants, too little space”

  

Preceded by another successful Pie Night at the Dolaucothi Arms, our October meeting saw us entertained by our ‘big name’ speaker for this year, Bob Brown from Cotswold Garden Flowers. The hall was packed with 40 visitors swelling our club numbers to over 80. There were some excellent raffle prizes to be won and members did us proud with their cake baking for the refreshments

  

Bob lived up to his reputation and gave us a highly informative and amusing talk on the subject ‘Too many plants, too little space’. Below is a brief summary of the main points he made.

“Too many plants, too little space”

  • Cut down size of garden
  • Make every plant earn it’s keep, opt for plants with multi-seasonal interest.
  • Multi-layer planting to extend growing season – as one plant goes over another is coming up to take it’s place – in the same space.
  • Throw out non optimal performers – be ruthless!
  • Go for AGM varieties as these are proven to be garden worthy.
  • Avoid ‘rare’ and difficult to get hold of plants – they are so described for a reason!

Bob also brought some of his lovely plants to sell, many of which were mentioned in the talk.

  

Many thanks to all those involved with the smooth running of the evening, and especially our programme organisers, Brenda and Yvonne, whose brainchild it was.

 


Quatre Vents – Wednesday November 15th

November’s meeting will be a quieter affair but non-the-less very interesting. We are showing the film made and narrated by Frank Cabot about the development of his family’s garden ‘Quatre Vents’ near Quebec in Canada.  Frank and Anne Cabot were the primary benefactors of the Aberglasney Restoration Trust. He set up the Garden Conservancy in the States to help save and restore special gardens around the world. Click here to read more. Sadly Frank died in 2011 aged 86.

The following is a quote about Frank Cabot from Alexander Reford, director of the renowned family-owned Jardins du Métis, also in Quebec.

“He was a formidable character and an inspiration to gardeners, both amateur and professional who work to emulate his horticultural prowess. His wit and wisdom were a welcome addition to our lives, his erudition encouraged many to take up gardening seriously, and his irony made sure that we did not do so excessively. He inherited the land, but he made the garden; it was his from start to finish. Whenever I saw him he was in jeans, his rubber boots, knee pads, dirt under his fingernails. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants.”

Even though the property has been open to the general public for only four days each summer, the gardens are world renowned. Hilary Weston and Nicole Eaton featured them in their book In a Canadian Garden, and Reader’s Digest once referred to them as “Canada’s best kept secret.”

In the year 2000 Frank Cabot was awarded the Veitch medal by the Royal Horticultural Society. He also received the Garden Club of America’s 2006 Achievement Award for “the greatest horticultural accomplishment in America in the last half-century” and numerous other awards.

“His book, The Greater Perfection, received the Council of Botanical and Horticultural Libraries’ 2003 Literature Award, and was described as “one of the best books ever written about the making of a garden by its creator”

Perhaps Gardens Illustrated described him best:  “part eccentric, part scholar; a thinker, a gatherer of ideas, a plantsman, and a patron… above all, as is essential to all great gardeners, he is a visionary.”

The film shows gardening on a grand scale, but is still very stimulating, and you may well not get a chance to see it anywhere else, so it’s well worth coming along.


Christmas Buffet

Our Christmas meal this year is a buffet and will be held on the evening of Wednesday December 13th at the Dolaucothi Arms, meeting at about 6.30 pm for a 6.45 to 7 pm start. Final details will be circulated nearer the time but members should be aware that places are limited, so if you do want to come you need to let Julian or Stephen know as soon as possible to secure your place. Payment needs to be made by the November meeting at the latest. The menu is below.

The DOLAUCOTHI Arms – Cothi Gardeners Christmas Buffet 2017

£15 per person

Hot

Dinefwr Venison sausages with red onion, apples and sage

Mushroom, chestnut & red wine bourguignon (gf, ve)

Buttery mashed potato (v)

Root vegetables roasted with thyme (gf, ve)

Cold

Home cooked glazed ham with cranberry and orange stuffing (gf)

Raised rainbow vegetable pie

Spiced red cabbage slaw ~ Chicory, celery & walnut salad ~ winter salad

(all gf, v)

Sweet (all v)

Mince pies with brandy butter

Orange, almond & polenta cake (gf)

Mulled pear and gingerbread trifle