April Sunshine and Lockdown in Cothi Gardens; Sally the Slug and Harry the Hare

As the Covid -19 lock down is maintained and we move into April with no clear exit strategy, I’m guessing we’re all feeling incredibly fortunate to be living in this wonderful part of the world, with our gardens to appreciate in what must be one of the best runs of dry weather we’ve had in ages. (Whisper – we could really do with some rain soon…).

In the absence of any meetings in the near future I’m very grateful for those members who’ve sent photos and information on their gardens to me or Elena recently.  Having just acquired a replacement granny phone (thanks of course to Fiona for sorting this) which I need for receiving SMS messages to log in to this website (the first got trashed last Saturday when I came off my bike at speed in the forestry), I can now upload these insights below:

Alison Williams sent these lovely photos of spring flowers from her garden : 


Anne Thomas sent me this background on what she’s been up to recently :

Well we have been creating a new raised bed in what was an untidy corner (one of many) and laying some slabs and creating a new bed in a corner that housed the oil tank until last month. Have a lot of Hellebores so have put some in the new area and a couple of Acers bought at one of the garden talks. And the good news is that online ordering still seems to be happening with plants!

New raised bed. I think I will plant some tumbling plants above stone wall (built by me when we put in the greenhouse).


Interesting daffodils ( ? Oxford gold)


I think we should feel very lucky living where we do in these difficult times. Must be awful stuck in a flat with children. We don’t need to see or speak to anyone other than the sheep!

Keep safe. I look forward to seeing other gardens.
Anne Thomas


Derek Marshall sent me this:

Raised bed evolution season by season!
The ground is so wet here that we needed to give some depth to the beds, hence raised beds. Originally with mole earth and compost, now supplemented with sand, grit, farmyard manure, more compost and ash from the Rayburn in combination or composition depending upon the intended planting for each bed.


The near bed has been prepared but needs to have holes burned when Tina wants to plant brassicas; the bed on the right still has Leeks; the bed on the far left is now planted with onions, and the central bed is still a bit of a hodge podge mess needing to be tidied up prior to reuse this season.
The fabric is heavy duty, keeps the soil warm and moist, and in combination with the holes reduces weeds, and weeding, tremendously, and the incidence of slugs is also much reduced. I use a small kitchen blowlamp to create the holes. It has many advantages: it is more accurate, easy to use, seals the holes as they are burned so no fraying, and therefore minimises errors on an otherwise potentially expensive resource, the fabric. By this method, and secure fixing by stapling, the fabric normally lasts 3 years, so also defraying the initial cost.
It is clear that Tina is the gardener in our family, but I can complement her efforts by creating structure, and I am weeder in chief, so it all helps.
Aren’t we fortunate at this time to have outside space to relax in, to work in, and to grow in? Additionally I anticipate that in the near future all our efforts to grow our own food will not only be beneficial, but necessary.


I think one of the (few?) benefits of the current crisis might be getting everyone to have to slow down and think about what’s really important.

So here’s a new fable in pictures for these troubled times from our garden – the Tale of Sally the Slug and Harry the Hare….

Harry the hare spent all day racing at speed, from dawn till dusk, getting hotter and hotter, and more and more anxious. But didn’t get anywhere. And ended up exhausted and turned to rusting iron.

(Many thanks to Martin and Angela for this wonderful prop! Click here for their website for any distant readers!)

Meanwhile in the greenhouse, Sally, the slimy slug, who spent all night very slowly slithering to the very apex to graze on algae and leaves, decided as light began to tinge the Eastern sky, to take the scenic route down. So abseiled down her own strong and sticky, slimey thread. And enjoyed a wonderful view as the sun rose and warmed her slowly spiralling body as she inched towards the floor. With plenty of time to think about what she was going to do for the rest of the day, and hardly a care in the world.

( Apologies for gender inaccuracies – slugs are hermaphrodites, but it doesn’t work as well with “it”).


Some of our favourite spring bulbs right now which always make me forget about the hard work last autumn crow-barring them into the ground.  In particular the largely white Nacissus “Thalia” and “Actaea”, and Tulip “Flaming Purissima” :


It would be lovely to hear from more members about their favourite plants, or things in their gardens as we go through the next few months. Why not write a few words and send an image or two, preferably resized down to less than 1 MB? I can’t promise to put everything up online immediately, but usually within a fortnight, and it’ll be a great way of keeping in touch, and passing on information.

Or use the Cothigardeners Facebook Page.

You can send things to me at:

Cothigardeners@gmail.com

Covid-19 Update from Our Chair

Members will already have received this email from Elena, our chair, updating the club’s status in these challenging times…

Cothi Gardeners is following the government’s strategy of social distancing and avoiding unnecessary travel, as I am sure you are too!

With that in mind we are cancelling both our April and May meetings and will let you know about future meetings as things become clearer.

Nature can support us during these difficult times and we are fortunate to have easy access to the beautiful wildness of underpopulated Welsh hills, woods and seaside near our homes in which to de stress and breathe.

In our splendid physical isolation remember that you are not alone. Reach out, call friends and family for a chat … talking is good for mental health which underpins our physical wellbeing!

Happy gardening and keep well till we meet again

Elena

Saving Pollinators

Any other members measure their rainfall totals?

To quote Melvin Udall addressing a group of depressed psychiatric patients in the film of the same title : “What if this is as good as it gets?” By which I mean the seemingly unending rain – it looks like we’ll have clocked up 6 consecutive months with 200 mm plus by the end of February, which we’ve never managed before, whilst I’ve been measuring rainfall here.

So thank goodness we’re all gardeners and can see the positive side of things – brilliant weather for lifting and splitting snowdrops, or even early daffodils. And thank goodness that many spring bulbs seem to shrug off all this inclement weather and look almost as good after storms Ciara and Dennis have whizzed through.

Plus our frogs  clearly aren’t bothered…

But early pollinators really do struggle with this sort of weather, so a reminder that tomorrow’s talk, Wednesday February 19th,  will be an up to date insight into how our own National Botanic Garden of Wales is at the cutting edge of research into what we can do to help pollinators of all kinds. Both Lucy Witter and Abigail Lowe will be talking about their own studies, so do come along and enjoy the first talk of the year.

7 pm for a 7.30 pm start at the hall in Pumsaint.


Has anyone checked their seeds and cuttings from the trip to Hergest Croft gardens last year?

I’m hoping to do a montage of what we’ve managed to propagate, and also forward it onto Steve and Mel for their interest, so if everyone who went on the trip could have a look at any pots they have over the next few weeks, and ideally send me a photo or two, that would be great.

A couple of pictures of some of my cuttings  – Buddleja, Salvia, Hydrangea, Acer all looking good so far…

And one of them even has a label on it!

AGM, Programme for 2020, Events, and February Meeting

 

Cothigardeners’ year began in customary style recently with the AGM which was very well attended. Yvonne gave a resume of the busy year the group had enjoyed in 2019, Steven reported on the healthy state of the group financially and in terms of member and visitor numbers over the past year.  Membership for 2020 is £15 per person, which is a slight increase, but still represents excellent value for money given the speakers planned for the years ahead. The club is very fortunate to have had such a hard working chair and treasurer who have both stepped down this year, and everyone will want to thank Yvonne and Steven for their work, and we’re equally pleased that Elena and Andy have come forward to take on these vital roles.

With the AGM finished, a short auction of donated snowdrops, art and craft items was held which raised valuable additional funds to go towards the running of the club, as well as a table of book sales. Many thanks to everyone who donated or indeed bought any of these items.

We then enjoyed a shared plate supper of savoury and dessert food, before the evening finished with another one of Derek’s challenging quizzes. Many thanks to Derek for all his effort in putting this together and indeed to Tina for Marshalling us into entirely non competetive teams (?) It always amazes me the combined knowledge of Cothigardeners reflected in the final team scores, although I’m not sure anyone knew what plant capers come from?

The answer is The Flinders Rose. I’m not sure we’d have escaped with caper bush, its other name…


For all members hanging on excitedly, waiting to find out what the programme for 2020 is, it can now be revealed – both below and on the separate web page for speakers. Many thanks to Fiona and Jenny, the programme organisers,  for working to arrange this for us all. Click below to open the file.

Cothi Gardeners Programme 2020 for website

There’s also a separate page with some local garden related events for the year 2020, which will be added to throughout the year, so do check back in due course. Click here for this page.


Anyone interested in visiting Fiona and Julian’s garden for snowdrops and other spring bulbs can check when they’re opening for the NGS this year, by looking at their website, click here. They’re only opening by short notice “Pop Ups” if/when the weather looks benign (ish)


Later in the year, John and Helen’s wonderful 4 acre garden at Ty’r Maes is opening from April to October by arrangement on pre arranged dates. Click here for more details.


This year’s monthly speaker meetings begin with a joint presentation by Lucy Witter and Abigail Lowe from The National Botanic Garden of Wales who are going to be talking about their ongoing research to help save our pollinators.

This will be really interesting and show how Wales is at the forefront of understanding to risks to our pollinating insects and what we can do to help mitigate this. Something of vital interest to us all. I’m sure everyone will want to come along on Wednesday February 19th at 7 for a 7.30 pm start to find out more.

 

 

 

Hedgehogs; Christmas Meal.

Since the last Cothigardeners blogpost, I guess many of us were clobbered with a short sharp night time snowfall …

which, coming in mid November, with leaves still on the trees, caused a lot of branch and other damage around the garden, as well as a few mature trees knocked over by sheer weight of snow. For anyone unfamiliar with it, we’ve found a Draper Tree Pruner With Telescopic Handle invaluable for reaching any branches ripped off a long way from the ground, without having to use a ladder, which I’m always wary about. Click here for more details on this bit of kit.

It has both a lopper and a pruning saw which can be worked independently, and although we don’t use it often, it pays for itself after one such episode. However there’s always still some damage which has to be tackled with a chainsaw really…   

 


Fortunately the snow had all gone by the time Di O’Keefe came to talk to us last month about her wonderful work helping hedgehogs in West Wales. Di began by explaining how she came to set up the West Wales Hedgehog Rescue, and has gradually built up an extensive network of volunteers and helpers, including our very own Jenny, which means that at any one time she can have up to 40 hedgehogs in her temporary care.

Di explained a little about the hedgehog year, mentioning that by November any hedgehog weighing less than 600 g, or easily caught in daytime, is unlikely to be able to hibernate and survive the winter, so would probably benefit from an assessment by Di or one of her team, who can be contacted day or night(!) via her facebook page, click here. 

Di mentioned some of the stresses and diseases, or simply being born later in the year, that can cause hedgehogs to be so light pre hibernation. Di uses rehydration, gentle warming techniques and then supplementary feeding, as well as appropriate medication to revitalise such borderline viable hedgehogs.

Di also explained the normal breeding cycle of the hedgehog which begins after emergence in spring and can typically end up with 6 to 10 hoglets being born, often after several matings with different males. The baby hoglets are born blind and without spines, but these all develop within the first fortnight. Di frequently receives litters of orphan hedgehogs which need feeding every 2.5 hours for the first couple of weeks or so. All being well, they can be moved onto solids shortly afterwards.

Di  stressed that cat food is probably the best food for anyone wanting to feed hedgehogs in the garden, not bread or milk since they are lactose intolerant, and also not meal worms, which are too high in phosphorus.

Their normal diet is mainly invertebrates across quite a wide range – beetles, centipedes, worms, slugs and snails, with occasional bird’s eggs and chicks, and since this diet is similar to badgers, it’s often the case that hedgehogs avoid areas with a significant badger population.

The high turn out for Di’s excellent and comprehensive review of these very special nomadic and solitary small mammals that some of us are fortunate to see in our gardens on an occasional or more regular basis, showed how hedgehogs still hold a very special place in our affections all these years after Mrs. Tiggywinkle was penned.

For more specific information on ways to help hedgehogs in our gardens there’s an excellent summary, “Gardening with Hedgehogs” which you can access here.


Finally a reminder for everyone who’s booked for the Cothi gardener’s Christmas lunch, that it’s on this coming Wednesday, December 11th at the Forest Arms, Brechfa, arriving from 12.00 to 12.30pm. Having decided against having crackers on the table to save waste, anyone who wants to wear festive attire will be most welcome. See you all there, and a very happy Christmas and New Year to all readers.

 


 

Hedgehogs; Christmas Lunch; AGM and Auction; Daffodil Competition at the NBGW in 2020.

As winter seems to have begun with a typically wet start to November and a single hard frost here to take out the last autumnal colour, most of our gardens will be a little quieter for the next few months, but we’ve still got lots of things to look forward to at Cothi gardeners, when all the leaves have fallen.

(Hydrangea aspera villosa, for one day only…)


A reminder that the final talk of this year’s programme is on Wednesday November 20th at 7.30 pm, when Di O’Keefe, who was instrumental in setting up the West Wales Hedgehog Rescue Centre at Cwmann will be telling us everything we should know about hedgehogs, and how we can make our gardens more friendly for them.

A reminder to be careful about compost heaps over the autumn and winter months. In late September 2011, I started digging out one of ours, and found  the sleeping hedgehog above, curled up in it. Fortunately I’d just missed it with my fork, so carefully moved it slightly, only to discover 4 youngsters were snuggled up beneath the mother.


A reminder that this month’s meeting next week will be the deadline for booking your place at the Cothi Gardeners’ Christmas lunch at the Forest Arms in Brechfa on Wednesday December 11 th. Plus you’ll need to bring along your payment for the meal, please. Click on the link at the end of this post for the menu choices.


In January, our first meeting of the year begins with the AGM, on Wednesday January 15th, when amongst other things we’ll outline the excellent programme of speakers which has been arranged for 2020 by Fiona and Jenny. The evening will also incorporate a members’ supper, so do bring along a plate of food to share.

(Galanthus reginae-olgae “Tilebarn Jamie”, bought in 2013, and this is its first flower, this week….)

Following on from last year, there’ll be an auction of a few reliable snowdrops, (and it won’t include this feeble fussy species cultivar) provided by Julian, but we’d also like to broaden this a little this year as a way of raising extra funds to help pay for speaker expenses in the years ahead. So if you have any other plants or other suitable books or items which you’d like to be included in the auction – say art or craft work, then do bring it along early on the night to be included.

Items don’t have to be garden related things, just things that others will likely bid for!

The evening will conclude as usual with one of Derek’s challenging quizzes, to keep our brains working well, even in the depths of winter.


Finally, and a little bit further ahead in 2020, Ben Wilde, Horticultural Trainer for the Growing the Future Project at the National Botanic Garden, (NBGW), invites all Cothi Gardeners members to take part in a fun and casual Daffodil competition/ show at the Garden on the 21st March 2020.

The Competition will be free to enter with an entry ticket to the Garden.

The NBGW want to celebrate all things Daffodil and open this event to as many people, so please tell everyone you know about it! All the information is on the Botanic Gardens website.

The awards in the competition will be:

  • Best single Daffodil (Awards for each class [RHS system], and for best in show)
  • Best display of three Daffodils (Single and Mixed cultivar)
  • Best display of 5 or more Daffodils (single and Mixed cultivar)
  • Best children’s display (under 18/15yrs)
  • Most Imaginative display

Most of these categories are self-explanatory, however you may be asking about the most imaginative display. That is because the NBGW want you to get creative and think outside of the box. Why not make a display out of different materials, a mosaic of different photos, or even a Daffodil shaped cake?

Alongside the show, there will be stalls, walks, and talks by local experts and staff. Please pass this on to anyone you feel would be excited and interested in joining in with this lighthearted show celebrating the most iconic flower in the country, the humble Daffodil!


Click for the menu on XMAS DINNER

August Meeting – addendum and apology!

I must apologise to all present at our August meeting, and in particular to Colin for omitting to mention in my previous post, the other significant part of the evening.

Apparently with very little notice, Colin put together an amazing montage of video clips of wildlife which he’s photographed around Colin and Yvonne’s garden and stream over the last few years.  And all captured with camera and software equipment which Colin has put together himself. What a clever chap!

Everyone present was thrilled with all the clips we were shown – a diverse range of herons, buzzards and owls taking frogs from their pond; otters, dippers,  sparrowhawks and gooseanders along their stream, and amazing footage of sparrowhawks and bird feeders with a woodpecker snucking behind the feeder as the sparrowhawk approached, and only then flying off fast to safety, as the sparrowhawk passed the feeder.

This was truly inspirational stuff and a fascinating insight into how lucky we are to have all this wildlife visiting our gardens – even if we rarely witness much of the action in person.

I don’t have any of Colin’s images to include, though perhaps I might be able to persuade him to provide links to some of the clips for anyone unable to make the meeting last week?

My sole and rather feeble excuse for this glaring omission is that we’ve had 5 grandchildren and their parents with us over the bank holiday, which rather tired me out and distracted me.

However,  one of the pluses of their visit was more frequent trips down to our stream, and as a result seeing for the first time ever on our stream (as indeed on one of Colin’s memorable video clips) the iridiscent blue flash and blur of a passing kingfisher.

Colin explained that these are likely to be juvenile birds expanding into new territory, and that our type of upland stream probably wouldn’t support birds year round, but still a great thrill to see it, even if my photos of it as I whizzed round give just a brief impressionistic flash of blue. Much later after scanning several times the 6 images I’d taken in 2 bursts on the camera as it flashed away from me, with explosive white droppings left in a trail, I could make out it had actually settled on a perch beneath the willow branches…

Though I’m still perplexed by the other blue in the images amongst the leaves – there are no blue flowers there.  Might these have been other kingfishers??? 

Finally readers may know, but I didn’t until 2 days ago, that the vibrant blue flash and feathers we all associate with kingfisher feathers could be considered to be an optical illusion.  This type of blue is known as a “structural colour”. The feathers contain no actual blue pigment, unlike the orange pigment granules in their breast feathers. The back feathers are actually brown, but are covered in a very thin and intricately arranged transparent layer of tissue which selectively reflects more blue light than any other frequency, so we perceive them as being blue.

Click here to read more if interested, on this quite recently discovered information!

So many thanks indeed again to Colin, for a brilliant bonus to our evening, and any chance of some links to some of the clips, Colin??

 

 

 

 

 

 

September Talk Change; August Meal and Social; Hergest Croft Visit.

In a late change to our programme,  Brinley Watkins is sadly unable to visit us to talk about “Vegetable growing with a twist”. However we’re delighted that Richard Bramley, who’s visited us several times before from local Farmyard Nurseries,  has agreed to come at such short notice and talk to us about  plants to take us through autumn and into winter.  Members will know Richard always gives us a great talk, and he’ll also be bringing along plants for sale. To quote Richard’s words about this talk…

There comes a point in time when, as the gardening year progresses, colour in a lot of gardens begins to wane. Gardens often look lack lustre and many an avid gardener becomes a little despondent and longs for the winter clean up…… Well stop it!! This talk is designed to show us all that the autumn is a season with a plethora of plants that give an absolute riot of colour. As summer flowers fade and the bedding plants pass, the autumn army pushes on with its riots of colour to replace them. There are so many and as sales at the nursery gradually went into the winter recess we massively expanded the autumn contingent to fill this gap. We now stock hundreds of things and this talk will highlight many, but obviously not all, of them.

It is funny how as autumn approaches and the days shorten, with light levels falling, nature steps in and the colour palette of the garden changes, with the fiery yellow, red and orange colours becoming prevalent. Somehow shades that we don’t tolerate in the summer borders become acceptable if not desirable. Subjects covered include Hydrangeas, Asters, Salvias, Schizostylis, Acers and grasses with all sorts of others thrown in! Yet again there may be a mention of our renowned Hellebores.

One of our most popular talks.

Click here for more on Farmyard Nurseries.

September’s talk is on Wednesday September 18th at 7.30 in the Pumsaint hall.


August is often a busy month for many, with holidays and visitors, so the turn out for the August meeting was a little lower than for most meetings. However everyone who came had a great evening and enjoyed a real feast as members rose to the challenge of producing a plate of food to share incorporating leaves and flowers grown in the garden. The pictures give an idea of the imagination and standard of the dishes available, and I’m guessing there will be a fair bit of recipe sharing following on from this.


Finally a reminder that the September meeting will be the last chance to book a space for our trip to Hergest Croft for a visit and guided tour with head gardener Steve Lloyd and his wife Mel, on Thursday September 26 th

This is a special opportunity as well to collect seeds with Steve’s guidance, from some of Hergest’s fantastic range of shrubs and trees.  After what has been a phenomenal year for tree and shrub flowering and seed formation, this really represents a brilliant opportunity for Cothi Gardeners. We can’t guarantee that the weather or colours will be as gorgeous as in these photos, but it will still be a memorable trip.

Cost is £7.50 for the garden entry and tour, and we’ll be having lunch afterwards in the cafe, and they need an idea of numbers,  so do contact Yvonne, asap, if you haven’t already given us your name. We’ll be car sharing and aim to arrive at Hergest at 10.30 a.m, so will also have the gardens pretty much to ourselves, since they only open to the general public at noon.  Friends of members are also welcome to join us, if pre-arranged.

Asters; Plant Fair; Members Garden Opening; Autumn Visit to Hergest Croft

What a change in the weather this month. From being desperate for rain, to only 3 dry days in the last 3 weeks up here. So still a perfect time for planting, and we’re really looking forward to the visit of Helen Picton from Old Court Nurseries in Colwall this Wednesday, to share some of her multi-generational experience and knowledge about growing Asters.

How often do we get to hear from a family nursery business that’s been running for well over 100 years? Well, Old Court Nurseries has been in the Picton family since 1906, has the National Collection of autumn flowering Michaelmas Daisies, and now grows over 400 different species and hybrids of Asters along with many other plants. And even quite a few snowdrops! Helen will be bringing plants along for sale, as well as  being able to show us from her talk and slides just how much impact Asters can create at a time of year when many other plants are past their best. And many are brilliant for late season butterflies, hover flies and bees too.

Our own garden is still benefitting from a trip made to Colwall nearly 10 years ago, when we returned with a selection of Asters, which grow with us in really poor soil/gravel as well as better conditions, and all seem to just keep going with minimal attention. So a great plant to grow around here, for anyone unfamiliar with their charms.

Click here for more on Old Court Nurseries.


Sadly we couldn’t make the garden safari earlier in the month, but have heard that it was a great success, with around 20 members enjoying the gardens visited, and many thanks to Steven and Jane, Alison, Elena and Karen and David for co-hosting the event.


Karen’s garden at Lan Farm, Talley  is still open for visitors by arrangement under the National Garden Scheme. Click here for more on Karen’s garden. The end of June also sees Brenda opening her garden  at Bwlchau Duon for the NGS on Sunday June 30th from 2 – 6 pm. If you can’t make this, Brenda’s garden is also open, like Karen’s, by arrangement from July 1st to August 31st. Click here for more details.


A reminder that offers of help on the day, as well as plants and cakes would be very much appreciated for the club’s involvement with the Ceredigion Growers’ Cothi plant fair, held on the field behind the Pumsaint hall on Sunday July 7 th from 10.00 am to 3 pm. More details from Yvonne, or at this Wednesday’s meeting.


Finally advance notice of a special opportunity to visit Hergest Croft gardens this autumn. Following on from Steve Lloyd’s visit last month, Fiona has been able to arrange a date with Steve and Mel for a group visit including the chance to collect seed, at the gardens at Hergest Croft on Thursday September 26th.

The visit will aim to begin around 10 a.m. and include a privately guided tour of the gardens by Steve, before the gardens open to the public. Mel says that there will even be bags provided for seed collection. We’ll just need to bring along pens to write down names!

Given what a tremendous year it’s been for tree flowering and seed setting, this is a unique chance for Cothi Gardeners to see the gardens at one of their most lovely times of the year, and bring back a special souvenir or two, since Hergest grows many trees and shrubs not widely available elsewhere.

There will be a chance to have lunch at the very good Hergest tea room, after the tour.  The cost will be £7.50 per person for this very special opportunity. More details in due course.

How’s everyone else getting on with any cuttings from material Steve brought along? So far it looks like a couple of our cuttings of Clematis and Honeysuckle are looking hopeful after following some of the tips gleaned from Steve’s talk. New leaves are appearing which I always think is encouraging.


 

Snowdrops; Bishop’s Palace Restoration project; Tea Party; Summer Plant Fair; Lan Farm.

The 2019 programme of speakers began last month with Cothi’s previous chairman Julian giving a talk/slide show on his passion for snowdrops. Not just covering the great variety of snowdrops in an attempt to persuade his audience that all snowdrops aren’t the same, it also dipped into when snowdrops might have arrived in the UK; how best to cultivate them; some of the amazing properties of snowdrops and a little bit about Julian’s project to assemble a database of Welsh snowdrops from pre 1850 sites. This has now probably passed the significant mark of over 150 forms from over 70 sites. It was great to see so many members at the meeting as well as several new faces, some of whom have donated snowdrops from their properties to Julian for his Snowdrop hunt.

After the talk, and following the interest in a similar auction last year, Julian auctioned off a number of his snowdrops, most named or linked with historic female galanthophiles, to put across the message that it isn’t just sad old blokes who fall under snowdrop’s spell! It raised a useful £54 for club funds, with top price going to one of the two  snowdrops on offer named after chaps – Cedric’s Prolific, selected by the great Beth Chatto from bulbs given to her by the artist Cedric Morris, whose garden it originally came from.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________Next month’s talk at 7.30 pm on Wednesday March  20th sees Louise Austin from Tywi gateway Trust coming to talk to us about the big project to restore the gardens at The Bishop’s Palace, Abergwili, Carmarthen. Click here for more information on the trust’s aims, but for those who’ve never visited the site, it was the private garden for the Bishops of St. Davids and has a history going back several hundred years. Louise will tell us much more about what’s been done already, and how anyone interested can get involved with volunteer work. By coincidence, Julian and Fiona visited the site 2 years ago after contacting the trust, and although there aren’t huge numbers of snowdrops on the site, were able to collect a small sample of a late flowering form to include in his snowdrop database. There is a lovely old walled garden, as well as wonderful woodland walks surrounding  the main Palace building which has been the site of the Carmarthenshire museum for many years. An aerial view of the site below, from the 1950’s…

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The Cothigardeners tea party at Aberglasney has been booked again for this summer after the success of last year, with a date of Wednesday May 22nd at 3 pm. The brilliant tea is £12 pp and a reduced garden entry of £7.25 pp for any members attending. Julian will need names and payments by the April meeting at the latest please, so we do hope many members will be able to make it, and once more we’ll be aiming to wear some sort of mad hats… ( though you don’t have to !) Whether we can manage weather as special as last year remains to be seen…

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Yvonne announced at last month’s meeting that there will be another plant fair this summer, on Sunday July 7th at Coronation hall Pumsaint. Although Ceredigion Grower’s Association will be hosting this year’s events, the gardening club will still have a plant stall, tombola and provide the refreshments, so make a note in your diaries, and look out for more information on how you can be involved and help out, before the big day, or with actual volunteer help on the Sunday. Again, it will be interesting to see what the weather is like this year!

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Last year, we were delighted that Karen Thomas from Talley joined Cothigardeners, and for those who don’t know, Karen is another member who has designed and made a beautiful garden which opens for charity under the National Garden Scheme, by arrangement. Having visited a couple of years ago, I can vouch for what a special place it is, and Karen joins the 4 other Cothi members who open their gardens some, or most, years in this way – a really impressive thing for such a small club, and all 5 gardens have been created by the current owners, which is even more special. So do think about getting up to see Karen’s really interesting and beautiful garden this year – you’ll get a very warm welcome, and the views are spectacular. Click here for more information on the garden and when it opens to the public in 2019.