Steve Lloyd’s Workshop; Aberglasney Tea Party; June Garden Safari.

There was a fantastic turn out for the recent Cothigardeners workshop on propagation, held with Steve Lloyd from Hergest Croft gardens in Herefordshire, with 28 guest visitors joining club members to pick up tips from Steve’s vast experience and knowledge from 40 years of work at Hergest.

In a wonderful wide ranging review of his favoured methods and timings for seeds and different types of cuttings everyone went away with tips to try. And many of us were able to take away material to try their hand at propagation from some of the samples of unusual shrubs and trees which he brought along. Steve clearly put a lot of thought and effort into cramming all sorts of plants and cuttings into his van for this event.

My personal favourite points were to incorporate more perlite in the seed and compost medium (Steve uses a 2 to 3 ratio); using seaweed based products only as an early mild feed, and reversing a bag placed over cuttings on a daily basis to avoid excessive moisture dripping onto leaves.

Steve and Mel also brought along a huge range of trees and plants for sale, which he’s recently propagated, and these proved very popular with visitors.

Finally Steve kindly offered to host a trip for club members this autumn to Hergest Croft to take us round the gardens there for a  tour and opportunity to collect seeds from some of the huge, and varied plant collections growing there. Fiona is following up on this, and hopes to have a date for a visit in the near future, for members to mark in their diaries.

Many thanks to Steve and Mel for travelling over to us, and giving us all such a fabulous evening.

Yesterday saw many members visiting Aberglasney for our second annual tea party held on the tea room terrace. Once more the weather was stunning, the food amazing, and the gardens looked superb.

We were really fortunate to time it whilst Aberglasney’s own resident award winning photographer, Nigel MacCall was trying out a new super tall tripod to enable him to get different perspective photos of the gardens. Nigel told us he’s been working in the gardens for over  5 years, though usually on his own at first light, and dusk, so it was a rare chance to see him in action.  For those who don’t know, he’s twice won first prize in the prestigious international IGPOTY garden photography competition with photos he’s taken at Aberglasney.  He’s even apparently been given a special dispensation to do selective pruning to create the perfect shot! Click here to see some of his award winning images. He explained he wasn’t a great photographer of people but was taken by some of the mad hats on show, and so Donna was summoned to pose amongst the Iris and Alliums…

That Nigel has so many stunning vistas to photograph is largely down to the hard work and inspired planting schemes devised over the last decade by head gardener Joseph Atkin, aided by his team of helpers. There’s no question that Aberglasney is becoming more popular, with greater visitor numbers over the years, because of the exceptional standard of garden design and plantings,  whatever the time of year. We’re exceptionally lucky to have such a world class garden with wonderful tea room on our doorstep.

Whilst trying to get a photo of some of the assorted mad hats which several members wore for the occasion……my clear backdrop of the garden scene was interrupted as someone walked past… and then we all noticed who it was…

Thanks very much to Joseph for this good humoured pose, and indeed for everyone at Aberglasney for making it such a lovely day out for us all.

The garden safari date has been fixed for Sunday June 9th, with planned visits to  several member’s gardens. Yvonne will send out an email with more details in due course for any members able to join this enjoyable day out.

A reminder that June’s meeting promises to be another great one with Helen Picton from the UK’s most famous Aster (Michaelmas Daisy) nursery, Old Court Nursery Malvern  coming to talk to us about her favourite plants, and how to grow them. Helen will also be bringing along plants for sale. Click here for Helen’ Website for a flavour of what she grows.

Finally, as a quick reminder, now’s the perfect time to collect seeds from Crocus and snowdrop seed pods. A little earlier than usual, in our garden this has been a bumper year, and even if the seed is just scattered straight away in other areas of the garden, it’s a really easy way to get plants established without the fag of having to plant yet more bulbs. Though sowing just beneath the soil surface will probably give higher germination success.

Gardeners’ World – featuring Gelli Uchaf Garden

Gardeners’ World

Saturday March 5th at 8pm (Friday March 4th if you are in England!)

Gelli Uchaf Garden

We were rather pleased to get a call from a BBC2 Gardeners’ World researcher a few weeks ago asking about what Spring bulbs we grew and a bit of background to the garden and ourselves. We were told decisions would be made whether to come and see if we were suitable in the next few days…… a call duly came through and a visit from the recce team was scheduled for the following week. Two very nice chaps came and spent a couple of hours with us walking round the garden and chatting in cold, mizzly conditions while recording it all on a hand held video camera. Now we have been down this path before with the Beeb and it is at this point that we don’t hear anything further – for whatever reason we haven’t been quite what they were looking for. So we were more than a little surprised but delighted to get a call a couple of days after the recce to arrange dates for filming the following week.

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Filming crocus in the snow!

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Crocus opening in some sunshine

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Another take – in the rain!

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Filming Carol Klein as dusk falls

We would have to say it was the garden with its profusion of early spring flowers – Cyclamen, Snowdrops, Hellebores, Iris reticulata, Scilla mischtschenkoana et al all doing their best to impress, rather than the 2 gardeners that convinced the Beeb to come. The weather threw everything at us, mercifully with the exception of strong winds, which was brilliant as it demonstrated just what these wonderful Spring plants have to cope with and yet still manage to delight us with their early colour.

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The three days of filming, one with the full team of five including the lovely Carol Klein, will be condensed down to about 6 minutes and will be broadcast in the first episode of the new series of BBC2 Gardeners’ World on Friday 4th March if you live in England, and Saturday 5th March at 8.30pm if you live in Wales.

FW & Carol Klein (3)

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You can read a write-up about it on the NGS website by following this link:

or our own blog/website by following this link:

Fiona and Julian Wormald

A Rabbit’s Eye View – Workshop with Noel Kingsbury on October 22nd, 2015

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Who were the real stars of last Thursday? The wonderful enthusiasm and communication skills of our speaker? The gorgeous late autumnal light? Our massed Persicaria vaccinifolia and Saxifrage fortunei?

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No, on reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst all of these were critical to such a successful day, the really important feature was the mix of gardeners who’d travelled to this remote part of the UK to learn and share with Dr. Noel Kingsbury and indeed each other. Several had driven over 100 miles, and so had to make more than a day of it. One of our happy band, a garden designer from Pennsylvania had even flown over from the USA to take part – and built a family holiday around this event. There was a warmth, enthusiasm and good humour to the whole day, which I think everyone benefited from.

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Such is the high regard for Noel’s pretty unique blend of knowledge, not just of gardens and their design, but more crucially of plant growth, ecology and their interactions – something one reads or hears about very rarely in the mainstream garden media. And a key subject in assessing how plants will perform in a garden setting over the medium to long term. As well as how much intervention is likely to be necessary to achieve one’s desired aims.

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When we’d thought about volunteering to host such an event we’d (typically) probably not thought as much as we should about how we would have coped in the atrocious weather that can sometimes hit around now. Although the day before was wet and windy, and played havoc with my attempts to keep paths leaf free, Thursday dawned dry and by the time the first folk were arriving, blue sky was beginning to appear.

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Noel kicked off with a discussion considering an imaginary plot of bare soil, and, left un- managed, how it would become colonised over 1, 2, 3, 5,10, 50 and 100 years. An intriguing way of thinking about firstly what natural trends we are seeking to combat or control in our role as garden designers and managers. ( A hint of the default 100 year dominant landscape plant in this part of the world  – a seedling oak at the base of a Japanese Maple, below)…

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Secondly of what strategies plants have to out compete or simply survive amongst their neighbours, and indeed thirdly the likely futility over the very long term (without generational garden management) of combating these natural ecological trends of plant succession.

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And very helpful ideas for any gardeners like us, who are facing the inevitable slowing down that comes with ageing, and want to try the steer the garden into a lower maintenance phase, without losing its inherent appeal. (How many different plant species inhabit the small section of ground above? How much weeding is necessary here? And what does it look like in April or May? See the end of post for more).

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I remember reading a letter in the RHS Garden magazine recently from a gardener nearing the point of having to let go of a garden lovingly created over 20 years, and then enjoyed for another 10, but now beginning to become too much to manage. When to let go? Perhaps we need to move into more of an enjoyment stage after 20 years of creating, and stop fiddling! Not that we haven’t enjoyed the journey so far…

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Group discussions followed together with a good power point talk to flesh out more about examples of different types of ‘perennials’. Just howperennial they might be, and how by examining growth and flowering habits gardeners can work this out for themselves, by considering taking the rabbit’s eye view of what the plant looks like at ground level. (Clonal Asters growing through Saxifrage below)…

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By lunchtime the weather was sufficiently sunny for many to take food outside to eat – pretty rare for us in late October, and later, the afternoon session took the form of a garden based walk looking at how we’ve used plants within the garden in a sometimes unique way based on the conditions which we have to deal with up here. Again we all learned much from Noel’s thoughts and ideas and group involvement. The day finished with more cakes and tea, before everyone headed home.

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Keen to try to find out what visitors thought about the day, we were very grateful to everyone for filling out a simple end of event questionnaire. Only 1 other participant had ever been on a garden based workshop before, and everyone ranked the day as both excellent, and also excellent value for money (from excellent, good, average, disappointing). And it was great that as well as making it non profit making, we were still able to donate part of everyone’s fee as a garden entrance charge to the National Gardens Scheme charities.

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Would we ever do it again? Well Noel has clearly led such workshops all over the world, and he would be a very difficult act to follow, such were his knowledge, teaching and communications skills. But it was such a success that maybe some similar event might happen again, perhaps at a different time of the year.

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