Plants for Problem Places; Garden opening; August Member’s Social; Monthly Tips

Jenny Matthews – Plants for Problem Places

 

Jenny Matthews from Moorland Cottage Plants gave us a very useful and interesting talk on plants for problem places at our July meeting, illustrating it with actual plants rather than photos.

Her garden has opened for the NGS from 2000 when it was just ½ acre. It has now expanded to encompass 4 acres and in 2016 was selected for the RHS Partner Garden Scheme. Situated just on the treeline at 700’ on the NE slope of the Preseli Hills with very high rainfall, weather conditions subject to extremes, and a heavy clay soil, she described it as ‘gardening on the edge’!

Jenny explained how when she and her husband first moved there, she learnt from bitter experience that the plants she was accustomed to growing in her previous home in a more climatically benevolent part of the UK didn’t survive more than one winter. She quickly adapted and worked out which plants would ‘do’ and which wouldn’t.

All her plants are propagated by herself and as she has only one small greenhouse, they have to stay outside all year, so are genuinely hardy. She doesn’t use pesticides or fungicides (other than Roseclear if there is a bad infestation), no mollusc control and uses nematodes for controlling vine weevils.

 

 

Problem places can mean the general area in which a garden is located as well as a variety of conditions within a garden itself.

Problem locations:

Coastal and exposed estuaries – salt is the main killer as it dehydrated plants. Plants that are adapted to this are often small leaved and tussocky. Hydrangeas also survive but are smaller than those in other locations. Quickthorn and Blackthorn are suitable trees for coastal locations with Sorbus and Birch doing better slightly inland. Other examples of plants are black elder and potentillas.

Cold, exposed, windy, inland – the weather can be unpredictable so protective hedges are advisable. Use native, dense and twiggy hedging plants such as Hawthorn and Blackthorn, although the latters suckering habit can be a problem. Fatsias can survive down to -15’ if suitably sheltered. Beech, Hornbeam, Dogwood, Gorse, Physocarpus, hardy Fuchsias and Hydrangeas are all good but make sure to choose the right variety for that location. If it is windy go for shorter plants.

Problem conditions within a garden. Some of the plants listed are the genus names rather than the specific variety, so check which varieties are suited to the relevant conditions:

Dry Shade – plants are generally less luxuriant than those that grow in other areas.

Saxifrage stolonifera – copes with dense shade
Cardamine
Epimediums
Ferns eg Polystichum polyblepharum, and Blechnum penna-marina
Mitella breweri
Variegated Ground Elder
Carex

Damp Shade

Hydrangeas
Astilbes eg Willie Buchanan and Bronze Elegance
Persicaria virginiana (variegated)
Persicaria amplexicaulis
Rogersia podophylla
Carex

Dappled Shade

Hydrangeas – ‘Early Summer Bloom Star’ has red stems if in part shade
‘Oregon Pride’ – black stems
‘Sabrina’ – leaves start v dark green/black before opening
Chelanopsis – long flowering
Mukdenia rosii – spring flowering, autumn colour
Ferns – Japanese Painted
Fuchsias – ‘Genii – small
Magellanica ‘Versicolor’ – tall
Ajuga
Vancouveria – similar to Epimediums

Sunny, no extremes of sun/mosture, ordinary soil

Common Berberis
Physocarpus – ‘Diabolo D’Or’
‘Firebrand’
‘Diabolo’
Crocosmis – ‘Krakatoa’ – dark leaved with apricot flowers
‘Moorland Sunset’
Sidalcea – ‘Elsie Hugh’
Variegated Golden Rod – shorter form
Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Rose Glow’
Polemonium
Loosestrife
Mollinias – ‘moorhexe’
‘Transparent’

Dry Conditions – plants need to reduce moisture loss either from sun or wind so are often low growing, silvery leaved and hairy, and have smaller leaves.

Persicaria vaccinifolia
Sedums – low growing varieties eg ‘Thundercloud’
Potentillas
Sanguisorbas
White Rosebay Willowherb

Boggy Conditions

Lysmachia – ‘Clethroides’
‘Candela’
‘Golden Alexander’
Astilbes – ‘Visions in Red’
‘Visions in White’
‘Maggie Daley’
arendsii ‘Feuer’
‘Beauty of Ernst’
Chelone glabra
Rodgersia – ‘Buckland Beauty’
Pinnata ‘Superba’
Acorus (rush)
Filipendula (Meadow sweet)
Bog Iris – ‘Gerald Derby’
Lobelia syphalitica x cardinalis
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Orangefield’

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Ty’r Maes, Ffarmers, Carmarthenshire, SA19 8JP

Club members John and Helen have their garden opening for the NGS this Sunday, August 6 th – do come and support them if you can ………….

A 4 acre garden with splendid views. Herbaceous and shrub beds – formal design, exuberantly informal planting, full of cottage garden favourites and many unusual plants. Burgeoning arboretum (200+ types of tree); wildlife and lily ponds, pergola, gazebos, post and rope arcade covered in climbers. Gloriously colourful; spring (rhododendrons, azaleas, azaleas, primulas, 1000’s bulbs); late summer (tapestry of annuals/perennials).
Craft, produce, books and jewellery stalls!

Opening information:
Sunday 6 August (1 – 6pm). Admission £3.50, children free. Home-made teas.
Visitors also welcome by arrangement April to September please request teas when booking.
John & Helen Brooks
01558 650541    johnhelen140@gmail.com

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August Meeting – Member’s Social

Plans are advancing well for our social evening on August 16th. This is a members only event when we can relax in each other’s company and share dishes made from something we have grown in our gardens this year (our club ‘growing challenge’ for this year). If anyone hasn’t had an email regarding the finer details for the evening then please give Julian a ring on 01558 685119.

It is hoped that we will hold it at Gelli Uchaf unless the weather is unkind and it rains all day, in which case we will contact everyone by lunch time by email, and relocate to the Coronation Hall in Pumsaint. Car shares are being organised and, so far, no-one will need to walk up from the village!

Again please get in touch if you haven’t been contacted about this.

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Monthly Tips

Caterpillars and Brassicas

Anyone growing brassicas will have their own way of dealing with caterpillars. My preferred way is to try to squish the eggs. It’s worth knowing that the eggs will hatch within 3 to 7 days of being laid, and will only get laid on dry days, when the butterflies can fly. So you need to check leaves quite regularly. The Large White’s eggs are laid in big rafts, underneath leaves, the Small and Green-veined White eggs are laid singly, usually on the underside of leaves. If you miss the eggs, look out for tiny holes appearing on the leaves from the caterpillars, and squish the tiny caterpillars. The Large White’s caterpillars are easy to find, but the Small/Green veined whites are harder to spot, because they usually are green and rest along the veins of the leaf, but often bore into the heart of the plant to feed.  There are usually 2 or 3 generations of adults per year, so you can’t really relax your guard until late September.

Small White Caterpillars at various stages of maturity

 

Germinating Late Sown Seeds

Another tip from the excellent Hitchmough book, ‘Sowing Beauty’, is the percentage germination rates of different seeds, with once or twice weekly watering. For many plants this is less than 10%. This is really enlightening if anyone’s trying to get late sown seed to germinate well in dry conditions….like fennel for example….you may need to water it very frequently especially in the evening, so that the seed stays damp for a long period…water in the morning on a hot day, and the surface compost and seed may well dry out in just a few hours, and once the germination process has been initiated by moisture, there’s then a chance that the seed will fail, before it ever gets a decent root formed.

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How Gardening Promotes Physical and Mental Health by Maria Cannon

 A little while ago I had an email from Maria Cannon asking whether she could write an article for the website on the subject of how gardening promotes general well being and mental health. “Gardening has been a blessing for me, helping me work through the depression, anxiety and pain I experience as a result of fibromyalgia. I’d love to spread the word about how gardening benefits the mind, body, and soul.”

The consensus of the Cothi Gardeners committee was that it could be a useful and interesting thing to do. The following is the finished article. Many thanks to Maria for sending it in.

How Gardening Promotes Physical and Mental Health by Maria Cannon

 

Gardening promotes physical and mental health through a variety of ways. It promotes relaxation and overall life satisfaction, better nutrition, and physical activity. Gardening can be a catalyst to improve your life in multiple areas, giving you a better and longer life to enjoy.

A Diet Booster

Backyard gardening is great from a nutritional standpoint. After starting a garden, you may take an interest in the origins of other foods you consume, and thus make better choices about what you eat. Maybe you enjoy it more because it’s fresher, or maybe you savour it more because of the effort it took to get to the table, but food you grow yourself just seems to taste better, which makes consuming plenty of vegetables and fruits a lot easier.

Since you’re the head gardener, you get to decide what kinds of fertilizers and pesticides you allow and don’t allow to touch your food. You also have more control over when to harvest. Waiting to pick vegetables and fruits until they’re truly ripened ensures they have their maximum amount nutrients locked in, which isn’t the case for some store-bought produce that must be picked early.

A Form of Exercise

Have you ever worked in your yard all day and woke up the next day feeling quite sore? Believe it or not, gardening can provide the same exercise as walking or riding a bike. Of course, it really depends on which activity you’re doing and how long you do it. While weeding, digging, and planting are on the lighter side of the spectrum, cutting down bushes, digging up stumps, and mowing your lawn rank on the higher end. The disabled, elderly, and those suffering from chronic pain can benefit immensely from the lighter gardening activities. If you need more vigorous activity, you can take on the harder jobs.

Gardening works your legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back, and abdomen. It builds muscles and burns calories. Just 30 minutes of gardening several times a week can help to increase flexibility, strengthen joints, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lower your risk for diabetes, and slow osteoporosis. You can even break the 30 minutes up into smaller, eight-minute intervals if you need to, and you’ll still reap the benefits.

A Method for Improving Mental Health

People who garden are less likely to have signs associated with unhappiness or depression. Gardeners score higher than the average person on depression screening measures. They’re more likely to report that their life is worthwhile and report an overall satisfaction with their lives. In fact, 80 percent of gardeners feel satisfied with their lives, while 67 percent of non-gardeners feel the same. And what’s even more telling is that an astonishing 93 percent of gardeners believe gardening improves their mood.

Gardening is a great tool to add to an individual’s treatment plan for depression. Depression affects our bodies in a negative way. It can affect appetite and cause digestive issues, result in lack of sleep or constant sleepiness, and even make an individual more prone to diabetes, heart disease, and drug and alcohol addiction. Those who suffer from mental illness are four times more likely to abuse alcohol and 4.6 times more likely to engage in recreational drugs. Keeping your mental health in order helps to keep the rest of your health in check.

Getting Started

Growing your own food is fairly simple. It mostly requires patience. Many vegetables, fruits, and flowers are great for a novice gardener, so don’t worry if you have zero experience. When just starting out, plant things you’ll likely eat or flowers you really enjoy looking at, and don’t go overboard with the size of the garden. Be sure to research spacing, sunlight, and watering preferences for the plants you choose.

Farmers and other backyard gardeners in your area are great resources. They can give you advice on what to plant for your region and answer any questions you may have. If you lack the space for a garden, many plants can thrive in a container. You can also search for a community garden near you if you don’t have the space for a garden.

Gardening is fun, and it’s good for you. It feeds the body, mind, and spirit in a variety of ways. Preparing fresh and healthy foods at home is easier when you have the food at your fingertips. You’ll also get in exercise and improve your mood. This year, be sure to take advantage of the many benefits of creating your own garden.

Maria Cannon

Pies and Muffins en masse; Gardening Led by the Nose; Plants for Problem Places; Two Gardens Finessed and Sculpted to Perfection and Meadows Day Final Flourish

 

Pie Night and Muffins

          

    

The last day of the heatwave saw a big turnout at our June meeting to hear Kari-Astri Davies talk on scented plants. The meeting was preceded by a very successful Pie Night at the Dolau Cothi – 25 of us including Kari and her husband Philip – it was the maximum the Dolau Cothi could accommodate! Well done to Jane ‘the Pie’ Holmes and Dave and Esther for all their hard work organising, cooking and serving to make it all run so smoothly. It is proving to be an excellent way to enjoy each other’s company in convivial surroundings. Next Pie Night will be in September so mark it in your diaries and book in quickly as, if numbers increase again, sadly some will end up being disappointed.

 

A big thank you to Anne for treating us to some delicious muffins to go with our tea before the evening’s talk. These were a thank you to all members from Team Large for everyone’s support for their Snowdon Night Hike

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Scents and Scentsability – Gardening led by the nose

Kari-Astri Davies talk ‘Scents and Scentsability – Gardening led by the nose’, was fascinating, covering scents both pleasant and foul, through different seasons, daytime and nocturnal. Brilliantly researched, it was packed with interesting and amusing information and anecdotes and together with her excellent photographs held us all spellbound for the duration. If she hadn’t told us it was her first talk we would never have known. Anyone interested can follow her blog by clicking here. http://karisgarden.co.uk/

A handful of interesting points were…..

  • Scent comes from many parts of the flowers (petals, sepals, pollen and nectar) as well as different parts of a plant e.g. leaves, stems, bark, etc
  • Scent is used by the plant to attract pollinators to ensure reproduction. It can also be used by a plant to repel insect attack.
  • Volatile alcohols are the chemicals the plant produces that we can smell, and each plant ‘scent’ is usually made up of between 5 and 150 of volatiles. Sweet Peas for example have up to 48. Common volatiles are geraniol, linalool and nerol amongst others.
  • Bees are better at ‘scenting’ than butterflies which are better at recognising shape.
  • Scent keys into our subconscious more than any other sense.
  • The amount of scent a plant produces varies with the time of day, being at its greatest to coincide with the maximum activity of pollinators.
  • Floral development also affects scent emission – greatest when the flower is fully open, reducing once pollination has taken place.

Bulbs and Brassicas (mainly)

    

Narcissus: tazetta, poeticus and jonquilla varieties all have mainly scented forms including: N. Pencrebar, N. Sweetness, N. Martinette, N. Winston Churchill

  • Tulips: General de Wet, Ballerina, Dom Pedro
  • Cyclamen repandum
  • Convallaria majalis prolificans (Lily of the Valley)
  • Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely)

Cabbage Family

  • Matthiola incana alba (Wild/Perennial Stock)
  • Hesperis matronalis alba (Dames Violet, white form)
  • Lunaria rediviva (Perennial Honesty)

Summery Classics

  

  • Sweet Peas
  • Lupins
  • Iris: Florentina (produces orris-root widely used in perfumes), English Cottage, Katie Koo Kelways
  • Roses: Roses emit between 35% and 85% of their volatile alcohols depending on the time of day and age of the flower, the depth of fragrance thus varies accordingly – higher in daytime and when the flower is fully open.
  • R. Khazanlik (Damask) – makes Rose of Attar, R. Felicite Parmentier, R. Variegata di Boulogne, R. rugosa Hansa
  • Dianthus – often used to under-plant roses. D. Ursula le Grove, D. Rose de Mai
  • Heliotrope The Speaker
  • Pelargoniums – these are often better known for their scented leaves rather than flowers. Interestingly the volatile alcohol geraniol comes from roses while the similarly named geraniel comes from Pelargoniums.
  • P. Claret Rock Unique, P. Grey Lady Plymouth, P. Attar of Roses
  • Salvia discolor
  • Aloysia citrodora (Lemon Verbena) – contains 30% of the volatile citrol compared to Lemon Grass which contains up to 85%.

The Night Garden

Plants that release their fragrance at night are usually aiming to attract night flying pollinators such as moths. Kari recommended an excellent book called ‘The Evening Garden’ by Peter Loewer.

    

  • Lonicera japonica Halliana
  • Nicotiana alata, N. sylvestris
  • Brugmansia – hallucinogenic if consumed!
  • Cestrum parqui (Chilean Jessamine)
  • Epiphylum oxypetalum
  • Zaluzianskya carpensis
  • Oenothera pallida
  • Pelargonium lawrenceanum

Shrubs, Trees and Two Climbers

    

  • Daphne bholua ‘Jaqueline Postill’
  • Azora microphylla (Chocolate/vanilla scent)
  • Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ (male), S. x confusa ‘Kew White (female – white berries)
  • Peonies, tree and herbaceous forms: P. Sarah Bernhardt, P. Duchess de Nemours
  • Acacia dealbata
  • Wisteria ‘Amethyst’
  • Philadelphus ‘Casa Azul’
  • Abelia triflora
  • Tilia cordata
  • Eleagnus augustifolia
  • Colletia armata – flowers in September/October
  • Poplar
  • Box

Two Oddities

                                   

  • Aeonium Velour
  • Arum creticum – has a more pleasant smell than most arums which stink of rotting flesh to attract flies.

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Plants for Problem Places – July Meeting

Our next meeting will be on July 19th, starting at 7.30pm when our speaker will be Jenny Matthews.

      

Jenny and Kevin Matthews run Moorland Cottage Plants, a nursery and garden near Crymych in Pembrokeshire. Their site is on the northern slopes of the Preseli mountains and often exposed to wind and very low temperatures in the winter. So, Jenny is certainly qualified to present to us an evening of ‘Plants for Problem Places’. Whether you have a large or small garden, there are sure to be one or two spots where you’re not sure just which plant will thrive. Come along on 19th July for some tips and advice. Jenny will bring some plants for sale, grown at her own nursery. She does not use a polytunnel so all her plants are hardy and ready to go straight into your garden. More information can be found at www.moorlandcottageplants.co.uk

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Website Help

Our website has a page on members plant favourites and it would be lovely if more folk could contribute towards it. All we need is your favourite plant for a particular month – and if you can do more than one, that would be great! Please email your favourites to Fiona at cothigardeners@gmail.com

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Two Gardens Finessed and Sculpted to Perfection

The gardens of Brenda and Angela and Martin had a successful open day for the NGS on Sunday 25th June. Both gardens were looking beautiful – even in the rain when some of the photos were taken. Fortunately the weather perked up and was mainly dry for the most part. The following are summaries of the day by Brenda and Angela:

Bwlchau Duon

   

Despite the fact the weather was a little kinder than last year we still had a busy and enjoyable day although numbers were slightly down on the previous year.

             

 

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all who donated cakes and helped on the day especially, Yvonne, Penny and Elena for (wom)manning the refreshments which has earned £100 for Cothi Gardeners funds,

  

and also to John & Helen for doing a magnificent job on the plant stall which raised £300 for the NGS.  Really couldn’t do it without all your help. Brenda

   

             

Sculptors Garden

                    

Sculptors Open Garden Sunday 25th was a successful day. Although the afternoon was rather grey the rain managed to hold off with only a few minor drizzles. A steady flow of visitors made for a very pleasant afternoon meeting some very nice people and having some really interesting conversations.

            

It is always good to meet people who have lived in or know the property and of course it is very rewarding to see that those people are enjoying the changes that Martin and I have made to the garden. Those that had visited the garden before also seemed to enjoy the changes that had been made to the meadow and mini woodland area which was newly acquired last year and is in contrast to the neat walled court yard garden.

             

The plant that stole the show was once again Cornus kousa var. chinensis with its wonderful white bracts. The unique  feature about this garden is the way it envelopes and forms backdrops to the sculptures that have been created by the ourselves, husband and wife,  Martin Duffy & Angela Farquharson. In all it was a most enjoyable afternoon raising funds for the NGS of £285 and jointly with Bwlchau Duon raised over £1000. A further £233.50 was raised from tea and plant sales at the Sculptors Garden for St Richards Hospice, Worcester who took such good care of Angela’s father before he passed away in 2016.

    

“ Thank you so much all visitors, helpers and cake makers for supporting this event, it could not be done without you all.”

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Gelli Uchaf – National Meadows Day

             

Julian and Fiona finished their year of opening their garden for the NGS on Saturday with a special opening with guided meadow walks and discussions for National Meadows Day. It was a highly successful day, if exhausting(!) with both morning and afternoon slots full – no more parking spaces! The weather smiled and showed off the flowers in the meadows and the garden itself to perfection. Our visitors on the day came from far afield (Manchester, Gloucestershire, Glamorgan and included an NGS trustee, one of Highgrove’s gardeners and a retired garden designer with 5 Chelseas under his belt!) as well as more locally and it was lovely to see several familiar faces amongst them.

This has been our most successful year of opening the garden with 144 visitors, more than ever before.

             

Thank you to those who came and helped Fiona with teas for the larger groups, it was very much appreciated.

Picton Pleasures; Snowdon Hike; Garden Openings and NGS Photo Competition; Media Coverage; Scents and Scentsabilities

Roddy Milne – Picton Castle

More tips and information were absorbed when Roddy Milne from Picton Castle joined us for our May meeting. He brought with him a colourful selection of blooms from some of the many Rhododendrons, Deciduous Azaleas and other plants currently in flower at Picton.

He then gave us a fascinating talk on the ethos of the garden, the trials and tribulations of managing it with very few full time gardeners and keeping interest going in the garden beyond the Spring; plus the joys and wonders of living and working in such a beautiful environment, the role of gardens such as Picton in conservation and education and his hopes for its future. Apart from the actual flowers his talk was illustrated with many photos showing the glorious splendour of the Rhododendrons for which Picton is rightly renowned, along with vignettes of Magnolias, Myrtles, the distinctive Gunnera Walkway and many understorey plants. Well worth a visit at any time. Click here for opening times etc.

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Team Large Snowdon Night Hike

Setting off…….

At the summit! (Philip is behind the camera)

Back home with t shirts, medals and certificates

Anne and Philip together with their daughter, Sarah, completed their Snowdon Night Hike on Saturday 22nd May in aid of Breast Cancer Care. According to them both it was surprisingly enjoyable, not as arduous as expected and all this in spite of horizontal rain and strong winds at the summit. They reached the summit in just 3 hours and a further 3 hours saw them back in the hotel enjoying a much deserved, slap up Welsh Breakfast. They have raised over £2,400  for Breast Cancer Care. Donations can still be made, just click here to go to the JustGiving page.

They would like to pass on their thanks to everyone in Cothi Gardeners for their fantastic support – an edible thank you will be at the next meeting on June 21st

Many congratulations and well done!

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NGS Garden Openings

The NGS has launched a photo competition as part of the 90th Anniversary celebrations. Anyone visiting an NGS garden can take a photograph and submit it – details, rules, etc can be found on the NGS website (click here)

Some Cothi members’ gardens are due to open shortly for the N.G.S., so get your cameras out and pay them a visit!

Click here for more information on our website or here for the NGS website

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Gelli Uchaf – Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Julian and Fiona were delighted to have their garden, Gelli Uchaf, featured in an article by Noel Kingsbury with photos by Claire Takacs, in the June edition of Gardens Illustrated Magazine (out now) . Click here for a taster of the article (NB only available until the next edition comes out mid June).

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June Meeting

We are in for a perfumed treat in June when our speaker will be Kari-Astri Davies telling us all about gardening with scented plants.

Lavender, old fashioned roses and jasmine are some of the best-known scented plants but Kari-Astri will recommend some more unusual specimens to try. You may want ideas for containers to stand near the door so you can enjoy your perfumed plants as you step outside. Kari-Astri regularly writes for ‘Landscape’ magazine, so we are looking forward to welcoming her on June 21st  at 7.30 pm for an evening of “Scents and Scentsability”.

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Our 2017 Challenge

Our 2017 Challenge is underway, simply grow something edible and make a dish with it to share at our August meeting. If you haven’t already done so, please indicate on the relevant sheet at the next meeting what type of dish you are hoping to bring so that we can try to balance savoury and sweet offerings.

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Big Speaker Early Notification

The renowned plantsman, speaker and garden writer, Bob Brown, of Cotswold Garden Flowers is our big name speaker for this year. We will need to start advertising this early so in order to have an idea of how many places we can offer to other gardening clubs we need a rough idea of how many Cothi members are hoping to come, so please can anyone planning on attending sign the relevant form at the next meeting.

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Monthly Tips

Tip 1 Frost Damage

(From Yvonne) If any plants have suffered from the late frosts, don’t panic!  Leave them alone, and then, when the new growth has come through, you can prune the dead ends off.

(and from Jan) Cut off damaged areas, feed the plants, in Jan’s case all the vines in the polytunnels, and remember that it will be the end of May before we can safely say no more frost!, so cover over with fleece if cold nights threaten again. All Jan’s survived and new shoots are appearing

Tip 2 (Yvonne) – It’s nearly time for the Chelsea chop for herbaceous perennials to prolong their flowering. Reduce about a third of the stems, and they will flower later.  This can be done with Sedum spectabile, Phlox, Veronicastrum, among the many.
Tip 3 (Yvonne) – When your Geraniums have flowered, cut all the growth off, and they will have a second flush of flowers later in the summer.

Tip 4 (Julian) Growing  Phalaeonopsis, or moth orchids

  • Firstly anyone who has bonfires – save the small charcoal left over at the end, rinse well and think of using it for repotting. It doesn’t degrade like bark or moss. When we had proper holidays…decades ago!! we once saw orchid farms in Thailand growing them in just charcoal in a half coconut!
  • Secondly the roots photosynthesise, so use an old clear yoghurt pot or such like to let light through, drill a few holes into it, and keep it in a larger outer pot.
  • Thirdly I now keep a supermarket basil plant next to the orchids. When it wilts, it’s a reminder to water the orchids. And I’ve now kept this Basil going for over a year.
  • Fourthly I water them with weak feed (in rain water), 3 out of 4 waterings, then one with just rainwater, and do it over a bowl and a cup, soaking the pot half a dozen times, and including running (ie manually pouring) water down the aerial roots, but being careful to keep all the water off the leaves.
  • An additional suggestions from Elena was to add broken crocks to the charcoal to give weight to the pot.

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 cymru@plantlife.org.uk 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, cymru@plantlife.org.uk, 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 info@gardenofwales.org.uk

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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. (www.qualitydaffodils.com). 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 www.pictoncastle.co.uk 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 (http://cardhortsoc.org.uk/day-trips/ ) 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)

Pies and Veg; Spring Bulbs and Cinnamon; Green’s Leaves

Following another highly successful Pie Night at the Dolaucothi Arms (thank you Dave and Esther) our speaker, Ivor Mace gave, us an excellent, amusing and informative talk at our meeting in March. Drawing on his 40 years experience he guided us through the trials and tribulations, joys and successes of growing vegetables. We picked up many tips and useful information on:

  • crop rotation to help reduce diseases such as Club root
  • when to dig different soil types
  • use of green manures
  • raised beds
  • most useful tools (draw hoe, fork, spade & dutch hoe)
  • sowing times and sowing tips
  • sequential planting
  • varieties of vegetables
  • pests and diseases

Sadly we needed much longer than the allotted 45 mins – 1 hour for Ivor to include detailed information on more than a couple of vegetable types. We will have to have him back for another session.

The club plant stall continues to do well – keep up the good work all of you who supply plants and those who buy them. There are many bargains and some unusual  plants to be had; and remember the proceeds go to club funds enabling us to have a wider range of speakers.

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After Ivor’s talk we had our new slot for member’s monthly tips. If you have a tip or item of information you think would be useful or you would just like to share please get in touch with Julian before the next meeting so that it can be included.

This month’s tips were:

1: Tenby Daffodils (From Julian)

Do we all know what they look like? And do we all grow them? They’re actually a species daffodil native to this part of the world, so not surprisingly grow very well here. They’re probably one of the most vigorous forms we grow, and reliably some of the earliest to flower – usually in time for St David’s day. This year we have masses of flowers from them. But my first tip taken from moving snowdrops in the green, is if you’ve got a vigorous form like Tenby, try moving them in the green – maybe 5 or 6 weeks after flowering. So long as you do it in damp/wet conditions, and then water them well in any dry conditions, they’ll survive and it’s much easier to get them where you want, between other bulbs and plants than buying in more dry bulbs in the autumn. They’ll probably sulk for a couple of years. But then be fine. Anyone who hasn’t got any, but would like some – more money for club funds, folks, come and have a word afterwards, and Julian can probably lose 30 or 40.  (So maybe 4 lots of 10?)

2: Cinnamon for gardeners. Elena found the following information and shared it with us:

Whenever I think of cinnamon, I immediately think of sweet treats around Christmas time. But cinnamon really is an incredibly healthy spice that has more uses than just adding flavour to your favourite desserts and drinks. Yep, some of the best chilis and grilled meat spice rubs that I’ve ever had contain cinnamon. And did you know that cinnamon is good for your heart health, your brain functions, and blood sugar regulation? Amazing stuff!

Maybe you already knew all that but here’s one that very few people know about: you can use cinnamon for gardening. “Huh? How can you possibly use cinnamon for gardening!?” Yes, I know it sounds completely crazy, but you really can use cinnamon to very legitimately help you with growing certain plants.

Have you ever heard of damping off disease? Perhaps you’ve never heard of it, but you may have seen it before… it’s a soil-borne fungus that looks like cotton and it grows on the stems of your seedlings. Infected plants might still germinate, however it’s only a matter of days before they become mushy, limp at the base, and die. Nasty stuff. But this is where cinnamon comes in…

As it turns out, cinnamon has anti-fungal properties so it’s a great solution to keeping your plants free of damping off disease. Just sprinkle the cinnamon on the soil (don’t worry if you get some on the leaves) and the wonderful spice will get to work protecting your babies.

3: Scilla bithynica.  The Turkish Squill (From Julian)

A bit like a smaller bluebell, but with flowers all round the stem, and a great nectar flower. Like bluebells it does well in moist shade, say under trees or shrubs and with us seems to produce lots of seed, though this will take a few years to grow to flowering size. Slugs and rabbits don’t seem to like it, and the great thing is the colour of the blue, and that it flowers for quite a bit longer than bluebells, and about 6 weeks earlier, so gives an extended season.  Well worth a try, and we got them from locally based John Shipton, who seems to be one of the few suppliers of this bulb (currently 5 bulbs for £9.50 + shipping. Click here for his website)

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There will be lots to discuss at our April meeting, the topic is “Choice Plants for Early Season Interest” by Paul Green.

There is so much to do in the garden at this time of year but Paul will help to get you going in the right direction with tips and advice so that you can focus your attention on what will do well during the spring. Paul’s nursery, Green’s Leaves, specialises in rather unusual plants which have been grown in the UK, making sure they are suitable for our cooler climate. Look at their website for more information www.greensleavesnursery.co.uk  and come along on 19th April as Paul will bring a selection of plants for sale. These are sure to be different from those found in most garden centres.

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