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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