Upcoming Events Not to be Missed!

Two events which are no doubt already in your diaries……….

First off is our big speaker meeting with Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers  (preceded by Pie Night at the Dolaucothi Arms) ……….

………….. and that is quickly followed John and Helen’s plant sale. This goes from strength to strength this year with Keith Brown selling plants as well as his friends,Tony and Sylvia Marden, from Shady Plants in Gloucestershire.

Pies; Big Sky Penstemons and Salvias; More Pies and Bob Brown; Christmas Meal

PIE NIGHT

After our successful and hugely enjoyable summer social in August many club members enjoyed another convivial get together for Pie Night at the Dolaucothi Arms before our September meeting. These get-togethers are an excellent way to get to know fellow members in a relaxed setting so make the most of them while you can as after Dave and Esther move on in April they may not exist!

 


The meeting was again well attended and we had an entertaining and informative talk by Vicki Weston from Big Sky Plants on Penstemons and Salvias.

Vicki told us how she came to be growing these lovely plants at her nursery near Aberystwyth via the Isle of Wight, Yorkshire and Tregaron – a history that was full of many trials and tribulations and made her stamina and determination to succeed all the more impressive.

 

Pentemons: Why grow them?

  • very long flowering
  • mostly ignored by molluscs
  • don’t need staking
  • very wide colour range
  • huge range – alpine to back of border, over 250 in family
  • easy to propogate
  • good cut flower

Hardiness: this depends on where and how they are planted, although some are more hardy than others and it is advisable to buy from specialists to avoid mistakes. Usually the narrower the leaf the hardier the plant (See list later in post)

Ideal Conditions:

  • well drained – wet winter feet will kill!
  • sunny but will tolerate some shade
  • out of strong, drying winds
  • plant 2′ apart for large ones, the rest 15 – 18″
  • do not cut back in Autumn, wait until Spring
  • dead head through season to keep display going

Propogation: Vicki does hers from cuttings from non flowering stems which she puts in terracotta bowls covered with plastic lids and placed on soil warming cables. She uses a mix of ½ compost and ½ vermiculite. The cuttings need to be kept moist (sprayed twice a day) and can root in 4-5 weeks.

Pests: Eelworm – evidence of eelworm: blotchy leaves, slow growth, yellowing tips. Unfortunately there are no solutions other than burning including the pot!

Sadly due to Eelworm which devastated her collection, Vicki hadn’t been able to bring any Penstemons to show us. She is hoping to restock soon.

Salvias: from the latin salvare = to heal, these are a huge family – over 900+ species and occur all over the world with both hardy and tender varieties. Vicki’s advice for growing salvias:

  • plant in well drained soil
  • sunny position
  • shelter for borderline types
  • pots for tender varieties and then frost free
  • don’t cut down until Spring
  • can be grown from seed eg Scabra and Blue Queen
  • cuttings taken from non flowering shoots
  • good companion plants are Asters, Japanese Anemones, Hesperantha, Chrysanthemums, Zinnias amongst others

Vicki’s final message was to

BUY LOCAL, BUY BRITISH and SUPPORT SMALL NURSERIES

Check out her website and ebay shop for a selection of plants for sale and her cut flowers

The following is a list of varieties Vicki supplied on the night which she descibed as ‘not an exhaustive list but from my own experience’

PENSTEMONS – not an exhaustive list but from my own experience

HARDY: Garnet (large), Just Jayne Evelyn (large), Hidcote, Laura, Catherine de la Mare (sprawler), Arctic Fox, Sour Grapes, Cherry, Penstemon Hirsutus, Appleblossom

LESS HARDY: All very large flowered varieties eg Osprey, Amelia Jane

SALVIAS

HARDY: Hot Lips, Royal Bumble, Nachtvlinder (deep purple), Pink Blush, Cerro Potosi (very tough), Peter Vidgeon (AGM), Joy, Lycoides (hardy to -12), Uliginosa, Nemerosa, Sylvestris, Scabra, Somalensis (1st year so not been through a winter yet), Atrocyanea (also 1st year so not been through a winter yet)

BORDERLINE (can cope down to -4 for short periods): Corrugata, Leucantha, Fulgens

TENDER: Involucrata, Mulberry Jam, Patens, Wendys Wish.


OCTOBER MEETING – BOB BROWN ‘To many plants, too little space’

 

This is our ‘big speaker’ event so do try and make it if you can. Do let us know, if you haven’t already, so that we have an idea of numbers. We are inviting as many local gardening clubs as possible and we already know that some visitors are coming a considerable distance, so hopefully we will have a good number there.

  • It’s free to members, £5 for visitors.
  • The doors are going to open at 6.45 pm, preceded by an early pie night details of which will be circulated nearer the time.
  • there will be tea/coffee and CAKES/BISCUITS for everyone so please members, put your baking hats on and bring them on the night
  • We’re going to be holding a raffle on the night – there should be some good prizes, so do support this as another way of raising club funds.
  • There won’t be a club plant stall, or topical tips for this meeting.
  • Access will be via the rear door to ease congestion.

CHRISTMAS MEAL

Our December social meeting will be an evening buffet at the Dolaucothi Arms. Menu and cost to follow, but the date will be Wednesday December 13th, probably meeting at about 6.30 pm for a 6.45 to 7 pm start. If you can’t make the Bob Brown meeting, but would like to come to this Christmas meal, do let Julian know so he can add you to the list of numbers to pass onto Dave and Esther.


 

Vicki Weston of Big Sky Plants; Summer Social and Growing Challenge; Bob Brown; Updates and Forthcoming Events

Vicki Weston of Big Sky Plants talking about ‘Penstemons and Salvias’  – 20th September at 7.30pm

Flower Border – Photo courtesy of Big Sky Plants

Vicki runs a nursery and smallholding  located on the top of a mountain in Ceredigion. (click here for her website) She specialises in perennials, especially Penstemons and shrubby Salvias. She grows most of her plants from seed, division or cuttings so they should all be well adapted to the west Wales climate. Plants will be available for sale.


Summer Social and Growing Challenge

This year our summer social was held at Gelli Uchaf, the home of Julian and Fiona Wormald. Although the weather did not smile – in fact it tipped down – the atmosphere inside was warm, comfortable and friendly and the evening went with a swing.

The growing challenge this year was for members to bring to the social some food they had cooked/ made from something they had grown in their garden. Many rose to the occasion and we were spoilt with a wonderful array of savouries and desserts – home-grown and made sausages, pizzas and salads, peach muffins, cheesecake and rhubarb crumble to name but a few.


Bob Brown Meeting

As most of you will be aware, our October meeting is the ‘big one’ of the year with speaker Bob Brown coming to talk on ‘Too many plants, too little space’. Posters will be available at the September meeting for anyone to take who can find somewhere to put one.

Offers of help for the night will also be gratefully received – tea/coffee serving, putting out chairs, clearing up, etc. More details at the next meeting.


Ty’r Maes NGS Open Day, 6 August 2017

Despite experiencing our first wet Open Day in 9 years, visitor numbers held up very well, and a good time was had by all.  Very many thanks to everyone who made it such a great event and helped us to raise over £700 for the NGS – too many to name individually, but we certainly couldn’t have done it without your help and fantastic cakes.  As usual, a donation goes to Cothi Gardeners with heartfelt thanks to all.  John and Helen.


Forthcoming Events

GREAT CHARITY PLANT SALE

For National Garden Scheme and Cothi Gardeners

Sunday 22 October, form 1.00pm

Ty’r Maes, Ffarmers SA19 8JP (on A482 opposite turn to Ffarmers)

Tea and coffee provided


Drefach Felindre Gardening Club (DFGC) Open Meeting 2017

DFGC would like to invite members of Cothi Gardeners to their Open Meeting on Wednesday 4th October at 7.30pm in the Red Dragon Hall.

John Shipton of Shipton Bulbs will give a talk on “Plants of Western China”. Refreshments will be provided at the end of the meeting.


 

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.