Farmyard Nursery Visit; Planting In Containers; Aberglasney Tea party

Those members who managed to take time out for the visit to Farmyard Nurseries this week enjoyed a real treat. Lovely weather and a special guided tour behind the scenes at what must be one of the best working nurseries in Wales, if not the UK.

Richard Bramley and his wife Hazel, pictured above run this impressive enterprise over 3 acres, which they’ve created from scratch over the last 30 years or so. Gordon spotted a feature of the site I’d never thought about before – that it’s a rare example of a large flat site, yet quite high up on  Welsh hillside. Apparently the farmhouse complex was established over 200 years ago by a Scottish farmer who travelled down to Wales to try to show the Welsh how farming should be done!

Aerial photos in Richard’s tea room show what the farm looked like when he and his parents acquired it in the early’80’s, with no sign of any horticultural activity, and how it’s progressed over the years since. 

Richard began with an overview of what’s in the 50 plus polytunnels, and then took us through a few  with herbs and bedding plants growing on, and past several members of his team of staff busy at work watering, weeding and potting on.

Next came advice about potting plants and him introducing us to his potting supremo, Jack. There was even a mini potting-on contest, which Jack won hands down, with an almost machine like efficiency, a blur of dibber and hands, plug plants and labels.

On to the bottom of the nursery and tunnels of Richard’s extensive Hellebore collection… his National Collection of Primula sieboldii (guess who liked these…) which were at their peak……  past the huge open plant sale area…… and then into the more recent tunnels holding a recently acquired National Collection of carnivorous Sarracenia, or pitcher plants. Richard and staff have recently been working on cutting back last year’s pitchers to allow room for the new growths and flowers. Along with making divisions which end up in a separate sales tunnel.

Then on through the cuttings and seed sowing sheds, and more valuable tips on how they do this…… before back to the cafe for tea and cakes.

Finally we all spread out across the nursery hunting out a few (?) special plants to take home to add to our gardens.

Thanks  very much to Richard and all his staff for giving us such a great afternoon out and the chance to see how the nursery ticks. For any who couldn’t make it, click here for Richard’s website where you can scroll through the vast range of plants he has for sale.

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Next Wednesday sees our April speaker meeting at Pumsaint hall, when Gareth Davies will be coming to talk to us about growing plants in containers. All welcome at 7.15 for 7.30 pm.

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Finally a reminder about the planned tea party trip to Abeglasney gardens on Wednesday May 22nd at 3 pm. Fiona and I visited recently and for anyone who hasn’t been within the last 3 months, you’ll be amazed at how much work has happened with big changes to the gardens and plantings. It should be looking glorious in May when we visit, but we’ll need your booking and payment in advance, preferably this month, or at May’s meeting at the latest, so do remember to sort this out at the next meeting if possible. (Afternoon tea £12 – a complete meal in itself- and reduced entry of £7.25 pp) . Click here for the Aberglasney website.

 

Richard’s Primulas; Afternoon Tea at Aberglasney; Kex, lace and poison from Kari-Astri; Orchid count help needed

Primula Sieboldii – Richard Bramley from Farmyard Nurseries

May saw a welcome return to Cothi Gardeners by Richard Bramley from Farmyard Nurseries to give us a talk on Primulas and Primula sieboldii in particular for which he holds one of the National Collections.

These lovely, dainty primulas are surprisingly hardy. They like wetter climates and can cope with cold, although they are more vulnerable if kept in containers as they can freeze solid. They occur in N E China, Korea and Japan where they are water meadow plants but will grow almost anywhere given the right conditions:  moist, free draining soil in semi shade.

There are many different flower forms and the flowers are either pin eyed or thrum eyed so as to avoid self fertilisation. They flower in Spring from April to early June.

Growing from seed is easy. Pick the seed capsules when they turn yellow and sow straight away. They need a cold spell (gibberellic acid can be used) and light to germinate. Sow in seed trays and cover with vermiculite. This allows light and also retains moisture. Some named varieties can’t be grown from seed and have to be multiplied by division. This should be done in March and is also very easy.

Primulas are a huge family ranging from the very easy such as primroses and polyanthus to the very difficult eg some of the alpine primulas.

Other primulas:

Primula japonica (Candelabra): These are moist soil plants preferring shady sites and flower May to June. They hybridise and seed around freely often resulting in a mass of multi-coloured blooms.

Primula florindae: a yellow, later flowering variety

Primulas auricula: not too easy as they don’t like wet or being outside! Best grown in pots.

As always Richard brought some of his lovely plants for sale………


Aberglasney Tea Party

The weather pulled out all the stops for our tea party at Aberglasney. The gardens were looking beautiful in the sunshine………….

The afternoon tea was amazing, unlimited tea, delicious sandwiches and a wonderful selection of cakes catering to all tastes, and so many not one table was able to eat them all!

Everyone entered into the spirit of the occasion and came suitably attired in some amazing ‘mad’ hats.

  

A very successful and thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.


Plant Fair

A reminder to grow plants not only for the Cothi Gardeners plant stall but also for the Tombola as it will be operated on an ‘every ticket wins’ basis so we need lots of small plants.

Cakes will also be needed for the refreshments so please do sign up to make some if you can.

Volunteers still needed to help make the day run smoothly.

John will give us an update on planning progress at our next meeting in June.


Growing Challenge

Don’t forget to get your pot of flowers for pollinators going for our August social.


Kex, Lace, Poison,  Not quite an  A – Z of Umbellifers for the Garden

For our June meeting we welcome back Kari-Astri Davies who will be talking to us on this intriguing subject.  By this time of year the cow parsley which grows along our roadsides is almost over but you can make a similar, frothy effect in your garden by choosing others from the umbellifer family, angelica or fennel for example. The butterflies and bees love these plants too.


Wild Flower Walk and Orchid Count

Message from Helen Bradley from Plantlife:

This is a bit of a plea for help… we have our annual wildflower survey and orchid count coming up at our reserve near Lampeter,  Cae Blaen Dyffryn, on Saturday 16th June. Unfortunately despite having 12 volunteers last year, we only 2 have booked on this time. We could probably manage the survey part ok with small numbers but the orchid count will be tricky. So if anyone can spare some time to help it would be appreciated – particularly in the afternoon. If you are able to come along just complete this short form (here) and if you intend to come only for the morning or afternoon, just mention this in the ‘Anything we should be aware of’ box.


Monthly Tips

Seed Collection

Now is the perfect time to think of collecting seeds from lots of early flowering spring bulbs and plants – I’m thinking of things like Crocus, Snowdrops, Leucojums, Anemone blanda or Anemone nemorosa (Wood anemone). It’s easy to forget about doing this at a busy time of the year, but it’s the cheapest and simplest way of spreading them around. And if you don’t check now, you’ll miss the seedpods or seed heads. Once you’ve got the seed just scatter it straight away in appropriate places, and then forget about it. It might take a few years, and the survival rate might be modest, but they’ll pop up all over the place and delight you with new plants in new areas with little effort.

Watering

This is would have been quite unusual advice in the last 18 months, but it’s worth remembering to water recently sown seeds regularly to ensure good germination, if they’re outside or inside, and also try to water in greenhouses or polytunnels regularly to ensure good growth and avoid fruit splitting. I was really interested to read today that Keith Brown at Llangadog mentioned that he measured 2 inches of rain in his garden in April. Here we had over 6 inches. So it’s surprising just how variable rainfall can be just a few miles apart, in this part of the world.

Splitting Daffodils

(From Fiona) It’s a good time to split daffodil clumps and move them around, just as the foliage is dying down. Again it’s easy to miss doing this in the rush of jobs to do in May. We usually do! But if you can manage it, at least you can find the bulbs more easily, and work out where to put them. Again worth watering them in well, if the ground’s dry.

Programme changes; Film Entertainment; Glorious Primulas; Mad Hats & Tea at Aberglasney

The Quiet American Gardener and Terry Walton

Following the last minute cancellation of Terry Walton’s talk to us last month due to family circumstances, we brought forward the film which was to be our November entertainment. The good news is that we won’t miss out on Terry’s talk as he has now confirmed that he will be able to come in November instead.

Hidcote Manor Garden

The film we watched, ‘The Quiet American Gardener’, was about the history and development of Hidcote Manor Garden by Major Lawrence Johnston. He was born into a wealthy American family of stockbrokers, which gave him the necessary funds to create this now revered English garden, once his mother had bought the Cotswold estate in the early twentieth century. It was passed to the National Trust in 1948 on his retirement to his estate, Serre de la Madone, on the French Riviera.

The film was a fascinating insight into how the garden evolved and the influences that played a part: Italian garden design, architectural perspectives and their manipulation to create a particular effect are some that come to mind. The love of the place was apparent in the way the more recent gardeners talked about it and how they were trying to restore the garden to how Lawrence Johnston envisaged it. Click here for a trailer and transcript of the film.

 


Richard Bramley talking about Primulas – Wednesday May 16th at 7.30pm.

Primula sieboldii at Farmyard Nurseries

Another speaker cancellation occurred for May. Fortunately Richard Bramley, a popular and entertaining regular for Cothi Gardeners, was able to step into the breach and will give us a talk on Primulas. Richard has developed a fabulous collection of Primula sieboldii for which he is in the process of applying for National Collection status, and will no doubt tell us much about these beautiful Spring plants along with others in the primula family. He will of course be bringing plants for sale. More info on his website for Farmyard Nurseries (click here).

Primula sieboldii at Farmyard Nurseries

Candelabra primula in a garden setting

 

 


Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Aberglasney

There is a club outing to Aberglasney on Wednesday 6th June. Entry to the garden is at a reduced rate of £7.25 (free to members of Aberglasney) and the special afternoon tea (£12 per person) has been booked for 3.30pm.  Come early and enjoy this fabulous garden before sitting down to a  ‘proper tea’ with sandwiches, cakes and pretty china on the terrace overlooking the pool garden. Mad Hats to be worn (but not obligatory) to add to the entertainment! If you would like to join us but haven’t put your name down yet, there will be a list at the next meeting, or let Julian know directly. We need to give Aberglasney names  so that those attending can get the discounted rate.


Club Plant Stall

Now that we have had a welcome change in the weather (at last!) things have started to recover from the dreadful winter and spring. Do try and bring any surplus plants you may have to the next meeting for the club plant stall. The proceeds from the stall give a significant boost to club finances and all help both with supplying the plants and buying them is much appreciated.


 

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)

Roses, Pine Martens and Christmas Lunch

Growing Roses in West Wales by Richard Bramley of Farmyard Nurseries was one of the best talks we have had for a while. Informative, practical and humorous, Richard took us through how to buy, planting, diseases/pests and types of rose before showing us specific varieties. West Wales is not the ideal climate for roses and his sound advice when choosing a rose to avoid disappointment was to consider ‘not what you want but what you can grow’.

Rose-de-rescht

Rose de Rescht

Roses worth a mention as being ‘good doers’ were the Rugosas generally, shrub roses such as Bonica and Rose de Rescht, and ramblers or tree roses such as Pauls Himalayan Musk and Seagull.

Paul's Himalayan Musk

Paul’s Himalayan Musk grown up a Hawthorn Tree

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Photo courtesy of the Vincent Wildlife Trust

Our speaker in November is rather different. Usually we learn something horticulture-related but in a change to our original programme (sadly Keith Brown couldn’t join us due to ill health), we’ll be welcoming Dave Bavin from the Vincent Wildlife Trust.
Some of you may have heard about the plan to re-introduce Pine Martens to Wales and one of the sites selected by the VWT is near Pontrhydfendigaid.  Please join us on November 16th at 7pm to hear the background to this ambitious project and to follow the progress of some of Wales’ new wild residents.

gtpinemartenpic

Photo courtesy of the Vincent Wildlife Trust

These websites offer an insight into these lovely creatures.

http://www.vwt.org.uk/projects/pine-marten-recovery-project/

http://www.pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk/blog/miss-piggys-year

The Vincent Wildlife Trust is also leading the control of grey squirrels locally, in order to encourage the three populations of red squirrels in the forests to be able to get together and party.  Many members in the local community are taking part in this project.

Please note: Now that the clocks have changed, our meetings begin a little earlier at 7pm. This is the last open meeting of Cothi Gardeners for 2016, our 2017 programme will be available shortly.

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christmas-pudding

Christmas Lunch

Our Christmas lunch this year is taking place on Wednesday, December14th at the Dolaucothi Arms at 12 noon. Please remember to bring your deposit (please note that this is £7, not £5 as previously thought) and menu choices (see menu below) to the November meeting.

Dolaucothi Christmas Menu 2016

£22 per person for three courses

Jerusalem artichoke soup with spiced hazelnut crumb and lemon oil (gf/df)
Potato pancake, smoked salmon, horseradish creme fraiche & salt baked beetroot (gf/ df on request)
Caramelised pear, chicory and mouldy mabel bruschetta
Chicken liver, apple and smoked bacon pate, sourdough bread

Free range Turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, bread sauce (df on request)
Mushroom, chestnut & Caerphilly wellington
Rump of Welsh beef with sherry & shallots (gf/df)
Hake with winter vegetable saffron chowder (gf)

All served with roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables

Figgy toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce
Mincemeat strudel & brandy butter (df on request)
Chocolate cardamom mousse cake, poached pear (df, gf)
St Clements Trifle (gf)
Two cheeses, oatcakes & homemade preserves (+£2)

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Roses in Wales; Charity Plant Sale; Surplus to requirements; Club Plant Shop

Our next meeting is almost upon us – Wednesday, 19th October at 7.30pm. Growing Roses in West Wales with Richard Bramley of Farmyard Nurseries. As we all know roses are not the easiest of plants to grow in a wet climate, so we look forward to Richard’s talk with great anticipation.

Rose-de-rescht

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John and Helen’s annual charity plant sale takes place this Sunday (23rd) from 1pm  at their garden Ty’r Maes, Ffarmers. “There will be plants for sale, the proceeds of which will go to the NGS, and plants to swap, where we would hope visitors will put a donation in one or more of the charity boxes.” So if you have any plants to spare, share or swap, do take them along.

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Do check out the surplus to requirements page on the website. A recent addition is a petrol strimmer for just £25.

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Club Plant Shop – A quick recap………..

Our plant shop has been very successful through the year.  For those purchasing plants from the stall please remember that it is no longer run on a donation basis. Members bring good quality plants which are potted up, labelled and priced, so please check the label and put the relevant amount in the tin. Any plants not sold should be taken home by the member who brought them.

A big thank you to everyone for your support.

Plant sales

A Plant Historical ‘Romp’; Pie Night; Roses in Wales

Jess Jones from Llangadog Gardening Club gallantly stepped into the breach for our September meeting when Mike Thurlow had to cancel due to ill health.

september-2016-meeting

 

 

Jess gave us an informative talk entitled  ‘A Plant Based Romp through Medieval and Tudor Britain’ , describing how gardens and plants developed from being used for culinary and medicinal purposes to being appreciated as places and things of beauty; how many of the royal marriages of the times resulted in the introduction of new ideas and plants. For example when Henry III married Eleanor of Provence, she introduced the concept of courtly love and took Rosa alba as her token plant.

Jess is hoping to open her nursery specialising in the plants she mentions in her talks on Mother’s Day next year.

Seventeen of us enjoyed a social get together at the Dolaucothi Arms for a pie and pint before the meeting – many thanks to Esther and Dave for getting us sorted in good time – and for the delicious pies!

On October 19th we will be welcoming back Richard Bramley from Farmyard Nurseries and look forward to his talk on growing roses in Wales.  Richard will also be bringing plants for sale. Click here to see the Farmyard Nurseries website

rose-de-rescht

Do keep an eye on our ‘Surplus to Requirements page on the website – currently there is some free well rotted horse manure available.