Green’s Leaves; Fantastic Fungi; Terry Walton; Christmas Lunch

Paul Green of Green’s Leaves Nursery

September’s meeting saw a very welcome return by Paul Green from Green’s Leaves Nursery. Paul once again built his talk around a fantastic and diverse selection of plants that he’d brought along, persuading us of the merits of plants which look great at this early autumn period and on into winter.

Ranging through grasses, trees and small perennials, there was something for everyone to enjoy, and the talk was laced with practical tips (remember to lift any outside pots off the ground over winter to prevent water logging and root death), to snippets of fascinating information (Alder Buckthorn is not only one of the main larval food plants for the caterpillars of the Brimstone Butterfly, but also originally the favoured wood for making high quality charcoal to incorporate into gun powder!)

An enjoyable evening all round, and great to see several new members join us.


Bruce Langridge – ‘Fantastic and Phenomenal Fungi’

Next week’s talk on ‘Fantastic and Phenomenal Fungi’ by Bruce Langridge promises to be really interesting – Bruce is responsible for establishing the Wales Fungi Day at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, taking place this Sunday 14th October and it’s been so successful that a similar event is now held at over 80 venues nationally. Click here for more information.


Terry Walton – “The Life of a Media Allotmenteer”

Advance notice for November’s meeting when our speaker  will be Terry Walton on the subject “The Life of a Media Allotmenteer”. Terry promises to give us a look behind the scenes as he tells us about life on his allotment in the Rhondda and how he has given growing advice on the radio each month for over twelve years.

A gardener of over 40 years’ experience, Terry has worked plots on the same site since he was a boy, learning from his father and other allotment gardeners. Many of you will be familiar with his enthusiastic style, so do come along on November 21st  to meet Terry. Click here for his facebook page.

Guests and visitors welcome, £3, to include refreshments. The talk begins at 7.30pm.


Christmas Lunch

Initial bookings for the lunchtime Christmas meal at The Forest Arms, Brechfa are coming in, so don’t forget to sign up soon – there may be a limit on numbers which we could broach this year, with the increased membership. The cost is £20 per head. Please give your menu choices (including any dietary requirements/allergies) plus a 50% deposit when you book your place. The menu is shown below. The date is Wednesday December 12th, 12.30 for 1 pm.


Monthly Tips

3 Tips from Julian……………..

I find myself collecting seeds from quite a few plants at this time of the year. Obviously It’s a good idea to collect them on a dry day if you can manage that, but also it’s worth labelling them and quickly storing them in the fridge so that they don’t become too dry which can easily happen if they’re left on the side in a warm house. We had a few days in Sussex recently and were fortunate to visit Gravetye Manor which was the home of William Robinson at the beginning of the last century. He was perhaps the driving force in moving gardens towards a more naturalistic, less formal type of garden design. However I didn’t know until this visit that he injured himself very badly after slipping on a stile whilst walking to church, and spent the last 25 years of his life confined to a wheel chair. But apparently right up to the end of his days, he loved scattering seeds of his favourite plants around his garden and meadows and enjoying the excitement of seeing what germinated.

Gravetye Manor flower garden

I’ve also found that the 2 pronged weeding fork I mentioned earlier in the year as a great tool will work as a bulb planting implement for small bulbs like Crocus and fritillaries, which limits the extent to which you have to bend over. But I’ve also found it’s not a good idea to twist it too much, or you end up with a single pronged fork! Which is still ok for bulb planting, and for using as a strut or support but not so good for weeding!

Finally I’m guessing a lot of people will have a surfeit of apples this year. We have, so I’ve been juicing and freezing a lot. This generates quite a lot of pulp and trimmings. I did read that mice and voles love apples (certainly our rats do!) So I’ve been scattering all the apple debris around near where I’ve planted my Crocus in the hope that the rodents are distracted by the smell and taste of this. And therefore leave the corms alone. In previous years I’ve sometimes lost 80% of newly planted Crocus within a few days (in spite of dousing them in Chilli powder and vinegar) with them being systematically dug up and eaten. Fingers crossed, but so far I haven’t seen any signs of dug out, chomped Crocus this year. Also although it sounds a bit messy, actually all the bits turns brown very quickly and they have the added bonus of attracting in the few slugs we currently have left in the garden, which can then very easily be dealt with at night if you go round with a torch. In whatever way you like to do that! Of late since bending not’s so good for me, I’ve been using John’s suggested method of stamping on them, though I suppose if I sharpened the spike on my weeding fork I could try skewering…


 

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)

 

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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Pie Night; A Ranger’s Perspective; National Meadows Day; Garden Openings; Next Meeting

The first Pie Night which preceded our last meeting was a resounding success and proved a great time for us to get together for an informal bit of socialising! Dave and Esther at the Dolaucothi Arms excelled themselves producing their delicious pies for the 18 of us in good time for us to make it across the road for the meeting.

Sarah Jones then gave us an interesting, amusing and informative talk on her work as a ranger for the National Trust at Dinefwr. Her enthusiasm and love for her work and the area were evident as she gave a fascinating insight into the role of a ranger caring for the park’s landscape, flora and fauna with particular reference to the fallow deer and the White Park Cattle.

The park is well worth a visit, particularly at the moment when the hay and wildflower meadows will be in full bloom. For members who are interested, National Meadows Day is this Saturday with various locations being open for visitors – more info can be found on the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group website (click here).

As part of National Meadows Day………

 Gelli Uchaf Meadows and Garden will be open on Saturday July 2nd 2016

Meadow Walks and a chance to look round the gardens at Gelli Uchaf small holding, which have been designed to incorporate many insect friendly flowers.
This event is in aid of the charities of the National Gardens Scheme.
Places are limited so must be booked.
There are two sessions, 10.30 am and 2.30 pm. Some places are still available for both.
£4 per person. Cakes/teas available as well if pre-booked (£3 pp).

Gelli Meadows                        sdim3594-2

The gardens were featured as 1 of 10 secret gardens in Wales to visit by Wales Online in 2014 and were also filmed in 2016 for BBC2’s Gardener’s World programme. The 11 acres of meadows are being gradually restored to increase floral and fungal diversity and include both hill, and valley bottom wet pastures. A photographic display of the progress so far, will be available, and weather permitting, some of our manual hay making techniques may also be on view.

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Anyone who is interested please book  by contacting Julian and Fiona Wormald
 01558 685119
 thegardenimpressionists@gmail.com
 Gelli Uchaf
Rhydcymerau
Llandeilo
Carmsarthenshire
SA19 7PY
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The opening of member’s gardens at Bwlchau Duon and The Sculptor’s Garden in Ffarmers on Sunday went really well. Congratulations to Brenda and Martin and Angela, the gardens looked wonderful and well deserved the turnout of over 140 visitors who were clearly not put off by the uncooperative weather!
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     Anne and John bravely enduring the rain while manning the plant sales at Bwlchau Duon

the tea ladies

The Tea Ladies at Bwlchau Duon

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Our next meeting is on Wednesday, July 20th when Helen Warrington from Ty Cwm Nursery will return to give us a talk on ‘The Origins of Plants’ .
Ty Cwm Nursery has a broad range of herbaceous perennials, bedding and veg in season, specialising in blueberries and carnivorous plants. Helen will be bringing a selection of plants from the nursery for sale after the talk.
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The Club Plant Shop
This is getting better and better and is making an excellent contribution to club funds. Very many thanks to all those who have supported it both in the supply and purchase of plants. We need to keep the momentum going so please do keep supporting it at each meeting.
To recap: good quality, potted up, labelled, and priced plants to be donated. A table will be set up for the ‘Plant Shop’ at the back of the hall, with a tin for the money to be left in. Please price your donation/s according to size of pot, type of plant and so that it reflects the true value while being less than a garden centre would charge. This way those purchasing will have a good quality product at an advantageous price.

 

Picton Visit; Diary reminders and additions

Picton Castle Gardens Visit

Our visit to Picton Castle Gardens was a great success. We met for a civilised picnic in the courtyard, making use of the outdoor seating before being joined by Roddy Milne, the head gardener, for a tour of the garden.

Picton 1
The rhododendrons, although nearing the end of their season, were still magnificent.IMG_20160525_191425175

Many were grown from seed from cultivars already in the garden and it was fascinating to see the variety of plants one seed capsule can produce in both flower, leaf and form. New areas of woodland have been planted to give continuity for the future especially as more and more of the original plantings are succumbing to old age.

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The hard work of Roddy and his small band of helpers was evident in the tidy borders, new plantings and well mown lawns! The walled garden was immaculate and had plenty to see despite its peak season being later in the summer.

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Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening out.

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Open Gardens

A reminder that this month sees the joint opening of 2 of our club members’ gardens in Ffarmers. Anyone able to help serve teas, supply cakes, etc please contact Angela and Martin or Brenda.

Brenda Angela & Martins garden open (2)

There are a number of other gardens opening this month including the Talley Open Gardens Day this Saturday, 11th June, click here to go to our events page to see more.

MEETING UPDATES; DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES and HELP NEEDED

There was an excellent turnout at our meeting on Wednesday 19th May to hear Carrie Thomas give an illustrated and highly informative talk on the intricacies of latin plant nomenclature, explaining why latin names are needed, how they are arrived at and how they explain individual plant characteristics, habitat, etc.

She started the evening with a warning about Aquilegia downy mildew disease which has decimated her national collections of Aquilegias and is gradually spreading through the UK. See her website for more information at http://www.touchwoodplants.co.uk/aquilegia-downy-mildew.htm

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Requests for help at various events in the coming months were made. If anyone is able to offer their assistance at any of the following please contact the relevant parties.

1) Keith Brown will be having a plant stall at the NGS garden open at
Gelli Mydog, Myddfai, SA20 0JQ on Sunday, June 5th and Sunday, July 24th between 12 and 5pm. Due to his illness he has asked for help to man the stall, so if anyone can spare an hour or more to help out on either or both these days please contact Anne at glan-yr-afon@hotmail.co.uk .

Gelli Myddog

2) John and Helen have a large group visiting their garden on Saturday, June 18th and have asked for help with both the serving and supply of cakes for the teas. Contact them at johnhelen@greystones140.freeserve.co.uk

3) Angela and Martin (Sculptors Garden, The Old Post Office) have their joint garden open day  with Benda (Bwlchau Duon) and would also like help  with the serving and supply of cakes for the teas. Contact through www.farquharsonduffysculpture.com

Brenda Angela & Martins garden open (2)

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PICTON GARDENS VISIT

Remember our visit to Picton Gardens is this Wednesday. Those who would like to  can meet up at 5pm in the visitors carpark for a picnic tea within the grounds before we all meet Roddy at 6pm by the Restaurant (closed at that time). He will then take us on a guided tour of the garden. Plants will be on sale but please remember to take cash as there will be no credit card facility. Cost is £4.50 per person (no concessions or free entry  as this is a special tour out of normal opening hours). Anyone who would like/can offer to car share please contact Margaret on 01558 650887

OUR NEXT MEETING………..

Speaking to the Cothi Gardeners’ Club on Wednesday, 15th June will be Sarah Jones from Dinefwr in Llandeilo.
Sarah is a National Trust ranger and will tell us about her work, which includes taking care of the famous herd of White Park cattle, fallow deer and of course the extensive grounds.
Some of us may have already walked around Dinefwr but Sarah will let us know all about the history of the park, including a visit in the 17th century by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown who advised the then owners of Newton House on the possibilities of landscaping the grounds. Today a popular walk on the estate has been named the Capability Brown Trail.
A large part of Sarah’s work involves conservation, so we will learn about the unusual and endangered species which we may be lucky enough to encounter and how the grounds are maintained for visitors to enjoy at all times of the year.

Dinefwr           dinefwr_park_deer_original

Cothi Gardeners Visit to Picton Castle

Cothi Gardeners Visit to Picton Castle

Wednesday, May 25th , 5pm for picnic, 6pm guided tour by Roddy Milne the Head Gardener

Picton Castle Gardens are described as one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ Great Gardens of West Wales. As their website says:‘What you can see today is the result of many centuries of gardening styles, each overlaying the next, where no one style predominates.’

In the 40 acres of the garden there are woodland walks, a medicinal herb border, a fernery, a walled garden and jungle garden all in the wonderful setting of the 13th Century Castle.

As the talk is in the evening (6pm) we plan on meeting at 5pm in the car park for a bring your own picnic within the grounds.

If you have not already put your name down please do think about coming and let Margaret know at or before our next meeting on April 20th. It should be a really fun and interesting outing and if we can get a group of 20+ together we will qualify for reduced entry of £4.50. Otherwise the entry charge is £7 (concessions £6). Car sharing is available for those who prefer not to drive so please don’t be put off by the distance. From Pumpsaint to Picton should only take about 1 ¼ hrs.

 

May is a lovely time to visit a garden, but particularly one with an abundance of mature Conifers, Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias such as Picton. To quote from their website for May last year: ‘With the first half of May seeing the wonderful old Magnolias between the castle and walled garden coming into flower, pay a visit to Picton Castle and Gardens this month and you’ll quickly understand why they are famed for its Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias and Magnolias. Some have enormous scented flowers and others, such as the Japanese Azaleas, have many intensely coloured flowers borne in great profusion.’

Picton Rhodo Old Port (2)

Rhododendron ‘Old Port’ reputed to be the largest in the world! Photo taken May 2015

See the Picton Website for more details http://www.pictoncastle.co.uk/

 

Pest Control and our Inspirational Visit

June Meeting – Pests and how to get rid of them

George Sykes an entomologist gave us a fascinating and most informative talk using his wealth of experience advising governments at home and overseas to maximise crop productivity. He explained that the natural system is in equilibrium, but cultivating a garden upsets that, giving an opportunity for some species to multiply and become pests. He took us through the history of chemical controls to less invasive ways of dealing with common garden trials. He finished by saying that in many ways the human thumb is the best biological control! An informative and entertaining evening.

Ideas for controlling pests and weeds were also suggested by members during discussions after the talk such as milk for controlling mildew and ‘Grazers’ for controlling damage by rabbits, deer, pigeons and geese (http://www.grazers.co.uk/). See the gardening tips page for more information.

 

Inspirational Visit – Llanllyr Garden
On Sunday 28th June Cothi Gardeners had their inaugural ‘Inspirational Visit’ to Llanllyr garden at Talsarn (https://www.facebook.com/Llanllyr). We enjoyed the sunshine and were shown around the wonderful and indeed inspiring gardens by their creators Mr and Mrs Gee, the current owners of the property. Highlights were the rose garden which was in full bloom, the scents and colours quite amazing, the pool and the random flowering of white foxgloves throughout the garden giving a unity to the whole. The afternoon finished with a Welsh tea on the lawn – perfect!

 

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Gathering in the car park

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Chatting during the tour

Llanllyr tea (2)