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.

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)