We enjoyed a really successful first meeting of the year, even though Lucy, one of our two speakers from the National Botanic Garden of Wales, was unable to make it. Abigail nobly stepped in to cover both their areas of research on pollinators, and in addition had to cope with a laptop failure part way through. Thank goodness for Colin and Mark – Cothi’s own PC techies – for sorting it out swiftly so the talk could continue.
Abigial described Lucy’s work trialling several commercial mixes of annual plants to create pictorial meadows, and assessing just how good the various plants are at attracting the numerous different classes of pollinating insects. Actually it seems only a small percentage of the flowers included in most mixes seem to attract pollinators. ( 2 out of 15 species of plants in June; 6 out of 25 species in July; 6 out of 35 species in August). Lucy is hoping to build on her early work and develop her own mix of seeds to have wider appeal to the hoverflies, bumbles, honeybees and solitary bees which we’ll all have visiting the flowers in our gardens.
Abigail, who is studying for a PhD at Bangor in association with the NBGW has built on the earlier work of PhD student Laura Jones. She discussed her own work on the analysis of pollen samples both in the honey of bees kept at the NBGW, by using DNA metabarcoding of these samples, and in addition looking at pollen obtained from other solitary bees and hoverflies. She’s trying to establish the plants most commonly visited out of the huge potential range of flowering plants grown at the NBGW site.
In addition the NBGW team have also analysed the DNA in pollen found in honey samples sent in by bee keepers from across the UK.
This has highlighted some fascinating information including:
Only 44 plant taxa were found in more than 5% of the honey samples, and only 4 plants were identified in over 50% of samples. These were Rubus species – mainly brambles; White clover; Brassica – above (e.g. Oil seed rape); and the Maleae tribe – e.g. Hawthorn, Malus (apple – below) and Cotoneaster.
There are peaks of different flowering plants through the seasons, as one might expect – from Acers, Malus and Prunus in April; Dandelion and Gorse in May and June; Bramble and clover in July; and Heather and Himalayan Balsam in August/September.
As far as honeybees are concerned the vast majority of their food comes from native woodland and hedgerow plants in spring : Willow, Hawthorn, Cotoneaster, Apple and Cherry, Gorse, Sycamore, Holly, Oak, and Dandelion. Hellebores are the most widely used non native.
Other ornamental garden plants of particular value include : Paeonies, Camassia, Muscari, Viburnum, Wallflowers, Ornamental Alliums, Skimmias, Anemone (below), Roses, Flowering Currants.
For more detailed information on the work in this area at the NBGW, please click here.
Our next meeting is a talk by Marion Stainton, on Wednesday March 18th. As always, the hall is open from 7 pm onwards and help with setting up and refreshments is always welcome, before a 7.30 pm start time.
‘Murder, Magic and Plant Potions’
Marion is active in a broad range of horticultural projects for domestic, commercial and community gardens and spaces. Her interests are in sustainable, environmentally friendly gardening, including pest management, vegetable growing, plant & garden history and the science behind plants and their uses. She opens her own garden in Herefordshire for the NGS. Marion gives this introduction to the intriguing talk title:
‘An arrow tip poison: a witches flying ointment: a murderous potion & deadly poison; addictive; with psychoactive properties; a wine that may help prevent flu; a cause of severe stomach upset & a cure for cancer; one to induce heart failure; another to reduce the risk of heart disease. These are all properties of plants that can be found in or near your garden, plus quite a few more. Add to this some myths and folklore and you have a fascinating alternative view of those lovely plants we walk innocently by every day. You will never view your garden in the same way’.
Some more local events which might be of interest to members:
This Saturday, March 7 th in Carmarthen :
More details on their Facebook page.
Span Arts BIG Plant Sale are delighted to be hosting BBC 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time on Wednesday 25 March 2020, at The Queen’s Hall in Narberth.
The celebrated panel of gardening experts, including Chris Beardshaw, Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank with Kathy Clugston in the chair, will be tackling the questions put to them by local gardening enthusiasts.
The panel members have been guests of a diverse range of gardening clubs and other organisations; including recording at the top of Mount Snowdon, broadcasting from Buckingham Palace and answering questions from inside Number 10 Downing Street.
Tickets are £4.50 and include a hot beverage and the bar will be open. If you would like to take part in what is a lovely experience, please book in advance by phoning Span Arts 01834 869323 or book online at Span Art’s website https://span-arts.ticketsolve.com/shows/873619115
Doors open at 5:00pm and recording at 6.00pm until 8.00pm.
Also : The BIG Plant Sale is back again on May 2nd at Town’s Moore Car park, Narberth!
Finally I’m including the programme for our neighbouring gardening club at Drefach Velindre FYI, below :
CLWB GARDDIO DREFACH FELINDRE
GARDENING CLUB – Programme for 2020:
Wednesday, 1st April 2020
Garden Machinery & Tools – Teifi Valley Garden Machinery
Dave and Bob from our local company, Teifi Valley Garden Machinery who have been longstanding supporters of the Club, will be joining us to talk about how to get the best from your garden tools and machinery, their uses and how to maintain them and prolong their life.
Wednesday, 6th May 2020
Herbs – Andrew Cook, Rhoshill Garden Plants
Andrew will give a talk on herbs and how to grow and use them for culinary and medicinal purposes. A selection of herbs will be made available to smell and taste during the talk. There will also be a selection of peat-free grown and naturally maintained herbs on sale.
Wednesday, 3rd June 2020
Flowers – tips on presenting your Flowers and Plants for the Show – Lisa Cockroft
Lisa has been the Flower Judge at our Annual Show for the past few years and we are delighted that she has agreed to join us to share her tips on how to grow and present your flowers and plants to their very best.
Wednesday, 1st July 2020
Evening with Cheese and Wine and – Vines and Wines – Wayne Campbell
Wayne and Sally planted their vineyard at Pant y Ffynnon, Cwmpengraig in 2015. Wayne will take us through all the processes from growing to harvesting and making the wine. He will include some advice to members who make and show wines.
Wednesday, 5th August 2020
Seeds: Saving, Storing and Using – Andrea Sanders, Lampeter Seed Library
Andrea will talk to us about how to save, store and use vegetable, fruit, herb, grains and edible flower seeds. One of the main principles of the seed library is to encourage more people to save seeds and grow their own food.
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020
Getting the Best from House Plants – Mair Howe
Mair (Mia) is a long-standing member of the Club and she will be sharing her extensive knowledge of how to look after your house plants: what to do … and what not to do!
Wednesday, 7th October 2020
Open evening – The Gardens at Winchester Cathedral – Emma Sharpe
Emma, a Gardening Club member and former Head Gardener at Winchester Cathedral, will be joining us to share an illustrated talk on what goes into maintaining the gardens and grounds surrounding the historic Cathedral.
Wednesday, 4th November 2020
Pruning – Joseph Atkin, Head Gardener Aberglasney
Joseph is a regular speaker at the Club and we are delighted that he will join us again this year to share his wisdom in the art of pruning. There will be plenty of opportunity to test his knowledge with your most challenging questions.
Wednesday, 25th November 2020
Christmas Buffet and Willow Weaving Demonstration – Justine Burgess, West Wales Willows
Justine will talk to us about growing, cutting and preparing willow ready for weaving and will give a practical demonstration.
2020 Programme of Talks & Events
Wednesday, 8th January 2020
The History and Medicinal Properties of Monarda – Carole Whittaker, Glyn Bach Gardens
Glyn Bach Gardens holds the National Collection of Monarda, a beautiful late summer perennial with a fascinating history and great medicinal properties. Carole will be telling us more about this remarkable plant
Wednesday, 5th February 2020
Annual General Meeting and Cake Tasting Competition
A chance to showcase your favourite cake recipe. The winning cake will feature as the Set Recipe in the Show Schedule for the Annual Horticultural and Craft Show..