The Dreaded Gardener; Members Social; Garden Safari; Drought Busters; Gardener’s World; Other Events

Malcolm Berry – The Dreaded Gardener:  ‘Weaving the Web:Towards a Natural Garden’

Malcolm’s talk about how he tries to garden in a way to create ‘dynamic stability’ where flora and fauna exist in harmony struck a chord with many of us. The State of Nature reports indicate that in Wales 1 in 14 species are heading for extinction, in a large part due to loss of habitat. To try and offset this even those with small gardens can help. Biodiversity was at the root of his message: diversity creates diversity, the greater the diversity in flora the greater the diversity in fauna.

 

Ideas he has implemented in his own garden:

  • Varied habitats such as a pond, mini meadow, deciduous and evergreen hedges, mature trees and shrubs, dry stone walls, log piles, stone piles.

Mini Meadow © Malcolm Berry

  • Flower counts throughout the year to assess where/when there is a lack. Self seeding annuals to increase flower numbers
  • Polyculture rather than monoculture: mixing veg in with shrubs and perennials. More naturalistic and gives better protection against pests and disease.
  • Clear areas for veg planting in Spring, weed through growing season, stopping in August. By winter the mix of weeds and crops cover and protect the soil which is better for both soil and habitats. Weeds are also a good winter flower source.
  • No power machinery, he uses only hand tools

© Malcolm Berry

  • Compost: use comfrey in layers when turning compost as it is a good activator
  • Seed saving: from most veg. Some such as parsnips, runner beans and leeks require a minimum of 16 plants to save seed from in order to retain diversity. Only save seed from the best plants/fruit. Store seeds in an air-tight tub in fridge with silicon gel packets as this significantly reduces conditions required for germination.

Parsnip seed saving © Malcolm Berry

  • The Moon: He uses the Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar which shows the optimum days for sowing, pruning and harvesting various plants and crops.
  • Non-interventionist approach, no pesticides or herbicides, nature will balance things out. He grows sacrificial plants to avoid significant predation on veg.
  • Minimum tillage, he does not turn the soil, practices good crop rotation and uses green manures to maintain condition and fertility.

It was a very interesting talk and generated many questions from the audience.


Members Social and Growing Challenge 7.30pm Coronation Hall, Pumsaint

Our August meeting is our members’ social evening when we meet for a relaxed get together bringing a plate of food to share. This year due to our increasing numbers, it is being held in the hall rather than a member’s home.

Pots planted for pollinators – with varying degrees of success!

The evening is also when we share the results of this year’s growing challenge. We were asked to plant up a pot with plants for pollinators. Do bring along your pots even if they haven’t turned out quite as expected – it has been a very challenging year weather-wise, but we can all learn from our successes and failures! If you can’t manage to bring the pot itself do try and get some photos of it and bring them along instead.

 

The evening will also be when we will be handing over our donation from the proceeds from the plant fair, a cheque for £500,  to Wales Air Ambulance.


Garden Safari

The garden safari is a club event in which we get to visit the gardens of those club members who wish to participate. The number of gardens taking part varies year to year, this year there will be just 2, Yvonne’s and Tina’s. The date on which it will take place is Friday September 7th. More details will be given at the summer social.


Drought Busters

A tip from Elena for watering…

  1. Place a large tub in a wheelbarrow.
  2. Fill with old washing up water – You can also add feed to the tub
  3. Dunk hanging baskets in the tub holding underwater till all the bubbles stop
  4. Lift out and rest on the rim of the tub to drain, some will also drop into barrow and can be re-used!
  5. Rehang you well-watered basket. Works well with small pots too

And from Julian: we’re now having to use my huge number of water filled polycarbonate drinks bottles as a valuable water resource with our spring running low, but I also found that if you drill a tiny hole in the top of the bottle cap, upend it, and ram it into the soil beside squash, courgettes or tomatoes, it’ll deliver variable, but fairly slow water release over a few days – good if you have to go away for a weekend in hot weather.

From the white board: water Camellias and other Spring flowering shrubs now to encourage flowers next Spring.

Some plants which seem to be coping well with the lack of rain, and don’t need watering:

Jenny says….

  • Rudbeckia, Antirrhinum, Sweet William and Californian poppy.
  • Yellow Loosestrife, hostas and several unknown varieties of alliums have all flowered really well with minimal watering.

Sandy says…..

  • her 3 foot high unknown Phlox are doing well, and her Gunnera! She does live by a river which might help explain it.

Plants John and Helen have found are drought resistant are:

  • Erodium manescavii, Platycodon grandiflora and Scutellaria albida

Erodium manescavii with Geranium sanguinium

Julian and Fiona have found

  • Sea campion, Knapweed and Bird’sfoot Trefoil are all tough native plants to try, plus roses and clematis all seem to be thriving.

Ty’r Maes NGS Open Day

John and Helen had their NGS open day on Sunday. All John’s hard work watering to try and keep the garden looking good along with a little bit of help from the storms of the previous week certainly paid off. The garden was looking beautiful. The sun shone and the visitors flocked in – John said it was their best day for several years.  As always, thanks from them to all their helpers and cake bakers and to John and Helen for their donation to Cothi Gardeners funds.


Upcoming Events

Gardener’s World: Keith Brown whom many of us know for his lovely garden and talks he has given to Cothi Gardeners in the past, has been filmed for Gardener’s World. The piece is due to be aired THIS FRIDAY 10th August at 9pm

Llandeilo Permaculture Group: Llandeilo Permaculture Group have scored a coup, booking Permaculture designer Geoff Lawton for a talk in the Civic Hall on August 24th, 7pm. He’s done TED talks and lots more. This is his only date in Wales. Tickets are £10, includes a light buffet.

September Meeting

Paul Green from Green’s Leaves Nursery will be paying us another visit after his very enjoyable talk last year….. and he will be bringing plants again! Put the date in your diaries: Wednesday September 19th at 7.30pm


 

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 (it is rumoured) his friendsTony and Sylvia Marden, from Shady Plants in Gloucestershire.

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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