What Do I Do with this Space?

This was the subject of our September speaker, Mr Darren Lerigo.

Whatever your age, everyone enjoys their personal space, and in a garden you can enjoy creating and making this space your very own.
Using a series of slides from around the world, members were shown the different “spaces” and how the individuals’ needs have been met. For example, in northern Scandinavia where they have nine months of darkness and snow followed by 24hrs of sunshine, a greenhouse was swathed in flowers of orange, red and yellow – a splash of colour.


In contrast, very little greenery was found in the Zen garden in Japan where the raked lines of stones gave the monks tranquillity and contemplativeness away from the bustle of life. A new housing estate, where the small dividing strip between drives, was transformed into a wild garden as the owner missed greenery.

Contrasting in size, even the Taj Mahal, built as a place of remembrance, was originally sited in a garden full of herbs, vegetables, flowers and trees–although in Colonial days this productive garden was been replaced with lawn. An unkempt, dismal yew hedge along a footpath between a church and its churchyard was cut back and trimmed into “odd” topiary shapes bringing a smile to passers-by. What one person thinks is marvellous another may not – eg. a £70,000 treehouse built in an oak tree for his children which was never played in as they preferred playing in the long grass under the adjacent Indian Bean Tree!.


Climate, soil type and the amount of time and money available all determines what your “personal space” will be like.


His talk concluded, enjoy your own, very personal space!


Date for your Diary:

Tuesday, October 2nd – all four RHS Gardens are taking part in the “Free Entry Day”.


Hyde Hall near Rettenden is the closest to the village, slightly further away is Wisley in Surrey on the A3.

Next Meeting:
Wednesday, October 3rd – Subject: Suffolk Wildlife: Birds, Butterflies, Wild flower and Orchids around Minsmere,
Dunwich Heath, The Blyth Estuary and the Suffolk Brecklands.


Meetings are held at The Day Centre adjacent to the car park at the top of Chapel Hill. Doors open 7.30pm for an 8pm start with refreshments available prior to meeting start. Visitors are always welcome to our meetings.

Change to August Meeting

Due to a family illness the scheduled visit to Chrishall Garden on Wednesday 1st August has been CANCELLED.

We are of course saddened by the news, and wish them a quick recovery

Instead we have managed to secure Clare Kneen from Saffron Walden, who will give members a talk at the Day Centre. Further details to follow.

If possible, we we try and arrange another garden visit to Chrishall in the future.

Keeping Chickens



Members were introduced to ‘Keeping Chickens’ by Claudia Audley of Bury Green Poultry.

Claudia started keeping chickens when she was six and over the years has turned her hobby into a successful poultry breeding business. The presentation covered the equipment needed, type of food: from ‘just hatched’ to ‘layers’, pellets to treats, medical issues fowl might encounter, types of hen houses and equipment available, the Law (noise, avian flu etc) and the various breeds and their egg-laying capability.

Bury Green Poultry have a mixture of pure breed and cross-breed chickens and they produce ‘rainbow’ coloured eggs – pink, olive, blue, dark brown, beige and white – which are sold at the Little Hadham Farmers’ Market.

At the moment there is a two/three month waiting list if you wish to purchase bantams to raise in your garden.

As well as really fresh eggs another added advantage is chickens love slugs which are the gardeners’ nemesis and they eat most kitchen scraps. Their manure is good for the garden too! However, the feathered Star of the Evening was Freddie, a Pekin Gold Laced Frizzel Bantam who sat in Claudia’s hands all evening and was quite content to be used as a model. (Frizzel’s feathers grow the opposite way so they always look as though they are having ‘a bad hair day’).

A lively question and answer session followed. Produce was for sale too.

Rose Bowl Competition
Congratulations to Ewelina May who won the competition

Fun & Flair with Flowers

Fun and FLair with flowers - demonstration

Over 130 people attended the flower arranging display at The Forest Hall School on 25th April. Gill McGregor, a National Association of Flower Arranger Societies (NAFAS) National Teacher has demonstrated flower arranging to audiences around the UK.

Fun and Flair with flowers - demonstration

Gill showed the audience six outstanding displays using a variety of flowers in stunning colours. Her skills in weaving and plaiting grasses to unusual shapes amazed the audience.

Whilst demonstrating, she explained various techniques of building up a balanced arrangement and how to use colour combinations to emphasise the shape and size; examples of her work are shown in the photographs.

Fun and FLair with flowers - demonstration 

Our 2018-19 Season is here

Now is the ideal time to become a member of our club as the new season starts next month on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018.

Visitors are always welcome to our meetings (there is a nominal charge of £3.00 per person), but by joining the club as a member you will pay just £15.00 per person for a whole year. You’ll also be the first to find out about our regular garden trips and monthly guest speakers.

Unless an evening visit has been arranged, meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month (with the exception of January) at the Day Centre adjacent to Crafton Green Car Park in Stansted Mountfitchet village.

Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start, and refreshments are available prior to the talk.

Contact us for more information, pop in at one of our meetings (check here for meeting dates)

Notes from our AGM 2018

The Chairman reported that membership numbers had fallen slightly over the year as several members had moved away. From feedback received the monthly talks and arranged trips had been enjoyed. The Treasurer outlined the club’s finances and confirmed support was needed at the forthcoming fundraising event “Fun & Flair with Flowers”.

The cost of speakers and their mileage allowance has been increasing and therefore it was necessary to increase the subscription rate – the first increase in over five years. All committee members agreed to stand again and were re-elected en-bloc and a new committee member, Tessa Pembleton was welcomed onto the team.

The Chairman thanked the committee and co-opted members for all their hard work over the past year.

After the AGM members enjoyed a horticultural quiz. Questions ranged from General Horticultural Knowledge to Gardening Anagrams to Gardener’s World Presenters – our “Leetle Grey Cells” as the Belgium Detective would say, were certainly tested !

Thank you Ewelina for arranging the quiz

Our Next Meeting:
Our guest speaker in May will be Mr Brian Carline who will talk to us about Pelargoniums.

The full 2018-19 programme can be seen on the website shortly.

Our Mini-Spring Show 2018

Despite the weather being fickle, and some spring plants being at least 2-3 weeks behind, the Day Centre was transformed by a colourful display of flowers, shrubs and a wide variety of houseplants.

The mini-show was well supported with over 67 entries across the 15 Classes.


The full-list of winners will be published on the website shortly

Thank you to all members who took part.

Mexico – A Land of Contrasts

After spending 16 years at Kew, our speaker, Mr Graham Pattison became Director of the Mexican Botanic Gardens based in Mexico City. He spent several years working and training local staff alongside visiting students on horticulture, plant conservation and botanic garden management, before returning to the UK to lecture, be involved with the National Collections Scheme and to renovate a garden to Grade I status.


The title of his talk was “Mexico – A Land of Contrasts” and he explained to us that Mexico is the largest of the Central American countries and its growing conditions can vary from arid deserts to high mountain ranges to coastal mangrove swamps to active volcanic areas. The Mexican flora includes over 23,000 species.

Using a series of slides members were shown some of the archaeological sites (many still being cleared of the undergrowth that has covered them), and the fauna and flora found in the different regions.


As an example of the diversity, he explained how the Quercus (Oak) family has altered and adapted to its environment – its height, shape of leaves and size of acorns – changing from the base of a mountain to the top.


Many of our garden and house plants eg. fuchsias, dahlias, orchids and cacti, originate from Mexico

Rethink your Garden

This was the topic of Mr Andrew Sankey’s talk in November. “Rethinking” is very different from “redesigning” where you start with a blank canvas.

Using examples from his own and his mother’s garden members were shown how little by little an area in a garden can be altered so that the right plant grows in the right place with the right type of soil!


Members were told not to be afraid to compost plants that did not grow – often people are tempted to buy a plant as it looked fantastic in the garden centre only to find it dying at home – often repeating this mistake several times blaming themselves rather than the conditions for killing it.

Read the labels, visit local “open” gardens where conditions will be similar to your own – use other people’ experiences to benefit your own garden, lift and split plants that do well.

His enthusiastic talk encompassed examples from large estates to small back gardens where using similar ideas of focal points, borrowed landscapes and drifts of similar plants had been employed.pexels-photo-414160

Many ‘tricks of the trade’ were given – a useful one for smaller gardens is to use curves as the garden feels larger by giving a wide border from the arc to the corner thus allowing a tree, statement plant or statue/urn to create a focal point and also the allusion of greater depth. Planting in layers also lengthens the flowering period – spring bulbs and flowers whilst trees and shrubs are leafless then plants for light or deep shade, bearing in mind how much water the plants need.

pexels-photo-754827Incorporating a secluded area for a table and chairs was also recommended – the garden should be enjoyed with either a cup of tea or glass of wine! If you like to sit out in the evening a white planting scheme was recommended as the moonlight is enhanced by this colour. Colour schemes can also affect the “feel” of a garden – hot bright colours close to the house with cooler blues and whites in the distance to give a calming effect.

“Rethinking” your garden takes time and should be enjoyed along the way!