Garden Bugs – Good and Bad

Dr Ian Bedford – Head of Entomology at the John Innes Centre in Norfolk was our Club’s Guest Speaker in October.

Ironically his planned computerised talk “got a bug” so “Plan B” was put into operation and members were told about “Garden Bugs – Good and Bad”!! After explaining his job and showing how the facilities have changed from a “large tin shed” to modern, up-to-date laboratory facilities members were shown the life cycle, habits both good and bad, and told what could be done to either encourage or discourage them from our gardens.

At the moment a great deal of work is being undertaken to understand and control many “foreign invaders” which have been brought into the country in the soil of or on the leaves of imported plants or have “moved” here with the warmer climate we are experiencing.


As slugs should have been his main topic he ended his talk telling members about “The Invasion of Spanish Slugs!”. The sight of vast number of these slugs, up to 4ins long, left everyone squirming in their seats.

Dr Bedford explained that the normal animal control (hedgehogs, frogs etc.) do not find them a delicacy and it can take up to 20 conventional slug pellets to kill one of them and with chemicals being discouraged he explained that the JIC is looking into other ways to control them.

As the slug’s ways of protecting itself is to produce vast amounts of slime they way he is dealing with them in his garden is to put soapy water into a buckets, collect them, then overnight pour a little bleach into the bucket and the next day bury them at least 18ins deep.

Photographs of fields of crops decimated in days by these slugs were shown – and although it is a “love/hate” crop – oil seed rape may not been seen in our fields along with many other vegetable crops unless a deterrent is found.

The importance of water in the garden

Darren Lerigo gave a talk to our group in September on “Diluted – the importance of water in the garden”.

He has found that gardening in Essex, one of the driest areas of the UK with its lower rainfall and the strong, drying winds was a challenge! With so many  patios, drives, new buildings etc, a lot of rainwater flows quickly into the drains or evaporates before it has a chance to be used or stored.

Darren explained that as water plays a massive part in the landscape, our gardens and our lives – both the fear of not having it and the chaos of having too much of it; “water deserves more of our time and attention”.

pexels-photo-207231.jpegMembers were told how important it is to conserve water and were then shown ideas on how to make a ‘rain garden’ by slowing the run-off, diverting rain through deep planters or directing the flow towards ‘water hungry’ plants such as rhubarb and fruit trees.

Club visit to Piercewebb garden in Clavering

Despite the unseasonal weather during the afternoon by the time members gathered at Piercewebbs in Clavering the weather had improved and an enjoyable time was spent wandering around the garden.

In the sheltered walled garden there is a pond and lovely herbaceous borders with unusual hydrangeas and other flowering shrubs. A gate in the wall leads you into the vegetable garden with raised beds and onto the rose garden. A topiary yew hedge protects these gardens with the two gardens separated internally by roses growing up trelliswork.

Members were told that the “enclosed gardens” made the gardens feel very peaceful and how the stillness enhances the scents of the flowers and roses in the summer. A ha-ha defines the end of the formal garden but there is an uninterrupted view over the countryside where there is a landscaped field walk.

Whilst enjoying Mrs William-Powlett’s hospitality members were told about how the garden has evolved since she moved to Clavering.

Coach Trip – Open to Everyone

Mountfitchet Garden Club is organising a coach outing to Furzelea Garden in Danbury, followed by a visit to RHS Hyde Hall (the visit coincides with the Autumn Plant Fair) on Saturday 23rd September 2017. The coach will depart the Day Centre in Stansted Mountfitchet at 08.30hrs

Cost: £18.00 pp

For more information or to book seats call Maralyn Harris 07919 478144 or Linda Gurr 01279 816250

This trip is open to everyone, so if you’ve ever fancied visiting these gardens then now is your chance.

50 Essential Perennials Every Garden Must Have!

Essential Perennials - Mountfitchet Garden Club

This was the title of our June meeting talk by Mr Paul Harrison talk.

His garden, of over an acre, is filled with perennials that suit all positions – sun, shade, damp, dry and anything in between. Before the slide-show began members were given a list of the plants to be shown, with both the colloquial and Latin name, so that personal “Wish Lists” could be made.

A list of helpful contacts and suppliers, where some of the more unusual seeds/plant could be obtained, was also given. As each plant was shown, advice was given on position, size, type of soil, whether happy in a pot or open ground, whether easy to grow or whether they should be nurtured,

A selection of plants was available for members to purchase.

The club will not be meeting at the Day Centre in August. An evening visit has been arranged and members will visit Piercewebbs in Clavering on Wednesday August 2nd.

Members who need directions will find them here >

This meeting will be held on the 6th September 6th, back at the Day Centre. Evening starts at 7.30pm for 8pm start.

Our guest speaker is Mr Darren Lerigo, whose talk is entitled “Diluted – The Importance of Water!.

We will also be running a photo competition, so start looking for inspiration over the Summer!!

Competition: A photograph of “Water in the Garden”
frogonwater This can be anything from a Lake in a country estate to a garden pond or bubbling fountain. So get snapping!


As always, visitors are welcome to our meetings. We charge £2.50pp for non-members and members are free. Find details of our membership here >

Garden Visit – extra details

Garden Visit – Wednesday 2nd August
Mrs Judith Wlliam-Powlett’s Garden in Clavering.

This information is for those of you joining us on this evening visit:

Full Address:
Piercewebbs, 40 Pelham Road, Clavering, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4PQ

The garden is location near the church, on the main B1038 road, facing Saville Close.

We will be meeting at the garden by 7.30pm.

From Stansted Mountfitchet take road to Manuden and continue through Manuden Village towards Clavering. At T-junction turn left, Piercewebb’s is on the RHS.


Alternative route:
Stansted Mountfitchet or Saffron Walden:
From the B1383 (old A11) at Newport take the B1038 towards Wicken Bonhunt and Clavering.


If you have friends/neighbours who would like to come along they will be welcome but will have to pay the entrance fee (£4) – for club members it part of your membership fee. Any tea/coffee/cake to be paid for individually

Autumn Coach Outing



An outing has been organized on Saturday, 23rd September 2017. A morning visit to a private garden in Danbury before visiting the RHS Garden at Hyde Hall in the afternoon. The outing will coincide with with the Hyde Hall Heritage Plant Fair.

If you would like to book a seat or want more information, please contact the club Chair, Mrs Maralyn Harris on or on 07919 478144

Cost is £18.00pp (this includes entry to both gardens).

Club News for June 2017


“GROWING ROSES” was the subject of our June Meeting.

Mrs Heather Horner told members how her late husband’s hobby had encouraged her to start breeding roses and how their son, Calvin, was continuing this family tradition. Patience and good record keeping is vital, as it takes many years, with many failures and rejects along the way, before a “home bred” rose becomes available for sale. When deciding which roses to cross-breed the characteristics of the chosen ‘parents’ are taken into consideration – height, vigour, colour, scent etc.

Members were then given a demonstration on how the cross-pollination operation is undertaken. Clear labelling at this point is essential. Once the hip is ripe, the seeds are planted into deep trays and left to grow on for at least a season. It is at this point that selection process starts – a tray of over 50 young flowering plants could have several or none chosen to be grafted onto root stock.

A very stead hand and good eyesight is required when grafting – members watched a small “T” shaped cut being made in the steam of the root stock and sliver of seedling rose slid into this slot and held in place with a “rose plaster” which has a pin to ensure the grafted wood does not slip. This plant is then left to “grow on” again and the following year the rootstock is cut just above the graft. It may be another couple of seasons before, once again, the grafted plant is either selected or rejected. Field trials are undertaken and then a commercial rose grower then takes over and will start to ‘mass breed’ this particular rose for sale to the public.

A lively Q&A session followed.