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!

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.