April News 2022

Club AGM

Due to the pandemic this was the first AGM since the Government instigated the first lockdown in March 2020.  The Chairman reported that the club had had two successful meetings since re-starting and that members and visitors had enjoyed both meetings. The Treasurer presented two sets of audited accounts (one for the year to 31st March 2020 and the other for two years to 31st March 2022) which outlined the club’s current finances.

Members were advised that the current costs of speakers and their mileage costs have increased substantially and therefore it was necessary to increase the subscription rate. All committee members agreed to stand again and were re-elected en-bloc.

The Chairman thanked the committee and members for their hard work and loyalty to the club over the past couple of very difficult years.

Our Next Meeting

Attracting birds and wildlife - a talk by Roger HanceFor our May meeting we will be meeting in the Free Church Hall, which is situation behind the Church on Chapel Hill. The club will be welcoming Mr Roger Hance, who will be telling us the secrets of "Attracting Birds and Wildlife into the Garden".

Parking at the venue is very limited, so it is advised to park at Castle Maltings. Doors open at 7:40pm for an 8pm start. Refreshments will be available prior to the talk.

May is the first meeting of the 2022-23 season.

As we start our new season next month, now is the ideal time to join our club and benefit from a full year of interesting meetings and outings,

Our membership fee is £25 per person.

Visitors are always welcome to our meetings - there is a nominal charge of £5.00 per person - so why not pop along and find out what we are all about.

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month (with the exception of January) unless an evening visit has been arrange.

View of our programme of events for details.

March News 2022

Brenda Ayers

Brenda AyersAt our March meeting, held at The Free Church Hall, members and friends watched Mrs Brenda Eyers demonstrating five different ways to display flowers.

Whilst she worked she gave hints and tips on how to prepare the containers and mould the foam so that water does not spill out whilst “topping up” the water, how to condition the various plants and shrubs she used and how she builds up her displays so that every flower can be appreciated.

An on-going “quiz” guessing the names of the plants used kept everyone on their toes!

The five finished displays were raffled at the end of the meeting, and you can see the very happy winners in the photographs!

February News 2022

After 23 months of cancellations, it was a real pleasure to greet members and friends, old and new, at our first meeting, when we heard about Great Gardens of Great Britain by Andrew Babicz.

His love of horticulture came from working alongside his father in the grounds of the ‘big house’ as he was not allowed in the kitchen where his mother worked!

After school he started as an apprentice gardener at Inverewe Garden for the Scottish National Trust and then went onto study at RHS Wisley and at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He has also worked at Kew and Hampton Court as well as for several London Boroughs.

His other hobby is photography; members were given a photographic tour of gardens from Scotland to Sussex and Cumbria to East Anglia; from grand houses to municipal parks, and the gardens’ special features were explained.

As every garden is different, members were advised to take a notebook and lots of photos when visiting open gardens to help them plan their own gardens, get ideas on colour or planting schemes and to list what plants to add to their wish list.

October News 2021

autumn leaves and pumpkin

The clocks change this month and the saying “Spring forward – Fall back” heralds the days shortening and getting darker quicker as we head towards winter. But October and November are still busy months in the garden. After months of taking care of the growing pumpkins, children will be harvesting them for Halloween and enjoying pumpkin pie. But once the festivities are over, do not throw the pumpkin away - fill it with soil, plant some winter pansies etc. and use it as a flower pot.

Check out this DIY Pumpkin Flower Pot tutorial >

Once it starts to rot down, bury it in the garden and let the rotting pumpkin provide natural fertilizer to the young plants inside.

This time of year will also see many gardens being “put to bed”, with flower borders starting to be tidied up, vegetable gardens being cleared ready for mulching and planting out of winter vegetables, collecting fallen leaves etc. Do not waste this greenery – put it on the compost heap or in a hot bin to rot down and make mulch for next year.

Hedgehog

Look out for Hedgehogs!

It can be tempting to clear all the fallen autumn leaves from our gardens, but as the temperature drops, our native hedgehogs are already getting ready to hibernate and with their numbers in decline, creating piles of leaves is a great way to help them make a nest, to keep warm and to make it through their long winter sleep. Dry leaves are best, so find a sheltered spot and leave a pile there.

The hedgehogs will repay you by eating slugs next year!!

Remember too, its worth checking under bushes and hedges before starting any work and if you are celebrating Guy Fawkes Night with a bonfire do check it for wildlife before lighting it!

Autumn News 2021

The meteorological calendar says the first day of autumn is always 1st September and some tree leaves and plants are starting to change colour or die back but with the mini heatwave at the beginning of September and the possibility of an Indian Summer, many plants are still in full bloom and adding lots of colour to our gardens. Late flowering plants such as dahlias and chrysanthemums are often top-heavy and liable to wind damage so remember to stake them Winter flowering bedding plants eg. Pansies, violas and bellis daisies can be planted in tubs, hanging baskets and window boxes to give you colour throughout the winter months. It’s bulb planting time too – shops and nurseries are stocked up with a variety of bulbs to tempt you.

Get a list going

Autumn is a busy time in both the garden and vegetable plot and with the shortening days it is sometimes a “mad rush” to get all the jobs completed as you slowly put the garden “to bed” for
the winter so write a list, it's easier than trying to keep the To Do Jobs in your head – it's a great feeling too as you cross off the items but remember Mother Nature can be fickle and you could have summer flowers in October and November so be prepared to change the list!
Elderly peopel walking in garden of hyde hall

Go And Enjoy a Garden

With many of the Covid restrictions being lifted over the summer, gardens that specialise in autumn plants and colour are opening once again to visitors. Please check the NGS website to find out local openings. All of the RHS gardens are open, our closest one being Hyde Hall at Rettenden.

Summer News 2021

Staycations & Gardens

Once again our gardens are becoming more important as summer approaches and Staycations are being advised . For many the garden has now become an extension to the house as more time is being spent outside. Many of the items on peoples' “To Do List” were completed last year, so if you haven't thought of more projects to undertake this summer, then perhaps this year we can all benefit by just sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the sun.

As some of the Lockdown Restrictions are slowly being lifted if you are looking for somewhere to visit and meet up with friends or family the RHS Gardens are open. Many of the Yellow Book NGS Gardens are starting to reopen and flower shows and plant fairs are being planned for the summer too. But remember to check on the relevant websites as many gardens still require you to book in advance.

Harvesting

Hopefully you are all enjoying being able to get out into the garden and are making the most of the sunny weather.

The harvesting of vegetable patches has begun - home grown food tastes so different, the short time between plot and pot makes such a difference. The flower borders are a bursting with colour too – it's amazing how much growth and colour you get from those small seeds and tiny plants in just a couple of months! And, if you sit with your eyes closed and just listen – the garden is alive with the buzz of bees and bird song.
Dead-heading your plants and roses will help them to continue to  flower over the summer. Some plants though need “a real hair-cut” - hardy geraniums are a good example.

When the first flush of flowers is over, cut the plants right down leaving just the newest shoots  and you will get a second flush of flowers towards the end of the summer – and don't waste the cut down leaves and stems put them into the compost heap. It is also an ideal time to start sowing biennial  seeds (sweet william, wallflowers, honesty. foxgloves etc.) so they get a head start.
They will start to flower as early as May next year.

British Empire Medal for Freda

I thought members and friends of the club would like to know that, on one of our coach trips, we visited “Freda's Garden” in Bromley.

Freda Davis looks after her garden on her own and has shared it with groups and the public for over 12 years and during this time has raised £80,000 for the NSPCC. Her efforts were recognised by the Queen and she was awarded the British Empire Medal in this year's Honour List.

I'm sure you will join me in congratulating her on this wonderful recognition.

Future Meetings

At the moment the Day Centre is still closed. But there is “light at the end of the tunnel” as there are on-going talks with a third party regarding the running of the centre. As soon as we hear anything we will let everyone know.

In the meantime, with the promise that many of the restrictions are to be lifted, do take extra care of yourselves and keep safe.

Enjoy your garden!

May Update

As each day lengthens trees, shrubs, plants and bulbs are bursting into life. The buds and blossom on the trees is a sign that Spring is in full flow - some tree flowers are just ornamental whereas fruit tree blossom promises rewards in the late Summer/Autumn.

The birds in the hedgerows and garden shrubs are getting ready for the nesting season, flying hither and thither with twigs etc as their intricate nests are built camouflaged by the new growth. In the garden many of the earlier daffodils have gone over, but tulips are taking their place. From origins in the Ottoman Empire to fame in the Netherlands, this is a flower that has remained popular for centuries. Tulip flowers come in all shapes and colours – some like wine glasses others like a ballerina's tutu.

Also starting to fill those blank spaces are the perennial plants, their new new shoots ready to take over from the spring bulbs. In the next few weeks it will be the time to start sowing annual seeds – one season wonders that will give a splash of colour, most of which are loved by bees and butterflies and can be cut and brought inside to be enjoyed.

This is also the time of year to start sowing your summer crops. Many people grew their own food for the first time last summer, this led to a seed shortage in parts of the country, so make your "shopping list" and enjoy an afternoon out at a nursery/garden centre (socially distanced, of course) and buy your seeds. Word of warning though - with the unpredictable British weather be wary of late frosts so keep an eye on the TV Weather Forecasts before sowing or planting
out.

Please take care everyone and stay safe until this nasty virus has been beaten – we will let everyone know as soon as we get the go-ahead to reconvene meetings

A Year In Lockdown

It doesn't seem possible that it is a year since the Gardening Club held its last meeting – all the hopes that things would be back to normal by June, then October were dashed as this nasty pandemic took hold. But our gardens became a place of refuge, allowing gardeners more time to enjoy their hobby and also introducing many non-gardeners to the joys of growing their own vegetables and flowers thus making the lockdowns bearable as “pottering around” and “staycations in the garden” became the norm.

Now with Spring upon us, it's time to plan ahead so that a fruitful and colourful garden can be enjoyed later this year. Local Garden Centres are open so you can obtain seeds, bulbs and plants. Also some of the supermarkets and DIY Stores are stocking a selection of ready-grown plants. Although the weather can be a bit temperamental enjoy the lengthening days and warmer temperatures.

Remember: March Winds and April Showers bring forth May Flowers!

As soon as we have any information regarding holding meetings at the Day Centre again we will let you know - the biggest problem at the moment is social distancing in the hall but as soon as things improve it will be super to welcome everyone to our meetings again.

Spring News 2021

Spring is on its way – days are getting longer, even the sun feels warm when it breaks through the clouds.

Although we have had rain followed by more rain and the ground is saturated, walking around the village the gardens are starting to look colourful with the snowdrops and hellebores in flower and other spring bulbs starting to poke their heads through the soil. On the shrubs new buds are forming, ready to burst into leaf. It is at this time of year greenhouses and indoor windowsills come into their own, giving pots and seed trays that extra warmth to encourage growth. But Mother Nature has a habit of tricking us all, so be patient, keep an eye on the weather forecast, before planting out plants and vegetables in your garden. Outside, to help your plants get a head start, cloches and protective fleece can be used to cover up the growing areas to help warm up the soil.

Now is the time for planning ahead for the summer months too – seed and plant suppliers are starting to send out their catalogues to tempt everyone. With this nasty Covid virus constantly changing it is unlikely that lockdown restrictions will be lifted totally so once again gardens and parks will be our solace and will help to lift our spirits. Once we get the “go ahead” to resume our monthly meetings it will be good to catch up with members and hopefully to welcome new members who have got “the gardening bug”.

Autumn News 2020

Autumn Walks

What a strange year 2020 has turned out to be - since March our gardens and the act of gardening has been a vital source of solace to many.

Over the spring and summer months gardens have been tended, flower borders have burst with colourful plants and shrubs and those growing vegetables for the first time enjoying home grown bounty.  Country walks have become popular, with the many footpaths and unspoilt vistas around the village being enjoyed by both old and young walkers. The garden has become an extra room outside – a place to sit, play and enjoy life!

Autumn WalksSince the clocks changed, the days are becoming shorter and the temperature is dropping as the winter months approach so now is the time to put many tender plants and shrubs “to bed”. If you have an empty shed or greenhouse, pots with tender plants or shrubs can be moved inside. Alternatively they can be wrapped in fleece or bubble wrap to give them extra protection.

Unlike Lockdown I, the garden centres can remain open this time, so there is still time to buy bulbs to plant in pots to give you a blast of welcome colour in the Spring. It is also a good idea to give shrubs and flower borders a mulch with compost (home made or purchased). This will help to give protection to the border plants from adverse weather and improve the fertility and health of the soil.

The RHS has advised that the garden at Hyde Hall is open if you fancy a trip out – but remember to book your entry time via the internet.

As 2020 starts to draw to an end, The Mountfitchet Garden Club would like to wish all our member and local residents a “Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year and 2021”