August 2021

Well, Spring flew by and we are now in mid Summer and I am trying to keep up with my small but demanding garden!  Colours are changing and in my front garden, pinks, pale mauves, greens, silvery grey and white are now dominant.  Flowers are setting seed and fruits are developing and Nature is on its relentless march towards Autumn.

Since our last Zoom  meeting, we have successfully managed our first group visit since March 2020.  We will have some photos of the trip to Little Malvern Court in the next edition.

For those of us who haven’t been able to get away this year to foreign climes, we have had the time to appreciate our own gardens more and some members have shared their photos with us.  Others have shared their experiences of visits to English gardens as well as local volunteer work.

We have some heartening news that we are able to run a plant crêche at the RHS Malvern Show in September, so we have details of that included.

We also have a new feature called ‘Ask Rachel’, where you can ask questions of our own expert, Rachel Salisbury.  Send them in by email and Rachel will answer them in October newsletter.  Also we are looking for articles and photos on gardening with your pet!  Send in attachment in email to Helena, (Subject: Newsletter) to

Helena Kent. Club Secretary

Save the date! Weds, 22 September 2021

Our first in-person meeting for 18 months at our new venue:

St Matthias Church Hall in Malvern Link.  Church Road, WR14 1LX

The speaker is Paul Green, ‘Choice Plants for late season – they think it’s all over, but it’s not yet!’  Paul will be bringing plenty of plants to sell!  

Tea, coffee and biscuits provided.  Car parking in road near Hall.  As limited, please try to car share.

Due to Covid concerns, we will have hand sanitiser at entrance.  Mask wearing is optional but please feel free to wear if you are comfortable with that. Seating will be at tables with spacing.  

Memories of the Med

You may not be able to get to the Med this year but you can bring the Med to your garden!

I am not saying that you need to redesign your whole garden to create the style of a formal Italian garden, renowned for its manicured hedges of box, clipped topiary and stately Italian cypress, nor am I saying that you should introduce statuary and water features reminiscent of the Alhambra!

I am only saying that you could introduce a few plants that grow well in a Mediterranean climate and will remind you of lazy summer days and evenings spent at that little café or quaint taverna with their colours and scents.  Although we do not live in that sort of climate, except for the occasional heatwave, these plants are adapted to dry summers and mild, wet winters, climatic conditions, which, with our weather, we can experience in one week!

Mediterranean herbs are obviously well known, such as rosemary, bay, sage, thyme, lavender, borage, marjoram and fennel.  Extra benefits of growing these being able to pick them straight from the garden to enhance your culinary delights!

Other benefits, apart from adding fragrance to your garden, include attracting bees and other pollinators.  Flowers of borage are loved by bees for their nectar and also look pretty in a Pimms cocktail!

Most herbs, especially ones with silvery grey leaves, will prosper in full sun and dry poor soil and are most beneficial at times when water is scarce. 

These plants are as much at home in your traditional English cottage garden as in a French kitchen garden, ‘le potager’, where herbs are grown along with vegetables, fruit and flowers, providing ingredients for ‘le potage’, a thick vegetable soup.

You need not be restricted to just herbs but roses are also favourites in French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese gardens.  Fragrant climbing or rambling roses can be trained over a pergola or up a wall along with jasmine or wisteria.  There are so many varieties to choose from!

Other plants, which I associate with holidays in the Med are blue agapanthus, pink hibiscus, orange bird of paradise, gazanias, pelargoniums, bottlebrushes, agaves, palms, cistus, citrus trees, olives and figs to name just a few!  Fingers crossed for next year!  Helena Kent.  Art by Mary Pillon.

What a whopper!  From Carole Newton

This stunning Acer is the envy of many of my friends, family and even people walking past on the pavement who stop to stare and will, if I am in the garden, comment on its incredible size and colour.  It has been a feature in our garden for about 25 years and it just keeps getting bigger.  It must have been one of the very first shrubs I planted that has turned into one of the prominent features in the garden.

I have trimmed it annually to stop it growing over the path but it still puts on an amazing amount of growth every year.

Our cat Skye and her predecessor Emma use it to sleep under when the weather is hot, so this year it hasn’t had a great deal of use (let’s hope it will be used later).  It is also their favourite pouncing spot, unsuspecting folks coming down the 2 steps suddenly have a fur ball flying out of nowhere onto their ankles.

The colour it takes on in Autumn is spectacular too and the fallen leaves look lovely on the path until I gather them all up for the compost bin. I am so glad I was tempted to buy it all those years ago as a very small but pretty shr

NGS Open day Sunday June 27th 2021.  MaggieJo St John

An overcast but dry day so we ventured deep into Herefordshire to the Welsh border for the first of 2 visits. Reminiscences for me of an even more overcast day, heavy with rain, when two of us toiled up and over from Hay on Wye to Pandy on the Offa’s Dyke path.

This first garden is in a stunning location looking out over that line of the Black Mountains.  The renovation of the old farm buildings has been sympathetically and beautifully carried out and the planting around them is effective.  The main garden was not, at this stage of its development, to our taste.  The tremendous views and landscape of the Black Mountains were not brought into the design, in fact an alley of hornbeam ran across, not to, it.  It describes itself as a ‘modern garden’ yet includes a formal parterre, the planting of which was very mixed, not helped by a higher proportion of weeds than normally seen on an NGS day.

The second visit to a property occupied by the same family for over a 1000 years was quite a contrast.  Walking through the 14th century archway to the front of the house there is a fine vista onto the well stocked deer park (protected by a haha disguised as a swathe of wildflower meadow).  The walled garden had been carefully redesigned for herbaceous plants, while the vegetable and fruit garden occupy a more open area outside it.  The toll the past 18 months has taken on many gardens and properties that rely on volunteers to maintain their level of care is evident here too, especially in the woodland area.

We’d return here to spend more time in the garden and grounds as well as visit the house and learn more of the history of the Scudamore family and the changing fortunes of the house and estate.  We’d also hope to buy more of the excellent herbaceous plants, grown from seed and sold at a very reasonable price.

1st        The garden of the wind at Middle Hunt House, Walterstone,HR2 0DY

2nd       Kentchurch Court, nr Pontrilas, HR2 0DB

A June Day in 2 Cotswold Gardens.  Jenny Jones

Our first stop was Hidcote gardens owned by the National Trust.  We arrived at opening time giving us a quiet hour before it got too busy.  The roses were wonderful as were most of the flowers.  Some specific garden rooms were gardened to perfection but it was such a shame to see bindweed etc choking many plants in other areas.  All very understandable though, due to lack of gardeners and many, many volunteers.  The poor vegetable garden was heartbreaking to see, virtually untouched with everything going to seed.  Still very much worth a visit of course with lots of good things to see.

Garden number 2 was a very different story….Kiftsgate Court Gardens

This is a family run garden perched on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment.  Absolutely magnificent.  Again the roses were fabulous, the famous Kiftsgate rose was in flower and truly enormous.

Volunteering for the Link.  Fay Grist

I first used Link nurseries when it was on the site next to the new Malvern hospital many years ago.  It sold good plants at reasonable prices.

With a change of leadership it moved to Powick and the NHS took over the lease.  Friends of the Link were formed and I joined as a volunteer.  We had coffee mornings, fundraising etc.  Warwickshire College Group and Bransford Trust took over the lease in 2016 and I returned as a volunteer as did a lot of the old crew, creating a great family atmosphere.

The Well Bean Gardening group and Flower and Plant group were started.  I joined the Well Beaners as well as being a volunteer.

Plant and vegetable growing continued and strawberries, tomatoes and runner beans did especially well.

Then came COVID.  We were closed for several months.  Then slowly reopened, initially for site maintenance and then for small groups.  Things have really taken off since then. We now have 3 Well Bean groups, Art group, School group, Craft group and have just started a Mini Allotment group and are awaiting more materials.  Volunteers are involved in seed planting, pricking out, weeding, watering, looking after plants and helping run the shop, which sells local fresh veg, milk, eggs, fruit juice and seeds as well as our plants and compost.  In Spring bedding plants and hanging baskets and in Winter Christmas wreaths.

I have had a great time at the Link.  I have made friends, learnt a lot and we all support each other.  I realized how much I missed it during the first lockdown and am delighted to be back again.  Long may it continue to grow.  To visit us we are open 10.30 am to 4pm, Tues to Fri Hamilton Close, off Hospital Lane, Powick, WR2 4NH

Allotment News.  Barry Kent

This July the allotment has experienced a heat wave, dry conditions and heavy rain!  These extremes of weather have caused brown rot on the plum tree with all fruit lost.  On the other hand my black and redcurrants, apples and cultivated blackberries have produced record amounts of fruit.  I have a small first year crop of blueberries which I’ve never grown before.  The bushes spread low to the ground and I may have to put straw around the base to protect the fruit.

My beetroot, Swiss chard, French beans and parsnips are all doing well.  I need to thinly sow carrots as the first crop was attacked, especially on the lower root.  The dry conditions have not helped.  I have been watering in the morning but not every day.  The end of the month has seen thunder storms.  I look forward to harvesting my main crop potatoes next month.

Ask Rachel

Q:  Can I take cuttings from my Clematis montana and if so how?

A:  I would normally do Clematis montana cuttings in May/June. Use the new growth and cut off and discard the very flimsy top section, if the base is woody cut off and discard this too.  Take cuttings from the remaining section immediately above a pair of leaves and then about 5cm below them.  Repeat as you work down the stem.

Insert cuttings in a tray or pot of 50/50 multi-purpose compost and horticultural grit.  Cover with a lid or insert in a polythene bag and keep in good light but out of direct sunlight.  They should root in about 4 wks.

I don’t use rooting hormone and definitely wouldn’t advise it for these as they are relatively small cuttings and rooting hormone inhibits shoot growth. You can try now but have better chance of success earlier in the year.

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