January 2022

Welcome to the New Year 2022 !

Members of Committee

David Baker (Chair), Mary Pillon (Treasurer), Helena Kent (Secretary)

Patsy Cooke, Hollee Cooper, Fay Grist (Competitions), Jenny Jones (Raffle), Jo Nowak,

Rachel Salisbury (Programme)



January to March

January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain, thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil.

Words from the poem ‘The Months’ by Sara Coleridge (1802-1852)

I am sure we can all remember sayings or songs about the months and typical weather we could have expected years ago.  However, they are not necessarily true anymore, with our changing climate pattern.  Perhaps we should make up some new ones of our own?

Traditionally, January, the first month of the year in the Gregorian calendar is a time to start afresh, hence our new year resolutions, which may not last as long as January itself!.  Janus in Roman mythology was the god of door and gate ways and transitions, represented by the double-faced head and came to represent rites of passage and new beginnings.  However, in the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month of the calendar year.  It brought in the first day of Spring with the vernal equinox and the start of new life.  Most countries now have adopted the Gregorian calendar but a very few countries, such as Poland, still use their old farmers’ almanac, which described events in the horticultural year.  For instance, July (lipiec in Polish) is named after the linden tree (lipa) which flowers in this month and August (sierpien) is named after the sickle (sierp), used at harvest time.  Times have changed but some things remain the same!

Some New Year resolutions for the garden from members!

Mine is to go greener! Although I love my containers and often resort to them, when I have bought too many plants and can’t find a space in the garden, I have resolved to have fewer this year.  Saving water, money and my back too is a win, win!  Helena Kent

Mine is to get out into the greenhouse and give it a darned good clean as soon as I can…LOL. Should have been done ages ago.  Apart from that I have resolved to finally get enough sons here in the Spring to help erect a pergola.  I promised myself this PC (pre Covid).  We can all dream!  Patsy Cooke

My pergola is falling down!  Hopefully I have someone earmarked to mend it.  Pond cleared in October and now ready for new pump and filter in Spring and some fish.  I have used a small legacy from my Dad to make some new memories with new furniture and extra trellis on the wall.  Hilary Thorogood

I plan to work on the moss in the lawn (or rather improve the ratio of grass to moss from the current 1 part grass: 5 parts moss), and we may need to replace a tree which has succumbed to honey fungus which is endemic in Leigh Sinton.  David Baker

Get new wheel for wheelbarrow and figure out how to get it on after taking old one off!  Remember to take time to sit and enjoy fruits of my labour!  Mary Pillon

Cut off all hellebore leaves and cover rhubarb.  Fay Grist

One – to give away and not hoard pots, canes, seeds etc instead of squirreling them away, just in case.  Two – to trim trees and shrubs before they are too big to manage.  Three – to try and garden little and often to save my poor old back.  Jenny Jones

To finish round the edges of new pond and get planting completed.  Raised beds in vegetable patch have been promised by two of my kids – hopefully ready for new growing season!  Some tree felling to be done – calling in professionals for that!  Two more areas to clear and replant and I resolve to spend more time sitting and admiring our efforts, glass (or maybe bottle) of wine in hand!  Rachel Salisbury

I have started studying towards the RHS diploma during the pandemic, so my first gardening New Year’s resolution is to actually sit and pass the exams in the upcoming year.  We moved to Malvern only this Autumn and I am currently creating our new little garden from scratch, so there’s the second New Year’s resolution – moving forward with the plan and finishing the job!  The third one is inviting some wildlife into our new garden – I will try to attract some insects and amphibians into my planned water features.  Jo Nowak 

Tidy up allotment and be more productive!  Also try companion planting!  Barry Kent

Chair’s Blog 

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, despite all of the uncertainty and indecision.

Last year I wrote about my plans to plant some dahlias after a visit to Biddulph Grange in Cheshire, which is famed for its dahlia walk. We decided on Sarah Raven’s Venetian Dahlia Collection which is shown here as cut flowers on her website.

The tubers arrived in late February and I followed the useful videos that Sarah provides on her website, using 3L pots (wide, not too deep). Most of the plants then emerged over the next few weeks except one (Jowey Moreno) which sadly did not grow. I moved them out to the greenhouse to develop in April and discovered that they were a slug magnet. One Dahlia (Ambition) was badly impacted but managed to survive.

I enlarged a border to accommodate the new dahlias, prepared the soil and hoped that we would have reasonable weather. All of the plants were then planted out once the frost risk had passed.

Most of the plants thrived and produced very good displays of colourful and beautiful flowers. Sadly Ambition failed to live up to its name and died despite love and attention! One of the dahlias (New Baby) also proved to be not the correct tuber – it is bright pink, and not suited to the deep colour palette. I had considered gifting it to Holly, committee member and proud new Mum, but as she has a beautiful baby boy, Oliver, that is probably not going to work!

We have ordered some replacement tubers for those that did not succeed and I have placed a deep mulch over the dahlias to hopefully see them through winter. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will, and that the new tubers are all successful.

I hope your gardening plans went well in 2021, and that you have exciting gardening resolutions for 2022.

Happy gardening in 2022,



Location: St Matthias Church room, Church Road Malvern Link , WR14 1LX

Time: 7.30pm until approx. 9.30pm.

Our first meeting of 2022 will be on Wednesday, 26th January. 

Given the high numbers of Covid cases in the community at the moment, the Committee have reluctantly decided that it is not prudent to hold an in-person meeting this month as planned. Rachel is working hard to organise a Zoom talk instead, at the same time (7:30 on Wednesday 26th January) and we will confirm details as soon as possible.

The speaker for Wednesday, 23rd February has yet to be confirmed.

Competitions.  1          Vase of snowdrops

                        2          Planted container of flowering bulb/s

On Wednesday, 22nd March the speaker will be Josh Egan-Wyers, who unfortunately was unable to give his talk on ‘Shrubs for Winter Interest’ in November but will be giving a similar talk adapted to the season.  He will be bringing plants.

Competitions.  1          A posy of Spring flowers

                        2          A vase of 5 daffodils/narcissi

Future bookings        Weds 27th April          Geoff Oke on Fun with Fuchsias

                                    Weds 26th May          Hugh Thomas on Role of a Head Gardener

                                    Sat 22nd October        Visit to Hergest Croft.  Details to follow.

Recycling Corner

Rachel has 3 years’ worth of RHS The Garden mags to donate to good homes!  Anyone interested, please contact her at greentouchpaper@gmail.com

Winter Gardens.  Helena Kent

Winter gardens came into fashion in the 17th century and remained fashionable for about 200 years.  The European nobility started the trend by building large conservatories to house tropical and subtropical plants.  Many winter gardens were also built for the greater public. 

The first large public garden was built between 1842 and 1846 in Regent’s Park and used for evening events, large flower shows and social gatherings. 

In Malvern, Priory Park was previously known as the Winter Gardens.  Many of the trees in the park were planted about 150 years ago.  In 1885, the Assembly Rooms and Winter Gardens were opened to entertain the growing number of visitors to Malvern.  H.W. Lamb kept the Royal Library in Malvern in mid 19th century and published several prints showing the growing town.  (The print above shows part of Belle Vue Terrace and the Royal Library.)  The Assembly Rooms and Winter Gardens were completely refurbished in the 1920s and have undergone many changes since. They can still be seen in this old photo, date unknown. 

Nowadays it is considered that a winter garden needs to have certain elements to be worthy of the name.  These components consist of trees, shrubs or plants that make a statement, add drama or provide interest in the winter in the form of colour, scent, interesting bark, evergreen foliage or provide food for wildlife and winter bedding to cover bare soil.

A few suggestions for winter flowering shrubs would be winter flowering camellias, witch hazels and viburnums.  Some of these also have an extra bonus of providing a heavenly scent, including Viburnum bodnantense, Sarcococca/sweet or Christmas box and Daphne odora.  Evergreens providing colour with extra benefits for birds are holly and ivy, along with pyracantha and cotoneaster.  Grasses and seed heads also provide food.  Heathers bloom in winter in purple or white and provide nectar for foraging bumble bees, when food is short.  There are winter flowering climbers such as honeysuckles, clematis and winter jasmine.

When deciduous trees or shrubs are bare, their stems and bark can provide the drama.  Cornus with red or yellow stems is an example.  Silver birch lives up to its name and some acers and prunus have peeling bark, such as paperbark maple.  Crab apple fruit can add stunning colour as well as food for blackbirds, when the weather is harsh.

Hellebores have a great variety of hues.  Winter bedding or pots with pansies, cyclamens, snowdrops, crocus and iris have the power to liven up a dreary day.

So the winter garden is anything but boring!

Favourite Gardening Books 1.  Rachel Salisbury

This is the first of what could be a very long series, highlighting some of the books that I have enjoyed over the years.  They have been written over a period of just over 400 years, so there’s quite a bit to go on!

Until the late 16th century, gardening books were mostly herbals backed up to some extent by monastery documents giving instructions for how various plants should be grown.  The majority of these herbals were derived from one ancient Greek text, by Dioscorides.  Translated into Latin, it became the standard reference work throughout most of Europe. The problem was, of course, that very few people could read, and even fewer could read Latin.

So that’s a very brief summary of how we got to my starting point and here it is.

The Gardener’s Labyrinth by Thomas Hill

In 1558, Thomas Hill’s treatise ‘A most brief and pleasaunte treatise teachyng how to dresse, sow and set a garden’ had been published and reprinted and extended over the following few years.  Subsequent revisions took the book from its original 42 pages to 300.  One of many added sections was ‘The marvellous governmente, propertie and benefite of the bees with the rare secrets of the honny and waxe’.  Who would have guessed that this was written almost 500 years ago?  This was the first gardening book to be printed and published in English.

The Gardeners Labyrinth is actually Hill’s second book, but nowadays the much better known one.  It was published posthumously in 1577, a year or two after Hill’s death, with the final revisions being made by Henry Dethick.  For reasons that I don’t understand, it was published under the pseudonym, Didymus Mountain.

This book is a real treasure trove of information on Tudor gardens, containing 69 short chapters, covering aspects of garden layout, and a very wide range of gardening practices.  It is a fascinating mixture of sound, practical advice, descriptions of the latest garden gadgets and how to use them (eg the watering pot) and very dubious methods of deterring pests.  One bit of advice which is a comfort to me every year, is that tulips should not be planted until the New Year!  The second part of the book details the medicinal uses of 60 different plants.  When reading the book it is worth bearing in mind that Hill’s background was as an astronomer, and some of his suggested practices are influenced by this.  (Maybe he was a forerunner of biodynamic gardening?)

For me, the most valuable feature of the book is the wonderful woodcut illustrations, which are incredibly detailed and give a real insight into the gardens and gardening of the time.

Sadly, as far as I know, there is no online access to The Gardeners Labyrinth. If, like me, you prefer real books, there is 20th century facsimile edition.  Edited by Richard Mabey, and including some additional modern illustrations, it was published in 1998, and I suspect is now out of print.  However, it is readily available second hand and I thoroughly recommend it.

Winter on the allotment.  Barry Kent

December so far has been a mix of cold, cloudy days and several days of above average temperatures.  With climate change we seem to get fewer frosts.  As my no dig policy of last year was not a great success, I have decided to dig the plot over and add manure.  It would be good to get some frosts now to break up the soil! 

My parsnips are ready to dig up and it used to be said that frosts improved their flavour!  I have also left some beetroot in and will see if they survived.

All the fruit bushes have been pruned except for the one year old blueberry bushes.  The apple tree awaits pruning.  Some experts say prune now and others maintain the best time is when the buds start to appear.  The plum tree, I will prune in Summer as plum, cherry and apricot are susceptible to silver leaf disease, which infects wood through wounds in the Autumn and Winter.

A Quiz from Sue Woolley.  How many plants can you find?

Mother Nature opens her wardrobe…
As thyme moves on
What will it bring?
When winter time
gives way to Spring…
The gentle warming of the sun
A wondrous promise of things to come..
Fox’s gloves and grannies bonnet
adorned with Queen Anne’s lace upon it.
Lady’s mantle, lady’s smock
and ‘dandylions’ dressed by the clock..
Sweet Cicely, that well known tory
spruced up in all her morning glory,
hooped petticoats and string of beads,
lady’s slipper…all she needs!
As summer slips to Autumn chill
and winds whip up and brooks refill…
monkshood, skull cap, Jacob’s coat
and Turk’s cap lily get my vote!
Brass buttons on a cloth of gold,
umbrella rush when rain’s foretold..
Gardener’s garters, Dutchman’s breeches…
We’re truly blessed with Nature’s riches!

Link Nurseries

At Link Nurseries we have been really pleased with how we have been able to expand our activities over the last few months. We hope that this will continue but with the current uncertainty about what the guidance will be about meeting up in the New Year, we are having to keep our fingers crossed that everything will be able to continue.

Well Bean Gardening Club is at full capacity on Fridays, healthy numbers on Tuesdays and the new, Wednesday sessions are slowly filling up. We are welcoming new members to this session for the opportunity to grow their own vegetables and plants, learn the complete process of plant growing, from sowing seeds to harvesting crops, and the chance to contribute to the commercial activities of the Nursery.

Craft and Art Groups

The craft group is now moving towards a dozen members and judging by the laughter coming from the room they are thoroughly enjoying the weekly meetings. Each person works on their own project with Hermine, one of the founder members, just providing support and encouragement for whatever project members are working on. On Wednesdays, 10 am to 3pm.

The Art Group meets on Tuesdays, 2.00 to 4.00pm. for people who like to draw or paint, whatever their age or ability.  You will find help and encouragement but there is no formal teaching. All the materials are supplied, including paper, pencils and paints. One bonus is being able to borrow plants from the Nursery to draw or paint. The cost is £5, including a cup of tea. A good way to relax and unwind and develop your artistic skills!

Wildlife Project

In partnership with New Opportunities Worcestershire, we are launching an exciting new venture.  On Wednesdays from 2nd February until 23rd March, working from 10.00am until 12 noon there will be a new group. If you know of anyone who would like to make use of this provision, please use the contacts below and we are looking forward to welcoming this new group into the Link.

Working in a small group, and sharing the tasks with Link Nurseries’ own groups, you will have the opportunity to help design and develop a new Nature/Wildlife area at Link Nurseries, Hamilton Close, (off Hospital Lane), Powick WR2 4NH

Learn how to create a garden for wildlife and how to attract birds, bees, insects, butterflies and small animals into the garden. You will also learn how to respect the environment as you design and learn new wildlife gardening ideas to use in your own garden too.

The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are well documented and gardening, including in a group, has long been used as a healing medium for a range of mental health issues.

This project is suitable for people of all levels of ability and everyone can make a contribution. Horticulture improves your confidence and social skills, whilst increasing your physical and mental well-being by being outdoors. You can then use what you learn, either in your own garden or use the skills as a starting point for any future prospect, including attending the Well Bean Gardening Club at Link Nurseries.

For further details please call – 01527 488715 or email whcnhs.now@nhs.net 

We are open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 – 4.00 pm

Please come and buy from our community shop and plants as all of our sales support our Well-Being activities.

Contact us on: linknurseries@warwickshire.ac.uk or 01905 831881

Malvern Hills Gardening Club support the work of Link Nurseries.  Fay is a regular volunteer and has a variety of roles.  I joined the art group as someone who hasn’t painted since school and found it a most relaxing and enjoyable experience with no pressure!  Helena

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