Spring 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)

malvernhillsgardeningclub@gmail.com

www.malvernhillsgardeningclub

Flowers

‘Je dois avoir des fleurs toujours et toujours’.  (I must have flowers, always and always!’)  Claude Monet.

It is appropriate that flowers are the theme of this quarterly newsletter, for Spring blossoms are now everywhere to be seen, as trees, shrubs, flowering bulbs and herbaceous plants are showing off their glorious colours.  Predominantly yellows of primroses, daffodils and forsythia and dare I say – dandelions, blues of anemones, grape hyacinth, vincas and pinks of magnolias and cherry with the bright greens of new growth.  Bright colours to cheer our spirits after dull winter days with the promise of more riches to come!  It’s a busy time for the gardener!

Flowering plants have always had great importance in human lives.  We have depended on many for our food as well as livelihoods and some for our physical well-being and mental health.  We have also come to love them for their beauty in colour, scent and form.

Significant events in our lives are marked with buttonholes, bouquets, bunches, posies, wreaths and even a single rose.  Celebrations, special occasions, milestones in our lives from birth to death feature flowers in some form or other.

Most countries have a national flower.  Flowers have also become symbols of hopes and dreams, resistance and resilience.  Nowhere more so than, at the moment, in the Ukraine. The sunflower has for centuries been important as a crop and source of food and income on the central and eastern Steppes.  It is the unofficial national flower of Ukraine, seen as a symbol of unity and loyalty. Today the sunflower represents solidarity and resistance to the Russian invasion and the hope of peace.  Helena Kent



My favourite flowers. David Baker

My favourite flowers are those that have really significant memories. When Elaine and I were married in 1987 my parents held a garden party for friends and family in Hampshire who thought that travelling to our wedding in Burnley was tantamount to travelling to Timbuktu. One of the guests gave us a Deutzia, which she chose because it would flower on our wedding anniversary in early May. It has never let her down – some years only one or two flowers have opened. Sometimes it is in full bloom and in other years only the last flowers are open. It has come with us as we moved house and I hope it will bloom for many years to come.






















My favourite flower.  Jenny Jones

I don’t have a favourite flower, then Snowdrops appear like magic, whatever the weather.  There they are, nodding their beautiful heads in the breeze, wind or even storm. 

Snowdrops are definitely my favourite flower.

Till the primroses peep out of grassy banks, such a lovely colour for a dark and dismal time of year.  These are my favourite flower.

Weeks later Bluebells cover the hills and woodland floor.  What better sight is there than sunshine on that carpet of blue?

Bluebells are my favourite flower.

Wild Orchids, which seem abundant locally, appear like magic in the grassy meadows.  With so many different varieties, how could any other flower be my favourite?

On the other hand, isn’t it just the best thing ever to sit in the garden in the sunshine with a cuppa next to the sheer beauty and perfume of Gertrude.  That’s Gertrude Jekyll of course!

Roses are definitely my favourite flower.

Then my Agapanthus dramatically start to throw up their stems.  How many fabulous flowers, if any, will appear this year?

My truly favourite flower. I could go on but as you can see, I don’t have a favourite flower!

MEETINGS 2022

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

Time: 7.30pm until approx. 9.30pm.

Wednesday, 27th April.  The speaker will be Geoff Oke, ‘Fun with Fuchsias’. 

Free refreshments will be provided as usual and there will be a raffle and competition.  There are 2 categories for the competition      1.  3 tulips in a vase.  2.  A Spring blossom arrangement.

Entrants are allowed one entry per category.  There will be a table set up for the exhibits and entrants will be given a piece of paper, on which to write their full name, to put under their entry.  All members are given 2 tokens, one token per category, to vote for their favourite exhibits.  Prizes are awarded at end of year for members with most points.

The speaker for Wednesday, 25th May is Hugh Thomas on ‘the Role of a Head Gardener.’

Competitions.  1          Stems of a flowering shrub in a vase (single variety)

                        2          3 stalks of rhubarb

Wednesday, 22nd June.  Evening visit to Madresfield Court.7pm.

Future bookings        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

Allotment news.  Barry Kent

As I write this article the weather is glorious and the coming of Spring is making the preparing of seed beds an easy job!  I am going to fork over the soil and finish with a rake.  In the next 3 months most vegetable seeds can be sown.  Be careful with any seedlings grown indoors as we are still suffering from frosts and we have had frosts in early May.

Plants will need regularly watering if we get any lengthy periods of dry weather.

Hopefully the blackberries and plums will start fruiting in June.

I will give the plot a good watering before we go on holiday and look for a friendly neighbour! 






















Flower Arranging by Mary Pillon

Some years back when living in Droitwich, I took advantage of flower arranging classes. It was run by a wonderful, lively lady with the most amazing amount of funny experiences from family and business, I have ever heard. She would demonstrate whilst chatting away to us, effortlessly arranging greenery of various sorts into an oasis, then finally adding the flowers. The result was superb every time and our task was to copy what she had done for presentation the next week. Maureen only ever worked with “Oasis” foam as her displays for various exhibitions, shows, cathedrals, etc., needed this stability. Nowadays oasis is a “no-no” as it is completely non-biodegradable. However, if using it be sure to put dry oasis into large bowl of water and allow it to soak. Do not push the oasis into the water as this may leave a dry area in the centre. Collect greenery from your garden for your display, using variegated/green/yellow leaves as a selection or simply just one colour of greenery depending on your colour scheme of flowers. Trim the ends of all greenery so the stem is clean and will easily push into oasis. Cover the oasis – use perhaps variegated ivy, Choisya Sundance, Elaeagnus, Euonymus fortunei, Fatsia, Pittosporum – all good. Or laurel, bay or similar for larger display. With a few colourful pieces of greenery fewer flowers are needed for a lovely display to keep you happy. Again, when it comes to pushing flowers into oasis, take off pretty much all the leaves and make a clean cut at the end of the stalk. Your arranged greenery will last a lot longer than the greenery on your flowers. The same principles apply when using a vase rather than an oasis. However, if doing a tall/large display with tall greenery and flowers, it may be helpful to put some upright sticks into the vase to steady the arrangement. These could be on show if using “dogwood” during winter months when their bright red colour would look lovely. Alternatively, any twigs/sticks below the level of the vase could be used, so greenery and flowers would be held in place by them. Chicken wire, newspaper are also alternatives. Our lovely tutor Maureen showed us how to “turn” a tulip. She did this by holding the tulip flower in one hand whilst the other carefully pulled petal by petal back until outer petal tips nearly touched the stem thus revealing the stamen and the colouring on inside of the tulip. Do have a go if you fancy – I have tried many times but not always with success. When it does go right they look brilliant, almost lily like and it does not shorten the life of the flower. The oriental method of “ikebana” with its spiky base is an easy option and looks good too. Flower arranging is overall a personal thing and I know it always gives me pleasure to wander to the garden, select some greenery and flowers, take some time arranging them. This can be the simplest of arrangements or a more elaborate effort depending on availability of flowers. A pleasurable pastime






















Books about Flowers.  Rachel Salisbury

When it comes to selecting books about flowers there is a plethora to choose from, ranging from monographs on individual genera to encyclopedic volumes covering a wide range of species.  The books I’ve chosen this month have one thing in common – they are all more than 25 years old!  However, they have all proved to be useful sources of information and I make no apology for selecting them. I have checked and all are still available, either as updated editions, reprints, or second hand.  Dates I’ve given are original publication dates

100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names            Diana Wells 1997

This is really a book of short stories, each about an individual flower. It highlights the many varied ways in which names are selected for flowers, including some scientific names and some vernacular.  Stories cover ways in which plants are used, how or where they were discovered and by whom. There are a lot of fascinating facts and each story is only a couple of pages long -perfect for bedtime reading!   I have one caveat, which is that the author had lived in USA for about 20 years before the book was written and some of the vernacular names don’t correspond with those we know in UK.

How Flowers Work: A Guide to Plant Biology           Bob Gibbons 1984

Revised and renamed in1990 – The Secret Life of Flowers: A Guide to Plant Biology

A good basic guide to plant biology written in an easily accessible style.  It covers all the aspects of plant biology that you are likely to need to know as a gardener, without going into deep scientific explanations. The author has written several, equally accessible books about flowers, particularly wild flowers, as well as several on insects and wildlife gardening.

The English Flower Garden                                       William Robinson 1883

If I’d been limited to choosing only one book, this would have been it.  It is an absolute classic in horticultural literature and one which has seen numerous reprints before the current trend of online publication.  William Robinson, often known as the father of English gardening really spearheaded the move to more naturalistic gardening, turning away from the previously popular formal layouts and bedding schemes.  This trend is reflected in this book with his recommendations for selecting suitable flowering plants and incorporating them into more informal designs than had previously been the fashion.

I was lucky enough to be given an early copy of this book by a student. It is a much treasured feature of my library.



Floriography or the Language of Flowers.  Helena Kent

This postcard, dated about 1910, depicts a variety of flowers and their meanings or what they symbolize or represent. 

Floriography or the language of flowers has been around for thousands of years, where flowers have been associated with feelings and sentiments, even found in the Bible and Shakespeare.

In Victorian times, floriography had a surge of importance and gifts of flowers were sent with coded messages for the recipients.  ‘Tussie-mussies’ or nosegays were worn as fashion accessories.  A suitor presented the tussie-mussie to his sweetheart and if she wore it at heart level, it sent out the signal that she would accept him.  Very romantic!

Nearly every flower had more than one meaning, listed in many floral dictionaries of the time.  However, a general agreement on the most popular meaning emerged.  The red rose stands for romantic love, the pink rose – sincere love, the yellow rose for friendship and the white rose – chastity.  Bindweed for tender love!

Perhaps I should look at bindweed differently now.  It certainly seems to have a deep rooted and long-lasting affection for me and my garden! 

‘Roses are red,

Violets are blue

And bindweed symbolizes

my tender love for you.’



The Rose.  Helena Kent

The Rose has to be the number one favourite flower in Great Britain.  It is the national flower of England, adopted by Henry Tudor.  The rose is certainly my favourite flower!  What’s not to love?  It has perfume, colour, shape and form.  Beauty!  It may also have thorns, mildew, black spot, aphids and loves to live on a dung heap!  But hey, no one is perfect!



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








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)

malvernhillsgardeningclub@gmail.com

www.malvernhillsgardeningclub

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,

David

MEETINGS 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








October 2021

Now Autumn is well and truly upon us, Michaelmas daisies, Rudbeckia and dahlias are flourishing in my garden.  Pyracantha berries and crab apples are not only providing colour now but also food for blackbirds later in the year, when food is scarce.  Added to that, to my delight, I have the Gertrude Jekyll rose blooming again as well as Penstemons, Lupins and a Delphinium!  Quite a few of the hardy perennials are still hanging on in there, too.  Long may it last!

We have a lot of cheerful news to report on this month, with getting back to normal meetings, the visit to Little Malvern Court and running a plant creche at RHS Malvern Autumn show.

Our next meeting, always the 4th Wednesday of the month, will be on Wednesday, 27th October at St Matthias Church room, Church Road, Malvern Link at 7.30pm until approx. 9.30pm.

The speaker will be Mary Stevenson talking about ‘Bulbs, Corms, Tubers and Rhizomes’.  A fitting subject for this time of year, as gardeners are already planning their spring borders!

Refreshments will be provided as usual and there will be a raffle and competitions.

There are 2 categories for the competition.  1. Autumn foliage – an arrangement in a vase.

2. A collection of squashes, gourds or pumpkins.

Entrants are allowed one entry per category.  There will be a table set up for the exhibits and entrants will be given a piece of paper, on which to write their full name, to put under their entry.  All members are given 2 tokens, one token per category, to vote for their favourite exhibit.

Helena Kent. Club Secretary



Malvern Autumn Show Plant Creche

The gardening club had a fun day out at the Autumn show on Saturday 25th September. Trish Robinson and a team of enthusiastic volunteers ran the creche in a new location at the showground. The tent was excellent – bigger, better equipped and right by the plant stands. After a slow start it proved to be very popular with visitors, who soon learned the major drawback of leaving plants in the creche: empty baskets allow more purchases.

During the show we collected for our nominated charity, Link Nurseries at Powick. We raised £190 which is fantastic. Many thanks to Trish for her hard work. If you are interested in helping out at the Spring show please let us know. For two hours volunteering members get a free ticket to the show and plenty of free time to enjoy the exhibits and speakers. The club also gets a donation from the show organisers, which is a big part of our annual revenue.
David Baker

Thank you to everyone who helped with creche at the show.  It all ran smoothly (apart from a few lost tickets) thanks to everyone working together.  I hope new members enjoyed the experience and thanks to experienced ones, who showed them the ropes.  Collection of £190 was delivered to Link Nurseries. 

We are usually asked to do 2 plant creches at Spring Show, 5-8 May, one on Thursday and one on Saturday.  So put the dates in your 2022 diary!  Patricia Robinson  



Little Malvern Court Visit

After many months of lockdown we were delighted to be able to return to face-to-face meetings on July 28th, with a visit to Little Malvern Court. About 30 people came, and for most of us this was the biggest group we had been in for almost 18 months! The weather during the day had been terrible (very heavy downpours, at frequent intervals), so we were very fortunate that it cleared to give us beautiful evening sunshine.

The visit started with a talk about the garden and its recreation by the current owners by the head gardener. This was a great introduction, and he stayed to answer any questions we had. The garden itself was well worth the visit, with several water lily ponds in what were medieval fish ponds, a stunning yew hedge and many specimen trees, a rose garden and a fernery around the chapel. Lots of photographs were taken and it was a great way to restart the “in-person” gardening club meetings.

Thanks to Rachel for organising this, and to Mary and Patsy who endured the process of changing the signatories on our club bank account through multiple hoops and challenges, culminating in a formal complaint and compensation which raised the funds for the visit. I hope they think it was worth it!























The Pleasure of seeing Animals and Birds in our GardensPatricia Robinson  

This Robin decided to nest in an old Tea chest where I keep my pots – it is on the ground so our dog soon discovered that something interesting was happening in the chest– I put a barrier against the opening but it was not strong enough so we erected a wire cage around the entrance. This meant the bird had to land on the wire before diving through the barrier into its nest but it did give a great photo opportunity. 

I presume the young fledged because the feeding went on for some time. Unfortunately, they did not use the Tea chest again this year.

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This Robin ( you can just see her in the photo!) found our Tea pot to make its nest, the clematis grew quickly so camouflaged the nest beautifully but we did see much coming & going .

A robin visits me on the allotment – he first came as a youngster before he got his red breast so I was not 100% sure it was a robin but he now apears nearly every time I am there which is lovely

I was really excited when, during lockdown, I saw this nuthatch investigating & cleaning out a hole in the beech tree in our front garden –I set up the camera but after 3 days the activity ceased – I think it was too accessible to the squirrels that dominate the area.

This is not in my garden but could not resist showing you this beautiful Kingfisher that visits the pond in Priory Park each winter.  It is quite a challenge spotting it.

I’m a spaniel puppy trying to help in the garden!  Jenny Jones

A temporary fence was erected around the precious flower border to keep me out.  As you can see, I managed to get behind the fortifications and now have to work out how to escape!






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 malvernhillsgardeningclub@gmail.com

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.






June 2021

Thank you to all our contributors to this newsletter and especially to Gerry davies from the u3a botany group!

A big thank you too to Elaine Baker who has been running the monthly competitions (along with a little help from David) from March 2020 to the present.  Patsy Cooke has now taken over the organizing and you can email your competition entries to Patsy at malvernhillsgardeningclub@gmail.com

Helena Kent. Club Secretary

Save the date! Weds, 23 June at 7.20pm

Our next MHGC Zoom meeting!

Details: Join meeting at 7.20pm for 7.30pm talk. Approx one hour long.

June’s meeting is Wildlife Gardening by Jo Worthy-Jones.

Jo will talk about gardening with wildlife in mind.  For more information, visit her website, www.haven4wildlife.com or Facebook page Haven4Wildlife.



Subscriptions 2021.

Subscriptions are now due for renewal for this year. We are maintaining the yearly subscription at £10. The cancellation of the Malvern shows has resulted in a substantial loss of income for the club, as we usually receive monies from holding the plant crêche. In order to remain sustainable as a club, we need to continue with the usual subscription fee this year. Please look in the newsletter for details of how to pay electronically – our preferred method.

If you wish to pay by cheque, please make payable to Malvern Hills Gardening Club and send to the club treasurer. Address is Mary Pillon, 12, Arosa Drive, Malvern, WR14 3JP.



WILDFLOWERS IN AND AROUND MALVERN by Gerry Davies Malvern U3A Botany Group

One of the great blessings of living where I do on the eastern edge of Malvern Link is that I have a surprising number of wildflower habitats within a short walk from home.  These range from urban pavements, roadside verges, arable fields and woodlands; some of which have nationally scarce wildflowers growing in them.  Going a little further afield there are the Commons and Hills.  Less well known are the Limestone woods and meadows to the west.

The landscape and soils of the Malvern area have their origins in the underlying geology and because the geology changes quite quickly going from the east to the west of the Hills we find a wide diversity of plant communities in a relatively small area.  This gives plenty of scope for discovering places of botanical interest.  Since moving to Malvern in 1977 I have explored many of these locations.

Not all the wildflowers to be found around Malvern are spectacular and eye catching, some are very small and require getting down on hands and knees with a hand lens to fully appreciate.  This is particularly true of the tiny annuals that grow on the free draining acid soils of the Malvern Hills Ridge.  The ridge running south from British Camp has a particularly high diversity of wildflowers; particularly on the more alkaline soils on Broad Down and Hangman’s Hill and around Clutter’s Cave.  This area is the only part of the county where the nationally scarce Spring Cinquefoil, Potentilla verna grows.  This year has seen a wonderful display of this cheerful little yellow flower.

What comes as a surprise to many local residents is that we have at least eleven species of native wild orchids flowering in our area.  This is a small part of the 50 or so orchid species found in the British Isles.

In a roughly chronological order of flowering the orchids found in the Malvern area are:

Green-winged Orchid, Orchis morio

Early Purple Orchid, Orchis mascula

Pyramidal Orchid, Anacamptis pyramidalis

Common Spotted Ochid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Heath Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata

Southern Marsh Orchid, Dactylorhiza praetermissa

Greater Butterfly Orchid, Platanthera chlorantha

Twayblade Orchid, Listera ovata

Bee Orchid, Ophrys apifera

Broad-leaved Helleborine, Epipactis helleborine

Violet Helleborine, Epipactis purpurata

Malvern Common SSSI is probably the best know orchid location with good displays of Common Spotted and Southern Marsh Orchids in most years.  These closely related orchids freely hybridise leading to a confusing array of F1 and F2 hybrid forms where hybrids cross with each other and either of the parent plants.

The more showy Heath Spotted Orchid occurs on a wet area of Castlemorton Common and a meadow above Colwall.  The Helleborine Orchids are later flowering and inhabit woodlands.  The best site for Bee and Pyramidal Orchids is further afield near Forthampton; although a single Bee Orchid has flowered on a grass verge at Newland.  Pyramidal Orchids have also been recently found on a roadside verge near Clevelode.  Greater Butterfly Orchids grow in good numbers (up to 100) along with Twayblade Orchids in a limestone meadow in West Malvern.  Green-winged Orchids are best seen outside the Village Hall in Welland or the Crescent in Upper Welland.

A single flower from a Greater Butterfly Orchid. Colour variants of Green-winged Orchids



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The solitary Bee Orchid that flowered by the Recycling Centre on the edge of Malvern Link

Our Cottage Garden – David Baker

For me the classic English Cottage garden is an image of tranquillity and calm, with borders filled with perennials spilling out onto paths and interesting nooks and crannies. Living so close to Hidcote and Kiftsgate gardens, we all have some good examples to give us inspiration.

Cottage gardens seem to have a sense of timelessness, with classic plants that are unchanged over many decades. Achieving this look, and sustaining it appears effortless. From my experience it is not, and requires quite a lot of work to keep things looking natural and under control.

When we moved into our house the back area of the garden was something of a blank canvas – a large area of lawn, and a patch where the last owner had probably grown vegetables.

It was reasonably sheltered and we wanted to create a cottage garden. In search of inspiration we found a useful book “Projects for Small Gardens” which gives step by step guides on how to create structures and planting. It can still be found on-line, but is now out of print.

This allowed us to create a plan for the area, which is not quite rectangular, but which has enough space for 8 beds and a central feature:

The most important step was to create the hard structures formed by paths, border edges and fences. This required a degree of digging out the paths, putting down weed suppressant and edging the borders. The following pictures show the stages of creation:

These structures have served us well and are still in place fifteen years later. The most successful edging used old floor tiles to create serrated edges, which have lasted well and look interesting. The curved edges using log roll are good, but this only lasts about 5 years before needing to be replaced. Using gravel boards was least successful – only about 2 years before they needed to be replaced. I now use recycled roof tiles as they look good, and should be indestructible.

Planting was initially using herbs and lavender and looked great, but I had dug in too much manure and everything bolted. Fortunately it takes very little time to dig out the beds and start again.

We replant every 3-5 years, maintaining the general scheme of perennials which attract bees and butterflies.

The cottage garden is currently in flower with forget-me-nots, which I now know are named because once they arrive uninvited they will never leave, dicentra and Solomon’s seal and some self seeded aquilegia. Alliums and chives are coming into flower, with the geums and salvias coming soon. Mid summer’s flower will come from achilleas, rudbeckia, veronica and nepeta, with red hot pokers. At the year’s end we have sedums. We have added two apple trees and raspberry canes to add year round interest, and a redcurrant and gooseberry bush are recent additions.

Overall the cottage garden is a great delight, with year-round colour and attractive to wildlife. But it needs constant attention – tranquillity comes at a price!






















IMPATIENCE

After reading the newsletter a couple of months back about Patsy’s deluxe garden shed cum summerhouse, I cast a jaded look at my own shed and resolved to do something about it.

I had inherited my shed with the house when I moved here 8 yrs ago and it was sagging then.

Sadly hadn’t improved with age like the rest of us.  It was leaning rather badly, its bottom wood panels and windows were quite rotten and the base was very uneven with slabs at every which way.  My daughter told me to get it emptied and she would “have it away” for me.  Alas by the time I had emptied it daughter was in the middle of lambing so was unable to take up her offer.  My son told me to take photos of it – the good, the bad, and the ugly and he would sell it on Facebook.  I immediately took up his offer and sent off photos.  I said I would be happy just for someone to come and collect as I would be embarrassed to take money for it.  After some 10 days…. Not a single bite.

My son assured me it would go but one morning the lump hammer just happened to be in my hand and I wondered how difficult it would be for me to “rip it apart” bit by bit.  So I set to with vim and vigour, knowing that afternoon I was due out for tea and a stroll with a friend.  How difficult could it be to drop a shed I thought?  After all, it’s fairly rotten.  With several mighty whacks I knocked out most of the uprights and realised that a couple of long shelves screwed to inside would have to come out as they seemed to be holding it together.   That brought me out in a sweat.  Wretched screws were put in at an angle (obviously not by the female species), and as a result was only able to get one shelf out.  Never mind I thought, won’t matter.  I yanked out planks of wood from outside of shed careless of nails/screws flying around, and put them away out of stumbling reach but called a halt on that when the remainder refused to give.  Ah, I thought, should have done roof first.  I fetched my 2 x step steps from kitchen and reached to examine roof.

With aid of screwdriver and much cussing I managed to extract a screw or two by which time the whole shed “slumped”.  I was then very hopeful of getting it sorted before tea.  On entering the shed at that point it was rather like walking on a ship in a turbulent sea as the floor panels moved up as I walked on them.  Bit risky I thought and backed out again.  Had to go in again armed with “gaffer tape” to put across windows to limit broken glass.  Was rather pleased with my forethought on that even if I did only do the inside.   The moment had come,  I had done all I could so with one arm on each side of shed door way I began swinging it from side to side.  And again, side to side.  After several swings I heard it creak and shortly after that on the next swing it broke in half and fell just where I had intended it to.   Mind you it was a very ungainly heap.  And it was time for tea so off I went.

That evening my son rang to report no enquiries re shed and to ensure that I was not thinking of trying to get it down myself.  Has he got a sixth sense or what….he lives near Inkberrow!  I assured him I wouldn’t do anything so foolish and I would wait.  Another call from son at 8am the next morning.  He had a sale for me!   I had to ‘fess up much to his horror.  It also made my work that day much harder knowing someone would have done all that work for me. 

The roof was extremely heavy so I ripped off the roof felt and then got a crow bar into the middle bit and giggled around until it separated.  Was then able to stack it and the remainder of shed neatly although the rotten floor was too heavy and stubborn for me to do anything with so left it. 

My total impatience meant I had to pay a local man £50 to take it away for me….but the good news is that same man came back and has made a very lovely patio area for me. I have a new fence panel already painted by me to match the rest of fencing – Forget me not Blue.   It is a sun trap and makes the garden look so much nicer without big brown leaning shed.  Daughter has donated an aged bench for aged Mum which will be fine for this year.    I am resolved to go this year without a shed at all, using garage for garden tools and a gravel area for storing various pots.

 And my son still speaks to me!  Mary Pillon

OYEZ! OYEZ! Garden visit in July!  

Can I hear distant cries of joy break out all over the Malvern Hills!  Rachel has booked a visit to Little Malvern Court with the Head Gardener at 6pm on Weds, 28 July.  Put the date in your diary and we will send out details nearer the time!

Thanks to Lucy Bannister

Some months back one of many plant lists arrived via the MHGC newsletter from Lucy, so after looking up what some of them were, off I went to do some purchases.  Among them was a Deutzia Yuki Cherry Blossom which was not a large plant at purchase and possibly not looking at its plant centre best but I took it home and planted it up.  In early spring it was covered in tight little buds which I was willing to open, in time for last month’s “Cherry blossom” competition.  Alas the little buds hung on but now just look at how beautiful it is!  I only wish I had bought another couple of these magnificent shrubs.

Many thanks to Lucy for all the offers we have been given and I hope others have had success as I have, not only with the Deutzia but many others that have given pleasure and beauty to my garden.

Mary Pillon

Allotment News.  Barry Kent

After a dry, cold and frosty April, May has been wet, cold and cloudy until the Bank Holiday weekend!  Dandelions have now given way to buttercups.  All the fruit bushes and trees are looking healthy.  I have recently sown main crop potatoes in wet soil but hopefully there is no danger of another frost!  In this last week I have sown French beans as well as successive sowings of beetroot, chard, parsnips and carrots.  Previous sowings are looking healthy.  Strawberry plants will need a layer of straw soon to protect the ripening fruit.  Future main jobs will be weeding and thinning out.

My Gardening Day

A poem contributed but not written by Carole Newton, who thought it might be quite an apt subject for the newsletter.  It certainly strikes a chord with me!  Collectively, I must have spent many hours looking for that elusive trowel with the brown handle, that I’d just put down somewhere, in between doing one job and another and those secateurs with the green handles that magically seem to disappear into thin air! 

Saguaro cactus

Background

The Saguaro, Carnegiea gigantean, is the largest cactus in the United States. It appears in the background of countless western films, with its characteristic arms. Even 5 cowboys, standing on one another’s shoulders, would not reach to the top of the plant. The white flowers are now the state flower of Arizona. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. It grows very slowly from seed and may only be ¼ inch tall after 2 years. Another reference says 1.5 inches tall after 10 years.

My seedlings

My granddaughter gave me a packet of seeds about 5 years ago, plus a kit for germinating them. This was a small pot and saucer, some vermiculite, and transparent box to put over them. The surprising thing, to me, was the instruction to keep the saucer permanently full of water. Anyway it worked, with near 100% germination. Now I had a small army of tiny seedlings. Once they had grown to a reasonable size I gave some away and sold a few for charity.

So, 1.5 inches tall after 10 years. My seedlings have now grown to over 3 times the height in only half the time (see picture below). It just shows the advantage of regular watering as opposed to exposure in a dry desert.

I am starting to realise that I do not have room in my house for several 30 ft tall cacti. So I am trying to give one away free to a good home (the 5 inch one in the picture). There is also a slightly shorter one available. Recently images or models of cacti have become very fashionable. A short walk along Church Street will demonstrate this. A plastic cactus has become a fashion statement. How much more effective is a real cactus, with spines, and an interesting story to tell.

Richard Winterton, May 2021.

If you would like a free Saguaro, email Helena, at malvernhillsgardeningclub@gmail.com, who will put you in touch with Richard

LOCAL NEWS AND FURTHER AFIELD

Notice from Malvern Rotary Club

The Rotary Club of Malvern needs old and unwanted hand and power tools, in support of the charity ‘Tools for Self Reliance’.  Tools will be refurbished  and sent to TFSR.

TFSR has been training, equipping and supporting people in 6 African countries since 1979.  More details of their work can be found on their website, www.tfsr.org.

The Rotary Club will be collecting tools at B and Q Malvern from 9am to 4pm on Thursday, 10th June.  There is also a regular collection point at Bradford’s in Pickersleigh Road. 

Museum of Royal Worcester

New Botanical Art Exhibition 27 May – 31 October 2021.  ‘Botanical Treasures’ celebrates flowers and fruit on porcelain.  Workshops and demonstrations.  For more information visit www.museumofroyalworcester.org or follow MoRW on Facebook.

NGSG.  Weblink to June openings of Gloucestershire gardens in National Garden Scheme is https://ngs.org.uk/gloucestershire.