‘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!
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
Rachel has 3 years’ worth of RHS The Garden mags to donate to good homes! Anyone interested, please contact her at email@example.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!
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com 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