Lecture Reports 2021

In view of the need to cancel lectures held at the New Windmill Hall because of coronavirus restrictions, the Committee decided to hold its first lectures by Zoom with the help of the horticultural charity Perennial.

Click the links below for more information.

13th April 2021 by Zoom
Plants of Garden Merit – Harvey Stephens

Over 20 members joined this talk by Harvey, a member of the RHS trials panel for the Award of Garden Merit. Harvey, an experienced horticulturalist who worked both abroad and the in UK, joined us from Cheshire. He explained the process of RHS trials which usually took place over a three year period when plants were assessed by a panel of judges before being awarded the AGM. The full list of plants with this award is usually revisited every ten years and is due for review in 2022. The attributes plants needed to meet before receiving the award were:

  • excellence in ordinary use in appropriate conditions;
  • availability;
  • essentially stable in form and colour;
  • reasonably resistant to pests and diseases;
  • of a good constitution.

Some of the plants Harvey recommended for use in our gardens were Sophora (frost resistant), amaranthus (self seeds), hydrangea macrophylla ‘Forever and Ever Together’, cornus sanguinea ‘Anny’s Winter Orange’ and hydrangea paniculata ‘Pinky Winky’.


11th May 2021 by Zoom
West Green House Garden – Gareth Manning

Again we had over 20 participants for this talk when Gareth told us about the history and development of West Green house and garden, Hampshire. Originally built in the 1720’s it was purchased in 1920 for Evelyn, Duchess of Wellington. In 1971 the National Trust acquired the site and leased it out to Lord Alastair McAlpine. In 1990 the house was bombed by the IRA and the NT was persuaded not to demolish it. It was rebuilt and the 99 year lease was purchased by Marylyn Abbott, a renowned Australian garden designer, whose twin passions for English Gardens and International Opera have created a unique environment.

The overgrown neglected garden was renovated with themed sections, water gardens and some of the follies built in previous years were kept and improved. The garden now looks beautiful and developed in many different areas for all seasons and lit up at night. Operas are held in a garden structure during June and July. The Telegraph claimed it as “one of the best walled gardens to visit”. West Green House

12th October 2021 - Charity Evening
The Secret Blind Garden – Shelley Hart

Shelley Hart, Chief Executive Officer of the Havering Volunteer Centre, gave us an interesting talk about the restoration of the garden. Initially set up in the 1960’s, it was left neglected and locked up until the HVC became involved and in 2016, along with a team-building day with Network Rail, cleared the garden and began its restoration. The ¾ acre garden now relies on volunteers to keep it planted, weeded and developed and there are reports of wildlife including a hedgehog. It features an old mulberry tree, water feature and much sensory planting. Recent introductions include a water butt, compost bins and a memory tree planted to remember those lost to Covid-19. A little oasis which is well worth a visit. Secret Blind Garden

9th November 2021
Gardens of Easton Lodge – Gary Matthews

A very interesting talk covering the history and restoration of these gardens. Originating from the 16th century and now Grade II listed, the gardens and house on the 23 acre site, have been privately owned and also requisitioned by the War Office in WW2. The most notable owner, “Daisy” Countess of Warwick, inherited in 1865 at the age of 3 and, with input from Harold Peto, created the gardens. Today a Trust overseas the gardens and with a team of volunteers, have restored many of the original features including a beautiful Italian Garden with a balustraded sunken pool. The gardens are famous for their snowdrops and also their own Easton Countess Apple.  Easton Lodge

14th December 2021
How to Grow and Care for Orchids – Michael Radley

A gloomy December evening was brightened by many colourful photos of orchids when Michael described the different varieties available. The most common orchid purchased in the UK is the phalaenopsis which accounts of about 80% of the 120m grown each year in the Netherlands. In the wild, some orchids are being threatened by climate change and deforestation where many grow on trees. Generally orchids like a warm draught-free climate and can sometimes suffer from being over-watered. They benefit from a humid atmosphere so misting or growing on pebble trays is often recommended. When repotting, do so loosely and water lightly. Specialist nurseries are uncommon but one recommended by Michael was Ayletts which has an excellent selection.