Lecture Reports 2023

10th January:   52 Weeks in the Shade Garden - Lynne Moore
Lynne, a Chelsea Gold Medal winner in 2022 from Moore and Moore Plants, gave us inspiration for planting in those shady parts of our garden. She noted that, as well as considering flowers, we must think about the form, colour and texture of foliage. There were many shades of green, some variegated, as well as yellow, purple and red foliage plants for shade. A comprehensive display of plants which tolerate shade in various conditions and seasons were shown, many of which did produce flowers.

14th March:   Weeds and the Weed-Free Garden – Geoff Hodge

Geoff gave an informative, practical and entertaining talk about trying to banish weeds from our gardens using a mixture of tools (keep them sharp!), physical barriers and chemicals. An almost impossible task, but his mantra was VIAP – Vigilance, Instant Action and Persistence. Tackle them whilst they’re small but do take care with your body and use the right tools for the job. He recommended a minimum of 2-3” of mulch on our clay soils and outlined the different types of weedkillers available on the market: contact, systemic, brushwood, pathclear and lawn weedkiller.

11th April:   Secrets of Hever Castle - Neil Miller

Neil, Head Gardener at Hever Castle for 20 years, started with brief historical references and then spoke about the development of the currently privately-owned house and gardens. The original gardens were laid out by William Astor and cost many millions of pounds, taking two thousand men over four years. Much work, including digging out the lake, was done by hand. A few gems from Neil: yew clippings from the maze are supplied for the extraction of taxol, a chemical used in chemotherapy and the Italian garden was constructed with sandstone and many artifacts from Pompeii. The current team of eleven gardeners plant seven thousand bedding plants each spring which are then composted in October. Two thousand trees were lost in the 1987 hurricane. Diluted Jeyes fluid can be used to treat black spot on roses and a spray containing the original green Fairy liquid can be used for aphids.

9th May:   Taste of Capel Manor - Anne Luder

Anne, previously a lecturer at Capel Manor, gave a full history of the site from the old manor gardens in 1275. The house and gardens changed owners over the years and had many royal connections including Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles and the Princess Royal. Today the College offers courses in horticulture, floristry, animal management, etc. and has five campuses. The gardens are a pleasure to visit and used by the students and open all the year round. Check website for details  http://capelmanorgardens.co.uk    For more information -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capel_Manor_College

13th June:  Fuchsias - Brian Carline

Brian brought along a lovely selection of fuchsias and other plants he had grown for sale.   Fuchsias, originally from Mexico and South America in the 1700’s are now grown in most gardens. Add grit/sharp sand and perlite to compost for free drainage for these plants grown best in dappled shade. Brian gave us lots of advice for growing and propagating fuchsias and recommended Maxicrop (a seaweed feed) as a plant tonic and Chempak fertiliser. His talk ended with a slide selection of beautiful exhibition fuchsias he had grown in the past.

10th October: Bedfords Park Walled Garden – Lois Amos

Lois gave an interesting presentation of the development of the one and a half acre garden from 2000 to date. After the Council decided it didn’t need it to grow bedding, etc. it was left to deteriorate. Despite being at times locked out and the interruption of covid more recently, Lois persevered over the years to rescue the garden. With help from international Scouts in 2007 and a charity input, she and her team of volunteers have now made the garden beautiful and productive with an orchard, greenhouse, polytunnels and lots of produce to sell. It was awarded Gold in the recent Havering in Bloom competition. The walled garden is usually open to visit Tuesdays and Thursdays 9.30 am - 4.30 pm  https://www.facebook.com/BedfordsParkWalledGarden

14th November: Spring Bulbs - Nick Dobson

Nick was welcomed back after many years’ absence and, in spite of competing with nearby fireworks for ten minutes, gave us a very informative presentation about snowdrops, crocuses, narcissi and tulips. The photographs certainly added cheer to a dreary November day. Bulb/corms generally prefer well drained soil (add horticultural grit) and usually planted four times the depth of the bulb. He told us about the history and the many varieties now available.  There were so many different beautiful plants mentioned that Nick has sent us a copy of his talk which you can view.

12th December: Valentines Mansion and Gardens - Georgina Green and Diana Smith

Georgina began the evening with an extensive and interesting history of the ownership and development of the mansion. The Grade II listed house was originally built in 1696/7 and after neglect during the 1980s and 1990s was restored during 2006-9 with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the LB of Redbridge, who are the current owners. Many events, including two years of the Bake Off were held here and HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the dry garden in March 2012. Diana Smith gave us a quick insight into the gardens which are well worth a visit and contain several interesting plants. The house and garden are open Sundays and Mondays 10.30 – 4 and there is a cafe on site. The website is a great source of information and Georgina’s book ‘Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines and the East India Company’ is available from Amazon.