Gardening Society - March 2018 Report

Vegetables, Flowers and Sculptures

Elizabeth Waterman and Judy Villiers                                             March 2018

A good audience awaited this talk by two of our members and they were not disappointed. Their illustrated talks were fascinating and informative in equal measure and here is just a little of what we learned.

Elizabeth’s large garden had family use for many years but as circumstances changed she was able to devote time to gardening activities. In 2012 she decided that the garden should be:

     Low maintenance

     A wildlife haven

     A source of a wide range of vegetables.

Following an accident, Liz has limited use of one shoulder and arm and this was factored into the planning.

Raised beds for the vegetables removes the need for digging. The soil is protected in winter with a geotextile having first been covered with a deep layer of compost.  In early spring the beds are uncovered and ready for planting. The compost is made in the garden and it is turned or mixed to ensure the decay is as rapid as possible so that it is ready for use when needed. Courgettes are grown on the compost heaps.

Keeping vegetables pest free whilst supporting wildlife requires ingenuity so there were many pieces of advice here. Enviromesh is a cover that is fine enough to keep pests off brassicas and this is supported with water pipes, curved to form a tunnel which is fully enclosed.  Companion planting with marigolds helps to reduce blackfly on plants such as broadbeans. Keeping the ants at bay also helps, as they tend to spread the aphids. Suspended CDs and scarecrows at least make the pigeons feel less secure. A good way to protect young seedlings was to use plastic lattice type crates linked together along a row.

Supporting climbing plants was done with hessian mesh with the ‘wigwam’ shaped tunnel going across a path between raised beds. The main supports were canes. Using these methods and planting garlic and broad beans in October, Liz can provide vegetables for herself and John and have plenty for the wider family for nine months of the year. She is aiming to do better! The new greenhouse may have something to do with this.

Judy grows vegetables very enthusiastically too but chose to show us other aspects of her garden which has expanded dramatically over the years. Many years ago, as a new owner, Judy and her husband moved in to a house with a tiny garden. At first they rented land to extend their garden, from a local farmer and eventually, after about seven years, they were allowed to buy it. They then purchased land at the rear of a substation and extended sideways and then more recently purchased some of the water meadow to give a wildlife facility as well as lovely views and a sense of space and freedom.

Now the garden has unity as a result of Judy’s planning and planting and many lovely specimen trees and shrubs. The soil is good and the display starts early in the year with hellebores and daffodils round the garden followed by brilliant tulips in tubs. (Two good ones are ‘Toronto’ and ‘Princess Irene’). Climbing roses are a huge feature in the summer, all supported in different ways, on gates, in trees and over pergolas. ‘Albertine’, ‘Wedding Day’, ‘Teasing Georgia’, ‘Port Sunlight’ and Rosa ‘Complicata’ are just some that do well. Viticella and Alpina Clematis also do well.

The curved, mixed, borders give the garden a feeling of being lush and mature and should a gap appear in the perennial planting, a pelargonium in a black pot can be slipped into the space to boost the colour and the pot seems to disappear.

Some of the vegetable garden is planted as a cutting garden with sweet peas grown on an industrial scale and dahlias – which stay in the ground over winter.

Round the garden there are some beautiful sculptures, sited to give best effect and even a ‘secret’ afternoon tea area, tucked away but conveniently near the kitchen.

Amongst other things for winter structure, there is a good Box Privet small ‘topiary’ hedge forming a garden divider and in five years it is a full and uniform shape with Judy’s ingenious trimming system, using a long box with the top and bottom removed.

We were so fortunate to have this look into two lovely gardens and thank Liz and Judy for the time and enthusiasm they gave to preparing the talks.

Our meeting on Thursday 24th May is about ‘The Fascination of foliage’ given by a man with vast experience in the world of plants – Don Everitt. New members and visitors are most welcome, 7.15 for 7.30pm in the Reading room, SP1 3LL, where there is a free car park.

Dorothy Richards