Heyford Gardening Club – February 2020

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We held our AGM at our January meeting at which Mike Langrish stepped down for a well deserved rest after ten years as our Chairman. Avril Minchin now takes over the helm for a year which looks to be full of exciting talks and events. We also held a competition for the best winter arrangement which was won by Chris Watts. Looking at the offerings on display our gardens are full of colour and interest even in midwinter.

After everybody had filled up with wine and cheese, I was allowed to update them on the progress on our wildlife area.

Our next meeting will be on the 10th February when we will welcome Liz Taylor of the Woodland Trust who will talk to us about woodland flora. We will also hold our annual Art and Craft competition; the classes will be

A photograph (on a theme to be decided)
A piece of visual art in any medium
An item of craft work.

Programme for rest of the year
March 9th: Anita Thorp: Snowdrops Mini Show – Daffodils
April 6th *: Clare Price: Propagation; Mini Show Tulips
May 11th: John Lee; Penstemons; Seed Swap ; Mini Show of Spring Flowers
June 8th: Patsy Raynor: Plants in Literature and Anecdote; Mini Show Roses
June 20th: Village Hall Fete
July 13th: Summer Party
September 14th: Autumn Show
October 12th: Philip Aubury: Garden Ponds
November 9th: Plant Swap
December 14th: Christmas Tree Festival
*(NB a week early due to Easter)

Things to do in February
1. Plant bulbs in pots for the summer
2. Plant bare root trees and shrubs
3. Sow broad beans and sweet peas.

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – December 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our November meeting we had the pleasure of a return visit from Caroline Tait formerly of Coton Manor, who has spent a year in Philadelphia in some magnificent gardens on a Horticultural Fellowship. Caroline’s account was fascinating despite the technological gremlins that tried to sabotage her pictures.

Our December meeting will be on the 14th and will feature a talk on snowdrops, to anticipate the spring, and there will be a competition for a Christmas display. The meeting will start at 8:00 pm as usual.

Disasters and triumphs

This year my leek plants grew particularly well, and knowing that they can be attacked by leek miner (which is a species of fly) I kept them covered with fine mesh netting all summer. I took this off in September, but when I pulled the first leek a few weeks later I found it full of little maggots. At this point I did what I should have done much earlier and checked the RHS website where I discovered that the fly is active in October and November. The net went back on. So far it seems the damage has been limited. Moral: know your enemy!

On a more encouraging note I had several areas where I had spread compost over vegetable beds without digging it in, mainly due to lack of energy. These areas turned out to be particularly productive despite the hot dry summer. This is a system I shall continue in future.

We tend to think of trees as being long lived organisms, but this year a white-berried rowan that I had grown from seed suddenly died after twenty years. This had happened to another rowan that we had some years before. Is this due to the rich living in Heyford? They seem to live much longer in the hills of the north and west where the soil is poor and conditions more exacting. I have noticed that the same seems to have happened to the hawthorns outside our house on the Green, which were healthy bushy trees when we arrived forty years ago, but which have dwindled sadly since.

Some Things to do in December and January

1 Keep ponds clear of ice.
2 Put out food for the wild birds
3 Buy and plant bare root trees and shrubs (if weather permits)
4 Sit indoors and decide what seeds to buy for the spring

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – November 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments
At our October meeting we had a talk from Malcolm Dickson of Hookgreen Herbs who gave us an insight into the exigencies of running a herb nursery, no doubt disillusioning anyone with dreams of having their own little nursery. There was also a wide range of herb plants and seeds for sale.

The evening also featured a competition for the best Autumn Arrangement. The winner was Rosemary Dunkley with a colourful display which was even displayed in a pumpkin shell! Mary Newstead came second with Anne Haynes and Gil Guglielmi in joint third place.

Our next meeting will be on the 11th November when we will have a return visit from Caroline Tait who will tell us about her work at Longwood in Philadelphia.

Breaking the rules
In gardening many jobs have to be done at the right time, but sometimes I find that we have more freedom than you might expect. This year in June I had some gaps that needed filling and I had some annual seeds left over. The instructions on the packet said sow in April, but I went ahead anyway, and the result was a good display of flower in late summer and autumn.

In the past I had always struggled to grow leeks, finding them difficult to establish from sowings in the early spring as advised. One year having seed left over in May I sowed it in the vegetable patch, and found to my surprise that the seedlings grew lustily despite dry and hot conditions and made decent plants for the winter. I have done this again each year since with the same result. I wouldn’t win any prizes with the plants but they are fine for the kitchen. Leeks are obviously tougher than you might expect. Sometimes a bit of experimentation can pay off.

Cyclamen
I have been growing hardy cyclamen for some years now, and have been keeping the special varieties in pots in an unheated greenhouse. Last year owing to shortage of space I released some plants into the garden. These have prospered beyond my expectations, no doubt helped by the hot, dry summer this year which would have been like the conditions they would experience in the Mediterranean area where they originate. Recently I have noticed drifts of seedlings appearing next to the mature plants. They may look delicate and dainty but they are bruisers and can tough it out with the biggest weeds when they are somewhere they like.

Some Things to do in November
1. Clear up leaves from paths and ponds (but don’t be too tidy!)
2. Plant tulips in pots or beds
3. Put grease bands on fruit trees to stop winter moth
4. Plant winter bedding.

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – November 2019

View from The Wildlife Patch

We have been busy preparing the patch in preparation for sowing the wildflower seed on the designated meadow area. We have removed the weed smothering covers and raked over the soil ready to receive the seed; all we need now is for the rain to stop and the seed can go in.

We were extremely pleased to find during the uncovering operation that our resident toad is still in situ.

HeyfordResidentToad

We shall have to ensure that we keep an area covered over for it to lurk in. Toads, unlike frogs, are very conservative creatures and will only lay their eggs in the place where they themselves were tadpoles, so it is unlikely that we will have toad spawn in our new pond. However we shall almost certainly find frogs and newts in there fairly soon.

As the days shorten and cool, the amount of insect life in the patch is reducing, but the flowering ivy is still producing things of interest. Recently there has been a group of large black flies with showy orange wing bases hanging out there; these were noon flies, something I don’t remember seeing before. A large orange flying insect also appeared, looking at first like a hornet, but it turned out to be a species of hoverfly. This creature not only looks like a hornet, but flies and moves like one too. Its larvae actually live in hornet and wasp nests where they eat the rubbish in the bottom of the nest, and so are tolerated by their hosts.

On a recent trip to Suffolk (prior to the wet weather) I was astonished to see on lawns and patches of grass numerous little bees flying just above the ground. These were mining bees which had just hatched from their burrows in the soil. This is something that would normally happen in the spring (I have seen that at Harlestone Heath in the past) but September would seem too late for the bees to get enough pollen and nectar to make the nests to raise the next generation. If we keep an area of close mown grass we can hope for a similar colony of bees on our own patch in due course.

Mark Newstead

Heyford Gardening Club – October 2019

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We started our new programme for the year with our annual flower and vegetable
show. These shows are always affected by the vagaries of the weather that has
experienced over the year, and our efforts to balance the classes are frequently
frustrated by events. For example, based on previous poor displays the class for
beetroot was withdrawn last year, only to prompt complaints from members because
their beetroot crops had been particularly good. So for this year the beetroot class was reinstated only to find that there was only one entry! And there were no courgette’s at all, whereas there were ten entries in the tomatoes. However the expansion of the floral classes was clearly a clever move as the displays of arrangements on show were truly impressive, indicating a wealth of artistic talent among our members.

The vegetable section was won by Irene Reeves with Jill Langrish in second place
and Tony Clewett third.

The flower section was closely fought, Mike Langrish came first with Anne Haynes in second place while Jill Langrish, Maureen Wright, Irene Reeves and Lynn Ashbee all took the third spot.

We reduced the plot to plate section down to just a jam or jelly class, which was won by Jill Langrish, with Margaret Ridgewell in second place and Sandy Alderson third.

The overall winner this year, taking into account prizes in our series of bench shows over the year, was Jill Langrish, with Irene Reeves as runner up and Margaret Ridgewell third. So our congratulations to them, the rest of us will just have to try harder next year!

Our next meeting will be on the 14th October when we will have a talk from Malcolm Dickson from Hooksgreen Herbs.

Some Things to do in October
1 Divide and replant herbaceous perennials
2 Give lawns a last cut and trim
3 Prune climbing roses

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – September 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments
After the summer break our annual programme will commence on the 9th September
with our autumn flower and produce show.

What a year-so far!

I commented on the weather earlier in the year, but since then we have had the
hottest July ever recorded, followed by monsoon like rain and now gale force winds. So how have our gardens fared in this year of extremes? Amazingly our own patch has hardly been affected at all. I have had to do no more watering than usual and there have been no losses to speak of. Our soft fruit crops have been good in quantity and quality, and we have a bumper crop of damsons on our trees. I have noticed that plum and pear trees around the village seem to have little fruit on though. The roses have been good and so were our lilies. Our beetroot were poor but the lettuces were prolific. Some greens plants withered away, but the kale grew better than usual. How difficult it is to predict what will happen from one year to the next.

Serendipity

When weeding our gardens it pays to keep an eye out for the unusual, as all sorts of plants can appear amongst the weeds. Garden compost is a fertile source of tomato plants, chard and even parsley. Poppies and nigella are notorious for self seeding, as are evening primroses. Birds can drop seeds such as cherry stones and elder pips, so maybe that’s where the sunflower came from on our vegetable plot. Rather more mysterious was the beautiful pink nicotiana and the orange coreopsis, neither of which are plants that I have ever grown and the angelica by our pond. A couple of years ago a salsify plant arrived from somewhere, and has spread around with it’s dandelion-like fluffy seeds; a beautiful and edible weed. These interlopers often seem to grow better than the plants that I have carefully planted and nurtured, presumably they have grown so well because the seeds have landed where the conditions are just right for them.

Some Things to do in September

1 Sow some salad plants in pots for the autumn and winter
2 Buy and plant narcissi and daffodils
3 Reduce watering of cacti, succulents and other houseplants

Mark Newstead

~/~

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments