2016 Meeting Reports
The speaker at our February Meeting on the 11th was a familiar face, Janet Heath who writes "Garden Talk" in the SK magazine. Her talk was entitled "Winter Gardens". The meeting was well attended and we welcomed some new members too. Illustrating her talk with her own lovely photos, Janet spoke about the colour, form and scent of plants in the winter garden. Many of our garden plants are deciduous, of course, and we rely on those with attractive bark to provide winter interest. Dogwoods, Silver Birch and Prunus are among the families of plants that are useful in this category.
There are a surprising number of winter flowering plants too. Mahonias, Cyclamen and Hamamelis are some that provide winter blooms. Scented plants are always a bonus to lighten the gloomy winter days. Daphne, Viburnum and Iris unguicularis were among those mentioned as examples. Several of the plants discussed, were passed around for us to inspect. Some were amazingly fragrant.
Dogwood - Colour in Winter
At the January Meeting on the 14th, we started with our AGM, followed by our guest speaker Jack Swan. A former chief arborist at Jodrell Bank, Jack gave us a diverse
illustrated talk entitled the "Beauty of Trees and Shrubs".
Galaxy Garden at Jodrell Bank
Our Speaker at the March Meeting on the 10th was Peter Foley of Waddow Lodge Gardens, Clitheroe. He spoke to us on the subject of
"Primulas - A Diverse Range of Plants".
Peter spoke about the cultivation, habitat and diversity of this fascinating group of plants, ranging from the Primrose and Cowslip through Auriculas, species for the bog garden to Primula allionii and hybrids for the rock garden.
At the April Meeting on the 14th, we welcomed back George Pilkington of Nurturing Nature, as our guest speaker. He lead a discussion/demonstration session entitled “Feeding Wild Garden Birds”. In a very informative session, he explained about the foods that benefit our garden birds, and those that are less beneficial, and even harmful. There are a lot of products on sale that profess to be designed for "garden birds", yet are composed of cheap materials of little if any nutritional value. Black Sunflower seeds, Nyjer seeds and mealworms (pre-soaked) are considered among the best choices for feeding. The type of feeder that you use is important too. The feeder should be stainless and squirrel proof.
At the May Meeting on the 12th Kevin Pratt who owns a small private nursery called Village Plants, in Hazel Grove, gave a talk entitled "A Plantsman's Garden". Details can be seen on his website
Specialising in unusual plants, many of which are for sale, he has some 35 different Fritillaria and many varieties of hardy poppies. He was most entertaining with his enthusiastic style showing his passion for uncommon plants. He also demonstrated an impressively deep understanding of the subject.
The June Meeting featured guest speaker Katie Lowe of Heathfield Orchards. She gave a talk about orchards and fruit trees. In an enjoyable and entertaining style Katie covered a lot of aspects of growing fruit trees in our gardens. Some aspects covered were the selection of varieties to grow, the reasons behind the choices and the cultivation and care of the trees.
She gave us a particularly clear and reasoned description of how to prune fruit trees. Pruning is something that many of us struggle with, and this will be helpful.
Katie and her husband run Heathfield Orchards, Tarvin Road, Littleton, Chester CH3 7DF. They sell fruit trees, especially traditional Cheshire heritage varieties, and more.
The July Meeting on the 14th featured guest speaker Steve Wright of the Japanese Garden Society. His talk was entitled "My Japanese Garden" (In Hazel Grove). Steve gave us an interesting talk about how he converted the conventional garden of his semi into a Japanese garden.
With much effort over many years Steve has created a garden to be proud of, and he occasionally opens it to the public in support of local charities.
The picture is from the Gold winning garden that the Japanese Garden Society did for Tatton Show.
August - There was no meeting in August as it is our usual summer break.
The September Meeting was one of our "Special Ticket Events". Well known celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw was our guest speaker. You can see a report on the "Special Events" page.
At the October Meeting our guest speaker Pat Bennett gave us an interesting and unusual presentation about how he came to own a 3 acre wood in the hills overlooking the Dee estuary. Pat is a keen naturalist and wildlife photographer, and gave us an illustrated talk about the wood that he bought, and it's inhabitants.
Beside Pat's experiences in owning and managing an ancient woodland, he also showed us many of the photos and videos that he had captured with automatically triggered wildlife cameras.
Pat has a website and "blog" which show his love of nature and gives some details of his wood.
At the November Meeting we welcomed Malcom Plant,
chairman of Butterfly Conservation, Cheshire & Peak Branch.
We all love butterflies in the garden, and if you feel you have seen
fewer this year, you are right. Recent publications reveal that
"The Big Butterfly" survey shows a dramatic drop in the numbers
of common species this year. This is despite a summer with the
kind of weather that usually favours their breeding.
In a very interesting talk featuring both butterflies and moths, Malcom covered the life-cycle and breeding of many of these fascinating insects to be found locally. If you visit the link below, you will see Butterfly Conservation website with details of the work they carry out and ways in which you can help.
An important aspect of the work of the Butterfly Conservation charity is a nationwide survey to collate their numbers and monitor the health of species. If you would like to participate, it is easy to do. Here is a link to the easy survey that you can do in your own garden.