Newsletter January 2017

             Ruddington Gardeners’ Association Newsletter – January 2017 

This is the fourth Newsletter of the Ruddington Gardeners’ Association which summarises the Open Meetings and Social Activities of 2016. As in previous years, our Open Meetings have been held on the last Wednesday of each month at The Hermitage Centre, Wilford Road, with 24 – 40 persons attending each event.

RGA has also welcomed visitors during the year.  Alan Tyler, a volunteer for the National Trust, started our year on 27th January 2016 with “The National Trust in the East Midlands”. He introduced several properties within easy reach of Ruddington, with reference to the recent acquisition, Stoneywell Cottage in Leicestershire. Alan’s enthusiasm for his subject may encourage RGA members to visit more Trust properties in the future.  At the AGM held on 24th February 2016, extensive discussion of financial matters unfortunately limited the time for Gardeners’ Questions and Answers. An outstanding story with excellent photographs has immediate impact, as was the “double act” of Peter and Jackie Murray with their talk “Tibet – Plant Hunting on the Roof of the World” (30th March 2016). Several of the unusual plants which they described are available for cultivation in our own gardens. This was advertised as an evening not to be missed; those members who were unable to attend certainly missed an outstanding presentation by two expert photographers and dedicated plant hunters. Whilst some folk visit exotic lands to see plants, others live in idyllic places. Mary Matts lives near Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire. In “Wild Flowers and Waterways” (27th April 2016) Mary explained the extensive range of plants associated with our waterways, especially canals, and revealed a fascinating insight into the ways in which plant distribution is influenced by boat traffic, animals and humans through their use as food, cut flowers and medicines.  Bees are one of the most important pollinators of wild and domesticated flowers. Alec Thomson, an experienced local beekeeper, outlined the complex social behaviour of bees in his talk “The Year in the Hive (25th May 2016), the activities of bees throughout the year and the ways in which these insects are exploited for pollination, honey and other products. A brisk sale of honey and bee-friendly plants followed his illustrated presentation. Tracey Akehurst, one of the few remaining “real botanists” with a Degree from the University of London, followed with her talk “Passions, Potions and Poisons: Life and Death in the Garden” (29th June 2016). Tracey’s knowledge of plants was reflected in her excellent presentation, which emphasised the fascinating ways in which plants are managed and exploited by different human societies.

Social activities are important to encourage members to keep in touch throughout the year. Malcolm and Wendy Fisher kindly invited us to their NGS Yellow Book Garden at “Capability Barn”, Hoveringham on the evening of 18th May 2016. Although torrential rain preceded our visit, it held off to enable 23 members to explore the peaceful garden, purchase plants from the nursery and enjoy home-made refreshments.  Following his talk to RGA in 2015 on the restoration of the kitchen garden at Clumber Park, Chris Margrave, the Head Gardener at Clumber, organised a conducted tour of the garden on 2nd July 2016 for RGA members and friends. Chris and his team of volunteers revealed some of the secrets of the garden, and described the restoration of the glasshouses and future projects. Many heritage plants are cultivated at Clumber; the rhubarb collection has National status! Members also had time to visit the park, the church, the plant centre and enjoy an ice cream before returning home. Luxury transport (Sharpes Coaches, Cropwell Bishop), a very friendly driver and a safe journey, contributed to an excellent day.

RGA members combined with members from Tollerton Gardening Club for a summer BBQ, again hosted by Keith and Doris Soden-Barton in their extensive garden at “Woodside”, Old Road, Ruddington on 30th July 2016. Perfect summer weather enable members to relax with their meal, or to burn off excess energy with garden games. The UK boasts about 700 vineyards with much of the wine now rivalling or considered superior to French champagne! (The French are buying land for vineyards in Sussex and Kent). Tony and Victoria Skuriat invited 30 members and friends to an evening tour of their Eglantine Vineyard at Ash Lane, Costock (24th August 2016). After seeing the vines in the fields, being informed of their cultivation and wine production, we enjoyed tasting a selection of Eglantine wines, including the Gold Medal “North Star”.  Another excellent evening with a threatening storm and heavy rain holding off until our departure!

Advertising is important in making the public aware of the existence of RGA. In addition to the information on our Web Site, RGA staged a plant stall at the Ruddington WI Spring Fayre.  Although there was limited foot-fall in the village on the beautiful morning of 12th March 2016, income from sales contributed to our funds. We also appreciated interacting with the WI. RGA reciprocated by asking the WI to provide refreshments at our Horticultural Show in St Peter’s Rooms on 17th September 2016. This event, the first major show in Ruddington for many years, was a great success with 83 persons contributing 194 entries comprising vegetables, fruit, flowers, cakes and preserves. The childrens’ exhibits of animals made from vegetables and/or fruit were especially intriguing.  Congratulations and many thanks to everyone who contributed to this event. Hopefully, our next horticultural show on 16th September 2017 will attract even more entries and interest; everyone has something to enter so start planning early for this date!

Andy Hubbuck, our speaker scheduled for 28th September 2017 was unable to be with us because of family commitments, but we will welcome him in April 2017 with “Sweet Peas”.  Sally Cunningham kindly agreed to fill the vacancy with “Love Your Bugs”, supported by excellent close-up photographs of garden insects, both good and bad. On 26th October 2016 we were entertained by Sally Smith with “Myths and Mysteries of Organic Gardening” in which Sally referred to several aspects of organic cultivation, together with some of her own “tricks of the trade”. It was heartening to hear her emphasise the importance of weeds for wild life; she deplored the over-use of agro-chemicals and excessive tidiness. The theme of wild life and the influence of human activity was also the focus by Bill Bacon in his talk “Butterflies: Fifty Years of Change”. Bill is Nottinghamshire’s butterfly expert with particular knowledge of the Linear Park and its flora and fauna on the old railway line at Bingham to which he has made a major contribution. Bill’s photographs and discussion were greatly appreciated, especially as he kindly came to our meeting at very short notice to replace Mick Freakley, who was called for a knee replacement on the day of our meeting. We look forward to seeing Mick Freakley in November 2017 with his wild life talk “My Hide, My Patch”.

The year was rounded off in fine style with our Christmas Social on 2nd December in St. Peter’s Rooms, attended by 30 members. David Russell opened the proceedings of a very lively and excellent evening by appearing in his Santa Outfit, followed by Harold Swift’s mind boggling quiz, a manic beetle drive, a super buffet, the traditional raffle and a photographic display to the theme “Water in the Garden”.

The link with St Peter’s School has been maintained again this year thanks to June McConnell helping the students with their plots at lunch times and Kirsty Guy encouraging students, parents and staff to become gardeners.  Links with the school will be maintained and, hopefully, extended in 2017.

Some RGA members have again taken advantage of the 50% discount on catalogue prices of seeds offered by Kings Seeds. Plant sales have maintained a steady income, while the plant display has provided a focal point for discussion at monthly meetings.

The RGA Committee in 2016 consisted of Mike Davey (Chairman; Programme Organiser), Tom Lister (Secretary), David Russell (Treasurer), Liz McAdam (Membership Secretary) assisted by Shirley Dorman, Barbara Venes, Clement Dixon and Harold Swift. Kirsty Guy maintained our Web Site; Steve and Ruby Allen were show managers. Keith Soden-Barton (Oxford House) and David and Joan Russell kindly hosted some committee meetings with excellent refreshments! Thanks to everyone who have supported RGA by attending meetings and social events, helping with refreshments, providing raffle prizes and sales plants, organising the meeting room and assisting with general administration. Any plants, produce and books/journals for sale will be very welcome in 2017.

Programme 2017

 25th January – Graham Piearce, The Rose Family of Trees

11th February – Visit to Hopton Hall, Derbyshire to see the snowdrops and aconites

22nd February – AGM; Judd Bryer, Vines and Wines with Free Wine Tasting

29th March – Michael Walker, EcoLocation Location; Finding the Bats of Nottinghamshire

 1st April – RGA Plant Stall, St Peter’s Rooms 10.00am

26th April – Andy Hubbuck, Sweet Peas

17th May – Evening visit, Devon Croft Nurseries, Newark

31st May – John Simpson, Nottingham City Parks and Gardens

28th June – Hilary Hudson, Climbing Plants

 8th July –  Visit to Easton Walled Garden, Lincolnshire to see the Sweet Peas

29th July – Afternoon Tea, 200 Loughborough Road, Ruddington, 2.30-6.00pm

23rd August – Evening Village Walkabout followed by refreshments

16th September – RGA Horticultural Show, St Peter’s Rooms

27th September – Tony Lee, Alpines: Growing and Showing

25th October – Colin Ward, Shade and Semi-Shade Plants

29th November – Mick Freakley, My Hide, My Patch           Bring your photographs for next month’s display

15th December – Christmas Social, St Peter’s Rooms, 7.00pm for 7.30pm; Photographic Display – Theme – “Flowers”

Monthly Meetings – 7.00pm for 7.30pm, The Hermitage, Wilford Road, Ruddington NG11 6EL.  Annual Membership £5, £2 per member per meeting; Visitors £3 per meeting; complementary refreshments. For further details contact 0115 9841687;              

                                                          Enjoy your plot and produce in 2017!