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Gardening Club News & Activities


Maintenance of Pump & Memorial Gardens - posted 16 Febuary 2017

One of the loose ends left after the suspension of the Gardening Club meetings is the maintenance of the Pump and Memorial Gardens. I am hoping that between us we can continue with this as it shouldn’t be too arduous if several people can get involved. The Pump garden is definitely in need of a Spring tidy up and I thought perhaps we could get a working party together one day next month to tackle the pruning and weeding required.

Could anyone willing to get involved (date permitting) please let me know? Even just the use of your green bin if you are nearby in Church Street would be most helpful! The Choisya and Buddleia are in need of a good cutting back, so we will have quite a bit of foliage to dispose of!

Don’t forget Evenley Wood garden is now open for visits throughout February. Further afield Coton Manor and Deene Park are also open for Snowdrop days. Check websites for opening times.



December Grand Finale But Sad Suspension Of Gardening Club In Present Form - posted 15 December 2017

Next Thursday 21st December, 7.30pm in the Reading Room, is our final Gardening Club meeting of the year.


After the AGM last month the Committee has reconsidered the options for the future of the Club, but unfortunately we have all come to the conclusion that it really is not viable. The number of members for the last few years does not support the type of Club that we would like to run, and none of us feel any enthusiasm for continuing if it means changing the nature of the Club completely. Of course, if there is someone else who would like to take on the running of the Club, perhaps taking it in a slightly different direction, then we would be very glad to hand-over to them.

When I took over as Chair 3 years ago there was talk of the Club folding due to reduced interest, and as a Committee we decided that we would try to regenerate some enthusiasm and support by using our surplus funds to provide a good and varied Programme of events. We have tried this for 3 years, but memberships remain at the same level and attendance at meetings and on outings can be patchy. We have now run our surplus funds down, and we could not provide a similar programme next year with the money from memberships, even if we increased the fee.

We therefore feel that now is the time to close, or at least suspend, the Gardening Club. The Flower and Produce Show will continue independently, as it has proved very successful in recent years. I am also happy to continue a monthly mailing, which I can change to a Newsletter of local gardening events (talks and outings at other Clubs, garden centres etc., Rare Plant fairs, open days and so on). We can also continue with the Heritage Seed Library Membership and possibly the Dobies Seed discount scheme if there is sufficient demand.

In spite of this sad news, I hope that as many of you as possible will come along on Thursday next week for a “grand finale” of sorts. We will provide mulled wine (or wine if you prefer), mince pies and other nibbles. It will be an opportunity to have a chat informally about what you would like to see happen to the Club, and if there is anyone out there prepared to have a go at organising something for next year then please do let us know.

Many thanks to those who have supported the Club over the years, I hope you have enjoyed it and perhaps learned a few things along the way!

Julia, Ros, Steve, Alex, Helen and Phillip

Heritage Seed Library Talk - posted 13 October 2017

Our October meeting will be on Thursday 19th October, 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual. Our speaker is Catrina Fenton from Garden Organic, who is the head of The Heritage Seed Library. She will be talking to us about the Seed Library and Heritage vegetables.  All welcome, non-members £3 on the door.

This Saturday is the Open day at Thenford Arboretum, from 2pm to 5.30pm. Those of you who need to collect tickets from me please meet me in the car park at Thenford, I should be there about 2pm.

Julia  (01295) 760539   e-mail

September Gardening Club News - posted 14 September 2017

A reminder that there is no September meeting of the Gardening Club next  week, instead our speaker from The Heritage Seed Library will be coming to talk to us on October 19th.

I still have some tickets for the Thenford Arboretum Open Day, on Sat October 14th between 2pm and 5.30pm. Please let me know as soon as possible if you are interested and haven’t already contacted me. Tickets are £12 each, and lifts have been offered if anyone needs transport. It is a large and interesting garden and the Arboretum part is lovely in its Autumn colours.

I have had a clear out of the Club cupboard in the Reading Room and found a number of books which have been given to us. If anyone would like any or all of them please let me know, otherwise I will probably donate them to a charity shop as there is no point in keeping them hidden away! List of titles below:

The Garden Expert                         D.G. Hessayon
The Flower Expert                          D.G. Hessayon
The Bulb Expert                             D.G. Hessayon
The NEW Flower Expert                   D.G. Hessayon
Growing under glass                        Kenneth A. Beckett
Practical Garden Projects                 Tommy Walsh

Julia McAuliffe   (01295) 760539   e-mail

Result Of Flower & Produce Show - posted 02 September 2017



News Of Coming Events - posted 17 August 2017

Hope you are all planning your Flower and Produce Show entries for later this month! Looking further ahead, unfortunately our speaker for the September meeting has had to cancel and is now coming to us in October instead. We will now have a meeting on Thurs 19th Oct, with the talk on Heritage vegetables and the Heritage Seed Library.

I also have some tickets for the Thenford Arboretum Open Day on Sat 14th October. If you would like one, they are £12 each, please let me know as soon as possible. I hope we can arrange to share cars to avoid taking too many, and please can you tell me the car registration numbers once you know, as I have to supply these to Thenford. If anyone is in need of a lift please let me know and I will find a space for you.

Julia McAuliffe   (01295) 760539   e-mail

Deadline 22 August for Flower & Produce Show Entries - posted 12 August 2017


The 2017 Flower and Produce Show will soon be here. It is Saturday 26 August and will be held in the Reading Room - 2.30 p.m. until 4 p.m. It is supporting Katharine House Hospice and Dogs For Good.

The deadline for entries is Tuesday 22 August

There will be teas and cakes, a produce sale and a raffle.

A change is the abolition of the separate baking class for men only. The general feeling was that this was a bit outdated. Instead there will be a a baking challenge for all novice or occasional bakers over the age of 12. The recipe for this is a Banana Bread. For the more advanced baker the challenge will be to bake a Lemon Curd Layer Cake.

Entry forms are included in the show schedule which was sent out to all homes but additional forms can be downloaded here: (PDF Version, MS Word Version).

This year we are grateful for sponsorship from Material Change, the operators of the Blackpits Compost and Renewable Energy plants.

Last year’s show was a success with an increase in the number of entries. More entries means more enjoyment for everyone: please join in.

Philip Ward


Summer Garden Party - posted 14 July 2017

The Garden Party will be held on Thursday 20th July at no 9 Wappenham Road, by kind permission of Bill and Judith Elkington. All Gardening Club members are welcome, starting at 6pm. Pimms for sale, and tasty nibbles provided. We also hope to have a plant stall to raise some much needed funds for the Club, so if anyone has any plants to donate please do bring them along. For those who do not already know it, no 9 is on a small private road branching uphill off the main Wappenham Road. If you do have to come by car, please park along the main part of Wappenham Road if possible, as parking is limited on the private road.
It would be helpful (but not essential) to know in advance if you intend to come, so that we have an idea of numbers for catering and chairs!
Do make and wear a floral buttonhole if you can - prize for the best and most imaginative!
Hope to see you there,

(01295) 760539

Chris Beardshaw At Middleton Cheney: Gardeners Book From Saturday 1st July- posted 27 June 2017

A reminder that the Garden Designer, TV and Radio personality, and multi RHS Gold medal award winner Chris Beardshaw will be giving an illustrated talk at Chenderit School, Middleton Cheney on Thurs 5th October 2017 at 7.30pm. The talk is entitled “100 Plants that Almost Changed the World”.

Tickets, at £15 each, are available from 1st July from Middleton Cheney Library or online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/MCLSG

They are expected to sell out quite quickly, so get yours soon (from this Saturday) if you wish to go.

Extended Deadline For Hanging Basket and Patio Display Classes - posted 24 June 2017

Congratulations to all those who entered the Garden classes of the Flower and Produce Show last week. The entries were of a very high standard. The judge had a hard time deciding on the winners who will be unveiled at the Show on 26 August. 


It is not too late to take part in this year’s show. The Closing date for entries to the Hanging Basket/wall Trough and Patio Displays has been extended to 21 July with judging on the 25th.

Entries can be made in writing using the entry forms in the show schedule or by emailing ward@btinternet.com and paying at the show on 26 August.


Entries for all other classes close on 22 August.

First Entry Deadline for Flower Show Approaches - posted 06 June 2017

The first Flower and Produce Show deadline is approaching. Entries for the Garden categories close on 14 June. The garden categories this year are:


1. Garden Bed or Border

2. Cottage Garden

3. Vegetable Plot

4. Water Feature

These will all be judged on Saturday 17 June

5. Hanging basket or trough display

6. Patio display

These will be judged on the evening of 25 July


Entries can be made in writing using the entry forms in the show schedule or by emailing ward@btinternet.com and paying at the show on 26 August.


We know there are some beautiful gardens in Helmdon so please enter and help to make the show successful.

May Gardening Club News - posted 14 May 2017

Our next meeting is on Thursday 18th May, when we will be having a talk, with plants for sale, from Swines Meadow Farm Nursery. 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual.

Please remember that I need names for the June outing before the end of this month, and payment too if possible. I still need to fill a few more places to make the outing viable so do pass the message around if you know anyone who might be interested in joining us.

Incidentally – a slightly unusual request! If anyone has a garden pond and can spare me a few pond snails I would be grateful. We had to empty and reline our pond this year, and although most of the wildlife has returned (including the newts), I am still sadly lacking in snails. They seem to do a good job of clearing up the detritus so I could do with a few to repopulate. Land snails not required – I have plenty of those!!

(01295) 760539

The Flower & Produce Show Is Here Again - posted 14 May 2017

Details of the 2017 Flower and Produce Show are now available. Show Schedules will be posted to all homes in Helmdon over the next few days. If anyone doesn’t receive a copy or wants another copy it can be downloaded here.

An innovation this year sees judging for the garden categories split: Garden Borders, vegetable patches, cottage gardens and water features will be judged on 17 June 2017 when many people believe their borders are at their best. Last year we saw this was too early for hanging baskets and patio displays so those will be judged on the evening of Tuesday 25 July.

Another change is the abolition of the separate baking class for men only. The general feeling was that this was a bit outdated. Instead there will be a a baking challenge for all novice or occasional bakers over the age of 12. The recipe for this is a Banana Bread. For the more advanced baker the challenge will be to bake a Lemon Curd Layer Cake.

Entry forms are included in the show schedule but additional forms can be downloaded here: (PDF Version, MS Word Version).

This year we are grateful for sponsorship from Material Change, the operators of the Blackpits Compost and Renewable Energy plants.

Last year’s show was a success with an increase in the number of entries. More entries means more enjoyment for everyone: please join in.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

April Gardening Club News - posted 17 April 2017

Our next meeting is on Thursday April 20th, 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual. This month, with our gardens all springing into life, Andrew Mikolajski will be coming to talk to us on:

“Topical tips for April” which covers aspects such as plants to enjoy, gardens to visit, pruning (or not!), likely pests, etc., specific to this time of year.

I will be bringing a list to sign up for the outing on June 22nd , to the Swiss Garden and Kathy Brown’s garden (£30 for members, £35 for non-members). I know lots of people enjoyed Kathy’s talk last month so I hope many of you will be able to come and enjoy her garden too. I think it is well worth a visit!

(01295) 760539

Flower & Produce Show 2017 - posted 15 April 2017

This year’s Flower and Produce Show will be on 26 August - Bank Holiday Saturday.

Once again we are looking for Sponsors. Sponsorship helps to fund separate competitions for school aged children and by covering some of the organising costs increases the donations we can make to our local charities, which this year will be Katherine House Hospice and Dogs for Good.

Some other dates for your diary are:
  • Entries for Garden Classes will close on 21 June
  • Judging for garden borders, cottage garden, vegetable patch and water features will be on 24 June
  • Judging for Hanging Baskets and Patio Displays will be on 29 July
  • Entries for all other show classes will close on 22 August

Full details of the competition classes will be in the show schedules which will be circulated in May.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

New Discount & Bell Plantation Event - posted 05 April 2017

Good news for those of you who use Buckingham Garden Centre. We are now being added to their list of Gardening Clubs entitled to a discount on joining their own club scheme. This means you can join their garden club for £5 instead of £10, and then be entitled to the discounts and offers this provides. You will need to show your current membership card to get this discount.  Information available here: http://www.buckinghamgardencentre.co.uk/gardencard.html

Also, I have recently received a message from The Bell Plantation about an event next week, Thursday 13th April 6pm-9pm.

They have James Alexander-Sinclair coming to give a talk offering inspiration and advice and he will also be doing a Q&A session. James is an award winning writer, a compelling speaker, frequent broadcaster and an elected member of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society. It is completely free to attend and you will also get the opportunity to shop the new spring plant selection and enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco. There are more details about The Bell Plantation and the event here - https://www.bellplantation.co.uk/portfolio/springlaunch/

Hope these may be of interest,


(01295) 760539


Outing To Swiss Garden and Steventon - posted 29 March 2017

Plans are coming together for our Summer outing on Thursday June 22nd. The idea is to go, by coach, first to the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth near Biggleswade. There we will have a couple of hours to explore the garden. There is a restaurant where lunch can be purchased, or you may prefer to bring a picnic. After lunch, we will go on to the village of Stevington to visit the garden of Kathy Brown (who gave us the talk on containers in March). As Stevington village has very small lanes, there will be a short walk to the garden from the coach stop. There we will have a guided tour of Kathy’s fascinating and beautiful garden, and I hope we can sample some of her delicious cakes before making our way home again.

The cost for the day is likely to be £30 for members (£35 for non-members). This will include the coach travel, entry to the gardens and the tour and afternoon tea cost. Lunch is payable separately, so that you are free to choose what you wish to eat.

This is all dependent on getting sufficient numbers. I will be bringing a list to sign up at the next meeting on April 20th, but it would be very useful if members could let me know if they intend to come as soon as possible.


(01295) 760539


"Distinctive Containers" For March Meeting - posted 14 March 2017

We had a successful outing to Evenley in February, a good group of us managed to avoid the worst of the weather and see a lovely selection of snowdrops, crocus and narcissi. In March we are back in the Reading Room for a talk:

Thursday March 16th, 7.30pm:  Kathy Brown will be speaking on “Distinctive Containers: Spring and Summer”.

Kathy Brown has a lovely garden in Stevington near Bedford, which she opens to the public. She has written books on Container Gardening and Edible Flowers amongst others, has been a Silver Medal winner at Chelsea, and makes wonderful cakes! I am hoping to arrange a Club outing to her garden in the summer (provisional date June 22nd).      Non-members also welcome at a charge of £3 on the door.

Hope to see you there,


(01295) 760539


Talk At Sulgrave - posted 23 February 2017

Village Hall.  Monday 6th March @ 7.30pm. 

Tickets £4.00pp 

available from Ingram Lloyd, Tel 760520.  Shrimp Christy, 760214. 

or Sulgrave Village Shop 

Dream Gardens.  Dr Chris Mortimer 

About Chris: I have taught Chemistry as a Career, long retired but I have always liked gardening and major D.I.Y.  Some 45 years ago I moved from Manchester with my wife Jess and two small boys to Samlesbury Bottoms, between Preston and Blackburn where we bought a derelict building which had been industrial stabling and 3/4 acres of river bank in a narrow, deep, valley of the River Darwen.  There were interesting ruins in the river bank as there had been an early cotton spinning mill on the site.  This had been demolished and covered with a few feet of cinders from another mill. 
Here I have developed a garden which I have extended a few times as adjacent land became available.  I work on the principle that gardens should be fun and not involve too much fiddly maintenance.  I have opened for the N.G.S. for some 25 years. 
(see. ngs.org, Lancashire, Mill Barn and millbarn.net) 

Hywel and Ingram Lloyd have seen this garden evolve and extend for at least 40 years.  It never fails to amaze us as to the next civil engineering project Chris takes on, nothing seems impossible to him.  Combined with this unbridled enthusiasm and deep understanding of plants is his wonderful planting to complement and enhance the site. 

His garden is open for the NGS on Saturday/Sunday June 3.4 & 10.11 

Evenley Wood Outing To Go Ahead  - posted 11 February 2017

The most popular date for the outing to Evenley Wood garden is Wed 22nd Feb, so I have booked a guided tour for us then. We will meet at the entrance to the garden at 2pm, and the cost will be £10 each, payable on the day.

We need at least 10 people, so if anyone on the list can no longer come then please let me know, and if anyone else would like to come along they would be most welcome to join us. I hope we can car share as much as possible, so if anyone would like a lift do ask me.


(01295) 760539


February Gardening Club Outing To Evenley Wood - posted 28 January 2017

The Gardening Club event for February was planned as an outing to Evenley Wood Garden to see the wonderful snowdrops there. There did not seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm at the last meeting for the suggested date of Wed 22ndFeb, so I wondered if a weekend date might be more popular? It is only really worth going as a Club outing if at least 10 people go, as then we can book a guided tour (£10 each). Otherwise anyone who wants to go could do so at their own convenience for the normal entry of £5.

If you would be interested in a guided tour then please let me know as soon as possible and indicate which of the following dates/times would be suitable for you. Please include as many possible dates/times as you can to increase the possibility of matching up with others.

Evenley outing dates/times. Please delete any that are not suitable:

Wed 22nd Feb     am/pm

Sun 19th Feb       am/pm

Sat 25th Feb         am/pm

Sun 26th Feb       am/pm


I will then see if there is a time when at least 10 of us can get together!

Many thanks,


(01295) 760539


Successional Planting at January Meeting - posted 15 January 2017

This month we welcome Chris Day from Buckingham Garden Centre to our meeting on Thurs Jan 19th (7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual). His talk is entitled: Successional Planting (year-round).

“Maximising the productivity of the vegetable plot or garden border is one area of gardening techniques which often passes us by. There are a number of techniques we can employ to keep the colour and the crops moving throughout the seasons. Chris highlights some of the plants which make this possible as well as look at some of the latest developments in the world of gardening.”

Now is the time to renew your membership if you haven’t already done so - £15 for the year. This covers entry to at least 5 talks and our garden party, plus preferential rates for our 2 main outings. You can also take advantage of the Dobies seed discount scheme, please ask Ros for details at the meeting.

I am trying to arrange an outing to Evenley Wood Garden in February (possibly Wed 22nd Feb), more details at the meeting.  If you are interested in this but cannot come to the meeting next week then please let me know so that I can keep you informed.

Julia McAuliffe




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