The gardens are starting to wake up in February and so are the bumblebees
Our afternoon December meeting speaker Margaret Leslie had some wonderful ideas for festive flower arrangements –
A coach full of members and friends went for a visit to Ashwood Nursery and John’s Garden on September 15th. It was a beautiful sunny, but slightly chilly, day – ideal for exploring gardens and plants.
Kathryn has a new resident in her garden- a hoglet. She says it eats mealworms but has yet to master the art of eating slugs etc. She may have to run a training course for it soon!
Late summer brings many changes to our gardens. Marianne has sent these photos of Digitalis ferruginea and the seedpods of her Podophyllum
July and August summer holidays and members are on their travels. Here’s some photos of a trip to the area around Cambridge – Flowers in the Cambridge University Botanic Gardens, Elton Hall, Byron’s Pool Nature Reserve and the walled garden at Wimpole Hall.
On June 27th we had a holiday in Yorkshire vising Brodsworth Hall and gardens, Daleside Nurseries, York Gate, Burnby Hall, Breezy Knees garden and nursery, Stillingfleet Lodge garden and nursery, and Firvale Allotments. You can find a little more information and more photos here.
June 13th was the day we had our trip to RHS Bridgewater. Lots of ideas, especially on the theme of sustainability and reducing waste in our gardens. Thanks to Dawn for many of the photos
On June 9th our speaker Mike King from Shropshire Sarracenias brought a lot of plants with him (he didn’t take quite so many home again)
Now June is here the gardens are starting to burst with colour from the irises to the roses with a few others (foxgloves, snapdragons . . .) on the way. Here’s a wonderful clematis from Helen’s garden – variety unknown, so if you think you might know which one it is please tell Helen.
A few photos from Chris’s garden as May slides gently into June (the scent from those roses fills the whole garden).
May is the month for our Annual Plant Sale, held at St Michael’s Community Hall on May 9th for the first time since 2019 (there being a slight hiatus due to ‘you know what’ in the intervening years). The hall was filled with plants that members had grown from seed or nurtured from various cuttings and divisions, potted them on and willed them to grow and thrive in time for May 9th. There was everything from corms to tubers, shrubs to veg, and culinary herbs to ornamentals. It wasn’t just the tables that were full – the floor was as well. With many thanks to all those who contributed their plants and those who bought them – the tables and floor were nowhere near as packed with plants by lunchtime!
May also brought the early summer flowers –
two plants from Marianne – Digitalis monstrosa and Peony delavayi
some photos from Jackie’s garden –
and these photos from Dawn’s garden
Spring has finally arrived and the flowers are reappearing across our gardens
It’s been a very wet and windy February this year. Jackie has sent in a few photos from her garden.
We’ve just received some photos from last Autumn taken on a trip to Devon and RHS Rosemoor
Including some of their new ‘Cool Garden’
We asked for photos of colour in the garden on New Year’s Day
and then for ‘winter colour’
The County Show was also held in late summer this year and Margaret (‘Peggy’) Leslie won First Prize for her two entries and received the Salver and Best in Show Cup for her Pedestal entry entitled Arabian Nights. Her entry for ‘Five Blooms’ was called On Parade.
Late summer is dahlia time (among others) – here’s a few ‘Bishops’ and their ‘Children’.
And some more late summer blooms include Echinacea, Gaura, Gladioli, Cosmos, Rudbeckia, Acanthus, Eryngium and Zinnias.
March 1st is the first day of meteorological Spring and the last few days of February have been gloriously sunny (even if the nights have brought sharp frosts) and our Spring flowers have started to bloom. These first few are from Becky’s garden –
and a few from Chris’s garden
The Hellebores are really coming into their own in late winter
And a winter-flowering honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) will fill the garden with scent for several months
A few more winter garden photos – these from Hilary
Some of the plants in our gardens over the winter of 2020 – 2021 with special mention for the snowdrops
Despite the snow there was plenty of life in the garden including a ladybird finding shelter in Magnolia stellata
Some of the plants in our gardens during September, October and November
A few photos from Jackie’s garden
Some of the plants in our gardens this summer (these photos have appeared in blog posts)
Here are some photos from Kathryn’s garden showing it is perfectly possible to grow a lot of plants in a small space – just think pots and vertical –
Some of the flowers that have appeared in our gardens during March and April while we have been isolating. A few more were on our main page earlier on.
Photos from our visit to Colesbourne Gardens, a famous snowdrop garden, with tour guide and garden owner Sir Henry Elwys – which was much enjoyed by everyone, despite the weather.
We’ve had a few photos of plants in flower in members gardens – hellebores and snowdrops from Jackie
and some random pots and plants from Chris – including an Osteospermum (which surely should not be flowering now), winter-flowering honeysuckle and a peony starting to come through.
Even at this time of year there is still plenty of colour in our gardens
June 2019 trip to Telford and Wollerton Old Hall.
We have just received some photos from our June trip to the British Ironworks and Wollerton Old Hall gardens where quite a few plants may have been purchased.
The 33rd Annual Open Show of the Stone Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society 2019
Held on September 14th at Walton Community Centre. Photos are by Martin Robinson – many thanks to him for taking and sending them.
The Trip to Harrogate (April 25th – 28th 2019)
Many thanks to Nicky Lawrenson for sending all these photos.
The Harrogate Show
The visits to Newby Hall, The Valley Gardens, RHS Harlow Carr and Betty’s Tearooms
And finally on the way home and the visit to Don Witton’s allotment to see the Euphorbias
Don Whitton from Sheffield came and gave us a wonderful slideshow as he took us season by season through the vibrant perennials that add excitement and colour to our gardens; in the second part of his talk he discussed the many different types of Euphorbia that will grow in our gardens and that add a dash of colour all year round, but particularly in the Spring. We also had the opportunity to buy some of the plants he grows on his allotment. You can see photos of his allotment and some of his National Collection in the slideshow above from our Harrogate trip.
Our September meeting was a week early and saw Alun and Jill Whitehead from Aulden Farm near Leominster give us an illustrated talk about the gardens they have visited in the wilds of Shropshire. These included places such as Gredington and Stokesay Court which opened in aid of Historic Churches; Cardington Gardens, Avocet (in Plealy), Windy Ridge (in Little Wenlock), The Dower House (Morville Hall), Moortown (near Wellington) and Preen Manor (in Church Preen) which opened under the NGS; as well more well known gardens such as Hodnet Hall, and Wollerton Old Hall plus Hawkstone Park Follies – not so much a garden as a Victorian adventure park.
They brought lots of plants from their nursery to sell and our members also filled our sales table with lots of tempting goodies.
Neil Timm from the Fern Nursery not only brought lots of wonderful ferns for us to buy he also gave us a really fascinating and informative talk on ferns – covering their history, morphology and physiology. He discussed our native British ferns and which ones were suitable for our gardens and showed us many from other countries which also do well in our climate. We also had a brief digression into those relatives of ferns – the clubmosses, filmy and water ferns, Pillwort and Horsetails (Equisetum species), when we learnt a few ways of ridding our gardens of that pernicious weed but also heard of a few Equisetum species that are better behaved. From ferns that like damp shade to ferns that enjoy growing in old walls and rock crevices – we were seriously entertained and informed!
Our monthly meeting in June saw us transported to much warmer climes for the evening as we explored the flora of Maderia and the Azores with Razvan Chisu. He had also brought some plants to sell as had many of our members – our Sales Table was quite crowded at the beginning of the evening.
Our gardens too have been doing well despite (or perhaps because of?) the rain. Helen’s Indigofera was definitely blooming well last month and plants in other gardens were growing rapidly.
This month Dr Keith Ferguson took us to North America to explore the many plants which came from there and we now grow in our gardens.
The Annual Plant Sale held the previous weekend was a great success. Many thanks to all who donated plants, and to those who bought them. There were not that many left for our plant sale table at the May meeting.
At our April meeting Byron Machin gave a fascinating glimpse of the many wild orchid species to be found (if you know where to look!) in the Peak District. The result of nearly ten years of research his talk briefly looked at the physiology of native orchids – as this is one reason for their rarity – before discussing in more detail the species to be found in various habitats month by month through the year. Many published floras (there are ones for both Staffordshire and Derbyshire as well as more general ones) will have distribution maps showing 1km squares where orchids have been seen but, as Byron pointed out, firstly a 1km square is quite a large area and the fact that an orchid was seen there one year does not guarantee it will still be there the next. Climate change, changes in land use and tourism all have an effect on plant distribution.
In readiness for our Plant Sale next month a great many plants were available on our members sale table this month – this was taken at the end of the meeting after many plants had already been purchased.
Richard Rallings from Mynd Hardy Plants gave us a glimpse of the history of walled gardens from ancient Persia to the modern day and explained how they worked and why and how their use changed over the centuries. He also brought some of the plants from the Nursery to tempt us into spending our money (it wasn’t difficult!).
This month Mike Byford from Hazlescroft Nursery came to talk about Hellebores. A fascinating talk that took us through the ancestry of our garden Hellebores and discussed where the various original wild species grow and what this tells us about the conditions we should try to provide in our gardens (not what we might have thought). He also brought some of his Hellebores for sale. On our own plant sale table we had some kits to grow oyster mushrooms on a loo roll – cue much bemusement as to why Helen was selling loo rolls that evening, but many were persuaded to buy a kit and have a go. It will be interesting to hear the results.
Time to go on Snowdrop walks – whether round your own garden or someone else’s. Have a look at the NGS website for gardens open this month. Jackie has sent us some photos of her snowdrops and and an Iris just coming into flower.
Its nearly time to get your dahlias out as well – have you checked them to make sure they are ok wherever they are stored? To inspire you here’s a photo of Helen hiding behind her well-named Giant Dahlia
Our first meeting of the year and, after the AGM, David Emley kindly stepped in at (almost) the last minute to talk to us about watching wildlife in Staffordshire. In an absolutely fascinating talk he emphasised how fortunate we are in the UK and in Staffordshire that naturalists have been recording our weather and wildlife for generations.
This means we are able to map the changes in distribution and population of various species of plants, birds and insects – many of which have changed quite drastically within the last 20 years. The atlases shown in the slide show below date from the 1970s and are now seriously out of date with regard to many species – Himalayan Balsam to name but one.
The change in distribution of the Collared Dove was another example – unknown in the UK when this list of British birds was published in 1952, twenty years later it is shown as becoming established across much of the UK, although largely still in the east. Now, it is one of the commonest birds in our towns (along with the wood pigeon – both driving us mad with their incessant calling), while populations of the Turtle Dove have plummeted.
There are many different reasons for these changes (not all down to climate change, although that does carry a lot of the blame) and David discussed these with us with many more illustrations. It was a talk we all felt we could happily listen to again . . and again!
Barbara has been on holiday to Singapore and has sent us this photo of a chrysanthemum taken in the Botanic Gardens there – along with a photo of the board beside it explaining all. Is she sending us a challenge?!
Stan Griffin and Vickie Newman from Craig House Cacti, West Bromwich gave us an entertaining and very informative talk on cacti and succulents in November. We now have no excuse for knowing the difference between them and our plants should be a lot healthier and happier as we learnt how to look after them properly. There was a good selection of plants to buy and you just had to admire the waistcoat and jacket they were wearing!
Our sale of Gardenalia in October proved very popular again as lots of members cleared out the ‘junk’ from their sheds and offered it for others to buy – those elusive and powerful loppers, lots of large pots or lots of small pots, surplus seed trays, assorted garden tools (there seemed to be a lot of hoes and rakes this year!) as well as bird boxes and bird tables. We also had a well-stocked plant sale table. Our thanks to all who brought items for sale as well as to those who spent their pennies (and pounds). Unsold stock will be donated to Oak Tree Farm and Stone in Bloom.
Also happening in September was the NVS Branch Show at Malvern where our President David Forrester was one of the judges –
The 32nd Annual Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Society Show was held on September 15th 2018. Martin Robinson took some photos early on Saturday morning as competitors were arriving and setting up – illustrating just how much care and thought goes into each exhibit.
Neil Hammersley took a few snapshots during the prize giving by Stone’s Mayor
And we also have a few photos from the Show itself after the judging had taken place.
Somewhat belatedly we have received some photos from the London weekend back in June 2018.
Dr Steve Reynolds came on July 12th to talk us through some of the pests and diseases we could find on our plants. It was a fascinating evening discussing the whys and wherefores of plant responses to stress and to disease. Several members brought in their sickly specimens for a diagnosis after the talk as well.
We also had our usual (and popular) plant sales table – keeping all sickly plants well away!
July 8th when we visited Abbeywood was one of the hottest days of the year. We still managed to get a couple of photos however
On May 12th Dr Michael Jones took us to the Gambia to view their flowering plants. A fascinating botanical trip – even the ‘weeds’ were wonderful! Our plant sale table was full at the beginning of the evening with lots of lovely bargains.
Our Plant Sale on May 5th this year was a great success – the photos show the Hall before the public arrived to help clear the tables.
This time of year sees many gardens hosting ‘Tulip Festivals’. One such at Pashley Manor Gardens in East Sussex was visited by one of our members. Bloms had provided the bulbs and catalogue and it was possible to visit them in the marquee for advice and to place orders (and, yes, squirrels do bite the heads off tulips and eat them!). It’s not too late to find a festival nearer to home or even an NGS garden with wonderful displays this Bank Holiday weekend.
Our first trip of the year (on 21st April) was fairly local – to Middleport Pottery (home of the Pottery Throwdown) for a quick visit and a bite of lunch by the canal, or in the cafe, and then on the the main event of the day – a trip around the grounds of Keele University to view their collection of flowering cherries. This was followed by a cream tea at Whitmore tearooms. We were very lucky with the weather – it was a beautiful, warm and sunny day so quite a few members donned their walking boots and sunhats to join the tour around Keele, where we were given lists of the cherries (which had obliged by flowering in time) and a map to follow, although our tour was guided as well.
Our April meeting featured an entertaining and informative talk and slide show by Brian Ellis as he discussed some of his favourite plants from his nursery. A handout listing all the plant names helped enormously with any scribbled notes we felt inspired to make! He also brought a selection of