Our May meeting started with the AGM. A new constitution was adopted a copy of which can be found on the village website. The secretary reported on another varied and busy year that included wide ranging speaker topics, interesting visits and a successful Produce Show and Christmas Social. The treasurer presented the audited accounts and reported a small profit and that membership fees were not increasing this year. The committee for this year was elected but members were sorry to learn that Stella Callaway, a founder member of the club was standing down after 11 years on the committee. Stella is an unsung hero of the club who has worked tirelessly to make the club the success that it is today and she was presented with a plant by way of thanks. Jan Richardson was newly elected onto the committee.
Our speaker for the evening was Robert Harvey who gave a fascinating talk on “British Wild Flowers in Nature and in the Garden” which was illustrated with some fabulous slides. Robert reminded us of the diversity of wild flowers in our meadows and on roadside verges and how unimproved meadows with low nutrients and sympathetic management and cutting gave such diversity and provide eco-systems for wild life. Did you know that 80% of British Snakeshead Fritillary are found in Cricklade North Meadow?
Robert told us how we could create 5 different wildflower gardens from a meadow wildlife garden to a seaside garden and here’s a use for an old carpet … to kill off grass, in preparation for creating the meadow, cover it with the carpet for a year! When creating a wildlife meadow, use 80% grass seed and 20% flower seed. In the first year manly grasses will be seen but in the second year, the flowers will come through. Good management is essential so the meadow must be cut annually in July or August and the cuttings removed. If more flowers are wanted, then plug plants can be added. Instead of putting old paving slabs and rubble into a skip, why not use them as the basis for a chalk garden and just cover with shingle and soil. However, we were a little concerned to learn that to truly replicate a chalk garden we needed rabbits to keep the grass down!!
When are weeds not weeds but wild flowers? Many of the ‘plants’ we see as weeds can be successfully used in an herbaceous border …. native snapdragon, native mallow, poppies, corn marigolds, cornflower to name but a few and teasels add an architectural dimension to the border. Silver Birch, Rowan, Hazel and Field Maple are good trees to have in a garden and native snowdrops, wood anemone, wild daffodil and bluebells can all be used in a woodland garden.
Not only did we learn how to replicate the conditions needed to create ‘natural’ wild flower garden, we were also given advice on how to take better wild flower photographs so perhaps ‘Wild flowers’ will be in the photographic section of next year’s Produce Show!
Dates for your Diary: Members were reminded to save plant for the Gardening Club Plant Stall at the Village Fair on 6th June. The Flower and Produce Show is on Saturday September 6th and schedules were now available on the website, from the Post Office or Jacky’s porch. Visits: an evening visit to Henly Mill on June 18th; Iford Manor on July 16th and Hauser & Wirth on 6th August.
Our speaker for June is Charlotte Popeson, talking on “Keeping Hens in the Garden”. There will be items for sale at this meeting.