Meeting November 9

49 members were present to listen to our speaker Colin Moat of PineView Plants whose talk was

entitled ’50 greys of shade’. Colin’s colourful slide presentation highlighted his love of all shade loving plants and detailed his admitted ‘obsession’ with the genre!

His ‘Top 10’ of Bulbs/Corms/Roots

Narcissus Jenny/Jumbillie/Pippit

Lillies Cardiocrinum /Martagon/Nectaroscordum including the Himalayan Lilly which takes up to 7 years to flower!

Galanthus+Leucojum One variety fetched £1,390 for a single bulb last year!

Eranthis hyamelis, over 40 varieties to choose from.

Cyclamen hederifolum & coum. The foliage is sometimes just as attractive as the flowers.

Arum italicum marmoratum. slugs avoid them!

Anemone nemerosa (& blanda) blues, pale lilacs pretty tough plants.

Erythronium dens-canis/tuolumnense ‘White Beauty’+ Pagoda

Fritillaria meleagris. Doesn’t always need damp soil.

Trillium erectum/chlorupetalum/vasey/cuneatum/lutem/grandiflorum/pusillum + Arisaema+Colchicum+Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebells)

Top 10 Ground Cover Plants

Geranium (includes magnificum/nodosum/macrorrhizum/phaenum/pratense)

Any Bergenia + cilata + Overture. Can also grow in full sun.

Epimedium orangekonigin + fargesii + versicolor + sulphureum + grsndiflorum + warleysense + pink champagne + amber queen.

Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’ + ‘Catlin’s Giant’ + ‘Purple Torch’ + ‘Metallica Crispa’ + ‘Black Scallop’

Ompphalodes verna + ‘Starry Eyes’ + ‘Cherry Ingram’

Brunnera maculatum ‘Jack Frost’ + ‘Looking Glass’ + ‘Mr Morse’

Pulmonaria ‘Ice Ballet’ + ‘Cotton Cool’ + ‘Diana Clare’ + ‘Stillingfleet Meg’ + ‘Dora Bielefeld’ + ‘Blue Ensign’.

Vinca minor ‘illumination’

Hosta ‘June’ + ‘Blue Moon’ + ‘Junco’

Heuchera ‘Obisidian’ + ‘Venus’ + ‘Tiarella’ + ‘Heucherella’.

Top 10 Stars Bombproof/Long Interest

Helleborus x hybridus + foetidus + argutifolius.

Convallaria majalis + rosea = ‘Vic Pawlowski’s Gold + Bordeaux’

Polygonatum x hybridum + ‘Betburg’

Aquilegia various hybrids. Greatly affected in 2021 with mildew.

Euphobia amygdaloides var.robbiae + dulcis ‘Chameleon’ + griffithii Dixter

Astrantia major ‘shaggy’ + Star of Fire’ + ‘Roma’ + ‘Venus’

Digitalis purpurea ‘Anne Redetzky’ + lanata + lutea + ferruginea + mertonensis

Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’ + ‘Pink Pearls’ + ‘orvala’ ‘Album’

Viola cornuta + odorata + ‘Hearthrob’ + ‘Duchesse de Parma’

Anemone hupehensis ‘Honoreine de Jobert’ + ‘Richard Ahrens’ + ‘Bodnant Burgundy’ + ‘Konigin Charlotte’

For further information you can contact Colin at : or visit the website:

Our next meeting is on December 7 when our speaker will be George Lockwood an organic gardener

who will talk about ‘creating structure with evergreens’. Followed by a glass of wine and mince pies!

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Meeting October 12

Margaret Easter “Autumn & Winter Gardening”

Over 40 members turned out on a damp evening to listen to our guest speaker who has been

a Harpenden resident for over 30 years and holds the National Plant Collections of Thymus, Hyssopus

and Satureja in her garden in Wroxham Way.

Margaret’s talk was accompanied by her colourful series of autumn and winter pictures of plants in

bloom in her extensive plantsman’ garden planted for year round interest and for wildlife.

The front garden is a large mixed border with shrubs along the pavement including potentilla fruiticosa,

viburnam farreri ‘nanum’. Planted with herbaceous perennials zoned in colours and underplanted with

crocus and narcissus. Naturalised crocus tommasinianus is a welcome site in winter.

Colour is maintained throughout the autumn months and early winter with, asters, anemones,

chrysanthamums , dianthus, colchicums and repeat flowering roses.

Margaret has been gardening organically for 25 years and since 2002 has been peat free.

The garden is open to visitors by arrangement. For further information you can call her on 01582

768467 or by e:mail

The next meeting will be on Tuesday November 9 in the canteen at 7.45pm. The speaker will be Colin

Moat of Pine View Plants whose talk is entitled ’50 shades of grey’ The talk will be preceded by the

AGM. We look forward to seeing you then.

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Meeting September 14

Speaker Jacqueline Aviolet

“Hardy Geraniums-history and propagation

At our first ‘live’ meeting after 18 months of Zoom talks we were pleased to welcome 46 members and guests who enjoyed an informative and humourous evening talk.

Hardy geraniums are mostly pink, blue, mauve and white colours. They can grow in sun and semi shade with ease. You do not have to bring them in, in winter, some will die down into the ground and some will have leaves showing all through the cold winter months. Geraniums greatly support the insect world and different varieties will re-grow from spring to autumn. They grow in any type of soil in sun or semi-shade and bugs and snails do not feast on them. What’s not to like!

At the nursery in Kent over 400 varieties are in stock. The nursery is not open to the general public and all plants can be purchased via mail order via the website. All plants are grown in the open with no poly tunnels.

Members were shown various simple techniques for collecting seeds and taking cuttings. Important to always plant cuttings around the edge of the pot to maximise saturation.

A few of the many varieties in stock were featured in the talk.

Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ rich magenta pink with black eye, flowering June/October, busy green foliage, height 45cms, sun/semi shade.

Geranium dalmaticum ‘Album’ shell pink, flowers May/June semi evergreen, height 10cm, sun/semi shade, low compact foliage, rock garden and pots.

Geranium himalayense ‘Baby Blue’ large blue/violet, flowers May/July, height 45 cm, sun/semi shade.

Geranium nodosum ‘Silverwood’ pure white flowers, thin acer shape fresh green leaves, height 40 cm, flowers June/October, sun semi/shade.

A range of geranium plants, attractively priced were snapped up by members following the talk.

Further information can be found on the website:

Telephone 01622715777


The next meeting will be held at Roundwood Park School on Tuesday October 12 at 7.45pm.

The speaker will be Margaret Easter of LW Plants who will talk about Autumn and winter gardening.

We look forward to seeing you then.

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April 13 ZOOM Meeting

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March 9 ZOOM Meeting

Our second Talk of 2021 was presented by Simon White of Beales Roses in Norfolk who gave us his A-Z of Roses.

Simon who has spent 40 years working for Beales certainly demonstrated his vast knowledge and passion for roses – ‘Britain’s favourite flower’ during his fascinating talk.

Beales Roses hold the national collection of species roses and hold over 1000 varieties in 3 acres of show gardens.

Below are some of Simon’s favourites:

Alba Maxima, very popular and fragrant, non repeat flowering. Maidens Blush/Queen of Denmark can also grow in light sandy soil.

Bourbon Madame Isaac Perere can grow up to 7 feet. Souv de la Malmaison white/pink and can grow up to 12 feet. An American single red rose named after Peter Beales has 5 flushes and good glossy foliage. Loved by bees.

It is important to note there are no disease free roses. A granule feed is recommended now in March and again in May.Liquid Tomatorite or Maxicrop seaweed are good but the best is Uncle Tom’s Rose tonic but is the most expensive!

Centifolias Fantin Latour one big flush,Old Blush (monthly rose) because of repeat flowering. Can be tender. Irene Watts can be grown in pots, subtle perfume. John Innes No 3 recommended if grown in pots.

Damasks Kazanlik sometimes called the Bulgaria rose as it is widely grown in Bulgaria for its repeat flowering to make rose water.

Eglantyne (Sweet Briar) Rose Eglanteria produces masses of hips.

Floribunda Clustered roses, Dusky Maiden, hard pruning in a wine glass shape recommended.

Gallicas Camaieux one flush and can grow up to 4 feet. James Mason can grow up to 5 feet.

Hybrid Perpetual Ferdinand Pichard repeat flowering and strong fragrance. Souv Du de Jamain, repeat flowering. Petals can go brown in hot sun.

Ice Leverkusen Good in cold weather but can bleach in hot sun. A climber and important to train horizontally on wall or fence.

June & July Bonica good ground cover. Rambling Rector and Chevy Chase too.

Kiftsgate Biggest climbers with thousands of flowers.

Low Growing Comte de Chambord first bred in 1860, Rose De Rescht.

Moschata Ballerina a ‘cottagey’ rose repeat flowering. Prosperity, easy to grow.

Noisette Climbers need pruning 3 times a year Alister Stella Gray, repeat flowering

New The Churchill rose named after the College not the man! Terry Wogan wanted his rose to be named “Togmeister” following his popular radio programme.

Orange Westerland repeat flowering in big clusters. Alchmist tends to attract black spot.

Pests and diseases Aphids, Black spot, Downy mildew, Rust all very common. Try ‘Rose Clear’ or an unusual tip is a mix skimmed milk with water. Important to spray under the leaves to eradicate rust.

Queen of Flowers Spanish Beauty can grow up to 15 feet. Ena Harkness

Rugosa Toughest and old fashioned. Scabrosa, repeat flowering.

Species Rosa Glauca, Rosa Omeninsis Petercantha unusually has only 4 petals.

Union bare rooted and must be pruned hard.

Variegated Most popular Rosa Mundi.

Wichurana Ramblers Albertine with large thorns!

Yellow Leah Tutu delicate amber flowers.

Zephrine Drouhin grows to 10 feet fragrant and thornless.

For the full run down go to the website: or call 01953 454707

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ZOOM Meeting 9 February 2021

Timothy Walker ‘Plants Borders & Gardens’

Timothy is an ‘old friend’ of the Society and has talked on many occasions and many subjects. He is a well known British Botanist and previous Director and horticultural Praefectus of the Oxford Botanical Gardens.

Timothy packed a large amount into his lavishly illustrated talk, so I am afraid this synopsis will not be as colourful as his live Zoom presentation.

He started his talk by looking at some plants from all over the world that deserve to be more widely grown in our gardens. This was followed by a look of some ways of putting plants together to create borders and finished with what makes plants and borders into a garden in a pleasing way, using colour, lines and shapes to create pleasing gardens, large or small.

Timothy went around the world (literally) gathering specimens and seeds from various countries, that might work in the UK. Some need dmp areas, some shady, some full sun and obviously some are hardy and some will grow in milder areas such as Devon and Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.

He started in the USA. Here he mentioned Lupus, Frauklinia altamaha,Echenaeceas, Rhodenndron maxi, Penstemon, Eschscholtzia (Californian poppy) Garrya Elliptic and Veratrum viride which like the damp and have hosta leaves but can grow to 6ft !

Next came Chile with Drimys winteri which are so old fossils of them have been found in the area.

Lobelia tupa is a plant Timothy used to say needs lifting in the winter but now says to mulchand leave in the ground they can grow 3-6ft.

Nasturshams from the Andes. To Easter Island with Sophya (which needs a south facing wall)

Chatham Island with a variety of forget-me-not, Myosotidium hortensia and New Zealand with Cianthus puniceus (lobster claw) which in the wild needs to be polinated by birds and unusual that it needs hot and wet conditions…obviously not usuaal conditions for the UK !

Phillipines next on this tour with Jade vine (polinated by bats) Strongylodon macrobotys.

Japan known for it’s chrysanthamums and a mention of Yezoense which was named after one of the Japanese islands…they later changed the name of the Island! But no provision to change the name of the plant! This low grower looks wonderful grown over rocks, slabs and concrete and likes sharp drainage.

At this point Timothy mentioned that GREEN is a colour too, where more people think of the Autumnal colours of Vermont he said every garden needs a variety of green as a background and frame for vibrant plant colour.

Korea with Abeliophyiium distichum and scented Mukdeniarosil which is decideous before heading to China on which Timothy said he could devote a whole evening of plants that have originated .

A palm- Trachycarpus fortunei of which Timothy has one or two at home is a magnificent specimen unlike (in his opinion) Decaisnea fargesii- also called dead mans fingers as the pods look like bruised puffy cold and clammy fingers!

Lots of clematis originate in China and a UK favourite is C Armandii…with its lovely white blooms. Aconitum episcopale likes dappled shade and Sarcoccoa is a beautifully scented lant for outside but the fragrance becomes a ‘too strong smell’ if cut and brought indoors. He said it reminds him of his teenage son’s bedroom so best left outside!

Davida involucrata or Hankerchief plant is also used a lot in Chinese and oriental planning schemes where the rule is fairly set into 4 elements…Water, Pavillion, Plants and Rocks.

From China we headed to Turkey where Iris Iberica subspecies Elegantissima was shown. Hard to grow but must be kept completel virus free. Fritillaria Michailovski and Delphinium Requenii, Euphorbia characais and Iris Unguicularis to place against a sunny wall…but still needs watering well were also from this part of the world.

Next to Killimanjaro with tree heathers (Erica Arborea) then to South Africa with Melianthus Major which likes a sheltered and dry spot away from likelyhood of frost. Xysmalobium Stockenstromense Strophanthus (periwinkle family) and Sutherlandia Frutescens.

Orange flowers are popular in the Cape area and Tinnie nature reserve has carpets of Elegia Capensis (not very hardy in most of UK). Aloe Dichotoma is another popular plant in South Africa.

Moving on to Morocco we saw pictures of Euphorbia Nereeidim which grow to 10 ft.

Tenerife brought us Euphorbias-Mellifera which is scented and just hardy for UK climate and Antropurpereum which is hardier. Lamarkii, Canariense like frost free conditions to thrive.However Cistus Momspes salvifolius likes soggy conditions.

One drawback of taking wild plants to grow in our gardens is that they can take over so we need to be careful.

Cape St Vincent with Lithodorus, Lavendula stroechas then to the Algarve bringing Narcissus papyraceus and Ruscus aculeatus flowers from what appear to be leaves but are in fact flat stems.

Closer to home in Northern Ireland and Britain. Horsetail (hard to get rid of) Fushias , Bluebells which love dappled shaade, Primroses, Digitalis (foxgloves) Fritillaries, Paris Quadrifolia which likes shade and verbascum Thrapsus loved by Mullin moth caterpillars.

Well that was a whirlwind tour and obviously with pictures much more interesting than my but I didn’t want to skip over the plants too much. A challenge with the spellings so apologies if some might be wrong!

Afterwards Timothy showed borders in particular gardens and how some of the plants mentioned can be used. He highlighted many lovely venues in the UK where these can be seen in all their glory many of which Society have visited in the past and some planned for the future where we can.

Coton Manor in Northants was one such venue as was Rousham House and Gardens and obviously Rose Cottage where the current Director of the Oxford Botanical gardens live.

Timothy ended his very full talk with the statement.

‘A garden is a place where plants and people sit in them and enjoy them,whatever size they may be’

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ZOOM Meeting 1st December

Our speaker was the return of Geoff Hodge an author of 8 gardening books including 5

for the RHS. His talk was entitled ‘Winter in the garden – beating the winter blues’ very apt for this time of year!

Planning is of paramount importance for maximising winter colour in the garden.

Think before you buy.

Start with structural plants to give a focal point, perhaps a tree, large shrub or a pergola.with a climber. Interspersed with smaller shrubs and surround with plants that give good ground cover. Brown is not a good garden colour!

Looking out onto a colourful winter garden can help lift depression during the winter months and gives a feeling of well being.

Garden designers tend to plant one evergreen plant to two deciduous plants.

Conifers give shape and structure and colour with green, yellow and blue varieties. Heathers provide many colours but always trim after flowering to keep compact.

It seems we in the UK love variegated leaves more than any other country in the world!

Some of Geoff’s favourite winter plants include Leucothoe Scarletta a branch of the rhodedendron family with green and red leaves. Pieris ‘flaming silver’, evergreen prefers acid soil and a shady position. Carex siderosticha has variegated leaves and is related to the grass family. Many types of euphorbia with yellow flowers and ‘hairy’ leaves which mean it is drought resistant. Lamium maculatum with white flowers that gives good ground cover. Ornamental cabbages in white yellow and purple make an unusual combination but beware they are paticularly enjoyed by rabbits!

Winter flowers include Daphne mezereum flowers in January to March and thrives in deep shade. Strong scented, slow growing Hamamekis Mollis is fiery in autumn with yellow flowers.

Mahonia an architectural plant with strong scent and yellow flowers. Viburnham bodnantense with flowers on bare stems and strong scent. Annual pruning is essential as it can grow up to 10ft !

Helleborus foetidus known as the stinking one and helleborus niger known as the potters wheel with its big white flowers. Also known as the Christmas rose as it does not flower at Christmas!

Bulbs include Cyclamen coum a hardy ground cover which can multiply when ants who are attracted to its seeds make off with them and can deposit them in other parts of the garden! Galanthus Dionysius are only favoured by keen collectors as each bulb can cost around £5.00

Berries add colour. Cotoneaster horizontalis with its variegated leaves can even grow up walls. Sometimes known as the council plant as it can grow anywhere.

Ilex or holly need male and female plants to provide a prolific crop of berries. Pyracantha ‘Navaho’ a good hedging plant with white flowers in summer and berries in winter (if the birds don’t eat them first!

Winter stems provide colour in winter. Silver birches with their silver and white branches can be spectacular in the dark days of winter. Rubus thibetanus has white stems but needs regular attention as it is a garden thug and can take over a border if not kept in check.

Leave aliums alone for their large seed heads create structure and are an ideal hibernating place for ladybirds.

Garden centres now stock many brightly coloured glazed pots for patio plants which complement winter planting of pansies and violas.

The Harpenden Gardening Society will publish it 2021 programme of meetings and events in early January.

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ZOOM Meeting 10 November 2020

‘Taking a Garden to Chelsea….Beneath a Mexican Sky’

We were delighted our guest speaker Manoj Malde was able to ‘ZOOM’ his presentation to around 50 members on Tuesday this week.

Manoj started his talk explaining how his ancestry is Indian. He was born in Kenya and started his career in Fashion Design. Being a fashion designer for 18 years before wanting a career change and has now become a garden designer for over 9 years.

Many elements of his past career have been very obvious in his garden designing. The knowledge of colour and display, layout, balance and placement move easily into the planning of a garden design.

He then moved on to decribe how a garden designer takes a design idea to Chelsea Flower Show and all the hoops one has to jump through in order to even be excepted to get as far as having a show garden at Chelsea, the ultimate accolade.

Applications have to be submitted to the judging panel the previous year, so a lot of planning, ideas of a theme,what plant to use etc has to be formally submitted by July the year before you wish to show. Around July or August the submissions are judged to see if they will be going forward to a second judging. If you are shortlisted, you are given feedback and a list of any changes that would need to be implemented before a final judging is done in October when you are advised if your design has been selected.

Manoj showed us copies of detailed drawings and layouts, planting schemes and the various trial colour schemes for the backgrounds and groundwork he went through to get ‘just the look he was aiming for’

He also explained that he travelled to Europe to obtain some of the more unusual plants that he needed for his design but that in planning for Chelsea you need to have back up to your planting selection as plants do not always ‘behave’ for you so alternatives were bought too. He used a selection of plants that will be familiar to UK gardeners such as Salvias (Royal Bumblebee-red salvia) which are hardy and have a long flowering period and California poppies.

Most plants were inspired by Mexico and the Mediterranean such as Agarve Americana, Agora, Astepia, Dracena Dracco-Dragon tree. Bescanaria’s, Cacti (Stenocereus Marginatus) tall flowering Erieron, Kavinskianus (fleabane) Echeveria, Puya coerulea.

The Arbutus Unedo (strawberry tree) Manoj was very proud of as he was told by many nureries he contatcted that he would not be able to find a multi stemmed tree, only shrubs! Manoj went to Italy and found exactly what he was looking for in a deserted area in the nursery there, heavily laden with fruit and shipped to the UK in February, so it had a chance to be nurtured in the UK climate. It became a main feature of the garden.

Manoj explained that he liked and was inspired by the work of Luis Barragan , a Mexican architect and engineer born in 1902. Barragan’s signature colour washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic back drops to the planting scheme. Zinc micro-cement steps floating across a large aquamarine pool often seen in Barragan’s work.

His obsession with horses is represented through copper wire sculpture by Rupert Till and Manoj wanted the spirit of the horse to be in his garden, along with Barragan’s love of water represented by the blue pool he had within the 10 metre by 6 metre by 6 metre space he had to work with at Chelsea.

A generous courtyard is turned into a modern, luxurious outdoor space with clean linear lines. The garden appliead a new thought process, using tolerant plants that merge Mediterranean style with country cottage planting.

The garden is designed around two natural, mature multi-stem trees that provide structure in the garden. Agaves provide rhythm and softer drought tolerant herbaceous planting breathes beauty into the garden. Simple lighting created bold shadows on the walls.

Beneath a Mexican Sky gave the opportunity to bring together two subjects that resonate with Manoj….colour and Mediterranean planting

Manoj was delighted that his first ever Chelsea garden obtained a SILVER GILT medal.

A great achievement.

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ZOOM Talk 13 October 2020

Matthew Biggs ‘Dig for victory, was it successful?’

Our second Zoom evening was an informative look back to the second world war and how through hardship and necessity the people of Britain coped to feed themselves during the six years of devastation from 1939 to 1945.

The phrase ‘Dig for victory’ first appeared in the London Evening Standard in September 1939 and was coined by a young left of centre journalist by the name of Michael Foot who later became the leader of the Labour Party!

The German onslaught deliberately caused enormous damage to target Britain’s food supplies as so much of our basic supplies of fruit and vegetables were imported from overseas.

For example 287,000 tons of bananas were imported in 1939 but by 1942 there were none due to the success of German operations sinking merchant ship tonnage.

Huge shortages of supplies led to severe rationing and the Government had to quickly organise a massive propaganda exercise to encourage the British population to grow as much food as possible. It sought the help of the RHS and Allotment societies to help produce and publish countless booklets and leaflets to educate and inform people. Not easy given the shortage of seeds and during the War no weather forecasts were published.

Matthew showed us an amazing number of these items from his personal archive and his extensive research including a best seller ‘Cloches Versus Hitler’ written by Charles Wyse-Gardner….possibly not his real name!

Old photographs of allotments created on tube station platforms, a circular allotment dug into a circular bomb crater, a large vegetable garden in the moat of the Tower of London to list just a few!

Sales of spades and wheelbarrows took off in the early years.

To help nurture the planting when manure was scarce, additives including soot (plentiful in coal burning days) wood ash, guano and raw sewage were recommended. It was said many allotments in and around London had a particularly pungent air!

The Germans even went to great lengths to wreck the efforts of growers and destroy crops by the Luftwaffe dropping cardboard boxes of pests on allotments in Kent.

Was it all worth it? The answer has to be Yes, thanks to the great ingenuity and hard work by so many to feed the nation during the darkest days of the second world war.

The next ZOOM evening will take place on Tuesday 10 November at 8.00pm with Matthew Malde the medal winning garden designer who will talk about ‘A designer journey to Chelsea’ It will follow the AGM at 7.45pm.

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Annual General Meeting 2020

This will be held prior to the November 10 Talk online via ZOOM at 7.45pm.

All relevant information will be mailed electronically to all members in late October.

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