Visit to members' gardens


About 35 member turned out for a tour of Lechlade gardens. 'It was a good evening despite the weather' said one member.

Pruning shrubs and Aftercare - Duncan Coombs


Duncan Coombes lectures in ‘Decorous Horticulture’ at Pershore College and he came along to give a lively, very informative and entertaining talk to the Gardening Club.
He listed the reasons for pruning with the 3 Ds: to cut out the dead, diseased and damaged to give good shape to a shrub and to encourage strong new growth. He also emphasised that need for fertilizer (Gromore), water and mulch. The rule is to prune hard after a dormant season or after heavy flowering which will promote new healthy growth and more flowers. Duncan answered questions as he went along and also covered the need for good pruning tools, WD40 and gloves. It is worth paying for good secateurs and to make sure that they are not too large for small hands. In addition a pruning saw is helpful whilst he warned strongly against the use of chain saws without the necessary clothing and training. If it needs a chain saw it’s time to call in the experts!


Wildlife in your garden


Malcolm Brownsword from Didcot came along to share his love of his garden and the numerous animals and birds he encourages. He delighted the gardeners with his super photographs taken through double glazing. He has sited his bird feeders close to the window and has achieved spectacular results. His talk covered all manner of beasts from wood mouse to sparrow hawk. Malcolm concluded his talk with a couple of short videos one was about wildlife on the sustrans track from Dicot to Southampton which had featured on the local BBC news that night. And the other of bluetits from a nestbox camera which he and his wife find far more entertaining than main channel viewing! The nestbox is from called ‘Green feathers 1080’.
Malcolm Brownsword




Wonder of Bees - Richard Rickitt
Bees are important to gardeners for fertilising fruit trees and more. It was evident at January’s meeting that we have a lot of local beekeepers.
Richard Rickitt, editor of BeeCraft, a bee keeper magazine came along to the Lechlade Gardening Club to give a talk. He held the audience‘s attention for over an hour explaining all sorts of intriguing facts about bees. The club had had a previous speaker on this subject, also excellent, but the nature of the talk was very different. Richard is so obviously passionate about bees his enthusiasm is infectious. He explained that he had started his career in film and television production but his hobby of bee keeping has completely taken over. He is proud to be editor of Beecraft, a 100 year old publication which is held in high regard and a regular prize winner at an annual completion of similar magazines.
He began by talking about the amazing honey bee with its stunning design. It has a 600 lens eye on each side of its head which have the ability to switch on and off plus three UV sensitive eyes on top of head. In addition it has two antennae which include a speedometer and four wings which can be paired with barbs like Velcro. These wings can beat 450 times per second and are powered by the bee’s body shaking rather than by muscles. Bees can shiver without their wings moving a colony can produce 20 watts of warmth inside the hive in winter. It also has specialised glands in its jaws to produce royal jelly. There are 24 species of Bumble bees 225 of solitary bees but only 1 honey bee.
The facts just kept coming. Richard showed a slide of a 30 million years old fossil looking exactly like our honey bee today. Ancient Man’s only source of sugar was honey and the Egyptians must have been the earliest bee keepers. As well as producing honey and royal jelly, bees make propolis which was used mummification. Sometimes a mouse might enter the hive for the honey. The bees can kill the mouse but will not be able to remove the body so they coat it in propolis which is like a hard caramel and it preserves the mouse which in turn does not affect the health of the hive. It has had many uses over the years.
Richard concluded his talk by saying that cheap supermarket honey was perhaps not the best. It could well be blended with contaminated honey which if left out may infect our native bees. He had brought along some of his own honey but urged everyone to buy local honey from our local bee keepers. He said that he had only brushed the surface and could probably talk all evening. I doubt if anyone would have minded!

Richard with some of his bees' honey. Buy from your local bee keeper!


Pots of gardening
Harriet Rycroft came along to the monthly meeting of the Lechlade gardeners to talk about container gardening. She explained that she is a career change gardener. After children she wanted to do something different and when asked ‘Well what do you enjoy doing?’ she said it was a ‘no brainer’ and she went to train as a gardener. As a consequence she worked for 14 years at Wichford Pottery filling their pots with riots of colour and she still writes and blogs about gardening. She is presently working on a project at the Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Harriet described her planting year stating in the autumn. She is obviously very keen on bulbs and buys new stock each year to ensure good results. She emphasised that she will use anything in her pots. ‘Stand still too long and you’ll get planted!’ Pots are planted largely twice a year, once in the autumn and again in the early summer. She does not plant for instant gratification and she sowed many slides of her work after planting and then a few months on.
Another trick of hers id to use props to brighten up displays before they have grown by using apples or stones for example to decorate the top of the pots and fairy lights in the winter. Raising pots in the back of a display works well and as soon as something is past its best it can be moved and something else put in its place. As well as giving lots of ideas for different plants to use she also gave advice about some virulent pests such as the bright red lily beetle lava and snails! Plants do not have to be exotic or expensive and she advocates growing annuals from seed starting in March and things like nasturtiums and edible plants such as beans look wonderful. After the talk Harriet answered lots of questions about compost and mulches.

Harriet chats to keen gardener after the talk



The Lechlade Gardening Club held its AGM and kept the tradition of keeping it short and sweet. Chair Peter Payne gave a lightening outline of the many and varied events including the highly successful Flower and Produce Show in September. Peter is retiring from being the Lock Keeper at St John’s and is leaving the area so leaving the Gardening Club. He and his wife Liz were thanked for all their work and presented with a small gift. They assured the club that they wold be back and true to word, Liz returned in January to give a talk about her new allotment in Somerset.
After the AGM, Norman Jeffery from Highworth gave a talk about the NGS (National Gardens Scheme). He explained that in the middle of the nineteenth century a Liverpool merchant, William Rathbone employed a nurse to look after his sick wife. After his wife’s death he kept employing the nurse to help poor people and raised money to pay for this scheme. This gave birth to district nursing throughout the country. The NGS was formed in 1927 to support district nursing. After the introduction of the National Health Service the nurses were funded by government so the scheme now supports a wide range of charities all linked to nursing such as Macmillan nurses and the Marie Curie nurses. Norman smiled when he said that tea and cake plays an important part in the experience and is a lovely way to spend a Sunday, the most usual open day. Norman has been working in the scheme for Gloucestershire for nearly 10 years and shared his in depth knowledge. He is a part of the team which produce a Guide book to the gardens in the county and encouraged all to get out and visit! His parting shot was the suggestion of a village ‘open’ for Lechlade to include everybody’s gardens!


10/2/2016 Tim Miles, head gardener at the Cotswold Wildlife Park came along with an entertaining presentation. There was a touch of nostalgia as he used colour slides with a projector but the supporting images were super and gave insight to his words of wisdom. He had tales of bartering for unusual plats with rhino dung and was able to add variety to his talk with information about the animals which Tim joked, give a great backdrop to his gardens! The park does not grow a great deal specifically for the animals but they are able to harvest bamboo for the red pandas and the kiwi fruit and bananas are appreciated by a variety of animals too. Joan Kirk gave a vote of thanks and said how the park is well worth a visit for the splendid gardens. (There are web cams on the CWP web site showing the penguins and meerkats too!)
11/3/2015 There was a touch of magic in the air. The Clark Pierce Room was unusually quiet for once during the club's monthly meeting. Norah Kennedy captivated her audience with a demonstration of willow weaving and produced the most beautiful willow basket using 'Dicky Willow', 'Black Maul' and the red 'Dogwood'. She donated the basket to the raffle which was won by....
11/2/2015 Once again, John Mason of Highfield Garden World, Whitminster came only to speak to the Gardening Club. He thoroughly entertained the packed Clark Pierce room with sane, common sense approach to dealing with shrubs, climbers, roses, ornamental grasses and more. He demonstrated severe chopping with shears, careful selective pruning where flowering does not take place on new growth such as forsythia, and advised potting up and replenishing nitrate fertiliser to encourage lush new growth. John donated a raffle prize as well as some penstemon 'prunings' which are apparently a cinch to propagate. He also answered a lot of questions and in addition showed some excellent tools for the job. He hopes to welcome members to his Garden Centre and asks that we introduce ourselves - he can be found in the plant information shed! The Garden Centre has a great restaurant (endorsed by Liz Payne who admired the fantastic view along the Severn Valley) and other 'Outlet' stores, just and hour away and perhaps worth a visit?
'Well John said to prune hard! - green bin is full - just another three or four weeks to go!'


Alan Christopher

Gardening Made Easy

This was a highly entertaining evening with irreverent banter and audience participation. Alan is a very experienced gardener and shared many stories to illustrate ways in which to save strained muscles and time. He advised against digging as it promotes dormant weeds to germinate, he explained the correct way to use a spade and which type of hoe to use. Bent secateurs are best thrown away and he did not think that it is worth having a garden fork! Some members of gardening club had different views but it was certainly food for thought. One useful tip was to make sure then soil was warm enough and on the rise for the germination of seeds. He also said that planting a succession of for example lettuce did not necessarily give a succession of plants for the eating! If you have any helpful tips - send them to and they can be shared on the Gardening Club web site.
2014 Annual Flower and Produce Show

There was a huge variety of flowers, fruit and vegetables, some excellent photography and all manner of home crafts demonstrating huge industry and talent in the town. This is just a snapshot of the day.

2014 Flower and Produce Show cup winners were:

A - Vegetables Cutler & Bayliss cup Brian Gray
B - Fruit Jim Ludlow cup Brian Gray
C - Flowers and Herbs Lechlade Gardening Club Cup Neville Beech
D - Flower Arranging Barclays Bank Rose Bowl Jan Mills
E - Domestic Moore Allen & Innocent Cup Ian Andrews
F - Wine Cotswold Wine Salver Samantha Jugdev
H - Photography Crowdy & Rose Cup Nicholas Brown
J - Crafts Lechlade & District Lions Cup Karen Holland / Jan Mills
K - Allcourt Meadow Allcourt Meadows Cup C O'Halloran
Overall Winner Chairman's Cup Brian Gray

AGM and Quiz
14 November 2013
The AGM of any organisation is a necessity but possibly not a highlight of the year. However the Gardening Club set itself a small challenge - to see how short this could be to then get on with the lighter side of the evening - the quiz!
The AGM was over in a flash, 13 minutes to be precise but what fun and laughter. There was a magnificent turn out of members who all contributed to the jolly, lively and slightly irreverent atmosphere. Peter Payne signed off the minutes from last year's meeting and began to read his annual report. After the opening sentence he pointed out to those reading from the hand-outs that they had last year's report. There was a roar of laughter with comments of…'but it's the same…'Peter went on to flag the club's successes such as the annual show and then the treasurer, Alan Garnell gave his report and managed to raise some more laughter.
The following quiz devised and delivered by Stephen Funnel was also the cause of great amusement and kept everyone thoroughly entertained but the levity did not stop some serious competitive spirit!
If you have an interest in growing stuff - or you are a keen horticulturalist or just would like some great company - this is a friendly club where you will be assured of a warm welcome and some interesting evenings.
Bugs and Pests in the Garden: Roger Umpelby On Wednesday 9th October Lechlade Gardening Club had a fascinating evening with professional entomologist and horticulturalist Roger Umpleby at the Memorial Hall, Lechlade. In his talk on "Bugs - the good, the bad, and the ugly" - he shared his expert knowledge and displayed his skill as a wildlife photographer, showing insects and invertebrates in incredible detail.

He informed those present that our native ladybirds are known to eat each other and in this respect are not very different from the invading Harlequin that, in hot summers, bees can turn into robbers taking nectar from runner bean flowers rather than pollinating them, thus destroying the crop.

Not all red beetles are bad - shiny red lily beetles can only be seen on or near lilies or fritillaries, less shiny red beetles found elsewhere are the gardeners friend, and much to our surprise - the Black slug is not always black but can also be brown or orange!

The next meeting of the Lechlade Gardening Club is on the second Wednesday in November at the Memorial Hall, Lechlade at 7.30pm. Full details of the programme and other information about the club can be found on their website

Alison Ward

Visit to Buscot House Park and Gardens
Three ladies regularly come from their home in Stow on the Wold to Lechlade Gardening Club and they were not disappointed with July's meeting which was a tour of the Buscot House grounds. Head gardener, Peter Auger, guided the group on a perfect summer evening. It was hot and still and Peter explained that due to the cold late spring the garden had never looked as good as the April/May flowers were still in bloom along with the summer roses delphiniums and more. Peter explained that the grounds had been divided into themed gardens, a water garden the Egyptian garden a four seasons walled garden and any more and he encouraged the group to pay special attention to how plants had been grouped to achieve the design elements in each garden. The large greenhouse has the second oldest grape vine in the country. It was a cutting from the vine in Hampton Court in 1789 and had am impressive crop of grapes which will be harvested in the late summer. The present Lord Faringdon has installed many interesting and creative features including a stainless steel waterfall and a replica Chinese terracotta army. It was an inspirational and exciting event.

The Gardening Club listen to the head gardener

The walled garden

Head Gardener, Peter Auger with a terracta army.

Moths In the Garden
In February 2013 the Lechlade Gardening Club were treated to a fascinating talk by Bob Smith from Stroud on the life of the British Moth. These insects are as important to the cross pollination of our plants as are bees and butterflies but, unlike bees and butterflies, because of the nature of the moth being both nocturnal and operating in daylight hours, they are constantly helping us in our gardens. Butterflies are usually seen as the most prevalent because of their bright colours but in fact only number some 120+ types. On the other hand the understated Moth number over 1500+ in types. The beauty of the individual moths were shown to us by spectacular photography, in detail, on moths which had been caught by John in his own garden and greenhouse using a special moth trap full of egg boxes on which the moth alighted. When photographed in daylight they posed quietly for the camera. Bob collects moths for study by others and to give talks to schools and clubs like ours.
Christmas Wreaths
In December 2012 Laura Thornton from "The Bloom Room" florists in Lechlade showed how to make Christmas wreaths. Laura was interesting and informative as well as making the evening great fun. She provided good ideas as to how the basic festive wreath may be adapted for other purposes, for example a lavender wreath as a summer present, or a wreath made from fresh herbs. Laura supplies many of the raw materials at her shop in Lechlade.

One made later...
John Mason of Highfield Garden World, Whitminster, has previously spoken to the club on the subject of Fruit Growing and came along to share his tips on lawn care. He made the whole process of nurturing and maintaining a beautiful lawn sound simple and kept club members entertained for over an hour. He brought along samples of the products he uses and recommends as well as a superb selection of shrubs which he sold at giveaway prices at the end of the session. He answered questions and also donated some raffle prizes.

John answering questions from Liz Benson after the talk
Bee Keeping
Chris Wells from Cotswold Bees at Mickleton came along to give his highly entertaining talk about bee keeping. Chris spoke with great enthusiasm and passion about his hobby which has now grown into a business. He has become a Master Beekeeper and is keen to encourage people to keep bees. He explained that all native wild bees are extinct and the honey bees you see in the garden belong to a bee keeper. They are incredibly important in that they are a pollinator and vital to most plant reproduction. He exploded myths, (such as you don't have to be a man with a beard and over sixty to be a bee keeper) informed and kept his audience entertained with amusing anecdotes and fascinating facts about the life of the honey bee. Members were able to taste a wide range of different honeys and learned that the taste is totally dependent on which flowers the honey bee has been using to gather pollen. The bee keeper can determine which flowers have been used by the colour of the honey. The honey not only tastes wildly different but also ranges from the palest hint of yellow (borage) to the darkest brown (heathers). Most of the club members left - clutching jars of honey and wondering if they could cope with bee keeping.

Bee Keeper


Queen Bee
Climbers and Clematis In August Flloyds (based on A350 between Chippenham and Laycock at Showell Nurseries) gave a talk on the cultivation and care of clematis.
Caring for Conifers The front of the Clark Pierce room was transformed into a mini forest. Andrew Pedrick arrived with about 50 conifers of all different shapes and sizes. His enthusiasm for, and knowledge of these plants was very evident in his very amusing and informative talk. How many of us remember or even think to give our conifers a feed? We learned that conifers respond very well to a liquid seaweed feed. Snails love to climb conifers to eat the young top shoots but do not like to be watered with a crushed garlic clove stirred into a can of water! His plants were available for sale and a number of members took this opportunity to buy the more unusual specimens.


Save your loo rolls or make some tubes out of 3 sheets of paper stapled top and bottom. Cut a 2 ltr milk carton in half and use the bottom bit to then contain several of the rolls in which to sow deep rooted veg such as beans etc. When grown in this way they can then be planted direct into the soil from the container and not disturb the roots. The plastic container can be used again and again.


Cut a 1 litre clear water bottle in half. Remove the top cap from the top half and cut some holes in the bottom half ,thereby allowing areation when you place these over 3" pots as cloches.