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Here you can find out what events have taken place at Ticknall Garden Club.  We welcome your comments on these events.

By ticknallgc, Jan 9 2020 11:41AM

A perennial is a plant that grows continuously throughout its life. Therefore grass, ferns, bamboo and even shrubs and trees are technically perennials. Steve Lovell, who came to talk to us at Ticknall Garden club in November, concentrated mainly on what would be classed as herbaceous perennials. Steve travelled from Lincolnshire to pay his return visit to Ticknall. With considerable experience as a landscape gardener a one time president of the Lincolnshire Hardy Plant Society, he is always full of practical advice and illustrates with superb photographs. His inspiration as a young boy were the magnificent twin perennial borders at Arley Hall in Cheshire which have been in continuous cultivation since 1867 and are the oldest in Britain. Also, a big influence were the well known gardeners Geoff Smith and Geoff Hamilton. He admired their practical, down to earth approach to gardening which is very much reflected in his own philosophy.

In planting herbaceous perennials, he advised starting with thorough preparation of the soil and allowing plenty of time to make sure no troublesome weeds remained in the ground. He makes copious use of recycled waste local authority compost by digging it in, for aeration and for mulching. Plants need to be chosen to suit their location. He quoted Essex as having on average 18cms of rain annually compared to Snowdonia experiencing as much as 64cms each year. Dry, sunny conditions suit plants with grey, silver and felted leaves. But Rodgersia, Aruncus and Ligularia need wet ground. Bear in mind that generous spacing needs to be taken in account, whilst close planting for instant results was not recommended. Supports need to be in place early in the season whether it be chicken wire, canes, twiggy branches or commercial supports. Steve loves to grow plants to attract wildlife. Allium, Phlox, Veronicastrum, Eryngium and Achillea for bees and butterflies were all suggested.

Steve reviewed some of his favourite perennials that can be planted throughout the year; all illustrated with his own beautiful photographs. Epimediums and Hellbores need an early cutting back of leaves to show off their flowers in Spring. Erysium 'Bowles Mauve' gives a continuous display of flowers for months. Dicentra is a very early flowerer in the year but needs marking as the leaves die back in the summer. Lungworts attract bees and if you cut back after first flowereing, it will reward with a second flowering. Peony, Astrantia, Lupins, Delphinium and Scabious are all summer favourites. The vast range of colours found in Heucheras, made possible by advances in tissue culture in America, give their foliage the chance to shine at the front of the border. Late season plant suggestions included Echinacea, Rudbekia, Helenium and the Kaffir Lily. They will all attract insects and the seed heads, and if left over the winter, will also provide shelter for them. Thyme, Oregano and Thermopsis are also indispensible as ground cover to attract insects and butterflies.

Steve Lovell's love of plants and wildlife was infectious. To add to his talents, he now leads mini-breaks which would appeal to anyone with a love of nature and bird watching.

Find out more at www.stevelovellgreenspaces.co.uk

By ticknallgc, Nov 7 2019 05:27PM

When Don Witton went on his honeymoon to the Lake District many years ago, he was smitten forever by the overwhelming grandeur of the scenery which, being Sheffield born and bred, he had never experienced before. A lifelong love of iconic views together with his passion for walking and gardening combined to produce his impressive talk, titled "Once Seen Never Forgotten" given to Ticknall Garden Club at our October meeting. His lifetime interests have meant many years of foreign travel, nurturing a national collection of Euphorbia and walking all 214 Wainwrights.

His photographs of outstanding views abroad included Table Mountain in South Africa, The Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, U.S.A, Ayers Rock and The Great Barrier Reef in Australia and Las Vegas. His visionary views featured gardens closer to home in their natural settings. Bodnant with towering Snowdonia in the background, Holehird with it's range of Pikes, Powis Castle with its majestic terraces, Parcevall Hall in Wharfedale and the humble view of his euphorbias on his allotment with his neighbours ramshackle aviary in the background. Wild flowers too were shown in their natural habitats. Wild lupins in New Zealand, gentians in the Alps and orchidson the Monsal Trail.

A Glorious Gardens section was full of fabulous pictures of some well-loved places. RHS Hyde Hall, Rosemoor, Wisley and Harlow Carr always impress. As does the Victorian parterre bedding at unspoilt Stourhead, unchanged in 200 years. Bodnant with its unforgettable laburnum avenue, crimson acers in Westonbirt Arboretum, gleaming white silver birches at Anglesey Abbey and acres of stunning bedding at Breezy Knees in Yorkshire were just some of his favourites. Oxford Botanical Gardens has another collection of euphorbias but not shown to advantage, in his view, in rigid rectangular beds. His own take pride of place in island beds amongst other plants. Nor were individual plants forgotten as he extolled the virtues of colourful crocosmia - Harlequin and Sunrise, the striking Iris Siberica - Silver Edge and Melton Red Flare, and day lilies Black Eyed Susan and Sammy Russell. A red and white dahlia was aptly named York and Lancaster.

'Name Nonsense' concentrated on the unusual pronunciation and naming of some plants. The well loved Michaelmas daisy has undergone a bewildering name change for the aster novae-angliae to symphyotrichum. Another mouthful to pronounce is Paeonia mlokosewitschii, understanably nicknamed Molly the witch. However primula 'Strong Beer, Corydalis 'Tory MP' and hemerocallis 'Little Bugger' raised a laugh with the audience.

Don Witton's lifelong passions have justifiably resulted in his truly remarkable talk called 'Once seen Never Forgotten'.

By ticknallgc, Sep 21 2019 10:40AM

Gardeners like nothing better than browsing through a tempting new catalogue crammed full of colourful plants; some dependable traditional varieties, but often something different labelled as 'new'. We are very unlikely to wonder how these new plants come on to the market and why there is such a vast number to choose from. A visit from Mike Davey to Ticknall Garden Club in September gave us the answer to this very subject.

Mike has had a long academic career at Nottingham University in the Crop and Plant Division at Sutton Bonnington. His talk shed light on the remarkable world of genetic plant manipulation.

Conditions in his laboratory have to be tightly controlled with sterile workstations, filtered air flow, constant temperature and bacteria free.

Cells of a plant contain all the genetic information required to develop into a new plant and he took us through the basic procedure of micro propagation as simply as he could. He used Petunias as an example. Pieces are cut from a leaf and immersed in sterile dishes containing a high nutrient culture medium and gelling agent. When left in the sterile storage cabinet at a constant temperature of 25 degrees, cells grow and divide round the wound on the leaf. This method can produce up to 5000 new plants. Traditional leaf cuttings might only produce 1 to 5. The benefits for commercial production are obvious. A large range of plants can be propagated this way from their stems, leaves or roots. Much of this mass production is carried out in China and California. A more advanced technique strips the cell walls and takes the internal tissue to creat a soup of naked cells whcih can be regrown to rebuild their cell walls and regenerate a new plant. Cell fusion is also used to create new hybrids, but the process is costly as the likelihood of success might be as low as 1 in 10 million.

Micke Davey emphasised that plants have always undergone genetic change whether naturally or by cross breeding and selection. Mutations of DNA occur all the time too, but the contentious issue is the extent to which deliberate intervention is used by increasingly sophisticated scientific techniques. Genes can now be isolated and inserted into plants to improve food quality, improve production and disease resistance so providing more food for an ever-growing world population. It has enabled the production of insulin from plants to satisfy an ever-increasing demand. However, despite great benefits the speaker cautioned scrutiny of future developments.

With a lifetme's experience behind him, Mike Davey gave a knowledgeable and enlightening insight into the horticultural world of which most of us are completely unaware.

By ticknallgc, Sep 12 2019 08:58AM

The secret of success in making a garden to suit alpine plants is all in the construction and the maintenance thereafter. At least this was the message that Jeff Bates was keen to get across at his talk to Ticknall Garden Club at their meeting on July 9th.

Think Dovedale with its craggy outcrops at the summit then moving down stony scree slopes to a flowing river at the base. Few gardens can aspire to duplicate this effect but aspects of it can be copied. Stone walls and even the smallest stone trough can be home to exquisite miniature alpines. The really delicate gems need a well-ventilated greenhouse to give them protection. Alpines are high altitude plants; hardy, compact, low growing and rooted in poor free draining soil. They cannot survive in damp cold conditions. They should be planted in a mixture of one third loam, one third grit and one third leaf mould with the addition of bonemeal. They need a very thick mulch of grit or any other material to protect the roots. Remember to trim after flowering and feed with bonemeal. He emphasised meticulous weeding. Because such a free root run has been created, any weed can take advantage and put down roots that are difficult or impossible to remove if left to establish.

Jeff showed examples of established rockeries; some good, some not so attractive. Success is all in the positioning of the rocks and plants. Rock should mimic natural backward tilting strata with plants placed under their shelter and in crevices. The bigger plants and conifers need to be at the lower level. A useful tip for planting in crevices is to wrap dead turf around the roots to squeeze the plant into the gap.

He particularly recommended visits to the long established rockery at Sheffield Botanical Gardens and the newly reconstructed one at Hidcote manor. Originally, in the Victorian era, when the interest in geology flourished, the emphasis was on the rocks themselves and this can be seen at Chatsworth where huge structures can be seen to this day. As time went on, with plant exploration so popular, the emphasis was on constructing a suitable site in the garden for all the new species being discovered. In the early 20th century rockeries were the dominant theme at The Chelsea Flower Show. Prior to 1940 every garden incorporated a rockery but then they gradually dropped out of fashion.

Perhaps they are now due for a comeback. Certainly, under the wise guidance of Ticknall Garden Club's favourite speaker. we know how to get it right.

By ticknallgc, Sep 11 2019 12:56PM

The last two talks at Ticknall Garden club in May and June have featured two dedicated gardeners who have been very successful in their careers. They can transmit their enthusiasm for their love of plants so well that listeners are persuaded to but plants that they never thought they needed.

They both established their garden businesses twenty five years ago. Bob Brown set up Cotswold Garden Flowers near Evesham and Justin Harrison started growing plants to sell on Burton Market. They concentrated mainly on perennials; those that were popular and reliable but also interesting new varieties that showed promise. Both preferred to concentrate on growing their own plants rather than relying on mass production from outside sources. Neither was keen to cash in on current fashions. Over the years they have inevitably gained considerable expertise in their field and obviously have pleasure in sharing thier knowledge with others. Justin is understandably full of praise for all of his plants (he sells them on his market after all) but he has favourites. Sun loving Salvias are fragrant and a magnet for bees. He displayed new varieties called Bordeaux and Peaches and Cream. They should be cut down in Spring above an emerging shoot. For Bob, it was the Polemonium, better known as Jacobs Ladder. Not the common self-seeding variety but a hybrid called Lathkill Dale which has no fertile seeds and is deliciously scented.

Both speakers have forthright views. Bob Brown debunks the myth that Agapanthus like to be crowded to flower well. They need feeding and planting in the ground instead of in pots. Manure should not be dug in the soil where it can't be broken down easily, but left on the top of the soil for the worms to do the job. Justin insists that any border should be planted with one third conifers. A dose of bonemeal will work wonders on ailing plants. He also believes that gardeners should be more adventurous in their pruning. A Camellia, Rhododendron or Rose can be cut to the ground and will repay with healthy new growth. In addition, Bob Brown has achieved quite a name in the gardening world. He can be credited with the present popularity of Heucheras by introducing them from America. He has spent many years breeding Pulmonaria; better known as Lungworts. Diana Clare, named after his wife, has silver foliage edged with green and intense blue flowers. It still remains one of his most attractive varieties availalble.

They were two gardeners with so much in common who conveyed their enthusiasm and expertise with energy and humour. No surpirse that the sale of the plants that they brought to the meetings did a brisk trade!

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