This information was obtained from the Barham & District Horticultural Society website.

Society News & Events 2022

Take a look at what the society did in 2021

December 2022 News Update

We have just enjoyed our last talk of the year by Alison Marsden on Gardening for Well-being. Alison has a wealth of gardening knowledge built over 20 years. She is based in Tunbridge Wells and founder of Garden by Design and has been teaching since 2011. Her talk looked at how gardens, gardening and green spaces can be used to support mental wellbeing in many ways, both at home and in more formal garden therapy projects. How over the last few years and particularly through the restrictions of the pandemic, people have discovered what gardeners have known all along that gardening is good for mind, body, and soul and, it is now official, connection to the natural world can help our mental health. There is a big project being run by Natural England to create programmes for people with specific mental and physical health needs around nature-based activities and especially in a social setting. Community gardening fulfils that and is a particularly good way to engage people with nature. Alison's welcome advice to us gardeners is to only do what we enjoy doing in the garden and to find time to relax and enjoy it!

The next time we meet will be on the 18 January 2023 when we will host our AGM in Barham Village Hall at 7.00 pm. There will be two competitions, one for the best posy and one for the most variety of flowers from your garden. After the official business of the AGM, there will be a social event and we hope members will come along and join us.

The new planters in the village have flowered all summer long and an especial thank you to our volunteers who kept them watered during the long dry months and to those who donated plants. A few of the planter group members have moved away and our numbers have dwindled. We would love to have more people to help plan and plant for next summer. If you are interested Contact Us.

Gardening notes for December 2022

Here we are at the end of another year. Or, more optimistically. On the cusp of a new year, with all the promise that can hold.

November continued to be mild, but by now everything which needs it should be protected.

What to do? Well nothing in a rush. It's a good time to mulch borders. If you have a small plot it may be possible to mulch all the beds, maybe on a 2 to 3 year cycle. On a larger plot targeting specific areas is more cost effective. Prioritise veg patch, roses, newly planted trees and hedges or specific shrubs.

Options for mulch include, spent mushroom or strawberry compost, rotted manure, strulch.

The cheapest and best for garden micro organisms is home made. A compost bin also provides habitat for 'creepy crawlies' which make up the bottom of the food chain for slow worms, hedgehogs, birds etc. Its easy to make. Its better made directly on the soil and needs to be covered. It can just be a pile covered by old carpet, or contained in a compost bin. Keep it moist but not soggy to ensure it rots down reasonably quickly. Use a mixture of green material, grass cuttings, dead flowers etc and brown material cut up twiggy material, hay, dead leaves, torn up cardboard and eggboxes. Never add meat or cooked material or you will attract rats. I find that vegetable peelings also attract rats. Ideally add no more than 50% green material, not perennial weeds. But don't worry too much as long as it's not all grass clippings it should be OK.

It will rot quicker if it's turned every few months. This is hard work. I have several bins and never turn them! Once a year I empty them all (with a little help!) and put back in anything which is not rotted down. The coarse compost goes on the veg patch, the lovely fine stuff goes on roses/shrubs with some chicken manure pellets or blood fish and bone mixed in.

Emptying compost bins is a winter job, but if you have slow worms or grass snakes be careful and wait until they are out of hibernation (March).

There will be some lovely sunny days with low golden light. Make the most of these days to start/continue with winter pruning and digging over any new beds so that the frosts can break down the soil. Or just enjoy a wander round with plans in mind for next year.

November 2022 News Update

On 12th October we had Colin Moat come along and talk to us about 50 Greys of shade. Colin with his wife Cindy runs Pineview Plant which specialises in Shade loving plants. He propagates over 80% of his plants in peat free compost and sells at the Plant Fairs Roadshow.

Colin gave details of many good and reliable plants that we can grow in those shadier parts of our garden.

Adobe Acrobat PDF 50 Greys of Shade plant details

He mentioned using white flowers and silver foliage as these stand out more.

Areas that benefit from summer shade can be a cool spot for plants from the heat of the hot summer sun. He has Fritillaria meleagris that are in a patch that has summer shade and come back every year even in his sandy soil. He gave examples of bulbs that can be grown here such as Eranthis, Anemone nemerosa, Erythronium dens-canis, Lilies Martagon.

One of the good doers he likes are cyclamen, hederfoilum which is in flower now and Coum which flowers early in the new year. There is a lovely silver leaf form, and the leaves look attractive after the flowers have finished. Once the flowers have been pollinated the stem goes into a corkscrew and back to the ground. The ants are attractive to the sweetness and take the seed and this helps spread it around the garden. So, if you are lucky, they will pop up in other areas around the garden.

He gave examples of his bombproof plants such as Hellebores, Polygonatum x hybridum + 'Betburg', Digitalis purpurea is a good wildlife plant, but he also suggested other species such as lanata, lutea. Astrantia major 'Shaggy', newer varieties with star in the name do well, to name a few.

With Epimediums he suggested cutting back the leaves in Jan/Feb as the flowers on many of these plants are the same height as the leaves. Then you get to see the flowers and the new leaves are very attractive too. This job can be tied in with removing the leaf stems on your Hellebore x hybridus plants so the flowers are more visible and helps control the black death disease. Newer varieties of Epimediums have taller flowering stems.

Colin gave out a handout listing recommended ground cover, long interest, bombproof and more.

Next month's talk on Wednesday 9th November is with Alison Marsden talking about gardening for well-being

Another note for your diary is the AGM on Wednesday 18th January 2023 where there will be two competitions one for the best posy and the other for the most varieties of flowers from your garden.

Gardening notes for November 2022

Where has the year gone, it seems only yesterday that I was concerned about how the garden was coping with the hot weather.

October had some beautiful days this year and also the first frosts early in the month. Luckily in my garden nothing tender got caught. November is definitely a month of frosts so make sure everything tender is either undercover or protected outside with horticultural fleece. Anything which cannot take any frost needs to be indoors or in a heated greenhouse.

Hose pipes need to be disconnected, emptied of water and stored away, perhaps in the shed. Close off from inside or protect outside taps.

As plants become dormant winter pruning can commence. Roses, free standing fruit trees (not trained ones or stone fruit- plums/cherries). But there is no rush you have all winter.

Check on climbers, are the ties secure but not too tight on the stems. The same for newly planted trees with regard to checking the staking.

How are pots on your patio, now is the time to plant them up with tulips for a blaze of spring colour. Lift pots off the ground with pot feet or anything else to help the drainage- maybe some bits of broken slate. Bare root trees and shrubs are still available and the soil will be warm enough to encourage a little root growth before winter.

On the veg plot, overwintering onion/shallot sets can be planted alongside garlic. Buy the cloves specifically for growing, they will be better suited to our climate than the ones from the supermarket. Alternatively, they can be started off in pots and planted out when you have the area they are to grow cleared in the spring.

Leaves on the flower beds should be left to rot down. Use leaves from ponds, lawns and any plants vulnerable to rot, such as alpines to create wonderful leaf mould in bags or bins.

Winter is a tough time for wildlife. Bird baths allow birds to bathe which keeps their feathers in good condition and better able to provide insulation. Alongside the usual food and the seed heads left standing perhaps add extra food, maybe crusts or apples that are past their best cut up. Hedgehogs are hibernating move bonfires before lighting them and if strimming, check first.

November is a slow month in the garden, take advantage of any sunny days for a cuppa in a sheltered spot, or in your greenhouse if you are lucky enough to have one.

2022 Autumn Show (View the gallery)

A warm and sunny day greeted both exhibitors and visitors to the Annual Horticultural Show staged at the Village Hall on the 10th September.

Growers had had to bare very difficult conditions that prevailed throughout Summer, be that very high temperatures and or a distinct lack of rain. Then the week prior to our Show, although some of us had forgotten what it was like, the rains came and some of which was very heavy and damaging, consequently flower entries were somewhat down on previous years but the vegetable growers prevailed.

The judges of all divisions were impressed with both the standard and number of entries.

Visitors in the afternoon were, after admiring the exhibits to retire to the Grabham Room for delicious cakes and a cuppa served by the ladies of the committee.

All in all a successful show. New exhibitors next year please, you will be very warmly welcomed.

The following prizes and cups were awarded.

Names (Alphabetical by surname)
Results (Shown as number of firsts, seconds and thirds)
K Hunt 1 2 1       C Manley 1 3 1
C Hunt 3 5 1       M Sole 1 0 0
S Hodgkins 1 2 1       H Sole 0 0 1
J Carus 4 2 3       R Sampson 1 0 0
J Terry 4 0 0       P Sampson 1 0 0
S Dallison 1 0 0       B Crocker 0 1 0
L Dallison 1 2 0       A Crocker 0 1 2
D Fuller 1 2 0       K Hubbard 0 0 1
A Clough 8 4 2       J Ironside 5 0 0
I Rendell 1 1 2       M Smith 1 0 0
D Stamper 1 0 0       S Lavelle 0 0 3
A-M Plews 2 5 1       S Tyler 1 2 2
L Goody 3 6 7       J Borgioli 1 2 1
A Goody 3 0 0       H Croft 2 2 4
R Borthwick 6 2 5       S Goddard 0 2 0
Cup Winners as follows:
Cup Name
Denne Hill Cup: A Clough
A.J. Ross Amateur Cup: L Goody
Banksian Medal of the RHS: A Clough
Best in Show: K Hunt
Best Dahlia D Fuller
Best Rose R Borthwick
Brian Wright Memorial Cup P Sampson
Carr Memorial Cup: J Carus
Clarke Cup: A Clough
Collingwood Cup: J Terry
Cottager's cup: R Borthwick
Top Tray: A Clough
Top Vase: No entries
Floral ChallengeCup: J Carus
H.E.Middleton Cup D Fuller
New Exhibitor's Cup: D Stamper
Potato Challenge Cup: A Clough
President's Cup: C Manley
School's Cup: A Goody


Gardening notes for September 2022

The light in September is soft and low and the evenings start to cool, reminding us that we are slipping into autumn.

It's a great time to collect seed from perennials, on a dry day when the seed is dry and ripe. Plant now or store cool, dry and dark until the spring. Its also a good time to take cuttings- see August's notes.

Hopefully we have now had some rain, our lawns are recovering and our reservoirs are filling. Later in the month when its cooler and damper, it's a good time to sow grass seed, either for a new lawn or to repair damaged areas.

If its still dry keep up with watering new plants. Its OK to use grey water (from washing up or bath), avoid using on salad crops and don't use water containing harsh chemicals such as bleach.

Its expected that summers will get drier, connecting water butts to your down pipes means you will need to use less mains water.

Sap is falling, birches which bleed can be trimmed now, use loppers or a pruning saw on smaller branches. If removing long branches, cut back in stages to take the weight from the branch before you make the last cut. You are less likely to tear the bark and the wound will heal better.

How is the nectar and colour in your garden? Perhaps add some late daises michaelmas, heleniums or rudbeckias.

What about other food for wildlife, are you leaving the late perennials to set seed, what about berries to feed the birds. Honeysuckle is great for berries and also nectar in the summer.

The veg patch still needs attention, watering and harvesting, and maybe some autumn raspberries, apples and pears to pick. There is a good selection of trained fruit on dwarf root stock available which can be planted bare root late autumn. Take a look now to order for this year. Autumn raspberries are less troubled by pest than summer ones and tend to need less support.

Roses will keep providing colour for a few weeks yet if they are kept dead headed and maybe given a boost of feed, tomato feed works well for all flowers.

Now is the time to be planning for spring, bulbs will soon be available in garden centres, although you get a wider selection online or by mail order.

As the gardening year slows there will be plenty of time for jobs, so for now enjoy some R&R in your garden.

August 2022 News Update

This past month has been a very busy one for all gardeners. As well as keeping on top of all our summer weeding, watering and harvesting, which can seem unending at this time of year, we have also had two organised trips for our members.

The first was for a small group to Pedlinge Court owned by Sue Scrivens. Sue gave the society a presentation on 'The Scented Garden' in March and then kindly offered to host an evening visit. Her garden, created on an old farm yard, is jam packed with beautiful roses and a huge array of scented perennials, planted so densely that there is little need for weeding or staking. Sue's enthusiasm for gardening is infectious and she is a wonderful ambassador for the psychological benefits of gardening. The evening ended with delicious cake and tea surrounded by her beautiful flowers.

Our second trip was to RHS Wisley. For most of us it was the first visit since the new changes have been made and a day proved barely enough to see them all. We were able to 'travel' from the lush planting of the tropics to the dry desert area of cacti and air plants, all within The Glasshouse. Outside was meadow planting from South Africa, beautiful English rose gardens, cottage gardens and areas planted for wildlife. The World Food Garden gave us a chance to see vegetables from around the world, including Buddha's Hand, a type of citrus fruit which resembles a courgette flower! The aroma of sweet peas from the Trial Gardens was wonderful, as were sweeping mixed borders, mature trees and beautiful lakes. We just about had enough energy to make it home via the shop!

We also held our postponed Social Evening on 13th July, celebrating 125 years since the society was formed- a wonderful evening was had by all. More on this next month.

Do not forget our Autumn show on Saturday 10th September there is still plenty of time to nurture your flowers, fruit and vegetables. New entrants of all ages are always welcome.

The National Garden Scheme continues to run throughout the summer if you are looking for inspiration and new ideas. For more information visit

Happy Gardening!

Gardening notes for August 2022

I always think this is the turning point of the gardening year. Everything is looking a little tired and my thoughts turn to plans for next year. That said there is plenty to enjoy yet with balmy evenings in August, the beautiful light of September and the promise of autumn colour.

To keep harvests coming, watering and feeding is essential.

There is still just time to sow beetroot and French bean seeds, and all month fennel, spinach and chard, various herbs and salad crops, ie coriander, lambs lettuce. Tomatoes are doing well, keep watering regularly, signs of irregular watering are fruits splitting and blossom end rot (hard patch on the bottom of the fruits.) Feed to give the best flavour.

It's time to summer prune stone fruit (cherries etc) and trained forms of apples and pears, see a book or RHS website for details.

How are your houseplants doing, have they been repotted/fed recently? Maybe stand them out in a gentle summer shower to clean their leaves

The lawn is most likely looking a little brown, don't water unless it's newly laid. It will recover in the autumn rains. Raising the mower blades or decreasing the frequency of mowing will help reduce effects of drought.

Pots, veg and new planting are the priority for watering, as is keeping bird baths and ponds topped up for wildlife.

Why not have a go at taking cuttings. Penstemons and Pinks are easy to take. Use pots of free draining compost (several cuttings to a pot)- add a little grit/horticultural sand (builders sand may contain lime or salt). Choose a non flowering shoot (or cut the flower off) 2-5 inches long. Cut just below a leaf joint. Strip off the lower leaves, pinch out the top of the shoot above a leaf. Dip into rooting powder for increased success- push the cutting 1-2 inches into the compost round the edge of the pot. Water well and place in a shady place. Keep compost just moist. Cuttings from pinks are taken a little shorter, once you start to strip the leaves off the shoot you will see they too have a stem. The same technique can be used for shrubs. Choose a shoot that is this years growth slightly firm at the bottom but with flexibility (semi ripe cutting). Spending some time just sitting in your garden, perhaps in the cool of the evening, will help you appreciate the good points and plan areas to change/improve for next year.

July 2022 News Update

Members and friends of Barham & District Horticultural Society were welcomed to Walmer Castle Gardens for our first visit of the year. It was lovely to be able to catch up with faces old and new and to enjoy an afternoon immersed in all things horticultural.

A beautiful sunny afternoon greeted us, along with head gardener Philip Oostenbrink, who gave us a brief history of the castle and guided tour of the gardens.

It was wonderful to see the features he had described in his talk the previous month, including the Queen Mother's Garden and the dry moat, with his plans to incorporate jungle planting into this area- something to look forward to in the future.

Welcomed to Walmer Castle Gardens
Welcomed to Walmer Castle Gardens

The shade of the thick yew hedges and cooler woodland areas were much appreciated in the warm afternoon sunshine before we finished with much needed tea and cake!

Our next event is a day trip to RHS Wisley on Tuesday 5th July.

This is closely followed by our long awaited social evening to celebrate 125 years since B&DHS was founded (postponed from 2020)

This is a members only event at Barham Village Hall on Wednesday 13th July at 7.30pm. You will be greeted with a glass of wine /soft drink to take a seat with friends at tables (nibbles provided) whilst we have a presentation on showing fruit and vegetables plenty of hints and tips for the Autumn show!

Following this there will be a question time and a chance to catch up with each other. The evening will finish with a slice of cake and celebratory toast to the next 125 years of gardening!

We hope as many members as possible can attend

Happy Gardening!

Gardening notes for July 2022

Long summer evening are something to be savoured, so make the most of them whether that be a summer BBQ or enjoying some peace after a busy day with a cuppa or a G&T.

The advice all through the summer, water when its cooler, a regular soak works best. Think about what you grow, plants with silver or aromatic foliage and from Mediterranean climates will need less water, lavenders, geraniums, rosemary, gazanias, lantana. The RHS website has an extensive list of drought tolerant plants. For a very drought tolerant display try Sempervivums (houseleeks).

In hot weather, recently planted trees and shrubs will be at risk of suffering drought, keep an eye on anything planted in the last 3 to 5 years if it's very hot. In a normal year it's just those planted in the last couple of years that are at risk.

Two effective ways to keep weeds at bay, regular hoeing on a dry day whilst the weeds are small or dense planting to out compete the weeds with plants.

Keep harvesting courgettes, beans, mange tout, harvested regularly the plants will keep producing for longer. Root crops, beetroot, carrots, raddish are lovely harvested small. Don't forget to feed your veg plants for better crops ie tomatoes, aubegines, squashes. If you have a cut flower patch picking regularly/deadheading and feeding will keep the flowers coming all summer. Tomato food is great for anything you grow for fruit or flowers. Liquid seaweed for anything else.

Enjoying your garden can, as you know, take many forms. Pottering first thing deadheading your roses to keep them flowering. Sitting with a good book in the afternoon sunshine. Cleaning the bird feeders knowing you are keeping your garden visitors safe. Inviting a friend over to enjoy a cuppa and swap ideas or cuttings.

Alternatively enjoy one of the open garden events in the area, look out for local advertising. Or visit the national garden scheme website or Kent Wildlife's website for its open gardens with wildlife gardening advice.

How did you get on with leaving part of the lawn uncut for a few weeks? Might you make it a permanent feature? Managing it is easy, cut it late summer (September), keep it cut until winter then let it grow long again in the spring. You could add additional colour with hardy geraniums, snakes head fritillary, primroses, crocus or cowslips.

Reduce algae in a pond by including plants, topping up with rain water and using barley straw extract. If the level drops check access in and out is still safe for hedgehogs and other mammals.
Hope you enjoy time relaxing this summer.

June 2022 News Update

On Saturday 23rd April the Horticultural Society plant sale took place at the village hall. We were fortunate to receive many, varied plants to sell, and thanks to generous members and guests we raised a healthy sum for our funds. This fund raising goes towards speakers who entertain and inform our members on varied horticultural topics.

One such speaker, Phillip Oosterbrink, on 10th May at Kingston Barn, treated us to a most informative talk about the history and gardens of Walmer Castle. Phillip described how the garden has developed over the past three hundred years and the ongoing plans for it's future. Did you know that the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports has an apartment at the Castle?

Famous previous holders of the office include the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother. The present holder of the office is Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff and Admiral of the fleet and he takes a great interest in the gardens.

We still have seats available for our coach trip to RHS Wisley Gardens on Tuesday 5th July. Wisley has been improved and revamped and is well worth a visit.

Gardening notes for June 2022

I think we can be assured that summer is now fully with us.

The garden at this time of year should be full of colour and scent. I love going out and hearing the buzz of insects. It's a good idea to look at what plants the insects are enjoying the most- and plant more of them, or at least of a similar type. You can encourage more insects, either by buying more plants now (look out for the 'perfect for pollinators' symbol) or sow seeds for next year. Wallflowers and foxgloves can be sown now and then moved to their flowering positions in the autumn.

Have you got tall plants staked, get stakes in now before a heavy shower flattens you delphiniums.

What about your houseplants, when did they last get a feed, fresh compost or a clean of their leaves. Go on give them a treat.

On the veg patch the harvests should be starting. Many crops, where we eat the young 'fruit', will crop better if regularly harvested, for example courgettes, mange tout, beans. This is the same principle as encouraging more flowers by dead heading, or regularly picking your sweet peas.

Watering is key to success with veg crops, especially leafy crops which will go to seed quicker if dry. Water when its cooler, a regular good soak is better than a sprinkle every day. Water into a plant pot sunk into the ground next to larger plants such as courgettes gets water directly to the roots. Keep weeding to lessen the competition for water. Pots should be standing in saucers. This allows you to soak the pot properly and saves water. If you have crops in the greenhouse put up shade mesh or shading 'paints' and ensure vents are open on warm days automatic ones are great.

Hungry crops ie squashes, tomatoes and anything in a pot will benefit from a feed.

Did you do no mow May?, if not no mow June is an option, even if it doesn't sound as good! Perhaps mow round the buttercup patch, or just mow some paths through your lawn for a few weeks rather than the whole lawn. You could still trim the edges or even mow a strip round the edge if that shows off your borders better.

Long summer evening are something to be savoured, so make the most of them whether that be a summer BBQ or enjoying some peace after a busy day with a cuppa or a G&T.

May 2022 News Update

The gardening and our membership year are now well under way. We are delighted to have a full programme of events this year with several talks and at least two garden visits arranged. Full details are in the annual programme and these have been distributed. Any members who have not yet renewed and wish to do so please contact a member of the Committee. Details are on our website.

The Society has facilitated the planting of two trees at Barham Recreation Ground. An oak tree dedicated to Brigadier Maurice Atherton CBE in recognition of the many years that he and Wendi Atherton supported the Society, and a flowering cherry to mark the Society's 125 year anniversary. Plaques were unveiled on 9 April by Wendi Atherton. Additional trees have been and will be planted in this area as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee tree planting initiative.

Wendi Atherton & Tim Bines
Wendi Atherton & Tim Bines

On 13 April a fascinating and thought provoking talk was given by Barry Newman entitled The Modern Kitchen Garden. Barry, Vice Chair of the RHS's Fruit, Vegetable and Herb Committee and ex Chair of the National Vegetable Society spoke about growing vegetables in open ground, in contained space and containers and in raised beds. About the optimum use of space and how to grow crops differently that take up a lot of room and about the many advantages of raised beds for ease of working, pest control and crop rotation.

It is not too late to embark on growing vegetable this year either from seed or by buying young plants at a garden centre. It is hoped that more members will be inspired to get growing and will participate in the Autumn Show in September.

Our next talk is on Tuesday 10 May at 7.30pm at Kingston Barn. Philip Oostenbrink is Head Gardener at Walmer Castle Gardens he will be talking to us about the history and the development of the gardens. This will be followed by a visit to Walmer Castle Gardens on Wednesday 18 May. There are still a few places available; the booking form can be found in the BDHS annual programme or on our website.

Finally, we are in need of a person to Chair our small but dedicated Committee. If you are interested please contact Tim our president (01227 831240) for an informal chat about what the role involve

Gardening notes for May 2022

I love May, the days are long and there is a freshness that is lost later in the summer. So much is in flower, tulips, aliums, roses, iris, peonies to name a few.

As we know a mixture of flower types will provide food for the widest range of pollinators. Examples of types are daisies, foxgloves, phlox, achillea, single roses and buddleja. Perhaps add a tree or some shrubs to provide structure and cover/nesting sites for the wildlife you share your garden with.

On the veg plot continue to sow short rows of carrots etc to have a constant supply. If you are growing veg in containers, liquid seaweed or other feed will give you better crops. Follow the instructions on the bottle, over feeding will result in soft growth which aphids love!

Early potatoes should be 'earthed up' to cover new shoots as they emerge. Plant all seed potatoes by the end of the month.
If you didn't grow tomatoes or aubergines from seed, now is the time to buy small plants to grow on. The taste of tomatoes warm from the sun can't be beaten.

Towards the end of the month we should be frost free, so tender plants can go out courgettes, geraniums etc. Make sure you acclimatise your tender plants first by putting them outside in the day and back undercover at night. Once planted outside keep some fleece handy in case we get a late frost.

How did your dahlias do, did they survive in the ground, or did you over winter them indoors? Either way they are coming into growth soon. You can increase your stock by taking cuttings of the new shoots when they are about 3-4inches long including a slice of the tuber.

May is a great growing month which means weeds threatening to take over. Hoeing on a warm day is a great way to keep on top of them.
As daffs and other spring bulbs die down, they can be divided to cover a larger area. Any still in leaf can be given a feed to improve flowering next year. This is especially important for bulbs in a container.

Prune flowering shrubs as soon as they have finished flowering ie ribes.

It's a busy month for wildlife, keep bird feeders and baths clean and topped up, don't forget hedgehogs if you are lucky enough to have then visiting your garden.

May is a busy month, but do take the time to sit and enjoy your plot.

April 2022 News Update

What a lovely evening we had with Sue on the 8th March. She is a delightful speaker and took us through some lovely slides of plants through the season which have the promise of lovely scent. Sue reminded us of how strongly scent is linked to memory, those phlox taking you back to your grannies garden!
Sue covered both scented leaves and scented flowers. Explaining that the essential oils in plants like lavender and sage can deter creatures from having a nibble as well as reducing water loss by producing a haze of the oils round the plant. Take care when using essential oils they are natural, but strong so always use diluted.

Scent from flowers we are more familiar with and our enjoyment is secondary to the plants purpose of attracting pollinators. Scented winter flowering plants generally have a stronger scent, less insects are around so it has to carry further and be more enticing. On a surprising note butterflies smell of the flowers they have been feeding on.

Sue gave us many examples of scented plants we could use in our gardens. The list has gone out to our members by e-mail, if you haven't received it and would like to, then get in touch.

The 8th March was a busy day as we also planted two memorial trees in the picnic area next to the allotments. The first is an Oak tree dedicated to Brigadier Maurice Atherton who, with Wendi did so much for the society. The second to mark our 125year anniversary, a little late as Covid got in the way last year. It is a flowering cherry Prunus Shirotae as suggested by Chris Lane who holds the national collection for flowering cherries and spoke to the society last year.

Thanks to Richard Borthwick, Kevin and Arry Hunt for planting, and Andrew for collecting them. These were the first two trees planted in Barham for the Queens Green Canopy project.

Join us on the 13th April, Barry Newman will be speaking on 'The modern Kitchen Garden' at 7.30pm BVH we hope to inspire existing and aspiring veg growers. Non members welcome, 2 on the night.

This year our plant sale is on the 23rd April 10.30am BVH. Any plant donations would be welcome earlier in the morning. We hope to see many of you there to find something to enhance your plot.

Gardening notes for April 2022

It's properly spring, shout it from the rafters! I know meteorological spring is the 1st of March, but March is just too fickle.

Rhubarb is the first 'fruit' ready to harvest towards the end of the month. Take only a third of the stems at once, the plant needs leaves to feed itself. It makes delicious crumble or stewed with yoghurt and granola for breakfast.

Continue this month to plant seeds both veg and flowers. It's an especially a good time to sow direct into the soil, great for annuals ie love in the mist, poppies or sunflowers. For veg such as carrots, beetroot or radish, little and often, every week or two ensures a constant supply through the year. If you are growing carrots, carrot fly larvae can ruin your crop. They only fly 60cm above the ground, so grow in raised beds or pots, or cover with fleece to protect them. There are many varieties ie Early Nantes and Amsterdam forcing mature early and Royal Chantenay or Rondo have stumpy roots good for growing in pots.

Tender veg such as French beans or sweetcorn, these can be planted indoors this month and outdoors towards at the of the month. For some crops ie aubergines & tomatoes now is your last chance to sow seeds and have a long enough season for them to ripen well.

Maybe create perennial patio pots, using plants such as hardy fuchsia, dianthus, hosta, heuchera, salvia, thrift. Include a small shrub for background foliage, many places sell packs of shrubs only 5 inches tall, if you grow them on in a pot they will be big enough to plant out this or next autumn. The packs often include shrubs such as euonymus or berberis with nice foliage.

If you have a greenhouse and plan to grow tomatoes etc during the summer make sure the glass is clean.

The soil is warning up nicely and roots of shrubs and perennials planted now should be established before the potential droughts of summer.

New lawns can be sown or laid this month with the April showers ensuring they are established before summer.

Get weeds under control, time spent now will keep you ahead for the summer Dead head spring flowering bulbs and feed those in pots for a good display next year. Keep an eye on the weather, frost is still possible.

Between dodging the showers, take time to enjoy a cuppa in the sunshine its going to be busier in May!

Gardening notes for March 2022

Here we are at the start of another spring with all the hope and anticipation that brings.

Time to finish the preparation for vegetable growing. Onion/shallot sets and potatoes should be planted now. Its also the time when most seeds are sown, both veg and ornamentals. If you decided to give 'grow your own' a try, this is the month to make a start. Two golden rules; Don't plant too many seeds at once to avoid a glut, or them being overcrowded and dying. Read the instructions on the seed packet.

After flowering, early flowering shrubs can be pruned. Typically remove dead, diseased and crossing branches, then cut back to keep them in their allotted space. Always cut above a bud to avoid die back. Pruning of roses should be finished this month before the new growth starts. Also cut back shrubs such as dog wood which are grown for their colourful stems. The colour is brightest on the new growth.

The garden tidy up of perennials should be completed this month before the new shoots get tangled in the old. As you tidy look out for hedgehogs, every year there are casualties to strimers and bonfires.

The soil is warming up so it's a good time to split or move perennials. Shrubs can also be moved now, although well established ones are less likely to respond well, and may be better moved in the autumn so that they can establish before the potential drought of summer.

Growth will be boosted by some feed maybe blood fish and bone or a dressing of rotted manure. This includes hedges and pruned shrubs. On a dry day the lawn can have its first cut, trimming the edges will neaten up the garden with minimum effort.

Now is an excellent time to plant summer flowering bubs, just think of all the vibrant colour from lilies etc, available in garden centres and online nurseries now. For wildlife, the nesting season is underway, if you have a pet, then the fur from grooming them will be appreciated for nest lining. We have had several broods of blue tits raised in a cosy nest lined with cat fur!

As light levels increase, give houseplants a treat, feed, re pot them or refresh the surface compost and give their leaves a clean, don't forget your orchids. Keep an eye out for signs of spring, frog spawn and nesting birds, but don't be fooled there may still be frosts so keep tender plants protected.

Gardening notes for February 2022

Spring is tantalisingly close, but we will have to wait a few weeks.

Have you thought it would be nice to grow some veg? Now is the time to build raised beds, buy a large planter or dig over an area. Browse through the seed racks or online and decide what to grow. Don't be too ambitious at first, and only grow what you like to eat. Remember to read the instructions so you can provide the plants what they need to thrive. Spring onions, leeks, beetroot, courgettes, sugar snap peas, rocket and swiss chard are all easy and reliable. Onions or shallots grown from sets (small bulbs) or new potatoes are also good crops to start with (seed potatoes and sets are available this month)

If you already have a veg plot remove spent crops and weeds, add whatever you are using to give the soil a boost- home made compost, blood, fish & bone, rotted manure. If you are growing root crops, leave off the manure, too much food will cause forked roots.

As new growth starts the old stems of perennials and deciduous grasses need to be cut back to give the new shoots space to grow.

Feb is a pruning month.

Soft fruit; Blackcurrants remove a third of the old stems, redcurrants and gooseberries, create a goblet shape. See RHS website or a book for details.

Wisteria; the stems which were pruned back in the summer should be trimmed to 2 or 3 buds. This will leave you with the established structure and short flowering spurs.

Roses; remove dead, diseased, weak or crossing stems, then reduce back the growth to a strong outward facing bud. How much to reduce depends on the type of rose- see the RHS website. Apply a mulch to feed the rose, suppress weeds and cover the black spot spores on the ground from last year. This will reduce the likelihood of spores being splashed onto the new leaves and infecting the plant again this year.

Now is the time to split large clumps of snowdrops and spread them round the garden, or share with a friend. Water them in well to settle the soil round the roots. If you need inspiration for wildlife gardening there are zoom workshops and open gardens available. Search for 'gardens' on Kent Wildlife's website, to find the 'Gardening for a Wilder Kent' page

February is a cold month, but spring is just around the corner, enjoy the anticipation of the coming season.

Gardening notes for January 2022

January is a slow month in the garden and perhaps one where the focus is on planning and preparing. This year why not put some of that focus on making your garden better for you and the wildlife you share it with.

Hedges, trees and shrubs can provide excellent habitat, berries and structure. Shrubs can be chosen to add colour, scent as well as berries. There are plenty of trees suitable for the smaller garden i.e. rowan or crab apple and you would be joining the nation in planting a tree in Jubilee year. A length of hedge creates an important habitat and could be used as a boundary, to divide a garden or create a secluded corner. Consider where shade would be cast and plant accordingly. Winter is the ideal time to use bare root plants, which are cheaper than pot grown ones. They are available at some garden centres and from several specialist nurseries online.

Another structural consideration is whether to create a wildlife pond, it needn't be big, as long as it's a minimum of 18inches deep it shouldn't freeze solid. Safe access, no fish and some plant cover in and round it will be perfect. It's amazing how quickly the wildlife arrives especially the dragonflies. Do always consider safety and children if you build a pond.

What about your gardening practices, how wildlife friendly and sustainable are they?

Things to consider; minimising/removing the use of pesticides, leaving the garden clear up until spring, switching to peat free compost, could you have an area of longer grass or take part in 'no mow May', nest boxes mean the delight of fledglings in your garden, what about bird feeders and a bird bath, perhaps a bug hotel or a log pile.

It's an excellent idea to look round your garden and add annuals or perennials to give all year round colour for you, and nectar for the insects. Your garden could literally be buzzing. Growing from seed is fun, especially annuals such as calendula (marigolds), poached egg plant, or nigella (love in the mist) all of which the insects will enjoy and can be sown directly in the soil. Lists of pollinator friendly plants are readily available, or look out for the 'perfect for pollinators' symbol. Then you just have the decision regards which will like your gardens conditions and which you find attractive.

With a little thought your garden can be its very best for you and wildlife this year. Happy Planning.


Next EventWednesday
13th March

'Organic Vegetable Growing and the Hungry Gap'
Illustrated talk by Lee Woodcock.
'Organic Vegetable Growing
and the Hungry Gap.'
Wednesday 13th March 7.30pm
Directions to Barham Village Hall »

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