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

Latest Society News & Events 2024

Take a look at what the society did in 2023

News Update July 2024

Our first trip of the year took place at the beginning of June with a visit to Kenfield Hall near Petham and then onto The Orangery at Mystole.

Kenfield Hall has an 8 acre garden which we were shown round by the head gardener and one of his colleagues, who we learnt was an excellent propagator and pronouncer of Latin names!

On arrival we were greeted with the meadow in front of the house with a diverse selection of wild flowers and orchids. We then enjoyed a tour of the garden and learnt about successes with defeating both rose blight and the dreaded box blight without using chemicals. There was much to admire from the Italian sunken garden with mixed borders, another wild flower meadow, an arboretum where there is a yew tree that produces yellow berries, to a Japanese garden with a natural swimming pool. The beautiful rose garden, vegetable garden and green houses completed our afternoon there.

We were accompanied by Ernie, Rosie and Jiminiy ( as in Cricket, although he lives on the croquet lawn!) three robotic mowers who trundled around cutting the grass and took themselves 'home' to recharge their batteries! I feel a few of our members maybe starting a Christmas wish list early this year!

It was a short drive to our next stop at The Orangery, hidden away in Mystole. A path through the trees leads to a 1 ½ acre garden around the 18th century orangery. Beautiful views can be enjoyed from the terrace with a walled garden that includes a collection of modern sculptures. We just about finished our tea and cake as the heavens opened – a soggy end to a lovely afternoon.

Coming up on 17th July at 7.30pm we have our summer social evening for members. A chance to enjoy a drink and nibbles whilst watching and being entertained by Mig Kimpton, a well known local florist. He began his career in the theatre but his passion for flowers won over, resulting in many awards, including 12 medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. Mig will create 3 flower arrangements which will be raffled at the end of the evening, so make sure you bring some money for tickets!

There are still spaces on our coach trip to RHS Hyde Hall on 1st August. The coach will leave Barham at 8am. ( Members £18, non¬ members £23 ) This is great value as in addition to the gardens, admission to their annual flower show is included. Expect dazzling displays, expert exhibitors, delicious food and plenty of shopping opportunities!

And finally, do not forget our Autumn Show on Saturday 14th September. Those dahlias and roses you are nurturing at the moment could be prize winners! Details can be found on our website and categories range from fruit and vegetables to flowers, floral art and cookery. There is also a children's section which includes decorated cup cakes to leaf pictures made with parents / grandparents- plenty to try during the summer holidays!

Happy Gardening!

Gardening notes for July 2024

What an uninspiring start to the summer, hopefully it improves. July's notes assume summer does actually arrive – otherwise please ignore advice not relevant to the temperature and precipitation levels experienced!

It's the start of the holiday season. Going away? speak nicely to your neighbours or set up an automatic watering system. Pots grouped together create a humid micro climate. Pots should be in saucers, to make watering efficient, do check they aren't left standing in water, plants can 'drown' if waterlogged for a long period.

Right plant, right place aids success whether in the ground or in a pot. Rosemary in shade or waterlogged soil is going to sulk and die and ferns in full sun will most likely scorch.

Are you growing veg this year, a veg plot or pots of salad leaves, both give you fresh harvests to enjoy, no food miles and no pesticides. Keep on top of harvesting to enjoy crops at their best. There is still time for quick maturing crops to be sown, think radish, lettuce, beetroot and baby carrots. Or you may be able to get veg packs from the garden centre to grow on.

Keep on top of the deadheading, watering and feeding to keep the garden looking fresh. If you are deadheading dahlias take care to remove the pointed spent remains of flowers and leave the nice rounded buds to open.

How's the nectar level looking? Have you got space to add some later flowering daises or achillea or perhaps a flowering shrub, buddleia or rose of Sharon are colourful and full of nectar.

Is there water in your garden? A water feature (or even better a pond) is a lovely addition and provides water for wildlife. A pond is ideal, no fish (they eat small creatures and eggs), with sloping sides and rocks for easy access, filled with rain water (easy this year!) and a third covered with plants- some tall ones for emerging dragonflies. Don't add native yellow flag or bullrushes unless your pond is huge (they are both thugs). Use barley straw extract and physical removal to deal with blanket weed. Definitely position a seat near by, to relax watching wildlife in the pond.

If a pond is not appropriate due to children's safety or space then a bird bath and/or a saucer of water is beneficial. Site them somewhere there is cover nearby, but not so close cats can hide in wait.

Hopefully there will be some balmy evenings to enjoy. Happy Gardening.

News Update June 2024

On Saturday 20th April we held our annual Plant Sale at Barham Village Hall. It was a very successful morning with people queuing out the door and plants flying off the tables. Many thanks to everyone who donated their plants for sale and those who supported us by buying them. We raised around £570.00 which will go towards our talks, shows and social evenings.

On 8th May Rachel Castle from Swallowfields Nursery, Elmstead gave a fascinating talk on cottage garden plants and bulbs. Swallowfields operates under the National Garden Scheme and at Plant Fairs around the country. They showed at Chelsea for the first time last year and have been asked back again this year. Rachel described how they grow lots of cottage garden plants and unusual perennials not found in garden centres, by propagating cuttings and taking seeds. Rachel loves to discover new plants and can be found cycling round the lanes looking in the hedgerows searching out rare and unusual plants that can be cultivated for the garden. The audience were captivated by the photos and Rachel's wonderful descriptions of her favourite plants with words like sumptuous, stunning and flamboyant. We were given the names of unusual snowdrops, Irises, Cyclamen, Anemones and many more different bulbs that can be grown all through the year making the garden "look like a jewel". Many a happy gardener left the hall clutching one of the splendid plants Rachel had brought along for sale.

We still have places available for our trip on the 9th July to Pheasant Barn and The Café by the Creek. This garden was a regional finalist (English Garden's The Nation's Favourite 2021) and also featured on BBC Gardeners' World in August 2023. There are formal and informal planting areas, a meadow with nectar rich planting for wildlife and stunning views across the creek. There is also a pond, raised vegetable beds and courtyard garden. The afternoon will continue with refreshments served at 2.30 pm at The Café by the Creek. Further information is available here: Adobe Acrobat PDF Visit to Pheasant barn & the café by the creek details and booking form

Gardening notes for June 2024

As I write the weather is a bit hit and miss, but hopefully summer has now properly arrived.

In the flower beds June is an explosion of colour, roses in full flower, poppies and lilies and the ephemeral peonies, they may not last long, but they are so sumptuous. If you have peonies which are not flowering, they may be planted too deeply, the buds only need approx. 1 inch of soil over them. They love rich soil and full sun. They can be expensive – bare root plants in autumn or early spring are the best value.

Peonies, along with many other perennials need staking as the large flowers can be too heavy for the stems especially after a shower. Best to get the supports in early (do as I suggest not as I do!)

Continue with the weeding, a densely planted flower border can hide many weeds, but be careful to remove any which are crowding out your plants. This is especially important on the veg patch, where a regular hoe works wonders. Feed veg in pots regularly especially tomatoes and aubergines.

If you have pots remember that they are dependant on you for food and water. Even if it rains I would check the moisture levels in the soil. Of course, as always pots should by now be standing in a saucer to make watering effective.

Harvests are starting with sugar snap peas, lettuce and radish and early potatoes.

If you are lucky enough to have fruit trees you will notice some small fruits fall, this is the natural thinning so that the tree is not over loaded. At the end of June take a look and do a little more thinning if the tree has more fruit than it can carry to maturity.

Did you have a go at no mow May? Hopefully you had some wildflowers appear and insects busily enjoying the new habitat. Why not leave part of the lawn long until the end of August. Trimming the edges keeps it looking neat.

There have been birds fledging for several weeks now and the parents must be exhausted, why not give them a helping hand with bird food and a bird bath.

It is a busy time of year but don't forget to take time to wander round your plot and appreciate the beauty of nature. If you need to feel the stroll is not idle do some deadheading at the same time, many plants will reward you with extra flowers.

News Update May 2024

BDHS members have enjoyed previous talks given by Philip Oostenbrink, Head Gardener at Walmer Castle, and the latest on 4th April, was no exception. Philip has been creating a Jungle Garden in the moat at the Castle. He has a Jungle Garden at home and was inspired by Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly and Will Giles' Exotic Garden in Norwich. There are not as many flowers in a Jungle Garden but the foliage lasts longer and if you mix the right textures and shapes the effects can be quite stunning. A jungle garden requires less watering and weeding as a micro climate is formed under the lowest plants and there is more moisture. Ground insects and beetles prefer this, especially with evergreen plants which give winter shelter. This in turn encourages more species of birds.

Philip gave some useful advice on how to create a jungle corner or garden:

    » When choosing plants, the foliage should be combined - do not put plants with the same leaf shape next to each other. Repetition of shape, colour and texture throughout the garden provides a more interesting vista
    » When planting a jungle garden, start with the upper canopy - i.e. tetrapanex rex, a banana tree, tree ferns (when coppiced the colours are better) or bamboo. A foxglove tree is beautiful but does get very big. However, you can coppice it and the leaves will grow back bigger.
    » Under the upper canopy, look to have plants of about 1-2 m in height. Use filler plants that will bulk out and give the effect of denseness. Combine different leaf shape, colour and texture. Choose plants like Elephants ear which has hairy leaves, ferns and hostas
    » Finally plant a lower canopy - some ideas here would be Asian nettles, begonia torsa and colocasia - pink china, which is very hardy.

Philip concluded his inspiring talk by advising us that many plant centres will have relevant plants for a Jungle Garden or for more inspiration go to We can visit Walmer Castle of course and perhaps a visit to his own garden might be possible in the future.

The next talk will be given on Wednesday 8th May by Rachael Castle who will be 'Shining a light on Bulbs'. This will take place in Barham Village Hall at 7.30 pm. Non-members are very welcome. We ask for a donation of £2 towards our costs or you might like to make that up to £7 and become a full member! We have an excellent programme of talks, trips, shows and social gatherings throughout the year plus discounts at local garden centres and with Suttons seeds. You will quickly recoup your subscription whilst enjoying all that is on offer.

We are also looking forward to the first trip of 2024. This takes place on Thursday 6th June at 2pm where the afternoon will begin at Kenfield Hall Petham – an 8-acre organic garden which opens for private tours only. We then continue to The Orangery in Mystole for refreshments in the beautiful gardens there. Adobe Acrobat PDF Visit to Kenfield Hall and the Orangery details and booking form

Gardening notes for May 2024

Welcome to summer (or maybe late spring!). The garden is growing so fast you can almost see it changing by the day. Priority this month is to get on top of the weeding, your definition of a weed can be relaxed. I like to leave some herb robert (early nectar) and garlic mustard (orange tipped butterfly caterpillars). Be careful weeds are good colonisers, don't leave them all to seed. Be especially careful with those that run like buttercups.

There are still seeds to be sown especially early in the month, sweet corn for example, or the next batch of beetroot, carrots, peas, raddish, lettuce etc. If you want to grow wallflowers for next spring now is the time to do it. They are biennal, plant grows this year, flowers next year and then dies (sometimes you will get another year from them). Ideally grow a row on a veg patch and move them in the autumn.

Spring bulbs are coming to an end, if they are in pots give them a liquid feed to boast next years flowers. Once the leaves have yellowed, they can be removed. Bulbs in pots can then be planted in the border if you wish.

For wildlife, no mow May is here. Just a small area left will make a difference to the insect population. Or leave the whole lawn and maybe just mow the edges and paths through. Use the time you save to sit in the garden with a cuppa and a good book!

Don't forget to feed wildlife, the birds are nesting and hoglets can be born as early as May. We have a hedgehog looking very plump, so we are hopeful for some young ones. Remember no milk and bread, they are lactose intolerant. They like Tesco's kitten biscuits, or any meaty dog or cat food, wet or biscuits. Don't forget a dish of water, I use a plant pot saucer.

May is a month of contrasts. There may be a hot spell, remember to water pots and seedlings and open greenhouses. Or there may be frost, be ready with the fleece and don't plant out bedding too early.

If you have patio pots consider planting up with some perennials, its more sustainable as they will come back next year or can go into the garden. Hardy fuchsias, pinks, alpines, herbs, or ferns and hostas for a shady area. Check plants for each pot need the same conditions so they are all happy.

Enjoy the lengthening days.

News Update April 2024

The keen gardeners amongst us will now be sowing their seeds and hoping for a bumper crop of vegetables in the months ahead. On 13th March Lee Woodcock came to talk to us about growing vegetables organically, how to fill the hungry gap and store your produce. Lee has worked in Horticulture all his life, training at Hadlow College and currently working as a Head Gardener. His work has covered plant health, nutrition, pest, disease and weed control, micro propagation and garden design and landscaping. He has won many awards including Knifeman of the Year – for his propagation skills!

We learnt, from Lee's own experimental trials, the best way to prepare a new plot and eradicate those troublesome weeds like bindweed and ground elder. How to choose a growing system, making sure to create paths between rows to avoid compacting the soil and maintain soil structure, important for organic growing. To plan the vegetable garden so you do not have gaps in the year and allocate what to grow in each bed. Lee talked about organically controlling pests and disease, an endless dilemma for us gardeners, and the importance of looking after the health of the soil particularly by adding lots of organic matter. After harvesting he promoted the sewing of green manure plants which help the nitrogen in the soil, provide compost and smother weeds. We then have to successfully store the produce we have grown and Lee offered some helpful ideas. Questions from the audience soon followed the talk and an auction was held for the plants Lee had generously brought along.

Phillip Oostenbrink, came to speak to us in 2022 about Walmer Castle where he is Head Gardener and later that year members were able to enjoy a tour of the lovely gardens. At our next talk on the 4th April, he will be coming to tell us about the creation of a Jungle Garden in the moat at the Castle. He has created a tropical garden in his own garden, which is open on certain days, and has also written a book on the Jungle Garden.

On Saturday 20th April we will be holding our popular Plant Sale at Barham Village Hall at 10.30 am. If you have any spare plants or vegetable seedlings, please bring them to the hall between 8.30 and 10.00 am. We look forward to seeing you all there.

Gardening notes for April 2024

'Its spring'- don't say it too loudly it might also be freezing or snowing. Lets hope for a traditional April, plenty of gently warm days, blue skies and short showers bringing on new growth.

There's lots to be done. Mowing the lawn, re instating border edges. Seed sowing, potting on seedlings. Planting summer flowering bulbs (lilies etc) Planting out hardier veg like peas. Don't forget to acclimatize plants during the day rather than putting indoor sown seeds straight out overnight. Tender plants, tomatoes and courgettes etc need to be kept frost free, so be patient and wait until its warmer, perhaps early May unless you can provide protection (cloches/fleece).

Shrubs that have just finished flowering can be pruned now. It may be too late for clipping hedges, if the birds are nesting they need to be left in peace to raise their family.

With all the focus on the environment, could you make some changes to your gardening practices to make your patch more environmentally friendly? Here are a few suggestions.

Save water, install a water butt or 6! Grow drought tolerant plants especially for patio pots, pelargoniums (geraniums), lavender, thyme, house leeks, gazania, eryngiums. Mediterranean plants and those with silvery leaves are often drought tolerant. Use a drip irrigation system on veg patches, water in the cool of the day. Reduce evaporation, mulch your flower beds and put bark or stones/grit on the soil surface of patio pots. Add organic matter to veg patch to hold water.

Save plant miles, grow more from cuttings, divisions, seeds and swopping plants with friends, buy from local nurseries.

Swop to peat free compost. Peat bogs are a carbon sink. Re use plastic pots, recycle materials where possible. Fit your shed with a solar light.

Increase biodiversity, control pests organically and targeted on the pest only. Alternatively learn to live with pests, a little green fly on roses is acceptable (and a feast for blue tits). Or allow nasturtiums to have black fly to save your broad beans. Provide water. Plant for pollinators- see the perfect for pollinators symbol. Provide habitats, don't be too tidy. Plant a tree and/or a hedge, have a log or stone pile, or a bug hotel (one in the sun and one in the shade for diversity). Have areas of dense planting (provides cover, minimises evaporation from soil and light for weeds and hides those that survive!)

It's a joy to share your patch with an increasing number of insects and other life.

RHS Garden Wisley closure

On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February 2024 RHS Garden Wisley and the Garden Centre will be closed to all visitors due to the A3 weekend closure, as part of the ongoing M25 junction 10/A3 Wisley interchange roadworks.

National Highways is closing part of the A3 in both directions, from 9pm Friday 23 February to 5.30am Monday 26 February, between the M25 and the A247/B2215 south of Ripley. Because of this road closure, it is not possible to welcome our members and visitors to the garden that weekend.

They are sorry for any inconvenience this closure may cause you and they look forward to welcoming you back to RHS Garden Wisley soon.

For more information please visit their website.

If you would still like to visit a garden over that weekend there are several RHS Partner Gardens nearby, many offering free access to RHS members (for joint memberships, the main member can visit for free). These include: Ham House, Nymans, Osterley Park, Sheffield Park and Garden, Syon Park and Tylney Hall Hotel. Please use the RHS Partner Garden Finder to find out more.

News Update February 2024

We are now at the start of the calendar year, the gardening year and our membership year. Although we are about to hunker down for a cold spell there are signs of spring with snowdrops and daffodils peeping through the earth.

The Society's AGM was held on 17 January 2024, and the events planned for 2024 outlined. It will be a busy year with something planned for each month. The first talk takes place at 7.30pm on 14 February at Barham Village Hall. Steve Edney is returning to talk to us about The Long Border that he created from scratch four years ago. Steve gave us a very interesting talk last year on dahlias. His enthusiasm for horticulture is infectious.

It is now time for current members to renew their subscription and if you are not currently a member you will consider joining. Membership is £7 per annum or £14 for a household. Subscriptions can be paid on line or in person. Committee members will be at Barham Village Hall on Saturday 3 February between 10am and 11am to collect subscriptions and hand out the 2024 programme and membership cards. The programme contains details of the 2024 events including the entry form for the Autumn Show. A membership card enables a discount on plant purchases from several local garden centres who advertise in the programme and Suttons Seeds offer a 50% discount on seed orders. We are keen to maintain or even grow our membership numbers as this enables us to put on a full calendar of events. Details of how to become a member can be found here

We are still looking for a Chair Person for the Committee. The role is not onerous or difficult as the committee members share the tasks and report back at the committee meetings held every other month.

Gardening notes for February 2024

Here we are heading for the end of winter (we hope).

Its an interesting time in the garden never knowing whether its going to be freezing or pouring, make the most of opportunities to get jobs done.

Indoor jobs: cleaning houseplant leaves, planning new borders, sorting and ordering seeds, commencing seed planting, such as tomatoes (especially if you have a propagator), cleaning and sharpening secateurs, cleaning tools and tidying the shed (although that's kind of outdoors!), having a cuppa with a friend.

Outdoor jobs: The list is a lot longer than last month but doesn't have the urgency of March.

If it snows knock it off evergreens. Keep birds supplied with fresh water and food.

Complete rose pruning before they start to bud. The instructions are in last month's notes (apologies for titling them December notes!)

Get hedges cut before the birds start nesting, Prune wisteria back to two buds unless they are stems needed to make the framework, take a look at the RHS website for videos. Prune any winter flowering shrubs that have finished flowering. Start the task of pruning the summer and autumn flowering clematis. Leave the spring flowering ones alone or you will cut off this years flowers. Cut back deciduous grasses, I find a hedge cutter ideal for the bigger ones. Don't forget to remove any metal supports first! Cut back old leaves on Hellebores to remove any with blackspot and show off the flowers.

Take note of where all the bulbs are coming through so you can avoid disturbing them in the summer. You can buy pots of bulbs to increase the display, many spring bulbs also provide nectar for any insects venturing out.

Chit early potatoes ready for March planting. Check planting times of seeds you plan to grow, broad beans can be planted outside now. If you have issues with mice plant a few in pots under protection until they have germinated. Prepare seed beds, removing all the weeds and raking the soil to get a nice crumbly surface. Get a head start by covering the area with cloches or old compost bags (opened out to show the black inside), this warms up the soil.

Have fleece ready to protect early blossom on apricots and peaches if you are lucky enough to have them.

Leave perennial stems standing for the moment so the birds can enjoy the seeds, the insects shelter and you can enjoy them fringed with frost.

Enjoy the preparations for a beautiful spring and summer.

News Update January 2024

Happy New Year. May you find your seeds germinate first time, your blooms be sumptuous, your produce delicious and the visitors to your garden enchanting.

The society holds its AGM on Wednesday the 17th Jan 2024 at 7pm Barham village hall. There will be the usual society business and collection of subs followed by a glass of something, nibbles and time to catch up. There will also be a raffle which will raise funds to support the schools gardening group, which two of our members are part of. Of course, there will be the usual two competitions, best posy and most varieties from your garden (please list the varieties). Both displayed in your own vases.

If you wish to join the society its £7 per adult for the year. Join at the AGM or online here.

The program for 2024 is summarised here, membership also includes discounts on Suttons seeds and at local nurseries, along with opportunity for discounted RHS garden visits.

Wednesday 14th February Illustrated talk by Steve Edney - The Long Border
Wednesday 13th March Illustrated talk by Lee Woodcock - Organic Vegetable Growing and the Hungry Gap.
Thursday 4th April Illustrated talk by Philip Oostenbrink - Jungle Garden
Saturday 20th April 10.30 am Plant Sale
Wednesday 8th May Illustrated talk by Rachael Castle - Shining a light on Bulbs
Thursday 6th June Car trip to Kenfield Hall and The Orangery
Tuesday 9th July Car trip to Pheasant Barn
Wednesday 17th July Social Event
Thursday 1st August Coach trip to RHS Hyde Hall
Saturday14th September Autumn Show
Wednesday 9th October Illustrated talk by Fergus Garrett from Great Dixter.
Wednesday 13th November Illustrated talk by Jo Arnell - Winter and Autumn Shrubs/Structure in the Winter Garden.

The talks are at Barham village hall starting at 7.30pm. details of the price of trips will be in your member program and also available here Adobe Acrobat PDF Annual Programme 2024.

We hope to see many of our members on the 17th Jan. If you are not currently a member do consider joining us, you don't have to be an expert gardener, or even have a garden to enjoy the talks and trips. If you wish to try us out, come along to a talk we only charge £2 for a visitor.

Gardening notes for January 2024

Happy New Year!

Hopefully you got some garden related gifts, perhaps an Amaryllis or a new trowel. This is another quiet month so plenty of time to wander round your plot on a sunny day. Make a note of where the sun is and maybe add something with interesting bark or coloured stems or golden grasses which can be picked out by the sun and enjoyed from indoors.

How is the nectar and colour in the garden, do you perhaps have snowdrops, early crocus, hellebores or mahonia. Take a trip to a garden centre and see what would like your soil.

You could make a start on pruning your roses. Always prune back to a bud, with a cut sloping away from it. Use sharp clean secateurs. The amount that should be pruned differs depending whether it is a shrub or hybrid T etc. However, the principle is the same whatever you have. Remove to the base any very weak or spindly stems. Cut back to a healthy bud any dead or damaged stems. Cut back any stems that are crossing and rubbing, as they will damage each other, so you are left with one of the pair. Then reduce back the remaining stems to an outward facing bud, its this last step which depends on the type of rose. I would try cutting back a third and see what the result is then try more or less next year. If you know what type the rose is you can 'google' that last step. Then a feed and a mulch to give the best flowers next year and reduce blackspot (the spores on the ground will be buried by the mulch).

Have you sorted through your seeds, bin the really old ones- or do a germination tests (for example on damp kitchen roll) before you commit them to compost. If you are a member of the horticultural society, you will get a discount with Suttons seeds. There are often a lot of seeds in a packet so team up to share with a friend if you have too many.

It's a good time to look through the flower beds for perennial weeds as they are easier to see and deal with in winter.

As always remember the wildlife which shares your plot, perhaps plan a wildlife friendly area or more nectar and of course keep providing birds with food and water.

Happy Gardening, enjoy the rest its going to get busier next month.


Next EventWednesday
17th July 7.30pm

'BDHS Social Evening.'
BDHS Social Evening.
On Wednesday 17th July 7.30pm at Barham Village Hall we have our social evening.
We hope to see many of you there.
Directions to Barham Village Hall »

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