April Meeting

Margie Hoffnung’s excellent talk, The Threats to Historic Parks and Garden, was both informative and concerning.

Margie explained that gardens and parks are listed, as houses are, but Historic England suspects as many as 30% are not, including areas of ancient agricultural systems and orchards.

From her photos there seems to be so many ways that we are destroying the history of and changing the look and feel of historic gardens, parks and there buildings and structures.

Margie took us through some of these threats such as, roads and traffic, finance, demolition, overgrowth  and misguided intervention. She pointed out that whilst there was lots of demolition after the war, it sometimes still happens and neglect is common, saying that overgrowth may be cheep to resolve but vandalism, poor management and change of use can be irreparable. As well as threats from climate change including flooding and conditions legislation imposes, Margie said that renewable energy, tourism, public events and diseases like box blight all play a part.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom, Margie as the Conservation Officer for the Gardens Trust, a UK charity dedicated to protecting and conserving historic parks, gardens and designed landscapes is fighting on our behalf. This trust supports the 36 County Gardens Trust which help protect and promote historic designed landscapes. Volunteers in the CGT help the GT by researching local landscapes, recording site surveys, checking historic environment records, working with schools, helping with media, fundraising events and garden visits.

This is a way we could all help, visit wiltshiregt.org.uk, Margie said these meeting often involve great cake!

Margie also said that the ‘Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023’ includes parks and gardens, which help. Let’s hope so as she and our landscape needs it.

March Meeting

At the AGM the outgoing Chair,  Anne West, was thanked for all her hard work over the last 7 years and Elizabeth (Bizzie) White was welcomed as new Chair.

During his talk, David Cropp shook soil from the base then prised, pulled, tugged and cut apart 2 full pots of Hemerocallis. He told us not to be afraid of doing the same, saying that plants are tough and can take some rough handling, but to clean equipment between dividing each plant so as not to transfer diseases.

As a rule of thumb he suggested there should be no more than twice the height of plant above ground as roots below and to trim if necessary.

He encouraged us to make our own compost by adding lots of grit to bought compost and soil so it’s not too rich and has an open texture to aid drainage, he also said that it is a good idea to mix our own garden soil with that from the pot of a new plant.

David also advised that, if having a problem growing a plant in a certain spot to dig deeper and investigate what is below the roots.

Those who wanted, went home with a bagged and labelled, potted division of Hemerocallis ‘Chicago Sunrise’; a day lily with large sunshine yellow flowers – now that’s something we could all do with right now!


Don’t forget to join us for our first meeting of the  year when David Cropp will be giving us a practical demonstration on how to divide and pot on plants.

Don’t miss the chance to have a go yourself and ask all the questions you need to hone your skills.

Our programme of speakers for the year and planned outings will be available.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday March 12th at the Town Hall Annexe.

Please note this meeting starts a little earlier then normal at 7pm with a short AGM followed by a fun and informative demo at 7.30.

December Meeting

Joff Elphick gave a great talk entitled ‘Crayfish on the Lawn’

Joff began with a run-through of his career explaining that as a student he worked for Mary Keen then, for one day a week, at the rose garden Moor Wood.

After college he did some work at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and 5 years at Barnsley House for Rosemary Verey’s son: when working at a Bibury garden he discovered it had been designed by Rosemary!

Joff is now based in Cirencester working at Barnsley, Bibury and Meysey Hampton; he also hosts a garden podcast.

Joff’s amusing talk covered a selection of topics including plant recommendations, moths encountered in his garden, fasciation, interesting sights and observations and people.

Amongst the plants he thinks should be more widely grown we met the pretty annual, Trachymene (Didiscus) ‘Blue Lace’, shade loving Lamium orvala and pretty pink Valeriana pyrenaica.

We were shown the twig-like peppered moth, privet hawk moth and the rather attractive but destructive box moth.

Joff explained that the flattening of stems and flowers, fasciation, could be caused by bacteria, virus or genetics , showing in the annual cock’s comb, Celosia, as coral-like and stable.

We learned the true story of Judith Hann and Rick Stein’s dog, were introduced to the first Turkish snail in Gloucestershire, white ice wool or frost beard and the film that Joff shot which 2 universities wanted.

Pam Ayres popped up with a poignant extract from her book ‘The Last Hedgehog’ and the fritillaries in North Meadow got a mention.

As for the crayfish in the title, you shouldn’t have missed the meeting!

see our new programme and don’t miss out on future talks.

November Meeting

Our November speaker was Mollie Higginson, vice-chair of the Young People in Horticulture Association. Mollie is also the sales manager of New Leaf Plants, Evesham, which specialises in the propagation and growth of Clematis.

She explained the aims of the organisation which has grown from 3 young people in horticulture to a membership of 750, all aged under 35, in a matter of three years.

The aim of the organisation is to promote horticulture as an attractive proposition for its members by providing mutual support and having 2 exciting trips each year. It also wants to promote horticulture in schools and community organisations.

Mollie asked members what was happening in Cricklade to promote horticulture. We had a fascinating interactive discussion about the avenues to promote understanding of horticulture and some of the barriers that still need to be overcome.

September Meeting

As always, Paul Green from Greens Leaves Nursery, Newent, gave us an informative and amusing talk.

Paul brought a lovely selection of his latest plants which he discussed pointing out the new characteristics that breeders have developed, such as  their drought tolerance, floriferousness and suitability to pots. He informed us as to where and when best to plant and how to care for them in pots, which, he advised us should be as big as possible with a lining of polystyrene to insulate against cold and heat. Paul cautioned us that if we wrap our potted plants during a cold snap in winter to be sure to unwrap when it warms up to allow air to circulate around the plant.

Paul’s talk was full of interesting facts and witty remarks as well as introducing us to new selections of some familiar plants.

We all left with a smile on our faces and some with several purchases!

Paul Green with a great selection of plants