New Year

We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on March 8th 2022

December Meeting

We finished the year on a light note with Adrian James whose talk entitled ‘Folklore and More! was packed with information, history, mystery and humour.

Adrian took us through the year by plants starting with the changing symbolism of snowdrops for rebirth to meaning death or bad luck to the Victorians; touching on Wassailing, the twice flowering Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’ and Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury, the Green Man, disgorging, foliate or with leafy head and beard, to why Lonicera blooms for so long and when brought into the house the differing effects it has on your dreams depending on your age!

Adrian advised us against picking blackberries after 29th September in view of what Satan did to them after being expelled from Heaven and landing on their prickles and ended his talk with Viscus album and evergreens.

If you have bought and wrapped presents, written cards and prepared the veg and are looking forward to a rest and a little tipple on Christmas eve then think again, Adrian told us this is traditionally the time to deck the house with foliage and berries – to do so before then will result in quarrels. You have been warned!

Merry Christmas.

Our December speaker, Adrian James

November Meeting

Sam Davies gave us an intriguing glimpse into life on his 2-acre smallholding in Shropshire.

Sam and his wife Kate – known as Tom and Barbara from ‘The Good Life’, have been self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables for the past 19 years. Both work part time whilst keeping chickens, geese, goats, bees and tending their allotment area, orchard and woods at their south facing former sheep shed home.

They store 50%  of their produce along with drying, pickling, freezing and preserving; they also make cider, apple wine, kombucha, honey and beeswax polish.

Sam is a passionate composter and advocate of the ‘no dig’ method so mulches his beds and makes his own potting compost.  They capture and use only rain water, burn their own wood, make cheese with their goat’s milk and have a novel way of baling hay!

Sam’s talk was delivered with spade loads of hints and tips and a liberal sprinkling of humour.

With all this work and giving talks, life is busy for Sam and Kate but let’s hope they find time to write the book they hinted at.

Sam Davies with home produced honey


October Meeting

Andrew Woodall gave us a fascinating insight into his career, from  manufacturing stilts for picking tomatoes and keeping giant snails, working as head gardener at several locations to his current position at Broughton Grange.

Andrew touched on some of the challenges he has encountered during his career; interpreting someone else’s vision, working with designers and to budgets, the aftermath of landscaping with modern machinery and living and working in Italy’s daytime heat.

Andrew’s first job in 1992 at Pennington House was to reinstate its garden which had been untouched for ten years. As a big step up 2000 his next job was to maintain the established garden at Fort Belvedere. In 2003 Andrew moved to Il Palagio in Italy to work alongside Arabella Lennox-Boyd where his first job was to sort out drainage problems due to compacted soil.

In 2006 Andrew became head gardener at Broughton Grange, working with a team of four he manages a 25 acre garden set within 400 acres of beautiful countryside near Banbury. The Grange’s gorgeous three terraced walled garden was designed by Tom Stuart-Smith with the  lower terrace’s low box hedging representing the cells in ash, beech and oak leaves. The rest of the gardens design is the work of the owner and Andrew. Andrew told us that time during lockdown was put to good use by digging out box with blight and replacing with 4000 Euonymus ‘Jean Hugues’. This took three weeks to place and plant in the lower terrace alone!

October’s speaker Andrew Woodall
A giant snail
The walled garden, middle and lower terraces


The rose garden with new Euonymus edging