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 things 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

August Outing

The minibus trip to Broughton Grange was thoroughly enjoyed by all, the consensus was that the Tom Stuart-Smith walled garden was an outstanding design .

See our photos page for more pictures.

July Meeting

David Pearce took us through a career path that led him to practice sustainable gardening, starting in the Isle if Wight and a 2-year apprenticeship working with wild collected and rare plants, learning how to propagate and consider the habitats in which they liked to grow.

On to RHS Wisley for a solid grounding on all aspects of horticulture and David began to look for an alternative and holistic approach to gardening.

Then Highgrove where he says he ‘fell in love with the artistry of gardening’. His prior experience had been science based, now he learnt about organic gardening, sustainability and biodiversity.

Next Whatley Manor, a 1920’s Arts and Crafts, Lawrence Johnston designed garden. Here he experimented with knowledge gained at Highgrove, creating different habitats and planting for specific conditions.

David is currently Curator at Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Garden, 30 acres of established gardens nestled in a wooded valley with its own microclimate; sustainable gardening is top of his remit.

David explained that he has travelled to several countries to study how plants grow in the wild and feels this is key to sustainability: right plant, right place resulting in healthier growth negating the need for intervention such as irrigation, feeding and chemical pest management.

He urged us to grow our own plants from cuttings and seeds or seek out and support small independent nurseries. David also encouraged us to experiment with planting and take notes, to observe our gardens natural environments and learn from them.

David Pearce

June Outing

The club visited Kiftsgate 6 years ago in spring, so as well as the plants being totally different, the orchard with its wildflowers and mound wrapped in Rosa rugosa, hiding a seating area that led your eye along an avenue of tulip trees to a distant sculpture, was new to us.

The garden was packed with great planting combinations where blooms picked out the colours of their neighbour’s stems, leaf margins, buds or seed pods and toned beautifully.

Groups of vivid red roses and fiery Hemerocallis seemed to glow and pops of orange lilies contrasted with purple Cotinus coggygria. Romantic mixes of soft silver textures amid baby-pinks and blues tumbled to the paths and honeysuckle grew in the borders. We found the unusual, such as the tubular mauve flowers of Fabiana imbricata f. violacea, spikey, blue Eryngiums, a few late peonies and even one or two grasses.

We trod lightly over the faux grass for a shady seat in the calming water garden, inhaled deeply the delicious scents and enjoyed the fabulous views from the pool in the lower garden. Tea and cake or scones were taken inside or out and the plant sales area perused. We marvelled at a huge stand of Dahlia Merckii (I think) and of course roses were everywhere with Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ cascading magnificently from its high hedge.

June Meeting

John Heathcott talked about the Woodland Trust and Ancient Woodlands of the Cotswolds, explaining that colonizer trees, firstly silver birch, were followed by Scots pine, hazel, willow, lime, oak and others; this information having come from carbon dating pollen grains which are practically indestructible!

John described ancient forest as areas with single native trees showing evidence of repeated coppicing and pollarding also having areas of native mature trees, standards, for timber and areas of straight single stemmed trees, high forest, with boundary ditches on the inside of the forest’s edges.

He explained that all our native trees regrow when coppiced or pollarded and this cycle creates differing levels of light and shade, allowing wildflowers, ferns and fungi to flourish providing diverse habitats and food for wildlife.

John, in his role as a Woodland Trust Ranger, manages Lineover Woods near Cheltenham.  Along with volunteers he works to increase habitats and biodiversity by widening paths and clearing around old oaks. The team coppice 1 or 2 limes a year, for if you don’t, John says they fall over! Cut wood is used to make charcoal to sell and for hedges and fences. Introduced conifers cut out light which being bad for biodiversity are removed and new trees planted which frustratingly, John says, can be destroyed by squirrels or disease!

Lineover wood is home to rare large leaf limes and many wild flowers including, bluebells, lily of the valley and orchids; 500 species of fungi have been recorded and wildlife abounds, such as deer, birds and rare butterflies.

For more information visit

John Heathcott
Ancient oaks, remains of an ancient forest affectionately known as ‘The Committee’