Here we are at the end of another year, weatherwise very unusual conditions, a very early Spring, I saw daffodils in flower outside at Christmas!, followed by all that rain and finally a long dry Autumn, longest on record. A challenging year, once again, for gardeners but we rose above it, if our Spring & Autumn shows were any judge. On fine days it is very pleasant, just to get out in the garden and be doing something. Prune apple & pear trees & now is an ideal time to prune those shrubs that seem to doubled in size since last year, look out for dead or diseased ,branches, as it is much easier to spot them at this time of the year when there are no leaves to hide in. Roses may also be half pruned, to prevent wind rock, final pruning can be carried out in February. One task we all put off is washing our seed trays, on a fine day wash them thoroughly with a diluted solution of Jeyes fluid, you will be glad you did this when you get them out of the shed to use them in the Spring. Winter digging can continue provided the ground is workable & not frozen solid. This will expose many soil pests and these will be enjoyed by hungry birds, the ideal environmentally friendly way to keep pests under control. On the subject of pests , slugs & snails may continue to be a problem in the garden particularly in cold frames and greenhouses, another good place to find then is to look into your stored flowerpots, they love overwintering in these, continue to use slug controls as appropriate. One of the more pleasant Winter tasks is “Armchair gardening” what could be more pleasant, when it cold & wet outside to sit in the warm with a cup of tea browsing through the seed catalogues, planning next years planting & possible garden alterations. Do not forget our discounted seed scheme we have with Dobies seeds, get approximate 30% off seeds & 10% off plug plants & garden sundries, could not be simpler, just get your unique code, place your own order & these will be delivered direct to you, also you can use this code for the rest of the year, and for all the money club members spend, the Club gets money back, it all helps to keep the Club running. Catalogues & details from our committee member Julie Dowsett, on Club nights. A few final jobs, check up on bulbs being forced for Christmas display, do not let them dry or get them waterlogged. Take in Winter hanging baskets, before severe weather arrives, baskets are particularly vulnerable because the compost is exposed to the cold on all sides and can freeze solid. Lag and protect outside pipes and taps, if you have not already done so. In the conservatory and greenhouse , pests such as greenfly & scale insects are always a potential problem, on indoor plants, fortunately populations are smaller in the Winter and they breed less rapidly, so control is simpler.
Club news: at our monthly meeting in October our speaker was Peter Biggs from Wanborough herb gardens, with a talk entitled “Preparing for Winter”, the talk showed how to have Winter colour and interest in the garden, through this bleak season. Peter had brought along a fine selection of plants to illustrate his talk, these were passed round, during the talk, and were available to purchase at the end of the evening, as with all Peter’s talks full of information and interest. Well that about wraps things up for 2016, next year we have another full programme of events for you and a good selection of interesting speakers. Our first meeting of the year, in January, we are breaking away from our usual format and having something a little different, a visit by the Herefordshire owl rescue service, where you will learn of the work the trust carries out, see these beautiful birds close up, and I am told that they will also bring gloves, so that you will get the opportunity to handle an owl. Remember, also at this meeting, it is time to renew your membership of the Club, due to rising costs, for the first time in many years, we have had to increase this to £10, but as part of this price increase, members will have free access to both our shows, plus of course member’s reduced costs on trips and access to our discounted suppliers list etc. So it only leaves me, on behalf of all the committee to wish you a very happy Christmas and a happy gardening New Year.
Peter Wheals Hon. Secretary.