Meavy Garden Society Meetings
Meavy Garden Society AGM 2018 was held on Monday 19th February 2018
Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 21st May 2018
Growing and Showing Pelargoniums - Martin Pope from the Plymouth Pelargonium and Fuchsia Society
Our speaker this evening was Martin Pope from the Plymouth Pelargonium and Fuchsia Society, who talked to us on growing and showing pelargoniums.
Having spent much of his life in Berkshire, growing and showing regal pelargoniums, Martin moved down to Devon some twenty years ago, bringing his collection with him. He was disturbed to find that all but a few failed in the humid climate of the South West, so he decided to try breeding some that could, using the survivors from his original collection!
Wherever possible, Martin lets the bees pollinate his plants. He sows the resulting seeds and evaluates seedlings. He looks for a compact naturally bushy plant with healthy bright-green foliage and large, preferably frilly, flowers with good lasting power. Only 2 out of 100 make the grade but he has had several hybrids accepted nationally, all named after members of the family, including Archie the budgie.
After explaining his ways of taking cuttings and growing his plants, Martin detailed the rigorous regime followed by the serious showman. The plants must be pinched to shape 14 weeks before the show. Two months before the show he repots the plants to a pot-size larger to give them a boost. All flower buds should be removed up to three weeks before the show, as this encourages the plant to produce more.
Martin illustrated his talk with photos both of his own plants and also spectacular specimens from the benches of local and national shows. In so doing, he also illustrated other types of pelargoniums such as zonal, ivy-leaved, angel, stellar, scented-leaf and coloured-leaf.
This was very informative talk by a man who clearly knows his stuff and the plants he had brought for sale were quickly snapped up by the members.
Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 16th April 2018
Growing Vegetables (including points about showing) - Ricky Hoskins, a national judge and fellow of the National Vegetable Society
As the March meeting had had to be cancelled due to several inches of snow; we were especially grateful to our April speaker, for stepping in at short notice, to talk about growing and showing vegetables. Ricky Hoskins is very well qualified, being a national judge and a fellow of the National Vegetable Society. He has grown and shown vegetables, and also dahlias, gladioli and chrysanthemums, all his life.
Ricky started his talk with potatoes, which he grows three to a plastic dustbin that has had its base removed and placed on the soil. He fills it one third full with moss peat, horse manure and bone meal. He then scatters slug pellets around the tubers and tops up the bin with more compost. Growing potatoes in peat means they stay very clean.
Ricky enjoys growing giant Kelsae onions, which can easily reach 7 pounds in weight. He lifts these three weeks before the show date and covers the skin with talcum powder which dries it off and gives a good brown colour. He had brought a tray of seedlings for sale which were snapped up by the audience.
Carrots and parsnips Ricky sows in pipes drilled into a drum or dustbin and filled with a mixture of Irish peat, sand and fertilizer. He sows three seeds at the top of each pipe and on germination removes the two weakest seedlings leaving the strongest to grow on. Roots up to two and a half feet long can be produced this way. Plastic tubing is also placed around leeks to produce very long white stems, and Ricky showed photographs of some amazing examples on the show bench and grown, appropriately enough, in Wales. In the North East pot leeks are all the rage. These are short and fat with no more than six inches between the base and the leaves, or “flags”. They are literally grown in “pots” and a well-grown specimen is a magnificent sight. Ricky explained the complex process of producing the “grass”, the tiny leek bulbils from which show leeks are best grown.
He emphasised that for showing, the normal varieties of vegetables are often unsuitable. You have to buy the best quality varieties available, even if it means, say, that a single tomato seed costs 45p! He also stressed that it is a myth that large show vegetables are not good to eat; they are delicious, because they have been fed with all the best nutrients.
Ricky also showed us some of the magnificent gladioli and dahlias he had grown and shown in the past and gave us some tips on growing them. This was a jovial and interesting talk, interspersed with humorous comments, often at the expense of his long-suffering wife, and was much appreciated by the large audience.
Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 19th February 2018
Opening Sheepstor gardens to the public - Patrick Drennan talk on the preparations and pitfalls
After the AGM our speaker was Patrick Drennan, one of our members, who talked of the preparations and pitfalls in opening Sheepstor gardens to the public in aid of the village hall.
When he made the suggestion in order to raise funds, the Hall committee were at first very sceptical, thinking of problems such as security and insurance, but eventually Patrick received the go-ahead. It was agreed that the committee would organise refreshments and Patrick the gardeners. Many were very enthusiastic and they decided on the best time to open. In order to tackle security it was decided that the gardeners should stay in their gardens and let nobody into their houses. Children should be accompanied and all dogs on leads.
A letter was sent to all residents and after an analysis of the responses, a date was set and the ticket price decided to provide admittance to all gardens. Those opening their gardens were asked to supply a three-line description and these were printed on the back of the sheet showing a map of the village and the locations of the gardens. Publicity was organised as well as a raffle and various stalls as additional attractions.
Overall, the exercise proved to be very worthwhile. There was whole village participation and wider community involvement. The opening has since been repeated several times, approximately every two years, and Sheepstor gardens will be open again this year on 19th and 20th of May.
This was a well-presented, well-illustrated and informative talk with a touch of humour. All much appreciated by the members, many of whom have visited Sheepstor gardens in the past.