DONNINGTON GARDENING CLUB  (www.donningtonhorticulturalsociety.co.uk)

Programme Notes 2018

ON FRIDAY 3rd August our Club spent a highly informative and entertaining evening when Margaret Williams spoke to us on ‘Cookery & Preserves: what the Judges are looking for’.  Margaret is an ex-teacher and lecturer who first took part in her local Wensleydale Shows when very young, under the guidance of her mother. After four years training to become a Judge, she now judges all over the country including being a Great Taste Award judge. All her tips and advice were invaluable.

 

The most important rule of showing is not to poison the Judge! Do not include meat or fish in savoury baking, nor sauces with uncooked eggs as these dishes are usually prepared one or two days in advance, and are then sitting on a show table for several hours with potentially dire results! The poor Judge can become very ill after tasting such items.

 

Margaret covered a multitude of aspects including the point that Clubs should be very careful in the wording of recipes in schedules so that all recipes should be very clear. The actual sizes of tins and eggs, for instance, can produce a great difference in the final result, and also that recipes that are too expensive should not be included!  Exhibitors are advised to practice the recipes at least one to two times before the final show. It is also a good idea for Clubs to change the recipes in the schedules regularly so not just one person always wins with their favourite cake or preserve!

 

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AT OUR JULY monthly Meeting our Members were informed and entertained by Community Support Officer Richard Moorey of the Chichester Police Prevention Team, when he described in detail all the current scams both on computers and telephones, and also involving doorstep callers and postal deliveries. He emphasized that if people do have the misfortune to be taken in by one of these scams it is important not to feel foolish or stupid and keep it to themselves, but to report the matter to the local police straight away. It is vital not to be persuaded into any kind of conversation with any callers on the phone, nor at the door: under no circumstances should any personal details be given. Put the phone down or close the door at once. Also, do not open any unexpected email or attachment. Should you receive a visit from a policeman (or a policewoman) and you are not convinced of their authenticity, a quick 999 call will get their identity and their reason for calling verified.

 

Finally, remember that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!

 

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ON FRIDAY 1st JUNE due to unforeseen circumstances, LAWRENCE HOLLOWAY, Member and well-known local naturalist, stood in at the last moment to replace the absent, advertised speaker for that evening. He entertained us all very well with excellent pictures and stories of his own nature-filled garden. Many butterflies visit the garden during the Spring and Summer’ months, including Speckled Wood, Orange-tip, Brimstone, Large and Small Whites, together with Red Admiral and Peacock. The mosaic of habitats in the garden include two ponds which attract various dragonflies including Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselflies. Visiting hoverflies include Merodon equestris, the females of which lay their eggs into Daffodil’ bulbs. Better mannered are the colourful Marmalade Hoverflies which prey on aphids.  One evening recently Lawrence returned home to find a rather scarce moth on the kitchen’ window. After taking several photos he moved away for a moment and then, returning, found that the moth had flown up to a nearby security light where it had been swiftly attacked and despatched by a spider  -  a False Widow!

 

Despite a difficult Spring, his garden is just about under control with its planting of many insect-friendly plants, including Red Campion, Foxgloves and hardy Geraniums. Together with many Hawthorn, Oak, Hazel and Mountain Ash trees, the garden is truly a wildlife haven, with daily visits from Grey Squirrels, Hedgehogs and Foxes.

 

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PELARGONIUM expert ROGER BUTLER, who grows them as a hobby, entertained the Club on FRIDAY 4th MAY with his illustrated talk ‘Pelargoniums My Way’. Roger has been judging and speaking to clubs all over the country for over 20 years and has visited at least 91 different village halls! All Pelargoniums originate from the first seeds of Pelargonium triste which were brought over from South Africa in 1632 and were grown by the plant hunter John Tradescant who was in his fifties and who had a reputation as a plant collector and was also a gardener to Charles 1.

 

There are many different varieties of Pelargoniums including miniature, dwarf, regal, zonal, angels, ivy-leaved, variegated and scented. All need a frost-free environment and will bloom for many months in the summer. Nip the plants out when growing to keep a nice, bushy shape, water with a high nitrogen feed at the beginning of the year and then a high potash feed to encourage flower buds from May onwards. Do not over-water and always water from the bottom. Many different brands of compost can be used, use whatever works for you. Cuttings root well in jiffy pots which can then be potted on intact when roots appear. Do not use too large a pot as Pelargoniums do not like too much spare compost. Don’t forget to label them and turn regularly to get well shaped plants.

 

All reports by Lawrence Holloway.