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.
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.