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Organic Garden

Adam Frost - October 2023

Getting The Most From Your Garden 

October 10th 2023

Does anyone remember a film called ‘A Man for all Seasons’?  If not, the title describes Adam Frost.  It Is hard to believe that Adam is dyslexic, ran away from home at 16 and came second in an interview to work for Geoff Hamilton. 


When Adams talk began I found I was utterly engrossed by Adams delivery.  He started by telling us about gardeners chasing perfection and that our gardens should not be like Chelsea Flower Show or T.V. Gardens.


He suggested that we consider the upper canopy, mid layer, perennials and bulbs. Also to grow annuals for gap fillers, and they are more hardy and are good performers. (For example cosmos, Zinnias).


Adams talk ended with a slide of a planting plan explaining the elements within the talk.


Finally Adam has an easy going style.  He came across as kind and considerate, and a true Gentleman.


Steve Lovell - February 2024

Texture in the Garden - Bark, Berry & Leaf

Tuesday February 13th 2024


Texture in the Garden - Bark Berry and Leaf

By Steve Lovell on February 13thh 2024

Steve gave an interesting talk on his approach to garden design after spending many years as a garden designer based in Lincolnshire. He encouraged us to think beyond flowers and look at ‘plants’ from the perspective of their foliage, structure, colourful stems, their berries, seed heads and bark when choosing trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants. This not only provides texture and interest across the seasons when the flowers have faded but encourages wildlife into our gardens too.

He suggested we look at ferns and ivy for the texture and colour of the foliage. In addition, dogwood and willow for the range of different colours their stems provide and to think of coloured foliage as a backdrop to set the stage in any garden. He encouraged us to take a step back and look around our gardens and to plant with a view to explore texture, shape and colour. He even mentioned he cuts off insubstantial flowers so that the leaves can take centre stage!

When choosing which tree to plant he recommended looking at the bark, shape of the leaves and berries to provide all round interest and to encourage wildlife into our gardens across the seasons. He showed photos of Acers and Birches with their peeling bark adding interest and texture to any setting and the Tibetan Ornamental Cherry with its stunning grainy bark.

One of the constant themes throughout the talk was Steve’s love of nature and wildlife and his focus of designing gardens with wildlife in mind. He also stressed importance of hard pruning to maintain the colourful display with the caveat of knowing the special requirements of our plants.

By Liz Johns


Ruth Plant- July 2023

Dierama, the Hairbells of Africa 

Ruth Plant July 11th 2023


Dierama plants have the reputation of being difficult to grow. Ruth Plant came to the July meeting of Ticknall Garden Club hoping to persuade otherwise. She has a large collection of dierama growing in her Stafford Garden. In fact, she now cares for the National plant collection.

They are evergreen, clump forming plants with long arching stems of delicate pendulous flowers which have earned their apt nickname of angel’s fishing rods. They grow from corms rather like crocosmia. The secret to growing success is a deep, moist root run and are very happy in cracks on paving. They need plenty of water in late Spring and Summer.  They don’t like to be crowded by other plants. They dislike disturbance so Ruth recommended removing a section from the outside of the plant rather than division. They do seed freely however but may not come true to type because of cross pollination.

They originate from the cooler mountain areas of South Africa. They began to be collected as far back as the 1770s but James Backhouse of York, a botanist and African Quaker missionary, popularised dierama igneum (flaming red) in this country in the 1800s when he established a nursery in York. David Steiger bred varieties with names from Shakespeare in the 1900s. The only book devoted to the subject of dierama was written by Brian Burrt in collaboration with Olivia Hilliard who travelled widely in South Africa and became an expert on its flora.

Ruth showed with photographs taken in her garden that dierama can be flowering from June to October. Their delicate tubular flowers with papery bracts can be pink, red, purple and even yellow and white. Deep inside each is a “face” with eyes that attracts pollinators.

Ruth Plant succeeded in persuading that perhaps dierama plants do not justify their difficult reputation after all. No doubt many in the audience would now be up to the challenge of trying them in their garden.


Pam Adams



Steffie Shields - April 2023

Capability Brown and the Gift of Landscape

By Steffie Shields April 11th 2023

Steffie Shields MBE is a lecturer, photographer, historic/landscape/ conservationist consultant and a writer for consumer magazines. She is very passionate about her subject. So much so she has written a book about Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown called Moving Heaven and Earth.


I thought I knew a lot about Mr Brown but after Steffie’s talk I realised how wrong I could be. We now know that we have Mr Brown’s landscapes on our own doorstep. Melbourne Hall and Chatsworth have stood the test of time and show what a genius he was.


Perhaps though Sheffield could have started with Mr Browns date and place of birth as sometimes it became confusing. It was only eventually mentioned about halfway through as being in Northumberland in 1719. He was the son of a land agent and chambermaid and began a career in gardening.  However, we all learnt that in his designs Mr Brown would plant flowering shrubs, double jonquil daffodils and the obligatory Scots pine tree. He would also include lakes and cascades where possible. Mr Brown’s first major project was Stowe Gardens and Landscape in Buckinghamshire. This was one of over 250 projects in his lifetime. All of which he would never have seen come to maturity.


It was interesting to learn about Mr Brown’s personal life which included the fact that he and his wife knew loss as they had 10 children with only 5 surviving.


In summary, Steffie’s talk was informative, educational and interesting but could have more cohesive. I think though we all realise that Lancelot ‘ Capability’ Brown changed some of our landscape for ever and these landscapes are well worth discovering.


Rosie Winship


Pip Smith - January 2022

Life as a Head Gardener


Ticknall Garden Club enjoyed a most interesting talk on the working life of a head gardener at its January meeting. After gaining qualifications in horticulture and landscape design, Pip Smith worked as Head Gardener at three different prestigious locations before now branching out into his own garden design business. He first worked at Winterbourne House and Garden which is Birmingham University’s underrated botanic garden. He then moved on to Ragley Hall and then finally to the lovely Wollerton Old Hall at Market Drayton.

Every day is different was the recurring theme and his was a job that can never be done from home! The routine jobs of propagation, pruning, pleaching, bedding out and mulching must go on regardless, but unexpected events often intervene. Polytunnels need renovation, walls fall down, bonfires get out of hand and trees blow down in gales. 

The need for publicity and a high public profile was an essential element at all three houses. His varied activities included dressing up as an Edwardian, producing brochures, leading garden tours, hosting events such as weddings and liaising with community groups. He was particularly proud of his work with an Islamic group from Leicester who learned to grow vegetables from plant to plate.

Dealing with visitors could be fraught especially when brazen acts such as removal of whole plants happened. But highlights were the adulation received from Chinese and Dutch groups. But there were quiet moments when a garden could be appreciated in all its beauty. He captured rainbows, dappled shade, blankets of snow and sunsets in inspiring photographs.

His own personal highlights were the opportunities to meet famous gardeners. A televised meeting with Carol Klein for Great Britain Gardens had been particularly memorable.

It was a refreshing change for the audience to be spared endless photographs of seductive flowers. Instead, the focus had been on the reality of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes in the life of a professional gardener and its rewards.


David MacDowell - April 2024

Encouraging Bees into the Garden 

April 9th 2024

David a professional beekeeper gave a fascinating talk on beekeeping and the life cycle of bees.

In the UK there are 4 main types of bees – honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees and wasps.

Sadly the number of DEFRA registered hives in the UK has significantly reduced since World War Two mainly due to lifestyle changes and changes in farming methods.

David mentioned how flexible bees are and through interbreeding of different species they have been able to adapt to climate change and to the changes in their natural habitat. To tell apart the different species of bees in the UK, he recommends looking at the size and colour of the bees’ body and if possible, their habitat.

David went on to talk about the life cycle of a honey bee/hive. The bees go through four distinct stages and will change from an egg into a larva, pupa, and finally an adult bee within a few weeks. The time each stage will take is controlled by the specific role the bee will have in the hive i.e. queen, forager, worker, guarding bee. Their role in the hive is actually predetermined from the egg stage! He brought the life cycle of a hive to life by comparing a hive to a warehouse

where each worker has distinct roles and responsibilities.

The forager bees collect the nectar and water and pass on to other bees in the hive to distribute, the housekeeping bees are responsible for keeping the hive clean and cooling it down (it’s very warm) and the guard bees as their name suggests are responsible for safeguarding the hive and

keeping out interlopers. A forager bee can fly for about 40 minutes (about a 3 mile radius from the hive) and their eyesight is so poor professional hives are painted different colours so that the forager bees can recognise their own individual hive. The guard bees recognise the forager bees

by their smell!

When the hive gets too big or food is scarce, the queen will swarm with some of the older worker bees to find a new home leaving the new queen to be looked after in the existing hive.

He then went on to explain how honey is produced. It starts as nectar collected by the forager bees, which then gets broken down into sugars stored inside the honeycomb. The bees fan their wings to cause the water to evaporate creating the honey. The colour and flavour of the honey

depends on the type of nectar collected. The worker bees covert the sugar in the honey into beeswax.

David finished his talk with tips on how to attract bees into our gardens. He suggested having plants that flower at different times of the year to provide food, where possible not to cut plants back and during warm sunny spells to leave out water for the bees to drink and take back to the hive. He also encouraged leaving part of a garden wild so that the habitat for solitary bees is not

disturbed. He also advised feeding a tired bumble bee with syrup!

The talk finished with a lively Q & A session with questions ranging from the medicinal

properties of honey, crop spraying and honey food miles. David’s vast knowledge of beekeeping and his love of bees was obvious throughout the evening.


Steve Lovell - February 2024

Roof Gardens of The World

Tuesday January 9th 2024

Ticknall Garden Club’s talk on January 9th turned out to be a lively start to the New Year.

Paul Newsham challenged his audience to spot the hidden shapes within seemingly straightforward pictures. Looking at layers within layers and spotting the detail within the bigger picture was probably second nature to a retired forensic scientist. He likened it to starting with a telescope and working down to a microscope.

Despite all the good humour his talk had a serious purpose. His photographs of roof gardens in different parts of the world were visually stunning but on examination they also provide a serious environmental benefit. Most often found in urban environments, they reduce temperature, absorb rainwater, filter pollution, insulate sound, provide habitats for nature and offer the benefits of the natural world to us which studies are now proving are essential to our wellbeing.

Places to visit in London included the Sky Garden on the Walkie-Talkie building, the Culpeper Roof Garden on the Giant Pickle, the Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden and the Crossrail Place Roof Garden. Birmingham has a roof garden on the new library and The Wellington Pub and the Club Hotel Indigo also have interesting small roof gardens.

He also highlighted sites across the world that had famous roof gardens, some of which members of the audience had visited on their travels. They included High Lane Park, New York; City Hall, Chicago; Waldspirale, Darmstadt, Germany; Gardens by the Bay, Singapore; Foro Ciel, Mexico and Acros Fukuoka Building, Japan.

He extended his talk to include sunken gardens. Although not a modern phenomenon as they date back to Victorian and Edwardian times, they provide the benefit of collecting rainwater and providing a microclimate for plants and people.

Famous sunken gardens in London worth visiting are at Kensington Palace, Horniman’s Museum and Eltham Palace. Others do not quite live up to their former glories such as those at Manchester Piccadilly, Derby Arboretum and Allestree Park. However, Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, the Napier Gardens in New Zealand and the Sunken Garden in Beijing, China attract the tourists.

Paul had successfully devised an entertaining way of emphasising that we should always look at the detail within the general picture to appreciate the full story.

Pam Adams


Darren Rudge - March 2023


Darren Rudge. March 2023 

Darren Rudge is not only a Horticulturist but also a horticulture lecturer, writer and broadcaster. So, as they say ‘he knows his subject’ 

Darren has easy going style and refreshing style. He was able to convey a subject that can be complex so easily to an audience. We learnt new and interesting words for example Totipotency (a way of looking for plant cells to produce roots), Stratification (breaking seed dormancy by a period of cold) Auxins (the growing hormone), and many more. 

Sexual and Asexual reproduction was explained. Sexual, therefore, seed sowing in clean and sterilised trays or pots. Asexual is using roots, stems, and leaves which enables us to have exact clones of the parent plant(s). 

Using the right tools is also the key to success. Trays, pots, compost, presser board, and watering can. Secateurs, scissors, a knife and labels are always useful. 

Darren also suggested using honey instead of hormone rooting powder to help cuttings to strike. A new idea for me. There’s always something to learn. 

Having the right growing medium for the task at hand is also important for different processes. Darren dispelled the myths around this subject too. Therefore, in reality it is not about the compost we buy, but it is about the ratio of compost to grit, perlite or vermiculite. 

Again, we all learnt how to take cuttings. Finding a non-flowering shoot, cutting above the node(growing point) and cutting near to this point and removing the excess leaves. Darren suggested not to cut to near or too far away. Doing this means that a juvenile is created that is healthy, pest and disease resistant example. 

Darren was also able to demonstrate these techniques with clarity and care. Darren also demonstrated taking leaf cuttings, dividing herbaceous perennials, and showing how to take root cuttings. 

So, at the end of the day we can all add new and exciting plants for free to our garden 



John Scrace - January 2023



John Scrace was the first speaker of 2023 at the January meeting of Ticknall Garden Club. He came with in-depth knowledge of pests and diseases that can plague the plants in our gardens. He is a freelance pathologist whose advice can be readily accessed on the Royal Horticultural Society website.

He started with the all too familiar red lily beetle which was around in the 1940s but in succeeding years has multiplied at an alarming rate. Eggs on the underside of leaves hatch out to black larvae which do the most damage. He advised removing by hand. Putting paper under the plant first will make it easier to catch the adult red beetle. Apparently, they make a cute squeaking alarm call when caught!  Alternatively, an insecticide can be used, or calcium chloride painted on leaves.

An infestation of viburnum beetle can destroy a bush leaving only skeleton leaf shapes. The larvae and adult beetles do equal damage. An insecticide or biological control with nematode worms can be used but sometimes replacing the bush with an alternative is the only answer.

The vine weevil is the scourge of plants in containers and can remain undetected until the plant withers with its roots eaten away. The white grub hides unseen in the soil. The adult beetle (all female) nibbles the edges of leaves at night. A vine weevil insecticide is available as well as traps with biological controls.

A new pest has emerged in recent years in the form of the harlequin ladybird. It was first used in glass houses in Belgium to control, very successfully, aphid infestation. Escape into the outside world and its speedy spread throughout this country has proved more problematic. While certainly useful for feeding on aphids it unfortunately turns to our native ladybirds as well as other useful insects when there are no aphids around. They can be identified by more white on their heads, orange legs and brown undersides. They also tend to hibernate in large numbers inside buildings. The native 7 spot ladybird is still thriving and it is assumed that eventually a natural balance will develop.

A spell of warm and wet weather encourages potato and tomato blight. Spores, spread by wind and rain, damage stems and leaves which turn black and damage tubers in the ground. No control is available. Planting early potatoes and blight resistant tomatoes was advised.

In recent years there have been more diseases affecting trees. A familiar sight early in the growing season has been the leaves on horse chestnut trees turning brown. It is caused by a leaf miner whose caterpillars infest the tree in their thousands. Birds and parasitic wasps will eat some, but no other remedy exists. The same tree can also suffer from bleeding canker which can kill the tree. In general the only hope for survival in threatened trees is the discovery of disease resistant varieties.

It was not surprising to hear that the number one pest for enquiries to the RHS was the slug. 

It is the tiny black slug that does most damage. The big slugs in fact eat them and also help with composting. The familiar methods of treatment were covered but in the long run planting slug resistant plants was the only foolproof solution.

The number one disease was the honey fungus. The white “bootlace” threads on the roots of trees and bushes creep out to infect other roots causing slow death. If white fungal growth is seen when bark is scraped away the honey fungus is confirmed. There is no treatment apart from digging out the root system thoroughly. There are some plants that are resistant to the disease.

John Scrace, with the benefit of his scientific background,  gave his audience a comprehensive guide to treating just a few of the many problems that can affect the plants grown in our gardens.

Image by Sergey Shmidt

Karen Gimson - November 2022



Karen Gimson came to talk to Ticknall Garden Club at their November meeting. As well as being a garden designer she broadcasts on gardening topics at Radio Leicester and writes articles in Garden News. Her wide experience was very evident as she interspersed her talk with very practical advice.

She set out to show that flowers could be grown throughout the year both for beauty in the garden and for decoration indoors. Her lovely photographs demonstrated the best varieties to grow.

Starting in cold winter months she recommended snowdrops, sarcococca, forsythia and daphne. Madeline was a reliable yellow snowdrop to buy. Sarcococca Purple Stem was a good fragrant small plant, forsythia Lynwood Gold a neater variety and Eternal Fragrance a patio size daphne.  

The heads of the flowers of hellebore and hepatica look stunning as a centrepiece. The Gold Collection hellebores have more upward facing flowers and are repeat flowering so come highly praised. Alstroemerias can be flowering in winter if put in pots with all stems pulled out and then brought under cover. They make an excellent cut flower.

If mice are a problem when growing in pots Karen explained how to construct a mouse proof table. Stand your table on a flat sheet of wood or other rigid surface and place this on four upturned plant pots placed away from the corners. Mice cannot move along upside down so cannot negotiate the overhang to get to the legs of the table.

Snow Baby is a new dwarf daffodil just as reliable as tête-à-tête. Hawara is the latest in the season to flower. Winston Churchill is a good double scented variety. To prevent daffodil stems getting too leggy she waters with tomorite as soon as leaves appear.

Red tulips look great grown in swathes of grass, but smaller species tulips are more reliable for coming back each year. 

As time was running out, she only had time to cover lilac, lupins, roses and violas as other plants she grew. Slugs on lupins and other plants can be kept at bay using a garlic water solution. To keep perennial violas growing well she advised cutting them hard to the ground after flowering. Then cover with an inch of compost and water with a potash feed.

She hoped that she might be invited back to finish the rest of her talk some day and there was no doubt that after giving such good advice and information she would be assured of a warm welcome.

Karen urged audience to log on to her blog at for lots more of her ideas. 


The Potty Plotters - March 2024

Julia and Elaine: The Potty Plotters

Tuesday March 12th 2024


Julia and Elaine know how to entertain an audience as Ticknall Garden Club discovered when they attended their March meeting. They are a couple of larger-than-life personalities who have developed a loyal following on Radio Derby and their podcasts under the striking title of The Potty Plotters.

They challenged the audience to answer questions in the form of an acrostic using the initial letters of POTTY PLOTTERS. 

P is for Potty Plotters; not potters which would be a different subject entirely!

O is for the onions that Julia stores in the legs of her worn out tights! And the seats can be stretched over pots of bulbs to deter any marauding squirrels or mice. The legs are ideal for storing empty plant pots which can be dispensed from the bottom.

T is for Twiggy, the nickname for Andy Twigge who encouraged them to appear on Radio Derby. The programme is broadcast live from their allotment, an oasis of little plots hidden out of sight on Ashbourne Road, Mackworth.

T is for the tangerinery, the structure they built which is bigger than a greenhouse but smaller than an orangery! This inspired a pantomime moment when tangerines were thrown into the audience! Naturally the mesh bag was recommended for use as a support for melons or hair clippings for nesting birds.

Y is for yellow tomatoes; in fact tomatoes of many colours. Black tomatoes are difficult to ripen. Novices are best to start with bush varieties, some of which like Red Robin, can be grown in a container or even on a windowsill. Julia is known as the Beefsteak Queen as she has grown a record-breaking beefsteak tomato of 3lb 4oz!  Rob Smith, the allotment king, is a good source of advice and Suttons a great source of seeds.

P stands for their “plotcast” which can be found on the podcast app. It features topical advice and interviews with interesting people. 

L is for loofah which can be grown so easily that you can bore anyone with copious photographs and free seeds.

O is for the ‘os manure essential for their many dahlias. 

T is for the tubers from which they grow.

T for takeaway containers which are handy for germinating sweet peas. Line with slightly dampened kitchen towel; add the seeds and close the airtight lid. They should germinate in 5 days. Parsnip seeds take 3 weeks though.

E is for erection, a word forbidden on air, they claimed! Julia is addicted to greenhouses and so far has erected 22 of them for one reason or another! 

R for radishes which are good starter seeds for children. For foolproof results seed tapes work well. Carrots do well this way.

S for Sunday mornings to serve as a final reminder when we can catch up with all their news and gossip live on Radio Derby.

Their final farewell act was to hurl chocolates into the audience!

Elaine and Julia turned out to be the perfect tonic to cheer us on a wet and dismal evening. People went home not only with a smile on their face but also with some clever and helpful ideas to try out.


Pam Adams



Chris Beardshaw - October 2022


Chris Beardshaw proved to be a popular speaker at Ticknall Garden Club’s October meeting. There was a full house to hear what the well-known gardening personality had to say.

He believed that gardening links lives together; giving satisfaction and a purpose to life. He would also show how driving ambition can achieve success against all the odds.

Chris recounted an interesting story which began with an urgent request to visit a garden in Hampshire and ended in its winning a prestigious award at Chelsea Flower Show in 2012. The garden in question was called Furzey Gardens. Chris learned its history when he dropped by one day out of curiosity. Tim Selwood was the current owner who had bought, on impulse, the abandoned site at auction because the setting on the edge of the New Forest was so attractive. It had once been a ground-breaking garden established by the Dalrymple brothers in 1921. It was equalled only by Kew and Edinburgh Botanic in its prestige. They had planted it with hundreds of newly discovered plants from round the world and more importantly kept a written record of every one of them in Arthur’s book. Eventually they went to Australia and the garden was abandoned. The present owner, a vicar and barrister, had a burning desire to recreate the garden with the aim of making it a residential home for those with learning disabilities. By the time of the speaker’s visit the garden had been successfully recreated with narrow winding paths amongst numerous rhododendrons chopped back to reveal ground cover plants. In addition, quaint wooden structures and little thatched houses nestled among the planting which playfully convinced any onlookers that fairies lived in the garden. Tim Selwood had provided a happy and purposeful environment for those who often face difficulties in their lives. However local authority funding had been withdrawn and he was determined to do something to raise the profile of his venture. His steadfast aim was to create a garden at Chelsea Flower Show to draw attention to his worthwhile adventure. Chris Beardshaw was sceptical that he could succeed. Tim did not have anything near the estimated cost of £250,000. Nothing daunted, Tim put his faith in home made cake sales, donations and make do and mend. He even managed to involve celebrities like Michael Caine. Eventually after many trials and tribulations and with Chris Beardshaw’s expertise he did create his garden at Chelsea. All the plants used had been dug up from Furzey Garden and every one of his students was involved in the project in one way or another. It won the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Gold Medal, earned recognition for his efforts and restored local authority funding for his venture.

He went on to summarise quite briefly the contents of his popular book “100 Plants that (almost) Changed the World” We serve gammon with pineapple because, as Columbus discovered, the cannibals of Papua New Guinea used it to tenderise human flesh! The potato was first admired for its flowers and the dahlia for the taste of its tubers and only later were the roles reversed. Victorian ladies sipped their tea under the trumpet flowered Brugmansia as it dripped its nectar into their dainty cups. The humble lettuce was once used for its soporific qualities. Much laughter was caused by the images of Roman nettles being beaten on limbs and buttocks to stave off the cold.

Chris had proved to be an entertaining raconteur who kept the attention of the audience for what turned out to be longer than expected. He had shown how the benefits of gardening are all inclusive. Plants and planting draw people together and can transform lives. 

Even the word paradise has as its ancient roots in the idea of a garden in which contentment can be found. He urged all of us to nurture our own patch of garden, however small as our own bit of paradise.


Neil Timm - May 2023

The World of Ferns

Neil Timm; Tuesday May 8th 2023

Neil Timm came to the May meeting of Ticknall Garden Club to talk about a rather underrated group of plants, the world of ferns. They are quite unlike any other plants in that they do not produce flowers and seeds but spores. On a warm summer’s day their fronds bend and flick thousands of spores in a cloud spreading far and wide. They germinate in two phases, first as a tiny propolis which then develops almost three seasons later as a recognisable little fern plant. Breeding ferns is undeniably a long-term commitment!

Most ferns have pinnate feathery fronds but not all. The hart’s tongue fern has strap like leaves, parsley fern has finely divided leaves, blechnum “pen of the sea” has narrow ladder- like leaves and the fishtail fern has holly-like leaves.

Ferns grow in all sizes from the brittle bladder fern and wall rue found growing in cracks in walls to the Australian tree fern which needs protection in winter.

Polypodium vulgare is a tough little fern which will grow anywhere. Asplenium likes a good soil but is easy to grow.  Polystichum is reliable and grows in all conditions. Athyrium is a mainly deciduous, more tender fern but some have more colourful leaves.

Most ferns are easy to grow and relatively compact. They provide structure and are often evergreen and they suit many locations in the garden. They combine well with bulbs and primulas. There are ferns for dry shade, rocks and crevices, damp places, narrow borders and companion planting in borders and ground cover.

Bracken is different in that it grows very tall, is fast spreading and does not grow from a crown like most ferns do. Another unwelcome fern is the horsetail, an “evil weed” whose roots can go down 40 feet into the subsoil. The speaker’s solution was to pour weedkiller down their hollow stems or move house! A floating fern called fairy moss is a highly invasive plant which quickly chokes waterways and is now illegal to grow. 

In their time ferns have had a variety of uses. In the Victorian era the spores were mixed with gunpowder for fireworks and a convincing lightning flash in the theatre. The first fingerprinting used fern spores. They have also been used to clear arsenic from the soil.

Ferneries were the height of fashion in the Victorian era and although mostly hardy they chose to show them off in greenhouses. Collecting them became an obsession and probably caused ecological damage in the process.

Neil Timms has spent his life studying and growing ferns and his talk transported his audience into this fascinating world. So much so that they were keen to buy the plants he had brought with him to transfer some of that magical green world into their own gardens.


Pam Adams



Nick Bailey - March 2022


Nick Bailey, a familiar face on Gardener’s World, attracted a sell-out attendance at Ticknall

Garden Club’s meeting in March. He came to talk about the place of perfumed plants in the


His first task was to explain why plants might have a scent at all. Mainly it is there to attract

insects for pollination purposes. However, some plants have scents that can deter insects

such as thyme which can even be deadly to humans in large quantities. Leaves on plants in

hot countries exude oils which act as sunblock. A breakdown of their chemical compounds

can be so complex it would not look out of place on a shampoo label. The leaves of nepeta or

catmint reveal sex pheromones attractive to cats.

The variety of scents found in roses illustrated the complexity of the range.

Old Rose; traditional Gallicas, Damasks and Albas, single flowering with intense scent.

Tea; Graham Thomas bred by David Austin is a typical example.

Myrrh; some newer English shrub roses such as Boscobel.

Fruit; these have chinensis parentage such as Lady Emma Hamilton.

Musk; the smell comes from the stamens not petals as in Rambling Rector.

Interbreeding of these scents has produced a wide range to choose from but these were Nick

Bailey’s favourites:-

Desdemona David Austin English Rose white with pinkish hue and old rose fragrance.

Rosa Madame Isaac Pereire Large Bourbon Old Rose, fuschia coloured cup shaped flowers.

Lady Hamilton David Austin English Shrub Rose with orange petals and a fruit scent

Chandos Beauty Hybrid Tea repeat flowering with large fragrant peachy, apricot blooms.

If one wanted year-round scent with just a few plants, he maintained it was possible with his


Sarcococca; an evergreen shrub flowering January to March with tiny intensely fragrant

flowers. Can be pruned lightly.

Narcissus poeticus recurvus; has flowers from April to May with stems good for cutting.

Daphne Eternal Fragrance; a compact new variety flowering May to October suitable for


Nemesia confetti; flowers freely from May to December and can be treated as a perennial.

However he also had a wider range to offer when he described his selection of ten easy plants

for scent as follows:-

Daphne odora Jaqui Postill; mainly hardy, upright evergreen tall shrub with pink flowers.

Minimal pruning advised. Smell likened to Imperial Leather soap.

Lilium regale; very tall lily with white heavily scented trumpet shaped flowers. Protect from

slugs until established. The pollen stains and whole plant is poisonous to cats.

Lathyrus odoratus matucana; old fashioned highly scented variety with red and purple

blooms. Sow early and pinch out three times to bush out. Short stems.

Oenothera biennis; free flowering and self-seeding with yellow flowers.

Cosmos atrosanguineus; smells of chocolate but some plants not reliable.

Nicotiana sylvestris; tall annual with sweet trumpet shaped flowers.

Convallaris majalis; a sweet-smelling favourite which he recommended planting with

cyclamen hederofolium in dappled shade.

Dianthus Bailey’s Celebration; many to choose from but this celebrated his name! Easy to

propagate from cuttings.

Jasminium Bambara; one of his favourite jasmines but needed protection in winter.

Gardenia jasminoides Kleim’s Hoody; not such an overpowering scent as the traditional

gardenia and compact and suitable for containers

With his passion for South Africa, he could not resist adding four of his favourites from the

region. All bloomed at night and were white to show up in moonlight. They were fragrant

with trumpet shaped blooms to suit the long tongues of moths. They were Cestrum

nocturnum, Brugmansia suaveolens, Mirabilis jalapa and Zaluzianskya capensis which is a

half hardy annual that can easily be grown from seed.

Nick Bailey had proved to be a genuine enthusiast for finding a place for plants with perfume

growing in the garden. His practical advice showed it was possible to enjoy their scent the

whole year round.

being beaten on limbs and buttocks to stave off the cold.

Chris had proved to be an entertaining raconteur who kept the attention of the audience for what turned out to be longer than expected. He had shown how the benefits of gardening are all inclusive. Plants and planting draw people together and can transform lives. 

Even the word paradise has as its ancient roots in the idea of a garden in which contentment can be found. He urged all of us to nurture our own patch of garden, however small as our own bit of paradise.
















































































































































Karen Gimson - February 2023

Arranging flowers from the garden throughout the Year

Karen Gimson made an unscheduled return visit to Ticknall Garden Club on February 14th. She is well known for her gardening chats on Radio Leicester and her column in Garden News. While knowledgeable on all garden matters, she is particularly interested in the use of garden flowers to decorate the home. She devotes two greenhouses and one raised bed for the growing of suitable plants. 

She is keen to stress that only a few blooms are needed to create an attractive display when supplemented with green foliage and foraged items from garden and hedgerow. She encouraged the use of moss to replace the environmentally unacceptable oasis. Most lawns when raked will yield a plentiful supply. She favoured the Japanese Kokedama technique which involves covering plant stems with compost and wrapping in moss which is tied in place. This only needs daily misting to ensure survival. This works well when making a wreath which can be any shape and have any material for its base though she favoured the use of willow. When picking flowers for decoration she carries a bucket of water with her to immerse the stems. Any hard stems are bashed first. She always plants tulips densely to get sturdy upright stems. 

With the use of photographs Karen demonstrated how a wreath could be made through all the seasons. Ivy or other greenery such as box or euonymus provides a suitable backdrop when securely tied on with moss. Spring favourites are snowdrops, forsythia and pussy willow. Summer has an abundance of choice in sweet peas, calendula, cosmos and lilac. All are enhanced with use of ammi major. Autumn favourites include dahlias, rudbeckia, chrysanthemums and alstroemerias. Winter wreaths featured dried hydrangea heads sprayed silver or gold, viburnum and late roses. Supplementing all these were grasses, herbs, seed heads, fir cones, wildflowers and even weeds. 

In a poignant part of her talk, she described the role that flowers can play in the life of those living with dementia. Seeing them and smelling their scent can revive memories of the past.

True to form Karen gave an informative and knowledgeable talk. She also recommended a look at her blog at for lots more interesting ideas and information about her talk.

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