Roger Hirons, also known as the Plant Doctor, provided us with a very informative and entertaining evening on Tuesday. His title was Plants for Problem Places, but he concentrated on clay soils, as these are
the curse of most of the club members, and plants for very dry shade. His talk was illustrated by the actual plants he was speaking about (some of which were impressive sticks at this time of year!) and laminated photos of them when in flower and/or berry.
All of them were then available for us to buy at very reasonable prices afterwards.
Drawing on his love of gardening, which started as a 10 year old
helping his father and progressed through formal training at Pershore College of Horticulture, followed by some time working in the Garden Centre industry, he explained that plants only thrive when in the right conditions for them, with many of our failures
being because we are plants we like the look of that we then try to grow in our gardens regardless of whether we have the right conditions for them. Plants of one family- he used the example of the Rosaceae- all need the same nutrients so the soil around them
becomes impoverished of those nutrients and later planting different varieties of the same family in that ground will not be successful. He discussed plants for very dry shade under large trees and surprised us by saying Fatsia japonica will live happily
in the crevices between large surface tree roots. Some Mahonias will thrive in dry shade a little further from the trunk and Pulmonaria and honeysuckle are also good in these conditions, as are Hellebores.
Roger also counselled us not to “tidy up “ our gardens in Autumn but to leave this until March so wildlife can take advantage of the seeds and berries.
He gave us a lot to think about during his long talk- which was extended beyond the usual hour by popular request. He has a range of talks available and he will hopefully return to speak to us again in 2020.