CHAIRMAN'S REPORT

Report for the year September 2019 to September 2020


The year started normally with a very interesting practical talk on apple growing and grafting given by Mervyn Wilson and David Geach. David had been given advice on how to graft by Mervyn and had done some grafting which went well and can be seen in his orchard.
The rootstocks developed by East Malling Research Station last century continue to form the basis for apple growing and can still be purchased for grafting. By grafting onto different rootstocks the height and spread of the tree can be known at the time of planting. There remain many cultivars of apple that can be grown by Gardeners and which are never in shops.
In October we had a very poignant story of the Victorian Head Gardeners from Francis Burroughs, whose father was a Head Gardener. These wonderful characters commanded a lot of respect as they were very knowledgable about all things horticultural. The walled gardens were a paradise of craft skills and there was great competition to work on the most well known estates. The quality of the produce was better than anything seen today and most head Gardeners would be appalled to see the offerings made to us by supermarkets. The HG would also arrange the flowers his team had grown in the main house and so were multi skilled. True renaissance men and women.
In November we learnt a lot about scenting the garden, for after Head Gardeners disappeared flowers were not breed for scent but mainly to be big, colourful and blowsy. There has been a backlash against this approach and we can now buy very fragrant roses, sweet peas and more. I still grow Blue Moon and Fragrant Cloud, two of the few postwar scented roses but the David Austin scented new roses are the best.
In December we held another happy Christmas buffet celebrating the end of the second decade of the 21st century. Goodbye to teenage and hallo to the 20s-we intended the Spring Show to celebrate the roaring 20s of the 19 hundreds but more of this later.
In January we explored new tricks for old Gardeners. This gave us tips on many methods to use as we mature. Valuable as raised beds are, there are many other things we can do.
February was the magic of mushrooms, we did not try any magic mushrooms of sixties fame! There are a huge number of wonderful mushrooms that grow in Britain. Many such as Wood Blewits, Chanterelle, Morels, etc are harvested commercially from places like the New Forest by people who sell to luxury restaurants in London. One expects that this year the mushrooms might get a reprieve from the annual depredations.
Finally in March the well known garden writer Sally Nex, gave us an excellent talk about all year round vegetable gardening. The take home message was to plan well ahead and to calculate the maximum amount much of a particular vegetable that your family will eat and only grow that much. Good advice,don't waste space time and money by growing vegetables to compost. Forward planning always pays dividends. Many thanks to Sylvia  for her hard work in obtaining high quality but affordable speakers. John Tipping is now doing a sterling job of organising some very interesting talks for the coming year.
So in late March we had to cancel the Spring Show on Government advice about spreading coronavirus. Most of the annual plants I had grown for sale were taken by members of the club but the displays were not sold. We were also forced to postpone Michael Brown's talk about Capability Brown but we have rearranged this talk that for December 2021.
Also very many thanks to John Andrew for organising the coach trip to Exbury, obviously postponed but rearranged for May 2021.
So a frustrating end to a good year. We face challenging times ahead to keep the club vibrant in 2021 but the Committee is determined to overcome all difficulties to make the club thrive.