13th January 2021


Gardening for Wildlife

Angela Morley talked us through the principles of wildlife gardening and helped us to understand how the garden works as ecological habitat.  By encouraging wildlife into your garden, gardeners can enjoy the life and colour that wildlife brings.

Think diversity

  • Create as many different habitats as possible
  • You can create a wildlife haven by providing a range of different habitats including trees shrubs bulbs annual and grasses. This will provide plenty of places to breed and a continuity of food throughout the year.  Add variety by maximizing heights, shapes & flowering times.
  • Ponds and water add another habitat.

Feed the soil not the plants

  • Follow organic principles
  • Mulch beds annually

Be less tidy

  • Mow less and create a wildflower meadow
  • Leave more nooks and crannies Leave untidy corners and wood piles .
  • Allow apples to rot on the ground
  • Avoid bonfires.


Mill Cottage Plants

September 2020

A much appreciated ‘ in between’ lockdown visit to meet Sally Gregson Plants woman and Author in her cottage garden in Somerset.

The perfect time to see the extensive Collection of Hydrangea in particular a collection of Hydrangea serrata  looking at their best in September



BlackShed Flowers


August 2020 

A summer evening outing to Blackshed flowers near Sherbourne . We were greeted by fields of Sweet Peas, Larkspur Morris poppies , Dahlias, Foxgloves, scabious, cornflowers ……….what a joy !

Gardeners and Florists extraordinaire, Helen and Paul Strickland grow a huge variety of English Country flowers including everlasting and dried flowers form the farm near Sherbourne farm with a huge amount of passion and energy .  We were the only garden club to visit in 2020 and would like to say thank-you for your very warm welcome.



Honeyhurst Farm

June 2020

A 4 acre garden with Specimen Holies, Paulownia and poplar and stunning herbaceous borders.

A Very welcome socially evening out . Even the pigs were socially distancing !



Hosta talk Bowdens

May 2020

Peter Savage from Bowdens Nursery shared his extensive knowledge of host on our very first zoom talk !


Top tips 

Low growing and ideal for planting under shrubs these hardy perennials are happiest in dappled shade and a water retentive fertile soil.

They are very hardy so thrive in north facing site or in frost pockets

Hosta’s come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes and textures  including blue green , gold , heart shape and crinkly. Foliage is good for cutting.

Hosta’s with ribbed leaves are much susceptible to slug damage

Best Hosta’s to Grow 

‘Frosted Mouse ears ‘

‘El Nino’

‘Hanky Panky’

‘Love Pat’

‘Sum and substance’



Wednesday 8th January 2020

Growing a Floral Field of Dreams

A talk by Paul Stickland


Paul Strickland, artist, florist and illustrator, told the story of how he and his wife Helen turned a farmers field in to a thriving family run seasonal cut flower business.   Spurred on by the influence of social media, with support and encouragement from the floral community, a dash of hard graft, seasoned with tones of compost they have now become a true success story in the locally sourced cut flower market.  Black Shed are now a go to supplier for many top florists and floral designers through the UK, to say nothing of the many DIY brides and the very many happy pollinators.

Paul shared his great experience of growing straight from seed and shared his ‘secret’ propagating method revolving around Wilko freeze boxes, vermiculite and slurry. Providing a vast range of flowers  including cottage garden favourites like Sweet peas, Larkspur, Clary sage, Salvia and Cosmos to modern favourites like Lysimachus ephemeral, Gaura, Orlaya grandiflora, Ammi majus and Linaria along with special foliage and trademark grasses such as Pennisetum advena ‘Rubrum’.

Paul and Helen are constantly experimenting with new plants and this years favourite is Omphalodes linifolia which gives dainty off white flowers through the spring and summer.


Among the many hints and tips Paul told us how he growsDigitalis (foxglove) Camelot series all the way from December to April.

A great tip for success with Delphiniums is to start from fresh seed at the end of January.

To extend the season Paul grows lots of Dahlias.  The trick to obtain the best colour is to propagate from cuttings every year.  Dahlias are prolific performers, giving around 15 flowers per tuber until the first frosts. A current favourite is Karma choc but any of the varieties with the name Karma are a great choice.  Karma fuchsiana is also a great favourite along with the ever popular Café au Lait.


To extend the early season Anemones galil  provides a range of spring colours including pastels.   Benefits from a bit of protection but cuts well.

The winter is always a challenge for cut flowers and Paul is expanding the dried flower range at Black Barn.  Dried flowers are becoming a significant floral trend including dried Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thistles, good old favourites like Statice, Helichrysum and even Pampas grass.  Helichrysum makes good button holes!

Paul graciously answer the many questions from the audience and received a highly deserved round of applause.