The day of the tea party dawned brightly before us and despite a 40% chance of rain and some forecasts that said rain was coming, we , that is over 70 people from Tatsfield and beyond came to Mary and Barry Bull’s to join friends and the THS committee members for a wonderful afternoon of “Tea and Cakes“.
As the preparations started to form with the erecting of the Gazebo’s and the laying out of the tables and chairs the place began to look splendid, especially as Barry had remembered to mow the lawn. The summer had ensured that the backdrop was gloriously green and offset the white of the Gazebo and tablecloths well and superbly rounded off with table displays of Sweet Peas kindly donated by Sue Warren..
To add to this the cakes and scones started to arrive, and for those of us that way inclined they looked good enough to eat there and then. We did however resist until the appropriate time and I particularly enjoyed the Vic….which I later found out was the shortened term for the Victoria Sponge.
Our thanks go to all of you that supported the event to Carol Gaskell for organising us all, the marvellous makers of the cakes, too many to name individually, the committee and helpers especially our put upon washer upper Sophie and of course Mary and Barry for a wonderful summer event put on by the THS.
Having cleared everything away on the day under threat of rain and taking in of a superb “ Speckled Hen “ with Barry the rain did come and quite heavily for a short period of time so our luck on the day seemed to be most timely indeed.
I have attached pictures if you can use them …if not please include instead …see the pictures of the Gazebo before the people arrived and the cakes before they were eaten.
Further details of this and all other THS future and past events can be found on the THS website
For those that were there and those were unable to attend thought you might like to see the
photos that were taken at our annual Tea Party, which took place on Sunday 20th July. It was a gloriously sunny day and Barry and Mary Bull did us proud with providing the perfect backdrop, their garden! Everything looked splendid so well done to all that were involved. The committee and Mary and Barry put a lot of hard work in to the event and it was nice to see it appreciated. Please see pictures of the Cakes that were all home made and eaten on the day, as well as a magnificent view of Mary and Barry's garden set up just before the event. I bet you wish you came now.
What a difference a year makes! The weather has been kind to us in spring – finally! Of course the late Easter meant that the Spring show was late too – so most of the daffodils were past their best but a price we were all prepared to pay for some fine weather in April. It was Robert Browning in his poem “Home Thoughts from Abroad” who said:
Oh, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
This may have been written 140 years ago but it expresses, more than adequately, how things have felt here over the last month.
So where were all the entries for the show then? We had around 130 which was the lowest since records began - well not quite but a pretty tepid response anyway. The previous two years have been around 240. We could blame it on Easter (i.e. everyone has been so busy over Easter they have not had time to think about the show) or the end of the daffodils (which hardly impacts photos, craft, art, domestic). Speaking to Nick Hagon from Biggin Hill, they have experienced a similar dip, and their show was the week-end before Easter.
It is a difficult one, as everyone seems to be so busy now – life is full on, especially if you have a young family, and entering the show takes a fair amount of planning ahead. So what would encourage more entries - please let me know if you have any bright ideas (email@example.com)! If we don’t support events like the Spring Show then they will cease to be.
There were still many high quality entries amongst those that did take the time however, and the competition was fast and furious in a number of areas. Linda Lambert, Dawn Forrester-Groom and Britta Erbes all featured strongly in the house plant classes. The daffodils, as I mentioned above, were nearly over. Some entrants, rumour has it, resorted to putting them in the deep-freeze in an attempt to preserve their perfect forms. 30 minutes after removing from their frozen state however, they had turned to mush! Not a method to recommend then.
I think it safe to say that Bob David pretty well cleaned up in the daffodil and tulip classes. He seemed to be able to get some great quality blooms to hang on for the show – many of the daffodils were of the paler variety, which might be slightly later? The variety of tulips has expanded significantly in recent years – and there were some delightful green and cream ones on display, plus some amazing double-headed daffodils, some of which picked up “Best in Show” for Bob.
Bob David also won the anemone class with some stunning mauve specimens – much larger than any of his rivals – see the picture on the THS web-site. Phil Brett picked up a first with his Camassia (leichtlinii 'Caerulea' I think) – so well worth considering as bulbs to put in for autumn. They grow nice and tall and are happy in woodland or shade. Angela Sawyers’ striking yellow and purple pansies picked up a first too. Phil also won the wallflowers class, and Angela the Polyanthus – so Bob did not have it all his own way! The rhubarb class was as hard fought as ever and, amidst some confusion over how many makes six, Phil Brett won a competitive first with a straight and ruddy set of stalks. To round off the Horticultural section, Phil Brett’s vase of mixed garden flowers won too. The arrangement was so professional that I think Mr Brett should graduate to the novice flower arranging next year – Phil?
The first exhibits that assault your senses as you enter the hall at the show are the flower arrangements – and what a standard they were again. It is not only the technical quality but the level of creativity that goes into them that really shines through. Val Payne managed to show off her tulips in a clog to enhance the Dutch theme in her splendid arrangement. Suzanne Harrison well deserved “Best in Show” for her Bath Time entry – complete with towel and other accessories. Linda Lambert’s spring basket was the very epitome of Robert Browning – or even William Wordsworth – complete with a host of golden daffodils. Suzanne Harrison’s green themed “Easter” came complete with a crown of thorns – very creative and appropriate. It would be great to see a few more novices entering future shows.
Craft entries may have been low in quantity but were definitely high in quality. Suzanne Harrison’s tea cosy was of particular note and Claire Payne’s necklace with matching earrings were worthy of a professional shop window display.
The art entries always amaze me as I can’t string two match-stick men together – I wouldn’t know where to start. To my untutored eye, there were some wonderful entries here – too many to mention but a number of stand outs, some of which are pictured on our web-site. Of particular note were Susan Brown’s tulips in an over-grown garden, Linda Lambert’s window box and Christine Stainer’s monochromatic picture of “Stubby” the heroic dog. Carol Gaskell rounded things off nicely with two serene faces – never my strongpoint!
The photographic entries were thin but there were some lovely images – and this really is a section where everyone can have a go. Take a little time to crop the picture nicely and use photo-shop or Windows Photo Gallery (free) to get the contrast and colours right (it only takes a minute or two). Start thinking about the autumn classes now – classes are “In the summertime”, “Beasts or mini-beasts” and “In memoriam”. The Juniors (under 17) is “Our Garden” – so start waving your camera about now in preparation! Included in the Spring Show were Britta Erbes’ great party shot, Christine Jackson’s girl in a cardigan, and Gracie Horton in the garden (might work for autumn too Gracie!). The Junior class was very high standard and won by Ellie Butt with a shot of her Wendy house, with Billy Butt’s “cat in a bag” (not as cruel as it sounds) close behind.
The Domestic section was high chockablock with quality again, with the judge full of praise for the flavours in the marmalade (won by Stuart Payne), and Chutney (Nicola Reeves). Nicola Reeves had worked hard in the kitchen to enter most of the classes – especially considering how testing some of the recipes were! Her savoury loaf / bread was an excellent flavour (according to the judge – as I wasn’t allowed a try), and the profiteroles looked great – shame the cream would not have been at it’s freshest by the end of the show. The men’s class was as hard fought as ever – Ian Longley winning with the best flapjacks – only just pipping Stuart Payne and Gerald South into joint second place. The chocolate and ale cake was another challenging recipe but, in a somewhat controversial refereeing decision (which required a slow motion replay), everyone was docked a point for not slicing it – you must follow the recipe to the letter apparently!
The children’s classes showed some real artistic promise, as well as some sibling rivalry to spice things up. Zach Horton (aged 3) did very well with excellent collages of Thomas the Tank Engine and fair-trade wrappers. Nathan Reeves showed future promise for the domestic section with his very tasty fair-trade chocolate fingers. The 8-11 age group seemed very keen on making chocolate fingers, and Samuel Reeves won out (packed with flavour), just beating Billy Butt into second. Charlotte Gadd and Callum Horton were joint third – well done all of you. There were some very creative sports bag and t-shirt designs for Tatsfield school and this class was won by Billy Butt, with Callum Horton and Heather Evans as runners up.
The 12-16 age group portraits of famous people were all instantly recognisable and very high quality with Eleanor Evans (Gandhi), Gracie Horton (Mo Farah), and Ellie Butt (Amanda Holden) all doing a wonderful job. The same three dominated the chocolate finger entries with Eleanor Evans winning out. Ellie and Billy Butt both showed great promise with their bulbs in a pot – a shame neither had flowered yet but that will come! The junior flower arranging was wonderfully colourful and amusing, and of a genuinely high standard. Well done to all entrants who obviously spent a great deal of time and thought on their entries – Callum Horton emerged the winner, just ahead of Ellie Butt and Gracie Horton.
The whole occasion – especially the colours and warmth of feeling were a welcome reminder that spring really is here. Roger Pearce, who was a key member of the committee for more years than anyone can remember, ably presented the prizes, and many thanks Roger for your contribution on the day, and over the years! The trophy winners at another very successful and enjoyable Spring Show were:
Colegate Challenge Cup (Horticulture) Bob David
Derek Weller Cup (Best Daffodil Exhibit) Bob David
Peter Hallam Trophy (Juniors) Ellie Butt
Theobald Cup (Crafts) Suzanne Harrison
Lambert Art Trophy (Art) Linda Lambert
Tatol Trophy (Best individual artwork) Christine Stainer
Tom Rushen Cup (Domestic) Nicola Reeves
Sue Warren Trophy (Flower Arranging) Suzanne Harrison
Emily Streets Cup (Best Individual Flower Arrangement) Suzanne Harrison
Ray Collins Trophy (Photography) Christine Jackson
Congratulations to all who helped make the show possible.
What does Bryan do 44 times before breakfast? ……
Why does he want your old candles? …….
The reputation of Bryan Everest travels ahead of him, so it was no surprise to see a big turnout of local gardeners in the WI hall on 11 March.
In Bryan’s inimitable way he gave us a multitude of hints about growing vegetables, sweet peas, dahlias, chrysanthemums and much else. These included: peppers need plenty of light; Swift is a good first early potato but Desiree is ‘awful’; garlic needs a cold spell which we have not had this year but Solent White is a good variety; it is best to start onions in pots and then plant out; peas can be sown in a gutter pipe and, when germinated, can be slid into a shallow trench in the garden; asparagus should be planted on a ridge; successful rhubarb needs a winter mulch and you have to talk to it; dahlias can be grown from last year’s tubers, possibly split into pieces, or from cuttings which give better flowers; hybrid tea roses should now be pruned as low as possible with the dead wood removed first. Bryan has six large allotments with a greenhouse and polytunnel together with a summerhouse with radio and guest seating, although, much to his regret, he has so far failed to tempt Charlie Dimmock there.
He is often out at 5 in the morning and can fill 44 sweet pea pots with compost before breakfast – followed by another 44 in the evening! This enables him to grow up to a thousand sweet pea plants. Sadly last year his magnificent crop suffered bud drop just before the big show. This was caused by a sudden cool snap – so now Bryan is appealing for donations of candles that he can put around his plants if there is such a threat this year!
Such is Bryan’s enthusiasm and generosity that he brought with him vast quantities of plants for us to take away – these included peppers, potatoes, rocket, garlic, onions, broad beans, chives, mint, sage, Brussels, cabbage, calabrese, dahlias and sweet peas.
He also offered some chrysanthemum plants at the Spring Show. As always Bryan was prepared to answer a wide range of questions from the floor, although questioners waited anxiously to see how scathing would be his response! A thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all and we are indeed fortunate to have Bryan as such a good friend of the Society, not just because of his horticultural expertise but also because of his refreshing and humorous approach to life. (Write up by Gerald South)
Barbara Hester reports: Continuing with the biodiversity theme from January, the Gardening Club talk by Jon Albutt at the WI Hall on 11th February was entitled Turning your Lawn into a Meadow.
Jon has had much experience over his working lifetime with lawns of all types from lawn tennis and bowling greens to meadows. Maintaining standards with a lawn requires time and energy and money and latterly he has become more interested in letting the "weeds" (wildflowers in the wrong place) grow. Jon was keen to dispel the myth that creating a meadow will take many, many years.
In Tatsfield we are lucky to live in a chalk downland area with its ability to support a rich diversity of flora and fauna and Jon referred to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Hill Park Estate (off Chestnut Avenue) and how it has changed in the last 10-15 years since it has been under conservation management and now has sheep grazing it regularly.
Wildflowers love exactly the opposite conditions to that of lawns. Maintaining grass requires nitrogen in the soil, which is achieved by feeding a lawn in the spring but in order to achieve a meadow we need to impoverish the grass to stop it exercising control of the area and we do this by diminishing the amount of nitrogen present in
the soil and the first way to do that is to NOT FEED. In time the nitrogen washes out of the soil and within two years the course grass will go and finer grass (fescues) will appear naturally. This in turn gives space for wildflowers to grow; the seeds of many will already be in the soil profile just waiting for the right conditions to enable them to make an appearance.
Dependent on the season conditions, Jon advised STOPPING MOWING in mid-March (can’t say we’ve even begun that early in our garden!) and leaving the meadow until at least the end of July. And finally, water – grass hates drought but wildflowers love it, so NO WATERING. Once the meadow has set seed (around late July) it can be cut, either collecting the seed or allowing it to scatter. The hay should be raked up and removed (so as not to add nutrients to the soil) and then the meadow can be left or kept lightly strimmed until the following March.
How long the meadow will take to develop will depend on how rich the soil is to begin with. Many areas of Tatsfield have chalk at the surface: further down Ricketts Hill, Lusted Hall Lane and Kemsley Road for instance which is ideal for meadows. In the centre of Tatsfield is a cap of clay and here a meadow will take longer.
Lawns support zero species whereas a meadow will quickly support dozens if not hundreds of species. A meadow is important to pollinators, bees, caterpillars and later butterflies, moths and grasshoppers and birds of course and the understorey is a habitat for beetles, spiders, grass snakes, slow worms, voles and mice. Its importance to the chain of life cannot be over-emphasised. Wildflowers that we could look forward to in Tatsfield include orchids, wild violets, primroses, foxgloves, cowslips and of course buttercups and daisies. There are
some species that will try to dominate and will require control such as nettles and creeping thistles although all other thistles are a favourite with bees. Ragwort, which is a popular host to the Cinabar Moth caterpillar, must also be managed as it is a danger to grazing animals, especially when it is cut and left to become hay as it loses its bitter taste. If ragwort is growing adjacent to farmland, the grower has a responsibility to make sure it is not
allowed to set seed.
Jon also covered developing a meadow either by introducing seed (there are a number of companies that specialise in this area, including seed for specific soil types) or harvesting our own seed and sharing with neighbours or by the planting of plugs. When doing so a tile size square should be cut and a group of plugs
planted, but don’t add fertiliser - just a little water.
During the question and answer time the practice of sowing a meadowland with Yellowrattle was discussed because of its ability to suppress grass and nutrients. Jon also advised those of us with a woodland garden and the joys of a mossy lawn to consider introducing ferns to improve biodiversity. Jon recommended that we take a look at how our very own sledging field (at the end of Goatsfield Road) has changed over the past few years
since Whelan Farms have had it under meadow management – Jon sometimes goes and sits on the bank with his grandchildren and watches the wind rippling through the grass, listening and watching for bees, butterflies and grasshoppers and sometimes even a young fox or badger puts in an appearance. I’m very much looking forward to doing just that one summer’s evening later this year!