EVENTS 2016‎ > ‎2016 Programme‎ > ‎

2016 Speakers

January - The Therapy Garden

Sally Wooding, the events manager at The Therapy Garden, Normandy started our meeting by giving us an insight into the roll The Therapy Garden has and the work they do in supporting people who have special needs.  Clients come from various organisations, social security, doctor recommendations and charities.  They have found that gardening has proven to be very beneficial and helped people to gain confidence. 


The facility enables clients to grow flowers, vegetable and fruit much of which is sold in their shop.  They have raised beds for those in wheel chairs and even a sensory garden where people can just sit and relax. 


The second half of the evening was taken over by Anne Adey who is one of our club members, and the founder of the garden. Some years ago Anne saw a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show which gave her the inspiration to try and create a garden in Normandy for local people with special needs.  She knew that funds would be the first thing needed and in conjunction with the local parish church organised a Normandy Village Open Gardens Day which was a great success.  She then went on to get a small committee together and eventually got the council to agree to let her have a plot of land.  It was then a case of getting planning permission, raising more funds, getting support from local businesses, one of which donated kitchen facilities, and with the help of Merrist Wood pupils the garden finally started to take shape.  The Therapy Garden is now very much a permanent part of Normandy Village and deserves to be supported by buying fruit and vegetables from there shop where they also sell home made produce etc.  The Garden is reached via the car park for Normandy Village Hall in Glaziers Lane. 

January - Annual Club Lunch

Club members and their partners (39 in total) enjoyed lunch at Rokers Farmhouse Restaurant.  This is the first of many annual social events and gets our year off to a great start.  Rokers always make us very welcome and this year because we had such a large party we had the restaurant to ourselves.  

February - Blooming Britain

Our February meeting began with the annual AGM, with reports from the Chairman on the events of 2015 and the Treasurer on the financial health of the club.  Committee were elected and we moved on to the speaker for the evening, Colin Jones.  Colin retired as a film director/editor for the BBC and now spends time visiting gardens around the world and lecturing aboard cruise ships  His talk this evening was entitle "Blooming Britain" and featured a whirlwind trip around the gardens of the British Isles. Starting at our local and his favourite garden at RHS Wisley, he swiftly moved down to Cornwall with pictures of “Heligan” and the Eden project.  He showed some impressive pictures of the 10 million snowdrops at Welford Park, and then north up to Harrogate and Harlow Carr with some beautiful pictures of the gardens at Alnwick castle.  After a quick whizz round Scotland we moved to N. Ireland’s Mount Stewart in County Down and then across to the National Garden of Wales with the worlds biggest singled domed glasshouse. 

March - Behind the Scenes at Birtley House

Our March meeting saw Tim Whalley from Birtley House with his new Estate manager Gill, giving us an insight into the history, events and horticulture of the 50 acre estate that surrounds the house and nursing home located just south of Guildford. Tim had recently uncovered a selection of old photographs of the house and gardens which he combined with some more recent images to show how some aspects had remained relatively unchanged whereas others have been developed over the years to enable the residents to enjoy. This included the long walk with flower borders, kitchen garden, the trout and koi ponds and the newly installed cider orchard. Produce from the estate benefit the residents while surplus is made into a range of Birtley preserves and chutneys. A surplus of cider also gave our members a little taste of Birtley to complete the evening! The gardens host a number of annual events such as the Rare Plants Fair in April and the Sculpture Exhibition in May, in addition to providing activity days for community based projects.

April - Spring Perennials

Our April meeting was very well attended with the expectation of a talk from Rosy Hardy from Hardy’s nurseries. Unfortunately she wasn’t well so sent along husband and partner in crime Rob who did a fantastic job. He started with a potted history of Hardy’s nursery from car boot sales back in 1988 to the first Hampton Court flower show in 1995, and then up to present day where they are designing and building the Brewin Dolphin garden at this year’s Chelsea flower show, which looks to be a stunning display based around a chalk stream. The garden will feature 5,500 plants with a spectacular spherical sculpture based on chalk fossils. Rob came armed with many spring perennial plants currently featured at the nursery, and gave us some background and tips on growing these as part of the talk. From the shade loving Epimedium and Pulmonaria to the beautiful ‘totally tangerine’ Geum and honey-scented Ipheion, he was fountain of knowledge when it came to horticultural questions.

June- Pond Life, the importance of water features in your garden  

Dawn Fielding, a garden wildlife officer from the Surrey Wildlife Trust, gave a presentation on “Pond Life, the Importance of Water Features in your garden.” She explained that several species of, birds, butterflies and wetland species, have declined since 1966, some 60% of UK species are in decline and we as gardeners can help.  How? by introducing water into your garden.  There are several ways of doing this, if your garden is big enough then put in a large pond, a smaller garden a smaller pond, and if you have a tiny garden then perhaps a water feature in a bucket or old sink. 

By introducing water you will encourage a wide variety of wildlife, not only amphibians like frogs and newts but also dragonflies, water boatman, and you might even get bats flying over your pond eating the insects or perhaps an occasional visit from a harmless grass snake. 

It’s important when constructing any wildlife pond to make sure that you have three levels of water, deep in the middle rising to shallow around the edge.  The deep middle will provide protection for amphibians in the winter and can be planted with water lilies which will give some shade in the summer, the next section can have oxygenating plants and the shallow edge can be planted up using baskets, aquatic soil and most importantly native plants.  Some of the plants sold in garden centres are not native and can be very invasive and not easy to get rid of.   The RHS in conjunction with Plantlife have produced a publication called “Gardening without harmful invasive plants” which covers all types of plants that are good for wildlife -

By keeping the edge shallow this will allow creatures to come and go safely and will also be a place for the birds to have a drink or to bathe.   Any water feature is best sited in a sunny spot away from overhanging trees

Other things that will help to bring more wildlife into your garden are bird feeders, bird boxes, a log pile, compost heap and fruit trees but do please avoid using chemicals as these not only kill the bugs you don’t want but also the ones that you do want. 

The SWT are carrying out a survey to gauge our hedgehog population, so if you see one in your garden please let them know by going onto their website  They would also like to know if you see anything new or something that perhaps you have not seen for a long time visiting your garden Creating a pond will not only give wildlife a boost but will also bring you hours of pleasure watching to see what comes to visit.

July- The Crop Cycle Mystery

Our July meeting was a little out of the ordinary as we hosted Andy Thomas to talk to us about the mysteries of crop circles. Andy is one of Britain’s leading authors and lecturers on unexplained mysteries and has made many appearances on television. He gave us a potted history from when crop circles were first reported back in 1678, to some of the amazing elaborate designs that are still appearing in fields all over the world today. He gave a convincing story that these could not all be man-made, and their appearance often coincided with reports of lights hovering over the fields. Many of these designs show incredible mathematical precision, some illustrate astronomical alignments predicting events that have occurred several years later. They are also linked to the geological forms of underlying rock, primarily chalk aquifers in the UK. While they remain a mystery they provide some of the most beautiful and unique designs to which we were treated to in a very enthralling evening’s presentation and discussion.

September - Hindhead, Past, Present and Future

After a successful summer show at our August meeting, September saw a visit from Matt Cusack, the Lead Ranger from the National Trust Hindhead site. Matt gave us a potted history of the site which was one of the first National Trust properties purchased in 1910 by Sir Robert Hunter the founder of the National Trust. The area in total is 2,500 acres of parkland given over to heathland and woodland including the devils punchbowl and is home to a number of grazing animals such as highland cattle, Exmoor ponies and some sheep. The grazing helps to keep the heathland from being invaded by birch and rhododendron. Matt showed a wonderful series of images of the construction of the Hindhead tunnel and how the area has changed as a consequence, with areas that were once chock-full of commuter traffic now returned to grass and wild plants. A total of 220,000 trees were planted over the area, and now what was the A3 has now returned to becoming part of the natural landscape. There are a number of trails marked out for walkers, tempting us to organise a trip at some point in the future to go and explore the area