Coming up

Tuesday 28th September            Peter Cantrill – Plants for Autumn

Peter is an old friend of the club and a regular speaker at many garden clubs.  We have benefitted from his expertise on a number of occasions.  Peter runs Dayspring Plants which is situated close to Exeter airport.  He will be bringing plants with him which you can be sure will be of high quality so don’t forget to bring plenty of money.

Tuesday 29th October            Dr Todd Gray MBE – Elizabethan Gardens in Devon

Dr Gray has devoted his working career to the history of Devon.  Not only does he speak throughout Devon and the UK but also abroad including Mongolia and Uzbekistan.  He is a member of a number of historical committees and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours list in 2014 for services to Devon’s heritage.  He is employed as a Research Fellow by Exeter University.  His other interests include gardening and churches and other local buildings of interest.

He has recently been awarded the Freedom of Exeter and the honour will be conferred by the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall on the 7th November at 2pm.  You can book a seat at this event by sending a cheque for £6 to The Cottage in the Hayes, Cheriton Fitzpaine, EX17 4JG by the 1st November.

Tuesday 26th November                    AGM + GQT and buffet

The AGM will take place as usual at 7.30pm.  With the sad death of Peter Fry we are looking for a new treasurer.  To date we have one offer but anyone else can put themselves forward with a sponsor.

The AGM will be followed by an in-house GQT so start preparing your questions now.  Our members have a lot of expertise in growing vegetables and flowers so it is a time to pool our experiences in order to answer questions.  This will then be followed by a bring and share buffet.  Isabel will, once again, be looking for members to bring sandwiches etc.


For the Diary

Sept 15th                    Plant Heritage Plant Fair, Tavistock Pannier Market, 10am – 3pm.

Sept 22nd                     Plant Heritage Plant Fair, Rosemoor, 10am – 3pm.


    An Evening with Anne Swithinbank


On Thursday 10th October 2019

Matthews Hall at 7.30 p.m., doors open 7pm

Wine and other drinks available to buy

Tickets in advance:  members £5, non members £6

at the door on the day:  £7

Available from the Topsham bookshop and the trading hut or 01392-877318

My Visits

Last month I wrote that Exeter Cathedral was running tours of the Lady Chapel and the Bishop’s Garden.  I don’t know if any of you went but Ann and I did.  It was a very enjoyable tour and we discovered that we could go in again and join a tour of the Cathedral without extra cost. 

We went towards the end of June and there was, as you would expect, plenty of colour as the photos demonstrate.  We even had the opportunity to talk to the head gardener, or at least, Mike did.  It was an effort to tear him away.  It was very interesting to learn about the history of the garden and how the bishops and their wives influenced its development.

As well as the very attractive herbaceous borders the garden had some very impressive trees.  It is certainly worth going but as tickets have to bought in advance you are subject to the weather.  Mind you I think you might be able to book a ticket on the day as there were only six of us on the tour and two people seemed to join at the last minute.

Walking on the Wildside

Our other new visit this year was to Wildside, the garden of Keith Wiley.  Keith was head gardener at The Garden House for 25 years before moving down the road to set up a new garden.  He took over an old 4 acre apple orchard which was essentially flat.  Armed with a mini-digger he set about landscaping the land sometimes digging out 15 feet of soil to develop slopes and valleys and river beds. 

Now looking at the garden it is hard to imagine that it was ever flat and it is difficult to imagine that he and his wife Ros did it all by themselves.  Grasses are a recurrent theme throughout much of the top garden, with dieramas and restios.  Even after 15 years Keith still hasn’t finished the planting and there was a large barren area still to be planted. 


Not a review this month but an alert to the publication of Beth Chatto’s biography.  I have picked it out as she is my heroine (is that politically correct now) of gardening and this book is on my Christmas list. It can be bought from Amazon at £20.99.

Previous meetings

June 25th         Roy Cheek –  Irresistible  Garden Plants for Butterflies

Roy introduced us to Gardening for Butterflies by suggesting that we approach it as if preparing to give a Garden Party.

First–Prepare a Guest List.

Next–Check if and when the guests are available.

Third–Organise Suitable Food.

Fourth–Make sure you have Suitable Accommodation for them and their children.

Last– Drinks.

It was such a light-hearted and conversational start, and everyone’s attention was taken. We were all given lists of butterflies, their range and season, and plants that they favoured.

The Guest List was of course the list of butterflies that you would like to attract to your garden.

Next, check those that are likely to visit your area, and in which months of the year.

The Food List is the most suitable flowers for them, and to match flowering time to the most likely time for the butterflies appearance.

The Suitable Accommodation for them is the plants and places where they like to lay their eggs. And their children are the caterpillars, so you must consider what they will eat, and where they prefer to hibernate, either as a chrysalis or as a butterfly.

The plant list was amazing. Not just the plant name, but the varieties preferred too. Could you name 6 different varieties of Buddleja? Or did you just think Buddleja–Butterfly Bush?  Or how about 7 varieties of Verbena?

We were then treated to slides of each plant variety with a butterfly feeding. Lots of them that we all enjoyed seeing.

As for the last requirement–Drink. Not only water and rotting fruit, but the last slide was of a butterfly perched on the rim of a full wineglass and taking a good drink– and apparently it returned several times and helped itself each time.

I think this must be one of the best talks we have had, and I could happily have listened for longer.

                        Heather White

PS  Did you know that butterflies of different species will fight quite aggressively if they feel their food source is being invaded?

July 30th        Jeremy WilsonThe Scented Garden

This was another excellent talk given by an enthusiast.  Jeremy pointed out that scent was to attract not only pollinators but also predators that would remove pests that attacked the plant.  He explained we are well equipped to smell plants as we have about 5 million scent receptors in the nose.  He then introduced us to a wide range of scented plants and also gave us tips on how to increase the scent.  For example, when growing lavender put rubble in the bottom of the pot or planting hole and don’t water too often since stressing the plant increases the scent.  Of course, some plants produce more scent in the evening, like Nicotiana, because they are pollinated by moths.  There was no shortage of suggestions of plants we could put in our gardens next year to stimulate our scent receptors.

Comments, complaints and contributions to the ed. Mike Wheeler;; The Old Dairy, Old Bystock Drive, Exmouth, EX8 5EQ