Gardening Group


October saw the last visit of the Summer Programme, with a coach trip to RHS Wisley. All the recent rain meant that everything was still green and apart from a few Acers, not many of the trees were changing colour. However, the flower beds and herbaceous borders still contained an amazing array of colours. The weather on that particular day was in our favour, and the rain held off. There was an event going on called 'Taste of Autumn', with lots of stalls selling a huge selection of produce, the most popular of which was homemade fudge. The new visitor centre and extended plant centre proved to be very popular, and as usual, many of us made our way back to the coach clutching our purchases. An excellent day out, as always!

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A bonzai AcerA bonzai AcerA bonzai Acer

Rycote Park and Chapel  -  near Thame, Oxon.

Our September visit to Rycote Park, just outside Thame, was a revelation to many of us. We were welcomed by Mrs Sarah Taylor, the owner of Rycote, and taken to the 'Barn' for coffee and cake, and an introductory talk on the history of Rycote. We were then given a guided tour of the grounds, garden and Rycote Chapel itself. An ancient Yew Tree stood in the ground with a girth of 26 feet and said to be at least 1500 years old. The rose garden was a picture, while the walled garden was full of flowers, vegetables, soft fruit cages and of course the obligatory pumpkins. The glass house contained a mixture of exotic plants and a huge Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpts) against the far wall. Altogether a really enjoyable visit.

 Rycote GardensRycote GardensRycote Gardens

Rycote GardensRycote GardensRycote Gardens

KATHY BROWN'S GARDEN - Stevington, near Bedford

On Wednesday, 15th May, 50 members travelled by coach to Kathy Brown's Garden in Stevington, near Bedford. We went via Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands, where we spent an hour or so, enjoying the delights of the centre, taking the time to have some lunch, or just coffee. On arrival at her garden, Kathy Brown welcomed us and we spent a glorious afternoon admiring the Aliums, the Tree Peonies, the Ceanothus, the Clematis plus numerous other wonderful plants, shrubs and trees. We explored the Solardome, the sunken garden and the Wisteria Walk. We enjoyed tea and cake on the lawn, and all agreed it was, once again, a first class visit on a beautiful May day. 



BEECH  HOUSE  -  Jordans, near Beaconsfield

It was a foggy morning when we left Chinnor to drive to Beech House in Jordans, near Beaconsfield for our April Visit. When we arrived the sun was shining, there was no sign of fog. The two acre garden was lovely, with a wild-flower meadow at the back, which had lots of fritillaries on one side and cowslips on the other. A ‘statement’ flower bed of bright orange tulips provided a focal point in the back garden, and there were plenty of spring flowers and flowering shrubs for seasonal interest. It was very tranquil, and a lovely start to our summer programme.

(photos courtesy of Molly Goodwin - aged 11, and Jessica Goodwin - aged 9)




Meetings will be held in the Scout Hut, Station Road, Chinnor, from 10.00 am to 12 noon ( tea or coffee first)

The first meeting was on Wednesday 21st November 2018   ‘Eat Your Greens in 1918’  -   A talk by Michael Brown (The Historic Gardener)


Wednesday 16th January 2019.   ‘Bugs and Garden Plagues’  -  A talk by Geoff Hodge ( Garden writer, book author and broadcaster)

Wednesday 20th February 2019.   ‘The late Spring /early Summer Garden’  -  A talk by Kathy Brown  (owner of The Manor House Garden, Stevington, Bedford)

Wednesday 20th March 2019.   ‘Bordering on Insanity’  -  A talk by Timothy Walker (Author of ‘Plant Conservation-why it matters and how it works)



In November we started off our Winter Programme with a talk by Michael Brown (the Historical Gardener) called ‘Eat Your Greens’. In the month that marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, Michael made references to the war in his talk which was essentially about the history of growing vegetables. He showed pictures of the soldiers growing their own vegetables, they asked their relatives to send them seeds and set up gardens in the trenches. Going back to ancient times the people sacrificed puppies to appease the gods so that their vegetables grew well. In the fifteenth century the first gardening book was written, which included sketches of ‘raised beds’, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that Gardening was considered something to occupy people. There were many older varieties of vegetables that we would never consider fit to eat today, notably the cabbage plant whose stalk remained in the ground and growing all the winter long, but the leaves were chopped off to cook and eat, but these were so tough they needed to be boiled all day long to render them edible. This brings a whole new significance to ‘Eat your Greens’.

We started off 2019 with one of our most entertaining speakers. Geoff Hodge (garden writer) who has been to talk to us twice before, (and we always invite him back), came to talk about ‘Bugs and Garden Plagues’. He arrived carrying three big boxes of products, and a lawn-rake, and we put up two big tables to set them all out. It is a skill in itself to make a talk about insecticides, fungicides, pheromone traps and the like, so entertaining that no-one’s attention wandered for a minute. At the end he gave the lawn-rake to the first person to answer the question ‘What insect spins a web?’ The obvious answer ‘spider’ was thrown out as a spider is not an insect, so there was a thinking pause, then one clever person gave the correct answer – ‘Moth’, and she was later seen walking back home through the village, lawn-rake in hand! It was a really memorable meeting.

The February meeting was much more sedate. Kathy Brown from the Manor House, Stevington near Bedford, came to show us pictures of her four and a half acre garden, and talk to us about ‘The Spring/early Summer Garden’. She featured many of the climbers, bulbs, shrubs that she has included in her planting, eg clematis, tree peonies, and she explained where she got the inspiration for some of the features in her garden. She specifically mentioned plants that we can expect to see when we visit her garden in May, like the wonderful wisteria and laburnum arch. Many of us who visited Kathy’s garden back in 2017 can remember the amazing cakes that she had baked for us, and she finished her talk with an explanation of how to make rose-petal icing, how to do lemon and lavender drizzle cake, and how to crystallise rose petals. She had recipe books and cards to sell, which had mouth-watering pictures, like carrot and marigold cake, and raspberry and elderflower cordial, so they attracted quite a crowd.

‘Bordering on Insanity’ was the title of our talk in March, given by Timothy Walker, who used to work at the Oxford Botanical Garden, and lived in the house close to where he worked, and his talk was all about creating and caring for the herbaceous border in the garden there. His wife Jill appeared in many of the photos that he showed, and she was clearly the driving force behind the design and maintenance of the beautiful border. It was such an entertaining and inspiring talk, Timothy pulled off the difficult trick of making his talk both informative and hilarious, everyone really enjoyed it. That brought our Winter programme to a successful conclusion, and we can’t wait to get out and about, and embark on our summer visits.



The last of the Summer Programme on October 17th, was a visit to Claydon House and gardens, near Winslow in Bucks. The House is a National Trust property, but the garden is still owned by the Verney family.

There was an impressive display of dahlias outside the walled garden, and cyclamen, nerines, and rosehips gave pockets of colour to an otherwise autumnal garden.

The house was fascinating, with lots of carvings on the ceilings and around the niches in walls. There were plenty of original features and furnishings, and the Chinese room was most extraordinary, with a huge carved canopy over a divan.

There was also a museum, dedicated to Florence Nightingale, who was a frequent visitor to the house.

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The Malvern Autumn Show at the Three Counties Showground, Worcester.

On Saturday 29th September, we boarded a coach taking us to the Malvern Autumn Show where we were blessed with clear blue skies, gentle breezes and plenty of autumn sunshine, the making of a perfect day.

Once inside the showground, many of us headed for The Giant Vegetable Marquee which held some amazing specimens.The Floral and Horticultural exhibits were just as outstanding with amazing displays of fruit, flowers, vegetables, flower arrangements and many other fantastic exhibits.

The most noise came from the Poultry Marquee, where chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and other assorted birds, clucked, quacked, cooed and cock-a-doodle-dooed non stop. The pigs on display grunted, snorted and sometimes just snored, whilst the dog agility competitions were a spectacle to behold.

There was so much to see and do during our time there, far more than we have space here to describe, but it was generally agreed by everyone that it was an excellent day out.

Awaiting the coachGiant MarrowsGiant Pumpkins

Horn of PlentyBest CollectionApple Basket

Cucumbers reallyPerry PearsShire Horse


The Manor House Gardens, Bledlow  -  Wednesday 19th September 2018

The house was build in the mid 17th Century, but the garden did not come into it's current form until the late Lord Carrington and his wife took over the property in 1946. With the help of a young, up and coming landscape architect, Robert Adams, they planned and designed the garden and over the years, have developed it into the masterpiece we see today.

48 Garden Group members visited the garden, and were welcomed by Mark Thompson, one of the three gardeners who currently keep everything in good order.

We were free to wander at our leisure and numerous people were seen to be filling their pockets with "conkers", freshly fallen from the Horse Chestnut trees, of which there were many around the garden. We are all children at heart.

The Manor HouseRussian SageWater feature

SlugLily PondGorilla

The ChurchThe Lyde GdnHow does this work 


The Walled Garden at Wormsley Estate, near Stokenchurch  -  Wednesday 15th August 2018

Designed and created over 300 years ago, this absolute Gem of a garden, hidden away in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, proved to be a most amazing experience. We were welcomed by Head Gardener Charlotte, who introduced us to her team and gave us a brief history of the Walled Garden and how it was restored to it's former glory by Sir John Paul Getty, who purchased the property in 1986.

We were given Pimms and savoury snacks on our arrival, and were then free to roam this Oasis of Calm, at our leisure. The enthusiasm of all the gardeners was infectious and they were  happy to stand and chat, and proved to be extremely knowledgable on all aspects of the garden.

It is fair to say that all 82 members who went on this trip, would go back again to see what this garden looks like at other times of the year. Outstanding!!

For more information go to the following website:




Long walkStatueVeg Garden


On Wednesday 18th July, we visited the gardens of His Honour Judge and Mrs Richard Foster, at Westend House in Cheddington

This 2 acre garden featured herbaceous and shrub borders, a rose garden, a wild flower area and a natural pond. There was also a formal vegetable garden and a small orchard. A hidden tree house was a masterpiece of contruction and a Fig tree that had invaded the greenhouse was a sight to behold. Despite the dry conditions, the garden looked beautiful with plenty of interest for everyone.

We were made extremely welcome by Mrs Sue Foster, and a team of ladies (and a gentleman) supplied us with a wealth of beautiful cakes and tea served in bone china tea cups. What better way to spend a glorious summer day.

Westend HouseFig invasionBlast of colourRose Garden

Tree HouseThe pondStrawberry cakeTea cake


A coach trip to Hidcote Manor and Kiftsgate Court Gardens

On Wednesday 20th June, 50 members of the Gardening Group, set off by coach for a visit to these two magnificent gardens on the edge of the Cotswolds. The weather was perfect and the gardens were a delight to behold. The roses were putting on a spectacular display and the blooms of the famous Kiftsgate Rose, climbing high into the tree tops, looked like a white waterfall tumbing through the branches. The scent of the flowering shrubs and tree blossoms filled the air and everyone agreed it had to be one of the best visits of the year ........   so far !!

4 lovely ladiesHidcote 3Kiftsgate 2

Kiftsgate 3Kiftsgate 4Primula Candelabra


       To view the Gardening Group's Introduction Presentation "Gardening visits over the last two years" please click the picture below: 

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