27th April

Chairman Mike Kingsford started this latest of our informal Zoom meetings with photos from members’ garden. Sue Jackson sent one from her daughter’s garden in Perth, Australia, where she is visiting.

The next LHS event is the Annual Plant Sale on Sunday 8th May. Mike asked for volunteers to help with the sales to contact him. Tables will be put out at 12.00, ready for the delivery of East Ashling’s plants at 12.30. Mike encouraged members to bring their surplus plants of all kinds for the members’ table, from 12.30 and before the opening rush at 2 pm.

As Hortitalk will now be taking a summer break, Mike ran through the up-coming events, including the self-drive garden visits that Programme Secretary, Lesley West, has arranged in to meet the positive response in the recent Member Survey:

  • Thu 28th April: Sedgewick Park – arranged at very short notice to see garden at its best and before the sale of the property;
  • Wed 8th June: Monthly meeting -‘Make the most of what you have’, Ben Pope;
  • Sat 18th June: Lavant Village Fete, where LHS will be running the Plant Stall. Again, volunteers are needed for sales and set-up on the day and also to collect plants from nurseries in the couple of days before;
  • Wed 29th June: evening visit for members to the garden of Jill Richardson and Jon Penn in Sheepwash Lane;
  • Thu 7th July: garden visit to ‘Whitehanger’ near Haslemere. Minimum 10 visitors needed. Members must confirm by end June;
  • Wed 13th July: Buffet Supper;
  • Sat 8th August: Annual Flower Show – again, many volunteers are needed so that a rota can ensure that stewarding is not too onerous. Help is also requires for the set-up on the Friday evening.
  • Weekend 27-28th August: Joint celebration of the centenaries of both the Lavant Memorial Hall and Bleach of Lavant. In view of the Mick Bleach’s help in sourcing plants for the fete it has been agreed that LHS will participate with a stall. Details still have to be decided – photos of old LHS events; old gardening tools??


Wednesday 23rd March

Our latest informal Zoom meeting took us off to sub-tropical climes, with Barbara Bartlett introducing photos of plants taken on her recent visit to Madeira, many from Palheiro Gardens.
Click photos to enlarge.

Barbara has used the PlantNet app to identify many of these exotic plants. Another app, also free, for plant identification is Plantifier.

The Aldingbourne Trust will be hosting a talk on bees on 27th April. Price £15 includes buffet lunch and a 10% discount on purchases of plants, with proceeds to help fund the work of this excellent charity.


23rd February

Our latest informal Zoom get-together started with members’ photos on the theme of the arrival of spring.
Click photos to enlarge.

Several members submitted photos of the recent LHS visit to Mitchmere Farm – early spring flowers in a beautifully created natural setting, nestling in the Downs in the Ems valley. More photos can be found in the report on this visit.

Spring Flower Competition on Wednesday 9th March: Mike Kingsford confirmed that the Hall would open at 6.15 pm for members to bring their entries.These must all be in place by 7.00 pm. This is when our speaker, Alan Sargent (an experienced horticultural judge) will start the judging. He showed the Schedule, with the viola and pansy classes reinstated this year; the Schedule is available on the website.

For the first time there will be no restriction on the height of the Miniature Flower Arrangement (in line with NAFAS rules). The maximum length and depth both remain at 10 cm. Any container can be used, provided it fits within the maximum dimensions. Sue Jackson gave a useful tip: use damp sand to hold the elements of the arrangement – it is very difficult to insert the stems of tiny flowers into Oasis.

Mike reminded everyone that the Annual Plant Sale will be held on Sunday 8th May, encouraging members to prepare surplus seedlings and plants for the members’ stall. Richard Flint has confirmed that East Ashling Nurseries will be supplying their plants as usual. Mike asked for more volunteers for the selling of the plants, especially for the first half hour, which is always the most hectic.

Mike asked Roger Hart to outline a new feature coming to the website soon. In a Hortitalk a few months ago a member, Carol Knight, had suggested that it would be good to see the website addressing sustainable and environmental gardening. A new page on the website featuring these issues is now ready. As well as acting as a portal to explore the excellent RHS guides to the various aspects of sustainable gardening and the environment, it will also feature a couple of more targetted issues.

Notably, members will be invited to share their own ideas and experiences in this area by means of an easy-to-use form on the website. Submitting such items, and reading those coming in from other members, will be restricted to LHS members only.

This new feature will be launched in about 2 weeks, when Margaret Rhodes will have been able to send to all members an email with the password needed to access the members’ area.


Wednesday 26th January

This latest informal members’ get-together on Zoom was mainly devoted to the results of the Member Survey, held last November.

Based upon these results it was agreed that these informal Hortitalk sessions for members on Zoom would continue each month, but with a break after April.
Our normal monthly meetings are now back in Lavant Memorial Hall; however, the possibility of occasional Zoom talks for some months when there was no speaker meeting would be investigated.
The support for day garden visits by coach was encouraging, but this will be for 2023 – it was thought that the situation was still too unsure to make plans for this year.


24th November 2021

“Happy Birthday Hortitalk !”

This latest informal Zoom meeting marked a year since our first Hortitalk.

Chairman, Mike Kingsford, after lighting the candle on the birthday cake, set the ball rolling with a selection of photos from the past year’s Hortitalks, followed by some newly submitted ones:

Not surprisingly, no-one could remember the name of the New Zealand Christmas tree, the first question in the quiz that started our first Hortitalk:- Pohutakawa!

In looking back to Mike’s glorious tree peony, ‘Itoh’ peonies were mentioned, hybrids between the tree and herbaceous peonies that combine the good points of both. They are expensive, but Lesley is tempted, so watch this space.

One of the remarkable plants was the tomato ‘Red Alert’ – early ripening and continuing to produce a prolific crop.

Frank’s Mandevilla was a revelation to others who had struggled with yellowing and dropping leaves. His advice was not to try growing it around a frame but to allow it to grow upright, clipping back shoots to keep it in shape. Propagation is easy: cut off a side shoot, dip the end in rooting compound and pot it up.

The photos of yucca and osteospermum at West Wittering showed how mild of this late autumn is, although osteospermum can be more hardy than widely thought.

There will be no Hortitalk in December – the next one will be held on 26th January.


27th October 2021

Chairman, Mike Kingsford, kicked off our latest informal meeting on Zoom with some photos from members.

The Glory of Autumn was exemplified by some photos of Winkworth Arboretum, where acers were showing their bright autumn colours, although other trees were only just beginning to turn.

From members’ own gardens, there was the foliage of a parrotia turning a glorious gold.

Dahlias were showing their resilience – determined to keep on blooming in spite of the weather.

Kaffir lilies (previously known as Schizostylis, but now renamed Hesperantha) were again providing a bright display without having received any particular attention. Although said to prefer damp conditions, these were in a dry part of the garden.

As every year, the Nerines had suddenly appeared with their glowing blooms.

Looking forward to the new season, there was a November-flowering camellia , as well as a spring-flowering rhododendron ‘Timothy James’, fooled by the remarkably mild weather.

Alternatives to box were discussed, including Euonymus ‘Jean Hugues’ (this was the one shown in the previous Friday’s Gardeners’ World) and also Ilex crenata.

In light of the up-coming COP 26 it was suggested that sustainable gardening would be a good topic for the website,starting with pollinator friendly plants. Notes on Darren Lerigo’s January talk “Helping the Honey Bee” are already available on the website, but it was agreed they would be given more prominence and something more comprehensive would be considered.

Mike ended by encouraging all members to come to the AGM.


29th September 2021

Lesley submitted photos of a mystery plant, a readily spreading ground cover spilling out from the flower bed into the gravel path. Throughout the summer it had very many more pink flower heads than seen in the late September photos. This was readily identified as Phuopsis stylosa (Caucasian crosswort). It was also reported to take well in gaps in stone walls. It is easy to grow and propagate, so look out for it at next May’s Annual Plant Sale.

Mike’s very large-leaved quick-growing plant was more of a puzzle, but was subsequently identified as a Paulownia (foxglove tree). It quickly grows into a large tree, but only starts bearing foxglove-like flowers after quite some years.

There was some discussion of October’s Autumn Flower Competition and of interesting gardens visited: several in Cornwall, of which Trebah excelled, nearer to home, Sussex Prairie Garden and right on our doorstep West Dean Gardens where there is a lot of new planting underway.


Wednesday 28th July 2021

Most of the discussion concerned the up-coming Annual Flower Show,

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with Chairman, Mike Kingsford, encouraging members to set the example by entering things in the Show.

This year there will be no need write entry cards by hand. Not only will Margaret Rhodes pre-print the class name and number on all the cards, but will also print the entrants’ names and numbers on labels to be stuck on the appropriate entry cards. She does not envisage needing additional help for this. Mike asked that entry forms be subitted as soon as possible, rather thah just befor the cut-off time, to help Margaret spread our the workload.

It was pointed out that there is no provision in the Show Schedule for biennials. However, it was clarified that hollyhocks, which prompted this query, are a short-lived perennial.

Concern was expressed about running Class 50, most fragrant rose, in the traditional way, with all the visitors smelling the roses as they arrive. It was agreed that this year Tom Brown would be asked to decide the winner, rather than the popular vote.
Robert Newman offered to make a perspex screen to stop visitors instinctively trying to smell the roses.

Two marquees will be erected on the green adjacent to the Green Room: one, with open sides, for refreshments and the other for any overspill of exhibits. If not required for exhibits, this also would be left open-sided for refreshments.

A recommendation that masks be worn inside the Hall was agreed.

As all washing up will be done in the dish washer, rather than by hand, Liz Hewitt asked for help in handling the heavy trays of crockery; Robert Newman and Mike Kingsford volunteered.

There was general support amongst the members participating for a continuation of Hortitalks after a break in August.

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23rd June 2021

As usual, we started with photos from members’ gardens that set off a lot of discussion: (click any to enlarge)

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Sweet peas: Mike Kingsford shared some photos of his sweet peas – Roger Parsons seed sown in Rootrainers in October and grown on in a quite harsh regime.
For intensity of fragrance he particularly recommended ‘Lady Nicholson’ and maroon / violet bicolour ‘Matucana’.

Allium christophii: often grown as a single “lollypop”, it looks really glorious in this mass of about 20 plants, self-seeded from the few bulbs that were planted here.

Erodium manescavii: flowers continuously from spring to frost – very easy to grow and propagate.

‘Kathleen Harrop’: introduced in 1919, a softer pink sport of Bourbon rose ‘Z√©phirine Drouin’, introduced some 50 years earlier; both share the same characteristics: thornless, very fragrant and repeat-flowering. Said to be more resistant to disease if planted out of full sun.

Cacti: Mike stimulated the orange one into flowering by drenching it with water when it was very dry.

Foxgloves:The second photo shows not only the bumblebee disappearing into the flower, but also, to the right of the foxglove, the yellow pendant flowers of Chilean box Vestia foetida. Usually hardy enough for our climate, this winter strong cold winds had killed of the top of the plant. However, the base of the plant survived, sending up these new branches.

Tomato: Mike showed his first ripe tomato of the season – ‘Red Alert’, a bush variety producing an abundance of cherry tomatoes, grown from seed sown at the beginning of January in a propagator by Frank Bartlett.

Oxalis: several members had were growing pink flowered varieties. However, a warning was given about Oxalis cornucalata – its pretty tiny bright yellow flowers set in purplish shamrock-shaped leaves belie its thuggish nature.

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26th May 2021

This started with a wide range of photos from members’ gardens – here are some:
(click on any to enlarge)

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They prompted a lot of discussion: plants flourishing in spite of April and May’s extreme weather, those struggling or lagging behind and those just going their own way.
Several recognised the growing acceptance of self-seeders in their garden, especially at this time of year: hellebores, forget-me-nots (blue, white & pink) and “wild” flowers, such as buttercups and campions, red, white & bladder.

The new foliage of the Acer ‘Brilliantissimum‘ was quite striking: opening as a coppery pink, then turning gold, before turning towards green.

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