Scroll down to see Hortitalk meetings from previous months


Wednesday 27th March

This was our last of our informal Zoom session for members to discuss anything about plants and gardens, before Hortitalk takes a summer break.

Members’ photos on the theme ‘An Explosion of Colour’ came from Lavant and from further afield, from South East Asia. It was the latter that really exploded in colour.


The photos were taken by Suzy, who fresh from her return from South Africa, was currently on a visit to Vietnam.

1 & 2.The Golden Trumpet vine Allomanda cathartica.
3 – 5.Yellow Trumpet tree Tecoma stans .
7.Ruellia simplex used as a border plant.
8.Rangoon creeper Combretum indicum, a prolific climber.
9&10.Summer impala lily Adenium swazicum.
11.Known locally as the Salal tree. Fairly rare in Vietnam, as only allowed in the gardens of Bhuddist temples.
Also commonly known as the Canonball tree because of its large round fruits.
12&13.Trees at Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, Cambodia

Click any image to enlarge



The photos were taken on the balcony of a member’s relative who lives in Thailand.

2.Thai Crape Myrtle Lagerstroemia floribunda.



Back home, with some plants we are more accustomed to.

1. Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’ just coming into flower, with white Spirea behind.
2. Bumble bee foraging on willow catkin.
3. Grape hyacinth Muscari – seems to be doing particularly well this year.
4. Magnolia stellata
5. Tulip ‘Barcelona’.



Wednesday 28th February

The main feature of this Hortitalk was “Southern Hemisphere Delights”, a presentation of photos taken by Sue Jackson and Suzy Clements on their recent stays in South Australia and South Africa respectively. The sun and warmth portrayed in these photos was a welcome respite from the rain, wind and frosts we have been experiencing here

Western Australia

The photos were taken in the environs of Perth, where Sue was staying with her daughter. The weather was very hot, 35-40oC, with no rain at all. In spite of the ubiquitous Eucalyptus gum trees and resilient conifers, such as the Norfolk Island pine, still create a green landscape.

  1. A boab tree, with the city of Perth and the Swan River in the background.
  2. From same point, but looking inland.
  3. no comment needed.
  4. Gum tree, about 60ft tall, in Sue’s daughter’s garden.
  5. Shadows of the eucalyptus.
  6. Water in spite of the drought.
  7. Eucaluptus shedding their bark.

Click any image to enlarge

Western Australia

South Africa

All of the photos were taken in the Stellenbosch Botanic Gardens, part of Stellenbosch University.

  1. Lotus flower seed pods and leaves.
  2. Cyphostemma juttae Wild grape.
    A succulent from Namibia. Sought after as a container plant. Grows up to two metres.
  3. Bow tie vine: Dalechampia aristolochiifolia.
    Also called the Costa Rican butterfly vine. Origin South America. Silk like petals.
  4. Etlingera elatior: Torch Ginger. 3 stages of flower development: initial bud.
  5. Half open flower.
  6. Fully open flower head. 4ft tall.
  7. Cattleya orchid.
  8. Stenoglottis woodii orchid with tiny flowers.
  9. Mystacidium venosum.
    Miniature epiphytic orchid – stems 10 to 15mm long. Native of the Eastern Cape.

The last six photos also show some hanging Spanish moss Tillandsia usneoides.


Wednesday 24th January

The main part of January’s Hortitalk was dedicated to:

“Some Cornish Delights”
A presentation by Margaret Rhodes of photos that she and Sue Jackson had taken of the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, as well as of RHS Rosemoor in Devon, when they took part in the visit organised by Hayling Island Horticultural Society.

The Eden Project

Rainforest Biome
This this houses plants from tropical islands to SE Asia, and West Africa to tropical South America. By strictly controlling the ambient conditions, particularly high humidity and temperature, the settings of the rainforest are replicated. Lush foliage dominates, with varying shapes, sizes and hues crowded together.

Mediterranean Biome
The meteorological conditions of the Mediterranean, South Africa, Western Australia and California.
Cooler and drier than the rainforest, with plants providing much more colour.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Like so many large gardens, work on these gardens stopped in 1914, when the workers went off to war. After the war, the gardens were left to become wild, overgrown and derelict. It was only in the 1990s that their restoration was undertaken. They were first open to the public at Easter 1992, although a lot of the restoration work continued after that.

The glasshouses along one side of the large walled garden were restored.

The ravine with its own micro-climate is the location of the only outside jungle in the country.

RHS Garden Rosemoor

Located in North Devon. Amongst many other delights, it alluded to its name with glorious displays of many varieties of roses, at their best at that time of year, June.


Wednesday 22th November

Chairman, Mike Kingsford, showed photos that members had sent in on this month’s two themes:

Your tools of the trade‘.
Barbara couldn’t be without two very old tools: her mini rake and patio crack weeder.
Margaret’s leather gauntlets protect her against the toughest thorns, whilst remaining very supple.
Sue relies on some ancient  tools, well made and still in good condition.
Ali had recently discovered the ‘Root Slayer’, a spade armed with two sharp saw-bladed edges to cut through roots, making it easier to dig up large plants.
Mike finds his unusual two-wheeled wheelbarrow particularly useful as it is much more stable than the traditional one-wheeled version. However, in confined spaces it can be more difficult to manoeuvre.

Any colour in your garden at the moment?
Barbara still has some splashes of colour in her garden, with the bright Kaffir Lilies (Hesperantha previously known as Schizostylis) and Nerines.
Amongst the plants now providing colour in Sue’s garden are the Cotoneaster with its red berries and the Mahonia.
Lesley’s Sasanqua Camellia is still in bloom, now joined by an early winter-flowering Rhododendron.
Roger’s Clematis ‘Vicki‘ claimed to be able to flower through to the beginning of autumn, but is still in flower now. Unfortunately, the mild weather has also benefitted the bugs that are nibbling the petals. The white ivy-like flowers of the Fatsia japonica make a bright contrast against the shiny dark green leaves, a late season treat for pollinators. Although the bulk of the Astrantia major Alba had bloomed as normal in summer, there were a few plants flowering right now.
As the first strong frosts are still to arrive, Dahlias are still providing a lot of colour – Mike showed us one in his garden. Unfortunately, the flower on his Hedychium ginger had just past its best. His two Medlar trees were as ever loaded with fruit, which he is again offering to members – they make lovely jelly when they have bletted.
Colour arrived in Ali’s garden with the setting sun.

Mike finished by reminding members of the LHS stall at the Lavant Christmas Fayre.


Wednesday 25th October

Chairman, Mike Kingsford, started off this first of a new series of Zoom sessions for members to discuss anything horticultural with a selection of the photos sent in by members on the theme ‘Reflecting on the Summer’.

Rosemary H sent her photo capturing the beauty of Sheffield Park
In 2021 Carol had a camellia flowering unexpectedly early in December. Now the same camellia is in flower mid-October!

The foliage at Winkworth Arboretum is only just beginning to turn but, nevertheless, shows a lovely contrast of colours in Angela’s photo.

Sue took us back to June’s garden visit coach outing with pictures of West Green House gardens and further back to May with the clematis in her own garden, which still has some flower.

Linda’s new garden is still looking excellent one year on after planting.
One of her containers looked very good in May, with the lily standing out. However, that lily was growing in a smaller pot inserted into the container, so that when the lily finished flowering, it could be replaced by a dahlia, in a similar pot, to keep the container looking good until the frosts.
Another of her containers was centred around dahlia ‘Abigail’.
Hoheria: an evergreen tree with white flowers.
Duranta erecta (Golden Dewdrop), evergreen – from her holiday in Sicily.

Lesley’s Sasanqua Camellia is in flower now – it needs sun.
She had also taken a photo of the wild poppies blooming in Lavant.

Rosemary C’s courtyard garden was looking very good in June.
We are used to Clivia as a tender evergreen, to be brought indoors for the winter; it was impressive to see it growing in abundance in Rosemary’s niece’s garden in its native South Africa.

Roger introduced the National Trust garden at Mottistone on the Isle of White. Its long double border, shown mid-July is all the more impressive in that it is not watered after establishment, relying on well prepared soil which is completely covered by the planting. There are many other parts of this large garden, with a wide variety of planting and a vegetable plot. The rose gardens look particularly good in June.

Peter’s potted nerines’ only care is one feed in spring. Otherwise, they are just hidden away until they are brought into a prominent position when they start to flower. Others testified to nerines coping very well with almost total neglect when planted out in the soil.
Other photos of his garden included Salvia ‘Black and Blue’, growing very well, to 6 ft tall – S. ‘Amistad’ also flourishes there.

Stella’s Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ goes well with Miscanthus ‘Zebrinus’ and gaura.
Her rose ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ reminded lots of us of its lovely fragrance.

Mike has just harvested his damsons, which he offered to members.
He will have medlars available in November

He closed the meeting by encouraging all members to attend the AGM; this year there will be a special celebration.


Wednesday 22nd March

Although it was planned that this Hortitalk would be looking forward to summer, the weather has conspired to delay and prolong the flowering period of many spring flowers and this provided the subjects for the photos that members had sent in.

One that did look ahead was Sue’s photo taken in her garden last May featuring the tulips that are her favourite flowers for that time of year.

There were also photos of magnolias with promises of imminent flowering. The one that Ali’s garden “borrows” from her neighbour is almost there (the fan plant against the fence is a yellow tree peony).
Mike’s photos of his magnolia taken over the past few days only showed the buds remaining tightly furled. I will only take a few warm days for them to open and hopefully there will not be a frost to turn then brown.

Mike also showed the glorious blossom of his 3 year old fan-trained apricot, with the protection against the worst of the elements that he has erected.

Peter showed photos of their garden: a range of spring flowers with many different hellebore as well as a daphne and heather, an important source of pollen and nectar for pollinators in the early part of the year.
Many members garden on alkaline soils, but there are some heathers that can tolerate this: more information.

For some years Roger had had a cowslip very slowly bulking up. Then a couple of years ago he planted some primroses in the same area. Now instead of a cowslip he has a false oxlip – a hybrid between cowslip and primrose. The habit is almost that of a cowslip but the petals of the flowers are shaped more like those of a primrose. Also, the flowers do not all hang in one direction from the stem, as cowslip flowers do and as do those of the true oxlip, Primula eleator, which is only found in restricted areas of East Anglia. So beware planting primroses too close to your cowslips.

Sue still has some small packs of a few seeds each of 4 threatened heritage varieties from Franchi: Borlotti beans, spinach, cardoon and outdoor tomatoes. Any member who is interested should contact her. She will be bringing any seeds that are left to the April meeting.

Lesley gave an up-date on Garden Visits.
It is encouraging that 26 people have already signed up for the coach outing on 22ndJune – 8 more will be needed to make the trip viable.

Mike asked for any ideas for helping in the community on the Coronation Bank Holiday, 7th June, as suggested by the King.

He also reminded everyone of the Annual Flower Show on Sunday 14th May, asking for surplus seedlings and plants to be prepared for donation to the members’ plants tables – this year these may be located in a marquee, as room was very tight at last year’s record breaking Plant Sale.