January 2020 newsletter

The Cobb, midwinter sunrise

From the Chairman: 

"A Happy New Year to you all – 2021 has to be better than 2020! In the previous issue, I said I count the plants in flower on Christmas Day – I found 25 in my garden though quite a few had been washed out rather by the horrible wet weather we have had. Pleasant surprises were the cyclamen flowering underneath a pieris, and a coronilla which has been repeatedly pruned by an intruding deer – now we have fenced it out, we have a splendid display.
The Summer Show planning is under way, and I hope the next newsletter will tell you how to get the potato tubers to grow in a bucket, and maybe also plug plants to grow on – as we still have no meetings, it will require a different approach. I would also suggest you start things off for the Plant Sale in May – vaccines permitting, that should also happen." - Robin Britton
In this issue:
  • What’s coming up?
  •  – Marmalade Matters
  •  – ‘Grow your own happiness’
  • Snowdrops
  • Wildlife in the garden
  • Your Christmas flower photos
  • A recipe from Pam Corbin – Classic Seville Orange Marmalade
  • Gardening volunteers still needed for Pavilion at Uplyme
  • Roots of Remembrance
  • A treat for the eyes
  • Your contributions welcome!

What’s coming up?

January 13th (Wednesday) – Marmalade Matters

Join at 7pm for a 7.15pm start
In our marmalade-themed Zoom evening, Pam Corbin leads us in a real extravaganza of marmalade celebration. We’ll kick off with the history of marmalade and Pam’s experiences as a judge at the World Marmalade Awards. Jean Stacey will treat us to some of her plant portraits of marmalade-themed plants and Pam will then run a Marmalade Question Time, answering any questions on any aspects of marmalade. Be in no doubt that Marmalade Matters!
It would be really helpful to have questions in advance if possible; please email your questions to although you will be able to ask questions on the night.
We’ll be sending round the link for the event with the invitation over the next few days but please make a note in your diary.


January 27th (Wednesday) – ‘Grow your own happiness’

Join at 7pm for a 7.15pm start
Alan Heeks will be running this Zoom workshop on ‘Grow your own happiness’. The workshop will show how gardening methods can be adapted to improve your wellbeing and resilience, including a chance to try out some techniques. Just what we need to take us through dark days and ongoing restrictions.
Alan gardens with his wife in Bridport, and created a 130-acre organic farm and education centre at Magdalen Farm in West Dorset. 
We’ll be sending round the link for the event with the invitation but please make a note in your diary.


Snowdrops are such a symbol of hope and regeneration – very fitting to get 2021 under way. Here are some of the snowdrop festivals taking place over the next few weeks. You are advised to confirm visiting information as this may change under prevailing coronavirus restrictions.
  • The Garden House, Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton PL20 7LQ.  01822 854769.
    The Garden House has inherited a new snowdrop collection to add to its existing, long-established collection and now has over 100 named varieties. The snowdrop festival runs from Friday 15th January to Saturday 6th February, open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11am-3pm. On 6th February Avon Bulbs will be holding their snowdrop bulb sale at the gardens.
  • East Lambrook Manor Gardens, Silver Street, East Lambrook, South Petherton, Somerset TA13 5HH.  01460 240328.
    East Lambrook Manor Gardens will be holding its third festival of snowdrops from 2nd to 28th February, boasting over 125 varieties of snowdrop with many for sale. The gardens and nursery are open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm.
  • Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, Bullers Way, Abbotsbury, Nr Weymouth DT3 4LA.  01305 871387
    As well as a great display of snowdrops, Abbotsbury features a great range of winter-flowering plants including mahonias, daphnes and early camellias amongst bold evergreens and architectural bamboos and palm trees.
  • Shaftesbury snowdrops,  Tourist Information Centre 01747 853514
    The town of Shaftesbury offers a wealth of snowdrop-related events from late January through to mid March. There are free snowdrop walks, an open snowdrop art exhibition, snowdrop-themed craft classes, and visits to local landmarks and gardens. Springhead Garden is open through February in association with the festival while there is a rare snowdrop sale on 11th February at The Guildhall. 
  • National Gardens Scheme
    The NGS has a number of gardens across the South West offering special opening times for snowdrop visits. Please visit for further details of gardens and opening times.
  • National Trust
    Various National Trust gardens also feature good displays of snowdrops. For details of relevant National Trust properties in the South West visit

Wildlife in the garden

Robin Britton shares his optimism about the wildlife to be found in our gardens.
"All of us have some wild creatures in our gardens – some more welcome than others. Here in West Dorset and East Devon we are probably more fortunate than most – our gardens are rarely more than a few metres from woods or uncultivated land, so there is plenty of opportunity for wildlife to come in.
We bought a “wildlife camera” a few years ago, triggered by heat, and caught all kinds of intruders in the act, but we can all see insects, butterflies, moths, birds and small rodents if we take a little time to sit and watch for them. My personal favourites since we came to Uplyme have been stag beetles, grass snakes and slowworms, yellowhammers and bullfinches, badgers and foxes under the bird feeders. Do take the time to watch out for these reminders that we only live here on sufferance; nature was here before us and will be after we have gone.
We try to keep the deer and rabbits out of the vegetables and ornamental garden (not always successfully) but it is always a thrill to see a fox cub or badger eating spilt bird seed on the lawn. Even in lockdown there is wildlife to see in the garden!"


Your Christmas flower photos

Christmas Day certainly produced a good crop of flowers this year. Robin has reported he had 25 flowers in his garden and it’s clear from some of the photos that other members had something similar.  We may well have expected wonderful winter plants such as hellebores, daphnes, coronilla, cyclamen, Japanese quince, primula and early snowdrops. At the same time the mild autumn and early winter have kept some of our summer flowers going for much longer than one might hope for, including antirrhinums, fuchsias, hardy geraniums and even tender begonias, pelargoniums and nasturtiums. Take a look at a selection of the photos submitted by our members. (There were so many submitted we can't show them all here owing to the limitations of the system used.)

Contributions above from Alan Vian, Jean Stacey, Joyce Coots, and Robin Britton.

A recipe from Pam Corbin – Classic Seville Orange Marmalade

A taster (literally) for our Marmalade Matters evening on Wednesday 13th January. Don’t forget to send in your questions in advance to
With an ideal balance of peels to gel, this sunny recipe pleases most marmalade lovers.
Makes 8 x 300ml jars
1kg Seville oranges
100ml lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 litres water
1.5kg granulated sugar
Rinse the oranges, removing the buttons at the top. Cut them in half and squeeze out the juice. Use your hands or a small knife to pull out the papery inner membranes and coarser bits of pith from the squeezed halves and put these, with the pips, in a jelly bag. Alternatively, use a 25 x 25 cm square of muslin: gather the corners together to form a bag, and tie up securely with a piece of string or a food bag clip.
Use a sharp knife to slice the peel with its pith into thin, medium or chunky shreds. Put the sliced peel into a large bowl with the orange juice, lemon juice, bag of innards and pips, and the salt. Pour in the measured water and leave to soak for 24 hours, covered.
Transfer the soaked peel mixture to a large heavy-based pan or preserving pan. Remove the bag of pips and pith, giving it a jolly good squeeze to extract the pectin into the pan.
Cover the pan tightly with a lid or a piece of foil. Place over a gentle heat and bring to simmering point, then cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until a cooked piece of peel is sufficiently tender to break when gently pulled – the contents of the pan will have reduced to roughly 2 litres. Meanwhile, sterilize your jars and twist-on lids. Chill a couple of small saucers or spoons, ready to test for setting point.
Sprinkle the sugar into the pan a third at a time, stirring each time until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil – the surface will be covered with a mass of loose, light bubbles. If you prefer a fresh tasting, soft set marmalade, boil for about 12 minutes; for a firmer, more caramelized marmalade boil for about 15 minutes. When setting point is reached, the bubbles will have begun to disperse and the marmalade will feel thick and look glossy.
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes or so to allow the peels to distribute evenly. Tip into a wide-necked jug with a good pouring lip, then fill the sterilised jars to the brim and seal immediately. Invert each jar for a minute or so, to ensure the lid is sterilised, then turn the right way up and leave to cool.
Store in a cool, dry, dark place and use within 2 years. Once opened, keep in a cool place and use within 4 months.
This recipe, and many other marmalade recipes, can be found in Pam’s book – Pam the Jam: The Book of Preserves.


Gardening volunteers still needed for Pavilion at Uplyme

If you’d like a little exercise in company why not consider helping the trustees of the King George V Playing Fields in Uplyme to improve the look of the area in front of the old pavilion.
Ideally, they would like volunteers to plant a bed about 3m wide and 0.75m deep in front of the paling fence on each side of the pavilion with seasonal herbaceous plants, so that there are flowers most of the time. A couple of hanging baskets would also be great.
The charity would cover the cost of seeds and plants but is hoping to keep these at a reasonable level. It would also be helpful if anyone was willing to tend the beds throughout the year or even just over the summer.
The trustees would welcome a group of interested volunteers to spread the work, working within any Covid restrictions.  If you would be interested and would like to be part of a group then please pass your name initially, without any obligation, to


Roots of Remembrance

The RHS and Britain in Bloom Federation are encouraging anyone who would like to remember a loved one who passed away during the pandemic to plant a tree (or trees) in a fitting tribute to those who were passionate about gardening. The initiative, known as Roots of Remembrance, aims to help those who have been unable to say a proper goodbye by planting a tree in celebration of their family member or friend and to create a memorial collection across the country.

The trees of those participating will be added to a new Roots of Remembrance tree map to demonstrate the mass tree planting effort. For advice, guidance and to add a tree to the map visit


A treat for the eyes

There’s still time to view the magical photos of Lyme Bay that society member Lois Wakeman displayed on her online advent calendar this Christmas. Lois usually travels around the Southwest but has spent most of this year very close to home so her images are firmly local – views east towards the Jurassic Coast. The subject might be the same, but the variety of the English weather shows the range of light and mood that we’re so lucky to enjoy. (or find her on Facebook if you use it).


Your contributions welcome!

We’re always looking for gardening news and photos of interest to our members. If you have anything to share please contact Tricia Boyd or call on 07767 261444

Thank you as usual to this month’s contributors, and keep your photos and stories coming to alleviate the difficulties of lockdown at a rather less sunny time of year.

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