Our spring newsletter
In this issue:
  • Our spring programme of events
  • Annual plant sale and coffee morning Saturday May 14th
  • Summer Show schedule available mid-March
  • Horticultural Society donation to Woodroffe Gardening Club funds heritage orchard
  • Glorious Trees
  • How was it for you? Keeping a society together during Covid
  • 2022 membership renewals

Our spring programme of events

With spring upon us, it’s time to get out and about so why not try some of our trips and talks over the next few months: 
  • Wednesday March 23rd – talk ‘Nature in the Garden’ by Paul Rendell. ‘Dartmoor Paul’ will talk about the wildlife in your garden and how to encourage the good guys. Paul’s books will be on sale. Talk starts 7.30pm; doors open 7pm for refreshments. Members free; guests £3.
    Also pick up your free plug plant to grow on for the Summer Show competition class.
  • Tuesday April 12th – coach trip to Knightshayes (National Trust). Gothic Victorian country house surrounded by 19th century parkland, walled kitchen garden, topiary, specimen trees and rare shrubs. £12 National Trust members; £21 non-National Trust members; £3 extra for guests. Depart Uplyme Village Hall at 9.15am. Please book with Jenny Harding or 07773 604137.
  • Wednesday April 27th – talk ‘Head Gardeners’ by Ambra Edwards. Award-winning writer and garden historian Ambra will talk about the lives, vision and achievements of head gardeners. Ambra’s books will be on sale. Talk starts 7.30pm; doors open 7pm for refreshments. Members free; guests £3.
  • Tuesday May 10th - coach trip to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. A botanical treasure-trove with charming walled garden, woodland walks and spectacular views of Chesil Beach. Restaurant and plant sales. £19 for members; £22 for guests. Depart Uplyme Village Hall at 9.15am. Please book with Jenny Harding or 07773 604137.
When you attend talks in the Village Hall, we ask you to bring your membership card please. This is because several of the committee members do not recognise all our members and it will help us to speed entry into the hall, while making sure we collect fees from visitors. Thank you for your help.

Annual plant sale and coffee morning
Saturday May 14th

As you get active in your garden over the next few weeks please think of plants you could donate to help our annual plant sale, whether home grown or something you’ve bought. Perhaps you could sow an extra few seeds for plants that could be sold at the fair. Or, if you’re splitting and lifting plants, please keep any surplus to sell at the fair.
All plant donations – veg, bedding, perennials, annuals, shrubs - will be welcomed.
As well as plant donations we should very much welcome home produce – cakes and other bakes, jam, preserves and veg - to sell on the day. We’ll be letting you know when and where to bring along plant and produce donations closer to the time.
The plant sale and coffee morning will run from 10am to 12 noon at Uplyme Village Hall on Saturday May 14th. There will also be a raffle. Entry £1 for all. Funds raised are used to support Society events.

Summer Show schedule available mid-March

Our schedule for the Summer Flower and Produce Fair on 9th July will be available in mid March. This may be collected at meetings/coach trips, or from Uplyme Stores, Raymonds Hill Post Office and Ginger Beer, Lyme Regis.
This year our theme is ‘Trees’ and there are several tree-related classes across the different competition categories. Please take some time to look through the schedule and start planning your entries. We have nearly 150 classes, all of which are free to enter, so there should be plenty of choice for everyone; all ages are encouraged to participate.


Horticultural Society donation to Woodroffe Gardening Club funds heritage orchard

In late January a few members of the Society attended the planting of an orchard by the Woodroffe School Gardening Club, with eight heritage fruit trees funded by the Society. This was one of a series of activities that have been funded by the Society as part of our donations for 2021.
The planting was carried out by year 7 and 8 students, supported by sixth formers who are working on the garden as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. The orchard will help the Gardening Club in its ambition to grow more food crops, supplementing vegetables and herbs that are being grown in a formerly waste area in the school grounds.

Photo: Members of the Woodroffe School Gardening Club at the planting of a new orchard in January. Justin Loveland, Head of Humanities (6th left) and Jim Johnson-Hills, Groundsman (7th left) are leading the project. Jo Benke-Smith (2nd left) and Tricia Boyd (3rd right) represented the Society which has funded the purchase of eight fruit trees. The orange-handled spades were among several purchased using the Society’s donation.
Credit: Brian Neesam

Joanna Benke-Smith, Joanne Neave and Tricia Boyd joined the students for the tree planting, under the supervision of groundsman Jim Johnson-Hills and Head of Humanities Justin Loveland. The eight trees funded by the society included local heritage apple varieties Oaken Pin, Devonshire Quarrenden, Devonshire Buckland and Adams Pearmain, plus two Conference pears and a late plum, Marjorie’s Seedling, which should hopefully fruit late enough for students to enjoy in the autumn term.
Our eight trees were supplemented by another five obtained by the school as part of an ‘orchards for schools’ initiative.  Jim Johnson-Hills said: “It will be great for this group of students who will be able to harvest fruit from these trees when they get to years 10 and 11. And of course it’s ideal to be doing this in 2022 when we’re all being encouraged to plant trees for the Queen’s Jubilee.”
Joanna Benke-Smith congratulated the pupils on their initiative and encouraged them to enter the Society’s Summer Flower and Produce Fair. She said: “It was great to see how enthusiastic these new gardeners are. In spite of the cold afternoon they quickly set about digging planting holes and gently spreading out tree roots, whilst our job was to rescue the earthworms before the watchful robins did. We are looking forward to any contribution they may be able to make to our Summer Flower and Produce Fair in July.”
The school’s Gardening Club developed out of the school’s Environmental Action Team and was set up at the end of 2019 not long before Covid hit. The aim was to clear a derelict area at the top of the school grounds which had not been touched for around 18 years and create a forest garden. This uses trees, shrubs and perennials to mimic the structure of a natural forest and is designed to be biologically sustainable, productive and low maintenance. Justin Loveland, who spearheaded the Environmental Action Team initiative and now the Gardening Club, said: “We always wanted a really practical project for students to work on. They’re creating a usable space that we hope our well-being team will be able to use in due course.”
Not surprisingly, Covid has disrupted the Club’s plans, but students have now been able to clear a sizeable area of bramble and dense undergrowth and install terracing. Last year pupils started growing crops – pumpkins and squashes, beans, herbs, strawberries and raspberries. Jim Johnson-Hills used some of the pumpkin to make pumpkin cake for the students to taste to inspire their future veg growing.
Late in 2021, the Club approached the Uplyme & Lyme Regis Horticultural Society to see if they could help in any way with funding. The Society decided to donate £500 to the Gardening Club, recognising the importance of engaging young people with horticulture early in life. The Society’s donation has made a big difference to the Club. Justin Loveland said: “It’s made the whole project feel more real. We’ve been able to buy tools and gardening kit that mean we can get the students involved in a more hands-on way. This has proved valuable in developing these students’ self-esteem and communication skills. Sixth formers who come to help, act as role models for the younger students and build great links between students across different year groups.”

How the donation is being spent

To date, the funding has been used on a mix of gardening ‘hardware’ and plants. Forks, spades and trowels, wellies, safety gloves and watering cans mean the students can all get active and join in. A 4.5m polytunnel purchased with the funds will give more growing area and get plants off to a good start. The eight trees recently planted, together with spring bulbs such as alliums and scilla, seeds, and dahlias for late summer colour will all help turn the reclaimed area into a productive and beautiful garden. And the funds are being spent carefully, with more left in the pot to use in the future on water butts, tools such as billhooks, and plants.

The whole project has thrown up some surprises. At the top of the plot, the remains of a large pond were found underneath a mass of brambles. No one knows the pond’s origins or how it was originally used. It is too large and deep for practical use as a pond in a school setting today but instead an old water trough found on the site will be used within the area as a water feature with suitable surrounding planting. It is hoped that some log seats and benches will eventually make this an attractive area.
Looking to the future, Jim, who has a background in gardening within social enterprises, is keen to expand what pupils can achieve. He said: “We’ll be doing structural work such as hedge laying and teaching students how to take cuttings and graft trees. We’re also looking to grow more food that can be passed on to the food tech kitchen and that students can take home to their parents.”
Justin concluded: “It’s going to be exciting to see what emerges in the newly cleared patch. We’re already seeing bluebells coming up and we hope there may be other plants we’re not aware of. We’ve left plenty of rough patches for wildlife and pollinators and the spin-off benefits in being able to grow produce for the Food Department and study the science of wildlife make our school garden a very valuable project.”

Glorious Trees

In February we held our second Zoom talk of the winter and more than 80 members enjoyed the talk, either at the Village Hall or from home.
Sir Ghillean Prance, a former director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and veteran of nearly 40 trips to the Amazon, gave us an insight into what is happening in the Amazon and what we stand to lose as a planet. He looked at the lifecycle of trees and the impact of political decisions on many species.

He highlighted how many tree species are vulnerable, with two in five plants worldwide threatened with extinction. Any deforestation impacts on whole ecosystems meaning that insects and animals are affected and threatened as much as trees.  He then went on to look at how tree reserves and reforestation are both forming part of the solution and how planting trees nearer to the equator produces much more rapid growth and reforestation than say planting an oak in the UK.

The session concluded with some very insightful questions from our members ranging across tree loss from extreme weather in the UK, the growing incidence of tree disease and how best to tackle reforestation in the UK. As one member said it was “very interesting, yet disturbing”.
Members may be interested to know that on Friday 8th April at 11am at Woodmead Halls, Managing Director Simon West will present the inspiring story of the Lyme-based charity The Word Forest Organisation.  Over the past five years the charity has planted trees, predominantly in Kenya, where trees grow ten times faster than elsewhere on the planet. Full details on; non-members welcome £2.

How was it for you? Keeping a society together during Covid

We are a member of the Somerset Federation of Gardening Clubs. They recently asked member clubs to share their experiences of lockdown and Covid. Below is the article we submitted, which some of our newer members might find interesting.
In 2020, the Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society had a bumper year planned, with over 30 events. We managed a film show, two talks and two trips before Covid struck. Then, like everyone, we faced the dilemma of what to do. After all, it was going to be over by late summer - wasn’t it?
Many of our members live alone and our society is an important social forum, so we initiated a newsletter to keep people in touch, sending postal versions to the few without email.
In April 2020 committee members provided photographs, plant swaps, local suppliers open for business and a recipe. As we got into our stride and others contributed, we added online gardening activities, news from national gardening bodies and virtual garden tours. Eventually we ran to 21 issues and every edition produced thank you notes, which made the effort worthwhile.
Our annual May plant sale was cancelled but one member had loads of veg plants well under way when Covid struck. Instead, he sold them from his driveway, we publicised it well to our members, and the plants sold out quickly, raising much needed funds for the local food bank.
With no live speakers, we experimented with Zoom. A virtual coffee morning with volunteers tested both the technology and the experience. Buoyed by this we created our own Gardeners’ Question Time, two ‘show and tell’ evenings of members’ gardens, a quiz, and a ‘Marmalade Matters’ session. From December 2020 to June 2021 we Zoomed with external speakers - when we realised that our own endeavours had been much more challenging technically to organise!
Back to summer 2020 and we took our summer show virtual. We created special publicity posters, cut the classes to 12, and ran it for fun. Tubers for our Potato-in-a-Bucket competition had already been distributed so we asked people to photograph and submit their results. Our website photo galleries went live at the opening time of the real show. Over 40 people submitted nearly 80 entries, a very positive result. We turned our autumn show virtual too, with 39 members sending over 130 entries.
Early in 2021 we opted to stage our July summer show. New plans included outdoor distribution of competition potatoes and plants, a one-way marquee, fewer competition classes and last-minute catering changes to cope with a late extension to Covid restrictions. Around 1,000 visitors came, really appreciating a ‘normal’ day out.

After that life went roughly back to normal, although Omicron scuppered our December 2021 meeting.
Looking back, our early action meant there was virtually no gap in contact with members. And at our postponed AGM in late 2021 one member proposed a motion thanking the committee for keeping the society going – very gratifying.
We recruited nearly 70 new members during the Covid period and even though others will have moved on, we’re hopeful our 2022 numbers will hold up well, keeping our society vibrant and viable.

2022 membership renewals

If you would like to join us, or have yet to renew your membership for 2022, there is still time to do this. Membership remains at only £6 per person for the year - just 2 meetings attended as a guest will cover the cost!
Payment online would be very much appreciated if possible. Please give your name as reference and use the following details:

Lloyds Bank: Sort Code 30-90-37 Account Number 00590002
Account Name: Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society
If you do not use online banking, please send a cheque to Monica Mellor at Magdala, West Hill Road, Lyme Regis DT7 3LW. The cheque should be made out to Uplyme and Lyme Regis Horticultural Society (no abbreviations please as the bank won’t accept such cheques).
For any queries about membership please contact Monica Mellor, or 01297 442193.
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