Tilehurst Horticultural Association 

Talk Reviews 2017 / 2018

30th November 2017  John Negus  Tulips and Much More

Members enjoyed an entertaining evening on Thursday, 30th November, when John Negus regaled us with tales of his visits to the Keukenhof Gardens in Holland, together with an interactive challenge in which he pitted the bulb knowledge of Team A against that of Team B!

John, a popular gardening writer, broadcaster and lecturer, presented slides showing the full range of bulbs for all seasons, from tiny snowdrops, winter aconites and tubergenia, through daffodils, frittilaria and ranunculi to the giant gladioli, agapanthus and extra tall Asiatic lilies.  He kept the audience on their toes, testing their knowledge and memory, explaining all the while the best conditions and partners for the bulbs he was describing so eloquently.

The second half of the evening was devoted to tulips, which were brought to Europe in the 16th century from Turkey and South West Asia.  So prized were they that at one time a ton of tulips was valued at 100,000 guilder, when the going rate for butter was 100 guilder.  John’s impressive slides of the Keukenhof Gardens brought home the scale and colour of the planting, as he explained how grass and tulip and muscari beds interchange each year, creating visual illusions for the visitors. 

26th October 2017   Jan Lambourn  Soft Fruits

Around 50 members of the THA were treated to a masterclass in Soft Fruit growing when Jan Lambourn gave her talk.  Jan explained that she had started her horticultural career when she was 40 and after 8 years at RHS Wisley working in the Fruit Department, is now Deputy Head Gardener at the Cotswold Wildlife Park at Burford.

Jan started her talk by explaining the importance of planning ahead.  Consideration needs to be given to the space available, the time you have to tend to the plants, budget restrictions, and whether equipment such as cordons & netting needs to be bought.  Once you have decided what you want to grow and considered the varieties available, site preparation is vital with good drainage being key.  When buying, Jan recommended that you should try not to impulse-buy, but should seek out disease and pest resistant varieties, looking for the RHS Award of Garden Merit sign of quality, and should buy bare-rooted where possible.

She then discussed the care and pruning of individual fruits, covering blackcurrants and jostaberries, a blackcurrant / gooseberry cross, redcurrants and gooseberries, raspberries and hybrid crosses, then strawberries.  Finally Jan brought in the advantages of cordons and espaliers. 

All in all, we came away with a wealth of information which should enable us to produce superior fruits for display at our THA Summer Show! 

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