Tilehurst Horticultural Association 

Talk Reviews 2018 / 2019

28 March 2019              Richard Ramsey      Dahlias

Our March talk was entitled 'Dahlias'  and given by  Richard Ramsey of 'Withypitts Dahlias' in West Sussex.  Richard had grown up on a Dahlia nursery where his grandfather and father worked and learnt from an early age about their care. To start with it was just a hobby, but then the work started expanding and the company has grown from strength to strength and he now supplies cut flower dahlias to leading florists in the UK.

He started his talk with a bit of history about the introduction of Dahlias to the Uk and then their classification according to size and type.  He then gave us helpful advice about caring for dahlias, from storing them, dividing the tubers, starting them into growth, planting them into the garden or pots and 'stopping' and disbudding them for the best blooms. He then explained about taking cuttings, which is a good way to increase stock. He mentioned that if you leave the tubers in the ground they will gradually revert and not be such good plants. He talked about various pests and diseases and their treatment or prevention; with some diseases it is best to discard the plant.

Richard gave us some tips about caring for dahlias when used as cut flowers -apparently it is a good idea to put the flower stem into hot water as soon as the flower is picked ( as hot as the hand can bear ) and cut the stem under water with a sharp knife. 

There were also a good number of his Dahlia tubers for sale.  


31 January 2019   Carole Petipher       Monet’s Paradise on Earth

Regrettably Carole's talk had to be cancelled because of the snow, but we hope to reschedule in the future. 

29 November 2018    Paolo Arrigo   Italy from Seed to Plate

Our November talk by Paolo Arrigo was entitled ' Italy from Seed to plate'.  Paolo imports Franchi seeds from Italy to the UK.  Franchi is the oldest family run seed company, which is now in its seventh generation.
Paolo started off the evening by entertaining us with tunes on his piano accordion and then gave us a potted history lesson of how seeds were brought to England by the Romans and how later during various wars it was realised that vegetables and fruit were important to our health. Unfortunately fruit and vegetable growing in this country declined and the planet has lost 94% of the seeds over the years.
In Italy vegetable growing is very popular still and Franchi produce 700 varieties of veg, herb and flower seeds, many are regional varieties, locally produced.  As Italy is an Alpine country, the seeds are fine to grow in the UK.  Paolo talked about some of the varieties and the different regions of Italy where they come from.
After the break there was time for Questions.
Paolo had brought various seeds for sale as well items like olive oil and cosmetics.
It was an interesting talk, which was well attended and many of us came away with packets of seeds we had purchased. 


25 October 2018   Thomas Stone   Gardening for Wildlife

Our series of talks for the Autumn started with an illustrated presentation by Thomas Stone entitled  'Gardening for Wildlife'.Thomas has been gardening since he left school having grown up on the Mottisfont estate in Hampshire.

Thomas reminded us that all gardens need wildlife for example bees and butterflies,  and all healthy soil needs worms, beetles and smaller creatures. His talk was illustrated with lovely slides of the types of wildlife and ways to attract them into our gardens.

He encouraged us to introduce water into our gardens, whether just a small area like a bird bath, or a pond with sloping sides, with various plants for creatures to hide under.

He explained that it is good to provide homes for wildlife e.g. log piles, bee and insect homes, bird feeders and boxes for nesting in. Thomas said that compost heaps are the heart of the garden and homes for many creatures including slow worms. It is good also to have rotten wood where stag beetle larva can live.

All in all it was an interesting talk urging us to encourage more wildlife into our gardens.

Thomas bought with him some gardening items for sale and greeting cards featuring photos which Thomas has taken and which are available on his blog.  




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