Date(s) - 11/05/2018
Kilmington Village Hall
What do you do when you move frequently because of your job with the RAF? You accidentally discover a use for old spices – it seems that powdered ginger or chilli powder can be very effective at deterring not only slugs, but deer, rabbits and cats! This discovery was revealed in Martin Young’s structured and well-illustrated talk, which included an unscheduled section on Hostas. Martin highlighted the advantages of growing Hostas while not denying their well-known disadvantages (i.e. their attraction to slugs and snails)! They are good for shape and ground cover and provide excellent texture when combined with other plants. Flowers can be white, pink or mauve and varieties such as Mamma Mia are bee-friendly. If old spices seem an odd way to defend your Hostas, iron phosphate slug pellets are safer than metaldehyde baits.
Hellebores are part of the Ranunculaceae or buttercup family and Martin again accentuated the positive attributes of these attractive plants, but also highlighted the drawbacks – the roots are particularly poisonous so deer and rabbits cleverly avoid them. Nevertheless, they are a good source of nectar for bumble bees – they love them.
They are tough and resilient with in-built anti-freeze, which is what makes them toxic but it also gives them the ability to flower in the depth of winter – such as Helleborus Niger, (Christmas rose) (it’s called Niger because, although the flower is white, the roots are black). H. Orientalis, (Lenten rose), comes in a wide range of colours and foliage. Other specimens of note are H. Viridis, re-named Occidentalis (dark green) and the unpleasant-sounding (and smelling!) H. Foetidus. Hybrid Hellebores vary in colour from Claire’s White to Queen of the Night (dark purple), Pink Star to Anna’s Red. Hellebores make good companions with a wide variety of plants notably dwarf Narcissi and Pulmonaria. It is important not to discard damaged or diseased foliage near grazing animals and be aware that the seeds are toxic if eaten. They don’t like being moved and Martin suggested that they ‘sulk’ or ‘play dead’ but usually bounce back after a while.
Heucheras are members of the Saxifrage family found in the wild only in North America and Mexico. They are hardy perennials grown largely for their wide range of colourful foliage and the dark ones such as H. Black Beauty are especially hardy. The colours of recent hybrids can be imagined by their names – Midnight Rose, Peach flambé, Electric Lime, Lime Marmalade, Berry Smoothie and Green Spice to name but a few.
Tiarellas have fluffier flowers than Heucheras but they belong to the same Saxifrage family. They are very shade-tolerant and make attractive companions to Heucheras, Geraniums and Crocosmia. Once they have flowered, trim and new foliage and flowers will appear 3-4 weeks later.
Martin’s enthusiasm and the dazzling colours on display helped to brighten up a rather damp May evening.