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Date(s) - 11/01/2019
7:30 pm-9:00 pm

Kilmington Village Hall


Toby Buckland needed no introduction to the Gardening Club audience who arrived for the first meeting of 2019. Famed as a gardener, writer and broadcaster, Toby lives and works in Devon. What the audience perhaps did not appreciate beforehand is that he is a first-class entertainer as well as a knowledgeable speaker. The subject of the talk was plants, an abundance of plants, set out season by season, spiced up with family anecdotes and tales of his excursion into Celebrity Mastermind where his chosen subject was Father Ted. In between the amusing diversions, he gave us advice on taking cuttings, companion planting and dealing with pests such as rabbits and deer. He started with the garden in winter, the season when colour is most important, not only in flowers such as Clematis cirrhosa and Camellia ‘Jupiter’, but also in the greens of leaves and reds of stems. He recommended that at least 40% of a garden should be evergreens, perennials as well as shrubs, showing how leaf form and colour add interest to the winter border.

After a detour into how names of plants can tell the story of adventurous plant hunters, his illustrations switched to high summer with a picture of multicoloured dahlias. Once more he offered good advice: single varieties are best for over-wintering in the ground, and all dahlias are propagated easily by cuttings – one tuber can produce four or five new plants. Next tip, gladioli: plant at least 4”-6” deep; and remember that gladioli produce flowers 100 days after planting. Colour and shape were recurring themes as he showed photographs of roses and poppies, echiums and verbascums, and grasses in profusion. For autumn, Toby recommended shrubs with dark leaves which look good in low light, mentioning Cotinus coggygria and Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’. He advised planting them with perennials in complementary shades of yellow, orange, lavender and purple, and added a small diversion on the chemistry of autumn colour. Turning to the vegetable plot, he showed new varieties of old favourites, such as tomatoes, and discussed future possibilities such as a purple-sprouting brassica, edible gourds and a loofah. Finally, he closed the session by answering questions from the audience. Our gardening year had opened with a thoroughly successful evening.