Date(s) - 08/02/2019
Kilmington Village Hall
Kathy Crouch, known widely as the BBC Gardener of the Decade, is a favourite visitor to the Kilmington Gardening Club. Her approach is informal and inclusive, full of information and personal stories. Her opening advice was that every owner of a new garden needs to be introduced to the seed packet, illustrating with dazzling photographs the transformation from bare earth to a riot of colour. Moving on to the subject of flower meadows, Kathy warned the audience that although all flowers self-seed, some need the right conditions and none more so than the classic meadow flowers – poppies. Her advice was to cut out pieces of turf, turn them over and sow the seeds on top, adding that meadows have more to do with nostalgia than ease of maintenance. To keep them in good condition, they require to be mown hard in August. They do have a certain magic, however, conjuring up images of The Sound of Music or of mediaeval tapestries. The same flowers as were illustrated in early works of art are grown in today’s meadows, often with a shepherd’s hut to complete the picture.
Self-seeding plants bring unexpected delights in a garden. Kathy showed photographs of erigeron, alchemilla and ferns appearing in gravel, between paving stones and in cracks of stone steps, adding interest and colour. In shady or damp areas, foxgloves, pulmonarias and candelabra primulas will happily self-seed. Some self-seeders can be a problem, requiring firm decapitation in late summer after which they will reward you with fresh new foliage. For aquilegias Kathy recommended the G&T treatment – wander round the garden in the evening, gin and tonic in one hand, and with the other snap off the dead flower heads. Many of our favourite garden plants will self-seed – hellebores, Anemone blanda, Cerinthe, Californian poppies and Mediterranean geraniums. Finally, Kathy showed photographs of places where allowing good and useful plants to spring up at random had achieved delightful results – a shady border full of hellebores and snowdrops, pink and white valerian in roadside walls, and a tiny front garden on a modern housing estate.