Monday, 11 August 2014

Plant Sale 2014 and Beyond

We had our annual Plant Sale in May in addition to plants we were selling our own Honey from the trading hut too. As always we were able to serve people with cakes and refreshments allowing them a few moments to admire our beautiful allotment site, sitting and chatting with friends under the shelter of the Piggery.  

We had very colourful displays on the annual  and perennial stalls, as many of the flowers were actually in flower. This is something we try for every year, achieving success in most areas, but some things are very stubborn and refuse to perform on the day. Vegetables and herbs, also were more plentiful and varied, we try to introduce new things to keep the audience interested.

This year is the RHS 50th anniversary of Britain in Bloom and to celebrate this they distributed sunflower seeds to Horticultural Societies and Schools for the general public to come and sow at events around the country. Unfortunately no one turned up on the day (20th April), probably because this was also Easter Sunday, but we still grew over 100 sunflowers to sell at the plant sale or for children to enter our 4th Annual Sunflower Competition. One or two children had disasters with their sunflowers. Having grown them beautifully, either the plants succumbed to weather or animal attack; phenomena with which any allotment holder will be familiar!  However, rather a harsh lesson for a small child.  

Now for what will be happening at the Gordon Road on Sunday 7th September.  We are very excited at being hosts to the National Garden Scheme Open Gardens.  It is only relatively recently that allotments have been chosen to stage these events and the organisers considered our site to be outstanding.  We have many attractions including our Wild Life Plot, which hosts a colony (if that's the term) of slow worms.  There are Raised Beds for the elderly or people with physical disability and others for school children and we also have a Log Cabin accessible by wheelchair for shelter, if the weather turns for the worse, or just to sit and relax and read a book from our gardening library.  There are communal facilities to have tea or even to have a barbecue on the Piggery or to cook a meal in he Green Room, situated next to our Trading hut, which supplies useful garden materials at reasonable prices to FHS members.  We also sport a wheelchair accessible eco loo; all of this in the most spectacular surroundings. In addition to the entrance fee, all proceeds from the sale of raffle tickets will be donated to the NGS.  The NGS collects money for very worthy causes and we are proud to be able to support them.

On the day we will also be selling our own Honey from the hives at Gordon Road as well as home grown produce, cakes and jams. There will be home made cakes and refreshments available for all who wish to partake. We will also be announcing the prizewinners of the Sunflower Competition and distributing the prizes to winners in each category. We hope that as many people as possible can join us and make this event a huge success.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Plant Sale -Over for another year

We have completed the Plant Sale for 2014.  It was another success thanks to all who helped again.  The majority of the things we grew from seed made it to the plant sale but there were a few casualties en route, notably seeds which I managed to germinate but failed to thrive, Oryza, Black Madras.  A dark leaved form of rice, I managed to get more to germinate than last year but failed to get any plants to the plant sale as they all died.  Last year I managed to grow 4 plants but they didn't sell; however, I grew them on and they made a splendid foliage foil to other plants.  I think I might try them again next year but may need to grow them at home beyond the seedling stage to give them more care.  However, not to dwell on the negative, the selection of perennials was even better this year than last and nearly everything was sold.  The annuals and veg were also good and again nearly everything was sold.  There are a few plants left over but we always have some and they tend to sell in subsequent weeks as they mature.

 This is a selection of the pictures I took just before the sale started and just after the gates were opened.  The bottom right hand picture shows a ladybird larva pupating on a pepper leaf.  We were including these free!

 The sale of plants will continue this weekend, on an informal basis, while the Trading Hut is open on Sunday morning.  We hope to sell a few more, especially as some of the geraniums will be in flower,  Unfortunately they weren't in flower on the day of the sale, but people bought them anyway.

The Raffle that we held in aid of the North London Hospice raised over £100.  The prize was won by people who are opening their garden next weekend for the NGS Open Garden Scheme.  They will be raffling the magnificent standard fuchsia for charity.

We will now be preparing for the NGS Open Allotment Day on Sunday 7th September.  This should be a very much larger event than our usual Autumn Fete. We hope to raise a lot of money for charity.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Plant Sale Preparation and Propagation or Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow!

Another year another plant sale.  I can hardly believe that this is my fifth year of organising the plant sale for the Finchley Horticultural Society.  Every year I say never again but somehow I still seem to do it. There are months of work required.   It is the most important source of income for the Society to provide equipment and to maintain the sites.  Without this the allotments wouldn't survive unless there was a considerable rent increase for each of the plots.  In spite of this there are only a minority of plot holders and members of the Society who help significantly, certainly in the early stages of organisation.

First, in the winter, the seeds are selected from the seed catalogues.  Hours are spent pouring over the huge selection and we try to introduce new things every year, according to fashion and what we think may be successful and popular.  There is one golden rule; if it is in flower it will sell!  This is a feat in itself.  Seeds need to be sown successfully at the right time so that they will be in flower in time for the plant sale. Very hard to do especially if, as last year and this year too, there are difficult weather conditions.  Last year we also had the added disadvantage of toxic compost to deal with.  This resulted in the loss of all the seeds sown in this compost.  This led to the added expense of buying in another lot of seeds.  We also had a plague of mice so even once we got the compost right all the courgettes and pumpkins had to be resown.  Nightmare!!

We also propagate perennials all year to sell at the plant sale and at other times too.  This also requires the dedication of several of our members.  They spend a great deal of time dividing and taking cuttings from stock plants on the Society's permanent beds and from their own gardens. 

This year we did have some compost problems but we were alert to the possibility so we were on top of the situation as soon as we noticed any problem at all.  Seeds have come up and we've been pricking out healthy seedlings; however, the weather has been very cold and, even though we have heated beds, this was not always sufficient when the weather was very cold.  Now that spring seems to have arrived things are looking up, but we have put the plant sale forward one week to compensate for the cold start to the season.

We visited Capel Manor last week and saw that they were also a little behind with some of their plants, indicating that we are not alone.  This was a very interesting outing. 
We were first shown around the Which Research Gardens by our fellow allotment holder who is in charge of this area.  Unfortunately, on the day that we went the heavens opened and we were restricted for some time to the greenhouse area as this was the warmest and most sheltered place to be.  Later on we were introduced to one of the lead gardeners who took us around the gardens, amongst which are ex Chelsea show gardens recreated in the grounds of Capel Manor. 

We were also shown round the regular greenhouses which were full of very healthy stock plants, cuttings and seedlings and the new cactus and succulent hothouse.  This was very nice indeed, I did try to take some pictures in here but my lens misted up, as you can see.    The walled garden was particularly interesting, It was situated next to the house and there was a good display of species tulips.  Our visit was all too short and this is a garden that I would like to revisit.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished the cafeteria had closed.  We decided go to Myddleton House, which is just a short distance away, for tea.  This has the added advantage of free entry and a very good tea room with home made cakes and other goodies.  We had had another wet visit here last year, I keep meaning to go back and see the gardens when the weather is fine.

Both Capel Manor and Myddleton House Gardens are very accessible to anyone living in North London.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

FHS Visit to Chenies Wednesday 17th August.

Valerie Marsh organised a visit of the Finchley Horticultural Society to see the Gardens and Tudor house at Chenies Manor, a stones throw from Amersham and the M25 or the M40.  As this is so near to our base in north London it was sensible to use our own available transport rather than to hire a coach and at just after 1 pm on Wednesday this week 22 people left in a convoy of cars from Gordon Road Finchley on this mini adventure.
The first view of the house as we drove up to Chenies Manor
At the first sight of the house my heart skipped a beat; this looked very promising. On arrival at the gate we were given tickets for the house tour.  Driving along the gravel path through to the car park we felt very grand indeed.
Jenny kindly offered me and two of her friends a lift in her car
As mentioned on Chenies website, there is ample parking and people and signposts aplenty to guide us to the right area.  We were then free to roam the gardens at our own pace until it was time for the tour of the house.  
Courtyard garden 
All the plantings were colour co-ordinated; in this area the planting was predominantly white with some blue agapanthas. The potted plants in The Courtyard garden were magnificent. I wouldn't fancy being the one who has to water all of these!!!!!!
Fountain and bell in Courtyard garden
In the centre of the courtyard there was a fountain surrounded by beautiful plants in pots.  I spotted a bell hanging from the gable; I can't imagine how you begin to ring it as the little piece of string hanging down is so short and the bell is so high!!!
Rose garden lawn
This literally breathtaking vista opens up before you as you walk through from The Courtyard garden.  The lawn is immaculate and the white and pink flowers seem to sparkle around the edges.  The topiary hedges are a wonderful foil for the exuberant planting.  I would absolutely love to have this garden at the back of my house. 
Keeping it tidy!

An army of paid and volunteer gardeners are needed to keep this garden tidy. This is definitely not a low maintenance affair. Many ladies were in evidence pruning and deadheading. They must get wonderful compost from all of this stuff.  As we were walking round someone mentioned what wonderful soil they had.  I may come back to that one later.
West face of house
The castellations and marvelous brickwork are very impressive and the Chimney stacks (of which there are 22) are of the same period as Hampton Court, hence the similarity.  Many large windows are visible and when inside the house it is generally very light. 
There seemed to be no dead heads on any plants so the gardeners are clearly working very hard to keep things in the peak of condition.  I didn't see a single slug hole either.  Iam extremely jealous.
Tea Time
We stopped by for tea in the most wonderful setting, surrounded by plants and trees including and enormous old Bramley apple tree laden with large green fruit.
Gazebo left over from a film shoot
Lots of films and television programmes are shot here and this gazebo was a left over prop!!!!!!  My garden wouldn't be big enough for this "prop".  Just nearby this feature there is an intriguing yew maze, quite a difficult one to master based on a double icosahedron.  This was "built" very recently from an Sunday Times award winning design to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Hampton Court maze.
I came upon a mulberry tree in full fruit it was so pretty that I have decied this is something I must have.  It was wonderful and mulberries or SO tasty. 
Grape vine
Grapevines ("Brandt") with masses of bunches of grapes were draped over this metal pergola.  Parallel to this on the south side of the white garden there was a pleached lime tree walkway,which you can see in the background of the photograph below.
Topiary Bird in The White Garden
The topiary birds in this garden were the main feature in my opinion although there is still wonderful planting here and a central "island" bed with a modern steel sculpture as its main feature. 

Elizabeth 1st's Oak
There is a great deal of history and legend associated with Chenies Manor not least of which is its association with Tudor Royalty.  This oak tree is said to have been one under which Elizabeth 1st sat .  It is certainly old enough and would no doubt have looked very different in those days.  It is entirely hollow now but trees don't need the core to survive so it may go on for another thousand years.  What a thought!
Scarecrow in the Vegetable Patch
This charming scarecrow has inspired Jenny to organise a scarecrow competition for a future event at our Allotments.  I think it is a fine figure of a scarecrow especially the nose!
Guided House Tour, Inner Court Garden
We still had quite a lot left on the list to see before the guided tour,which was most informative about the history of the house and its occupants and royal visitors. There have been dwellings on this site since about 1180 but the main period of brick construction occured in the 15th century.  The buildings have undergone many changes over the centuries. Henry VIII and Elizabeth 1st were certainly documented as visiting. Henry's ghost is said to roam the stairs at night..........  Our Guide told us of various films and TV programmes shot in the house and gardens and the story of the leftover gazebo.  Time Team have also dug here and uncovered what were thought to be Tudor royal apartments.  As People still live in this house it is very much a home and feels like it as you walk about the place.  I think however that the bedrooms may not be the one's they family sleep in and we didn't see any bathrooms although we did see an Elizabethan Privy!! Not still in use (I hope).  However apparently the privy products fell down to the South Border and the plants are particularly lush in this part of the garden!!!!!
Ancient Lawn Mowers around the Well
Although we had fine weather for most of the time it was starting to rain and we still had quite a few things left to do and very little time to do it.  We eventually found our way to the physic garden  and the Well House.  There was a collection of old lawnmowers and other interesting finds housed in this pretty little 19th century hexagonal building.  The well is about 170 ft deep ; the top is covered by a grille now; thank goodness, but the water still supplies the garden when needed.

There are lots of seats dotted all around the gardens to allow one to sit and enjoy the vistas and views or just to sit and contemplate.  There is a lot more to see here and it is a wonderful garden to visit. I am looking forward to go again in Spring to see the tulips.

Don't forget to click on my Flickr site for more photographs
Please note:  Any Errors in this account are entirely my own.
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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Gordon Road Allotments Autumn Fete

After our most successful plant sale to date in May we are organizing an Autumn Fete taking place next month, on Sunday September 11th. 

We are obviously hoping for good weather so that we can serve tea and cake outside and we will also sell our surplus produce, perennials and possibly house plants too. 

We normally can muster up some excellent home made cakes and jams for sale. 

There will be stalls selling bric-a-brac, arts and crafts and we will be having a raffle and instant tombola prizes.

As a bonus there will be guided tours of the allotment site including our wild life plot, which has a healthy slow worm population and our brand new bee plot complete with hives.  By that time the raised bed project, which provides the possibility of gardening for disabled people and also for school children, should be nearly complete.  So there are lots of new things to see even if you have been before. 

Unfortunately we won't be able to use The Piggory for teas as owing to the raised bed project the central path has been rather damaged by heavy vehicles and will be undergoing refurbishment so that disabled people will be able to access the raised bed area.  Teas will therefore be served next door to the shop.

We are hoping that lots of people will come and join us for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

plant Sale 2011

 Before the onslaught all plants amd helpers in tip-top condition. 
Vegies and Herbs

The Hardy Perennials

Bedding Plants

The Greens

Geraniums Galore

Pretty Petunias

Merry Marigolds
Opening the floodgate!

 It was just like Harrod's sale; hoards of people llitterally ran in elbowing their way through to buy the plants
Any more lobelia?
How much more can I get in this box?
Two and a half hours later the stalls were empty.  We would have made more if the tomatoes and beans had been ready for sale but hopefully we will have some to sell in two weeks time once the plants have had little more time to mature.