The Gardening Group provides members with an opportunity to share a love of gardening and horticulture.

St Michael's Church Hall (opposite the church)
2nd Wednesday of the month
2.00 - 4.00 pm
  • Leader: Pam Higgins - 07788 782121
  • Group Helper :  Helen Wilson

Lockdown 2020

All meetings are currently postponed until further notice.

Hello everyone. We hope you are keeping well, it’s disappointing that we are still not able to plan future meetings of the group but rest assured that as soon as it becomes possible we are ready and willing to restart the garden group and we hope you will wish to continue to enjoy the group. 

Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather is getting colder and wetter there is still plenty to do in the garden. I expect many of you are keeping busy with cutting back and tidying up. Pam has been very busy planting lots of seeds in the greenhouse, Helen has been taking cuttings of pelargoniums and salvias. Now is a good time to sow sweet peas, winter salad leaves and broad beans. It will soon be time to lift dahlias (after the first frost) although as long as it isn’t arctic conditions I have found they will survive being left in, particularly, with a good layer of mulch. 


Pruning and Tidying

  • Prune your roses. Cut off most of the year’s growth and take out large woody stems. 
  • Cut peonies back to promote healthy growth next spring.
  • Cut back and tidy borders and make a note of any changes, additions or divisions you wish to make next spring whilst the thought is fresh in your mind, as it’s hard to remember back to how it looked once spring comes around.
  • Divide perennials that flower before midsummer’s day, such as oriental poppies, peonies and lupins, as well as spring-flowering hellebores, pulmonarias and Solomon’s seal. Dig up, divide and replant straight away. Perennials that flower after midsummer are best divided in the spring – that’s a good general rule.

Salad and herbs

  • Sow boxes of salad leaves and hardy herbs  for putting right outside your kitchen door.
  • Pot up leafy herbs to bring inside on a windowsill and use in winter.

Answers to the quiz from the June Newsletter

  1. Busy Lizzie
  2. Transplant seedlings and small plants
  3. Venus Flytrap
  4. Tomato
  5. Mushroom
  6. Pistil
  7. Orange
  8. Staple food for Reindeers
  9. Roses
  10. Shamrock

Next quiz

  1.  Which part of the tree can be used to make cork
  2. What is the largest and tallest tree in the world
  3. What general term is used to describe those trees whose leaves fall in the winter
  4. Which tissue beneath the bark of trees forms wood
  5. Where in the flowering plant does the male gamete come from
  6. Which cereal must be grown in water
  7. What grain is used to make semolina
  8. Which part of the flower becomes the fruit
  9. Which part of a flowering plant is often used to make oil
  10. What is the name of the technique of clipping trees and hedges


  • What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter:  PUMPKIN PI
  • ‘Plant and your spouse plants with you – weed and you weed alone’
  • When weeding the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant . If it comes out of the ground easily it is a valuable plant.
  • The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly –William Wordsworth


We would like to keep in touch with garden group members and we miss sharing ideas and information through the meetings so we wondered whether you would like to share your own ideas/tips/experiences with the rest of the group. One way to do this would be to email any information to Helen and then it can be coordinated and sent out as a group email by Helen. Any items for inclusion should be sent to Helen by 27th November and will then be incorporated into a garden group email before Christmas! 

Happy gardening and stay safe.

Pam Higgins (Gardening Group Leader)

Helen Wilson (Gardening Group Coordinator)


Past Meetings 2020

Wednesday February 12 :  Yes, we have no Galanthus – A talk by Steven Halliwell.

An interesting talk with a ‘poetical’ twist and some lovely photos of mass plantings of snowdrops from Banks Hall, Gresgarth Hall, Dunham Massey, Lytham Hall, Brantwood, Parcevall Hall and Hornby Castle. There are hundreds of varieties of snowdrop mostly developed from 3 species

Galanthus Nivalis (our native snowdrop) from Western Europe

Galanthus Elwesii from Eastern Europe

Galanthus plicates from Russia. 

Wednesday January 8:   The Walled Garden – A talk about Norton Priory 

A very interesting and informative talk given by Keith and Kathy Williams who have been volunteering at Norton Priory for about 30 years. The talk started with a brief history about the property and some interesting information about the numbers and roles of the gardening staff needed to look after the garden when it supplied all the produce for the main house. The only women working in the garden were  ‘Daisy grubbers’ which meant weeding all the gravel paths on hands and knees with special gloves which had hooks on the finger ends.   The talk then moved on to an illustrated look at how the garden has been developed and restored since the house was demolished and the garden abandoned in 1928. The walled garden is two and a half acres and has been redeveloped with reference to how Victorian walled gardens were generally arranged. The garden is divided into four quarters and includes various old varieties of apples and gooseberries as well as the national collection of quince, a croquet lawn and an orchard. The garden opens at the end of March is well worth a visit.

Past Meetings 2019

Last meeting in December

Jaqueline Iddon – Christmas from the Garden

A practical demonstration, making a blue spruce door ring, winter pots and other festive ideas to help decorate your home for Christmas. Jaqueline gave us a very entertaining and amusing talk whilst showing us how to make beautiful christmas decorations using foliage from the garden with added value glittery bits from the Range andHomesense! With both the wreath and the candle decoration it appears that ‘more is more’, similar to the hanging baskets and tubs that the group has seen demonstrated it seems that you need to use twice as many plants/foliage as you think are needed. Jaqueline produced beautiful creations and also showed us how to ‘jazz up’ potted plants to give as christmas gifts.

Wednesday 9 October

The meeting was a very entertaining talk by Tony Brougham on Autumn hanging baskets. Tony represents SSAFA (soldiers sailors air force families association) and he briefly explained the work of the organization and the support it gives.

Tony demonstrated planting up a hanging basket to look good from now until Easter and gave various tips to ensure success including aerating the compost as you fill the basket, adding a slow release fertilizer and using ‘egg water’ from boiling eggs –  3 drops in a litre of water to add calcium when watering.

The basket centerpiece was a red Cordyline and Tony then added 4 pansies, Ivy, Heather, Cyclamen, Ajuga and Heuchera. This produced a lovely full basket with immediate color and the Ajuga will start to trail over the basket sides as it grows. Alternative centerpiece plants could be a larger Heuchera or snow Lavender. Tony suggested watering should be done in the mornings when birds are around to eat any slugs.

Tony brought a fabulous selection of plants for sale at super reasonable prices which proved very popular with the group.

The basket that Tony made was raffled for SSAFA and raised £30.

Wednesday 11 September

This meeting included a show and share event, plant sale and a talk by Peter Gately. The event was a competition over 3 classes.

Best plant/flower won by a new member (name to be confirmed)

Best Herb and Best fruit/vegetable won by Sue Watkinson

Overall Best in show won by Sue Watkinson

There were a fairly limited number of entries but hopefully now that group members have seen how it works we will have more entires for any future similar events. The plant sale table was well supplied with generous donation of plants from several members and raised £14 towards group funds.

Peter Gately gave a talk entitled a plant for every day and shared photos of his garden for each month of the year showing how it is possible to have something in flower all through the year. Peter brought a beautiful selection of flowers from his garden which are currently in flower including:

Acanthus – Persicaria firetail – Cephalaria – Purple loosestrife – Kaffir lily and Fuschia

Peter particularly likes native plants and includes several in his garden which have a long flowering time including:

Red campion – Celandine – Hardy geranium – Yellow dead nettle – Mouseplant – Arisarum proboscideum

He also showed us photos of several lovely shrubs which are highly scented and flower through the colder months  including:

Wintersweet – Snowdrop tree – Witch hazel – Magnolia

He gave us a very interesting and informative talk with lots of ideas for plants to include for year round color and scent.

Wednesday 10 July – “Planning and Designing Colour Themed Borders” – by Marguerite Hughes.

Sue Gillon from Meadow View Plants brought plants for sale. The talk was very interesting and informative and Marguerite involved the members. She explained how colours could be used to affect the depth and perspective in the garden. She used plants and flowers to demonstrate the way colours work together e.g. hot borders for drama and instant appeal, while cooler for a calmer space.

The topics covered were:
Colour Clock
Colour Effects
Single Colour Schemes
Classic and unusual colour combination and many more. The way that colours are put together is more important in the overall garden picture than individual colours and is a very powerful weapon for a gardener!

Wednesday 13 March – Steve Halliwell, Public Speaker, Author and Biographer presented a talk on “Holker Hall – The Park and Gardens”.

Wednesday 13 February – Anthony Brougham presented “Miracle Planter”.

January – Cliff Porter, training officer and Geoff Todd, membership officer from Liverpool and Merseyside Beekeepers Association presented “Where would we be without Bees”. The emphasis was on how to encourage bees in to the garden. Several myths were dispelled.

6th Meeting July 2016

Topic “Oh Dear! What can the ‘Machair’ be? 

gardening-20160129-Machair2Steve Halliwell using his excellent photographic skills took us on a journey exploring the threatened Machair habitat in Hebridean Islands and the flora of the area.

The Gaelic word ‘machair’ means an extensive, low-lying fertile plain. Machair is a type of grassland associated with calcareous sand (mainly made of shell) which has been blown inland from beaches and mobile dunes. Strictly speaking, ‘machair’ refers to a flat sandy plain with dry and wet short-turf grasslands above impermeable rock. However, this term can also cover the beach, foredunes, dune slacks, fens, swamps, lochs and saltmarshes which together form a ‘machair system’.

Machair is one of the rarest habitats in Europe, found only in the north and west of Scotland and Ireland. It is estimated that there are 25,000 hectares of machair worldwide, with 17,500 hectares in Scotland and the remainder in western Ireland. Almost half of the Scottish machair occurs in the Outer Hebrides, with the best and most extensive areas in the Uists, Barra and Tiree.

5th Meeting June 2016

Topic: “Visit to Garden at 79 Crabtree Lane, Burscough”

Gardens 79 Crabtree Lane

Gardens 79 Crabtree Lane

The gardens were specially opened for U3A members, sadly the weather was not kind for the visit but those who attended thought the gardens were excellent. The visit lasted over two hours with our host Peter Curl taking time to explain various aspects of the garden to individual U3A members.

The gardens at 79 Crabtree Lane are part of the National Gardens Scheme which was founded in 1927 to raise money for charities. The garden at Crabtree Lane is ¾ acre in size and over recent years has been changed and replanted but still has many established and contrasting hidden areas. Patio surrounded by shrubs and alpine bed. Colour themed herbaceous and island beds with shrubs. Rose garden, fish pond surrounded by a large rockery and a Koi pond with waterfall, recently rebuilt and shallow area for wildlife. Spring and woodland garden, gravel garden with tender Mediterranean planting and late summer hot bed. Hosta and fern walk. A derelict, dry stone bothy and stone potting shed.

A garden visit that was enjoyed by all and one I feel sure many U3A members would wish to visit again.

4th Meeting May 2016

Topic: “A Long Drive to Lhasa Tibet exploring Alpine Plants”

gardening-2016 globeflowerThe speaker Peter Cordall took us on a botanical journey across Tibet to Lhasa in which we explored the culture and also the alpine plants of the region. The Tibet Plateau  being home to the world’s largest distribution of Alpine plants.

Peter’s talk was a rare glimpse of the flowers of Tibet and will provided us with a view of a beautiful country which sadly most of us will never visit. We saw the culture of the area and visit the beautiful city of Lhasa which is rightly one of the most featured and dreamed about cities in the world. This is not only because of its  high altitude at 11,975 feet which  means remoteness and limited accessibility, but also because of its over 1,000 years’ cultural and spiritual history which leaves an impressive heritage that has helped to create the romantic and mysterious image of Tibet.

Peter is a former science teacher and currently Chairman of the Southport Alpine Garden Society Group. His interests in photography and the sciences has lead to his passion in flower and plant photography and he treated those attending to an enjoyable afternoon.

3rd Meeting April 2016

Topic: “Gresgarth Hall Gardens Through the Seasons”

gardening-20160128-gresgarth-hallThe speaker Steve Halliwell provided a packed meeting with an exciting and informative journey month by month around Gresgarth Hall Gardens. Using hundreds of excellent quality photographs he gave a comprehensive explanation of the changing colours, shapes and textures of the gardens. Steve held his audience enthralled by the shear beauty of the gardens so ably captured by his photography. It was clear that Steve was an expert in his subject and he held his audience spellbound.  Steve is has a keen interest in natural history and bird watching and is a respected author on natural history topics.

Gresgarth Hall Gardens cover 12 acres and are located near Lancaster in a valley cut of the surrounding fields over millennia by a tributary of the river Lune called Artle Beck. The sound of water is ever-present. The terraces descend from the house to the lake, and are planted with roses, clementis and more tender plants in season, and the predominating pinks, purples and silver-whites compliment the rugged grey stone of the Gothic house.  There is no doubt that Gresgarth is one of greatest gardens in Britain.

The 2nd Meeting 2016

gardening-20160129-fuchsiaThe speaker on Monday 14th March on the topic of “All you need to know about Fuchsias” was  Brian Houghton who has over 30 years experience of growing fuchsias. He is President and Secretary to the Merseyside Fuchsia Group also Chairman of the Wigan Fuchsia Society. He is a committee member of the British Fuchsia Society. Brian has a lifetimes interest in the cultivation and propagation of Fuchsias.

Inaugural Meeting 2016

Peter Gateley speaking at the newly re-formed Gardening Group

Peter Gateley speaking at the newly re-formed Gardening Group

The meeting held on 8th February was an outstanding success with a record attendance of 120 people to hear Peter Gateley speak on the topic “A flower for every day”.

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