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

Last meeting in DecemberJaqueline 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 and  Homesense! 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.

If you made a wreath or table decoration (I did both) please email me a photo which I will print out to share with the group at the January meeting.

Syllabus for 2020

Click to expand

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

Norton Priory is the most excavated monastic site in Europe. Boasting the ruins of an Abbey, 12th century undercroft and an 18th century Walled Garden, it is located within an oasis of tranquil woodland and wildflower meadows. The beautiful 2.5 acre Georgian walled garden is a hidden gem with fruit trees, herb garden and rose walk. Home to the National Collection of Quince, it is surrounded by a pear orchard, wildflower meadow and woodland.The walled garden was once a kitchen garden feeding the nearby Norton manor house of which only the undercroft and Victorian porch survive. Today the garden boasts a stunning array of flowering plants with something always in bloom from April to October. The traditional rose walk has been recreated from the decorative ‘tree of life’ gate to the pergola, the perfect place from which to admire the 2.5 acre gardens. The garden is also home to the national collection of tree quince, the preserves from which can be purchased from the cottage shop. The new museum displays thousands of artefacts from Norton’s 900 year history including the internationally significant 14th century statue of St Christopher.

Wednesday February 12:  Steve Halliwell – Yes, we have no Galanthus 

A story of the humble snowdrop.

Wednesday  March 11:  A talk by Brian Quinn – Friends of Rotten Row

Rotten Row’s beautiful 746 metre long herbaceous border (one of the longest in the country) has been restored by a group of volunteers, the Friends of Rotten Row, to its glory days of over 40 years ago when it was a major public attraction. Their efforts, supported by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, have received numerous North West in Bloom awards, and the 2014 and 2016 Top Trophy for the Best Overall Neighbourhood.

Within easy walking distance from Southport’s famous Lord Street, Rotten Row provides open access to the colourful borders along wide footways where visitors can stop to enjoy the variety of flowers, shrubs, birds and insect life. The level surface is convenient for wheelchair users, and there is free parking available.

Rotten Row is also a hub for other leisure activities. It runs parallel to Victoria Park which is used for a variety of public events, not least being the famous Southport Flower Show. Cycling, croquet, tennis, model engineering, model car and model boat clubs, a plant nursery, restaurant, caravan park and children’s play area are all accessed from Rotten Row.

Wednesday April 8:  NGS/CGS – A talk by Margaret Fletcher

Beyond the Garden Gate

Wednesday May 13:  M Sawyer

Growing with Pride

Wednesday June 10:  A talk by Marguerite Hughes

Scented Plants for every Season

A big Thank You to Helen Wilson, Joyce Yoxon and Les Fillis for their help and support and David Blanchflower for producing the newsletter.

All offers of help in organising this group will be gratefully received. At the July, 2019 meeting we held a raffle and we are looking to develop this as a regular event for the future. A volunteer to sell raffle tickets at the start of meetings would be very welcome, please speak to Pam or Helen if you can help.

Gardening Group Newsletters – (by David Blanchflower)

Past Meetings 2019

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.

Past Meetings 2018

The October meeting was an informative talk by Maureen Sawyer, a garden designer and consultant, on the A-Z of garden gems. In November – Matthew Smith from Brighter Blooms presented ‘Weeds ~ to love or to loathe’, a topic that effects all gardeners. This talk aimed to get you thinking about weeds differently. Samples of Mare’s Tail and Nettle tea bags were on offer and a variety of bulbs were on sale.

On 27 November, five members visited the World of Glass, St. Helens to attend a talk by Marcus Chilton, Curator at RHS Bridgewater, on ‘The Making of RHS Garden Bridgewater ~ plans and progress’. Members are already planning garden visits and trips for 2019.

The December meeting comprised a fun quiz with a twist, prizes and mince pies. The winning team was “The Girls”, well done!

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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