Pam Hadrill

Pam Hadrill

We heard recently of the death of a past member of Kent Group, Pam Hadrill. She will be remembered by some of our longer standing members for her beautiful garden surrounding a converted oast house in Otford. Pam died on Christmas Day just three days short of her 103rd birthday. She was gardening well into her nineties and it was only a fall when she was 97 that forced her to down tools. Obviously, she was a real hardy planter. Kent Group members visited her garden in July 1994 and Anne Stephney wrote a delightful report for our newsletter, which I reproduce below. Unfortunately, we didn’t all have cameras back then so I don’t have any images to go with it but Anne’s descriptions will, I hope, conjure up the atmosphere. Pam also opened her garden to the public for many years for the NGS so many people will have seen and enjoyed her lovely garden.

There will be a private family cremation on the morning of the 24th January followed by a Memorial Service at 2.30 pm at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Otford. All are welcome.
The funeral directors are Henry Paul at 10, High Street, Pembury.

 

Anne Stephney’s report from our Newsletter August 1994
“Pam Hadrill’s garden at Little Oast has such a feeling of peace and tranquility. No list of plants or layout description could even begin to convey the atmosphere of this very intimate place.
Masses of pots, even some in borders, and plenty of sitting areas seem to be the secret ingredients, plus a lot of tender loving care from Pam.
Potted fuchsias and hostas clothe the paved walk around the oast. A gently upward sloping garden, shallow steps lead to a paved and planted terrace area. Here a birch shades the seating and pots, and a honeysuckle in full bloom repays the freedom it has been allowed by scrambling down and across the earth. Semi-circular metal trellis (quite new, but much credit to Pam’s design skills it seems at one with everything else) provides support for a thriving golden hop and a vine. The central gap in the trellis gives access to the main lawn and wide borders.
A little further on and rest is again encouraged by a summerhouse cleverly designed by Pam to ensure complete shelter from any wind. Beyond that a wide screen of well established Rosa glauca, grown from cuttings, hides a neatly productive vegetable garden.
Seclusion at the top of the garden is provided with more seating and a statue overlooking a small pond surrounded by ferns, an acer and other shade lovers.
Widely curving, shallow steps approach the summerhouse at the top of the garden, placed centrally where one can sit and look back down the length of the garden towards the oast. The steps are adorned simply with the small ivy, which chooses to crawl along them. Beside the summerhouse a very pretty Stephanandra incisa tumbles down the sides of its urn. Lucky plant; Pam says she bought it at a nursery because it was dying.
Pam’s garden, like its owner, is quite charming and remains one of my favourites. Many thanks to Pam and her daughter Penny for their welcome, the opportunity to visit the garden again and the teas.”

Following the publication of this post, Kent Group member Bennet Smith got in touch to say that he had visited Pam’s garden and taken photographs. Here is a gallery showing just what a stunning garden she created. Many thanks to Bennet for letting us share his photographs.

 

 

Seasonal Delights

Seasonal Delights

A report by Elizabeth Cairns on our meeting in November 2018 when Ben Potterton spoke at our meeting prior to the AGM.

Ben began his talk with an image of Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’. He said that, on the whole, he was not enthusiastic about yellow snowdrops but made an exception for ‘Wendy’s Gold’ as it is such a good garden plant and I am entirely with him on both counts. Ben collects woodland plants and is impressively knowledgeable about them. He also has strong views on what he likes and dislikes, which he expressed in forthright terms, making his talk both interesting and entertaining.

Early spring plants which light up dark corners of the garden appeal to Ben and here he identified several of my favourites – anemones, violas and primulas – but he was able to mention some delectable plants which were new to me, such as Anenome nemorosa ‘Blue Eyes’ and the blue Viola priceana.

Galanthus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

He was a bit rude about Primula ‘Guinevere’ (formerly P. ‘Garryarde Guinevere’) which is one of my favourites, but his own strain of silver-laced primula, P. ‘Blacksmith’s Silver Laced’ looked enchanting and I wanted some badly. Unfortunately Ben has given up his nursery business so I will have to go without.

I don’t seem to be able to grow trilliums but Ben recommended Trillium lutescens so I plan to try my luck with that. Fashions in plants come and go and Ben was good on recent fads and fancies. He was rather scornful of the current interest in species hellebores such as Helleborus torquatus and the green doubles which, he complained, are not good value in the garden. Some primulas were dismissed as being hideous (some double elatior varieties) and P. maximowiczii was condemned for its ‘vile’ colour. I would agree with Ben that not all plants are beautiful and it was good to hear his strong views so well expressed. Perhaps we plant lovers tend to be a bit mealy-mouthed.

I also agreed with Ben that it is good to have a few plants to make you smile. He put the ‘tarty’ (his description) daffodil Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’ in this category. I would agree that some recent selections of galanthus are also a bit of a laugh.

Ben’s stimulating talk was an excellent way to spend a dreary November afternoon.

Elizabeth Cairns

 

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Ferns Workshop

Ferns Workshop

Paul Ingleton reports on the Fern Workshop held in November 2018 with Jude Lawton. 

Eleven Hardy Planters attended Jude’s pteridological extravaganza (with IT consultant Kitty keeping the show on the road at times). Jude has obviously been bitten by the fern bug and is clearly passionate about her chosen field. Not only that, but she conveyed this enthusiasm to her audience and held our interest for the full three hours.

Jude began with an explanation of the various structural parts of ferns, which are rather different from the usual flowering plants. Those paying attention like good students, will now be familiar with parts of a frond such as ‘petiole’, ‘pinna’, ‘pinnule’, ‘rachis’, ‘sorus’, etc. I’m not a good student so can’t remember everything here but I got the gist of it. She also emphasised how tough and unfussy the hardy ferns are as garden plants. There are even some ferns (cheilanthes) that, in the wild, grow at up to 15,000ft. in the Andes and can germinate their spores in as little as three weeks.

Jude then went on to the fascinating sex life of ferns, detailing how the reproduction from the spores after being released from the sporangia (just showing off) happens. This was amazing and made totally absorbing by a short video Jude had found, produced by the University of New Zealand. One could see why germination in some ferns takes so long! You can find this video on YouTube and I would recommend a viewing to anyone, pteridontaholic or not.

Next up, for the grand finale, was the hands-on bit. Jude showed us how to deal with a pot-bound fern in a terrifyingly ruthless way. One member was overheard to say it was worth coming just to see this. The said fern was de-potted and the bottom inch or so of the root-ball amputated with a bread knife, while the projecting top section (the bit where the top inch of the pot sticks out) was hacked off with a large pair of scissors. Finally, the remaining root ball was roughed up before being repotted in gritty compost. We were then let loose on some plants that Jude had brought with her, making sure we knew where divisions could be made and then getting stuck in with a knife to cut the rhizome apart. We were like bees around a honeypot now, because we were invited to take away any bits that we wanted. We all left with a bag full of souvenirs which, hopefully, will be gracing our gardens in years to come.

Paul Ingleton

Dealing with pot-bound ferns!

 

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Plants Grow in Dirt

Plants Grow in Dirt

A report by Rob Lines on our meeting in October 2018 when Bob Brown spoke at our 30th Anniversary celebration.

This meeting was rather special in that it included a tea to celebrate Kent Group’s 30th Anniversary. So, an excellent turnout of 95 members and guests settled themselves around tables, instead of the usual theatre-style arrangement, ready to enjoy the eats after the talk. This more informal arrangement was reflected in Bob’s amusing and often provocative talk sprinkled with anecdotes, where audience participation was encouraged, to challenge some accepted gardening practices.

To kick off, Bob recalled an order for 900 agapanthus plants that the client wanted to be planted out in the winter. Unfortunately, most of them did not survive – not due to the cold (they are very hardy) but because of the manure that had been added to the bottom of the trenches. Lack of aeration had caused the manure to rot anaerobically, adversely affecting the plant roots. The solution here is always to put organic matter on the surface, even on porous soils, and let nature (and the worms) work the material in. While on the subject of agapanthus, Bob said that one of the most popular queries on Gardeners’ Question Time is ‘Why has my agapanthus stopped flowering?’ Bob’s answer: don’t plant them in pots! Planting in the soil is preferable, in a site where the sun can access the neck of the plant. He also mentioned the considerable chore of dividing pot-bound plants.

Continuing on the theme of pots, Bob asked the purpose of crocks. Suggestions from the audience included saving on compost, improving pot stability by adding weight and, of course, drainage. To the latter Bob posited that drainage is impeded owing to the lack of capillary action between the pot and the ground. He also suggested that grit (but not sand!) is a better way to add weight while ensuring that the plant roots are properly aerated. The conversation then turned to pot feet – good or bad? Definitely bad, according to Bob, because it stops heat transfer to the pot from the ground. (Note to self – remove all feet from my pots!).

A popular service offered by the HPS is the Seed Distribution. Bob cautioned us that although annual seeds retain their viability well when stored, those of perennials really require to be planted straight away. So, don’t be surprised if the success rate for your sought-after perennial is low.

As a parting comment Bob said that he routinely uses unwashed plastic pots, as any plant worth its salt ought to thrive. After all, plants grow in dirt.

Rob Lines

 

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