The Link

APRIL 2018 Vol. 23 No. 2


APRIL 7th - Spring Show. Doors open 2 pm. Presentation of awards 4 pm.

JUNE 16th - Summer Show. Doors open 2pm. Presentation of awards 4pm.



We are all under constant pressure to recycle - from the media, ecologists and local authorities. Yet we gardeners are undoubtedly some of the world’s best at reusing the wide range of waste material that would otherwise end up in landfill.

Probably the most basic recycling practised by gardeners is the production of garden compost. Bins can be constructed from old pallets, filling them with plant and uncooked vegetable waste from the garden and kitchen. Even cardboard and paper, shredded or torn into small pieces, can be added. And the end result: sweet- smelling, friable compost. But there’s so much more that can be recycled: used proprietary compost bags stuffed with autumn leaves to make leaf mould, old car tyres make quirky plant containers, yogurt pots for potting up seedlings, toilet rolls, ideal for sowing deep-rooted sweet pea seeds, and scrubbing clean old plastic labels for reuse. The list goes on and on. Personally, I’ve always been a keen garden recycler and here are a couple of my recycling hints. When a large terracotta flower pot cracks or is accidentally broken, half bury it on its side. It becomes a cosy home for toads and frogs to hibernate over winter. I also cut open used compost bags and tape together to make a large sheet to lay on the lawn when pruning, weeding, etc.

So, what items do you recycle in your garden? Share your recycling tips for the benefit of us all. Let me know by email or post, see address details below, and I’ll report back in a later edition of The Link. JS




ESSEX GARDENERS – An occasional series

Sadly, many ‘men-of-the-cloth’, who, in their time, were important horticulturalists, are now long forgotten. Yet one is still remembered in the name of a favourite garden shrub, the ubiquitous, summer-flowering Buddleia.

This was named in honour of the Reverend Adam Buddle (c.1660-1715), an outstanding botanist and authority on mosses and grasses.
Buddle was born at Deeping St. James, Lincolnshire, educated at Cambridge University and became Rector of Great Fambridge, Essex, in 1703, where he devoted much of his time to his botanical studies. He compiled a new English

Flora, completed in 1708, but it was never published; the original manuscript is preserved as part of the Sloane collection at the Natural History Museum. It was the great Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, who thought Buddle worthy of commemoration, naming the newly- discovered, orange-flowered shrub, Buddleia globosa, after him, even though Buddle had been dead for nearly 60 years!

Introduced from Peru in 1774 by nurserymen Kennedy and Lee of Hammersmith, its golden globes are displayed in June and July and is still a popular garden shrub.

But, we are perhaps more familiar with the long, purple spikes of Buddleia davidii, and its many varieties, the popular garden shrub beloved by butterflies, introduced in 1896. An impressive ‘escape artist’, its seeds populate waste ground, railway embankments, and even high up on the brickwork of old buildings. Both

Buddleia species are available from garden centres. JS



One of the unfortunate downsides of Brexit has been the loss of European scientific organisations based in the UK. The Royal Horticultural Society reports that the latest to up sticks, following a decision by the European Commission, is plant testing, which is now based in mainland Europe and could result in less choice for UK gardeners.

New plant cultivars are tested for distinctiveness, uniformity and stability before being granted Plant Breeders Rights, which allows breeders to charge a royalty on every plant sold, funding future plant breeding. Previously, the National Institute for Agricultural Botany, based in Cambridge, has tested new ornamental plants for the EU, but it has now lost the contract for this work, resulting in a loss of £600,000 in annual revenue. Testing for the EU is now undertaken in the Netherlands, Germany and France.
Post-Brexit, plant breeders are likely to pay separately for UK-only Plant Breeders Rights at a cost of up to £2,500. However, it is expected that most plant breeders will opt for pan-European rights for a similar price, which could result in fewer new plant registrations in the UK as it may not be cost-effective to pay for both. The Horticultural Trades Association believes that large, international plant breeders, such as those based in North America, who sell plants in Europe, will probably not want to pay extra for UK rights and will aim for the larger European mainland market of 500 million people, rather than the UK’s 60 million.

It has recently been reported that large breeders have started to move their operations from the UK to the Netherlands to avoid the added cost and inconvenience of obtaining two registrations, which could have an adverse effect on plants stocked by British garden centres, especially those used for bedding, which enjoy a large share of the plant sales market. JS



Fiskars, the tool firm, recently carried out a survey to find out when we start to become interested in our gardens and their study found that the average age is 41! A spokesman said: “Getting into gardening at 41 may seem late, but with adults not getting on the property ladder, or living in flats until their late thirties, it’s becoming the norm.”

The study also found that 23 per cent of British people had never mown the lawn or raked up leaves. And, half the adults who took part admitted that they wouldn’t be able to identify a fuchsia, 40 per cent would struggle to spot a pansy and more than half said they wouldn’t know a geranium if they saw one! Rather a sad admission for a country that is supposed to be a nation of gardeners, but perhaps not to be unexpected considering that one in ten search YouTube to solve their gardening problems.

I started serious gardening when I was 25, so I’ve had 16 years on today’s new gardeners. And it’s been a pastime that’s given me so much enjoyment (and exercise) over the years.
But what about you? How old were you when you started to garden? Let me know and I’ll report the results in a future edition of The Link. You’ll find my email and postal address below. JS


Remembering Southend’s Lost Buildings



Divide snowdrops as they finish flowering. Plant bulbs singly or in small clumps at the same depth as they were growing previously.
Take care when emptying compost bins in case hedgehogs and toads are still hibernating.

Prune Forsythia after flowering, then feed with blood, fish and bone meal.


DID YOU KNOW THAT ... the male Wren
sometimes builds up to six globe-shaped nests?
When the female has chosen a nest she likes, she
lines it with feathers and lays five to eight small,
speckled eggs. However, being a polygamous little
chap, the male Wren will often also set up home
with a second female, or even more. In fact, one male was recorded as having four female partners on the go at the same time! No wonder the Wren needs to build so many nests! JS


In this centenary year when, as a nation, we remember the ending of the First World War, it’s an occasion to also call to mind an extraordinary gardening society established by British internees in 1916 at the Ruhleben Internment Camp, on the site of an old racecourse in Berlin.

The four thousand male residents, aged between 14 and 55, formed a variety of clubs, including a horticultural society. In 1916, its secretary Thomas Howatt wrote to the Royal Horticultural Society to request formal affiliation. This was promptly granted, the RHS sending the prisoners supplies of seeds and bulbs, and

also pamphlets on gardening. The Ruhleben Horticultural Society inaugurated a series of horticultural lectures and the membership quickly rose from 50 to 943. Each member was charged a subscription of one mark, raising enough funds for the Society to purchase a greenhouse and cold frames. In the autumn, a bumper crop of chrysanthemums and dahlias was sent to England for sale and raised another 300 marks. British firms, including Suttons and Caters sent seeds to the

internees and the Society’s vegetable garden was able to supply the camp’s canteen kitchen with fresh produce, making a profit of 800 marks by the autumn of 1917.

Flower shows and inter-barracks competitions were also held, which proved to be very popular with the internees, and a good morale booster.

However, with the Armistice, Ruhleben Horticultural Society closed. The last prisoners left the camp in November 1918 and the site returned to being a racecourse. JS



Those of us who grow fruit trees know that apples, pears, plums, etc., need to be cross-pollinated by a compatible variety in order to yield a good crop of fruit. Now the online nursery, Ashridge Trees of Castle Clary, Somerset, has produced a useful fruit tree pollination checker to assist gardeners to find a suitable pollinator. This can be found at the fruit tree section of their excellent website Scroll down the page and click on the cross-pollination checker section. Then select your fruit type and variety from the drop-down list to find a suitable pollination partner.

Apart from fruit trees, Ashridge Trees offer a large range of garden trees, hedging, soft fruit, roses, and much more. There is also an interesting selection of useful videos, including many with advice on fruit tree pruning. And when ordering, if LHS members quote the voucher code ‘LSHS2018’ at the checkout, you will receive a 15% discount. JS



This will take place at the allotment site on 12th and 13th May between 10 am and noon. It’s a great opportunity to take along your surplus plants and seedlings and swop them for something different. You’ll find all sorts of interesting plants to take home. My collection of scented-leafed Pelargoniums started from two plants from an MDAS plant swop some years ago. MDAS is affiliated to Leigh Horticultural Society and LHS members are welcome to purchase garden sundries from the MDAS shop at attractive prices. JS



It was recently reported that hedgehog numbers in the countryside continues to plummet, blamed on the loss of hedgerows and a decline in insect prey. Better news, however, is that the decline in urban areas might now be starting to level out. Two surveys, reported by the conservation charity, People’s Trust for Endangered Species, offer a glimmer of

hope that overall numbers inhabiting gardens, and the numbers killed on roads, had declined, and it is suggested that the creation of habitats for hedgehogs in urban areas is achieving a small degree of success in at least stabilising numbers.

Estimating numbers for these nocturnal animals has always been difficult but it is thought there are now about a million in the UK, from an estimated 30 million in the 1950s.
We hadn’t seen a hedgehog in our garden for many years – probably not since the 1980s – until last summer, when one evening a solitary hedgehog appeared on our front porch. Yet, I recall that in the 1970s and 1980s we would quite often enjoy the spectacle of hedgehog visitors in the garden, snuffling around on the lawn ... or heard them; they make quite a racket when mating!

Various ideas have been put forward to explain their decline in urban gardens, including fencing with gravel boards, preventing the spiky fellows from wandering between gardens, and increased traffic on suburban streets, resulting in more road kills.

Do you see (or hear) these night-time visitors to your garden? Let me know by email or post, see address details below, and I’ll report back in a future edition of The Link. JS



According to UK Wine Producers Ltd (UKWP), which was formed in July 2017 as a result of amalgamating the UK Vineyards Association and the English Wine Producers, there are now 501 separate vineyards, 2,330 hectares under vines, plus 133 wineries and/or wine producers, producing 5 million bottles of wine in the UK. And nearly 30 of the UK’s vineyards are to be found in Essex, more vineyards than any other county in the UK. Six of these are on the Dengie Peninsular and hoping to establish the district as a specific wine region, called Crouch Valley. I’ll drink to that! JS


Thank you for your kind feedback to the February (my first) edition of The Link. Fortunately for me, it was all positive! Please email your comments and/or contributions for the next edition by 1st May 2018 to , or post to 28 Darlinghurst Grove, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 3LG.


For up-to-date news check the LHS website: 8