The Link

February 2018 Vol. 23 No. 1


It is with great pleasure that I take over editorship of The Link from Jackie Rowland who, for the last few years, has done such a sterling job ensuring members are kept up-to-date with LHS news and events.
The Link was the brainchild of our late Secretary, Charlie Ablethorpe, editor from its inception over twenty years ago, when it was simply called ‘The Newsletter’, until his passing in 2008. So, I’m pleased to continue publication of such an important channel of communication for LHS members.

I have introduced a few new features, which I hope you will find of interest, some reflecting the people and places that have made our town such a delightful place to reside. And do please continue to contribute your news and articles to The Link, and send me feedback – positive or negative!

Jim Sanctuary


Gardening ... or Soul Searching?

However bleak the day, discovering the emerging shoots of snowdrops in winter never ceases to thrill. Having gardened now for nearly 50 years, the pleasure it gives continues to show no bounds. The beauty of plants, the scent of flowers, the infinite shades of green, leaf textures, trees, even the sweet and earthy smell of compost - all are a joy that feeds the soul throughout the year.

‘Feeds the soul?’ I hear you say! Well, yes ... our gardens can be a therapeutic space, where one can escape into nature’s spiritual world, forget our worries and instead, relish the beauty of the natural world around us. We can ignore all the troubles of the day and immerse ourselves in the cultivation of our gardens – potting, seed-sowing, pruning ... even mowing the lawn!

Before retirement, I worked in an intensive and stressful industry, on call more or less 24/7. But, in the evening, when I arrived home from the office, a ‘potter’ in the garden and the tensions of the day soon evaporated away. My mind was in a different world, the real world, a gardener’s world, not the artificial, cut-and- thrust world of commerce with its testing demands and challenges.

The inspirational guru of the garden, Monty Don, recently wrote “We are extremely uncomfortable with the spiritual aspect of gardening, and yet most people feel it in some way or other, even if it’s a connection to a greater world on a beautiful day.” How very apposite. I recall Dorothy Frances Gurney’s popular poem, ‘God’s Garden’, where she wrote ‘one is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth’. So, whatever your spiritual connection to the garden, religious or not, clear your mind of the trials and tribulations of the day by immersing yourself in the ‘real’ world of nature’s splendour and the tranquillity to be found in the garden. JS


The Cat and the Tree Surgeon

I appreciate that writing about cats can be controversial. Remember poor old Scampy? Cats are like Marmite; you either love ‘em or hate ‘em! Nevertheless, as I’m one of the former, I’ll plough on with this little tale.
My wife and I were watching Jo Brand’s ‘Cats and Kittens’ TV show a few months ago and one of the features was about a cat stuck up a tree in a Leigh garden. The feline’s desperate owner had unsuccessfully attempted to coax the frightened pussy to return to earth and had called in the RSPCA to assist. However, the lady from the RSPCA also couldn’t persuade the naughty cat to climb down to the ground, so decided to contact a local tree surgeon.

He arrived with all his paraphernalia and - surprise, surprise - the cat rescuer was local tree surgeon Adrian Westbury, who’s been looking after the trees in our garden for the last 20 years! Adrian set up his ropes and tackle and was quickly up amongst the branches, closing in on the frightened moggy. Fortunately, the adventurous pussy realised Adrian was friend not foe and was soon back on terra firma, ravenously scoffing a bowl of food, with a very thankful owner. JS


QUICK TIP: As soon as you see Hosta shoots appearing above the soil apply snail and slug deterrent to prevent ‘lacy’ leaves as the plants develop.

OUR THANKS AND BEST WISHES TO ... Sheila Brazier, who has retired from the position of Show Secretary. We offer our grateful thanks to Sheila for her excellent stewardship and commitment to this most demanding of roles, which she undertook for an amazing 12 years! And a big welcome to Gillian and Ian Warburton, who will be jointly undertaking the role of Show Secretary from this year’s Spring Show.


PLANT PROFILE: Melianthus major

The word architectural when applied to plants has become quite a buzz word in the gardener's vocabulary, thanks to books and TV programmes promoting garden design. The semi-shrubby Melianthus major is certainly a plant that fits the architectural characterisation, having handsome, large, grey-green, pinnate  leaves, up to 12" (30 cm) long, deeply serrated and 
supported on grey-green stems, and was desc late plantsman, Graham Stuart Thomas, as the most beautiful large-foliage plant that can be grown outside in this country. A plant that has unequivocal exotic appeal, the foliage has a distinct scent; difficult to describe, but one that I find pleasant, although, perhaps, not to everyone's liking! Originating from South Africa, Melianthus major grows to about 5' (1.5 m) high, with a similar spread, and prefers a warm,

sheltered position, although is said to survive up to -15°C. In my garden, it makes an impressive sight, especially in spring when the buds open to reveal chocolate- maroon bracts and green stamens.
Plants of Melianthus major can be found in all good garden centres or by mail order. Propagation is from seed or basal cuttings from new growth in spring. JS



MARCH 3rd - Annual General Meeting - see notice below. Doors open 2 pm for 2.30 pm start.
APRIL 7th - Spring Show. Doors open 2 pm. Presentation of awards 4 pm.




Over the years, our Society’s shows have enjoyed great support from the many enthusiastic members who regularly fill the show benches with their wonderful exhibits – from flowers, vegetables and cacti, to arts and crafts, homecraft and floral arrangements. However, we’d like even more of you to take part!

In today’s busy world, it is often difficult for many of us to find time to grow plants and vegetables for the show bench. So, when planning the show schedule, the Committee takes particular care to include classes, especially suited to novices, that don’t require too much time-consuming preparation. You’ll find all you need to know in the LHS Year Book, which includes a schedule of the classes in all four shows, together with handy hints and tips for the rookie exhibitor. Some classes require just one stem of a particular flower, or one or two plants in pots. In fact, for many classes all you need to do is pop a patio container into the car! So, if you’d like to ‘have a go and show’, but are still a little apprehensive, come along to the hall between 8 and 10 o’clock on the morning of the show with the material you’d like to exhibit - whether it be a plant, painting, photo or cake - and you’ll find many fellow exhibitors only too willing to lend a friendly hand and help you display your exhibits.

So, give it a go at the Spring Show, and you’ll soon be hooked! JS


The Annual General Meeting of the Leigh-on-Sea Horticultural Society will be held at 2.30 pm on Saturday 3rd March 2018 at Leigh Road Baptist Church Hall, Marguerite Drive, Leigh-on-Sea. Nominations for the Officers and Committee are to be submitted to the Secretary, Nick Pugh, by 1st March 2018.

Proposed rule change: The Committee propose that Rule 11, which reads ‘Prize values will be 30p 20p 10p unless otherwise stated’, should be deleted and replaced by ‘Prize values for Children’s classes will be 30p 20p 10p unless otherwise stated. No monetary prizes will be awarded to other classes except for prizes of £5 for special classes as decided by the Committee’. This proposal is to formalise the decision taken at the 2017 AGM.



Wildlife in the garden (but not slugs and snails!) brings a lot of pleasure and interest throughout the year. What's more, it was recently reported that bird-song boosts our mental well-being! In our garden, we encourage bird visitors by ensuring there is always a plentiful supply of food - seeds, peanuts, and in winter, fat balls - and, of course, shallow bowls of water for drinking and bathing.

And every year we take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, which this year took place over the weekend of 27th and 28th January. This is a national survey of bird visitors to gardens across the country and participants record the species of birds that visit their garden over a period of one hour. The results are published on the RSPB website and in the press.

Last year, we recorded house sparrows, wood pigeons, robins, collared doves, blue tits and blackbirds. Yet, these are not the only bird visitors to our garden. At other times we have spotted long-tail tits, coal tits, starlings, magpies, crows, wrens, and an occasional woodpecker and sparrow hawk. We’ve tried to encourage chaffinches by putting out niger seed, but sadly to no avail.

So what bird visitors do you see in your garden? Do you have a bird box? If so, do any bird species produce their young in your garden? Send your observations to me by email at or by post, address below, and I’ll publish the results in a future edition of The Link. JS


This edition of The Link has been printed with some coloured lettering and photographs, whereas in the past the postal edition has been printed in black and white. Currently, almost half the membership still receives their copy of The Link by post, but it is less expensive for the Society to email The Link to you.

If you haven’t done so already, please send your email address to the Membership Secretary - - and you will receive the email edition of The Link in colour, saving the Society the cost of printing and postage.



Remembering Southend’s Lost Buildings


Please email your feedback and/or contributions for the next edition of The Link 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: