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Gardening Club News & Activities


April Gardening Club News - posted 17 April 2017

Our next meeting is on Thursday April 20th, 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual. This month, with our gardens all springing into life, Andrew Mikolajski will be coming to talk to us on:

“Topical tips for April” which covers aspects such as plants to enjoy, gardens to visit, pruning (or not!), likely pests, etc., specific to this time of year.

I will be bringing a list to sign up for the outing on June 22nd , to the Swiss Garden and Kathy Brown’s garden (£30 for members, £35 for non-members). I know lots of people enjoyed Kathy’s talk last month so I hope many of you will be able to come and enjoy her garden too. I think it is well worth a visit!


(01295) 760539


Flower & Produce Show 2017 - posted 15 April 2017

This year’s Flower and Produce Show will be on 26 August - Bank Holiday Saturday. 


Once again we are looking for Sponsors. Sponsorship helps to fund separate competitions for school aged children and by covering some of the organising costs increases the donations we can make to our local charities, which this year will be Katherine House Hospice and Dogs for Good.


Some other dates for your diary are:

  • Entries for Garden Classes will close on 21 June
  • Judging for garden borders, cottage garden, vegetable patch and water features will be on 24 June
  • Judging for Hanging Baskets and Patio Displays will be on 29 July
  • Entries for all other show classes will close on 22 August

Full details of the competition classes will be in the show schedules which will be circulated in May.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

New Discount & Bell Plantation Event - posted 05 April 2017

Good news for those of you who use Buckingham Garden Centre. We are now being added to their list of Gardening Clubs entitled to a discount on joining their own club scheme. This means you can join their garden club for £5 instead of £10, and then be entitled to the discounts and offers this provides. You will need to show your current membership card to get this discount.  Information available here: http://www.buckinghamgardencentre.co.uk/gardencard.html

Also, I have recently received a message from The Bell Plantation about an event next week, Thursday 13th April 6pm-9pm.

They have James Alexander-Sinclair coming to give a talk offering inspiration and advice and he will also be doing a Q&A session. James is an award winning writer, a compelling speaker, frequent broadcaster and an elected member of the Council of the Royal Horticultural Society. It is completely free to attend and you will also get the opportunity to shop the new spring plant selection and enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco. There are more details about The Bell Plantation and the event here - https://www.bellplantation.co.uk/portfolio/springlaunch/

Hope these may be of interest,


(01295) 760539


Outing To Swiss Garden and Steventon - posted 29 March 2017

Plans are coming together for our Summer outing on Thursday June 22nd. The idea is to go, by coach, first to the Swiss Garden at Shuttleworth near Biggleswade. There we will have a couple of hours to explore the garden. There is a restaurant where lunch can be purchased, or you may prefer to bring a picnic. After lunch, we will go on to the village of Stevington to visit the garden of Kathy Brown (who gave us the talk on containers in March). As Stevington village has very small lanes, there will be a short walk to the garden from the coach stop. There we will have a guided tour of Kathy’s fascinating and beautiful garden, and I hope we can sample some of her delicious cakes before making our way home again.

The cost for the day is likely to be £30 for members (£35 for non-members). This will include the coach travel, entry to the gardens and the tour and afternoon tea cost. Lunch is payable separately, so that you are free to choose what you wish to eat.

This is all dependent on getting sufficient numbers. I will be bringing a list to sign up at the next meeting on April 20th, but it would be very useful if members could let me know if they intend to come as soon as possible.


(01295) 760539


"Distinctive Containers" For March Meeting - posted 14 March 2017

We had a successful outing to Evenley in February, a good group of us managed to avoid the worst of the weather and see a lovely selection of snowdrops, crocus and narcissi. In March we are back in the Reading Room for a talk:

Thursday March 16th, 7.30pmKathy Brown will be speaking on “Distinctive Containers: Spring and Summer”.

Kathy Brown has a lovely garden in Stevington near Bedford, which she opens to the public. She has written books on Container Gardening and Edible Flowers amongst others, has been a Silver Medal winner at Chelsea, and makes wonderful cakes! I am hoping to arrange a Club outing to her garden in the summer (provisional date June 22nd).      Non-members also welcome at a charge of £3 on the door.

Hope to see you there,


(01295) 760539


Talk At Sulgrave - posted 23 February 2017

Village Hall.  Monday 6th March @ 7.30pm. 

Tickets £4.00pp 

available from Ingram Lloyd, Tel 760520.  Shrimp Christy, 760214. 

or Sulgrave Village Shop 


Dream Gardens.  Dr Chris Mortimer 


About Chris: I have taught Chemistry as a Career, long retired but I have always liked gardening and major D.I.Y.  Some 45 years ago I moved from Manchester with my wife Jess and two small boys to Samlesbury Bottoms, between Preston and Blackburn where we bought a derelict building which had been industrial stabling and 3/4 acres of river bank in a narrow, deep, valley of the River Darwen.  There were interesting ruins in the river bank as there had been an early cotton spinning mill on the site.  This had been demolished and covered with a few feet of cinders from another mill. 
Here I have developed a garden which I have extended a few times as adjacent land became available.  I work on the principle that gardens should be fun and not involve too much fiddly maintenance.  I have opened for the N.G.S. for some 25 years. 
(see. ngs.org, Lancashire, Mill Barn and millbarn.net) 


Hywel and Ingram Lloyd have seen this garden evolve and extend for at least 40 years.  It never fails to amaze us as to the next civil engineering project Chris takes on, nothing seems impossible to him.  Combined with this unbridled enthusiasm and deep understanding of plants is his wonderful planting to complement and enhance the site. 

His garden is open for the NGS on Saturday/Sunday June 3.4 & 10.11 

Evenley Wood Outing To Go Ahead  - posted 11 February 2017

The most popular date for the outing to Evenley Wood garden is Wed 22nd Feb, so I have booked a guided tour for us then. We will meet at the entrance to the garden at 2pm, and the cost will be £10 each, payable on the day.

We need at least 10 people, so if anyone on the list can no longer come then please let me know, and if anyone else would like to come along they would be most welcome to join us. I hope we can car share as much as possible, so if anyone would like a lift do ask me.


(01295) 760539


February Gardening Club Outing To Evenley Wood - posted 28 January 2017


The Gardening Club event for February was planned as an outing to Evenley Wood Garden to see the wonderful snowdrops there. There did not seem to be a great deal of enthusiasm at the last meeting for the suggested date of Wed 22ndFeb, so I wondered if a weekend date might be more popular? It is only really worth going as a Club outing if at least 10 people go, as then we can book a guided tour (£10 each). Otherwise anyone who wants to go could do so at their own convenience for the normal entry of £5.

If you would be interested in a guided tour then please let me know as soon as possible and indicate which of the following dates/times would be suitable for you. Please include as many possible dates/times as you can to increase the possibility of matching up with others.


Evenley outing dates/times. Please delete any that are not suitable:

Wed 22nd Feb     am/pm

Sun 19th Feb       am/pm

Sat 25th Feb         am/pm

Sun 26th Feb       am/pm



I will then see if there is a time when at least 10 of us can get together!

Many thanks,


(01295) 760539


Successional Planting at January Meeting - posted 15 January 2017

This month we welcome Chris Day from Buckingham Garden Centre to our meeting on Thurs Jan 19th (7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual). His talk is entitled: Successional Planting (year-round).

“Maximising the productivity of the vegetable plot or garden border is one area of gardening techniques which often passes us by. There are a number of techniques we can employ to keep the colour and the crops moving throughout the seasons. Chris highlights some of the plants which make this possible as well as look at some of the latest developments in the world of gardening.”

Now is the time to renew your membership if you haven’t already done so - £15 for the year. This covers entry to at least 5 talks and our garden party, plus preferential rates for our 2 main outings. You can also take advantage of the Dobies seed discount scheme, please ask Ros for details at the meeting.

I am trying to arrange an outing to Evenley Wood Garden in February (possibly Wed 22nd Feb), more details at the meeting.  If you are interested in this but cannot come to the meeting next week then please let me know so that I can keep you informed.

Julia McAuliffe

December Meeting - posted 13 December 2016

The next meeting of the Gardening Club is on Thursday 15th December, 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual.

John Gibson (of John Gibson Daffodils) will be coming to speak to us about “Madeira Garden of the Atlantic”a compilation of several visits to the Island showing the amazing variety of plants, flowers and scenery of the different areas and microclimates. I hope this will be a good antidote to the rather gloomy winter we are in the midst of!

Mulled wine will be on sale alongside the usual refreshments and there will be mince pies to add a festive touch.

Phillip Ward mentioned at the AGM that the Jubilee wood is in need of a few more helpers to maintain it. This would involve taking responsibility for a small group of the trees, to keep them clear of weeds and long grass until they get big enough to take care of themselves! It’s not a huge job, and maybe some people would like to take care of the trees they planted themselves? Please contact Phillip if you would be willing to help.

Ros Stroud has details of the Seed Discount scheme which we have used for several years now. You can get a substantial discount on seeds, seed potatoes, onion sets etc. by buying through the scheme with Dobies. Please ask Ros for the discount code, she also has some catalogues and you can order by post or online as you wish.

Membership fees are now due for 2017, you can (re)join the Gardening Club for £15. The Programme for 2017 is now available on the village website, and I will bring copies to the meeting. We have lots of interesting talks and outings planned so I hope many of you will be able to join up this month or next.

Gardening Club AGM - posted 14 November 2016

November is the month for the Gardening Club AGM, to be held in the Reading Room on Nov 17th at 7.30pm.

This is the chance for members (and potential members!) to have their say, to give feedback on the previous year and input on the plans for the 2017 Programme. Please do try to come along and let the Committee know your opinions and ideas.

I have been asked if the Gardening Club would be prepared to take on the maintenance of the Memorial Garden on the Station Road/Wappenham Road junction, and the Pump Garden on Church Street. There would be some funds available from the Parish Council to help with this. I will be asking for opinions and ideas on this at the AGM, so please have a think about it!

If you are unable to come to the meeting but have any suggestions you would like to share, then please let me know before the meeting.

If you would like a copy of last year’s AGM minutes, please let me know and I will send them to you.

Julia McAuliffe

(01295) 760539



Supper Club Message: Nature Is in Trouble - posted 27 October 2016

Annual Gardening Club Supper Lecture - posted 04 October 2016

This will be held on Thursday 20th October, with Emma Marsh (CEO West Midlands RSPB) presenting a talk entitled:

The State of Nature Today: How Gardeners can help give Birds and Wildlife a Home

The talk will start at 7.15pm in the Reading Room, and doors will open at 6.45pm.

The talk will be followed by a 2 course supper, which this year will consist of:

Baked potato, choice of hot and cold toppings, salad

Fruit crumble and cream

The cost is £8 for members and £12 for non-members, payable in advance if possible please.

We need to know numbers for catering, so please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to come. Payments can be dropped in to me at 19 Wappenham Road, clearly labelled with your name please and any cheques payable to Helmdon Gardening Club. I will try to come to the Village Café next week (11th), so you may be able to catch me there to pay!

Talk On Coton Manor - posted 16 September 2016

It’s almost the end of Summer, and Garden Club meetings are returning! On September 22nd (a week later than usual), Caroline Tait will be coming to talk to us about the gardens at Coton Manor. I am sure if you have ever visited these lovely gardens you will be interested to hear about their history and plans for the future. The meeting starts at 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual. Non-members also welcome at a charge of £3.

In the same week, Lois Weedon Flower Club have asked me to let you know they are holding a Fashion Show by ‘Flair‘ of Towcester at Moreton Pinkney Village Hall on Wednesday 21st September. Entry is £5.

A reminder that in October  we have our Annual Supper Lecture. This year Emma Marsh, the Midlands CEO of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, will be coming to talk to us. Places must be booked and paid for beforehand, and you will be able to book your place at the September meeting, when I will provide more details.

Julia McAuliffe

(01295) 760539

Successful Flower & Produce Show - posted 29 August 2016

flower show produce
This year’s Flower and Produce Show has been the most successful for several years. Despite a torrential downpour in the afternoon, some 170 exhibits from carrots to speciality breads and Funny Potato Heads were on show and enjoyed by many in the village. With generous sponsorship from A W Duncombe and Son, the Show raised a record £300 to support donations to Katherine House Hospice and the Air Ambulance.

The Reardon Cup for the best garden display was won by Charlotte Sandilands, while Rex Jessett retained both the Lidgely Cup for the highest score in the vegetable category and the Jack Ayres Shield for the best overall score. Michael Ayres regained the Potter Vase for the best performance in the flower category while Judith Elkington was the winner of the Bloomer Cup for the best individual flower entry. Enid Kebble scored highest in the Produce category to win the Rose Bowl.

Bread baking was a new element in the show this year and the Committee were pleased with the level of interest shown, even by those that had never made bread before. They are looking for suggestions for other gardening or produce categories that could prove equally popular. If you have any suggestions please contact Phillip Ward (e-mail).

Show Entries Must Be In By This Tuesday 23 August - posted 22 August 2016

The Flower and Produce Show is next Saturday 27 August. The show depends for its success, and for the money it raises for our charities, on the entries we all make to the the show. It’s easy to join in  and there are new classes this year, including bread making and unusual or exotic vegetables. Young entrants can try their hands at making a funny potato head or baking some flapjacks.

Paper entries and fees should be given to Peter Payne, Rex Jessett, Celia Terrey or Pip Ward by 23 August. Email entries, which should include your name and classes entered, can be made to ward@btinternet.com until 26 August with fees paid at the door on the day.

Please support the show!

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

Could Your Creation Be Best In Show? - posted 06 August 2016

Entries are now being taken for the 2016 Flower and Produce Show which this year will be held on 27 August 2016 in the Reading Room.

View the Show Schedule here, which shows all the classes that you can enter. Entry forms along with the recipes for the competition cakes can be downloaded below:

Entry forms - Word or PDF
the toffee apple cake recipe

The show is sponsored by A W Duncombe & Son.

Entries can be handed to Peter Payne, Rex Jesset, Celia Terrey and Pip Ward. Alternatively they can be taken to the Village Café on 7 July for Garden entries or 11 and 18 August for other entries.

The more entries we have the more we will be able to give and the more fun the show will be . You don’t have to be an expert. It’s fun to join in.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

Gardening Equipment Needs A New Home - posted 19 July 2016

Jean Spendlove has been in touch with me to ask if anyone might be interested in various bits of gardening equipment that she needs to get rid of.  This includes a hose, bamboo canes of various sizes, wire netting and a spring-loaded spade amongst other things.  It is apparently all rather neglected and cobwebby, but still usable with a bit of TLC! 

If you think you might find a use for some of these bits please call in to Jean’s, using the front door on Field Way please (knock loudly she says!).  If you want to check first that she is there you can call her on 768196.

Julia McAuliffe

New Date For Manor Farm Herbs Tour - posted 25 June 2016

Unfortunately we had to cancel the outing to Manor Farm Herbs in June due to the stormy weather and torrential downpours.  Thank you to all those booked for the event, for responding so quickly to my message.

I have arranged a new date with Manor Farm:  on the evening of Thursday July 21st, in the hope that the summer will have arrived by then!!

I am starting a new list, so if you would like to come on the outing please could you let me know? I will need to give Manor Farm the numbers by the 14th July, so I need to know who is coming before then.

Thanks for your understanding,

Julia McAuliffe

(01295) 760539

Garden Entries For The Flower And Produce Show Close On Wednesday 15 June - posted 09 June 2016


hanging basket


This year judging of the garden entries for the annual show will take place in June after complaints in earlier years that gardens had “gone over” by July when the competition has traditionally taken place.

There are six classes in the Gardens category with something for everyone. We know there are some fantastic gardens in the village - large and small- and we encourage as many people as possible to take part.

Judging will take place on the morning of 18 June. Entries can be made via Peter Payne, Rex Jesset, Celia Terrey, or Pip Ward by hand or by post. Details and entry forms are in the show schedule, available here or they can be made by email to ward@btinternet.com. Please support the show.

View the Show Schedule here

Manor Farm Herbs Tour - posted 03 June 2016


Sald Herbssalad herbs grow really well in a large container   


On the evening of Thursday 16th June we have arranged a tour at Manor Farm Herbs, Fringford, OX27 8DP. This is what they say about themselves:

We are a wholesale herb farm not usually open to the public, and grow over 250 different types of herbs throughout the season, selling potted herbs to garden centres, nurseries, landscapers etc throughout four counties. In addition we have a website for retail sales to the public, shipping herbs throughout the UK, and indeed Europe.

We will have a talk and tour, followed by “herby” refreshments, with opportunities to buy plants if desired. The cost will be £6 per person, (£7 for non-members), payable on the night.

If you would like to add your name to this list, or if your name is on the list and you are unable to come, please let me know as soon as possible. I need to provide numbers to Manor Farm at least a week in advance.

We will meet at Manor Farm for a 7pm start. It should take about 20mins to drive to Fringford, please arrange lifts amongst yourselves if possible. However, if you are stuck for transport, do let me know and I will help to arrange something for you. I will contact those on the list again with confirmation of times etc. nearer the date.

Let’s hope for better weather than the Barnsdale trip!!

Julia McAuliffe

(01295) 760539

Could Your Creation Be Best In Show? - posted 27 May 2016

Entries are now being taken for the 2016 Flower and Produce Show which this year will be held on 27 August 2016 in the Reading Room.

View the Show Schedule here, which shows all the classes that you can enter. Entry forms along with the recipes for the competition cakes can be downloaded below:


Entry forms - Word or PDF
the toffee apple cake recipe

The show is sponsored by A W Duncombe & Son.

Entries can be handed to Peter Payne, Rex Jesset, Celia Terrey and Pip Ward. Alternatively they can be taken to the Village Café on 7 July for Garden entries or 11 and 18 August for other entries.

The more entries we have the more we will be able to give and the more fun the show will be . You don’t have to be an expert. It’s fun to join in.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

Flower & Produce Show - posted 30 April 2016


flower entries

      Entries in one of the flower classes in 2011

Helmdon’s Flower and Produce Show will take place this year on Bank Holiday Saturday, the 27 August in the Reading Room. The Show schedule and entry forms will be delivered shortly but here are some key points to note.

This year entries for the garden competition will be earlier -15 June with judging taking place on 18 June. This responds to feedback from many people who feel their gardens look their best in June. Entries of other classes should be in by 23 August.

There will be new classes for bread baking and for exotic and unusual vegetables as well as some new challenges for children. Please look out for the schedules when they come and plan to take part in this established part of village life.


Outing To Barnsdale Gardens - posted 25 April 2016

Geoff Hamilton in The Ornamental Kitchen GardenThe late Geoff Hamilton

 who made the

garden famous       


There are still some places available on the outing to  Barnsdale Gardens on Wednesday 25th May. If you would like to join us then please let me know, and if possible please pay me before the end of April, as we have to pay for the coach in advance.


We will be leaving Helmdon at 9.30am and travelling on a Cheney Travel coach to the Gardens, where we should arrive soon after 11am. We should than have about 3 to 4 hours to enjoy the gardens and partake of refreshments in the tea room on site. We will be leaving at 3pm to arrive home between 4.30 and 5pm (depending on traffic etc.).

The cost for the travel and garden entrance will be: Members £20,  Non-members £25.

Refreshments are not included, and as picnics are not permitted in the grounds it is recommended that you use the tea room on site which provides a range of snacks and light meals at reasonable cost. If you have any specific dietary requirements please let me know when you book a place, so that I can let Barnsdale know.

Julia McAuliffe (01295) 760539


Gardening Quiz & Plant Sale - posted 15 April 2016






This month’s meeting will be on Thursday April 21st, 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual. We will be holding a plant sale, and a team quiz to test your knowledge of garden-related facts and trivia! Drinks as usual and nibbles too.

Please bring along any spare plants that you think someone else might like (eg rooted cuttings, split herbaceous plants and surplus annual flower or veg seedlings). We will be selling these in aid of club funds. You can also bring along spare seeds (whole or part packets) to swap, and any garden equipment and accessories that you wish to sell (money direct to you).

Do come along, refresh your garden with a few new plants, and have some fun with the Quiz. Non-members also welcome, at no charge this month.

Julia McAuliffe

Sponsorship Appeal Successful - posted 25 March 2016

The appeal for sponsors on the web site has been successful and I already have enough to ensure that I can cover the costs of the children's competition this year.

Thank you all who contributed.

Phillip Ward

Sponsors Wanted for Flower & Produce Show - posted 22 March 2016


Helmdon’s  annual Flower and Produce Show is looking for sponsors. Last year we had a generous contribution from HYHOs which allowed us to involve all of the children in the Helmdon School in the show. We would like to do something similar again to get more children to enjoy the experience of growing things. A few modest sponsorships would allow us to develop the show and maintain our contribution to local charities. All sponsors will be prominently acknowledged in the Show Brochure and elsewhere.

If you can help please contact Phillip Ward (e-mail) or phone 01280 851180.


Speaker From Hill Close Gardens - posted 10 March 2016

restoration Hill close gardens


The March meeting will be on 17th (7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual) and the speaker will be Chris Begg from Hill Close Gardens in Warwick. Some of you may have visited this little collection of gardens, which have an interesting history. They are a rare survival of Victorian Gardens, once used by the townsfolk of Warwick to escape from the busy streets of the town.


An early reminder that at the following meeting, in April,  we have our Members evening with a plant sale and seed swap. When you are doing your Spring garden and greenhouse clean up, do look out for any plants that you could bring along to the sale. Any good healthy garden plants that someone else might like will be welcome, along with any useful spare seedlings. I always have a surplus of rooted cuttings, split herbaceous plants and annual flower seedlings that I can’t bear to throw away – I’m hoping some of you do too! We hope to raise some funds for the Club with these. You can also bring along spare seeds (how often do we need a whole packet??), to swap with spares others may have. If you have any garden equipment or accessories that you wish to sell (money direct to you), you will be welcome to bring those along too - or bring photos if they are too big to transport easily


Julia McAuliffe

Visit to Barnsdale gardens - posted 02 March 2016


Barnsdale Gardens


The outing to Barnsdale Gardens will be on Wednesday 25th May. We will be leaving Helmdon at 9.30am and travelling on a Cheney Travel coach to the Gardens, where we should arrive soon after 11am. We should than have about 3 to 4 hours to enjoy the gardens and partake of refreshments in the tea room on site. We will be leaving at 3pm to arrive home between 4.30 and 5pm (depending on traffic etc.).

The cost for the travel and garden entrance will be:

Members £20 Non-members £25

Refreshments are not included, and as picnics are not permitted in the grounds it is recommended that you use the tea room on site which provides a range of snacks and light meals at reasonable cost. If you have any specific dietary requirements please let me know when you book a place, so that I can let Barnsdale know.

There will be opportunities to sign up and pay for this outing at the March and April Club meeting nights. You can also contact me directly to add your name to the list if you wish. We will need payment by the end of April at the latest, as we have to pay for the coach in advance.

In addition, a local group has contacted me with details of a trip to Highgrove Garden on the 24th May, starting from Northampton.  It is an all-inclusive day trip costing £65. Please contact me if you are interested and I will forward details to you.

Julia McAuliffe

Snowdrops At Evenley - posted 12 February 2016

This month we have a local speaker, Justin Litten, who is Head Gardener at Evenley Wood Garden. Evenley is famous for its Snowdrop collection, so it seems an appropriate time of year to hear more about the Garden and about these harbingers of Spring.

We are now starting lists for the 2 summer outings, so if you would like to come to Barnsdale on 25th May and/or to Manor Farm Herbs on June 16th please add your name to the list at the meeting (or let me know) so that we can get an idea of numbers as early as possible.

Incidentally, if anyone has access to an “old-style” slide projector that we could possibly borrow for this month’s meeting, could you let me know? I think our speaker has a problem with their own and we are too high tech in the Reading Room now to deal with transparencies!

Club Christmas Party - posted 11 December 2015

The meeting of the Gardening Club on Thursday 17th December is our Christmas Party. This year, along with the mulled wine and nibbles, there will be a Christmas competition and quiz, plus other entertainments. Starts at 7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual.

Memberships are due for renewal at the end of the year, so we will be taking subscriptions at this and the January meeting. Programmes for next year will also be available at the meeting.

Do dig out your best (or worst) Christmas jumper and come along!

Gardening  Club AGM - posted 16 November 2015

This will be held in the Reading Room on Nov 19th at 7.30pm.

This is the chance for members to have their say, to give feedback on the previous year and input on the plans for the 2016 Programme. Please do try to come along and let the Committee know your opinions and ideas.
Don’t worry – we are not trying to co-opt anyone on to the Committee this year, although, as ever, if there are any volunteers who would like to help with the running of the Club we are always happy to hear from them!
There will also be news on the discount seed scheme, and our regular topical tips feature.
Julia McAuliffe

Nick Hamilton At The Gardening Club - posted 13 September 2015

Stop Press: A few tickets left.  Book immediately to aviod disppointment.

Tickets will be on sale at this meeting for our annual Supper Lecture on October 15th, starting at 7.15 p,m. This year’s speaker is Nick Hamilton, who will be talking about “Barnsdale Gardens after Geoff” and will also be bringing plants for sale. Tickets are £8 for members and £12 for non-members, to include a hot supper following the talk.

September Meeting:  This month sees a return to our Thursday evening talks at 7.30pm in the Reading Room. On September 17th Tony Clear will be talking to us about “Planting for Winter Colour”.  I know we don’t really want to say goodbye to summer as yet, but this should give us some ideas for maintaining interest in our gardens over the winter months.

Julia McAuliffe

Successful Flower and Produce Show - posted 26 August 2015

                                         click for poster


Enries Taken In Reading Room - posted 10 August 2015

It's Flower and Produce Show time again. The show is on 22 August this year and I will be in the village cafe this Tuesday (11th) and next (18th) to take entries for the show. All the details posted below.

Phillip Ward

It's Time To Enter The Flower And Produce Show - posted 06 August 2015

Entries are now being taken for the Flower and Produce Show which this year will be held on 22 August 2015 in the Reading Room.

View the Show Schedule here and all the classes and entry forms along with the recipes for the competition cakes can be downloaded below:

additional entry forms
the coffee and walnut cake recipe
the carrot cake recipe

As before, proceeds from the show will make donations to the Air Ambulance and Katherine House Hospice.

Entries can be handed to Peter Payne, Rex Jesset and Pip Ward. Alternatively they can be handed in at the Village Cafe on either 11 or 18 July.

As usual we will be raising money for Katherine House Hospice and the Air Ambulance. The more entries we have the more we will be able to give and the more fun the show will be . You don’t have to be an expert. It’s fun to join in.

Phillip Ward for the Show Committee

Veggie Knowhow on Thursday 16 July - posted 12 July 2015

This month (July) we are back to our Thursday evening talk at 7.30pm in the Reading Room.

On July 16th Phillip Aubury will be giving a talk entitled “Grow your own Vegetables: The Green Gym.”

Phillip has had a long career in horticulture, and was formerly the Director of Birmingham Botanic Gardens. His talk will emphasise the health benefits of growing your own vegetables, both for the exercise and harvesting healthy crops. It will cover all aspects of growing your own vegetables: selection, rotation, feeding, watering etc. It does not matter if it is a full sized vegetable garden or a couple of raised beds, give veg growing a try.

This could be a chance for some last minute tips before entering the Produce Show!

This being the summer meeting (and as there is no garden party this year), Alex will be serving Pimms and there will be a few nibbles as well.

Non-members are welcome, £3 on the door (or take up a half-year membership for £7.50).

Hope to see lots of you there!

Julia McAuliffe

Closing Date For Garden Entries Extended - posted 08 July 2015

Having spoken to a number of people today, it seems that the slightly earlier date for garden show entries has caught some people by surprise. 

Judging will be this Saturday Morning (11 July) between 10am and around 1pm. Entries were due to close today. However, to give everyone a chance I can extend the cut off date to Friday lunchtime provided entries are sent to me by email. Just include the information that would appear on the entry form - especially your address. I will collect entry fees when I come round with the judge or later if you are not in.
Phillip Ward


Something for Everyone in Flower and Produce Show 2015
- posted 23 June 2015

The Annual Flower and Produce Show will take place in the Reading Room on 22 August. This year we are grateful for sponsorship from the HYHOs both for the printing of the schedules and support for the children's competitions.

As usual the garden categories will be judged ahead of the show. Entries for these should be made by 7 July and judging will take place on Saturday 11 July. We know there are some lovely gardens in Helmdon and the categories cover everything from a hanging basket or wall trough to a vegetable plot or garden border. Please think about entering.

Show schedules with all the details are being distributed this week but you can view it here and download:

additional entry forms
the coffee and walnut cake recipe
the carrot cake recipe

As before, proceeds from the show will make donations to the Air Ambulance and Katherine House Hospice.

Last year we had a record number of entries; let’s see if we can do even better this year.

Helmdon Gardening Club - Half-Year Membership - posted 17 June 2015

We are now half-way through the year, and we are therefore offering half-year memberships of the Helmdon Gardening Club for £7.50. This entitles any new members to the following:

Free entry to talks in July and September

“Grow your own vegetables – the green gym” Philip Aubury (former Director of Birmingham Botanic Gardens)

“Planting for Winter Colour” Tony Clear (former Head Gardener at Brook Cottage Gardens)

Discounted entry to the Supper lecture in October

“Barnsdale Gardens after Geoff” Nick Hamilton

And also entry to our AGM in November and Christmas Party in December

Talks are usually £3 for non-members, and non-members pay at least £2 more for the Supper lecture, so if you plan to attend all 3 joining now is still worthwhile. Plus you can attend the Christmas party and have a say in plans for next year!

Contact Julia McAuliffe if you would like to join, or come along to our next meeting and ask there.

An Invitation To A Very Special Place: The National Memorial Arboretum On 20 May - posted 25 April 2015

Just a few places left, please contact Julia McAuliffe if you would like to join us!

£10 for members, £15 for non-members.

Itinerary: Gather just after 9am in Station Road, bottom of Church Street, for pick up by coach (from Jeffs). The intention is to leave promptly at 9.15am, in the hope that we will then get there in time if anyone wants to attend the Act of Remembrance at 10.50am.

Once we are at the Arboretum you are free to plan your day as you wish, there are good picnic areas if you wish to take a packed lunch, but there are also Restaurant and shop facilities on site.

We will leave the Arboretum at 3.30pm to arrive back in Helmdon at about 5pm.

It would be appreciated if you could pay in advance, but if you need to pay on the day cheques would be best to avoid us having to carry a lot of cash around!

Plants Of The Season On 16 April - posted 08 April 2015

This month our speaker is  Paul Green of Greens Leaves Plant Nursery in Gloucestershire. He will be giving a talk entitled “Plants of the Season” on Thurs 16th April, 7.30pm in the Reading Room. He will also be bringing plants for sale, so do remember to bring some cash if you would like to treat yourself to a few new plants!

Numbers at our meetings have been a bit disappointing so far this year, so please try to make it for this one – it is a real gardener’s talk and the speaker is coming some distance to be with us. If we don’t get sufficient numbers at meetings I’m afraid the Gardening Club is unlikely to survive another year. Non-members are also welcome for the small charge of £3 on the door.

I am still taking names for the 2 outings:

National Memorial Arboretum – Wed 20th May (coach departing 9.15am prompt!)
Cost £10 members, £15 non-members - paid in advance if possible.

Steane Park – Thurs 18th June (6.45pm start at Steane Park – shared transport)

Finally, a date for your diaries: Sulgrave Open Gardens on Sunday 5th July 2pm – 6pm. A summer afternoon out exploring other people’s gardens, with teas available too – what could be better??

Julia McAuliffe

War Memorial Garden - Volunteers Needed - posted 31 March 2015

The small garden surrounding Helmdon’s War Memorial has been maintained by a team of volunteers, who weed, trim and plant to make sure it always looks attractive and tidy. A few years ago the Gardening Club took over responsibility for the rota of volunteers, and we now need to re-organise it as everyone seems to have lost track of who does what and when!  We are looking for new volunteers, as well as asking any existing ones who wish to carry on, to let me know.  Generally one or two people look after the garden for each month of the year, so if you have a preference for the month which you would be willing to take responsibility for, please tell me.

Many thanks to everyone who has helped in the past and I hope we can successfully continue this to help keep our village looking good!

Please contact Julia McAuliffe, preferably by email, although I can also be reached on 760539.

NB For details of our visit to the National Memorial Arboretum


                                          click to poster


Speaker from National Arboretum - posted 11 March 2015

This month we have a speaker, Roger Hailwood, from the National Memorial Arboretum, at our meeting on Thurs 19th March (7.30pm in the Reading Room as usual).  Non-members are also welcome, £3 to pay on the door please.

The Gardening Club is planning a visit to the Arboretum in May, (provisional date Wed 20th May). There will be an opportunity to sign up for this outing at the March meeting, as well as for the evening visit to Steane Park in June.

Reminder Re Social & Quiz Night - posted 9 February 2015

A reminder that the Gardening Club February event is the Social and Quiz night  at The Bell on Monday Feb 16th, starting at 7.30pm. We need numbers in advance please (and payment if possible: £7 each for members, £8 for non-members). If you haven’t already put your name on the list then please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to come

Julia McAuliffe

A Thought Provoking Talk On Hedgehogs - posted 21 January 2015

Our January Meeting featured a talk from Andrew Jackson of Brackley Hogwatch. Andrew is an enthusiast who rescues hundreds of hedgehogs in the Brackley area, caring for many of them in his own home. I think most of us were surprised to learn how rapidly hedgehog numbers are falling, and how close we are to losing this iconic little creature altogether. Andrew described the various difficulties hedgehogs face, from loss of habitat to increased competition and predation by badgers and foxes. He is very keen not just to rescue individual hedgehogs in difficulty, but also to gather data to try to find out why the population is declining so rapidly. In particular he is concerned about the problem of parasites such as lungworm which seem to be killing increasing numbers of young hedgehogs.  We were told about various ways we can help the hedgehogs in our gardens, for example providing extra food and nesting areas in the Spring and Summer and looking out for immature or sickly hedgehogs in the Autumn who wouldn’t survive hibernation. He brought along one of the many youngsters he is caring for, so we had the chance to see one close up. Andrew is always on call to help anyone with a hedgehog in trouble! Let’s hope Helmdon now becomes a more hedgehog-aware and hedgehog-friendly village and we can do our bit to conserve this very interesting little animal.

Please remember next month’s event is a Social and Quiz night in The Bell on Monday 16th Feb (not our usual Thursday). Please book in advance with Julia McAuliffe or Ros Stroud: £7 for members and £8 for non-members (includes hot meal and dessert).

Julia McAuliffe

Flower & Produce Show 2014: Final Report - posted 16 October 2014

The 2014 Show took place on 30 August this year, two weeks later than usual. The change was intended to allow more time for produce to be ready after a slow start to the growing season in the previous year. This year the growing season was early and there were as many complaints about fruit and flowers having “gone over”. In the end 48 people entered the show with a total of 238 exhibits which was an increase on the previous year. This led to an increase in entry fees to £91 although the total of income from fees and donations was almost unchanged from the previous year at £131.

Income on the day - mainly due to an exceptional effort on the raffle- came to £241.60 and took the total for the show to £372.60p. Expenses for the year were higher than for the previous year because the scaling back of cash prizes for the garden section could not fully offset the loss of sponsorship from Berry Morris. The net result was a surplus of £218.

I have confirmed with the Gardening Club Treasurer that the Club does not need any of the proceeds of the show for its own activities. I have also decided that we do not need to hold so much of a cash float. I have, therefore, sent donations of £125 each to the designated charities: Katherine House Hospice and Northampton Air Ambulance. All of this is summarised in the table below.

Income -Raffle
             -Produce Sales
            -Fees and Donations
Total Income
Less  -Room Hire
         - Judges
         - Printing
         - Prizes
         - children’s prizes
Total Expenses

The Picture after donations now looks like this:

Cash in hand at outset
Cash in Hand at end

Popular Classes

The Garden category attracted a few more entries this year with similar numbers in each class except for the new hanging basket class which disappointingly drew only 2 entries.

In the vegetable category the most popular classes were the runner beans, courgettes and french beans with 8 or 9 entries each. By contrast the collection of vegetables drew only 1 entry and the pair of lettuces none.

In the fruit category competition was strongest in the cherry tomato category with 7 entries and lowest for the plate of fruit with 2 entries.

There was good support for the single rose class in the Flower section and least for the arrangement of garden flowers with only 2 entries.

Cheese scones and Victoria Sandwiches were the most popular classes in the produce category but the popularity of cup cakes and fresh eggs seemed to have fallen compared with last year with 1 or 2 entries only.

The new classes in the children’s section produced a few additional entries but none was well supported and further thought is clearly needed to develop these classes.


The 2014 show was successful and enjoyed by the significant number of people who took part or who came along on the day.

I am grateful to the small group who came along to the planning meetings and did so much in the lead up to and on the show day. At times we were a bit thin on the ground and it would be good to have a few more involved for next year’s show. Next year, I especially hope it will be possible to grow the entries for the children’s classes. Anyone who is interested, or has ideas, in helping with this would be particularly welcome.

Phillip Ward

Flower & Produce Show Enjoyed By All - posted 01 September 2014

The Annual Flower and Produce show, held in the Reading Room on 30 August, is fast establishing itself in the village events calendar. This year there were entries for 51 separate classes ranging from hanging baskets to carrot cakes and childrens’ handprint paintings.

There were more than 200 individual entries some of which can be seen in the picture.

flower show entries

Rex Jesset retained the Lidgely Cup for his score in the vegetable categories, while Michael Ayres bagged four trophies - the Potter Vase, and the Blooomer, Duncombe and Reardon Cups for his exhibits in the fruit, flower and overall garden classes. A stalwart of the Village Café, Enid Kebble, won the Rosebowl in the produce classes. Alfie Castle took the Under 7s cup and Jasmin Kuhn was the winner in the 8-12 category.

The shield for the best entry in the Vegetable category went to David Shepherd whose entry in the largest marrow competition weighed in at 17.2kg (38 lbs).

With help from a successful Raffle, organised by Ann Smith and Celia Terrey, and takings from the café team led by Julie Evans, it looks like a donation of at least £250 will be heading to the chosen charities, Katherine House Hospice and the air ambulance, once all the final bills have been received.

But most of all it was an enjoyable day for all the participants.

Phillip Ward

Entries Will Be Accepted By E-mail - posted 27 August 2014

The formal closing date was today but I would be happy to accept entries right up until Friday night. The details of the classes are on the gardening club news page below (19 April below) and I would be happy to accept entries by email to ward @btinternet.com - with entry fees being paid at the door on Saturday morning.

Even if your french beans have gone past their best - there is still time to knock up some shortbread or a plate of cheese scones.

Phillip Ward


It's Show Time - posted 18 August 2014

The annual Helmdon Flower and Produce Show is on Saturday 30 August and we are looking for a bumper crop of entries this year. The closing date for entries is Tuesday 27 August. These can be given to Peter Payne, Rex Jessett or Pip Ward and entries can also be handed in at the village cafe on both 19 and 27 July. Details of all the classes and everything else you need to know are in the para below posted 19 April. We particularly want to encourage entries from children this year and there are new categories for them to enter: decorated flower pots, hand print paintings, posies in a jam jar, or garden photographs among others. But don't leave it all to the children: whether it's beetroot or jam there are categories for everyone to join in. The charities benefiting are again Katherine's Hospice and the air ambulance.

Judging Delayed - posted 19 July 2014

The judging for the garden section of the F&P Show has been postponed until Saturday 26 July. That is probably just as well in view of the weather forecast for today! However, this does mean that entries for this section of the show can be kept open until Tuesday 22 July and it would be good to have some more entries. You don't need to have a spectacular garden to enter - there are classes this year for hanging baskets and patio displays and for cottage gardens for those who don't have large borders. Entry details below.

Details of Flower and Produce Show Announced
- posted 19 April 2014

The fifth annual Flower and Produce Show will be held on 30 August this year in the Reading Room from 2pm to 4.30pm.

This year there are new categories to enter for, especially for children and in the gardens category, in an effort to boost entries to the same level seen in the more familiar classes. 
We are particularly keen to encourage more young people to enter and some of the categories will need them to get started now - the tallest sunflower competition and the home grown herbs - classes need seeds to be sown soon.
Paper copies of the show schedule will be distributed in the middle of June but all the information you need is here now

As usual there will be a a raffle and tea and cakes for sale on the day. All proceeds will once again be split between Katherine House Hospice, the Air Ambulance and the Gardening Club.
Last year many people said they did not enter because their produce was not ready. The later date this year should mean that is not a problem, so why not plan to have a go and enjoy being part of a great British tradition?!

A Tour Of Oxford Botanic Gardens & The Harcourt Arboretum - posted 19 April 2014


Oxford Botanic Garden - Perfect in Spring Weather
Helmdon Gardening Club had a lovely trip to Oxford Botanic Gardens and Harcourt Arboretum today, in perfect spring weather.

We had a curatorial tour and learnt a great deal about the medicinal value of plant species at the Botanic Gardens.

Then everyone found various good lunch options in Oxford before on to Harcourt for a pleasant stroll through many interesting trees and a bluebell wood which looked stunning in the sunshine.

Clare Nash

Help Needed For The Flower & Produce Show - posted 29 March 2014

The annual Helmdon Flower and Produce Show will take place on 30 August in the Reading Room this year. This popular village event has been moved to the end of August to allow plenty of time for produce to be ready and to avoid the Bank Holiday weekend. As usual the proceeds from the show will be split between the Gardening Club and local charities and we hope as many people as possible will join in by entering flowers, vegetables, cakes and preserves  or just by coming along to enjoy the show.

We do need help to make the show a success each year. If you would like to help with the planning please come along to a short meeting at 7.30pm on 14 April in the Bell. If you are able to help with arrangements on the day, please contact me at e-mail
Phillip Ward

Highgrove Visit On  Monday 23 September - posted 17 September 2013

There are some returned tickets for this event - please contact Clare Nash as soon as possible.

Clare Nash

Supper Lecture 2013 - posted 12 September 2013

This year’s  Supper Lecture is on Thursday October 24th at 7.30pm in the Reading Room. The speaker this year is garden designer and presenter of BBC Northampton Kitchen Garden Show, Johnnie Amos,  who will be speaking about 'The Vegetable Garden'. Open to everyone. Members £8,  Non-members £10. Tickets  from Clare Nash.                            

                                         click for poster

Change To Date And Time Of Mystery Garden Visit - posted 27 August 2013

There has been a change of date for the mystery garden visit. This will now be on Thursday 12th September 2013. Because sunset is at 8.30pm in September we need to meet earlier to be able to view the garden so we will meet outside the Reading Room at 5.30pm. The mystery garden is about 0.7miles away so feel free to bring a car if you think this will be too far to walk. I can always give lifts if necessary.

Another Successful Flower and Produce Show - posted 21 August 2013

Mouthwatering cakes

The threat of unseasonal rain may have kept some away, but the annual Flower and Produce Show was another success with more participants and more entries than last year. As a result there will be a £200 surplus to share with the Garden Club and the Air Ambulance and Katherine House Hospice charities.

Strictly friendly rivalry between the village’s keenest gardeners saw Rex Jesset walk away with the winner’s cups for the vegetable category, the best individual entry and the highest points for the show as a whole. Pat Woodhams won the cup for the best entry in the produce category for her cup cakes, but Doreen England was the overall winner in the produce category. Her brother, Michael Ayres, helped to keep it in the family by winning in the fruit and flower section.

In the children’s competition there was an array of curious vegetable animals, decorated biscuits  and paintings on show. Cups were won by Alfie Castle and Victoria and Katherine Hart. 

Many thanks to all those who gave time to organise the day, served teas or Pimms, made donations to the raffle or just took part in the competition.

Helmdon Flower and Produce Show - posted 02 June 2013

This will be in the Reading Room on the afternoon of 17 August.

We are planning another great afternoon with something for everyone including, as well as the show itself, teas, a sale of produce and a raffle.

As last year, the proceeds will go to support Northants Air Ambulance, Katherine House Hospice and the Garden Club.

Click below to open


Reminder: Deadline For Flower & Produce Show Entries - posted 09 August 2013

With more than 50 categories to enter, there is something for everyone in the annual Flower and Produce Show. Whether it’s flowers or veg, cakes or jams, the day is much more fun if you have something in the show. Entries are due by Wednesday 14 August and don’t forget the special categories for children.



Still Some Spaces Left For Highrove Garden Visit - posted 07 August 2013

Helmdon Gardening Club are organising a trip to Highgrove on Monday 23rd September 2013. There are still some spaces left. The cost is £22.50 for members and £32.50 for non-members and the price includes entry, a guided tour and bus travel there and back from Helmdon (with Jeffs). If you would like more info please e-mail me.

Clare Nash

A Fascinating Talk Leads To An interesting Visit To Canons Ashby Gardens - posted 03 August 2013


gardens at Canon's Ashby

Members admiring the garden



In July we visited Canons Ashby gardens to see the changes brought about by restoring the garden as it would have been in the 1850s.

We had a fascinating talk on the subject from Chris Smith the Head Gardener in November so it was good to see it all in the flesh (especially the huge veggie patch).

Shame about the weather, in a glorious week our visit was the only day of rain, but the tea and cake cheered us all up afterwards.

Clare Nash 

How Does Your Garden Grow? - posted 26 June 2013

The annual Helmdon Flower and Produce Show will be held on Sat 17th August, with the garden classes  judged on 13th July. Schedules have been delivered throughout Helmdon and Falcutt and there are a few spares in The Bell. Information can be found below. Please get your entries in to Committee Members as soon as possible!

·         Please remember to return any cups and trophies from last year to one of the Committee members before the Show date.

·         If anyone can donate a raffle prize for the Show please contact Ann Smith who is organising the raffle.

·         This year we hope to have a Plant and Produce stall at the Show. If anyone has any excess produce (tomatoes, apples, runner beans??) or interesting spare plants (those cuttings you potted up and now have no space for??) we would be very grateful. Please bring them along to the Reading Room on the morning of the show.

·         We will be missing Julia and Steve on the day of the Show, so if anyone is available and willing to help (even if just for an hour or so) on the day it would be appreciated.

·         For information or to offer help please contact: Pip or Phillip Ward, Celia Terrey, Ann Smith (raffle), or Doreen England (Produce Stall).

Helmdon Flower and Produce Show - posted 02 June 2013

Could you make a Victoria Sandwich like this?
The annual flower and produce show will take place in the Reading Room on the afternoon of 17 August.

We are planning another great afternoon with something for everyone including, as well as the show itself, teas, a sale of produce and a raffle.

As last year, the proceeds will go to support Northants Air Ambulance, Katherine House Hospice and the Garden Club.

Click below to open

An Opportunity To Go To Highgrove
- posted 28 May 2013

Helmdon Gardening Club are organising a trip to Highgrove on Monday 23rd September 2013. Now that members have had a chance to have first tickets, it's open to non-members as well. £22.50 for members and £32.50 for non-members, price includes entry, a guided tour and bus travel there and back from Helmdon (with Jeffs). If you would like more info please e-mail me.

Clare Nash

Early News Of The Flower & Produce Show 2013 - posted 25 May 2013

On July 13th there will be  judging of Garden Classes (approx. 10-12am)

August 17th   Flower and Produce Show 2-5pm in the Reading Room (Staging of entries 9-10.30am) 

Schedules should be delivered in mid-June.

Julia McAuliffe


Seed Swap At The Gardening Club - posted 19 March 2013

This week at Helmdon Gardening Club is a seed swap. We would like to extend this to all garden equipment/tools/canes/pots, whatever you can think of. If you would prefer to sell rather than swap, please do, we just ask for a 10% donation to the club. Seed doesn't have to be unopened, I have a few opened packs that will still germinate, that I will bring to swap as well as some unopened ones.

Hope to see you on Thursday in the Reading Room 7.30pm as usual.

Clare Nash

Nibbles And Mincepies At The Christmas Party - posted 18 December 2012

This week will be the Gardening Club Christmas party, all welcome for a good old chinwag and a mince pie. There will be free nibbles and Peter's topical tips and a raffle (please bring a prize if you can). We are also asking everyone to bring a gardening poem, song, reading or a good joke to share with everyone. It can be anything you like. Don't worry if you haven't paid your membership yet, Steve will be there with his laminator. Any non-members £2 on the door as usual  (unless you join on the night, of course!).

Clare Nash

Results of the 2012 Flower & Produce Show - posted 23 August 2012

The Helmdon Gardening Club held its third annual Flower and Produce Show on Saturday 18th August. The Show was again very well supported, although a difficult growing year meant that entries were down slightly on the previous year. Nevertheless, local growers and cooks produced a fine array of fruit, vegetables, flowers, preserves and baked goods. The organisers were very pleased to see more entries in the youth section this year, with some wonderfully imaginative models and paintings. Teas, a raffle and sale of some of the produce all helped to raise funds to sustain the Show for the future, and also support some local charities.

Trophy winners for 2012 are listed below.

Overall Winner Gardens:                    M Ayres

Overall Winner Vegetables:               Tony Wilson

Best Individual Entry Vegetables:       Robert Duncombe  (Runner Beans)

Overall Winner Fruit:                        Jean Spendlove

Overall Winner Flowers:                    Julie Evans/Pauline Payne

Overall Winner Produce:                    Doreen England

Best Individual Entry Produce:           Jenny Overson  (Lemon Curd)

Youth 7 Years and Under:                 Alfie Castle

Youth 8-11 years:                           Matthew Wheeler

The organising committee would like to thank our two very thorough and meticulous judges Clyde Burbidge and Rosemary Sheppey and everyone who came along to support the show.

Julia McAuliffe

(Secretary, Flower and Produce Show Committee).

Annual Supper Lecture - posted 13 August 2012

                                   click for poster

Countdown To Flower & Produce Show 2012 - posted 31 July 2012

Margaret Reardon carried off the prize for
"most unusually shaped vegetable" in 2008!
The Gardening Club is looking forward to the Flower & Produce Show 2012, which will take place in the Reading Room, Church Street between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday 18 August 2012.

Class categories include vegetables, flowers, fruit and home produce and there are sections for the children too. Download details of all the classes and how to enter. There are also sponsorship opportunities for each class. For classes 43 and 44 you will need the recipe details and cooking instructions.

The money raised at this year's show will be going to Katherine House Hospice, and the Northamptonshire Air Ambulance so please come along and support us!

National Trust Lecture And Plant/Equipment Sale - posted 13 May 2012

The speaker for our 17 May meeting will be Richard Moisey who will be speaking to us on 'The Glorious Gardens of the National Trust'.

Richard is kindly waiving his fee for this talk, so the committee thought it would be a nice idea if we all donated £1 each to the National Trust as I am sure we all appreciate the work they do.

After the talk Peter Payne will, as normal, be giving us tips for the garden. His expertise is certainly appreciated.

May I also remind you that this meeting is our 'Plant/Equipment Sale' with proceeds going to the club. So please have a look in your gardens and see if there are any extra plants that you could pot up and bring, any additional vegetable/fruit plants you have grown or any books, seeds or equipment that you no longer need and would like to bring.

New members and guests are always welcome.

Discounts For Gardening Club Members  - posted 30 March 2012

Don’t forget, if you are a member of the Gardening Club, your membership card entitles you to a discount at the following nurseries:

Barn Farm Plants

Paynes of Towcester

David Wilcox (Brackley market Friday mornings and also Saturday by Old Hall Bookshop, he has very good prices on plants and good advice)

Applegarth Nurseries, Chipping Norton

The Bell Plantation


Lecture On Oxford Botanic Gardens  - posted 7 January 2012

Tim Price will give a lecture on the History of Oxford Botanic Gardens to the club on Thursday 16 February.  All are welcome. If you are not a member it is £2 at the door.

                                    click for poster

Peter Payne's Monthly Gardening Tips  - posted 12 December 2011


 Peter Payne at the Gardening Club 

           Peter Payne

                      photo: Steve Wheeler                        


Peter Payne gives monthly gardening tips which are appreciated by club members.








Successful Annual Supper And Lecture  - posted 18 November 2011

Around 50 members and visitors enjoyed the club’s Annual Supper Lecture on October 20th.

This year our speaker was Timothy Walker (Horti Praefectus or Director of The University of Oxford’s Botanic Garden and Arboretum), who presented ‘The Healing Power of Plants’. He spoke how mankind has been using medicinal properties of plants for thousands of years, yet the role of plants in modern medicine is still considered to be alternative or complementary by many people. Timothy set the record straight with a very well illustrated and amusing lecture, and showed that plant products are used every day by all of us to relieve pain and suffering, to heal wounds and to cure diseases, and without them the NHS would be a bit stuck.


We have a talk by one of Timothy’s  colleagues next year talking about the Oxford Botanical Garden, and if he’s half as entertaining then that’s one not to miss!


A hot buffet supper of jacket potatoes  and toppings was magically produced by the committee, and a good chat about the lecture was had by all.

Steve Wheeler (Media and Publicity Secretary)


Helmdon Flower & Produce Show  - posted 28 August 2011


Produce Show 2011 Did I win anything?


The Gardening Club held its second Flower and Produce Show on Saturday 20th August. The organizing committee was hoping that the enthusiasm of last year would be repeated, and we were not disappointed. In spite of some difficult growing conditions (so what’s new?) the number of entries was increased from 2010, and we saw many new names amongst the entrants.


The fruit, vegetables and flowers were judged by Clyde Burbidge and the home produce by Rosemary Sheppey. Both did an admirable job, carefully assessing the merits of the many fine entries before coming to their decisions.  


flower entries          Some of the glorious flower entries


In the afternoon the Show was opened up for viewing, and was very well attended by those eager to see how their entries had fared, as well as by others interested to see what the village could produce. The teas and home-made cakes on sale were very popular, and the raffle was also very well supported.  

At the end of the day, any produce that had been donated was sold to add to the overall fund-raising effort.


This year’s trophy winners are as follows: 

Overall Garden Winner: Doreen England

Overall Winner Vegetables: (Joint) Rex Jessett and Tony Wilson

Best Individual Entry Vegetables: Robert Duncombe

Overall Winner Fruit: Charlotte Owen

Best Individual Entry Fruit: Lynn Walmsley

Overall Winner Flowers: Julia Evans

Overall Winner Produce: Enid Kebble

Best Individual Entry Produce: Jo Turnham

Youth section 7 years and under: (Joint) Alfie Castle and Meredith Wheeler

Youth section 8 to 11 years: Katherine Hart 

The organizing committee was again delighted with the support of so many people in entering and visiting the Show, and the effort that had been put into the many wonderful entries. It makes the work of putting on the Show very worthwhile, and with more useful feedback to consider we will soon be making plans for next year!


Julia McAuliffe (Secretary, Flower and Produce Show organizing committee).


'Hugely Enjoyable' Annual Summer Garden Party  - posted 16 August 2011

Lovely weather was laid on specially for the Gardening Club's garden party on the 13th August! This year Wiggy Smith kindly offered us the use of her gorgeous garden for this annual event. We quaffed Pimms and nibbled on party food for a few hours and discussed most things - even matters horticultural! Our thanks go to Wiggy and also to Alex who supplied the drinks as she has unfailingly done for the Club over the past three years.

Many thanks as well to our loyal members for coming along to  support this hugely enjoyable part of our yearly programme. As a club we do seem to spend quite a lot of the year in party mode, but in between times we listen to speakers, do quizzes and socialise with fellow Helmdon gardeners. So, if you haven't paid us a visit yet, please do so. The Gardening Club meets in The Reading Room on the third Thursday of each month ... when we aren't out at a party that is! Our members include both sexes and the young and not quite so young.

Caroline King


The Helmdon Gardening Club

Flower And Produce Show On Saturday 20 August  - posted 7 August 2011

                                  click for poster

The Gardening Club's Annual 'Mystery Garden Visit'  - posted 24 July 2011


butterfly on flower

Common blue butterfly

Photo: Michael Ayres   


If anybody guessed the identity of our 'mystery garden' before we visited it, nobody was telling!  Anyway, Gardening Club members met outside The Reading Room on the 21st July and Steve Wheeler led the way to our destination - which was, in fact, Jan and Cec Harrold's lovely garden in Bell Close.

The Club pays a visit each year to  one of its members' gardens, but the actual garden is kept a closely guarded secret (except to the owners, obviously!).  For members it's a lovely way to spend an evening.  For the owners it's probably a slight worry to have supposedly garden-wise people inspecting every nook and cranny.  Not surprisingly Jan and Cec rose magnificently to the occasion and proudly showed us round their gorgeous - and huge - garden.  Vegetables were scrutinised, roses admired, water features noted and Jan's photo album of the garden's development over the years was poured over.

Being a Gardening Club event, this was all accompanied by the odd glass of wine and some lovely nibbles provided by Jan and Cec.  Even the weather was mild and pleasant.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to Jan and Cec for inviting us to look round their garden and providing the Gardening Club with another lovely evening.

Caroline King


The Helmdon Gardening Club

'Another Lovely Day For The Gardening Club'  - posted 2 July 2011


Falcutt house garden and group Members admiring the garden



Lovely weather greeted us when we arrived at Charlotte and Paul Sandilands house at Falcutt, on the 29th June.  Quite a few of us had never been to the wonderful gardens before and were very excited about what we might see.  We weren't disappointed!

First of all we walked around Falcutt House itself and admired the climbers and roses adorning the facade.  The roses were almost finished but apparently in May they are a glorious yellow colour which would go so well with the stonework of the house.  Then we admired the view of glorious Northamptonshire countryside to the side of the garden.  I'm afraid to say that being the humble gardener I am, I wasn't familiar with a lot of the plants or their Latin names, but that didn't detract from the beautifully planted and maintained borders. 

My favourite area of the whole garden is the small glade of silver birch trees which have been grown in what was the old tennis court.  And beyond that, more lovely views.

Another favourite in the garden were the massively tall thistle-type plants (sorry, Charlotte, I didn't take down the name) with fascinating silver foliage.

We went  home via the drive guarded on either side by fantastic topiary which Paul said looked spectacular in the snow.  Charlotte very kindly offered us tea and cake before we left after a thoroughly inspiring visit.  Our sincere thanks go to Charlotte and Paul who have always been great supporters of The Helmdon Gardening Club and The Flower and Produce Show.

Another lovely day for the Gardening Club.

Caroline King


The Helmdon Gardening Club

July 2011

Visit To Haddonstone Show Garden  - posted 24 June 2011



Haddonstone urn   


On a sunny morning on the 13th June 2011 twenty members of the Helmdon Gardening Club visited East Haddon, Northamptonshire to have a look round the Haddonstone Show Garden.  Although none of us actually placed an order for a wonderful statue or a new swimming pool, we all enjoyed looking at the very English show gardens where the Haddonstone products are temptingly dotted around.

To be honest I think most of us were more impressed with the wonderful borders and pretty setting of the gardens than the Haddonstone pieces.  The ornamental masonery, however, was absolutely gorgeous but not particularly cheap.  It's the sort of purchase that you might think about making once you have completely rejigged your garden just to accommodate that fabulous fountain or that dainty statue. All very tempting but I, for one, felt that I might have to ask my husband to buy a new house just so that that gorgeous 'Gothic Grotto' wouldn't look out of place.  Needless to say, he wasn't too keen on my idea.

The morning was rounded off with a visit to The Red Lion Hotel for a spot of lunch before we drove home.  A really interesting morning... and well worth visiting if you are thinking of having a bit of 'hardware' in your garden.

Caroline King


The Helmdon Gardening Club 


Learn About The Good Guys And The Bad Guys In The Garden  - posted 13 June 2011


a ladybird  The ladyird - a good guy    


All gardeners will find our next meeting of the Helmdon Gardening Club (16th June 7.30 pm in The Reading Room) particularly interesting!  Our speaker will be advising us to 'Love Your Garden Bugs'.  Sally Cunningham will tell us about the good guys and the bad guys when it comes to all things creepy crawly lurking in our garden borders.


So for a sociable and fascinating evening please join us on the 16th.  Wine and soft drinks start the evening and guests pay just £2 on the door.  The Club is having a very busy summer with outings and invitations etc., so amongst the posters and notices on display on the night, you might find something else that interests you.

Hope to see you there!

Caroline King


Day Lilies At The April Meeting  - posted 07 June 2011



    prize tomatoes



This will take place on Saturday 20 August in the Reading Room, 2 pm until 5 pm.

After the great success of last year (we were able to make a contribution to the Reading Room fundraising effort of £160) Helmdon Gardening Club are pleased to announce it’s all going to happen again.


And as of last year, it’s a fairly informal affair, although there are some rules of course! We hope there is something for everybody in the village to enjoy and have the excitement of entering and perhaps seeing that 1st prize card next to your produce.


Anyone resident in Helmdon and Falcutt, past and present pupils of Helmdon school and Acorns pre-school, and members of the Gardening Club are able to enter.  Schedules have been delivered round the village but if you haven’t received one please contact Peter Payne (760499), Julia McAuliffe (760539), Rex Jessett (760241) Doreen England (760744) or Celia Terrey (760215).


On the day of the show we shall have teas and cakes on sale – and a sale of exhibits at the end.


So get those green fingers working, allotments digging, those recipes testing, and children’s imaginations racing,  and please – Support The Show.


Thank you

The Show committee

Variegated Plants At The May Meeting  - posted 20 May 2011


amaranthus tri-colour

    amaranthus perfecta              


The Club was lucky enough to have Dr. Glyn Jones speaking to us this evening on variegated plants. Dr. Jones is used to public speaking as he was a university lecturer and it shows! Although he delved fairly deeply into the scientific make up of plants, he kept his audience engaged proving that we humble gardeners have interests beyond making our gardens look pretty with bedding plants!

Most of us might not be up to a quiz on exactly everything that Dr. Jones told us, but we are now in a better position to understand our variegated plants and how to keep them bi-coloured....not something one should take for granted!

Peter Payne finished the evening with a short summary of his topical tips for this month and finally we delved into our pockets to find some money to buy the lovely plants and garden equipment that members had brought in. The proceeds went to the Club helping to boost our funds which we use to pay speakers, arrange outings etc.

If you have never come to a Gardening Club meeting then please do! Click for our 2011 programme. Guests are most welcome and pay just £2 on the door. New members are also welcome and pay just £15 a year with the bonus of having discounts at local garden centres. We are a very friendly bunch of all ages and both sexes and the social side of our meetings is great fun.

Caroline King


The Helmdon Gardening Club

Day Lilies At The April Meeting  - posted 20 May 2011



hemerocalli 'missenden'


April’s speaker was Gerald Sinclair (from the Nursery Further Afield in Mixbury), who gave a ‘Discovering Day Lillies’ talk, where he told us the story how he set up his nursery, the history of the genus (which has thousands of varieties), and his national collection.  This includes plants hybridized  by local plantsmen Harry Randall (who used names like ‘Missenden’ and ‘Amersham’) and Leonard Brummit (who used the ‘Banbury’ prefix) in the 1960’s.  It has been quite a search tracing some of the plants, a lot that which turned up in Germany. Gerald also said that the hard winter had caused problems with propagation of plants, but he had bought a few plants along which were quickly snapped up.  The nursery sounds like it is worth a visit, but is closed weekends.  

Peter Payne also gave his top tips at the meetings, which are always interesting and helpful. 

Watch out for news on the Garden Show in August – a schedule should be available/delivered very soon. 

Steve Wheeler (Media and Publicity Secretary)

The March Club Social  - posted 20 May 2011

March was the club’s annual social and quiz in The Bell, where Richard put on a splendid spread as usual, and we all had a good natter and and over 30 members scratched heads over Caroline’s quiz (it’s always those photos that get us flustered).  

Steve Wheeler (Media and Publicity Secretary)

Medieval Plants At The February Meeting - posted 20 May 2011

February saw a visit from Nina and Greg from Syresham garden Club, who gave a very interesting and entertaining talk on Medieval Plants and their uses. Which varied from food, medicine, cloth dying, religious use, warding off bugs and evil spirits. Nina and Greg made an excellent job covering such a huge subject and everyone enjoyed the presentation. A website for further details of medieval plants is http://www.katjaorlova.com/HerbalismPaperPlantsGarden.html . We also have a tasting of some of the Marrow Rum which was started off last year, which some found to be an acquired taste!

Steve Wheeler (Media and Publicity Secretary)

Christmas Questions & A Quiet Night In  - posted 16 February 2011


Hellebore hybrid

hellebore hybrid


The Gardening Club December meeting was a chance to quiz some of our brave member ‘experts’ in our very own ‘Gardeners Question Time’. Peter Payne, Wiggy Smith, myself and late substitute Owen Brunston (thanks Owen!) answered questions on slugs, weed killers, sweet peas and improving your compost (no one has yet taken me up on my offer!).  It was great fun, and the panel managed well – helped no doubt by the mulled wine, but we won’t be giving up our day jobs just yet.  We then had a ‘festive’ quiz, more mulled wine and nibbles.  A very nice way to finish off the year.


In January we enjoyed a quiet night in with Geoff Hamilton, watching a few episodes of his ‘Cottage Garden’ series from the ‘80s (well I think it was, judging from some of the fashion).  Lots of tips and inspiration from Geoff, who is still sadly missed for his easy manner and straight forward approach.  We will revisit him later in the year when we have some spare time. Peter Payne gave us some bird information of his sightings in the village.


Our next meeting is this Thursday 17th February (this year is going too fast already). We will be having a talk on Medieval Plants and Their Uses by members of the Syresham Gardening Club, followed by homemade marrow rum/wine tasting.  Caroline also has the SmartWater for collection so please remember your money.


Steve Wheeler (Media and Publicity Secretary)


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