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  • Simon Edgington

my greenhouse year

The Titchfield Gardeners' Club members were treated to a captivating talk by Gillian Taylor in September, not just about greenhouses but everything that goes on around them. She is a passionate gardener, owning 2 gardens, one in France and the other in Hampshire and has gained a vast horticultural knowledge since retiring as a vet. She is a member of Historic Rose Group, Perennial, Auricula Society, Hampshire Gardens Trust, Plant Heritage and many local garden clubs and horticultural societies.

Starting with the basics she showed us the various gardening tools she uses from a shrub rake, Chinese hoe, sheep shears, secateurs, and a moisture meter. The latter she emphasised was invaluable to avoid overwatering particularly when growing young cuttings.

Gillian was lucky enough to design and have built by Woodpecker Joinery, her own cedarwood green house. It has a frost-free section with electric heating, and automatic roof vents which are highly recommended to keep the greenhouse a constant temperature and maintain a good air flow. Contrary to the general principles she sited her greenhouse in the northeast corner of the garden which avoided full mid-day sun and lots of unpleasant looking shading. Food for thought! She liked buying her seeds from Kings (good catalogue) Parkers, Halls and Chilton Seeds. We were then shown various forms of propagators and were recommended those with built in vents to avoid damping off. Good air circulation is essential. Another propagating tip for deeper rooted plants such as broad beans, was to use plastic reusable root trainers for minimum root disturbance when transplanting. She also favoured using square plastic pots as they were more stable and space saving.

Her passion for Dahlia, Salvia and Nerine was evident in the colourful slides we saw. To keep Dahlia tubers over winter she recommended lifting into trays of dry soil (no watering) and replanting out in March. Salvia were best trimmed in the Autumn and cut down in the Spring once new shoots were evident. Her Nerines were mainly of the tender variety that flower first and then produce leaves. A visit to Exbury Gardens is a must to see the National Nerine collection in their greenhouses.

We were then treated to a pictorial journey around various gardens and greenhouses both large and small and a discussion on the types of plants grown. Some of the locations are open to the public as follows.

A visit to Hardy’s Priory Lane Nursery at Whitchurch, Hampshire was recommended (make sure you go on a behind the scenes tour).

By being a member of the Hampshire Garden Trust, of which Alan Titchmarsh is President, you have access to organised garden trips.

A short journey to Gilbert Nursery at Romsey was also highlighted if you like dahlias and tea and cake. A propagating tip was to always leave a bit of the dahlia stem showing above the soil from which new shoots can form.

A visit to Thenford near Banbury, which is Lord Heseltine’s Garden and greenhouses, is well worth a visit. Created over the last 40 years in over 70 acres, there are limited open days throughout the year.

Applehampton, Hinton Ampner, Bramdean, and West Dean were also mentioned in despatches.

A whistle stop presentation that begs for more, I am sure Gillian will be back to entertain us again.

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