The Club is an RHS Affiliated Society.

It meets on Thursday evenings every six weeks in Wrabness Village Hall.


NEXT MEETING and AGM: Thursday 23rd JANUARY 2020 

You can follow us on our Facebook page,  on the `We Love 
Wrabness` page, on the Wrabness Parish Council website, and in the 
Coast to Coast Magazine. 


New Members

New members are very welcome. You don't have to be an expert gardener, just have an interest in plants, wildlife and the environment. Annual fee £5, plus £2 for every speaker meeting. Non-members £3 per speaker meeting. Enquiries to the Secretary at  zoegroves@btinternet.com


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Recent Club Events:



Gardens, Past, Present and Future on 8th August a packed village hall enjoyed an Illustrated talk by Andrew Hellman of RHS Hyde Hall.

East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens

The coach trip by club members on July 18th 2019 to north Norfolk may not have had much mystery, but there was certainly a magical destination. This was East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens, a 32 acre site developed since the 1970s by Alan Gray and his partner Graham Robeson.. It is now of world renown and the reasons for this become abundantly clear as you explore the highways and byways of this vast estate. It was impossible to predict what would be round the next corner - a water feature, a dry garden, an imposing modern sculture, woodland, topiary, wild flower meadowland, an architectural folly, a formal garden, or a vegetable plot. The unique microclimate, created by planting tall hedges protecting from the East Coast winds, have made it possible for rare and unusual plants to flourish, ranging from desert cacti to prehistoric tree ferns. Each `room` of the garden has it`s own theme, some busy, some calming, some colourful, some architectural. There was certainly something for everybody, including welcoming tea rooms to escape the lunch-time shower.








 Arts and Crafts in the Garden

Ninety-two members enjoyed a positive and enthusiastic presentation of Sculpture and Pebblework in the Garden from garden designer Lucy Redman at our Meeting on 20th June. Lucy has been a keen gardener since childhood and has pursued her ambitions working with some big names in the gardening world, she was delighted when Beth Chatto visited her garden in 2008. All her dreams came true she told us. In addition to plants, introducing Art and Sculpture into the garden creates focal features and enables a personal creativity. A well received, informative presentation, which included some of Lucy’s work with soft furnishings and pincraft, and pottery.


`English Peonies

An excellent turn-out of 85 members and friends were entertained and informed on Thursday, May 9th by visiting speaker Sarah Hammond who gave an illustrated talk on English Peonies. Sarah is an artisan florist from North Norfolk who supplies peonies to florists and customers all over the UK.  Her passion for peonies began after she married and lived on a farm where peonies were grown by her mother-in-law. Later she took over their cultivation and explored their history.

The plants are native to Morocco and found in mountain areas of the Mediterranean and were first mentionned as medicinal plants in 200BC. They take their name from Peonia who was physician to the Gods. Today`s cultivars which were introduced from the 1800s in this country are grown for their flamboyant effects in the garden and for displays and bouquets.

Sarah went on to outline their cultivation and their likes and dislikes. In fact, they are both long-lived and versatile. They like sunny spots but cope with extremes of temperature. They come in a variety of shapes and colours, can be moved, grown in pots and pruned and if fed and treated reasonably well can live for over fifty years.

Members were appreciative of Sarah`s presentation and after questions and discussion were able to purchase some of the samples Sarah had brought with her.



Lovely Fresh Vegetables Seventy six members and friends  of the club watched and listened as Paul Harrison spoke and demonstrated how vegetables could be grown with little cost and even without a traditional garden.  Home grown and freshly picked produce are much tastier than those on dsiplay in the supermarkets and can be within anyone`s reach and capabilities. Paul showed how this could be achieved on a patio, driveway or any unused space. The answer is to grow them on straw bales covered with an inch of compost. In addition troughs, guttering, newspapers, toilet rolls,  and supermarket packaging can be used for sowing and bringing on seedlings. Instruction was  given on how to improvise your own compost and fertilisers more cheaply and often more effectively  than the stores and garden centres.  Accompanying slides illustrated the variety and quality of the end result.  There was much food for thought for everyone!



 Gardening in Winter At our Club meeting in January 2019 Brian Wickenden gave an illustrated talk on `Gardening in Winter`.

In Bloom

Andrew Babicz gave an illustrated talk about Britain in Bloom on Thursday, November 8th 2018. Andrew is a keen plantsman and worked as Chief Recreation Officer in Redbridge. He broadcasts for Phoenix FM in the Brentwood area and as well as writing for a number of publications is secretary and a judge for the London Gardens Society which aims to make a contribution to beautifying London by the planting of flowers and shrubs

Autumn Show

Good weather, good crowds, good food and plenty to see and admire were all present at the Gardening Club`s Autumn Show in Wrabness Village Hall on Sunday, October 7th.. There was something for everyone and many thanks to all those, both club members and villagers who helped to make the event such a success. Villagers had done themselves proud with eye-catching (and sometimes 
mouth-watering) displays of fruit, vegetables, flowers, art, craft, local photos and childrens handicrafts. There were well-deserved prize-
winners in a variety of categories.

Food and drink were in abundance and special thanks to those who had provided home-made cakes and those who served them! These were well-appreciated. Thanks also to those manning the many stalls displaying local crafts, plants, products and demonstrations.

Making Gardening Fun For Your Children

In September 2018 we welcomed for his first visit to the club, Lee Connelly, the Skinny Jean Gardener, and Blue Peter presenter and guest on many radio and social media outlets. Lee spoke on the theme of `Making Gardening Fun For Your Children`(and grandchildren!)

Malmaison Carnations

A good sized audience for a hot, sticky July evening were appreciative of speaker Sarah Cook as she gave an illustrated talk of her partner`s prize-winning, national collection of Malmaison Carnations. Sarah was deputizing for Jim Marshall who was unable to attend, but having heard Jim`s talk many times Sarah was well prepared, and it was easy to forget that it was not Jim`s enthusiasm and knowledge that was coming over as Sarah gave an illustrated talk on the history, popularity and cultivation of this rare and voluptuous flower.

   The Malmaison Carnation was named  after the Malmaison Rose which it resembled and was to be found in the rose collection of the French Empress Josephine. It became very popular in Edwardian times, when Edward 7th was dispelling the rather gloomy atmoshere of the late Queen Victoria. It became a status symbol for the upper classes and was found in the floral decorations of many stately houses and as a button-hole.

   It`s popularity was based on it`s size, blousiness, colour and unlike modern carnations it`s strong rose-like scent. However, as flowers became more commercial objects it fell out of favour, partly because it was prone to viruses, and modern varieties of carnation could be bred  more cheaply and quickly, though without the scent.

  Jim first became attracted to it when he was working as a flower advisor for the National Trust and had to suite floral arrangements to the period and architecture of the Trust`s houses. From old illustrations he discovered the past popularity of this flower and set out to research and re-introduce it. He came across five cultivars and has now added two more. At his home in Shelley, Suffolk (which is open to the public at certain times in June and July when the carnations flower) he now breeds and propagates these carnations and they are available for sale. To Jim a carnation without a scent cannot be a true carnation.

   Sarah put across Jim`s enthusiasm with the aid of many photos, including illustrating it`s use in Edwardian times, and more recently Jim`s triumphs in winning several RHS gold medals at Hampton Court including Best Heritage Plant. After the talk and refreshments members were able to purchase their own Malmaison plants, hopefully helping to spread the popularity of this rare and beautiful specimen.



Victorian Gardening

Bill Butcher has worked at a number of grand homes around the country renovating and restoring derelict and neglected gardens. This has sparked his passion for the Victorian gardening era. An audience of over sixty members and friends were amused, entertained and educated on June 14th at the Village Hall by Bill`s erudite jouney through the fads and fancies of Victorian gardening.


  We realised that what the Victorians had done for us was immense. They had journeyed to all corners of the globe to collect and introduce unheard of plants. They had used the latest technologies to construct huge glasshouses and invent new garden tools. They had introduced more colour into the garden in the form of perennials, and they had popularized these innovations with new gardening magazines and journals. In a word, they had introduced the garden as we know it today. 

  This initiated many talking points during refreshments after Bill`s illustrated talk when members also had the chance to chat to David Hatch, chairman of Dovercourt Fuschia Society who had brought along a wide variety of plants for sale and display.


Visit to Bobbits Hole

Around thirty club members discovered an oasis of peace and tranquility on Thursday evening, May 24th 2018, when they visited Bobbit`s Hole Nature Reserve, Dovercourt, right alongside the main road and adjoining the ASDA store!

   No-one knows the origin of the name, only that it appears on a map of 1550 when it was significant as the only source of fresh water for the area, being fed by a natural spring. As derelict land it was owned by ECC and leased to the Harwich Society in 1976 to prevent it`s development for housing or industry. In 1993 it was bought by the Society and designated as a Nature Reserve by TDC.

   Since then a volunteer team has cleared it, introduced features sympathetic to wildlife, and transformed it into not only a beautiful `natural site` but also a living educational resource for local schools and organisations.

   Our thanks to Colin Farnell, his wife and their team for their hospitality in showing us around the reserve, detailing it`s features and providing us with homemade cakes and drinks. Everyone remarked on the amount of effort that had gone into creating this project, the amazing results and how they had never appreciated that such a worthwhile natural resource and haven existed right under their very noses.

A Year around the Nursery

Over seventy members and friends of the club were informed and entertained at our April 2018 meeting by Susie Davis of Katie`s Garden Plant Centre, Newbourne, Suffolk.

Susie recounted how she had transitioned from a fulltime professional musician to running her own commercial nursery (though she still finds time to play the cello professionally). The clue is in the name of her centre. Being a new mother, with Katie her daughter as a toddler, gave Susie the time to explore her passion for the outdoors and growing plants.

The garden centre is now well-established but keeps it`s `amateur` status with non-professional workers who see work as a pleasure and delight in experimenting with what works and what doesn`t, as well as trying to buck the fashionable trends set by some of the more commercial enterprises.

Susie used the impressive display of plants she had brought with her as her `notes`,  referring to them to outline her methods of planting, nurturing and breeding her flowers and shrubs. Her centre tries to cater for all tastes, but focuses on plants that are home-grown, cover all the seasons, are reliable, pest-free, easy to germinate, are aesthetically pleasing, and a bit different to what you might find in many nurseries.

 If you want to find out more, take a trip to `Katie`s` or go online to Susie`s excellent website, which also has a link to the Ch4 series `Hidden Villages` where you can see Susie chatting to Penelope Keith about her plants.


Spring Planting

 Over seventy members and friends gathered at the Village Hall on March 22nd 2018 to hear an illustrated talk by Matthew Long of Riverside Bulbs, Monks Eleigh. Matthew was a mine of information and anecdotes on the varieties and habits of a huge range of bulbs, many of which we never knew existed. 

Bulb research and cultivation is now a major world industry thanks mainly to Dutch growers. It was interesting to note that bulbs are no longer produced for the average gardiner but for supermarket and nursery chains. The ideal height of a plant is 14" as this most efficiently enables it to be stacked on trolley shelves!
It was also fascinating to learn the different attitudes shown towards bulbs. In Holland they are often given as presents and then binned after flowering, whilst in this country we put all our care and attention onto struggling second and third year bulbs that basically just want to die!
Many bulbs are now `created` scientifically to flower best in their first year. If you want year on year action, and some bulking up, it`s usually best to go for the original species varieties, which also have the advantage of being the cheapest!


`The Poison Garden` at Alnwick Gardens, Northumberland. 

A large audience was richly entertained on February 15th by a witty and erudite illustrated talk by garden historian Caroline Holmes. Caroline had taken time off from her lecture cruises to pass on some of her impressive knowledge of Alnwick Castle, it`s owners, and specifically, the Poison Garden in it`s grounds.

This is now a big attraction to visitors and Caroline was responsible for choosing and describing the plants. An appreciative audience learned about the lethal properties of many of the plants, the origins of their names and amusing anecdotes regarding them.
For example, never use the word `don`t` with teenagers, as two boys who had been warned to steer clear of a nearby flowering hemlock couldn`t resist a hearty sniff thus rendering themselves unconscious. Apparently, Socrates, probably chose hemlock to end his days as the mind is the last part of the body to be effected by it`s poison.
If you know anyone who attended the meeting, beware, they now have an armoury of tips on how to organically dispose of someone whilst leaving few traces!


AGM and Gardeners Question Time

Image result for garden question time

Over 70 members attended the Club 2018 AGM on Thursday, January 18th. The Chairman, John Miller, reported on another very successful year with the club going through the 100 membership mark. A wide variety of meetings had been held in 2017 with excellent speakers and good turn-outs. Donations had also been made to some local organisations including the community shop and the station garden. A full programme of speakers and visits had been planned for 2018, including an Autumn Fair in October.

John stepped down as Chairman after four years in Office, and the meeting unanimously elected Karen Potter as the new Chair. The current Committee were re-elected. John was presented with a rose plant named `Jazz` in recognition of his work for the club.
After the AGM the club hosted a Gardeners Question Time with club members forming the panel, chaired by Nick Jarratt. This proved a very successful and entertaining venture with both panel and audience chipping in with ideas on composting, lawns, rhubarb, spring irises, pruning and early potatoes!

Click on the year menu tab at foot of this page to view earlier Gardening Club Events during 2015-16-17