Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Quiz and Festive Flowers

James compiled a quiz which required us to identify a range of nuts and seeds in teams of three.

Not only was it great fun, but we learnt fascinating information too.  For example, the Queen of Sheba decreed pistachios an exclusively royal food.  Also, the Brazil nut is named after its country of origin and resembles a coconut.  These hard balls contain eight to twelve nuts in one shell

Festive Flower Arrangements

 Brenda's arrangement

 Mum and daughter working together
 Linda's arrangement

 Jenny's arrangement

 .... and the almost finished product

 Ann in her antlers preparing hers

 Susan G's lovely piece

 Peter's 2-tier version

Next Meeting: 2nd January Garden Resolutions for 2015 and Winter colour in the garden.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Wildife and Winners

Talk on Yorkshire Wildlife

John Hobson, who has previously spoken about Curious Yorkshire, presented an equally fascinating talk on Yorkshire wildlife illustrated with slides taken by himself.  John showed us how different vegetation in various areas attracts different species of animals, reptiles, plants, fungi, and birds.  We learnt how the land changes over time affecting the wildlife, for example how heather has been replaced by bracken from animals grazing.  The various wild orchids growing in our region were especially interesting, as well as plants from as far back as the ice age.

Display Table
It’s hard to believe what is still in flower in our gardens in the first week of December.
Brian’s gold chrysanthemums

Brian's white balou chrysanthemums won first prize at the recent Paxton show.

 Jill’s rose Graham Thomas still flowering outside her window.

Ann’s seasonal basket with stalk of a cone from the Abies pine decimated by the blue tits.  There is also whole cone, as featured on the display table in September and had been kept inside.  Minutes after this photo was taken, Ann inadvertently dropped the whole cone on the floor and this too was reduced to a stalk!

 Ann’s jug: campanula (out every month of the year) Rosa Warm Welcome, Polygonium Pink Buttons, Tiarella Creeping Dragon, Astrantia major and Hesperantha Mrs Hegarty

Gill showed us the Christmas garlands she has made for her family so members can produce a display during the next meeting.  One ring was produced from old stems from clematis and similar, others were fashioned from a wire frame and sphagnum moss or a preformed plastic ring with florist foam.

Judith brought examples of arrangements featuring glass containers, floating candles, plant pots and candlesticks with stems made from inverted wineglasses. 

I’m sure we have lots of ideas to work on for our own displays.
Awards from Leeds in Bloom for Friday Forum members
We are proud to report that three of our members received awards for their gardens this year.
Carol Abbot has competed successfully since 1999, raising her standard from highly commended to silver and then gold as well as best in area for the past two years.  Carol, who is assisted by husband Michael with the hard landscaping and lawns, opened her Cookridge garden for the National Garden Scheme this summer and many Friday Forum members visited it.


Kate van Heel entered her garden for the first time this year and was awarded gold.  She also opened her garden for the NGS.

Last but not least, James Fonqurney, who has entered four times, was awarded gold
James, who says he was inspired by the late Geoff Hamilton, recycled materials from skips and used his engineering skills to build six arbours, swapped plants for Yorkshire stone and even has a laundry museum in his garden.


Next Meeting
19th December – for our final meeting of 2014, James has devised his legendary Christmas Quiz and we have the opportunity to make winter arrangements.  Mince pies will be provided and we hope you will embrace the party spirit by wearing festive dress!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Behind the scenes at Chelsea

Talk: Behind the scenes at Chelsea by Pat Inman 
Dynamic Pat is Secretary of the Hardy Plant Society and has been involved with horticulture for 30 years, leading teams to winning medals at Chelsea.
Their first stand, True Yorkshire Grit – hardy plants for tough places, consisted of strong vertical and horizontal lines symbolising the skyline of contemporary Leeds. A wide variety of plants were displayed to demonstrate some of the challenging situations that hardy plants are capable of thriving in such as Hot, Dry and Stony, Dry and Shady and Wet and Boggy.

We learned how, after 18 months of sourcing funds, submitting the brief and design, they had to loan a huge polytunnel for all the plants (some loaned from gardens of members), cope with the harsh winter of 2009 and transport a load of plants down to Norfolk to get them into flower in time for the show. Form filling was demanding, a rota system had to be devised for passes into the grounds and   every item they would be needing including compost had to be brought with them.  The team overcame problems such as having to work through the night and the heat and humidity causing the verbascum to lose its colour.
Once there, the team had to adhere to all the regulations of the showground from the precise dimensions of the stand, hi viz clothing not to mention having to dissemble the whole display and leave it as they began.  Plants were sold off in the final frenzy but those on loan had to be returned to their owners.
It was a wonderful experience which paid off as the stand was awarded a silver medal.
The team entered again in 2013 when they could draw on past experience and brought along loads of plants to sell off on the final day which made a significant contribution to the expenses.  

Hardy Plants attained Silver Gilt for the Bridge of Time  

Thank you Pat for a wonderful insight into what goes on behind the scenes at Chelsea.

Display Table

 Brian’s chrysanthemum balou

 Cineraria to brighten up the garden

Gill brought examples of plants still flowering in her garden in mid-November including
Primrose, redhornet crab apple, fatsia,  saxifraga fortune, Osteospermum, corydalis, hesperentha and viburnum
 Ann’s Fascicularia Bicolor, a Bromeliad from Chile which has pale blue flowers, attracted a lot of interest from members.
Notice Board
Norma brought her ceramic poppy from the display at the Tower of London.
Carl requested the green tops from plastic milk containers of semi-skimmed milk for charity.
The cleaning blitz of Paxton Hall was effective and the Bring and Buy sale was a financial success which will be repeated next year.
Subscriptions for 2015 has been increased by £1 and can be paid from now.
Friends of Paxton meet regularly on the first Monday of the month from Midday.  An hour or two or your time to help maintain the premises are always welcome.  If another date is more suitable for you, please let us know.  
Dates for your Diary
Next Meeting:  5th December – Yorkshire Wildlife
Christmas Party:  19th December.  This year we will again be taking part in James' Xmas Quiz and we will be making festive displays.