East Meon Garden Club -
Chairman’s Report 2018
East Meon Garden Club has had another very successful year, bringing together not only people from this village but others from West Meon and the wider community of the Meon Valley. At the beginning of the year we fostered a reciprocal arrangement whereby members of the East Meon and West Meon Garden Clubs had automatic free membership to each other’s Club and we would be happy to consider the same arrangement with other Garden Clubs in the future.
I’m also pleased to announce that the membership, having fallen slightly over the years, now shows signs of increasing again as we try new means of communication to reach those we have hitherto missed. All are welcome - in fact we need the numbers to be able to control costs and provide interesting speakers, so please encourage anyone you know who might have an interest in anything horticultural (or even agricultural) to come along!
Part of that policy to increase communications was given a huge lift this year by the kind help of Kevin Davies and his company Mandarin Kite up at the Old Forge, producing a top class fit-for-purpose website. If you haven’t already done so, please visit www.eastmeongardenclub.com.
Having said that we occasionally have to pay for ‘outsourced’ speakers, there is always a special welcome for our local volunteers. Anyone who came to our December meeting last year will not have forgotten Amanda Wyatt’s edict that the best way to learn flower arranging is “just get on with it!”. Along with a little festive ‘fizz’, it was a great evening. That was also true of Chris Brooker’s passionate talk about the ‘Secret of Trees’, the questions for which might have gone on all night had we not got homes to go to!
Kelvin Mason then returned in March to talk to us about vegetables, the moral of which seemed to be dig, dig and then dig again! Professor Peter Gregory wrapped up our spring season of lectures in April by giving us the ‘lowdown’ on ‘Behind the Scenes at The Chelsea Flower Show’ and how to display a tree with all its roots but no soil!
Our summer season of garden visits so ably researched and organised by Stewart and Betty Bussell kicked off with a successful visit to Chawton House Garden and Library. These visits are a wonderful way to find inspiration, talk ‘tips’ and meet friends. They invariably finish with a cup of tea and cake or as with our final visit of the year, a hearty meal in a pub where we can all reinforce friendships or make new ones.
Considering the heatwave drawing everyone to the beach and England playing in the World Cup, our annual Gardens Open Day in June proved to be surprisingly resilient and another great success especially as the day finished with a ‘Sung Evensong’ by the Winchester Cathedral Chamber Choir in our beautiful church. We plan to do the same again next year - and a special thank you to all those people of East Meon who worked so hard to make it such a success. We were also able to donate £900 to the Rosemary Foundation from the proceeds.
The July visit to West Dean Gardens also saw great weather and a record turnout for a garden visit. The mature parkland and trees are unique and the walled garden is just amazing. Well worth another visit!
The Annual Show is a focal point in the village calendar and although most enjoyable, does pose the most work for the Committee. The standard of produce is always high (we have that on authority from our external judges) but we need more entrants to create an even greater buzz and competition for the prizes. As a relatively new Committee (some of us anyway), we learnt a lot of lessons this year which we will be taking forward to next year. Many thanks go to all those who helped the event and Mary Hales and her team of helpers and cake makers for the afternoon’s refreshments.
Unfortunately the advertised visit to Sandhill Farm House had to be cancelled, with Stewart and Betty miraculously finding us another interesting garden at short notice quite close by, the main feature of which were two 100’ (30m) Black Pine trees in the middle of the plot! As mentioned earlier and on Facebook, the discussion about grapes, hops and barley in the Three Horseshoes sealed a great evening.
The Committee made the decision earlier this year that it would no longer buy horticultural supplies and resell them to members but instead negotiate major and meaningful discounts for its gardeners. This we have done with King’s Seeds, the offer having been taken up by several members, but we need more uptake this autumn/next year to maintain our discount status. It would be good to persuade more allotment holders to become members and save their membership fee (and more) through our discounts.
Finally I would like to thank your Committee for their unswerving support and hard work - and one should never forget that they do it voluntarily - without which the Club would not run. We will be losing our Treasurer, Gaye Bartlett this year because of greater commitments in her ‘day job’ so a special thank you to her for all the effort and guidance she has provided over the years.
We look forward to welcoming you to the AGM on 1st October which will then be followed by a talk (and tasting) of Heritage Apples - and Alastair has promised to serve some cider too!
David Lewin, Chairman EMGC, September 2018