Cirencester Gardening Club
Stratton & Baunton Horticultural Society est. 1877
Cirencester Gardening Club
Stratton & Baunton Horticultural Society est. 1877
Recent events
Talk by Mary Tidmarsh (October 2023)
We were very pleased to welcome Mary Tidmarsh for our October meeting, who has been a guide at Highgrove Gardens for 8 years. Highgrove is the private home of Their Majesties, King Charles and Queen Camilla. Mary came with a set of beautiful A4 sized photographs, and gave us a walk through different rooms in the garden as though we were on tour. The estate was purchased in 1980, with a neglected kitchen garden, an overgrown copse, some pastureland and a few hollow oaks and has since been the subject of many thoughtful and innovative changes by King Charles. To start, we were led through Shand Gate, a stone and oak gate with reclaimed Indian doors, named after the late brother of Queen Camilla. Being on acid soil, the garden is suitable for acid loving rhododendrons and azaleas, which are planted throughout with a succession of spring and autumn colour in the cottage garden.
The thyme walk features an avenue of clipped golden yew which were nearly taken out at the start, but subsequently clipped in to shapes on either side of a flagstone path. The path is not set in concrete but laid loose and King Charles was on his hands and knees planting the thyme. The sundial garden, planted with high yew hedges are clipped with windows which hold busts of King Charles at various stages of his life and were gifts from sculptors. To one side there is a four acre ever-changing wildflower meadow which comes alive with a myriad of insects at the height of summer giving a seed rich green hay. The walled kitchen garden is set with box hedges in triangles and squares, grown entirely organically, meeting the high standards of the Soil Association, with a mixture of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. The stumpery is based on the Victorian concept of growing ferns amongst tree stumps, the majority of which are sweet chestnut and oak. A Turkish carpet at Highgrove House inspired King Charles to design the carpet garden and it was exhibited at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2001, winning a Silver-Gilt medal.
It was lovely to walk through the garden and Mary's talk has inspired many of us to make a visit next year.
Talk by Johnny Bruce (September 2023)
Johnny Bruce presented his plans for a new organic nursery based on wildlife friendly and sustainable practises at our September meeting. Johnny spoke with passion about the need to cultivate our wonderful plant heritage and offer a diverse selection of plants. The UK trails behind other countries scoring in the bottom 10% of countries for biodiversity. He champions the need for local nurseries offering plants grown in the local soil conditions rather than the current offerings in commercial nurseries that are grown with the aid of chemicals and highly controlled conditions. Such plants are often bred to size specifications simply to make them easy to transport and to flower vigorously in their first year, leaving them exhausted. This formula can lead to disappointing results when planted in our own gardens.
Johnny talked of his experiences working in wonderful gardens such as Aberglasney, Great Dixter and Prospect Cottage (Derek Jarman's coastal garden) and also for an organic nursery in the Nederlands. These experiences have introduced him to some unusual plants such as Polygonatum Betburg, a kind of Solomon's Seal with dusky purple foliage which can cope in deep, dry shade. He showed us a wide range of hardy plants that provide colour and interest throughout the seasons and are draught tolerant e.g. variagated lunaria, ompholoides nitidia and delphinium elatum and delphinium trollifolium for spring and salvias, verbena Bampton, baptista, and amsonia for their summer flowering and autumn foliage and seed heads.
Johnny hopes to start planting and developing 'The Field', his site in Siddington in Spring 2024. We look forward to visiting, becoming involved in some of his community projects and attending the interesting courses he is planning to launch.
Visit to Trustrams in September 2023
On Thursday 6th September twenty members enjoyed a wonderful, flower-filled evening at Trustrams in Duntisbourne Leer. Trustrams is a large established garden with lawns, borders and a stream wending its way through the valley. The owners, Lisa and Richard Crabb, have recently converted the vegetable garden into the hub of Lisa's cut flower business. From here, Lisa has started a floristry company providing flower arrangements, flower subscriptions and seasonal workshops. She champions locally grown flowers and explained how she grows with minimal watering and using organic methods to encourage wildlife into the garden. Lisa led a tour around the garden, taking in the intriguing array of flowers and foliage packed into every nook, after which we were free to wander. The dahlias dazzled and were definitely the stars of the show. A delicious tea was served on the lawn and we were able to sit and soak up the atmosphere in the late summer warmth. A real treat!
For more details about Trustrams, visit
Talk by Lord Bathurst (May 2023)
Our meeting in May was about the Bathurst Estates and we were delighted and privileged to welcome Lord Bathurst and the Estate Manager, Mr Peter Clegg to do so. Lord Bathurst advised that this was not a history talk but what is happening at this time, the reasons behind the estate development, with plans to improve and restore, including Ivy Lodge and Alfred’s Hall buildings. The estate was purchased by Sir Benjamin Bathurst in 1695, for his eldest son Allen and subsequently laid out by Allen. It is believed that the horse chestnut trees framing the avenue from Cecily Hill were planted in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, and unfortunately these trees have been suffering from age, squirrels and disease so are being replaced. The newly planted trees are a small leaf lime which will give a slender, elegant profile in the years to come. The estate is home to a rare colony of Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly, a threatened species which like an area where dog violets grow and they are working with the Butterfly Conservation Group, to encourage them. Some other residents include one of the smallest birds, a firecrest and goshawks who luckily enjoy a tasty squirrel of which there are numerous and unfortunately do a lot of damage. Other nibblers are roe, fallow and muntjac deer. The estate has suffered with ash die back, with their removal, nearly 6000 new trees of different species have been planted. Bio-diversity is top on the agenda, with hedgerow plantings and seeing the benefits of butterfly orchids growing. Lord Bathurst is keen for visitors to discover new ways to enjoy the park, with the opening of the visitor centre at the old kennels, which includes a dog wash area and café. Ongoing events continue and recently a sculptured horses head at the top of the avenue, standing at 16 foot high and weighing half a ton, which they hope will be on display for several months. The talk was a very entertaining and very interesting to hear of the challenges faced with the estate management in this environmentally aware age, a lovely talk to finish our programme.
Meeting in March 2023
Our March meeting was our Spring Bulb Show for members. We have a range of 17 classes from pots of daffodils and crocus to vases of cut flowers, a Spring floral arrangement and a baking of Easter biscuits. Although a very difficult and cold start to the season, we were pleased to have entries in most of the classes. Prize money was awarded and 3 trophy cups – The Haag Cup to Mrs Carole Price for a bowl of crocus, The Taylor Cup to Mrs Pam Barnes for 5 large Flowered daffodils and the Wells Cup to Mrs Joanna Howe for a Spring Arrangement. Whilst judging took place, members were challenged with a table top quiz and general notices of club events.