PUBLISHED: 12:01 06 January 2015
The start of a new gardening year is a good time to join a local horticultural society or club in preparation for the warmer months ahead. Philippa Pearson selects some groups from around the county which can help guide your green fingers
The Essex Group of the Hardy Plant Society
The Essex Group of the Hardy Plant Society meet at Wickham Bishops Village Hall from September to April for talks and events. Speakers come from across the country to delight the group with interesting talks about different hardy plants, all followed by tea, homemade cakes and a plant stall where members bring plants in to swap with others, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up something unusual or different for your garden, that has been tried and tested by other members. Members have gardening skills of all levels, so even if you are new to gardening, you won’t be on your own, and if you are an accomplished gardener, you’ll find something new and interesting. During the summer months, monthly meetings transform into outings and the chance to look at gardens and nurseries in the county or further afield plus there’s a seedling swap and grand plant sale.
Visit www.hardy-plant.org.uk/essex for details
Plant Heritage Essex Group
Plant Heritage Essex Group meet regularly at various venues across the county with a thriving programme of talks and garden visits throughout the year, plus two fabulous spring and autumn plant fairs at RHS Hyde Hall attended by lots of specialist plant nurseries. Previously known as the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG), Plant Heritage is a horticulturist’s knight in shining armour, helping preserve and conserve our cultivated plants. The National Plant Collection scheme is a ‘living plant library’ with hundreds of different plant collections in Britain and abroad, each one dedicated to a specific genus and each one very different. The Essex group’s range of activities and plant sales are a positive way for rare and unknown plants to find their way back into gardens again. Plant collections held in Essex include Bergenia, Epimedium, Rosa Pemberton, Corydalis spp, Galanthus, Malus, Viburnum and Vitis vinifera.
Visit www.essexplantheritage.co.uk for more information
The Essex Alpine Gardening Society Group
The Essex Alpine Gardening Society Group meets monthly at New Village Hall, Church Road, Rawreth, Wickford for a series of talks from specialist nurserymen, plant hunters and travellers from the AGS’s list of experts. You’ll also enjoy plenty of opportunity to talk about plants and gardening with alpines with members as well as get lots of help and advice. Members propagate plants to sell at the monthly meetings, which also include a raffle, competition and refreshments. The group put on a competitive and popular show each year in spring when members bring in cherished and nurtured plants for the show bench which get judged for their quality and uniqueness. Epping Forest Alpine Gardening Society Group is another choice for alpines lovers which meets monthly during September to April at Theydon Bois Village Hall, with garden visits and workshops in the summer months. Small but with big impact, alpine plants have their horticultural roots in alpine regions, arid wastes, icy tundra and seashore cliffs, but wherever their provenance, these fascinating plants adapt easily in our own gardens.
For details about these groups, visit www.alpinegardensociety.net/groups/Essex or www.alpinegardensociety.net/groups/Epping-Forest
The Orchid Society
The Orchid Society Essex Group meets regularly in Billericay and provides a great place to go for advice, talks, demonstrations and the chance to mix with like-minded orchid lovers. The varied event programme covers a wide range of topics and there’s an annual Spring Show with lots of orchids on display and a plant auction. The Essex group welcome beginners and orchid lovers of all levels and you’ll find abundant advice on how to look after your orchids, cultivation tips and where to buy plants to increase your collection. Plants are also for sale at meetings and visitors are welcome.
For details, visit www.orchid-talk.co.uk/societies/osgb.html
Waltham Forest Bonsai Club promotes the art of bonsai where people of all skill levels can meet and share expertise. Bonsai is a literal translation from the Japanese word for ‘planted in a container’ and originated in China centuries ago. The club’s programme at St Gabriel’s Church and Family Centre, Havant Road, Walthamstow includes workshops, speakers and social evenings where members are encouraged to bring along their bonsai for advice and help. This friendly and informal club welcomes new members and has a comprehensive library of bonsai books, periodicals and videos. There are usually several outings during the year to gardens, bonsai nurseries and garden centres too.
Visit www.wfbonsaiclub.org.uk for further details