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Hethersett and District Horticultural Society is one of Norfolk’s longer established Horticultural Societies whose origins can definitely be traced back to 1922. There is also anecdotal evidence of a Local Gardening Society emerging shortly after the Great War.

Most of our Members are keen flower, fruit and vegetable gardeners. 

Our monthly meeting is held at the Hethersett Methodist Church Hall which is to be found in the Great Melton Road, with parking behind.

The meeting is usually held on the third Wednesday of the month, at 7.30pm. 

We always try to arrange at least one annual coach outing to a garden or show. 

At the end of summer at Harvest time we hold our annual Members’ show; where good spirited competitions for best produce holds sway.

Each year there is a Summer Party cum meal in a Member’s Garden and an Annual End of Year Dinner; plus the excitement of a raffle each meeting. 

We will always welcome new Members; do come and join; or telephone Chairman Chris Morriss on 01603-810060. Committee Secretary Leslie Dale can be contacted on 01603 813426.

Programme for 2014/2015 click here.

Annual Show 2013

click on photos to enlarge

There were over 300 entries for Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s annual show with the judges praising the quality. 

The welcome increase on the previous year was helped by good growing conditions throughout the summer. The main judges, Robin Parker and Cathryn Waldron, said that the “exhibits were of a good standard and the show well presented.” Fellow judge Ron Farebrother also praised the standards of the “single bloom” photographic competition. 

The Best in Show award along with the Best Exhibit in the Vegetable Section prize was for a plate of tomatoes exhibited by Pauline Harper. Pauline Bunn won most points overall in the main sections and Benjamin Sidell won a Young Person’s Plaque for making the best face mask.   

Trophies were presented by club president Shirley Keeley: Best in Show, Presidents Cup and Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society Medal, Pauline Harper; Most Points in Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Sections, Emily Knights Memorial Trophy and the RHS Banksian Medal, Pauline Bunn; Runner Up in Vegetable, Fruit and Flower Sections and winner of The Peter Bond Trophy, Pauline Harper. 

Chairman’s Trophy for Best Exhibit in Vegetable Section, Pauline Harper; Charles Tudor Challenge Cup for Most Points in Vegetable Section, Pauline Bunn. Deacon Senior Cup for Best Exhibit in Fruit Section, Pauline Harper; Deacon Junior Cup for Most Points in Fruit Section Classes, Pauline Harper; Burton Fanning Silver Challenge Cup for Best Exhibit in Flower Section, Pauline Bunn; Silver Challenge Cup for Most Points in Flower Section, Pauline Bunn; Benjamin Trophy for Best Exhibit in Arrangement Section, Jean Ramsbottom. 

Peggy Crowe Memorial Plate for Best in Photography Section, John Freeman; John Howard Memorial Cup for Best Exhibit in Domestic Section, Pauline Harper; Abra Trophy for Most Points in the Arrangement and Domestic Sections, Pauline Harper; Ethel Hayward memorial Cup for Bowl of Roses, Carol Towells;


Annual Show 2011

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society held its annual show in Hethersett Village Hall on Saturday, 10th September with an increased number of entries.

Vegetables and fruit of all shapes and sizes mingled with top class floral arrangements, scones, cakes and photographic classes, proving the society's diversity.

Ted Hallett was organising the event for the first time and expressed himself well pleased with the outcome and standard of produce, much of which was auctioned off at the end of the show.

"I am very pleased that the overall number of entries is up and the quality has been good. It has been a tremendous effort from all the people that have helped to make the show a success," he said.

It was a good day for the two Paulines - Harper and Bunn - who between them took many of the top prizes. Pauline Harper won the President's Cup for Best in Show for her display of grapes.

Classes were included for both society members and non members and for all ages with Juliette Appleby gaining most points in the class for eight to 11 year olds and Callum Doonan gaining most points in the class for 12 to 14 year olds.

Main trophy winners were: President's Cup for Best in Show, Pauline Harper; Emily Knights Memorial Trophy for most points in vegetable, fruit and flowers, Pauline Bunn; RHS Banksian Medal for most points in vegetable, fruit and flowers excluding winner in two previous years, Carol Towells; Peter Bond Trophy for runner-up in vegetable, fruit and flowers, Pauline Harper.

Chairman's Trophy for Best Exhibit in vegetable classes, Pauline Bunn; Charles Tudor Challenge Cup for most points in vegetable classes, Pauline Bunn; Deacon Senior Cup for Best Exhibit in Fruit Section, Pauline Harper; Deacon Junior Cup for most points in Fruit Section, Pauline Harper; Burton Fanning Silver Challenge Cup for Best Exhibit in Flowers Section, Pauline Bunn; Silver Challenge Cup for most points in flower section, Pauline Bunn; Benjamin Trophy for Best Floral Arrangement, Judy Freeman.

Peggy Crowe Memorial Plate for Best Photograph, Carol Towells; John Howard Memorial Cup for Best exhibit in Domestic Classes, Pauline Bunn; Abra Trophy for most points in arrangements, photographs and domestic classes, Pauline Harper; Ethel Haywood Memorial Cup for bowl of roses, Carol Towells; Plaque for most points in classes for 8 to 11 year olds, Juliette Appleby; Plaque for most points in classes for 12 to 14 year olds, Callum Doonan.

Horticultural Society Member Leslie Dale also sent us this report of the annual show.

The Annual Show of the Hethersett & District Horticultural Society was another well attended event and judged a success. The Flower Section Judge was heard to say in his opinion the standard was higher in 2011 than 2010.

Some 19 trophies were awarded.

"Paid for" Class Entries totalled 295 against 290 for 2011. This did not include the Salvias which were sold from the wholesalers tray at 30p a time in January and purchasers told to bring along their matured Salvia, to add colour to the Village Hall stage. Margaret Ford Vice Chairman was the winner of this category.

"Best in Show" over all the entry Classes was Pauline Harper, gaining the "Presidents" Cup along with the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society Medal.

Pauline Bunn accumulate most points in the Vegetable, Fruit and Flowers Section and was awarded the "Emily Knights Memorial" trophy.

Carol Towells was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Banksian Medal for most points Vegetable, Fruit and Flowers Section; [this is always awarded to people who have NOT won in the previous 2 years.]

We meet at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road.

All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included.

Leslie Dale, Committee Secretary.

Please ask for any of the above photos c.1mb



Annual Show 2008

Click on the images to open a larger picture

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society reported a bumper crop for its annual show in Hethersett Village Hall. 

Entries in the various classes were up by 40 on the previous year and there was plenty of opportunity for younger members to join in with classes including the best monster made from fruit or vegetables and decorated wellies. 

It was a special day for 11-year-old Callum Doonan who is in his first year at Hethersett High School. He took the prize for the best monster made from vegetables and also the heaviest marrow with a six pounder that the previous week had come second in a show at Little Melton. Not to be outdone the remainder of the Doonan family also met with success with mum Fiona, dad John and sister Rebecca all winning classes of their own. 

Local resident Carol Towells surprised herself by wining the best bowl of roses section and also the best exhibit in the photography section. Carol also exhibited vegetables for the first time since renovating an allotment in Little Melton. 

The President’s Cup and Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Medal for best entry in show went to Mina Lofty. 

Prizewinners were: President’s Cup and Norfolk Horticultural Society Medal for best in show, Mina Lofty; Emily Knights Memorial Trophy for Vegetable, fruit and flowers, Pauline Harper; Banksian Medal for vegetable, fruit and flowers, Margaret Sidell; Peter Bond Trophy for vegetable, fruit and flower section runner-up, Margaret Sidell; Chairman’s Trophy for best exhibit in vegetable section, Mina Lofty; Charles Tudor Challenge Cup for most points in the vegetable section, Pauline Harper; Deacon Senior Cup for best exhibit in the fruit section, Pauline Harper; Deacon Junior Cup for most points in the fruit section, Pauline Harper; Burton Fanning Silver Challenge Cup for best exhibit in the flower section, Sheila Read; Silver Challenge Cup for most points in the flower section, Margaret Sidell; Benjamin Trophy for best arrangement, Margaret Ford; Peggy Crowe Memorial Plate for best exhibit in the photography section, Carol Towells; John Howard Memorial Cup for best exhibit in the domestic section, Pauline Harper; Abra Trophy for most points in the arrangement, photographic and domestic sections, Margaret Sidell; Ethel Haywood Memorial Cup for bowl of roses, Carol Towells. 

Most points in decorate a wellie and draw a picture of a garden for seven years and under section, Christopher Sidell; most points in making a monster from fruit or vegetables, Callum Doonan. 

Non members classes: Tray of garden produce, Fiona Doonan; heaviest marrow, Callum Doonan; best scarecrow, Anne Edwards; nine small tomatoes, Fiona Doonan; Photograph “morning glory”, John Doonan; photograph “a garden visit”, Rebecca Doonan; jam filled Victoria sandwich, Fiona Doonan; 


Annual Show 2007

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s annual show is looking to extend local people’s interests in gardening by including a number of fun categories in its annual show which will be held in Hethersett Village Hall at 2 p.m on Saturday, 8th September.


This year’s classes will include “scarecrows and “decorated wellies” Prizes will be presented by chairman of South Norfolk District Council Joe Mooney at 3.45 p.m


“Part of our Society’s purpose is to extend an interest in gardening matters to all ages and walks of life in and around Hethersett. One way of starting this process is to invite outsiders to participate in our produce annual show,” said society committee secretary Leslie Dale.


Non-Members can enrol entries on Thursday 6th September at the Methodist Hall at 7pm. Classes also include tomatoes, apples, specimen roses, photos, sponge cake and six classes for youngsters. Full details are available by telephoning Marilyn Savory on 01603-811271.


Hethersett and District Horticultural Society dates back to the early 1920s and is one of the oldest in the county. There is anecdotal evidence of it being founded soon after the First World War. It meets on the third Wednesday of each month apart from December when it takes place on the second Wednesday. Meetings are held in the Methodist Church Hall in Great Melton Road at 7.30pm and there is always a speaker who is an expert in some aspect of horticulture or conservation.


February 2015

Hethersett Horticultural Society’s February meeting was something of a disaster averted, when personal problems prevented the booked talk entitled “The History of the Flower Shop”, promptly followed by a hastily arranged talk about the history of Sheringham Park, also falling. 

Hero of the hour was none other than Dr Anne Edwards, now B.E.M., Chairman of Hethersett’s Environmental Action Team and Parish Councillor, whose recent “Green Tours” had taken her to the delights of Chapelfield Gardens and New York’s Central Park. 

Those green leaves lead to intriguing and historic tales, not only of various indigenous trees but also of travellers of old, moving animals and birds and shrubs between continents. Some moves like that of the grey squirrel and knotweed are of deep regret, but how heartening to know that the humble English Sparrow thrives in America. 

We meet on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included. 

Our next meeting is on Wednesday March 18th Bob Coutts will be holding a “Gardening Clinic” after the Society’s AGM on 18th February and on Wednesday 15th April Claire Horne will talk of Garden Bugs and Beasties.

November 2014

At our November meeting Kathy Gray gave an illustrated and absorbing talk about the historic achievements of the “Plant Hunters”. 

Apart from anecdotal tales of the Romans and also an Egyptian Queen at c.1495BC the main explorations of the world by British Plant Hunters commenced in the 1400’s in Europe. Sadly many of them died ahead of their 3 score and ten years; and yet even today people risk their lives in hard to reach parts of the world to continue that hunt. 

We learned how Joseph Banks set sail with Captain Cook in the Endeavour on a circumnavigation of the world; an event leading to the formation of the Kew Gardens we know today. He is the Banks of the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual “Banksian Medal”. 

Francis Masson, Douglas Alexander [of the Douglas Fir] and Ernest Wilson all followed Banks’ example in distinctly different parts of the world. Without these four brave people the seed companies catalogues and gardens throughout the world, would be much more drab and boring places. 

We meet on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included. 

Our next meeting is on 10th December Members will produce their own Contributions ahead of the usual Christmas celebration. On January 14th Barry Gayton will be visiting to talk about “Sink Gardens and Plants”


February 2014

At our February Meeting, Stephen Pope described a “Victorian Farming Year”. 

Stephen, now retired from working at Gresenhall Museum said that he now spent even longer in there each day. His introductory slide was of a painting showing a farm vehicle next the Yare at Trowse Meadow; no it wasn’t a “Constable”, but a”Vincent” of the renowned Norwich School of Art. 

Stephen first set the pre-enclosure farming scene in the Tudor era before moving swiftly to the Victorian age and then passing via steam powered ploughing to post the World War 1 and the advent of tractors. 

Whilst many people may well have seen the television re-enactments of historic farming methods, Stephen’s talk really did get down to the detail regarding the people, the animals, the implements, the evolving machinery, the use of oxen and horse power, the crop rotation of “Turnip Townsend”. Then there was the virtuous circle of land improvement through providing winter root crops to feed farmyard animals, saving them from the annual winter slaughter, the manure for putting back and ploughing into the fields, the resulting increased crop yields meaning possible further intensification in subsequent years. 

For our audience what may have struck home was the photograph of backward walking lady dibbers planting four seeds in every hole in a field somewhere in Hethersett; perhaps even taken in what is now your scribe’s back garden! 

We meet on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included. 

Our next meeting is on 19th March, when after the AGM, a slideshow will include Members photos from last Autumn’s Harrogate Flower Show and those of gardens seen in a recent tour of Australia and New Zealand. 

On 16th April Hilary Reid will speak of “Wildlife in my Garden”.

January 2014

At the January Meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society, Robin MacDonald talked about various “Botanic or Botanical Gardens” she had visited. 

Robin started by discriminating between “Botanic Gardens” which were as old as 400 years containing flowers and shrubs brought back by explorers of the Elizabethan Age; and “Botanical Gardens” which are comparatively modern affairs with a less rigorously defined content. 

Members saw photographs of some amazing indigenous plants whose properties ran contrary to established experience, especially lupins and delphiniums with no dead flowers low down, and 4 foot high rainbow coloured primulas. 

Robin examined the Edinburgh Botanic Garden and that at St Andrews in some considerable detail. She amazed members with the identity swap which the original “plantain” and “banana” seemed to have undergone. 

Edinburgh’s Palm House and associated Arid section were full of interesting specimens of Lilies and Cacti. St Andrew’s Garden, was created in memory of Charles Darwin. 

Throughout Robin’s talk her passion for Orchids came through and members were reminded of Norfolk’s role in husbanding the “Bee Orchid”. 

The society meets monthly in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1, refreshments are included. 

The next talk is on 19th February when Stephen Pope will describe a “Victorian Farming Year” On 19th March, after the AGM, there will be a members’ slideshow which will include the 100 images from last Autumn’s Harrogate Flower Show.


November 2013 

At our November meeting, Len Speller recounted his knowledge of “Gardens to wot I ‘ave bin!” accompanied with a series of splendid photographs.  Far from being just a description of gardens visited Len also showed his knowledge of their developmental history. 

He commenced with Bressingham Gardens, surprising us with just how much money the 200 acres of land cost the late Alan Bloom in the aftermath of WW2.  We learned of the arrival on the scene of the Dell Garden and Foggy Bottom and how the name “Foggy“ is related to son Adrian Bloom’s years in the USA. The “bridge” in the Dell Garden was originally built by Alan for cattle to cross from one field to another! 

Moving on to Jacobean styled Blickling Hall with Capability Brown’s lake, we learned that the gardens were the work of the late Norah Lindsay; perhaps most remembered for the several topiary bushes. 

National Trust’s Anglesey Abbey is a further Jacobean styled building; with working water mill nearby.  This garden seems to be a winter and spring time garden with its famed snowdrops, witch hazel and more. 

The late Geoff Hamilton’s Barnsdale Garden contains over 30 themed gardens, each developed for one of his television programmes.  

Westonbirt was the last garden which we visited “on camera”.  Created around 1850 by Robert Holdford in some 600 acres.  Today it includes the national collections of Acer and Salix.  Sir George Holford (1860-1926) held a huge orchid collection at Westonbirt.  The Forestry Commission now owns Westonbirt.  It has created open areas by stripping back some trees and interplanting with acers; these give a red hue to an otherwise green year round “Rotary Glade”. 

We meet at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett.  All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00 and refreshments are included.  Our next talk is on Wednesday 11th December when Ian Roofe, one the local BBC Radio Gardeners will be identifying “The Jewels of the Winter Garden”.  Then on Wednesday 15 January 2014 Robin MacDonald will give an illustrated talk on “Botanical Gardens”.


August 2013

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society had a talk by Dr Ian Bedford of the John Innes Centre entitled “Garden Bugs-CoHabit-Control-Conserve” 

Entomology, or the study of creepy-crawlies, is a very specialist subject. Dr Bedford only knew of one University offering degree courses. Clearly under his guidance the JI facility has built up a considerable worldwide reputation in the study and amelioration of problems with insects invading the human food chain. 

Whether attacking root systems, plant bodies, flowers or fruit there seems to be an insect capable of wreaking damage. We heard of the “sap suckers”--mainly aphid-like flies, the “leaf munchers”--caterpillars, beetles and flies, the “parasites”--nematodes, the “root eaters”--eg cockchafer grubs and root-fly larvae. 

Moving on to “beneficial insects”, spiders and wasps, these suck the life from many insects which prey on our food chain. Parasitic flies lay eggs within caterpillars, killing before pupation and saving eg our cabbage family plants from total desecration. 

Sometimes one genus of insect protects another, ants farm aphid colonies to gain the honeydew excreted. 

Humans have a choice, to ignore, to control or to destroy. Caterpillar eggs on cabbages could be squashed, but it would be better to net the cabbages first to exclude the butterflies. 

Chemical sprays have been quite devastating collaterally to other insect species and it is noted that the neonicotinoids have a long “afterlife” following use as seed coating. The need to protect bee species has resulted in their being banned from November this year. 

Good protection can be obtained from plant oils, eg garlic and a certain proprietary kitchen cleanser. 

The society meets monthly on Wednesdays at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included. 

Saturday 7th September is the Society’s Annual Show at The Hethersett Village Hall, Back Lane, at 2pm. 

Our next talk is on Wednesday 18th September Hilary Reid will describe “Making a Wildlife Pond”. 

On Wednesday 16th October Charlotte Philcox will tell us how to “Get the Most from your Vegetable Patch”

November 2011

Andy Brazil, the local recorder for Butterfly Conservation came to speak to our November meeting.  In 1968 a group of enthusiasts, alarmed be the declining numbers of beautiful butterflies across the country set up this organization and a small reserve, Catfield Fen, was developed in 1981 especially for the swallowtail, a rare butterfly found only in Norfolk.  

Andy showed photos of the many species which had become extinct or were endangered.  We had probably noticed the absence of peacock butterflies in our gardens these past two summers.  Their disappearance is a mystery: it might be due to a parasitic fly, Stermia bella which has arrived from the continent and has almost killed off the population of small tortoiseshell butterfly.  Both the fly and this butterfly lay their eggs on nettles.  The fly eggs are eaten by the butterfly caterpillars which then hatch and grow inside the caterpillar and kill the caterpillar.  Peacock butterflies also lay their eggs on nettles, so perhaps with the decline of the small tortoiseshell the fly eggs may now be invading the caterpillars of the peacock butterfly instead.  We were encouraged to look out for and report any peacock butterflies seen next year.  

Butterfly Conservation relies on volunteers to record butterflies and moths around the county and forms were available if members were prepared to record their sightings. 

As Norfolk is intensely farmed and provides very few suitable habitats for butterflies or other wildlife, gardens are becoming increasingly important for their survival.  Andy suggested many plants which we could grow to provide food and shelter for butterflies, moths and birds.  We could leave a small area of rough ground with long grass, grow a few suitable “weeds” in our lawns or even dig a pond and use fewer insecticides.  There were so many ways that we could help the wildlife that we all went home feeling there was at least on small thing that we could each do. 

A vote of thanks was given by Colin Ward to Andy for a very interesting and thought-provoking evening. 

On Wednesday 18th January Robin Parker will talk about “Fruit” and on Wednesday 15th February Len Speller will talk about “Acer Cultivars”. H&DHS meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month in the Methodist Church Hall in the Gt Melton Rd, Hethersett at 7.30pm. Membership is £8, Vistors £1.00. Free refreshments at the end of our meeting.

September 2011

Our September meeting listened to Jan Saunt describe how she became involved with the National Gardening Scheme [NGS]; moving on to become one of its Voluntary Organisers for Norfolk and finally about the history and evolution of the Scheme. 

One major founder of the NGS, in 1927, was a lady called Elsie Wagg, who gained the patronage of King George V.  In charging for visitors to look around their gardens the founders decided to support the Queen’s Institute of Nursing.  Mrs Saunt showed how this itself came into being about 50 or so years earlier, prompted by the hiring by a William Rathbone of a nurse to tend his sick wife in Liverpool. 

The NGS has grown from one garden in 1927, to 1250 in 1972 and to 3700 in 2011.  The principally upper-class pre-war gardens meanwhile have been overtaken by gardens from all social backgrounds.  Most recently £2.6M has been collected and distributed to three national charities with a small amount held back for administration. 

Mrs Saunt showed us slides of half a dozen worthy local gardens along with many more varied and historic offerings. 

Our next talk is on Wednesday 19th October when our friend Bob Coutts of Somerleyton, will be discussing “Fruits for Autumn, and Pruning“. 

On Wednesday 16th November Andy Brazil will be “Gardening for Butterflies”. 

We meet at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road.

All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included: - there is a discounted ‘Annual Membership’ which is now £5 to cover the remaining monthly meetings to the end of April. 

August 2011

Following withdrawal of the booked speaker, members of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s vice-chairman Margaret Ford described her botanical tour of eastern Turkey, organised by ‘Greentours’ of Buxton, Derbyshire. 

For want of a better description Margaret’s destination was the hilly, mountainous area adjacent to Mount Ararat and around Lake Van.  This area was originally part of the ‘Silk Route’ to China. Its second claim to fame is a 60 foot deep by 30 foot diameter crater, allegedly the result of a meteor strike.  The local land is quite rocky due to previous volcanic activity and the soil has a volcanic ash content.  

There were some unusual plantings, namely fennel for use as a fuel in winter time, and a rhubarb variant eaten with salt. 

Strangely some seemingly common plant names come up such as ‘tulip’, ‘fritillary’, ‘orchid’, ‘buttercup’,  ‘primula’, ‘geranium’, ‘iris’ and ‘clover’.  Nevertheless, with the exception of the small tulips, the plants were distinctly different to the species found in Britain.  This, taken with the scenery which most of us have never seen, made for a very interesting meeting. 

The society’s next talk is on 21st September when the History and Gardens of the National Garden Scheme will be outlined by Jan Saunt.  On Wednesday 19th October Bob Coutts of Somerleyton, will be discussing ‘Fruits for Autumn and Pruning’.  

The society meets at 7.30 p.m in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road. All are welcome and occasional visitors are charged £1 with refreshments are included. Annual Membership is £8, which covers the 12 monthly meetings and refreshments.

June 2011

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s June meeting commenced on a “high”, firstly with happy reminiscences of the May weekend away at Harlow Carr and Castle Howard in Yorkshire and secondly the previous Saturday’s trip to the gardens of the American War Cemetery, Madingly Hall and Murray Edwards College, in or near Cambridge. 

Ben Potterton, of Langmere near Diss, talked about his world tours associated with worldwide animal conservation and species preservation.  At Langmere he runs a nursery for hardy perennials and woodland plants; and alongside he has a stork- and crane-breeding programme. 

Ben’s first reported travels were to the Amazon rain forest via Ecuador, where the word “rain” meant baling out one’s tree trunk canoe faster than the rain filled it, and being marooned up a mountainside whilst the roadway, buildings and mobile phone mast were washed away. Ben continued his talk covering exotic destinations such as Sri Lanka and Ireland’s vanishing peat bogs.  We heard about “sweaty bats”, elephants stealing crops, a leopard hiding in a flower bed. We also heard about his travel bag contents and his accommodation difficulties. The “wonderful” experience in a safari park, where there was a squirrel nest above and ant nest below his bed and in a another ”hotel”, privacy was from the waist down. 

The Society’s next talk is on 20th July, and will be by Maureen Hayter, who will discuss “Inspirational Flower Arranging” and on 17th August, Shasta Bye, will share her thoughts on “Garden Design”. 

April 2011

Kathy Gray of the Norfolk group of Plant Heritage gave a talk to Hethersett and District Horticultural Society entitled “From Parkland to Palm Trees”.   

The Norfolk group is part of what used to be called the National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens, and which was founded to help prevent loss of various plant types which have been dropped from nursery catalogues due to poor sales demand.  PH groups across Britain look after 640 national collections of specific plant types. 

The talk took members from Borde Hill Gardens in West Sussex via Scotland to the Isles of Scilly. She demonstrated how the plant hunters of the Victorian era explored foreign lands, sometimes at great personal peril, to bring back plant species to Great Britain.  Alliums, azaleas, tree peonies and rhododendrons, were all brought back to Britain. The talk moved on to Coton Manor and examined the well maintained herbaceous perennial borders; then to the wonderful winter garden of Anglesey Abbey designed by Richard Ayres.  With increasingly more exotic plant species being mentioned, the journey moved via Great Dixter, home of the late Christopher Lloyd whose garden was designed by Edward Lutyens and onwards via Logan botanic garden to Tresco’s Benedictine abbey’s terraced gardens, each terrace dedicated to a separate part of the warmer world. 

On Wednesday 19th May Tom Melville from UEA will discuss “Tree Rings and Climate” and on Wednesday 15th June Ben Potterton of Orchard Cottage Nursery, Langmere will talk about “Horticultural Travels”. 

The society meets at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett. All are welcome and occasional visitors are charged £1 which includes refreshments. Annual membership is £8. 


November 2010

The talk at the latest meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society was on “The Organic Kitchen Garden”  by Charlotte Philcox. 

Charlotte is another gardener who was enthused in to gardening as a hobby from earliest days and then became a professional. She is a successful lecturer and writer on gardening matters and regularly appears on Radio Norfolk. 

Quoting 100 thousand organisms in a teaspoonful of healthy soil, Charlotte went on to describe the devastating effect some fertilisers can have on them. She said that soil health was essential for organic gardening and that compost and farmyard muck were essential sources of nutrients. We should expect bugs and pests in the soil and some of these were essential if their predators were to be part of a sustainable food chain. 

Charlotte continued by looking at comfrey based liquid fertiliser, at green manure crops and at various vegetable and flowers. On Wednesday 17th November Pauline Steward will talk about “Fly Trap Plants” and on Wednesday 8th December Rosemary Ward will describe “Plants for Spring Colour”. 

The society meets at 7.30pm in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall.All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1 and refreshments are included. 


August 2010

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s August talk was given by delphinium expert Howard Norton, from Hellesdon.  Howard began by describing how he was enthused and motivated into growing delphiniums by the late John Edwards of Thorpe.  Now a key member of the National Delphinium Society, he  spoke with authority on these tall flowering spikes covered with a mass of blooms. He grew them from both seeds and cuttings, and produced plants with varied colours from dark blue through to light blue and from white to pink, all with differing coloured “eyes“.

With the help of an excellent slide presentation Howard took members through the plantsman’s delphinium year, from those fabled green shoots of recovery in February, through to tidying up the flower beds in late October and collecting seed for next year’s usage.  If a new variety was being planned plants would be cross pollinated by hand.  One of the resultant new plants might gain its grower national glory with the Royal Horticultural Society, whose assessors needed three good specimens of a single variety to examine and test.  Seeds would be grown on damp tissue paper in the dark in a warm house drawer and then pricked out with tweezers into compost in single compartment trays or even directly into pots or sown onto tamped compost in a seed tray and covered with vermiculite.

Members were shown how to take stem cuttings and root eye cuttings and he encouraged those present to join the Norfolk Delphinium Society.  Members were told how to identify blackleg rot and warned of the delphinium’s worst enemies - slugs and snails.  If these perils can be overcome everyone will be able to enjoy these tall multi-bloomed colourful spires in their herbaceous border. 

On 15th September Sue Allison will talk about Hanging Baskets and on 20th October Charlotte Wilcox will describe her Organic Kitchen Garden. Everyone is welcome and occasional visitors are charged just £1 and refreshments are included. The society meets at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road.


April/May 2010

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society’s April meeting started with a short annual meeting with Chairman Chris Morriss the Chairman giving a resume of the year’s activities> The committee was re-appointed, details were given of three trips planned for the summer and Marilyn Savory announced the winners of the table show. 

Jim Paine of Walnut Tree Garden Nursery gave a talk entitled “Gardening in the Shade”.  He began by recommending his own method for frightening off muntjac and Chinese water deer by having a portable radio in a waterproof bag and tuned to Radio Four in the garden.  The talking voices did the trick although it was only suitable for rural locations. 

Continuing with his talk proper, Jim emphasised the importance of understanding a garden; the nature of the soil, the types of shade and hence available light, the fact that shade moves as night follows day and that obstacles of varying sizes cause different shading conditions. It was important to match the known characteristics of plants to a proposed planting site. For example in woodland areas before tree foliage breaks, spring flowering plants will prosper; but once woods become scrubby thickets shade becomes more of a year round problem for smaller plants. 

Plant leaves adapt to shady conditions producing larger surface areas to capture the suns rays to aid the production of sugars.  But these bigger leaves are thinner, transpire more and there is a risk that such plants could wilt and die in the heat of summer.  In newly cleared land seeds which have previously been lying dormant, germinate as the sunlight penetrates through the canopy. 

Jim went on to describe a host of plants suitable for various types of shade, commencing with the candelabra primulas as seen at Fairhaven Water Gardens, and included hostas, dicentras, violas and pulmonarias. 

The group’s May talk entitled “Autumn Bulbs” was given by Rod Leeds, who described in detail the characteristics of some 60 different bulb varieties of ten main families; many found within his old orchard garden, which we are to visit in September.  This talk’s purpose was, in part, to whet appetites for the glories to be seen there in three months’ time. 

Rod included bulbs, tubers, rhizomes and corms in his definition of “bulbous” plants. He amazed us with colourful slides of cyclamen, amaryllis, colchicums, roscoeas, codenopsis, and sternbergias, many of which were from exotic parts of the world; for example Turkey and Greece sourced several species of autumn-flowering crocus and cyclamen; whilst amaryllis was from South Africa.  Some from hotter more arid climates could thrive with very little water and a few from desert like areas of the world for example Amaryllis belladonna requires water to stimulate it into growth – so Rod just pops the dry bulbs into a water butt in late summer prior to planting. 

Clearly there is a multitude of beautifully coloured flowering bulbs to enhance gardens, if only gardeners were aware. Although autumn bulbs are not the favourites of the Dutch bulb trade there are a few professional British bulb growers and we were recommended to search out their offerings in the specialist gardening press. 

On Wednesday 16th June Matthew Davies will describe the activities of the Norwich Fringe Countryside Management Project with reference to Hethersett; and on the 21st July Paul Metcalf will discuss Soft Fruit.   

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society meets at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road and all are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1 and refreshments are included.

October 2009

Our October talk was by Alan Barson and was entitled “Putting the Garden to Bed“. In his usual witty style Alan soon had us at ease and chuckling in the seats. More seriously we learned HOW to make hazel nut liqueur chocolates using gin soaked prune damsons; HOW to decompose leaves quickly in a black bag using lime and a free source of ammonia based nitrogen; HOW to identify land in need of enriching compost just by assessing how scarce and pallid ones worms were; HOW to take hardwood cuttings. Now whilst sap is still in trees and shrubs; to cut below a node and shave 1 inch bark to expose a cambion layer, before planting in 1 inch sand with compost above.  

We were advised to prune pipped fruit now, but to leave stoned fruit bushes until later to help avoid sliver leaf disease and essentially to use Vaseline as a virus access inhibitor to the pruning wound.  

This was 60 minutes packed with useful information and so we finally agreed that tea could be served, as Alan’s beer bottle could not be allowed to be opened in the Methodist Church Hall.  

On Wednesday 18th November Dr Sarah Wilmot will be “Celebrating 100 Years of Plant Science at the John Innes Centre”.  

On Wednesday 9th December festivities will be preceded by tales of “Horticultural Travels” from Ben Potterton.  

We meet at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road. All are welcome - occasional visitors are charged £1.00; refreshments are included.  

Leslie Dale, Committee Secretary.


January 2009

Hethersett Horticultural Society received some timely winter advice from Simon White of Peter Beales Roses on how to prune roses of all descriptions with photographs of massive displays of colour bound rambling roses in some of Norfolk’s premier gardens. 

Members heard of the need to first take out “dead” then “damaged” then “diseased” wood; followed by “wayward” or “weak” stems, cutting at 45 degrees just above a bud and sloping away from it.  Optionally new wood could be cut at different heights so that in summer the whole height of rose plant would be covered with blooms.  Another technique, for keeping massive ground cover rambling-roses under control, was the hedge trimmer, but this risked dieback from badly fragmented stems and/or the introduction of disease. 

This was a very enjoyable talk and slide show from a person who obviously knew his subject inside out. 

On Wednesday 18th February members will hear the story of Gooderstone Water Gardens from Coral Hayos, the daughter of its developer and on Wednesday 18th March Graham Simmonds of the Norfolk Metal Detector Society will tell about some of his finds from gardens. 

The society meets at Hethersett Methodist Church Hall at 7.30pm.  Annual Membership is £8 and visitors are charged £1 with refreshments included.

December 2008

Jim Paine of Walnut Tree Garden Nursery near Attleborough talked to  Hethersett and District Horticultural Society about plants which could give interest and colour to gardens in winter. 

members took an immediate and envious shine to Jim who had successfully escaped a pressurised modern job to earn his crust through pursuing his gardening hobby.  Ten years on, Walnut Tree Garden Nursery now sells plants covering all aspects of the garden environment. He talked about many types of evergreen plants, shrubs and trees, from the 300 foot tall redwood which could live up to 1000 years to a miniscule saxifrage.  All could, potentially, grow in a Hethersett garden. 

Leaves were not just green in colour.  The smoke bush for example had red and purple leaved varieties.  Sometimes leaves were shiny, sometimes matt and sometimes fluffy.  Some species’ foliage would be variegated, again producing pleasing appearances to the eye, while some species produced appealing scents, for example sweet box and myrtle. 

After a very interesting talk the evening was rounded off with Christmas nibbles and drink and carol-singing. 

On 21st January Simon White of the Peter Beales Nursery will challenge members with “Who dares prune!“ and on 18th February members will hear the story of Gooderstone Water Gardens from Coral Hayos, the daughter of its creator. 

Meetings are held in the Methodist Church Hall in Great Melton Road at 7.30pm.  Annual membership is £8; visitors are welcome and pay just £1 refreshments are included.  


July 2008

Well-known Norfolk Naturalist and EDP columnist, Rex Hancy took members of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society on a captivating journey through the tree-lined streets of Norwich. It began in the Hay Market at the statue of seventeenth century naturalist, Sir Thomas Browne, where members were introduced to a magnificent pair of Turkey Oaks and learnt that the Turkey Oak is just one of eight species of oak in Norwich. 

From the flowering Manna Ash trees of St. Peter Mancroft, to the “gold-plated” Oriental Planes in front of the Guildhall and the pyramidal Turkish Hazels in London Street, each tree has a story to tell. Some, like the leaning Huntingdon Elm on Cattle Market Street, and the miraculously-saved London Plane in Chapelfield Gardens, are quite mysterious. Others, like the chimerical Adam’s Laburnum in St Peter Parmentagate and the “evergreen” Turner’s Oak on Gurney Road, are highly unusual. 

Most, like the Weeping Ash at the entrance to the Archant Newspapers car park on Rouen Road and the English Oaks of Earlham Hall Park, are seeped in history and must have witnessed great changes. All are worth seeking out and appreciating more closely. A visit to the Chapelfield shopping mall can now include viewing the flowering of the splendid Euodia in St Stephens’s churchyard and the majestic evergreen branches of the Himalayan Deodar in Chapelfield Gardens. 

June 2008

Hethersett and District Horticultural Society enjoyed a talk by Rod Casey on “The Shape and Flavour of Peas”. 

A botanist by profession, Professor Casey introduced members to the world of gene selection through breeding to enhance characteristics of peas and pea plants. First though there was a quick trip down memory lane to Back Lane, Hethersett in 1976 when it led to pea fields where, if residents were lucky, portions of crop were left unharvested and local people’s freezers were filled with peas which Birds Eye deemed “overtime” or had fallen over. 

The example of fallen over peas was used by Professor Casey to illustrate how genes from more robust pea family members were selected for repetitive pollination in a controlled environment, to generate a new pea variety with stronger stems, after a period of at least six years. 

Members also discussed the wider pea family, glimpsed the time wise bio-make up of peas, showing how the sugar content peaked at about one third the time they took to ripen to maturity; how certain of the pea family developed differing percentages of sugar or starch or fibre; how fully ripened peas could end up being ground together with wheat to produce vegetable protein for use in vegetarian foodstuffs. 

Knowing now that there are varieties of pea which do not fall over or require pea sticks for support, means that there will be a rush of orders for the “Samson” or “Princess” varieties next year. 

On 16th July Rex Hancy will talk about the The Trees of Norwich” and on 20th August Pauline Harper will talk about getting “From Veg Plot to Pot”. 

The club meets at Hethersett Methodist Church Hall in Great Melton Road at 7.30pm. Annual Membership is £8 and visitors are charged £1 with refreshments included.

May 2008

Well-known Norwich horticultural enthusiasts John and Anne Bridge took members of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society on a brief holiday to India and Sri Lanka. The slides they showed encompassed the mass of humanity of the subcontinent, some impoverished but set alongside the opulence of the Taj Mahal mausoleum and Red Fort in Agra in India and the colonial tea-plantation-towns of Sri Lanka.  

Members were impressed by the artisan skills displayed in the jewel-inlaid mosaics of the Taj Mahal and of the pink city of Jaipur and were intrigued by the plant life -the bread-fruit, jack-fruit and the red bananas. Members saw pictures of ladies collecting the youngest leaves from the tea bushes to be dried and processed to produce the finest tea –“broken orange pekoe”. 

Members appreciated the scale and the atmosphere of the two countries from the comfort of their chairs in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall. 

The Society’s talk on 18th June will be by Rod Casey on “The Shape and Flavour of Peas“. On 16th July Rex Hancy will talk about “The Trees of Norwich”. The society meets in Hethersett Methodist Church Hall in the Great Melton Road at 7.30pm. Annual Membership is £8 and visitors are charged £1 with refreshments being included.


April 2008

Nick Gibbons talked to the April meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society on The Wildlife of Western Australia. 

He described the flora and fauna discovered during a large circular tour which started and finished in Perth and which took five weeks. 

He explained that there are 12,000 species of flowers and thousands of trees and shrubs. Some were given names as they might be described on sight or smell such as drumstick, trigger plant, old man’s socks and the warty hammerhead orchid. 

Some flowers are pollinated by birds such as the white-cheeked honeyeater being attracted to nectar and exotic pterodactyl type birds such as the buzzard-sized white-tailed cockatoo. 

In landscape terms members saw slides of tree-covered rocky countryside, with poor soils, unusual rock formations such as the limestone pavements, and the lost grain belt where a rising water table contains dissolved salts making the soil unusable for wheat production. 

Members also heard about aerial walkways such as that in the Karri-tingle Forest at 60 metres above the ground. In the past fire watch towers were created by driving steel spikes into these massive trees to provide a stairway to the sky. 

In summing up, the group’s new chairman Chris Morriss likened our predecessors’ lack of belief in the discovery of the platypus to the strangely wonderful flowers and shrubs, which could only be verified by sight of the images from Nick Gibbons’ glorious projection slides. 

The next talk on 21st May will be by John and Anne Bridge entitled “Colours, Chaos and Curry” about their travels in south east Asia.  On 18th June Rod Casey will discuss the “Shape & Flavour of Peas”.  The Society meets in the Methodist Church Hall in Great Melton Road at 7.30pm.  The annual membership subscription is £8 and visitors are charged £1.50 with refreshments being included.  


February 2008

Planned speaker for the meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society Paul Corfield had another engagement for the evening and so George Dawson and Margery Ward stood in for him and shed some light on the benefits of taking part in the ‘Anglia in Bloom’ competition as well as offering advice and tips.  They stressed that ‘Anglia in Bloom’ is a campaign and not a competition, enhancing the local area and showing that the community cares about its environment.  Brightlingsea in Essex was a case in point, where following the disturbances of 1995 when there were animal-export problems in the town the place was very run-down.  Now they are involved with the campaign there is a marked reduction in vandalism, there is less litter around and they are winning prizes.  Everyone is encouraged to take part by growing plants, providing funds, watering, weeding and keeping the place tidy.


Hethersett Environmental Action Team (HEAT) already do a lot in Hethersett (now officially classed as a small town and not a village) to enhance the environment but George and Margery were able to spread the word to a wider audience at the meeting.


The next meeting, preceded by a short AGM will be on Wednesday 20th March at the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road at 7.30pm and Bill LeGrice will be speaking on ‘Roses’.  Visitors are welcome at just £1 admission.

December 2007

Dr Anne Edwards, a volunteer for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, gave an illuminating presentation about Ashwellthorpe Lower Wood and its coppice management to Hethersett & District Horticultural Society.  

Although probably best known recently for its supply of wooden poles for the Co-op brush making factory, this ancient wood was listed in William the Conqueror’s Doomsday book.  It was made a nature reserve in 1992. 

Members learned of its edge zone, the wild wood where decaying fallen trees were left untouched and its managed, coppiced, areas.  Here over a rotation of 12 years the NWT aims to cut down the poles to reveal the stool or stump so allowing light onto the forest floor and growth of rare plants.  The pathways or “rides” between the coppiced sections are mown and brimstone butterflies, woodpeckers and deer abound, but we only see the deer hoof prints outside of the solar powered electric fence which safeguards new growth. 

Anne showed many wonderful photos of flora and fauna; most striking was the fully extended “stinkhorn” fungus.  Finally members learned of the different types of tree and their characteristics and uses.  The coppiced wood could be used for making hurdles, poles, firewood, even besom brooms. 

The NWT is always looking for more volunteers and anybody wishing to join this happy Sunday afternoon team or other teams across Norfolk can phone 01603 812309. 


November 2007 

Over 50 members and visitors heard Bob Coutts, head gardener at Somerleyton Hall, wax lyrical about herbaceous borders at the November meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society.  Although Bob plants and maintains two borders which are 5 yards by 20 yards in size he was adamant that the same principles would hold for the smaller gardens we would be working with. 

The areas had to be cleared completely of perennial weeds, double-dug in late autumn, adding lots of manure or compost and then planted up before Christmas.  No fertiliser was applied until early April when the plants would be having a growth spurt.  Then in early May hazel twigs were put in to support the plants.  This would make the beds look untidy for a few weeks but before long they would disappear under the new growth. 

Bob had slides showing the enormous choice of herbaceous perennials available and with careful selection it was possible to have colour and form in the border from May to late autumn. It was an inspiring talk. 

Dr Anne Edwards will describe the woodland conservation work in progress at Ashwellthorpe – with the title “If you go down in the woods today…”- at the next meeting of the society on Wednesday 10th December.  Visitors are  welcome to hear Anne at the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road for 7.30pm at just £1 per head.


October 2007

What do you do with a feather bed when it reaches the end of its useful life?  Hethersett and District Horticultural Society members have discovered that the contents, along with shredded newspapers can be used to great effect in place of compost and manure, to line the trench prepared for growing sweet peas.  The trench is filled in and left to over-winter before planting up in March.   

Joy King, a well-known exhibitor of sweet peas, having grown these flowers to perfection for over fifty years, gave her advice to members at the October meeting of the society.  She sows the seed in late October in pots, leaves them outdoors until March and then plants them in the prepared trench, each plant being supported by a six-foot cane.  Then as they grow she coaxes, cajoles and trains them up the canes, picking the flowers regularly to encourage continuous flowering.  What started for her and her husband as an experiment when they were given a packet of seeds soon became a passion.  How many Hethersett folk will take up the challenge as a result of Joy’s inspirational talk?   

At the November meeting on Wednesday the 21st, Bob Coutts, the retired head gardener at Somerleyton Hall, will be speaking on ‘Herbaceous Borders for the Small Garden’.  Visitors are welcome to come and hear this popular speaker.  It’s just £1 per meeting including tea or coffee.


September 2007

Terry Rand spoke to Hethersett and District Horticultural Society about “Organic Gardening”. His immensely informative talk was based upon many years of experience gained in his five acres of garden. He was quick to point out that being organic is not just about avoiding the use of pesticides, fertilisers and fungicides.  

Terry touched on the use of compost to replace lost mineral content and on composting methods and the importance of a four year crop rotation to rest soil and avoid yearly repetitious demands on minerals.  

Other subjects covered included “boxed beds” for poorly drained soils,  vertical obstructions and fleece covers to fool carrot flies, short hosepipe lengths to represent snakes, pigeons eyeing up cabbages, the use of car tyre piles as heat reflecting back drops to peach trees, double walled polytunnels for exotic fruits, using bottle topped poles to support low cost netted fruit cages, using bulb planters to plant potatoes, using potatoes to break up new ground ahead of proper digging, cutting the bottom off old demijohns to act as mini-greenhouses.   

On 21st October Mr Bob Coutts from Somerleyton will talk about “Herbaceous Borders for Small Gardens” and on 12th December Ms Anne Edwards will give a talk entitled “If you go down to the woods today”  

All are welcome. Visitors are asked to pay £1 and this includes tea or coffee. The society meets in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road at 7.30pm.


August 2007

John Carrick gave a talk to Hethersett and District Horticultural Society entitled “An Introduction to Topiary”. He defined topiary as “the art of developing trees and shrubs into ornamental forms which would not normally occur”; going on to surprise members with statements that its origins were first in Egypt several thousand years ago, then evolving in Greece, and Italy. Queen Anne’s Hampton Court Palace grounds appear to be the first noteworthy place in England where topiary first appeared. 

Almost any dense foliage tree or shrub and even ivy, can be used as a subject. Oldest surviving examples appear to be in yew. Victorian England, with its improving transport communications was the period when the interest in topiary extended countrywide. 

With words of caution about human fingers, members were guided through tooling, from tree loppers, shears, secateurs, sheep-shears, to scissors. The best results, said John, were with the slowest tools. 

Moving swiftly through fertilisers and wire mesh growing-frames the club came to the fun bit. John got out his shears and in about 10 minutes converted a four foot high box bush; into a spiral. It would have been helpful, afterwards, to have had the use of a vacuum cleaner when tidying up the meeting room! 

On September 19th Terry Rand will talk about “Organic Gardening” and on 17th October Joy King will talk about ”Growing and Showing Sweet Peas.” Everyone is welcome. Visitors pay just £1 and this includes tea or coffee! The club meets in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road at 7.30pm. 

June 2007

Mr John Bridge from the Norfolk and Norwich Hoticultural Society was gust speaker at the latest meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society held in the Methodist Church Hall. 

John is a well known gardener, allotment enthusiast and competition judge and his subject was “starting an allotment.” The talk was particularly relevant to Hethersett as the parish council is attempting to find land for rent or purchase for a new allotment site. 

John started by showing a photograph of a massive bramble thicket adjacent to his own allotment and invited discussion on how to clear it. Depending on how “green” or energetic one was, it could be either cleared manually, or chemically. Some wily people used old carpets to cover and kill weeds. Soil should be ph tested and the result -14 alkaline or 1 acid, used to determine crops and any neutralising treatment. It would be a long hard slog! Grass could be dug in, but spear grass should be heaped and wetted with sulphate of ammonia to encourage decomposition into compost. Digging prior to winter should just be “rough”, to allow weather to break up the clods. 

Crops and pros and cons and tips came next. These included advice on only sowing enough seed for cropping needs. Any fruit trees should have dwarf rootstocks. Leave broad bean roots in after cropping, to “fix” nitrogen in the soil and avoid buying other people’s brassica (“greens”) seedlings, to avoid the risk of importing clubroot. Use old raspberry canes as pea sticks. 

There was too much more by way of useful information to print; but as a final note, John uses a four year “crop rotation” Year One - Roots eg carrots and parsnips; then manure the soil. Year 2 - marrows and peas, Year 3 potatoes, Year 4 greens. He encouraged people to grow their own food if they have the land. He pointed out that the exercise involved is healthy for you, the food can be totally organic, it’s low cost and good for you and your pocket.

May 2007

Mr Alan Barson spoke to the May meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society on ‘Lawn Care’ in his own whimsical, inimitable style with lots of basic information peppered with the odd anecdote to keep his audience on their toes. 


He recommended a first class book for bedtime reading, a Penguin paperback by the Norfolk botanist, C Hubbard, ‘Grasses’. This had illustrations and corresponding detailed of some 150 species.  Such a book would ensure that the reader got off to sleep quickly. However, the audience stayed awake throughout Alan’s talk to hear him explain the intricacies of sowing lawn seed mixtures and the science behind scarifying, aerating and applying fertiliser.  


Soil aeration was stressed as this would encourage rainwater and fertilisers to pass down into the soil through any thatch formed by the build-up of moss.  Root growth would then be enhanced. The only equipment needed was a garden fork to spike the lawn at intervals to a depth of six inches. The final sad fact was to hear that if we in Hethersett had mossy, weedy lawns, the advice given would be to dig it up and start again – or even move house to Hellesdon.  


There we were assured one could find the two feet of medium loam needed for a good lawn.  This was the “best soil in Norwich”. The next talk to the society on Wednesday 20th June at 7.30 p.m (this is a change from the original date of 13th June). will be given by John Bridge.  John is a regular prize winner at the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society shows and is an enthusiastic vegetable grower.  He will be speaking on ‘Starting an Allotment’.  Meetings are in the Methodist Church Hall, Great Melton Road, Hethersett and visitors are most welcome.

April 2007

The RSPB’s Robert Lucking, a North Norfolk Reserves Officer, came as replacement for the advertised speaker at the April meeting of Hethersett and District Horticultural Society and found himself being unexpectedly rewarded by having to judge the monthly table show; the cakes on offer being particularly welcomed by him. 

The group was treated to an extensive audio-visual presentation about the RSPB in its widest context and about the birds of East Anglia and then onto “attracting wild birds into your garden”. 

The RSPB is a research, campaigning and lobbying organisation on behalf of birds in Britain and of certain species worldwide. Members’ attention was drawn to two RSPB worldwide campaigns, firstly the slaughter of albatrosses by “long-line” fishing for tuna type fish in the world’s oceans; and secondly the acquisition of a substantial area of tropical rain forest in Indonesia to protect all species of wildlife. 

With fresh water meres to hand, Bitterns find East Anglia’s reedy beds just perfect and Avocets have prospered on the marshy scrapes for many years now, since Minsmere and other reserves have been tailored to their needs. Most of Britain’s Marsh Harriers are found over the East Anglian reserves, millions of winter waders exist in the Wash, Stone Curlews are found in Breckland type habitats, Little Turns on the coastal Denes, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Yellowhammers in the hedgerows. 

The core important message received from Rob was, that if gardens were likely to be visited by wild birds, they must provide winter and summer food and springtime nest sites and water. Apart from our Ladies cake crumbs, other good bird foods include Nyger seed, sunflower seed or proprietary seed mixes. 

Natural planting was considered the best to provide food and shelter in the garden, honeysuckle, lavender and climbing ivy were amongst those recommended. 

Finally members were shocked to learn that if a sparrow hawk starts taking your garden birds, it must be viewed as an accolade to your bird friendly garden. 

March 2007

Our chairman expertly dispatched the AGM portion of the meeting and then moved swiftly on to introduce Mr Ben Potterton to talk about "Plants for Shady Places". 

Ben soon made clear his Norfolk credentials, as being soundly grounded at Easton Agricultural College and moving on via a first career post as a Wyevale Garden Centre manager, to running his own modestly sized nursery called "Blacksmiths Cottage Nursery" at Langmere near Dickleburgh, set up with the aid of a Princes Trust grant.  Here not only does Ben propagate nearly 4000 plants annually, but he also devotes part of his site to the breeding of threatened bird species of the crane family. Alpacas, poultry and ducks complete the picture. 

His specialty is Woodland Perennials. In his talk he described in the order of 25 different small species appropriate to woodland environs, many of them providing colour to brighten the dull days of a Norfolk winter and some of them good at mulching out weeds. How could we forget the "Double Green Celandine", the "Mouse Tail Plant", and the "Wood Anemone"? We flitted past fritillaries, we oo-ed over the mini tulips and the hairy yellow-flowered "RipVanWinkle" mini-daffodils. Aided by feeds of chicken manure, as recommended by Ben, one's Shady Place Plants should do well! 

In his concluding remarks Ben mentioned a couple of humorous anecdotes related to his exhibition garden at a national show where he was also supporting other Norfolk-related displays. Having finished "dressing" several thousand small plants onto these displays during a long hot day, he swiftly arrived back in the evening in his dickey-bow suit to meet the bigwigs. However feeling somewhat hungry, he found succour in a stick of Yarmouth's best rock borrowed from the adjacent display. "Hello" said a voice from over his shoulder "pleasure to meet you"; turning around Ben found his sticky pink hand shaking that of the exhibition's chief VIP visitor! Oh YUCK!! 

February 2007

We wondered whether our speaker, Mr Alan Barson had been taking lessons from John Cleese. In an extremely witty delivery, Alan nearly had us in stitches on several occasions as he recounted several anecdotal aspects of his gardening experiences whilst talking about “Waking Up the Garden”! 

Starting with the desirability of lawn aeration, which also allows CO2 gas to escape, we moved swiftly onto scarification to aid removal of this year’s excellent crop of moss. 

Alan declared that one third of the ornamental garden should be planted with evergreens shrubs, and then went on to suggest some deciduous shrubs which flower early and are highly perfumed to ensure attracting pollinating insects; eg winter flowering honeysuckle. 

In late February with sap starting to rise, gardeners could take hardwood cuttings, remembering to cut optimally just below a node to get the position of future rooting cells present; and then scrape off a sliver of bark to expose the cambium layer, apply a smear of fresh rooting powder on the scrape and then plant out and not disturb for 12 months. 

He then delved into the options for soil improvement, organic blood-fish-bone, “grow more” fertiliser, alkaline mushroom compost, hop compost and different types of farmyard manure. We were to remember that wood chip based manure will remove nitrogen from soil and is best stored in a compost bin for 12 months before use. 

We moved on to airing and spraying dahlia tubers on trays of peat to encourage them to shoot. 

Thinking of garden pests Alan recommended putting up a Lacewing ’hotel’ box, as apparently these insects are very welcome in the garden because they eat aphids. 

Finally said Alan, hoicking a bottle of beer out of his box, to which was tied to a string; “the best use for waterbutts is keeping my beer cool and the string is essential“! 


January 2007

January's meeting enjoyed a holiday from matters normally and strictly Horticultural!

Our Treasurer, Brian Clark, indulged the many members present in a slide show of excellent photo transparencies taken by him and his wife Sybil, during two trips to the Falkland Islands, via Brize Norton, and Ascension Island and Mount Pleasant airfield.

Neglecting for a moment the unpaved roads of the Falklands, Brian said that the worst part of his journey was in travelling from Hethersett to Brize Norton.

We now know the names of the five main constituent plants which form up the "Dwarf Heath Shrub Community", found over much of the rocky outcrop of the islands which constitute the Falklands. We can advise on the breeding and nesting habits of four differing penguin species and we are now acquainted with the predatory habits of the striated caracara bird and its carnivorous intentions toward fellow avians.

On Ascension Island we were shown the raucous Sooty Terns at Wideawake Bay, the semi-feral donkeys, the mountaineering land crabs and the beautiful sandy beaches on which Green Turtles come to breed. Mountain or hill tops sprouting radar dishes, 
microwave links and the suspected "elint" facilities were all there to see on Ascension Island with its 2 mile runway; a half way pitstop on the 8000 miles, 16 hour journey to the Falklands.

December 2006

Mr Nick Gibbons was guest speaker at the December meeting held in the Methodist Church Hall.

He spoke about Thetford Forest and its wildlife and explained that far from being just a forest, it was originally land cleared during the Stone Age and contained much grass land. Its geology was of a chalk base with soil or sand on top. It was so varied that the soils could be either acid or alkeline and where sandy it could blow about.

The land was originally mainly tussocky grass, inhabited by rabbits, one of Britain's inheritances from the Romans. Sheep followed in the aftermath of the land enclosures of the 1800s. There are many meres resulting from the Ice Age "Pingoes" or marl extraction pits. Marl was used to improve the land but nevertheless the land continued to be poor for agriculture.

The decimation of Britain's forests in support of our armed services during the First World War resulted in a desire to plant new woodland. Coincidentally many huge impoverished estates in Norfolk were waiting to be bought up. Aforestation by the Forestry Commission appeared just perfect for the unproductive lands surrounding Thetford.

Planting began about 1919 and has now been resumed after harvesting began in about 1968. Indeed the rotational clearances and return to grassland or heath are key to the survival and multiplication of bird life. Nightjars, woodlarks, crossbills and curlews are all prospering under this rotational regime.

Many rare plants such as Green Hellebrine and Tower Mustard seeds germinate after long periods of rest when clearance has happened. The vote of thanks was given by Mrs Audrey Howard.

November 2006

Ms Robin MacDonald spoke to some 40 members of the Hethersett & District Horticultural Society and visitors on Wednesday 15th November, 2006. She told of the earliest records of orchids being about 300BC when the Chinese were known to use them in medicine or for perfume. 

Only species orchids produce perfume, the hybrids do not. In the 1800's the rich and famous spent small fortunes in acquiring and growing newly discovered orchids from around the world; though many dead orchids later it was realised that buoyancy of the air and humidity, not heat, were essential for the promotion of healthy growth! 

Robin referred to the magnificent contribution to the development of orchids in Britain made by John Lindley. He was the son of a Norfolk nurseryman and became a Professor of Botany in London and secretary of the 
Horticultural Society, now the Royal Horticultural Society. His treatise on orchids took ten years to compile and was regarded as highly authoritative. 

Robin went on to talk about the care of orchids and finally we were >treated to a most exciting slide show of just a few of the most beautiful of the 25,000 species (in 750 genera) known today. 

October 2006

On the 18th October, 2006, Somerleyton's renowned gardener, Mr Bob Coutts, returned to address the Hethersett &District Horticultural Society on the subject of  "Just Pruning".

From the wealth of information which flowed down from Bob, down at a breathtaking pace, it is plain that he is a veritable encyclopaedia of Pruning knowledge.

Demonstrating with a variety of shrubs which Bob brought with him, he soon made clear, that whilst Annual Pruning is essential for almost every shrub and fruit tree, it is also essential for Gardeners to know what the shrub needs and what he or she seeks from that shrub.

Pruning for best results does not mean that every plant is pruned in the autumn, sometimes it is flowering or fruited spurs which are to be removed, sometimes it is complete limbs which must be removed.

Bob also reviewed the merits of various types of pruning tools and by the way, DO MIND YOUR FINGERS!!

If we have at all wetted appetites to know more about Gardening; do please come and join us.