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September report

Our President, Sarah Pennington, was able to welcome us back to the first meeting in the Village Hall since lockdown.  The meeting was well attended by both members and guests.  

We were lucky to have as our first speaker Mark Porter.  Mark had come to tell us about the National Garden Scheme.  Apart from being County Organiser of the Scheme he is also a Trustee, a member of the RHS Council and a very keen gardener.  What impressed us most, however, was that he has his own vineyard and lectures on winemaking.  Hopefully this will be the subject for a future meeting!  The National Garden Scheme was founded in 1927 to fund nursing and in the early days received support from the Royal Family, notably George V.  Early benefactors included the industrialist William Rathbone who even discussed the help that would be most needed with Florence Nightingale. 

The idea to open gardens for charity evolved slowly until today when usually 3,600 gardens are open.  Of these 2,900 serve teas and 2,100 sell plants usually at very reasonable prices.  As things are getting back to normal gardens are beginning to open up, some on specific days and some for more extended periods.  Details of these can be found in the Yellow Book.  Millions of pounds are raised each year from the Scheme and the charities that have benefitted most are Marie Curie, Help for Hospices and Macmillan Nurses.  A local charity which has received considerable support is Treloars in Alton.  Not all gardens applying to be part of the Scheme are accepted.  Gardens need to be well maintained over a period of time and have horticultural merit.  Any unique features are also a help when deciding if a garden should be accepted.  Owners also need to be passionate about gardening, make a long term commitment and be prepared to talk to visitors.  Other factors that need to be considered are access and parking.  When their application is refused some applicants are naturally upset and one once threw a cup of tea over Mark! 

Mark then showed us some of the gardens open locally and the new large screen in the Hall really came into its own.  The gardens were both beautiful and varied and most in easy reach of King’s Somborne.  Perhaps an idea for a future outing!  Sarah thanked Mark for entertaining us and in particular for drawing our attention to both the gardens open locally and bringing the Scheme to life for us – a really uplifting evening.  Tea and coffee were then served and the business concluded for the evening. 

The next meeting will be on Wednesday 13th October when photographer Gerald Ponting will be our speaker on “Wild Flowers On Our Doorstep”.  Guests are always welcome so do come if you are able.

Eileen Reynolds

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