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Where: Balmoral Cottage, The Green, Benenden, Kent,TN17 4DL
When: Wednesday 19th & Tuesday 25th June 2019 

An artist’s garden, now 33yrs mature, with an eclectic mix of hardy perennials in a framework of topiary hedges and sentinels of all shapes and sizes. Charlotte Molesworth has created this lovely garden on a blank canvas over many years, mainly from cuttings and seedlings on a minimal budget, and now maintains it single-handed. It has good fertile soil and is sheltered from the north and east, but it is now being opened up again to the south-east to create more air flow for the boxwood. There are also beautiful established wildflower meadows. Particular attention to the needs of nesting birds and small mammals lend this  garden a rare and unusual quality.

The Garden is 100 yards down an unmade track to the west of St George’s Church.

Meet at 6pm in the Library car park where we can sort out cars.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD GARDEN – Tues 9th July 2019

The event: WHAT MAKES A GOOD GARDEN  with Edward  Flint 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 9th July 2019 at 7.30pm 

Edward Flint spent lengthy spells living and working at Great Dixter under the informal tutelage of Christopher Lloyd. His education was broadened working at the renowned Washfield Nursery for Elizabeth Strangman and in private gardens in the South of France, Switzerland and throughout the UK.

Since 2002 Edward has been head gardener at Tidebrook Manor. The evolution of the garden here over the past ten years is largely the result of Edward’s skill and vision, and the result is a real tour de force of contemporary garden design.

The house (not open to the public) has, in its time, been owned by Sir Rex Harrison, Sir Michael Tippett (Edward Flint reckons that the woodland part of the garden inspired his creation of The Midsummer Marriage, which he wrote while living here!) and, more recently, the former ITN Newscaster Reginald ‘Reggie’ Bosanquet.

Edward is an experienced and passionate teacher with an affable and down-to-earth style evolved over 15 years experience lecturing at the renowned English Gardening School, based at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.  More recently he has overseen the creation and development of the ‘Art & Craft of Gardening’ course at Great Dixter, a monthly hands-on course aimed at keen amateur gardeners. These are informal, lively, practical, relevant, irreverent and fun.


SPADEWORK – Tues 11th June

The event: SPADEWORK with Jill Speed 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 11th June 2019 at 7.30pm

Spadework is a charity in Offham, Kent, which provides life skills, training and work experience for people with learning and other disabilities.

Their aim is to support the trainees, who use their service as they develop their independence and personal skills through social interaction with the community, providing them with the necessary tools to reach their full potential.

Trainees are involved in all aspects of Spadework. They produce the plants that are sold in the Garden Centre and the fruit and vegetables served in the Café and sold in the Farm Shop.

The trainees help to make cakes, jam and chutneys and serve customers in the Café. They also make items in craft and woodwork, which are sold at the Farmers’ Markets and in the Farm Shop. In IT, they produce information that supports the business, including producing labels, plant information sheets and weather updates that help staff and trainees to plan the week.

Spadework provides practical training to develop vocational and life skills;

  • Horticulture: nursery and garden centre work, presenting plants for sale to the general public.
  • Gardening: developing new gardens around the site for customers to come and enjoy.
  • Allotment: growing an amazing range of fruit and vegetables to sell in the Farm Shop and Café. They also sell and deliver Veg Boxes in the local area.
  • Café: making cakes, preparing food, taking food & drink orders and serving customers.
  • Farm Shop: receiving & packing customer orders.
  • Computers – IT sessions to support trainee’s holistic development of speaking, listening, literacy & numeracy.
  • Woodwork: producing articles for sale and general maintenance.
  • Art and Crafts: to sell at the Farm Shop, Garden centre or Farmers’ Markets.


ORCHIDS – Tues 14th May

The event: ORCHIDS with Christine Bartlett 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 14th May 2019 at 7.30pm

Orchids are beautiful tropical plants which were once only available for wealthy people to buy – in Victorian times an orchid could cost the equivalent of £20,000.  Nowadays, due to modern hybridising methods, Orchids are more affordable and many people like to give them as gifts or buy them as houseplants. 

Christine Bartlett is an Orchid Enthusiast with a large collection of over 200 tropical orchids. She grows orchids both in the house and in the  greenhouse.  However, she always try to bring her orchids into the house when they are flowering because of the beautiful colours and shapes of orchid flowers – some  also have a lovely fragrance.

She is Chairman of the South East Orchid Society in Ashford, Kent. Originally joining to learn more about orchids and meet other enthusiasts, now she is pleased to be able to pass on to others the knowledge she has learnt.


Christine  started her collection of these exotic plants approx. 15 years ago.  Apparently there are around 25,000 different varieties of orchid, but Christine’s talk concentrated on Phalanopsis, the most common type, found in the UK in supermarkets & garden centres.

Orchids were originally discovered in the early 1800s by William Swainson, a naturalist, and were grown by William Cattley, a horticulturalist.  Botanist John Lindley began cataloguing them and in 1833 the Duke of Devonshire started a collection.  They were very expensive then and were auctioned on the dockside to the highest bidder, often costing £20,000.  Joseph Paxton, the head gardener at Chatsworth, built a glasshouse to keep them in and sent his staff to India to collect more specimens.  These trips were halted after 2 gardeners died on an orchid hunt, so no further people undertook the journey.  If new species were found by plant hunters, they could name them themselves.  In time, many commercial orchid hunters jumped on the bandwagon and the craze really took off. Each genre needs to be cared for in a different way and the climate of the country they originate from is important in how to look after them.

PLANT SALE – Sat 11th May

The event: PLANT SALE
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Saturday 11th May 2019 from 9.00am to 11.00am

Our annual Plant Sale will be held on the 2nd Saturday in May, just in time for you to stock up for the growing season ahead. We will have a great choice of high quality bedding plants and vegetable plants  on offer, as well as perennials and shrubs, all at very good prices. We will also have an information table for you to visit to sort out any horticultural queries you may have. In addition there will be a board of garden related items which members are offering for sale or for free.

The Plant Sale is a lively village event and the society’s most important fund raiser. We are looking forward to helping you fill your garden with colour and produce. Do come along and support us. 

All home-grown plants donated to sell much appreciated.
Cake stall by the Women’s Institute


Spring is in the air and Easter is just around the corner and at Millbrook why not go to one of their adult workshops or bring your little ones along to a fun-filled children’s event.


Easter Table Arrangement Workshop 
Friday 12th April, 6pm, £30 per person
Using seasonal natural materials, create a stunning Easter-themed arrangement for your home. Book now!

Easter Wreath Workshop
Saturday 13th April, 2pm, £30 per person
Make a beautiful Spring wreath to adorn your door – the perfect way to welcome the start of the new season. Book now 


Millbrook Minis Make & Take Workshop
Monday 15th April, 2pm Create a magical miniature Easter garden. Tuesday 16th April, 2pm Paint and make a cute bunny planter Thursday 18th April 2pm Paint a wooden bunny egg holder. 
Book now!

Our Amazing Animal World
Wednesday 17th April ,11am, 12pm and 1pm 
Meet a variety of cute, cuddly and amazing rescued animals.
Book now!


PETER BEALES ROSES – Tues 9th April 2019

The event: PETER BEALES ROSES with Simon White 
Where: Memorial Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 9th April 2019 at 7.30pm

Our speaker tonight is Simon White, Garden Centre Manager at Peter Beales Roses, who has a passion for roses, which he likes to share with others. He has over 36 years experience in growing “the nation’s favourite flower”.

Peter Beales Roses have been passionate about roses since 1968, when Peter opened his first rose nursery. Since then Peter Beales Roses have become renowned around the world for specialising in the preservation of old fashioned, historic and rare roses, as well as winning many prestigious awards, including 25 Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Today they list over 1100 different varieties which is possibly the largest collection of roses grown commerically anywhere on the globe, with over 250 which are unique to Peter Beales Roses and cannot be purchased anywhere else. They have over 2.5 acres of display gardens at their nursery and Garden Centre in Attleborough Norfolk where they showcase most of their collection combined with a vast selection of perennials, shrubs and clematis.

They have grown millions of roses, from shrub, climbing to modern hybrid and floribunda roses that are now growing all over the world, from small city gardens in London to hundreds of acres in Japan. 

Many growers outsource the cultivation of their roses to Eastern Europe, or keep their plants in cold store late into the spring and early summer – both practises, Peter Beales believe, lead to inferior roses and disappointing results. Their roses are all grown in East Anglia tended for by local, expert nurserymen with many years’ experience. Roses come in two main forms: bare root roses in the winter and containerised roses throughout the summer. Bare root roses are perfect for winter planting and arrive between November and March, whilst the roses are dormant and can be safely transported with roots exposed.  Bare root roses are perfect for mass plantings where handling large plants would cause a problem with planting distance. 

Guests are very welcome at the meeting this evening, the cost is  £3 and they can pay on the door. 

Competition: Vase of spring flowers
£10 voucher to the winner
Seed Swap


Simon White from Peter Beale’s Rose gave us a fascinating talk.  The company has won 25 Gold Medals at Chelsea for their rose displays at the flower show and as Nursery Manager, Simon has had 38 years of experience with them. He took us through an A – Z of various varieties, with wonderful photographs, and the pros and cons of growing different types.  It is such a huge subject he could have spoken for hours, but generally gave us a good insight into which breeds of rose would suit different areas in our gardens. Roses prefer clay soil and with a good watering and feeding regime, diseases should be kept at bay. One important thing to remember is not to plant a rose where another rose has previously grown, as this is likely to hinder its development. 

Peter Beale’s also sell over 400 varieties of clematis and Simon brought some wonderful plants to sell, which were eagerly snapped up.

CLEMATIS – Tues 12th March 2019

The event: CLEMATIS with Everett Leeds
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 12th March 2019 at 7.30pm 

Our Speaker tonight, Everett Leeds, has been involved with clematis for many years. He is a member of the International Clematis Society and has four times been Chairman of the British Clematis Society. He has written many articles on clematis and clematarians and he co-authored An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis and the Pocket Guide to Clematis (both Timber Press) with Mary Toomey and Charles Chesshire. Also he is  involved with Clematis on the Web.


This month’s talk was given by clematis aficionado Everett Leeds.  On holiday with his family in Suffolk in 1976, Everett popped into the famous Fisk clematis nursery, bought six clematis and was hooked on these beautiful plants. He told us that clematis arrived in the UK during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Seeds were brought into the country including the old variety that we are still familiar with – the viticella. In the 1800s the Jackman family produced the well known Jackmanii to national acclaim.  Thomas Cripps then introduced even more exciting varieties and hybrids, increasing the range of flowers.  We were shown beautiful pictures of old varieties and new generation double clematis.  Mostly we think of these plants climbing all over walls and growing into trees etc but there are some ground covering herbaceous varieties and even a tiny white alpine clematis from New Zealand that only grows to 4 inches. Some varieties can be ‘thuggish’ and take over a garden, so be careful to choose the right one.  

Seed Swap

AGM and JUNGLE TAILS – Tues 12th Feb

The event: AGM and JUNGLE TAILS with Sue Shaw
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When: Tuesday 12th February 2019 at 7.30pm 

Sue Shaw found her voice through flowers when she accidentally agreed to be chairman of her local flower club. It has taken her on a wonderful journey which she is very thankful for. She qualified as an Area Speaker in the Wessex and Jersey Area of NAFAS in 2010 and then went on to pass her National test in York in 2012. In October 2016 she became the Chairman of the NAFAS National Speakers Committee. Sue is also on the Kent Area list as a demonstrator, judge and teacher.

In 2015 and 2017, she was a finalist at the Association of Speakers Clubs, national speech competition finals.

Sue enjoys visiting clubs all over the South East to share her passion for flowers and colour.

Photographic competition: Birds
£10 voucher to the winner