Category Archives: Programme

2013 programme of events

BEAT THE BUGS – Natural Pest Control

Suggestions for natural pest control in the garden, with thanks  to Gardeners’ World magazine.

Chemical pesticides have steadily disappeared from garden centres in recent years amid concerns over safety, but within our own gardens we can find a ready armoury to help defend plants.  Many wild plants rely on natural chemicals they produce themselves to repel attackers and they are as effective as anything that can be bought.  A few minutes at the kitchen chopping board and these plant-made defences can be extracted to make organic sprays that won’t damage the environment and will hardly cost a thing.  The only extra needed is horticultural soft soap ( or Castile soap to help it stick.  Don’t use hand soap as it contains unwanted additives.


  1. Garlic water

When garlic cloves are crushed, they release unpleasant sulphur compounds to put off whatever is hoping it might have found some lunch.  Spray plants with the same compounds & they’ll keep off most pests, from blackfly & whitefly to aphids.  Don’t stint on the garlic: you’ll need two whole bulbs per batch.

  1. Chilli pepper spray

This is great for reducing populations of aphids, spider mites & whitefly by coating eggs with an oily mix that prevents them hatching.  Any chilli works, but hotter ones are most effective.  Start spraying against insects before infestations start, as a preventative measure.  Leaves absorb the spray so avoid using it on leafy veg – unless you like spicy lettuce!  It can be stored, clearly labelled, in the fridge for several weeks.


Take a generous handful of fresh chilli peppers or two whole garlic bulbs (you don’t have to peel them).  Roughly chop or blitz in a blender.  Wear gloves when handling the peppers and don’t touch your face.  If you don’t have fresh chillies use a tablespoon of chilli flakes or powder instead.

Tip the chopped veg into a one litre Kilner jar & top up with water, then let the mixture steep, covered, overnight for garlic water or up to a week for pepper spray.

Strain the liquid through muslin into a bowl then stir in a tablespoonful of soft soap.  Decant into a bottle with a lid & label clearly.  Use pepper spray neat but dilute garlic spray with 250ml to one litre of water.  The taste can linger on vegetables so stop spraying a few weeks before harvest time.

NO RAIN!! – How to climate proof your garden

Here are some ideas, courtesy of Gardeners’ World magazine.  At time of writing we haven’t had rain for weeks & everything is parched, so these ideas are especially worth thinking about.
Creating multi-layered plantings.  
Plants help to reduce extremes of temperature in their surroundings by creating shade & by trapping air amongst their foliage.  Layered plantings of trees, shrubs & perennials mimic natural woodland and moderate the microclimate in a garden.
Grow your own.
Home grown veg, herbs & fruit, eaten fresh & full of nutrients, are not only good for us but good for the environment too.  Eating seasonal crops & preserving summer harvests by bottling & freezing reduces food miles & reliance on imported food. 

Collect rainwater.
Plants prefer rainwater to tap water and it is obviously much cheaper & better for them.  Fit water butts to all your downpipes & from sheds & greenhouses.  The less mains water we all use, the more energy is saved, reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Install permeable paving.
Using gravel or porous paving allows rain to soak into the ground, reducing run off and flash flooding during downpours.
Mulch soil
This greatly reduces moisture loss from the soil and therefore cuts down the amount of watering needed during dry spells  It also helps to preserve micro-organisms that keep soil healthy.

Reduce the number of containers in your garden,  plant in the soil.
Plants in containers need more watering, feeding & general maintenance than those in the ground which can look after themselves more easily.  If you can’t grow in the ground, try and use the largest containers possible.

(Cancelled) A GARDENER’S HOME GARDEN – Tues 14th April 2020

The event: A GARDENER’S HOME GARDEN with Steve Edney
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 14th April 2020 at 7.30pm   

Steve has been perfecting his art for 25 years. After studying at Hadlow College and Merrist Wood, he spent several years as a highly respected and regularly awarded private garden designer. In 2006, he joined The Salutation to helm its huge restoration project. A decade later, the gardens are recognised as amongst the finest in the country.

Steeped in the practical art of gardening, Steve uses direct observation to supplement his technical skills as a grower, breeder, horticulturalist and arboriculturalist. His drive for creativity and experimentation ensure the scope of his expertise continues to encompass new horizons.

Recent accolades include appointment to the RHS Herbaceous Committee and membership of the RHS plant trial forum. He is currently Chairperson of the RHS round table for Zinnia, and working in conjunction with Fleuroselect in Europe.

He is a contributor to numerous professional publications, and a regular on the award-winning “Sunday Gardening” show on BBC Radio Kent. At the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, Steve’s collaboration with Cayeux Iris received a Gold Medal in the floral marquee, something he replicated for a second time in 2017.

Current projects include trials for Zantedeschia, Agapanthus and Nepeta.

Competition: Vase of spring flowers
(£10 voucher to the winner)

Seed Swap


Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 10th March 2020 at 7.30pm 

Tonight Lucy Adams, Head Gardener, is coming to talk to us about  Doddington Place Gardens, near Faversham, which we will be visiting later this year.

Doddington Place has been the home of the Oldfield family for a century. The many-gabled brick house was designed by the Victorian architect Charles Brown Trollope and built around1860 for Sir John Croft of the port and sherry family. In 1873 Markham Nesfield (1842-74), son of the better known garden designer William Andrews Nesfield (1793-1881), designed the formal terrace next to the house for Sir John Croft. Nothing remains now of his detailed planting plans.

Today the gardens still evoke the Edwardian spirit of the next owner of Doddington Place, Mrs. Douglas Jeffreys (nee Oldfield) who was responsible for much of the architectural detail and layout of the heart of the garden.

The woodland garden is a surprising feature of Doddington Place Gardens as it is extremely unusual to find acid soil high up on the chalky North Downs. It was created in the  1960s, following the discovery of three acres of deep acid loam, kept moist in the central section by underground springs. Many acid-loving trees and shrubs have been planted, including camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas, an aralia, Davidia involucrata, Styrax japonicus, eucryphia and acers, as well as many bulbs and herbaceous plants.

The spring garden has been planted mainly with varieties of malus, magnolia and betula and is underplanted with hundreds of tulips. It is at its best in April/May.

The folly, described by Sir Roy Strong as a ‘piece of Hampton Court’ was built in 1997 by a Doddington based builder, G.L. Streeting, having been designed by Richard Oldfield as a memorial to his first wife, Alexandra, who died in 1995.

The sunken  garden was redesigned over the winter of 2010/11, adding eight new flower beds and moving the pyramid shaped clipped yews to the south terrace overlooking the park. The beds and borders will be continually changing throughout the summer: beginning with what promises to be a spectacular display of thousands of different varieties of tulips. Followed by alliums, roses, euphorbias and a thrillingly wide variety of herbaceous plants. The four beds around the central pond will be planted with the annual cosmos ‘purity’ which should be stunning.

The rock garden retains its original Edwardian framework but has recently been totally renovated. It was constructed before the First World War using Kentish rag stone from a quarry near Maidstone. A series of descending pools culminate in a large pool that was restored in 2003.

The immense clipped yew hedges are an endless source of fascination for visitors to the gardens. Planted by  before the First World War, they are one of the most memorable features of the gardens. “The yews have evolved into giant mounds like a range of cumulus clouds. They still provide structure and are beautifully maintained in all their eccentricity, yet they are soft and full of character” Dan Pearson wrote in the Telegraph Gardening Section.


The event: AGM and HISTORY OF GARDEN PLANTS with Martin Newcombe 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 11th February 2020 at 7.30pm 

Following on from our Annual General Meeting, tonight’s talk is by Martin Newcombe,  a professional ecologist and founder member of the East Kent Badger Group. He runs an ecological consultancy, MN Wildlife, which does most things such as ecological surveying, mitigation and planning, practical work etc. He has extensive woodland experience and has done wide ranging work in other habitats including long-term surveying of a large private estate. He holds or has held Natural England licences for badgers, bats and dormice.

Martin started MN Wildlife whilst teaching in a variety of institutions, including university, Agricultural Training Board, in prison and for the Workers’ Educational Association amongst others, having managed woodland and other land for nature conservation purposes for a number of years.

Photographic competition: Trees in Evening Light
£10 voucher to the winner

A YEAR IN A COBHAM GARDEN – Tues 14th Jan 2020

The event: A YEAR IN A COBHAM GARDEN with Nigel Gibson 
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 14th January 2020 at 7.30pm 

Nigel Gibson has worked in Horticulture for the last 42 years. He began working for local authorities, and then became a Landscaper working on private gardens. During the 42 years Nigel has worked in Interior and Exterior Landscaping (both Industrial and private gardens), Industrial and Private Garden Design and the Hardy nursery stock industry.

He was part of a company that won the overall top prize and a RHS Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show 1983 (with John Vellam Gardens), and has also worked on many other show gardens at Hampton Court (Courtyard Garden Design and Scenic Design Company). Nigel also helped design and build a garden at the San Francisco Garden Show 1997(Andy Hibben Gardens-Gardens with an English Accent), which won joint top prize. He has had two articles published in The Garden Design Journal on ‘Grasses’ and ‘Hemerocallis’.

Nigel is Sales Executive and Plantsman at Provender Nurseries which is an established, independent, wholesale, trade only supplier of quality plants, soils and landscaping kit serving trade professionals throughout Kent, London, the South East and further afield. In March 2017 the Provender Nurseries team were over the moon when Nigel received an RHS Long Service Medal for 40 years of service to Horticulture.

Nigel lives in Kent, with his wife Sheilagh, their three dogs Molly, Osi and Masie and Sapphie, Ollie and Nellie, the cats.


Nigel’s visit coincided with the height of Storm Brendan. Despite the dreadful weather a good number of members turned out to welcome him after a difficult journey from Cobham, which had involved closed roads, retracing steps and having to stop to remove a fallen branch. We were very relieved when he made it to the Vestry Hall.

The garden in question belongs to a National Trust cottage, which was completely overgrown when Nigel and his wife took it over. Near the top of the Downs, it has a shallow layer of soil over chalk and is dry and quite windy. The year in question was 2010 which started with heavy snow, and from then on we were taken through the year with photographs of plants for all seasons. Nigel is clearly an expert plantsman with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Reassuringly this is tempered by a relaxed attitude towards weeds, and his talk was a very personal look at the beauty, quirks and the   requirements of the plants he grows. Many old favourites were there, as murmurs of agreement from the audience  attested: hellebores, euphorbias, iris, tulips, alliums, hardy geraniums, roses, as well as shrubs , grasses and climbers to name but a few.  Particularly good varieties were highlighted, but equally Nigel was frank about his failures, and plants to be avoided: for example he was glad when the winter of 2010 killed off his phormium, but it was a devil to dig out.  

The evening was an intimate look at a well loved garden, which we  could all identify with, and learn from.   



The event: REVIVE YOUR GARDEN – How to breathe life, style and good health back into tired gardens  with Nick Bailey of Gardener’s World
Where: Memorial Hall, Marden

When: Tuesday 12th November 2019 at 7.30pm 

Tonight we are delighted welcome Nick Bailey, the well known garden designer, best-selling author, columnist and presenter on BBC Two’s Gardeners’ World.

Nick has worked in horticulture for 25 years and has created and managed gardens on four continents, including redesigning the gardens and diversifying the plant collection at London’s famous Chelsea Physic Garden the past  seven years.  In 2016 he designed his first Main Avenue Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower show, receiving extensive plaudits from the press and judges along with a Silver Gilt Medal.

He began his broadcasting career presenting Gardens Wild and Wonderful in South Africa (’95-’96) and spent four years as a panellist on BBC Radio Norfolk’s Garden Party.  

Nick has since appeared on BBC 2’s Great British Garden Revival, Big Dreams Small Spaces, ITV News, The One Show, BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme, and presented RHS Flower Shows coverage for the BBC.

His horticultural media career spans some 15 years, including work as an editor for Garden Answers and Garden News, and freelance writing for RHS The Garden, The Mail, The Times and The Telegraph.  Nick currently has regular columns in Garden News, and BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine for which he was awarded Property Press Awards’ Garden Journalist of the Year 2017.

Nick has also recently published a book “Revive your Garden”, so if you don’t catch everything he says tonight, no need to worry.


SLOE SEDUCTION – Tues 10th Dec 2019

The eventSLOE SEDUCTION with Katherine Hook
Where: Vestry Hall, Marden
When:   Tuesday 10th December 2019 at 7.30pm 

Katherine Hook, from Spenny Lane, Marden, has been making (and consuming) Sloe Gin for many years and has a passion for all things cocoa related too.

Using fresh Sloes (Prunus Spinosa) handpicked on the family farm and neighbouring farms, she had a vision of combining these two wonderfully versatile ingredients to see what shecould create – what happened next was to be a great adventure of fun and experimenting.

The end product – a deeply rich Belgian chocolate with the intense tongue tingling taste of Sloes drenched in Gin for a while and added to a blended ganache, combine these fine ingredients together for a truly irresistible seductive chocolate.

When better than our pre-Christmas meeting to learn more …

Drinks and nibbles.
Competition: Seasonal table decoration
£10 voucher to the winner