Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.


  Whilton Gardeners' Association    



Meetings in 2022

5th October    Dr Hazel Roberts: Growing Food Not Gluts - looking at how gluts can be avoided during the planning and planting

   process of a kitchen garden and then exploring ways to use what you have grown so that it doesn't go to waste.

7th December    Members' Christmas social



Staging our April meeting presented some challenges, with the village hall refurbishment necessitating a date change and then the speaker we had booked being hospitalised. However, Liz Taylor, a volunteer speaker for the Woodland Trust, who was due to come to us in October, saved the day by agreeing to come to us in April instead.

Liz gave us an insight into the history and work of the Woodland Trust, which was founded in 1972, by Kenneth Watkins in Devon, with the purchase of a single wood. Today the trust owns, or cares for, over a thousand woods, all of which have free public access. The trust has a three-pronged approach; planting new woods, protecting existing woods and restoring damaged ancient woodlands. An ancient wood is defined as one that has existed continuously since1600 or before.

Liz gave us a wonderful slide show illustrating the many forms of wildlife and ecosystems that are dependent on trees. Her enthusiasm was infectious and the talk was well received by the twenty or so members who attended.

We have decided that we would not stage our open garden event on 1st June as people will be busy with the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations at that time. Instead, for our June meeting we have arranged to visit the garden of member Chris Lefley who has kindly offered to open her garden for us at Nobottle on the afternoon of Wednesday 15th June.

On 3rd August we look forward to welcoming back Andrew Mikolajski, whose talk will be entitled ‘Right Plant, Right Place’.

30 May 2022

Joining information

If you'd like to join the Association, particularly those of you who may be new to the village, for a £15 annual subscription you can enjoy:

  • Regular, informal meetings where we have guest speakers, demonstrations and visits.
  • A summer social evening in addition to an annual Christmas supper.
  • Discounts at Whilton Locks Garden Centre.
  • Discounts on seed, flower and vegetable purchases.
  • Garden visits and outings.

Visitors and non-members are always welcome to attend meetings.  The charge for non-members is £3 each per evening.

Please contact Maurice Archer on 843081 or Roy Haynes on 07879 861673 (email)


Previous Meetings



3 August - Andrew Mikolajski - 'Right plant - right place'

15 June - A visit to the garden of Chris Lefley, Nobottle

20 April - Liz Taylor, a volunteer speaker for the Woodland Trust, gave us an insight into its history and work.  It was founded in 1972, by Kenneth Watkins in Devon, with the purchase of a single wood. Today the trust owns, or cares for, over a thousand woods, all of which have free public access.  The trust has a three-pronged approach; planting new woods, protecting existing woods and restoring damaged ancient woodlands.  An ancient wood is defined as one that has existed continuously since1600 or before.  Liz gave us a wonderful slide show illustrating the many forms of wildlife and ecosystems that are dependent on trees.  Her enthusiasm was infectious and the talk was well received by the twenty or so members who attended.



4 August - We managed to hold our first meeting since our AGM in February 2020.  BBC Radio Northampton’s gardening expert Johnnie Amos gave us a talk on ‘Late Flowering Plants for August and September’.  Phil and Jo Grant had kindly offered to host the meeting in their garden, providing an open-sided marquee for the purpose.

Johnnie told us how, with the right planting, this can be the most colourful time of year.   A colourful display can be achieved, not only from flowers, but also from shrubs and trees, with autumn leaves and fruits adding to the mix.  Acers can provide fiery autumn foliage. He recommended Acer palmatum dissectum, A. palmatum osakazuki and A. palmatum shindeshojo

Any gaps left when summer bedding plants are over can be plugged with autumn flowering plants that will still have time to establish and provide a display for the current year and, possibly, for many years to come.

Johnnie had many suggestions for plants and planting themes. Red and orange combinations mirror the hot summer days e.g., Phygelius x rectus ‘African Queen’ with Dahlias like ‘Hillcrest Royal’, punctuated with red-hot pokers.  A white theme can provide a luminous quality at dusk.

After the talk we finished the evening with tea and cakes on the patio – a chance to socialise once again.



5 February - AGM and quiz



2 October - The speaker at our October meeting was Andrew Sankey, from Cambridge, who talked about ‘The history of the Cottage Garden’.  Andrew explained how the chocolate-box image of a white painted cottage with a flower-filled front garden, so loved by American tourists, was a relatively modern phenomenon.   The origins of the cottage garden, in fact, date back to medieval times when the need for self-sufficiency drove the peasant farmer to erect a paling fence around his hovel and grow as much of his own food as possible within this enclosure.  These early cottage gardens would probably include a hen house, a pigsty and a beehive.  Vegetables would be grown in raised beds and there would be a profusion of herbs which were grown for cooking, for medicinal purposes and for strewing on the stone or earthen floor of the hovel.  Some of these herbs could have quite attractive flowers, such as hollyhocks, which were grown as a wound dressing.  However, it was not until the Victorian era that flowers grown purely for ornamental purposes became the norm and the cottage garden evolved into a style.   Andrew had dispensed with screen and projector in favour of an easel and hand-drawn sketches which seemed much more appropriate in the context of his talk.  (See connected Local History article here)

7 August - Andrew Mikolajski gave a talk on "Roses - History and Best Varieties."  Andrew recommended buying roses ‘bare-root’ for planting in November and to make sure that the graft union is buried.  Soil adhesion to the roots is important and, to this end, regular watering is necessary.  For container planting, Andrew suggested three plants of the same variety per large container and to use a compost such as John lnnes No 3.  Peat-based composts are unsatisfactory because they do not adhere to the roots sufficiently. The old European roses tended to be single flowering and of a limited colour range.  The introduction of oriental varieties brought repeat flowering and orange colours into the mix.  Andrew had a wonderful collection of slides showing varieties he recommended, many from the David Austin range.  Two of my favourites were ‘Lark Ascending’ and ‘Warm Welcome’.  Andrew’s engaging presentation style guarantees an entertaining evening and I am sure that we will ask him back in the future.

3 July - Outing to The Old Rectory Gardens, Sudborough, near Thrapston.  Twenty-two of us visited the gardens at Sudborough which cover about 2.5 acres and include a potager, a large pond and a river which regularly floods large parts of the garden, bringing additional challenges.  There are numerous rare and unusual herbaceous plants, trees and shrubs.  The current owners have been there about 4 years and are gradually implementing their own ideas.  They are keen to manage the gardens without the use of pesticides.  We finished a pleasant afternoon with tea and homemade cakes served in the old potting shed.  The gardens are open to the public on certain days and are well worth a visit.  They also hold masterclasses on various gardening subjects, such as pruning, for those keen to expand their knowledge.

5 June - Whilton garden visits followed by social/buffet in the village hall.

3 April - The speaker was Pauline Pears, who gave us a talk on home composting.  Pauline encouraged us to use whatever design of compost bin we were comfortable with, of a size appropriate to the amount of material we have to compost.  There is no point in having a very large bin and only ever part filling it.  We were split into groups and given a quiz in which we had to decide what was suitable for composting and what should be avoided.  We learnt that it was OK to compost perennial weeds and roots but that they were best placed in a separate heap. Wood chippings are OK in small quantities.  Pauline has written several books on the subject of compost and  brought some copies for sale.



3 October - The scheduled speaker had to cancel at short notice due to illness and instead Roy Haynes gave a presentation on "The Life Cycle of the Honey Bee."

1 August - Whilton garden visits and buffet.  26 members visited three gardens before making our way to the village hall to enjoy a splendid buffet.  Thanks to all who helped to make the evening a success.

19 July - Afternoon outing to The National Herb Centre near Banbury

6 June - Speaker, Theresa Wedderburn from Stony Stratford, gave us a talk entitled ’Flowers for Health and Wellbeing'.  Theresa explained how she helps to run a Community Interest Company called Branch-out MK, which uses gardening as a therapy for people with learning difficulties, helping them to improve their social and practical skills.  Participants have helped to create a garden where they learn how to grow cut flowers for sale.  They have also started producing cut and dried flower products, including potpourris and herbal teas.  Teresa had brought a selection of these along for sale.

4 April - Speaker, Christine Vick from The National Herb Centre:  "Growing and Using Herbs." Christine explained how the NHC had been founded in 1996, by the Turner family.  She went on to detail the growing conditions necessary for various herbs, many of which have a Mediterranean origin and require full sun and good drainage to thrive.  She described the various culinary and medicinal uses for some of the herbs and explained how essential oils were distilled.  We were given the opportunity to purchase a selection of plants brought along for the occasion.  As a follow-up to Christine’s talk we are arranging an afternoon visit to the National Herb Centre on 19th July when we will be given a guided tour and we will have the opportunity to sample some herb cake in the cafe.



4 October - Speaker, Andrew Mikolajski, subject "Pin Me to the Wall" - how to choose and manage climbers

2 August- Our annual Whilton garden visits and buffet supper.  Despite the unfavourable weather, which seemed to get progressively worse as the evening wore on, we had a good turnout.  We began by visiting the allotments, before going down to Manor Lane to look at 2 or 3 members’ gardens before finally going Brington Lane where thirty one of us enjoyed the buffet, lovingly prepared by Jane and her team.  Thanks are due both to those who opened their gardens and to all those who helped with the catering and contributed to making it a very enjoyable evening.

27 July - Twenty-six of us visited Cottesbrooke Hall Gardens where we were given a guided tour by the head gardener, Craig Rudman.  Craig had only been at Cottesbrooke since January this year but had already made an impact and had plenty more ideas up his sleeve to further improve the gardens.  His knowledge was extensive and his presentation articulate.  We all enjoyed the afternoon and many of us will be tempted to pay a return visit to monitor the progress of the gardens under Craig’s stewardship

7 June- The speaker at our June meeting was Caroline Tait, who talked to us about 'Winter into Spring at Coton Manor’.  Having worked as a volunteer there before going to university, Caroline told us how she eventually decided that gardening was what she really wanted to do and she returned to work at Coton Manor and has now been there for 20 years.  She is in charge of the plant nursery, which she has developed from small beginnings, growing a few hundred plants, to today’s operation where many thousands of plants are produced, both to stock the gardens and to sell to the public.  She also finds time to run a business doing garden design, garden maintenance and floristry. Her passion for her work was reflected in the talk she gave us which, accompanied by some beautiful slides, kept us captivated for an hour.

5 April- a talk by Michael Brown on "The Georgian Gardener" in which he described the tools and methods used and the way of life of a professional gardener in that era.

1 February- AGM attended by 20 members who all enjoyed a fun quiz with wine and nibbles.



5 October -The meeting was well attended, with 25 members coming to hear Linda Smith, from Waterside Nursery in Sharnford, Leics, give us a talk about attracting wildlife to our garden ponds. She spoke of the importance of having an emergence zone where creatures could easily leave the pond and she gave suggestions of how to plant up the pond to cater for the needs of the various creatures that may take up residence.  The talk was illustrated with some stunning photographs.  It is a sign of the times that Waterside Nursery now trades entirely on-line and is no longer open to visitors.

3 August we visited some members' gardens and finished with a buffet supper at Roughmoor Grounds.

16 July  Outing to Upton House gardens.  This is a National Trust property situated to the North West of Banbury. The gardens were designed by Kitty Lloyd-Jones and Lady Bearsted in the 1930s. By going as a group we benefited from a guided tour of the gardens.

1 June - Speaker, Brian Ellis from Avondale Nursery, Coventry, "Texture and Foliage in the Garden"

6 April - our speaker was Anita Thorp, who talked to us about ‘Woodland Plants’.  Anita and her husband Andrew, run a small nursery in Theddingworth, Leicestershire, where they specialise in galanthus (snowdrops). Anita had brought with her a couple of late season snowdrops along with a wealth of other woodland plants such as erythroniums and trilliums.  She entertained us for an hour describing them all.

3 February - AGM



7 October - was an informative and entertaining talk by Colin Ward of Swines Meadow Farm Nursery on "Planting for Shade and Semi-shade."  He was assisted by his wife Karen and they brought an impressive collection of unusual plants which were offered for sale.  As usual, tea and coffee was served after the talk.

5 August - over 30 members and guests attended our visits to three Whilton gardens ending with a buffet including a glass or two of wine.  Many thanks to all who contributed to making the evening a great success.

22 July - a party of 21 members and one guest visited the National Trust Gardens at Canons Ashby, where we were given a very informative guided tour by the Head of Parks and Gardens, Chris Smith, and his assistant Nadine.  Chris explained that they were trying to recreate the gardens as they were in the late Victorian era, using old plans and photographs.  We rounded off a very enjoyable evening with refreshments in the tea rooms.

3 June -  Sally Cunningham gave us a talk entitled 'Plants in their Place,' in which she gave suggestions for some of the more unusual plants that we might select to cope with the various micro-climates we encounter in our gardens.  She illustrated her talk with various cuttings which she passed around.  She also described some of the medicinal uses to which the plants were put in former times.

1 April - Geoff Stone inspired everyone with a spectacular display of photos of gardens and the natural world around us.  The presentation was accompanied by well chosen music carefully timed to enhance the pictures he was showing.



1 October - The meeting was well attended and very interesting.  The speaker, Mr Steve Mackie, taught us all a great deal about "The art of Bonsai."  He delighted us with his expertise and even allowed us to handle some of his precious specimens.  It was only when we had handed back the last that he told us it was worth £1500!

6 August - Visits to various Whilton gardens followed by a social/buffet at Roughmoor Grounds.

4 June - "Penstemons" - a talk by Mr John Lee who also brought plants for attendees to buy. The session was well attended and enjoyed by all.

2nd April - "Digging for Victory" - a talk by Dr Twigs Way



2nd October - a talk and slide show by Celia Davies on "The sex life of plants."

7th August - Open gardens in Whilton.  Three gardens were open for members finishing at Roughmoor Grounds for wine and refreshments.

3rd July - was an evening visit to Christine Lefley's garden at Nobottle.  A super garden packed with plants and interesting water features which is a credit to Christine who has spent years of hard work and thoughtful planning. The evening finished with refreshments.

5th June - a talk and demonstration by Pauline Pears entitled "Pests and Predators in your Garden - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly"

3rd April - Michael Brown delighted members with a talk and slide show with a journey through "The History of Gardens."  In his interesting talk, he demonstrated his outstanding knowledge of what, when and how gardens around the world had evolved.


3rd October - Colin Lill, accompanied by his wife, gave a talk on "Hedgehogs in the Garden" and we had the opportunity of handling two little cute examples of the species!  Colin and his wife have been rescuing hedgehogs and returning them to the wild for the past 25 years and they are to be commended for having saved an estimated 500 lives.

1st August - was another well attended visit to Jenny Dicks' Bay Tree Nursery at Farthingstone.  After being treated to hand-made chocolates and a brief talk, we all toured the small garden and polytunnels purchasing plants for our own gardens and finishing in the kitchen with a quiz and refreshments.  Jenny also runs numerous workshops which can be found on her website.

July - we were invited to a private garden at East Haddon Hall (22 attended).  The garden was very good, especially the magnificent old trees.  As we gazed across the Ha Ha the weather had the last laugh because the heavens opened so we all ran for shelter in the greenhouse where we stayed for about an hour.  We kept up our spirits with a few glasses of wine and refreshments, the only thing missing was the sing-song but we didn't want to break the glass!

13th June - Stuart Phillips gave 21 members a demonstration and talk on propagation.  As usual, his straightforward approach gave us all the opportunity to try things ourselves including some unusual garden accessories such as the microwave oven, fridge and the hand vacuum cleaner!

4th April - members and visitors enjoyed a warm welcome on a very wet night at Bert Manton's "Work shop."  He gave an interesting talk about his work and love of wood, followed by a quiz where we were asked to identify old tools and implements and their uses: great fun.  Then we looked around his museum, concluding with tea and biscuits.


5th October - Jenny Dixon gave an excellent talk and slideshow on autumn colours,  She was very knowledgeable and passionate about her plants having brought with her  a great many to show us and for us to purchase.  Hopefully we shall be able to include a visit to her Nursery in our forthcoming programme.

3rd August
 - Around 20 members and guests visited the garden of Johnnie Amos in Flore.  Everyone was surprised at the content and variety in such a small garden.  Winners of the 'Best Front of House Garden' and 'Best Hanging Basket' competitions were also awarded their prizes by the judge Jenny Terry in her capacity as a professional gardener.

1st July
 - Summer Garden Party a wonderful evening at The Little Rectory.  The slight chill in the wind was overridden by the warmth of the hosts, mouth watering food and the beautiful sunset.

1st June
 - "Bee keeping for Beginners" - a talk by Alan Sawyer who also brought along a working hive to provide a hands on demonstration of all aspects of a bee's life.

6th April
 - Gardeners' Question Time

2nd February
 - The AGM and quiz was very productive with suggestions from some members on items of interest for the future.  Coffee and the quiz rounded off a very enjoyable meeting.



6th October
 - A well attended meeting for which a big 'thank you' goes to Linda Smith who gave an interesting, informative and entertaining talk and slide show about "Ponds Design and Planting."  Most members felt that a visit to "Waterside Nursery" in 2011 would be of great interest.

11th August
 - The evening visit to Julie Connolly's garden at Clipston was well attended and, after a drink accompanied by some fresh scones, cream and strawberry jam, we all enjoyed the garden which was packed with some interesting planting.

20th June
 Garden visit to Felley Priory, Underwood in Nottinghamshire.

2nd June
 Mr Andrew Patmore gave a talk on "The Natural History of Salcey Forest."

7th April

Mrs Janet Copley will gave a talk on "Scent in our Gardens" and a selection of plants was on sale.



2nd December

Excellent attendance at our Christmas Supper made it a very enjoyable evening.  Thanks to the Committee members and all those who helped to make it go with a swing.  Thanks too to Neil and Christine Phillips for their interesting slide show which we were able to view during the meal and also to Kathleen Wright for the very pretty table centre piece.  The success of the evening has ensured that it will be an annual event.

7th October

Sally Cunningham gave an interesting talk on "Organic Gardening."  A well attended meeting had the experience of her knowledge on the subject.  Sally was assistant Head Gardener at Ryton Organic Gardens for a number of years and is still actively involved.

5 August

A plant sale was held in the St Andrew's Church with teas coffee and light refreshments.

4 July

Our fund-raising Garden Party held at "Woodview" was a great success thanks to all who came on a lovely summer's evening.  Members and guests enjoyed refreshments and a good ‘natter’ when meeting up with both new and old friends.  Approximately £300 was raised.

14 June


The Gardening Association joined forces with the then Photographic Club on a memorable day out to Coughton Court in Warwickshire.  There were 22 of us blessed with sunny weather as we strolled around the magnificent house and gardens.  The walled garden in particular contained many roses and was a delight to the eye and senses.  There were plenty of places to sit and admire the views of the lawns, gardens and lake.  Some brought a picnic, others preferred to eat in the excellent restaurant situated in the old kitchens and it goes without saying that the ice cream shop did a roaring trade too.

3 June

A big thank you to Mr Neil Phillips for a very interesting talk and slide show explaining how, through photography, the beauty of plants and landscape comes into our lives.

1 April

A visit to see Mr Bert Manton demonstrating "Rural Crafts" was a wonderful interesting evening. On arrival we were given a warm welcome from Bert and the large wood-burning stove.

Bert demonstrated the art of making many things from wood including hurdles, gates, chairs, tables and even how to restore a “Gypsy Caravan.”  My favourite was the wooden chrysanthemum flowers.

We also watched a rare video called "The Chiltern Boggers” on how they harvested beech wood to make the legs for the famous Windsor Chairs in the nineteen hundreds, it was fascinating.

Bert’s care and enthusiasm of all things wood was infectious and all too soon came to an end but not before sampling tea and biscuits in the Museum Room.  We hope to arrange another visit so that those who were unable to attend will have the opportunity at a later date. 

4 February

We had a well attended excellent talk by Christine Dakin on 'Winter Gardening.'  Her knowledge, presentation skills and the way she answered our questions was received with warm enthusiasm.  As always, a good selection of plants was on sale.