September 2019

There is a distinct feeling of autumn in the air now, with fresh dewy starts to the day, cool nights and the evenings drawing in. But it is not all doom and gloom. Autumn colours are starting to develop and there is still a lot of colour in the garden in the summer bedding plants (notably zinnias, geraniums and begonias) and the late summer/autumn perennials (asters, dahlias, sedums, phlox and salvias). These displays should last well into October, barring any early frosts.

Fruit crops are disappointing this year. There are very few apples, plums and damsons on our trees. On the other hand, raspberries have done well, mainly due to the good June rainfall. Most vegetables also performed well this season, in particular French beans, runner beans, beetroot, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers, sweetcorn, squashes and tomatoes.

Work in the garden is now focusing on winter preparations. Garden compost and leaf mulch is being turned and space created for this season’s leaf-fall. All tree leaves are collected, wherever possible, and compacted in large wire cages to decompose. We produce a large quantity of excellent mulch in this way for spreading around trees and shrubs. Grass clippings are added to the general garden waste to make compost for digging into the vegetable plots and herbaceous beds. We also make our own potting mixture from a combination of topsoil, leaf mould and compost, to which grit and slow-release fertilisers are added. From the results in the garden, it appears to be a good recipe!

One of our conifers died earlier in the year, for no obvious reason, but probably due to drought stress in recent years making it susceptible to root disease. The tree has been felled and logged. We have good stocks of logs for sale for the forthcoming winter, for those of you that have log-burners or open fires. Do drop by to see what’s available.

Our annual Horticultural Show on 7th September was very successful. This year saw many more entries in most classes, and considerably more in the children’s classes, which is particularly pleasing. The weather was kind in the afternoon and there was a good range of stalls to entertain visitors – “something for everyone”, as one person put it. Thanks to everyone who participated in the show, with special thanks to the judges, stewards, volunteers and stallholders. A lot of work was involved, but it was hugely rewarding. We also acknowledge the support of Walero, a small company in Little Shelford, who volunteered their time to help put up the large marquee, party tents and gazebos for the show. It is the one occasion in the year when we really do need a lot of help in the garden.

The trophies were presented this year by Alan Fox, who was Vice President of the Sawston Gardening Club when it was still running. The winners were:

  • Trustees Trophy (most number of points in the fruit and vegetable classes): Kamlawatee Wells.
  • Garden News Trophy (best exhibit in the fruit and vegetable section): Peter Webb.
  • Frank Matthews Trophy (best exhibit in the domestic classes): Alison Kent.
  • Mary Challis Trophy (best floral exhibit): Rosemary Cook.
  • WI Trophy (best exhibit in handicrafts section): Judy Saunders.
  • Sue Reeve Trophy (best exhibit in 8–12 age group): Magnus Davey.
  • John Falkner Trophy (best exhibit in 7 and under age group): Joss Irons.
  • Chair’s Trophy (family with the most number of points): Mr and Mrs Wells.
  • Norman Carver Trophy (best in the entire show): Judy Saunders.

Congratulations to all this year’s winners. Kamlawatee Wells once again scored the highest number of points (27) in the fruit and vegetable section, with a commanding lead over Rosemary Cook in second place (17) and Michael Wells (16) in third place.

At the time of writing, we are still awaiting planning permission for the new garden museum. Meanwhile, a team has been sorting through the many artefacts stored in the various garden buildings to identify items to display in the museum. This has turned up a host of interesting items, including a huge board advertising ‘Agents for Gilbey’s Wines’, a travelling ink-well, and beekeeping equipment. All of these, and much more, will eventually be on display in the new museum. This is the next big project for the Challis Trust. If you would like to get involved preparing artefacts for display, we would be pleased of extra help.

Do look out for posters for Spooky Saturday on 26th October. All the usual activities, plus Andy’s soup kitchen, cheese scones, tea and cakes. This is a children’s event; come along and join in the fun.

The opening times for the garden on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays are now extended – 9.30am to 12.30pm. Sunday afternoon times remain unchanged, from 2pm to 4pm, but will revert to the winter opening times 1pm to 3pm from 28th October when the clocks go back. The museum and archives in the house are open to view every Tuesday morning 10 to 12 noon. Mike Redshaw

Published in the October–November 2019 issue of Sawston Scene