A Timeline History of Willingham Gardening Club
October 1985: An initial meeting of enthusiastic village gardeners was convened at 38 Over Road, to select a committee. It was decided to hold meetings with guest speakers on the second Thursday of each month with the first meeting to be held in January 1986 at the old Methodist School Room, next to the library. Nowadays our meetings are held on the first Monday of each month, except January, at the Willingham Social Club.
March 1986: The first AGM was held when the initial committee was confirmed and the subscription set at £3. The first of our many excursions over the years was planned; to RHS Wisley in the June, and to Cavendish Manor Vineyards and Beth Chatto’s Gardens in the July. A regular programme of excursions to places and gardens of interest to our members and friends, has continued until currently interrupted by the Covid virus restrictions. There was at one time a five-day holiday arranged to far flung parts of the British Isles.
Two other suggestions were proposed at that first AGM; that we hold a hanging basket, tub and window box competition in the village to encourage people to make Willingham a more attractive place which ran for a number of years, and secondly, to have an in-house members horticultural show, the first arranged to take place at the Gardening Club’s August 1988 meeting. This arrangement continued until 1991 when the Gardening Club was approached by the village Horticultural and Craft Show committee to take over the running of the village show. This arrangement has continued from 1992 until the present day. Unfortunately, this year’s Show has had to be stood down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
1988-97: The Gardening Club started to organise an annual village Gardens Open day. This eventually ended due to concerns over security issues and lack of new gardens willing to open. The loss of revenue to our chosen charity for this event, Magpas, was a disappointment. Good days were had enjoying visits to members gardens with family and friends who could be persuaded to accompany us. There were plants for sale, cream teas were available, and on several years there was live music from a local band organised by one of the committee members. Proceeds from this event went to support MAGPAS, chosen because one of the doctors at our village surgery was active with Magpas who gave a demonstration and talk at one of the Gardens Open days.
2000: The Gardening Club was running successfully with 130 members. However, the chairman at that time appealed for more help as the committee were not getting any younger. Things never change!
The Gardening Club ran an annual Plant Stall on a Saturday morning at the end of May on one of the members driveways on the High Street. The Plant Stall came to an end in 2014 when the availability of plant material for sale and manpower diminished.
To the Present: Over the years our Speakers Secretaries have worked hard to find speakers of interest, many becoming regular favourites with us. Topics ranging from gardens, flowers and vegetables from around the world, talks from local nurserymen and specialist growers, crafts and gardening practicalities. When popular at the time, we were fortunate to have Bob Flowerdew talking on the ‘Scented Garden’, and the late Peter Beales visited us on two occasions with his talks on ‘Classic Roses’ and ‘Roses of the World’.
The Gardening Club has now been in existence for thirty-four years thanks to the enthusiasm of our founding members, and our continuing membership. As soon as the current situation settles down, and it is deemed safe to do so, we hope to be up and running again. In the meantime, let’s keep our heads down, stay safe, and look forward to living to fight another day.
Hello all Willingham gardening enthusiasts.
Bearing in mind that the village Horticulture and Craft Show has had to be cancelled this year, how about sharing all your gardening triumphs and failures with us with a view to a harvest flourish finale in September and October? We would love to hear from you all, especially our young budding gardeners.
You can email articles, anecdotes and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and your photos will be published in colour! It would be great to hear from some of the children in the village too with stories and pictures. We look forward to seeing photos of your best flowers and vegetables; what’s happening in your garden or allotment, and anything the children are doing, be it just growing something on a window sill in a plastic supermarket container.
For starters here are some photographs of a yellow Callistemon (bottlebrush) shrub, not often seen as they are usually red or orange/red.
One of our Gardening Club members is quite chuffed because this is maybe only the second year it has come into serious flower. The shrub was acquired about eleven years ago from a botanic garden in Scotland on one of her excursions around the country. Initially it was not well placed, facing north against a fence, but over the years it grew taller, and over the last few years has grown above the fence into the sun where it had steadily made more flower year on year. This year being its best so far. The bottlebrush plant originates from Australia and is a semi hardy shrub in this country which flowers May to July, depending on the weather.
Yellow Callistemon (bottlebrush)