Garden Interest

Whitley WI Garden Interest Group (WI members only)

Our Garden Interest Group is led by Annette Minor, who arranges visits to local gardens and keeps us informed about local events, including the Open Garden Scheme organised by NGS. Please look on the calendar to check details.

2023 Activities

December 2023

Wreath Making workshop at Smith’s Nurseries

12 members of our Garden Group visited Smith’s nursery, Lymm in December to make a Christmas wreath.

We were provided with everything we needed – a circular wire frame filled with moss, a roll of wire for fixing, a variety of evergreens and lots of choice of ribbons and decorations. We were also give gloves, secateurs, etc, not to mention some very welcome mulled wine and mince pies.

We had a wonderful, sociable afternoon with lots of guidance and assistance from Sarah from Smith’s and her team of helpers. At the end of the session we all had a beautiful, individual wreath to decorate our homes. Many thanks to Annette for organising.

September/October 2023

Annette had asked WI members to save ‘bottle ends’ to help build our poppy display for Remembrance Day. Members had a couple of fairly ‘messy’ meetings, in Susan’s garage, where the bottle ends were all painted in September and, in October attached to a large board ready for our display. The ‘poppy board’ was placed at our WI Sorbus tree in the Whitley Nature reserve over the remembrance week at the beginning of November and much appreciated by passers by. Thanks to Annette and the craft group members for their contribution to this display.

July – Christmas Quiz prizewinner visits RHS Bridgewater

Our group leader Annette set us a Christmas Quiz challenge last December which was won by Sheila Cox. Her prize was a trip to RHS Bridgewater and she visited with Annette and two other competitors at the end of June. The gardens are becoming well established and were a riot of colour on a pleasant day – fortunately the drizzle held off.

There is so much to see in this garden, developed by the RHS over the last 3 years from the ruins of Worsley Old Hall gardens. The Walled Garden and the Kitchen Gardens are becoming well established. The Chinese Streamside Garden is one of the current projects under construction, working in partnership with the Chinese Community of Manchester. Well worth a visit.

May – Trip to Smith’s Nursery in Lymm

On Tuesday, May 9th Annette arranged for some members of our garden group, with friends and families, to visit Smith’s Nurseries in Booths Lane, Lymm, WA14 OPF (click to see map). Click esmithandson to see their website

The owners, Sarah and Derek, gave us an interesting talk and insight into their business, initially started by Derek’s parents, which occupies a 5 acre site. They have completely redeveloped the business and installed machinery to automate much of the growing process, from planting the seed into ‘plugs’ to lifting the ‘plugs’ and planting out ready for growing on, hardening off and selling.

The greenhouses and poly-tunnels have semi-automatic heating and watering and it was fascinating to see the full process. Many of us couldn’t resist a ‘shopping spree’ at the end of the tour and many will be back in the next few weeks to buy our bedding as the danger of frost passes.

Many thanks to Annette for arranging the visit. She is always full of ideas for our Garden Interest group, with a visit to Bluebell Cottage Gardens planned for later in the summer, a summer garden party at Ann Cookson’s on August 10th and our plant sale at the June WI Meeting.

March – A trip to Dunham Massey

Four of us visited Dunham Massey before the snowdrops had finished and what a treat – The daffodils put on a wonderful show and we were treated to a poetry reading from Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes by Ann in the old orangery which had us all in giggles

March – A walk around Walton gardens

The weather in the early part of 2023 was extremely cold, with the gardens covered in snow and frost for weeks. Our first outing of the year was a joint venture with the Walking Group to Walton Gardens. The Woodland bulbs were just coming into flower , though a return visit in a few weeks will see lots of daffodils in flower and tulips out in the formal beds. We enjoyed looking at trees just coming into leaf, and discussing just what we are seeing. The restored Victorian glasshouses were full of Bromeliads, some of which were prizewinners at Chelsea. For more pictures see the Walking Page

2022 Activities

We had some really interesting events during the year, culminating in a Garden Quiz competition. This got all our brains working during December and the winner was Sheila Cox, scoring 46 out of 50. Her prize is a trip to RHS Bridgewater or a garden gift voucher.

Other events/outings included

March – Sam Youd – former Head Garden at Tatton Hall, who gave a fascinating talk on ‘Gardening is good for you’, open to guests including other local WIs. Thanks to Pat Sharp and Helen Carey for organising this.

April – Sue Burtonwood and Annette organised a behind the scenes visit to Smith’s nursery at Lymm. 15 members walked through poly-tunnels full of colourful plants at different stages of development. There is quite a production line sowing, transplanting, potting and growing on at the 2 acre site.

May – Garden Party at in Helen Carey’s beautiful garden. There was a wildlife photographic competition which was won by Jenny Roberts with her picture of a bee on a flower. Donations from this event went to the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

May – Bridgemere Garden Centre. We were invited to attend the reopening of the garden display area at Bridgemere and 4 of our members enjoyed a their visit – great displays and hospitality.

September – members had been given sunflower seeds earlier in the year, and this was the month for them to be measured. Susan Burtonwood was the winner – a whopping 10 feet and 5.5 inches! A seaweed fertiliser was the magic ingredient that Susan used to help her flower reach such a record height. Well done!

September – a visit to Antrobus Community garden with Jackie Graty. We all went home with an organically grown cucumber.

Previous Years

This group was started by Pat Sharp, who did a wonderful job keeping us all informed of different opportunities to visit gardens in the area, especially those opening under the NGS scheme. She also organised various trips

A major achievement during the pandemic were the wonderful videos that Pat produced of member’s gardens/plants and also the natural world around Whitley. This has created a great legacy to remind us of some positives from those difficult times.

Pat also organised various plant sales, and garden parties which will hopefully continue in the future

Pat handed over to Annette in 2022, but remains a great source of ideas and support within the group.

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