December 2020 Newsletter

Our best wishes for a happy festive season and a positive outlook for 2021, from all the Admin Team – Belinda, Edwina, Julia, Ingrid, Luci, Marga, Pam, Rosamund and Shirley xxx

Well this has been a strange year indeed. When we had our last meeting in the Salle de l’Eveille in March this year, we had started taking precautions, but of course, none of us could foresee the extent or duration of the restrictions that would take place this year. 

 Thank goodness that we have been able to use Zoom to keep connected with each other and continue some of our activities at least.

Our one face to face meeting in October was a brief respite from lockdown and made me realise that it is much easier to manage social distancing in an outdoor setting. So in the coming year, we are focussing on activities that we can hold outdoors and on visits to gardens, until such time as we can start using the meeting room again.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 12th January at 14h

This will be a fun Zoom quiz. I do hope you will join us for some gardening and general knowledge questions, and of course to share news of what you have planned for your garden in the coming year. If you haven’t got going with Zoom yet, please do give it a try – I am more than happy to help with installation and to run through how it works ahead of time, so don’t hesitate to email or call me on 05 65 31 49 72 if you are a bit hesitant about it.

Recent meetings

On our meeting on November 10th, I talked about “Gardening by the Moon”. I hope Santa will bring me a copy of “Jardinez avec la Lune 2021”, which will be my guide for when best to sow seeds, prune and plant out. The booklet is full of timely tips and recommendations and also helps improve my gardening vocabulary in French.  Here are some resources for more information:

Due to the restrictions, we couldn’t hold our Christmas Decoration Workshop with Isabelle Durand, as planned, but Julia Barton stepped in and gave us a fantastic, informative demonstration using Zoom, on December 8th. It was really a lovely way to spend the afternoon and as you will see, there were some super decorations made by our members. If you made some more after the workshop, do please share your photos with us. The illustration for our Christmas card was created by Liz Mitchell.

The club now has a stock of Oasis, at €1,50 per rectangular block. A useful website for craft and floral decoration materials is

Isabelle Durand’s stall in Montcuq market

I hope that many of you will look for Isabelle in the Lauzerte and Montcuq markets, where she sells her lovely decorations as well as Christmas trees. Hopefully we will be able to do a floristry workshop with her in future.

2021 Programme

You should have all received our combined Christmas Card / 2021 Programme in the post. You will see that we have a wide range of activities planned, aiming to encompass the need for social distancing and minimise indoor meetings until such time as the health crisis has diminished. We are focussing on outdoor events and will continue to use Zoom as needed, but really hope that we can meet again as usual before too long. There are some things that we had to defer from 2020, such as the Brocante in Chantal’s garden, and the visit to Jardin d’Ingrid, and there are plenty of visits to look forward to. There may well be some additional outings that we can add at short notice,  and as always, we welcome your suggestions.

Photography Competition

 A new challenge for you all is the Photography Competition for our 2022 Calendar, to show off what is looking good throughout the year. 

We kicked this off early so that we can complete our calendar in time to launch it at the Journée de l’Arbre in November, so we already have some great entries on our Facebook Group. 

If you aren’t on Facebook, you can still participate – you can download to Dropbox or Google Drive, just drop me an email and I will send you the links you need.  

We are looking into ways in which you can participate in making the final choice for each month’s winning entry, and we are recruiting sponsors for the prizes for each month. Please let Luci know if you, or a company you are involved with, would like to be a sponsor.  

Between us we will create an inspiring library of images featuring the plants that do well here throughout the seasons, as well as the wildlife that we find in our gardens.

Garden to Table

Another new idea is our “Garden to Table” feature, for sharing your ideas and recipes for using seasonal garden produce. When you have a glut in the garden, it will be really useful to have suggestions of what to do with it. We hope you will have delicious goodies for us to taste along the way, especially during our October meeting.

One thing that isn’t shown on the programme is our celebration meal, but we will arrange that when it becomes possible to do so – we will certainly have something to celebrate then! 

The year will culminate with an exhibition of your photos and a prize giving for the monthly winners, to which all our sponsors will be invited.

To Do this Month

Flowering Yucca

I also want to get some more Dahlias and perhaps some summer flowering bulbs, and would be looking at Farmer Gracy for those. Again, please let me know if you are interested.

It may seem that there is not much to be done in the garden in December, once you have protected everything against possible harsh weather, but on fine days, you could be pruning climbing roses and overgrown shrubs, and this is also a good time to prune apple and pear trees,  as well as planting bare-root trees. It is also ideal for sowing some flower seeds indoors or in a heated propagator, such as Sweet Peas, pelargoniums, hardy cyclamen and snapdragons. In the vegetable garden you can sow broad beans and plant garlic sets outdoors, and start lettuce such as Winter Gem and Lamb’s lettuce in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame.

A late-flowering rose in Sarah Pegg’s garden

Don’t forget to put out fresh water for the birds as well as encouraging them to pick pests off your roses by hanging feeders nearby. I have an ongoing battle with keeping the pigeons off my green veggies, do please share any proven techniques!

Update from the MdR garden

 Our volunteers were able to get back to the garden during the summer months, and really enjoyed seeing how it is maturing.  Dead-heading and cutting back some of the vigorous growth have been the main tasks, along with some weeding and watering, although M. Claude has been diligent at keeping the garden tidy and watered throughout the periods when we have not been able to visit. David and Louise, together with Luci and her husband, were able to finish the job of laying the remaining gravel and tidying up, so everything looks very smart now.

Once again, since the end of October, the garden has been left to look after itself, and we hope to be able to start again some time in the New Year. If you would like to be added to the volunteer rota, then do please let Julia know. We hope to be able to hold a cuttings workshop there in the Spring, as there should be plenty of material for propagating from, and it would be lovely for more of our members to be able to see the results of all the work that has gone into the garden. It has certainly been appreciated by the staff and the residents and their families, and thanks to all your efforts the garden has continued to thrive and provide non-stop colour and interest, even in the hottest and wettest periods.

Changes to the Bureau

Since the very beginning of the club, some 7 years ago, Pam Westcott has been doing a fabulous job as Secretary.  Through the changes of other officers of the club, she has provided continuity and made sure that not only do we abide by the rules and regulations, but that we keep you all up to date with the information you need. From making sure that we have meeting rooms, to answering all kinds of queries, Pam has developed the contacts we need and been a friendly and welcoming presence at our meetings. I can’t thank Pam enough for all that she has done for the club over the years, or for all the help and support she has given me. The club has grown and thrived thanks to her selfless and generous attitude towards all the little things that need doing behind the scenes. 

Pam has been saying for some time that she would like to have a change, so whilst I am very sorry to see an end to her tenure, I am really pleased to be able to announce that from early January, Edwina Silver has agreed to take over as Secretary.  Pam will continue to be a member of the Admin Group and will be helping Edwina to transition into the role.  I know that I can count on you all to support Edwina as she gets familiar with her new responsibilities. 

I am also very happy to announce the appointment of Julia Barton as our Vice-President. I am really looking forward to working with Julia on our 2021 programme. These two roles, together with those of President and Treasurer, make up the Bureau, or the executive of our Association.

Please join with me in thanking Pam for all her amazing contributions over the years, and in welcoming Edwina and Julia to their new roles.

Our AGM is due to be held in February, and will include elections to our Admin Group. We would welcome some new participants, who will help make things happen for the club. So please let our secretary know if you are willing to join the AG, then we can include your nomination in the info sent out before our AGM.

Season’s Greetings to you all.  Stay safe, stay warm, stay well. Belinda x