December 2021 Newsletter

Happy Christmas and our very best wishes for the New Year
from all of us in the admin team
Belinda, Edwina, Julia, Ingrid, Luci, Marga, Shirley and Tracy xxx

Our creative wreath makers

It was so lovely to see so many of you enjoying yourselves at our December meeting. The wreaths looked wonderful. I have put an album with all the photos onto our gallery page – click on the thumbnails to see them full size.

Our photo competition winners

Huge congratulations to all our winners of the Photo Calendar Competition and a big thank you to our sponsors : Tasting the Lot, Vikki Stevens, British Bakery France, Les Delices du Duravel, Chats du Quercy and Smart Garden Products for their generous prizes. I hope you all enjoyed seeing the photos in print. We will keep the frames for next year, but if you would like to have the print of your photo to frame yourself, please let me know.  

Again, I have put the photos (taken by Graham) of the event on our gallery page, so if you weren’t able to come, you can enjoy a virtual tour. We have just a few calendars left, so please let me know if you would like one.

We have already started taking entries for our 2022 competition and are looking forward to a high standard, and a high volume of entries. Please make sure that you identify any plants in your photos, wherever possible. Start looking for ideas and opportunities to share your photos on these topics. Once again, we are looking for photos that are taken in your own garden, or in ones that we visit together. We are opening a new theme each month, and entries can be added right up until the end of September.

Photo Competition themes for our 2023 calendar

  1. Bulbs (Jan)
  2. Flowering Trees (Feb)
  3. Garden Decor (Mar)
  4. Flower Arrangement (Apr)
  5. Wildlife in the Garden (May)
  6. Climbing and Trailing plants (Jun)
  1. Garden Produce / Garden Tools (Jul)
  2. Water / Water Plants (Aug)
  3. Dry Garden / Plants (Sep)
  4. Leaves (October)
  5. Containers (Nov)
  6. Colour Themes (Dec)

Our 2022 programme

Many of you have already picked up a copy of our programme, which has the theme “Gardening in a Changing Climate”. Throughout the year, we will use our meetings, activities and visits, to learn about the steps we can take to reduce our carbon footprint, help our gardens be more resilient, use less non-renewable resources, and encourage biodiversity. This is also the theme for the Rendezvous aux Jardins in June this year, when we will have a display about it, as well as holding our Vide Jardin – please make sure that you save any items that we can sell at that event, to help raise funds – like last year, we hope to be able to subsidise our July outing to a beautiful garden where we will have a shared picnic.

 There is far more in our planned programme than we can show on the printed version, so there are many other things to look forward to, such as workshop activities, and more gardens to visit.

First off, we will have our Celebratory Lunch at Le Caillau, on Friday, January 7th.

You should already have received an invitation from Edwina. Please make sure to let her know if you are coming and would like to bring a guest; make your meal choices, and don’t forget that you will need to make your payment by 30th December, to confirm your reservation.

Dates for your Diary

We need to get an idea of numbers for various activities we have planned, so please make sure to fill in our form after reading this newsletter, to let us know what you would like to join in with.

In mid January, Lorraine Turnbull, who has recently moved to our area, has offered to demonstrate pruning fruit trees. This will take place in a member’s garden.  Please make sure you let us know if you would like to come along, as we may need to arrange more than one session.

In mid February, we will have a Rose Pruning Workshop with Richard Marple, at Les Rosiers de Richard, at Poux, near La Française. This will take place on Thursday 17th or Friday 18th in the afternoon and will cost 15€ per person. Richard is a professional grower, who also teaches pruning at the Conservatoire Végétal Régional d’Aquitaine, so we will be learning from a real expert, with masses of experience at both doing and teaching. He will keep back some roses unpruned for us to practice on, so we need to let him know the numbers in good time.

In early March, we will have a Metal Sculpture workshop with Caroline and Paul from Le Jardin Creatif. We will create 3 alliums. Cost of the workshop is 35€ per person, to include all materials. Places will be limited, so please let us know if you would like to join us.

As soon as we have a nice warm spell in the Spring, we will run a Photography workshop with Graham Berry. If you would like to improve your photography, whether you use a digital SLR, a compact camera, a tablet, or a phone, this will be an enjoyable way to learn some useful tips and tricks, so please tick the box if you would like to join us for that.

Next Meeting 

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 11th January, at the Salle de l’Eveillé. We will be having two presentations. First of all, Marjolaine from the local association Rainettes des Prés, will talk to us about “Composting”. This is such a fundamental technique to make the most of garden and kitchen waste and help to rebalance the soil. A key step in helping our gardens be more resilient in the face of climate change. Then Sue Lambert from “Open Gardens/Jardins Ouverts” will explain their scheme and hopefully encourage you to open your garden to visitors, or to become a member, which entitles you to visit open gardens anywhere in France throughout the year. 

We will be asking for your Passe Sanitaire please and everyone must sign in to confirm that they have no Covid-like symptoms.  Masks to be worn while moving around.

Maison de Retraite 

We have had a busy and successful year in the garden at La Médiévale Argentée and maintained a good level of colour and interest  throughout the year. We made a deliberate policy of not using annuals this year, but DID put some of Fiona’s Zinnias into the Sun Garden where they continued to bloom right up until the first frost. They were put in to fill a few gaps, but we will use them again next year as they will provide long-lasting colour for the residents to enjoy. In October we planted 90 narcissi bulbs in both the Sun and Moon gardens to provide some colour early next year. We have plans for the raised beds as they are too full of mature enormous shrubs and we would like to replace some of these with well-tempered Mediterranean shrubs which will thrive in the hot dry conditions. Our main aim is that the gardens do not need any additional watering throughout the season.

We received a lovely and appreciative thank you from the director, Laurent George, wishing us all a happy holiday season, and hoping that 2022 will be more conducive to social interaction.

Ground Force

We now have quite a few volunteers for this and haven’t needed to use them much this year. We have decided to offer the service to more members as it is great fun to share gardening with others and benefit the members at the same time. We will be discussing the idea with members but thought along the lines of if you have a problem area in your garden that could do with the intervention of six people for two or three hours, then we could ask Ground Force to volunteer. The service would not be available on a regular basis but rather as a one off for a particular project. 

To do in December and January

This is the ideal time to sit in a cosy place and look through seed catalogues, and plan your growing for next year. Here is a useful checklist of seeds to sow throughout the year, to help with your planning – Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year, and if you haven’t started already, you can sow sweet peas now.

On fine days you can continue clearing away finished crops and start with preparing the soil for planting, by digging over, or covering with layers of cardboard and mulching with compost.

 Make sure that tender plants are protected, and plants in pots may need to have bubble wrap or fleece around them to prevent them freezing and cracking. 

You can prune overgrown shrubs, hedges and fruit trees while they are dormant. You can also plant trees and shrubs. 

Don’t forget your garden visitors, put out fresh water for the birds as well as seeds and fat balls.

You might want to ask Santa to put a copy of Jardinez avec la Lune into your Christmas stocking, to help you plan what to do when and benefit from all the hints and tips for growing and managing your garden….

Looking forward to seeing you all again next year. Stay safe, and keep warm. Please don’t forget to fill in the form if you want to join in with any of our extra activities!