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Planting ideas

DC-2Danny Clarke (The Black Gardener). ©Neil Marshment Photography

The Aldersbrook Horticultural Society’s new season of talks kicks off this month with a presentation by Danny Clarke, aka The Black Gardener. Here, Ruth Martin introduces some of the other names on the bill

After a break in August, the members of Aldersbrook Horticultural Society are looking forward to another great year and a busy programme from September.

Our last eventful year ended with a fun social with good food and prosecco, hosted by Jane Batey and Rob Owen, which followed a fascinating walk in Wanstead Park led by John Meehan. He pointed out the origins and development of a number of interesting trees and explained that the park was established in the early 1820s after Wanstead House was demolished. No doubt we will learn more about the origins of Wanstead Park at our November meeting, when Hannah Armstrong, author of Wanstead House, East London’s Lost Palace, will talk to us about the gardens of Wanstead House. Hannah is among a number of excellent and interesting speakers we have lined up for the coming year.

Things get underway with Danny Clarke, also known as The Black Gardener, speaking at our September meeting about ‘gardening on a budget’. Danny is a garden designer and appears on ITV’s Love Your Garden. We will also hear from Fergus Garrett, the head gardener at the iconic Great Dixter Garden in East Sussex, who will talk at our February meeting about succession planting. Fergus is described as one of the most influential living garden designers and horticultural educators in Britain today, and is the chief executive of the Great Dixter Charitable Trust. 

As well as hosting nationally known speakers, we are continuing to use our many local enthusiasts and experts to talk about aspects of gardening and horticulture on a range of topics, including a talk by Mark Kenny about his garden in Ilford that he opens for the National Gardening Scheme, two local gardeners, Barry Reeves and Elaine Fieldhouse, talking about composting, and a keen allotmenteer, Celia Parker, taking us through a ‘year on the plot’. At least two garden visits will be organised over the next year: to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens in June and to The Gibberd Garden in Harlow in January to see the snowdrops and early-spring bulbs. Cerith Lowery from The Gibberd Garden will also speak at our January meeting. 

Aldersbrook Horticultural Society was re-established in 2018, a hundred years after the original society was set up. We regularly work in our two community gardens at the Aldersbrook Medical Centre and the Aldersbrook Bowls Club (where we hold our meetings). Over the last year, we opened 20 gardens locally and raised more than £5,000 for local and national charities. We are a friendly bunch of keen gardeners, novice gardeners, allotmenteers, and those interested in the natural environment. All are welcome.


Aldersbrook Horticultural Society meet at Aldersbrook Bowls Club on the second Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm (membership: £35 per year; visitors: £5 per meeting). Visit wnstd.com/ahs