Roehampton Garden Society

Hibernating wildlife – what to watch out for..

It’s the season – our wildlife is busy for preparing for the winter. Before we tidy up our plot let’s see what might be going on around us.
It’s not just hedgehogs – birds, bats and amphibians need protection from the winter weather….

Read the full article here
This article appeared on the Butterfly Conservation website, but is a newsletter supplied by CJ Wildlife, a commercial company.

Submitted by Bill Young

And take a look at this interesting article on hibernating creatures from the Woodland Trust

Modern gardens – a walk in the city

Buildings come and go – creating open spaces for modern gardens to add to the numerous historical ones….

City Garden Walks organise guided walks that will take you round some of these new ‘hidden’ spaces
Walks are offered on multiple dates through October. Cost is around £10.

Find out more and book ahead:

The City of London is almost 2000 years old and is constantly being updated – new roads, new buildings and new gardens. Each redevelopment creates an open space – which gives the opportunity for a new ‘garden’ to be created. Some follow traditional lines whilst others combine history, horticulture and sculpture. Join our guide for a pick-and-mix blend of the old and the new.

City Garden Walks

What not to feed your hedgehog

You may, as I do, have childhood memories of leaving out a saucer of bread and milk for the hedgehogs and watching them visit in the early twilight.

We now know differently – bread and dairy products are very bad for them.

So – here’s the latest advice from SW Hedgehogs – who suggest dog or cat food – dry varieties are fine. Even commercial hedgehog food can contain some poor ingredients – so check carefully.

Fresh water is important for them – but make sure the dish isn’t too deep or easy to tip over- you can add stones to make things easier.

Hedgehogs are now considered endangered – so let’s try to help them…….

Britain’s wildflower meadows

Meadows are one of the UK’s most species-rich and biodiverse habitats, supporting nearly 800 types of flowers and plants, along with 400 species of pollinators and other insects.
Today, surviving fragments of flower-rich meadows and pastures only account for 1% of UK land as we have lost an alarming 7.5 million acres since the 1930s.
Our renewed interest in planting meadows is reflected in a new exhibition at the Garden Museum in Lambeth, featuring stunning wildflower photos from Hugo Rittson-Thomas’s new book ‘Wildflowers for the Queen’.

There is an admission charge, and you must now book to go into the museum.

Find out more from the Garden Museum:

Time to take semi-ripe cuttings

If you’d like some extra plants, or want to insure against losing a precious shrub to the frost, growing a cutting or two can help. At this time of year many plants have developed short new growths that have part ripened in the late summer.

Putney Cuttings
  • Try cutting the stem at about 10cm, just below a leaf. Many gardeners like to use a full shoot of about that length, peeling gently from the main stem to create a ‘heel’, (useful for ceanothus and berberis).
  • Plant the lower 4-5 cm into a general peat-free potting compost with a good addition of light grit or other drainage material such as perlite. You can experiement with a rooting powder, but these aren’t often necessary.
  • Moisten well – but cuttings don’t need much watering and can be prone to moulds and rot if kept too wet.
  • Cuttings can often work in outdoor beds or cold frames – frost free. If you protect them under glass they will need to be hardened off before planting out.

Suitable for climbers such as Solanum and Trachelospermum, evergreen shrubs, groundcover plants, herbs and hedging – even some trees!

Read some detailed advice from the RHS here

Wildlife Gardening Forum

If you haven’t come across this organisation – who run an active website with lots of useful information on it, the Wildlife Gardening Forum is a national charity, committed to protecting garden wildlife and promoting sustainability ingardening. There is an active Facebook group, which now has over 80,000 members! They offer a quarterly newsletter which you can sign up for on their website at

If you want to stay up to date with wildlife and gardening their latest newsletter makes interesting reading:

An invitation from Putney Community Gardeners..

Join us from 3pm-7pm on Saturday 4th of September 2021 for the Putney Community Gardens Summer Party!

The main site will be the Orchard on the corner of Carslake Road & Tildesley Road

Delicious food and drinks
Please bring your own plate/bowl/cup/cutlery so you can enjoy it

Join us for:
Tour of our sites
Face Painting, craft and gardening activities
Treasure Hunt
Local Tree Walk
Info stalls

Watch out for: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Brown Dragonfly

Azure Damselfly

For those lucky enough to be near a pond….

A young lady, very interested in dragonflies and damselflies, asked me how do you know the difference between the two. For a five year old they are undoubtedly, beautiful fascinating creatures.

Dragonflies rest with their wings spread out, they are bigger than damselflies, their eyes meet on their heads, the males patrol a territory over water, a case in point is Albert’s pond.  The females fly and roam around the allotments, you may find yourself quietly looking at your superb dock or dandelion, to find your being checked out by a inquisitive dragonfly, calmly flying around you. They are curious creatures and will investigate things that grab their attention.  On Albert’s pond there are what I think is a Brown Hawker – brown in colour it chases the other dragonflies.

Also on Albert’s pond is an Azure Damselfly – identified by the bow tie at its tail end.  Smaller than a dragonfly, resting with folded wings, distinct separate eyes of a reddish tinge, it too is patrolling the pond, chasing rivals off this prime location.  Expect a Winkworth and Rightmove sign to go up over the pond, exclusively for our dragonflies and damselflies. 

Last night there was a beautiful flight of Gatekeeper on our allotments – enjoy!

submitted by Bill Young
gatekeeper moth

How dirt may make you happy

It’s long been recognised that gardening can make you feel happier and more relaxed, but it may de due to more than just enjoying the open air. Neuroscientists are interested in the anti-depressant effect of soil microbes on the brain. Mycobacterium vaccae, found in soil, is thought to improve serotonin levels.

The study was reported by the BBC here:

It’s early days for this interesting research, but here’s an article on why dirt may make you happy!

Scientists among you may be interested in the original research, published in Neuroscience here:

submitted by Kim Williams

A tale of giant gooseberries

The north of England is host to a number of Gooseberry Societies where the annual contest for the ‘heaviest’ gooseberry is hotly contested. Bryan Nellist of the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Society won their competition this year by a fraction of a gram at 26 drams 18 grains. The variety grown was ‘Belmarsh’, a white gooseberry.

The current world record was set in 2019 by Graeme Watson of the same society at 36drams 12.5 grains for a yellow gooseberry – variety ‘Millennium’ .

Egton Bridge (near Whitby) was delighted that the show could go ahead this year after last year’s Covid cancellation was the first in a 220 year history. The Gooseberry Society competition still strictly abides by the hand written rules from 1823.

Sadly, on the other side of the Pennines, Terry Price of the Goostrey Gooseberry Society in Cheshire, found that his prize bushes had been poisoned ahead of the competitions. He suspects by a rival grower!

Sources: The Guardian ; Guiness Book of Records.

Watch out for: Garden Tiger Moths

Adult Tiger Moth
Tiger Moth caterpillar

We share our allotments with a wonderful array of wildlife, which in turn pollinate our crops and work for us.

A member writes…

There are lots of Tiger Moths on the wing at the moment – creamy white and black fore wing patterns, the under wing is a pinkish red. Easily identified from a butterfly, when at rest the wings are at 180 degrees, butterflies wings are at 90 degrees. They are beautiful creatures – enjoy.

Contributor: Bill Young

Key information

The garden tiger is a stout, hairy moth. Its forewings are chocolatey-brown with cream patterns, whereas its hindwings are orangey-red with black spots. Its bright colours warn predators that it tastes unpleasant.

The garden tiger is a widespread species and can be found throughout the UK, however numbers have decreased in recent years.

Its brown and black, exceedingly hairy caterpillar is often called a ‘woolly bear’. The hairs are irritant and protect it from predators, such as birds – be warned in case you pick one up! Garden tigers overwinter as caterpillars.

What they eat:

Adults drink nectar from flowers. Caterpillars eat low-growing, herbaceous plants.

Possibly in your flower border!

Information source: RSPB