Roehampton Garden Society

Tour the newly opened RHS Hilltop Science Centre

With the opening of the Hilltop Science Centre at Wisley, the RHS deepens its studies into the most critical issues facing gardeners today.

Around 70 scientists and students will be based at RHS Hilltop, with research set to focus on helping gardeners adapt to the challenges posed by climate change and pest and disease threats, and the growing understanding of the role gardens and plants play in supporting health and wellbeing.

Hilltop is a state-of-the-art home to unparalleled collections including 25,000 entomology specimens, 90,000 dried plants in the Herbarium, and a library of more than 28,000 books, artworks and items of horticultural literature dating back 500 years.

The RHS is offering free tours of the newly opened Hilltop science centre at Wisley.

Tours are every Wednesday at 10.45 a.m. and 1.15 p.m. The tour is free, but normal garden admission applies, so you may have to pay to enter the gardens. No reservations needed for garden entry, but Tour tickets must be pre-booked.
Find out more here

How to store Apples

It’s a lovely thing to have a good crop of fruit – and this year has been good for apples. There are always more ready than we can eat, but, if carefully picked, you may be able to enjoy them for weeks ahead.

How long your apples will keep is all down to the variety and how they are stored.
Bramley seedling and Cox’s orange pippin may last well until Christmas, and others such as Pixie or Sturmer Pippin can keep as long as March. In general the early varieties don’t store quite as long.

All apples stored in a dark, cool place should keep for a month or two if they are undamaged. Store in a ventilated box or tray as good airflow reduces disease.

There is good advice on how to keep your apples on the RHS website here . See the useful 5 minute video from Jim Arbury, RHS Fruit and Trials specialist.

How to dry Apples

If you have apples to store, and enjoy dried apple rings or chips, try oven drying.

Your oven will need a slow setting (less than 150C, (300F) is ideal). Wash and dry the apples carefully, then core and slice thinly. Dip in dilute lemon juice to prevent browning in the air, and cook very slowly on a parchment covered baking tray. Turn after 1 hour – but the final drying time could be anywhere between 2-8 hours. Leave to cool in the oven.

Dried apple slices or apple chips will keep for months in an airtight bag.

Here’s some help and lots of detail from the website WikiHow

An Apple day for Granard School

A small group from Granard Primary school came to the allotments on Monday 27th October as part of their on-going visits to our sites. On this occasion we talked about Autumn and each child picked an apple from plot holder Laura Davis’s tree. (You can see Laura helping in the photo.) Then, sitting in our new communal area, the teacher dissected an apple and the pupils were given a worksheet to name parts of an apple and they could then take the fruit home or eat it.

Every Monday afternoon (weather permitting) a small group of children and teachers from Granard school, visit our allotments. In the past many plot holders have been very friendly and shown and discussed with the pupils what they are doing on their plots. We have looked closely at fruit, vegetables and flowers as well as insects and birds. Whatever takes their fancy!

If you would like to meet the children they usually come at 2pm on a Monday and stay for about an hour.

submitted by Jackie Savage

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: