Roehampton Garden Society


Butterflies are fluttering

Such a pleasure to see them fluttering in the sunshine…. Bill Young’s latest wildlife update reminds us of the amazing butterflies we have on our sites. Watch out for these…

Brimstone
Comma
Speckled Wood

“In the allotments at the weekend I saw the following –  Brimstone with its white lightly greenish yellow wings.
Comma – bit like a Red Admiral only with ragged edges to its wings.
Speckled Wood Butterfly – dusty grey-black wings with cream dots with a black-eye. It was enjoying a sunbathe on Albert’ s shed.”

Thanks to Bill Young

Do visit our wildlife page here to catch up with allotment sightings..


RGS Plant Sale raises £400 for charity

The RGS plant sale held last week raised £400 which been donated to the Royal Hospital for Neuro- Disability. Thanks to all those who supported the event, bringing in many lovely plants for sale which sold more quickly that we anticipated!


Special thanks to all those who manned the stalls and so generously donated the plants. And thanks to everyone who sent in the pictures including Mark Sutcliffe and Jackie Savage.


Managing Slugs and Snails – tips from members

it’s official – never has the store sold so many slug killer pellets! This year has been a bumper one for crop destruction and we are hitting back. Few of us like using slug pellets, but are driven to them by lack of alternatives. So here are some options you may like to try…

Cucumber
Snails particularly seem to love cucumber. Pieces of cucumber placed around your crop will end up looking like the picture here – and the honey trap is complete. Pick them up and dispose kindly…
Thank you Georgina

Bran
A ring of bran (possibly flakes?) around your crop will attract slugs. They eat themselves silly with it, apparently, and lie there while you pick them up. Bran interferes with the mollusc’s digestion and it desiccates and and sometimes dies. This has the advantage that nothing further up the food chain that consumes the slug will be poisoned, but it does need reapplication frequently in wet weather. Again, dispose…..
Thank you Sally

Garlic Wash
Seen on Gardener’s World, this tip from a Hosta Grower at Chelsea – with a complete stand of hole-free hostas! Spray on the leaves of your crop – and make them very undesirable to pests. You may notice a smell of garlic, though…..

Recipe- with thanks to Sienna Hostas

  • Take 2 full bulbs of garlic and add them to approximately 2L of water in a saucepan.
  • Boil until soft and squash with the back of a fork to release as much juice as possible.
  • Sieve out skins and bits so you are left with a cloudy liquid concentrate.
  • Dilute approximately 2 tablespoons to 5L of water in a sprayer or watering can.
  • Spray or water over your plants once a week February-October.
  • Store in a cool place or fridge
  • Use throughout the season – make a fresh batch every year.
  • High dosage and more regular applications may be needed in wet weather.


Purple Sprouting Broccoli – the winter marvel..

Nothing much will grow in the cold of winter – after the brussels sprouts have vanished we are firmly in the ‘hunger gap’. But purple sprouting broccoli is extremely hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as -12°C. It responds to even a slight warmth and produces flowering shoots or ‘sprouts’ from February to April when there’s very little else around. Two or three large plants can feed your family. Well worth while planting some now for next year….

Here’s a summary of how to do it, but the best advice can be found from the RHS here

Sprouting Broccoli Site 3

Sow from April to mid-June for harvesting from January to May. Begin in a 9cm pot. Don’t sow too many – just enough to give you 3 or 4 plants securely.

When about 10 cm tall transplant. If you have the space free this can be their final growing spot. However, these plants will take up a lot of space. If you don’t have the space free until the autumn, you can transplant into a large, tall pot and plant out finally as late as September.

Like other brassicas, purple-sprouting broccoli thrives in a fairly heavy, alkaline soil. Avoid an exposed site, where the wind will buffet the stems and loosen the soil around the roots. Fork the soil over, removing stones and perennial weeds. Add some organic matter to improve moisture retention and texture. You may need to add lime if your soil is acidic. Brassicas dislike loose soil, so firm lightly with your foot.

Harvest each flowering shoot carefully – others should grow to replace them. Cut carefully and your crop will last for weeks.


‘Collections up Close’ – visit the RHS Lindley Library on Tuesday 4th June.

The RHS has invited RGS members to visit their renowned historic library in Victoria – the Lindley Library. The visit will take place on Tuesday 4th June, 11am. This beautiful library holds collections of early printed books, the archives of the RHS, botanical art collections and modern books on the history of horticulture, botanical art and practical gardening. Our tour will highlight some treasures from their collection – including rare books, botanical art and photography collections.


The RHS Lindley Library, at 80 Vincent Square, London, GB SW1P 2PE, is in the beautiful Edwardian headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Society has had a library for more than 200 years and the collections reflect this longstanding passion for gardens and garden plants. A treasure trove for anyone interested in learning more about the history and art of gardening.


Members can travel in a group from Putney or meet us at the Lindley Library in Victoria. If you are interested in coming please let us know by email to rgs.sw15@gmail.com . Take a look at the online Heritage Catalogue here. If you would like to see specific areas of their collections, please do let us know in advance.


Wisley Trip Roundup 2024

A group of allotmenteers enjoyed a trip to RHS Wisley on 24th April.

It was a tad chilly but thankfully dry and the cold weather ensured the rhododendrons and tulips were still looking magnificent.


The trial beds of tulips were stunning as were the swathes of Camassias rolling down the hill from the World Food Garden. It was interesting to see that, as on our own plots, planting out here had been delayed by the cold wet spring. I’m sure that they, like us , are eagerly awaiting some warmer days and nights and the chance to get those veggies in the ground.


We elected to join a volunteer walk which proved very informative and took us to an area of garden none of us had explored before. We discovered a woodland walk with the most beautiful rhododendrons,  a stumpery with ferns unfurling and around the corner a TRex lurking in amongst the tree ferns!


We rounded off the day with a visit to the plant shop … who could resist… arriving back in Roehampton with arms full of goodies. It was great fun … come and join us in 2025!

Many thanks to organiser Shan Karwatowska

Pictures by Shan Karwatowska and Jane Powell


Behind the Privet Hedge

A book by Michael Gilson

This book is about one of the main founders of the RGS, Richard Sudell.
Sudell was a pioneer of suburban gardening who has now had a book written about him and his considerable (and often overlooked) influence on one of the ways our nation revitalised itself after the terrors and destruction of the First World War.
As we showed in our Centenary Exhibition at Putney Library in June 2022, Richard Sudell not only lived on the Roehampton (now Dover House) Estate, but he also encouraged the tenants of the new houses to convert their scrappy garden patches (and the allotments) to create open spaces to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers.
“Behind the Privet Hedge” is published by Reaktion Books in May, priced £16.95. It is available to preorder: https://reaktionbooks.co.uk/work/behind-the-privet-hedge
There is also an interesting article in the April edition of “Garden Answers” about the book and our famous pioneering founder.

Jackie Savage.


All about Bees – can you help?

We watch them with pleasure, hope that they work hard for us to be effective pollinators – but can you tell which is which? There are more than 27 varieties of bumblebee!

The RHS is collecting data about bumblebees feeding habits early in the year through their ‘Bumbles on Blooms’ project. If you have a plant that is a constant food supply for bees do try to let them know through this survey. They are asking us to submit photos of a bee on the flower – and identify the bee!

Recognising our wild bees is easy to begin with – just 8 main types to choose from – so – try this starter video from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust to begin.

There’s more good information from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, who provide free charts and lots of information. For instance, can you tell the difference between a bumblebee and a honey bee? This video will help. – and it’s something your family might like to know!

The RHS say:

Information gathered by the RHS Bumbles on Blooms project will help us better understand which garden plants are most visited by bumblebees in spring, helping us improve our RHS Plants for Pollinator lists and give the best advice to gardeners planting for bumblebees. We’re also interested to discover if factors such as flower colour and how urban or rural the site is influence bumblebee plant choice.

If you can help with this project find out more at https://uk.inaturalist.org/projects/bumbles-on-blooms/


April Plot Inspections – what you need to know

There will be a plot inspection this month.

The purpose of these inspections is to ensure plots are prepared to a reasonable standard, ready for cultivation. At this time of year the team would expect your plot to:

  • Have weeds removed
  • Have the soil prepared ready for cultivation
  • Have fruit trees – apple and pear – pruned
  • Have no excessive amounts of rubbish
  • Have the grass cut on the paths between plots. Please do not use weed killer on paths
  • Make sure there are no obstructions to the paths

For your information:

  • The normal width for paths on your plot is about 300mm (1 ft) between plots and 450mm (18 inches) for communal paths
  • perimeter plots only – 450mm (18 inches) path against neighbours’ fences. Needs to be easy to clear to enable neighbours to maintain their fences.

 If your plot is found to be badly neglected, we will contact you individually after the inspection. With many people on our waiting list we must ensure that allotment plots are not being wasted.

If there are any temporary circumstances which are preventing you being able to cultivate your plot please let us know by email to rgs.sw15@gmail.com giving your phone number so that the site secretary can contact you.

Site 2:                                          Susan Bennett
Site 3: plots 50 to 100              Vivien Fowler
Site 3: plots 101 to 127               Richard Standen


It’s time for softwood herb cuttings

There’s a lot of satisfaction in having a variety of herbs around – not relying on the supermarkets. Now is the right time to take cuttings from Rosemary, Thyme and Sage plants to last throughout the year. The RGS recommends a ‘plastic bag’ greenhouse to shield cutting from draughts, particularly for ‘window sill’ growers.

Soft growth on Rosemary – ideal for cuttings.
Sage cuttings – growing well at 4 weeks old.
Cuttings thriving in a plastic bag ‘greenhouse’
  1. Prepare a pot with moist, well drained compost – a mix of peat free with grit or vermiculite, or a specialist cutting compost.
  2. Take short cuttings, 5-10 cm long from the soft new growth, remove lower leaves and put at least 3 cm into the soil. Use a rooting hormone if you wish, but most cuttings will take at this time of year without this. You can put 4 or 5 cuttings around the side of a single pot.
  3. Water well and allow to drain.
  4. Place the pot in a plastic bag which will seal at the top. This isn’t always necessary if you have a greenhouse or cold-frame. Close the bag partially – leave a small ventilation hole.
  5. Leave in a warm place – greenhouse or cold-frame is ideal, but a windowsill works. Watch for too much moisture build up – open the bag to avoid this.
  6. After 2-3 weeks remove the bag and leave in a sheltered, temperate, place. Remember to water and you should see new growth within a few weeks.


Counting Hedgehogs

The latest Gardener’s World Magazine annual Hedgehog survey has reported a small increase in numbers. This was the first year that hedgehog numbers have slightly increased, so could hedgehogs could be making a comeback?
There is an increase in awareness of the hedgehog’s decline and more gardeners trying to help, but we need better data on where they survive.

The Big Hedgehog Map tells us that 92 holes and 549 hedgehogs were sighted in our area. Do check out this splendid resource. If you want to join the hedgehog monitoring community you can sign up to register your garden and start counting.

If you’re not sure if your garden hosts a hedgehog read this advice from the Wildlife trusts – lots of help!


On a cautionary note, Fay Vass, CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, warned that ‘Valuable as the Gardeners’ World survey is, we need to remember that these figures are only a snapshot. Populations change year to year, and these findings might not necessarily represent the underlying trend.’ Data from the BHPS’s 2022 research into the state of Britain’s hedgehogs gave ‘cause for cautious optimism’ but showed that urban populations are still much lower than they should be.