Newsletter 119 - August 2017

This newsletter is also available in a format suitable for printing.                There is an archive of earlier newsletters

Coming soon…

Monday 25th September 8 pm
Dreghorn Loan Hall

Tiphereth – a talk on their work
Sandy Walton

Renewal of membership:
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Membership Secretary Jo Todd

Only £8 per household

Fertilizer & Bulb Order Forms are
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ElspethFrom the Pen of our Chair...

Dear Members

As I write this August Newsletter it is raining. Not just raining, but tipping it down as if there was no tomorrow. Ah well’, we say, ‘Good for the garden’.  But what about us?  I often have visitors from the Continent who collapse in delight when they get here, only too happy to escape the 30o-plus temperatures they have been enduring for the past six weeks. But once the rain starts bucketing down even they begin to ask if it’s always like this.  Answer 'Yes’.  Scotland is not renowned for its summers, I’m afraid. On the other hand, we do sometimes have long spells of wonderful sunshine when being on the west coast is like spending time in the Bahamas with an emerald green sea and a Titian blue sky, bright green fields and spotless white sheep grazing peacefully. Then we actually wonder why we ever need to go abroad.

I went down to Mellerstain House for the first time on a lovely sunny day in July with a German friend who is a landscape architect, We were both amazed by the perfection of the classical house built by Robert Adam and his son William in the 18th century and the formal Italianate garden with its stone balustrades descending in two lovely curved terraces to a massive sweeping stretch of lawn that also descends in three enormous grass terraces to a beautifully landscaped ornamental lake. There are two long beech hedges on either side of the terraces to lead the eye down to the lake. We chatted to the one and only gardener (below left) who showed us the two enormous round rose beds on the lower terrace directly in front of the house. All the roses in the outer border had been neatly nipped off by the deer. It was a perfect and all encompassing dead-heading job. He was not at all pleased.

Another visit was to Kirkcudbright, where the hydrangeas are bright blue, and to Broughton House owned by EA Hornel, one of the ‘Glasgow Boys’. He and his sister designed the exceptionally beautiful garden, which you enter through an imposing gateway (below right). It was quite delightful with little ‘rooms’ containing small fishponds, or small lawns with herbaceous borders all connected by narrow pathways winding under the many trees, past a revolving summer house, down to his favourite sheltered bench looking down to boats moored in the estuary.

Rake             Kirkcudbright

And nearer home, we have enjoyed some lovely days too. Our Open Gardens were singularly successful and members enjoyed our Evening Open Garden at Oakwood in Roslin, courtesy of Fiona Jones, who let us visit in mid-May. It was amazing to see a garden virtually created out of a ravine with its little Japanese-style bridges over the stream and its lovely acers and magnificent ancient trees. And it didn’t rain, despite the black clouds. We also had a very successful Open Gardens Saturday in June, and for this many thanks go to Allan and Heather Smith, Tom and Susan Murray, and Bryan and Mary Dale, all in Dreghorn Loan. It is always a lot of work to prepare one’s garden – although club members are not over demanding at all – and we do greatly appreciate everybody’s efforts. The gardens were immaculate and I think everybody enjoyed the lawns, the flowers, the vegetables – and of course the model railway at the Murrays’ house. Thank you all for being such agreeable hosts.

So maybe summer hasn’t been so bad after all, and there is still time for a blazing August.  I remain ever optimistic.


Orchids are easy-peasy!

This may be true for many of the newer Phalaenopsis hybrids, but more exotic orchid types often require particular know-how for successful growing.  Why not join an experienced and friendly group of orchid enthusiasts in the Edinburgh Branch of the Scottish Orchid Society. Activities include illustrated talks, potting-on sessions, plant raffles and opportunities for photography. For 2017-18, we meet in a new venue in Loanhead at 7 pm on the last Wednesday of the month. Contact Editor or Liz Norman for more details.


Laelia purpurata exhibited at the
Glasgow Orchid Fair in 2017

Garden Club Committee

From Autumn 2017, the Club Committee comprises:

Elspeth MacGregor    Chairperson
Susan McMaster        Secretary
Brian Dale                 Treasurer
Jo Todd                     Membership Secretary
Susan Plag                Programme Convenor
Robert Jones             Communications / Newsletter Editor
Margo Gilchrist           Hall Officer / Librarian / School Liaison
Peter Kilgour              IT Officer
Elizabeth Windle         Fertiliser & Bulb Purchasing Officer
Chris Tonge
Billy Wheelan

Non-committee members with specific roles are
Christopher Davies     Printing of Club materials
Sonia Duffy                Webmaster
Hilary Kerr                 Reporting Accountant
Carol Lumsden           Catering
Margaret McDougall   Catering
Jim Murray                Compiling of Club operating manual
Jan Osinski                Assistant Hall Officer
(see below)                Loan of Club gardening implements

We sincerely thank Brian Dale (hall), Chris Tonge (secretary), Billy Wheelan (bulbs) Gill and Paul Perry (implements) and Fiona Bushby for all the time and effort they have put into Club activities. Chris Aitken’s stint as Reporting Accountant is very much appreciated.
We are still looking for someone to house the Club’s implements - contact Elspeth 

New Website for Scottish Gardeners’ Forum

One of the roles of the SGF is to promote links between all the various gardening clubs in Scotland.  The Chairperson is Dr Shiona Mackie from Currie and the Newsletter Editor is our own Christopher Davies. The new website, which is still under development, may be found at   


Scotland’s Garden Scheme at Crail

CrailThe gardeners of Crail put on a great show a few weeks ago. Eight (so called small) gardens were on display, some on the same level as the Marketgate, others dropping steeply to the wall above the beach. The message was loud and clear: OK, we have blustery winds and sea-salt, but let’s just suck it and see. The outcome is waving Echiums, striking Fuchsias and plant-strewn stone walls.  One garden received shade from a Giant White Cherry, Prunus ‘Tai-haku’. Noted for a profusion of large pure-white blooms in the Spring, leaf form is equally rewarding (right). Having become extinct in Japan, it was re-established from a lone tree found in a Sussex garden in 1926.  The Crail specimen is about 40 years old and aging well.   Editor




Following from page 1, many of us proceed to waggle dance while weather-watching. If bees could read, they would see from the rain-spattered information panel within the weather station in the Botanics that June of this year was very wet. There were with two periods of heavy rains totalling 181 mm (7.1”). But more intriguing is the use of the term ‘grimness’ with a value of 3.2 for June. On enquiring I was told that the grimness value, G = relative precipitation divided by relative sunshine. Not ughs or yucks surely! On second thoughts it probably has no units, and no upper limit!

And what about a doister or two? For curious weather terms, see   Editor

Make for a makeover

Dalkeith Country Park has recently had an extensive face-lift. Within the renovated stables-courtyard is a beautiful Siberian silver birch, which one feels should remain ever young like JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. The adventure playground has been moved to a spot high above a bend in the South Esk – a fusion of alpine retreat and ‘Psycho’ house as the sun moves behind the clouds.  


Betula platyphylla












Programme of events for 2017-18

Monday 25 September

 Tiphereth: A talk on the their work by Sandy Walton

Saturday 7 October

 Autumn Plant Sale and Coffee Morning in St Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church Hall, 10 am – 12 noon.  See below.

Monday 23 October

 Glendoick – Garden Plants for Scotland by Kenneth Cox

Monday 27 November

 Growing Fruit and Vegetables at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh by Ben Dell, RBGE

Monday 11 December

 Christmas Party  7.45 for 8 pm in Dreghorn Loan – Upper Hall

Monday 22 January

 The Botanics Cottage – History in the remaking by Gerry Gallagher, RBGE

Monday 26 February

 Propagation by Clare Reaney, Dundee Botanic Garden

Monday 26 March

 Members’ Evening  3 short presentations - details later

Monday 23 April

 Annual General Meeting and Display of Members’ Work

A Monday evening in May

 Evening Open Garden  Details later

A Saturday in May / June

 Local Open Gardens  Details later

A Saturday in June / July

 Summer Outing  Details later

Monday meetings take place at 8 pm in Dreghorn Loan – Upper Hall. Disabled access is available.

Autumn Plant Sale & Coffee Morning

The date and location of this event are shown above. We hope to offer a wide range of plants, fruit and vegetables for sale.  A range of bulbs at highly competitive prices will also be available including more exotic varieties not usually available through retail outlets.

We’ll be delighted to receive items for sale at St Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church Hall from 8.30 on the morning of the event.  Items can also be delivered to committee members the evening before. Please label plants with their names and their eventual size where possible.

And come along to the sale itself, meet your friends, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, and go off with new plants, bulbs and health-giving garden produce!

Bulb Catalogue and Fertiliser Orders

Members are advised that the new bulb catalogue is available and can be viewed online at The paper copy of the catalogue was circulated on the Summer Outing coach. Order forms for bulbs and fertiliser are available. Orders for bulbs must be in no later than Friday 18th August and orders for fertilisers etc. must be in no later than Monday 25th September. Thanks, Liz Windle.

Members’ photos in the website gallery

The current theme is ‘Photos taken in gardens at home and abroad’. We are happy to accept photos taken with your ‘multi-megapixel mobile wonder’. Send good quality JPG files (with relevant plant information) to


Newsletter Delivery

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Communications Officer
0131 445 2745

Club Website

For details of all Club activities and contact addresses
Webmaster: Sonia Duffy

Membership enquiries

Contact Jo Todd, Membership Secretary