Clubs keep dream alive in the winter

A beech changing colour.
A beech changing colour.
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At Whittingham the gardening club meets on the second Wednesday of the month.

It has an impressive list of speakers lined up and an enthusiastic group of members who I’ve had the pleasure of addressing.

This has also been a way of life for myself and several Alnwick and district gardeners for decades as members of the town’s garden club.

We’ve seen several changes of venue and experienced the occasional difficulty over the years, but last week’s response to our wobble in losing two key, long-serving contributors and a change of base was met with gusto.

We’ve been welcomed at The Alnwick Garden, a new organising team is working on the monthly format, and the next meeting is on Tuesday, November 29, at 7.30pm.

Our organisation started in the 1960s when Jo Smith, a lecturer at Alnwick Teacher Training College, then based in the castle, decided to start a club for local gardeners on the premises.

This youngster attended and Jo became a lifelong acquaintance. When he stood down from the club in the 1980s it seemed natural to take the lead, bring a few friends on board and keep it going.

Venues have been as varied as the talks. From castle to Camera Club, St Michael’s Church Hall to the Duke’s School, The Queen’s Head to Town Hall. Now we are delighted to have been welcomed at The Alnwick Garden.

Jo’s so-called ‘magic lantern slides’, some downside up, have given way to a power-point presentation, and the recommending of pesticides has been replaced by a more ecologically-friendly approach.

Developments in plant breeding and the invention of time-saving gadgets has altered the stance of speakers, but key elements have not changed. Garden clubs still bring like-minded people together and keep the dream alive from autumn to spring.