Cliff Curtis’s funeral

Sharron has asked me to announce that the funeral of her father Cliff Curtis will be held on Thursday June 7th at St Andrew’s church, Haconby, at 2pm, followed by refreshments at 21 Chapel St (PE10 0UL).


Goodbye Cliff


Cliff Curtis – photo from his Facebook page

It is with deep sadness that I write these words. I was told just before tonight’s meeting that Cliff Curtis, one of our most loyal founder members, died suddenly, a little earlier this week. I understand that he had been taken into hospital with what I am told was a brain haemorrhage, but I only have that second-hand. I am sorry that I could not say more about him at our meeting tonight but I’m finding it very hard to keep it together to type these words now.

Cliff was a dear friend. My wife remembers him fondly from many years ago, from his days as a visiting LEA groundsman when she taught at Little Bytham primary school and how he stood out from subsequent visiting staff for his knowledge and the pride that he took in his work.

Most of you will know the wonderful cottage garden garden that he and Joan have created and maintained (latterly with the help of their daughter Sharron, our programme secretary) in Chapel Street, Haconby. A true gardener to the very roots of his being, he lived and breathed plants and was generous to a fault, always ready to share his plants and his considerable knowledge.

Theirs was one of our favourite gardens to visit 35 or so years ago when I used to take my summer evening classes on jaunts from Casterton College although the garden was very different then (Cliff still kept pigs, and grew many more veg). Then at the end of the last visit of one summer session some of the class members and I decided to start SLGS… and I think it was on one of our early coach outings that Cliff caught the snowdrop bug. The rest is history!

Cliff quickly and quietly became one of the most modest, yet knowledgeable and widely respected galanthophiles in this country. His researches concerning the well-known local snowdrop cultivar ‘Ketton’ and its precise place of origin led to all sorts of exciting discoveries. He was often invited to inspect colonies of snowdrops in old gardens and I was fortunate enough to accompany Cliff, Joan and Sharron on some of these expeditions. And oh the thrill of the chase as we shuffled semi-competitively from clump to clump, bent double, or even down on hands and knees with backsides in the air, eyes straining to detect the magical aura of a chance seedling or even a small clump sufficiently different to count as a needle in that particular acreage of haystacks… Cliff’s special, longed-for “yallery’un” or “green-tipped’un” that might be hiding just behind the next tree…

Although I don’t think Cliff ever actually found Galanthus ‘Ketton’ growing in Ketton, some of his other finds from there and elsewhere, such as ‘Squire Burroughs’, ‘Peardrop’ – and of course the perfect pairing of ‘Little Joan’ (named for his wife) and ‘Cliff Curtis’ – are superb snowdrops that will surely stand the test of time, just as well as ‘Ketton’ has. And some good seedlings have recently come from the garden at Haconby, too: a really nice double, and a good “green-tipped’un” too.

I’m sure all members of the Society will join me in sending our sincerest sympathy to Joan, Sharron and her brothers at this very sad time. We will all miss Cliff enormously. He was a countryman of the old sort, down-to-earth yet a natural gentleman; his like will not be seen again. It was a privilege to know him.

  • If any members have memories of Cliff that they would like to share I would be delighted to post them here or on a special page. Do you have any photos of the garden?

AGM & Plant & Prejudice

Don’t forget to arrive early for the AGM at 7pm on Thursday 25 January!

It will be followed by a talk by Dr Andrew Ward, of Norwell Nursery, near Newark, discussing how we tend to dismiss or mentally disregard some plants, treating them with undeserved prejudices.

Andrew trained as a Plant Breeder and started Norwell Nurseries and Gardens 22 years ago with his wife Helen. He lectures widely throughout the country undertaking approximately 50 talks a year. He has been asked to give keynote talks at prestigious events such as The Hardy Plant Society Autumn Weekends and National Annual General Meetings as well as regular monthly meetings to regional Hardy Plant Societies, regional NCCPG groups, local gardening groups, florist groups and WI’s. He is often booked over two years in advance of the talk.

The garden at Norwell holds over 2,500 different varieties of plant and has featured in many magazines including Country Living, Country Life, Landscaper magazine and Gardens Illustrated. It has been been included since 2013 in the highly prestigious publication Great Gardens to Visit. It is renowned for colour from spring but especially in the autumn when an NCCPG National Plant Collection of Hardy Chrysanthemums can be seen.


Snowdrop Garden Open

A local snowdrop garden is to open for the first time next month.

Well Cottage, 20 High St., Little Bytham, Lincs NG33 4QX, the garden of Jackie and Pete Murray, will open on Thursday 15th Feb from 10am–2pm.

Former members of SLGS (Jackie used to be our secretary, many moons ago), they are great enthusiasts for alpines and have a splendid collection of snowdrops, which do surprisingly well in their steeply sloping south-facing garden. You may well know Jackie from the talks on alpines she has given us in the past, or those she has done at Easton Walled Garden during their Snowdrop Weeks.

The Murrays ask you to be aware that their garden paths are narrow and uneven, with many steps, and may be slippery.

Collectors’ snowdrops will be on sale.

Please note that there is no parking on site and parking is difficult in the narrow village street, as the garden is quite close to a road junction. There will be, however, plenty of car parking available at Rasell’s Nurseries, a short walk away in Station Road, Little Bytham (NG33 4RA), which has a superb tea room and will also have snowdrops for sale.

Programme for 2018

I hope you’ll agree that once again we’ve put together a fascinating, well-balanced programme of talks for next year (and many thanks yet again to Sharron, who, as our programme secretary, researches and sorts out most of the details for us).

Dr. Andrew Ward of Norwell Nursery near Newark will return to discuss ‘”Plant and Prejudice” and how some plants suffer unjustly. Another speaker with local connections is Joe Whitehead, who started out at Burghley, before training at Wisley, then moving to two large and prestigious gardens in Norfolk, who will be telling us the secrets of how he learned his craft and what goes on “Over the Garden Wall”.

Formerly on Bob Brown’s team at Cotswold Garden Flowers, Mandie Potter has now gone freelance. For her talk “Hey Good Looking” she will bring plants from Bob’s nursery and her own garden to discuss what’s looking good now – and sell some afterwards.

We will have a local garden visit to the Blatherwycke Estate near Peterborough and a coach outing to a venue yet to be finalised.

Brought up in Italy, garden designer and lecturer Laura de Beden has some strong – and possibly provocative – ideas on art and architecture, colour and form and their influence in the garden: “Redesign Your Borders: a focus on plants and colour”. Finally, knowledgeable broadcaster and enthusiastic gardener Doug Stewart winds up the year for us with an inspiring look at “Winter Thrillers”, demonstrating that ‘with scent, stems and stunning colour, a winter garden can have it all.’

  • To download a pdf of the detailed programme, along with a tear-off slip to join or re-join the society, click this link.



Looking forward to Bunny Guinness

I am looking forward to this month’s meeting on Thursday 23rd November at 7.30 when we will be welcoming well-known garden designer, writer and broadcaster Bunny Guinness to Folkingham Village Hall. Her subject is “Transforming Your Garden”. Bunny lives not far from us, in Cambridgeshire, so as a near neighbour she is well accustomed to the growing conditions in our local area.

Trained as a landscape designer, with her own landscape architecture practice, she really knows her plants, and has plenty of practical experience, as anyone who’s heard her contributions to Gardeners’ Question Time on BBC Radio 4 will know. Not only that, but her first design for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, a ‘Wind in the Willows’ garden, in 1994, won a Gold medal. Of the nine gardens she has designed for Chelsea in total, six have won Gold!

If anyone can print out this poster*** and display it locally then we’d be most grateful. SLGS poster Bunny Guinness

***Please note that the previous version of the poster featured the old annual membership subscription rates!

Salutations from SLGS to Steve Edney – and vice versa

For this week’s meeting, the first of our autumn season, we welcome Steve Edney, whose talk is entitled

Succession Planting – a case study of the long border at Salutation

Steve Edney is Head Gardener at The Salutation, Sandwich, Kent. Set within the glorious medieval town of Sandwich, nestled on the banks of the River Stour, The Salutation Gardens are a plant lover’s paradise. Designed in 1912 by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, The Salutation, now a charming hotel and restaurant, is a true Lutyens masterpiece and the first 20th Century building to be granted Grade I listing.

Surrounding it, the 3.7-acre gardens, also designed by Lutyens, are divided into a series of symmetrical “rooms”, each with a different purpose, gathered around a unifying theme. The effect is one of endlessly unfolding space, with wonderful surprises presented around each corner. The planting style is a dynamic infusion of old and new. The gardens reveal themselves sequentially through the seasons, and are constantly developing as long-term projects and drawing-board concepts come dramatically to life.

This plant-driven design incorporates an eclectic mix of heirloom, rare and drought-tolerant plants used thoughtfully to create longer seasons of interest. Careful consideration is given to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by the gardens’ easterly location, soil type, rainfall and protection from wind behind 4 acres of walls.

Steve Edney

Head Gardener Steve Edney has been perfecting his art for 25 years. After studying at Hadlow College and Merrist Wood, he spent several years as a highly respected and regularly awarded private garden designer. In 2006, he joined The Salutation to helm its huge restoration project. A decade later, the gardens are recognised as amongst the finest in the country.

Steeped in the practical art of gardening, Steve uses direct observation to supplement his technical skills as a grower, breeder, horticulturist and arboriculturist. His drive for creativity and experimentation ensure the scope of his expertise continues to encompass new horizons.

He is a member of both the RHS Herbaceous Committee and its plant trial forum. He has chaired the RHS round table for Zinnia, and is working in conjunction with Fleuroselect in Europe. He contributes to numerous professional publications, and is a regular on the award-winning “Sunday Gardening” show on BBC Radio Kent. At the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Steve’s collaboration with Cayeux Iris received a Gold Medal in the floral marquee, something they hope to replicate in 2017.


NB if you can print out and display a poster for this event (despite the short notice) please do so: SLGS poster Steve Edney

SLGS Blog Archives (by month)

%d bloggers like this: