The final meeting of Gloucester Garden Club for 2023 was held in the Uniting Church Hall on Wednesday, November 22.
Due to the wet weather, our planned meeting in Memorial Park was moved indoors where Shirley Hazell gave the members an interesting account of the garden club's contribution over the years to the beautification of Memorial Park.
This began in 2010 when fundraising by means of plant stalls enabled the club to supply 60 red, white and yellow roses for the newly constructed garden beds, and to later supply funds for the cost of the timber which council used to construct a pergola over the pathway up to the clock tower.
In 2014 council provided a garden seat with a plaque supplied by the club reading, "Gloucester and District Garden Club Inc. takes pleasure in dedicating this seat to the memory of deceased members."
For Anzac Day 2015, we donated a lone pine tree commemorating Australia's involvement at Lone Pine in Gallipoli, and which was planted out on that occasion by representatives from the RSL and council. Plaques on the pergola and rose garden acknowledge our club's ongoing contribution to the park.
It was a meeting full of interesting information. Mandy Griffis gave some very worthwhile advice on how to eliminate mice and rats from the garden without harming pets or wildlife. It seems that using lengths of pipe or anchored down upturned icecream buckets with an access "door" will allow only the vermin to reach the potent brew inside.
David Marston showed an example of Cats Claw creeper, a member of the Bignoniaceae family, a highly invasive climbing weed with large yellow bell like flowers which is listed in the council's Invasive Weeds booklet.
It is a vigorous, blanketing climber that can smother the plant or tree causing the collapse of supporting structure and should be controlled by hand digging, foliar spraying, or by scraping and then by painting the trunk.
The highlight of the meeting was Kerry Marston's presentation and demonstration on the Art of Bonsai. Bonsai was introduced to the western world in the 1800s and was first seen at the 1878 Paris Exposition. In 1909 the first bonsai exhibition was held in London and in 1965 the first bonsai club in Australia was established. Today it enjoys a worldwide following.
Kerry spoke at length about the variety of bonsai pots available, often handmade and always chosen to suit the particular plant, and also of the importance of using our Australian native plants for bonsai.
It was fascinating to watch Kerry start with a thriving young wattle and, with a few gasps from the assembled members, slowly and very deliberately remove all but the important few branches which will be encouraged to eventually take the final desired form.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the root structure and often supporting wires from the base of the pot holding the plant in place in the shallow pot until it is well established. It is not a hobby for the impatient - one of Kerry's bonsai on show is 30 years old. We sincerely thanked Kerry for her fascinating presentation.
The competitions were well supported with the recent rain having been very beneficial to our gardens.
In the flower competition, Ros McIntyre's "Diamonds in the Dark" crepe myrtle was first, Sharyn Blanch's deep burgundy dahlia was second, and equal third were Pearl Beggs' pretty daylily, Kim Arney's pink hydrangea and Tracey Hockey's almost black lilium.
In the vegetable and fruit competition, Aldo Razza's huge beetroot, generously fed with horse manure, came first, second was Sharyn's near perfect smaller beetroot and third was Peter Hazell's green table gem squash.
Five happy raffle prize winners went home this time with native plants for their gardens.
The lucky door prize was won by Kerry Marston and the membership draw by Janette Burford, who is one of our members living at "Mirrabooka" and unable to attend to claim the prize.
That prize now jackpots to the next meeting which will be held on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, in the Uniting Church Hall.
It is essential that members always bring their own plate as well as a mug, as it is not good for the "Keepers of the Kettle" to have to clean up the spilt and dropped morning tea from around the morning tea table at the end of each meeting.
President Kerry closed the meeting with best wishes to all for a safe, happy and healthy Christmas season after a very successful year in 2023.
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