Ric's Bits

May 2015

A Visitor and New Member from Sweden

We have made so many friends throughout the UK and across the globe through fuchsias that I actually have given talk on the subject including to a BFS Autumn Gathering (always a great day rounding off another fuchsia year).  So I was thrilled to hear from Ingela Ericsson in Stockholm through the website that she was visiting Cornwall and wanted to know about fuchsia nurseries in Cornwall.   Unfortunately the answer to her question was there are no with the demise of Ferndale Fuchsias and with Duchy continuing its inexorable transition from nursery to retail attraction and ditching its specialism in fuchsias.  But all was not lost as I suggested Ingela get in touch with Carol at Little Brook Fuchsias, who put a few plants aside which I was able to collect on my travels ahead of Ingela's visit.

Visitors, particularly those interested in fuchsias, are always welcome down here in Cornwall; none more so than folks from other countries so I was pleased when Ingela accepted our invitation to spend a day with me and friends talking and walking fuchsias, with the bonus of also visiting Ron and Kit from the WCOS, our local orchid society.  The day started with a walk around the gardens at Penvale House, where the garden is shaping well under the ministrations of Brian and Heather Hiley and I am slowly re-establishing the fuchsia displays (at the moment it's big on pots and foliage and there isn't too much to see by way of fuchsias, but come the BBQ on 20 September ...).  

The next stop was Illogan to meet and chat with Alan and Carol who's fuchsia production facility is a sight to behold and you are just left marvelling at the dedication and work they both put into growing their plants and publicising fuchsias and the society.  I am pleased to say that over a cup of tea, Ingela asked to join the Society, following in the footsteps of her countrymen and old friends Christer Carlson and Maria Lundberg from Haninge near Stockholm who visited us and our show a few years ago (you'll see from the guestbook that they are still keen to know what we are up to!).  

We concluded our day with a visit to Ron and Kit Lindsay, our friends and stalwarts from the West Cornwall Orchid Society, who's orchid collection just takes you breath away with over 2,000 different species and hybrids, and alway an array of magnificent plants in flower.  Take it from me, the opportunity to see the collection for yourself on 4th June as part of the CRFS visit to Ron and Kit's is surely not to be missed.

West Cornwall Orchid Society Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Some details of the AGM can be found on the West Cornwall Orchid Society (WCOS) website, which I am slowly revamping as I took on the dual role of webmaster and newsletter editor.  As always there was an excellent table show of species and hybrid orchids, the likes of which we will see on our visit to Ron and Kit's on Thursday 4 June to view their orchid collection and learn some things about keeping orchids.

May's winners in the species class and the hybrid class were: 

               Hybrid - Cattleya Hybrid        Species - Dendrobium thysiflorum
                 exhibited by Ron Lindsay        exhibited by Kit Lindsay

Here are a few more pictures from May's table show:

April 2015

British Fuchsia Society (BFS) AGM in Skipton

You may detect a theme running through these web pages, and that is that for me the biggest delight about fuchsias, orchids, plants and gardens is the people you get to meet through them, so I always look forward to the British Fuchsia Society's gatherings and not least the Annual General Meeting which is held in a different place every year.  This year it was hosted by the Craven and District Fuchsia and Geranium Society at Gargrave, near Skipton in North Yorkshire, the gateway to the scenic North Yorks Dales.

North Yorkshire is a bit of a trek from Cornwall, and as Helen was unable to make the trip, I opted to make the journey by rail and although it was close to eight hours it was only one stop and quite relaxing (and made cheaper by my over 60's railcard!).

I was collected from the station by Ian and Bonita, and Paula, our host from the local Fuchsia Society. Dinner was a real treat at one of the country's bast and most well known fish and chip restaurants, Bizzie Lizzie's.  The food and the restaurant certainly lived up to its billing, and for dinner we were joined by fuchsia friends from all over including Inverness, Merseyside, Southport, Ipswich, Slough and Reading.

Enthusiasts attending BFS AGMs have a choice on the Saturday morning of either a talk or to attend a BFS Fuchsia Lore Group meeting.  I opted for the talk, this year an excellent talk and demonstration on bonsai from Linda Hinchliffe, who had been persuaded to come out of "retirement" for the AGM.

After lunch we listened to a variety of reports from the officers, committees and various groups that make up the BFS.

The meeting concluded with Peter Holloway standing down after his three year term as BFS President, and I am pleased to report that our new President is Arthur Phillips from Bromsgrove in the Midlands, pictured here (3rd from left) with Nancy his partner and George and Doreen Cameron from Kinross in Scotland.

I am equally pleased to report that Arthur has already agreed to judge our Annual Show next year on Sunday  7th August, 2016. 

One advantage of taking a break from work was that I was in no rush to head back down to Cornwall, so once the rain stopped on the Sunday, I took the chance to explore the pretty market town of Skipton and particularly its well preserved medieval castle and the woods that surround it.


Thanks for a brilliant weekend and some wonderful Yorkshire hospitality goes to Paula Jackson and her helpers from the Craven and District Society.  Well done lass!

So taken was I by Skipton and the Dales that Helen and I are headed back there for a long weekend at the end of May.

West Cornwall Orchid Society Spring Festival

April started with Easter, and for me the highlight of the weekend was West Cornwall Orchid Society's (WCOS) Spring Festival with its dazzling display of orchids, of all shapes, sizes and hues.  This years festival, superbly organised as always by Kit and Ron Lindsay featured over 160 exhibits across 20 classes, judged by Nigel Pascoe, one time Head Gardner at Flambards and now a regular panelist and contributor on BBC Radio Cornwall.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took on the day, albeit there is no way that any photographs can adequately capture the magnificence of the plants on show:

If you made it to the festival and enjoyed it, or if you are kicking yourself for missing it, why not put a note in your diary that the autumn festival is on Sunday 11th October, 2016.  And of course for CRFS Members, you have a treat in store with a outing to see Kit and Ron Lindsay's collection on the evening of Thursday 4th June, 2015.

March 2015

Bruges in the Spring

Last year I joined my friends at the Reading and District Fuchsia Society on their trip to Belgium in March, with a tour of the spectacular National Botanical Garden in Brussels and of old Brussels on the Saturday, and on the Sunday a trip to Katrien Michiel's Nursery. So this year we did it all over again, but this time we stayed in Gent and spent the Saturday in Bruges, before paying another visit to Katrien on the Sunday.

Our trip started with boarding the coach at Reading early on the Friday morning, driving down to Dover for a ferry to Calais, and picking up friends old and new en route.  For me the best thing about the trip was not just the lovely places we went or the plants we bought, but the smashing bunch of people I met from all over the country. 

Saturday was spent in Bruges with its abundance of history, canals and chocolates just everywhere:

Ahead of going to Katrien Michiel's Nursery on the Sunday, she had said that those of us who had visited last year might be disappointed by the selection and state of the plants available this year, as the family had been terribly hit by illness.   And while she was right to forewarn us and limit our expectations a bit, I for one was not disappointed but actually amazed at what was available given some really tough circumstances (Katrien's father Marcel had been diagnosed with chronic lyme disease in 2014, and her sister Sophie and mother had been similarly diagnosed not long before our visit).

The scale of the nursery is quite incredible as you'll see from the photographs below, and on her website Katrien offers no less than 1,840 different fuchsia varieties, as well as 770 pelargoniums and 163 streptocarpus.  I brought back around 70 fuchsias, most not available in the UK, and I hope to stage a few of them at our annual show on Sunday 2nd August and will have all of them on show plus a couple of hundred other varieties at our annual BBQ at penvale House on Sunday 13th September.

It was a super weekend with chance to catch up with many old friends from the world of fuchsias, and to make many new not least from a number of fuchsia societies in Essex.  My thanks and our thanks go to Paul and Brenda Munro for their hard work in organising a weekend, that ran like clockwork.  And of course our sympathies remain with Katrien and her family, and our best wishes that they will all recover from the illness that has beset them.

In the Garden

I think every plant has its month, and March undoubtedly belongs to the hellebore which requires often requires you to lift the chin to fully appreciate their beauty.  They take a while to establish in a garden, but once establish they cross-pollinate and propagate themselves and it worth looking closely to see what's new each year.

Stem Cuttings at West Cornwall Orchid Society

I had been looking forward to this meeting of the West Cornwall Orchid Society (WCOS), as I was intrigued by the possibility of propagating cuttings from Dendrobiums, a genus of 1,200 species and countless hybrids. Wendy Simpson firstly showed us that Dendrobiums throw keikis which can be carefully separated and planted on, but her main demonstration was of short lengths of plump stems bedded in moss.

As always there was an impressive table show with exhibits grown and shown by experienced members being a delight and an inspiration for those of us just starting out. March's winners in the species class and the hybrid class were: 

             Masdevallia toverensis              Japanese Cymbidium
          exhibited by John Goldworthy   exhibited by Clive Murton

February 2015

A Delight of Sculptures

I just love humour and whimsy around gardens, so when Brian Hiley showed me the catalogue for an exhibition of garden sculptures at the RHS Rosemoor garden in North Devon, I just had to take a detour on my way home one Friday:-

It was well worth it albeit that I ended up squeezed for time due to my rubbish navigation, and with a birthday on the horizon I am still fighting off temptation particularly for some metallic snowdrops!

WCOS Good News, Better News and Just the Best News

The West Cornwall Orchid Society (WCOS), of which I a member, has been at a crossroads for some while, with Kit and Ron Lindsay wanting to step down from organising it after no less than thirty years in harness (believe me, organising local societies can often feel like a burden and not often enough like a pleasure).  So the last meeting was pow-wow time and perhaps the last chance to keep WCOS viable.

So first of all the good news is that those present at the meeting were quite determined to see the society continue and continue as a standalone specialist society.  The better news is that Nikki Ingram has volunteered and stepped to manage our monthly meetings with other members beginning to offer to take on other bits and pieces.  And the absolute best news for me is that the pressure is off Kit and Ron to do all the organising, and they can now choose to do as little or as much as they want and they remain at the heart of the society and the society gets to keep them and their incredible expertise at nurturing and growing orchids.

That is what you would undoubtedly call a "win, win, win" result!

One aspect I just love about the monthly meetings of WCOS are the table shows and the exhibits grown and shown by experienced members are a delight and an inspiration for those of us just starting out. February's winners in the hybrid class and the species class were: 

    Dendrobium 'Spring Frolic"    Dendrobium kingianum
         exhibited by Kit Lindsay   exhibited by Nikki Ingram

If you are not doing anything next Sunday (8 March) why not go and see for yourself, the meeting starts at 2 pm at the Camborne Community Centre.

This page is the CRFS Webmaster's self-indulgent blog and reflects his views and opinions, and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Society, its Officers or its Committee.