LETTER FOR MAY- JUNE 2017

  June has been a busy month for us all, in our gardens the flowers are already much in evidence and the vegetables are being planted and tended. Our monthly talk was so enjoyed by the members when Michael Hicken entranced us with a plethora of photographs and historical facts surrounding rhododendrons which have been brought to the British Isles by intrepid travellers of yesteryear, both individual botanists and for gardens such as Kew, all clambering to find new genus of the species. A super talk.
   This past year we have heard a lot about André Le Nôtre and many members have been looking forward to the Club's first expedition away. So, on May 16th a coach spirited away twenty five members and friends for four days to visit the Chateaux of Villandry, Fontainebleau and Vaux Vicomte. The weather was glorious right up until our return journey when the heavens opened.
   We were all left in awe of the opulence of the era and were impressed with the ongoing restitution, reparation and maintenance work in the Renaissance gardens of André Le Nôtre. It was sad to see that the infestation many of us have experienced on our Box also affected all of these magnificent gardens. We were told they were using bacterial treatments but no doubt like ours, they will suffer in the short term. Hopefully, in time, there will be re-growth as the box hedges are really pivotal in the design for these formal plantings.
   We were all able to enjoy the vast acres of gardens and parkland, Villandry by foot, by miniature train at Fontainebleau and at Vaux Vicomte several members took to electric carts which proved a huge success, bringing out a competitive spirit in the drivers and whoops of glee from their fellow passengers and trepidation to all in their path!  All in all, a memorable few days sealing new friendships and giving all of us a chance to get to know each other better.We will look forward to sharing our photographic record, new found knowledge and memories with everyone at one of our meetings later in the year.

   Of course, in June we have a coach going to St Emilion and Les Jardins de Souloires which promises to be a day full of interest so don't forget to reserve your place.  Another date for your diary is our 2nd Horticultural Show in July to be held at Jane Hickey's home in Gardes le Pontaroux. Good opportunity to bring your veggies and flowers to join in with some light-hearted competition.

           JAKI MOORHOUSE - IGC PRESIDENT 

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017

Dear Members,

   The Runcible Spoon near Vendoire proved to be an ideal venue for the New Year members'  lunch albeit not the easiest of places to find, one couple were incredibly resourceful in obtaining the services of the local Post lady to guide them! We were treated to a super meal which was enjoyed by all. Our thanks to Saro and Nick for saying ‘yes' to cooking a lunch for twenty with only two days notice after the chef at the Calice was stricken down with flu.
   As the nights are already growing lighter, we are, I am sure, beginning to anticipate spring. These two to three months can be a busy time preparing seed trays, cleaning our plots and pots, planning new beds and new colour schemes etc. which will pay such dividends at the return of the growing season. 

   We also have our first talk of 2017 given by Erica Lainé on the landscaped chateaux gardens of André Le Nôtre look forward to in February, a busy year ahead.                                  

                                                                                                               Jaki Moorhouse, IGC President 

 APRIL - MAY  2017

 Dear Members

   Our new season opened with a really topical talk by Chris Hunter. Chris has a nursery in Charras where they cultivate plants for dry gardens and those which will be drought tolerant in preparation for possible climate changes in our region in the future. He is already suggesting that we need to think about watering our plants during the winter months if potentially rainfall reduces. What a thought, twelve months with the arrosoir.
   We now look towards our summer activities, nurturing our flowers and vegetables ready for our Horticultural Show in July. Soon we will all be given the opportunity to raise a geranium plant in light hearted competition... a category for everyone to enter. You will be also be receiving information about the June 'away day' which promises to be full of interest, with golf clubs, an English garden and wine shops galore. Please click on the Future Events page for more information.
   We are really looking forward to Michael Hicken talking to us next month about the history and importation of rhododendrons, a vast subject which I know he will make very interesting and of course there will be, as ever, our famous bring and share lunch to follow.
   Those of us who are going to Fontainebleau etc. are now avidly reading up on both the historic houses and their gardens on our tour in anticipation of visiting four of André Le Nôtre's wonderful architectural landscapes in the classic 17th century French style of Louis XIV.  I am sure that sometime in the future we will be able to share our experiences and photographs with everyone.

   Sadly, our heralds of spring, forsythia, lilac, hyacinths and fruit blossoms are again a memory but we already have the roses in profusion and all the summer bedding to look forward to as our friends and family descend upon us to enjoy, for a short time, what we are blessed to enjoy throughout all the seasons. Take time to smell the roses. 

 Jaki Moorhouse, IGC President

LETTER FOR JUNE - JULY 2017

 JUNE is a busy month for us all in the garden, starting to reap what has been sown, planting for the future and watering... forever watering and spraying with the wonderful weather we have been enjoying. Whatever the weather, there is always a price to pay for a productive garden.
   About thirty members of our club travelled down to the St Emilion/Libourne area this past week for our annual 'Away Day.'  With wall to wall sunshine everyone seemed to enjoy being driven around the vineyards of St Emilion in the little train. The venue for lunch was a first for the club, set in the green swards of the Teynac Golf Club. They gave members an excellent lunch and sent everyone on their way to Les Jardins de Souloires replete. The gardens got a huge thumbs up and in particular the indomitable Madame Degas who, aged 82 years young, drove her tractor down to the coach with the gallons of Chateau Degas wine that members had purchased after the degustation. Oh, and rumour has it Jane Hickey bought a very large mirror so that it appeared that she had twice as much wine as she purchased!
   Thank you all for your support and your committee look forward to continuing to plan interesting activities for your enjoyment. Next month we will be meeting at Jane Hickey’s home for the Horticultural show and that will be followed in August with a tour of Gerald's garden followed by a picnic at Montignac Le Coq... busy times ahead. 
   As a club, we seem to like wine, so you will, I hope, be pleased to hear that Caro Feely (who has just published her third book) has confirmed that she will give us a second talk on her bio vineyard in November. Caro is a lively speaker and her last topic was very well received when she joined us in 2015.
   Do not forget to take the time to enjoy your gardens - from a sedentary position!

                                                                                                                     Jaki Moorhouse - IGC President

MARCH - APRIL 2017

Dear Members,

   With the AGM in mind perhaps March is a good time for reflection. It has, I think, been a good year for the IGC with increased membership, increased attendances at our monthly meetings and a healthy bank balance. The winds of change blew through your committee during the past year. Two newly elected members, soon after last year's AGM, found themselves unable to take up their roles but Jill and Stuart Balfour agreed to join us in early November. At this year's AGM, we have welcomed Ian White, Linda Creegan and Meryl Evans to the team. All these members will bring diverse expertise to the committee and along with our ex officio colleagues I believe we have a first-class group in place who will bring fresh ideas and contribute to the growth of the club, numerically and spiritually! 
   We are very sad to be losing our Treasurer Roy Hesketh from the committee, but we wish him and Elizabeth a wonderful new life back in Yorkshire - if you have to go, where better!!
   After the AGM we were treated to a delightful talk by Gerald Chambord who owns and manages Les Jardins Du Coq, near St Severin. Ambience and memories are all important to Gerald and his two hectare garden reflects his philosophies on life and love. The club will visit the garden in August, but, in the meantime he is in the Open Gardens scheme and his details are on the club website: a perfect place to take your visitors.
   At our next meeting in April we will be treated to an interesting talk by Chris Hunter from Park Colonial near Charas. His topic is very relevant to us as we head towards the spring and summer months 'Dry gardens and grasses'. I commend this talk to you... any help we can get!  Don't forget if you would like to form a study group learning more about this important aspect of our gardening, please let me know.
   Also in April, we will be having the first of two workshops relating to our surplus garden fruits and vegetables. More information on both these events will be sent to you all by email.
Have fun in your gardens, they are not a chore, but a blessing...  
 Jaki Moorhouse, IGC President

 LETTER OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2017
  What a wonderful talk Julianna Lees gave to us this month. With the able assistance of Erica Laine's projection skills we were transported into another world with a presentation entitled 'Rivers of Eden'. We were given original insights in to Biblical times, the fruits, flora and fauna that abounded in those far off times and the irrigation that enabled oases to flourish. Julianna is a speaker of great magnitude, when she speaks, one listens and that we certainly did, enthralled.
  We look forward to our November meeting which will be taking place a week early - Thursday 2nd November in the Salle des Fêtes.
 Caro Feely is returning to expand on the developments at her award winning organic vineyard near Bordeaux. Those who have met Caro before will endorse my sentiments that this meeting should not be missed, her vivacious and bubbly personality will endear her to you and what she has achieved in a short space of time will leave you in awe of her tenacity and enthusiasm.
Gill Howl and Jacquie Strasser's festive contribution will be sorely missed by the committee this autumn as we enthusiastically embark on preparations for the annual 'cake and carols' afternoon but we look forward to this herald of Christmastide on 14th December.  One of the highlights is the raffle, in previous years you have been very generous with your contributions and we ask that again you will donate to help make it even more tempting. Please bring goods to the next meeting or contact me or any member of the committee direct.

                            Jaki Moorhouse IGC President

Dear Members,

   I would like to start with a big thank you to members for your generosity which made our annual cake and carols event such a success. The Salle des Fêtes at Lusignac was most beautifully 'Bedecked with holly' and the mulled wine flowed, but as ever it is your company and contribution that complete the picture. The tea, we must all agree was sumptuous, with a vast variety of all things good, something for everyone.
   You will be delighted to hear that through your generosity, the magnificent sum of €248.00 was raised  for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, a charity we felt very deserving in this year of strife around the world. It is a small token of our respect for the people on the front line in war weary regions.
   At the eleventh hour the small Carol choir were bereft of its team leader and keyboard player. Improvisation became the name of the game and my thanks go to all the Variations Choir IGC members who 'volunteered'  and rose to the occasion. Wendy Pollock especially who stood in for our resident flautist and gave us not only a solo Carol calypso but a 'tongue in cheek' soliloquy on the 12 days of Christmas. Also many thanks go to our three guests who swelled our ranks.
   These special events do not just happen, every member of your committee worked tirelessly for weeks beforehand, designing the decor, formulating the quiz, gathering the raffle prizes, organising a choir and keeping you all informed through mailings and the website. All these contributions were the ingredients for this enjoyable celebration but 'after the party's over' the committee steps up again, the hall has to be returned to normal, the money raised sent off and all the adornments put away for another year.
   It would not be fair to name individuals on this occasion as this was true team work. Whatever was required there was always somebody who volunteered to take it on and as we come to the end of a busy year I want to say a big thank you, on your behalf, to each and every one of the committee for their dedication to your club.  I think they all actually enjoy the challenges of planning the diary and then bringing the events to you, but it is not without dedication and enthusiasm which they bring in spade loads!
   Have a very happy festive season, thank you for your support and we look forward to all being together again for the New Year lunch in January and indeed for all the events already planned for 2018.

LETTER SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER 2017

Dear Members,
   As we return to the Salle des Fêtes in Lusignac, after our summer activities, a series of interesting talks are planned for the Autumn months. 
   At the September meeting Janet Skea gave the Club a wonderful presentation (with no notes) which was enhanced by superb photographs which brilliantly illustrated her subject: 'Art in the Garden.' Members were enthralled and thoroughly enjoyed Janet's presentation and those of us who were unable to be there missed a memorable talk.  
   Next Month Juliana Lees will be with us and we have another unusual subject (The rivers of Eden) as we attempt to continue to live up to the 'Interesting' in our club's name!
   We have had some changes in personnel during the summer, Richard Evans has retired as our Technician/projectionist after several years of service, for which we thank him very much.
   We are delighted that Simon Eyles has volunteered to take over this role as well as working closely with Jacquie on IT matters so again,we have a seamless transition.
   I look up with some relief to see that there is a paucity of acorns to drop this year (bad luck on the squirrels) the quince tree is groaning with produce and tomato, peppers and aubergines etc are giving us the last of their crop. The garden is certainly autumnal now, but there is pleasure in the misty mornings and spiders webs glistening with the damp....we must just remember to take the time to look at the beauty around us.
                                                                                 Jaki Moorhouse IGC President 

 President's Letter November - December 2017

   It is very nature of our lives in France that at this time of the year the swallows have gone, the grues have been flying over heading for warmer climes and many of our friends have also flown away to winter elsewhere, all will be missed and we look forward to their return in the spring. In the meantime autumn and winter in the Dordogne/Charente has much to offer and after we have all put our gardens 'to bed' your Interesting Gardening Club will continue to bring you diverse events to help you through these winter months.

  Our November meeting taught us much about bio diversity as Caro Feely sought to explain to us the complexities of life 'sous terroir' and the essential necessity to cut down on our dependency on pesticides etc from her twelve years of experience and knowledge as a bio dynamic vigneronne near Bergerac.  Amongst other advice Caro told us "Don't keep digging the soil" which was like music to my ears as a habitual double digger, but, can I change a habit of a life time? Time will tell.  It appears that several of our members have already recognised that to leave the soil intact whilst constantly organically nurturing it from above is good husbandry and perhaps Caro will have converted some more of us to her way of thinking on many levels. Food for thought and perhaps care of our soil could subject for a future meeting. Thanks to everyone for their generous contributions which ensured a super 'bring and share' lunch afterwards.
  Plans are already well advanced for our annual 'Cakes and Carols' tea in December and we all look forward to this fun herald of Christmas.  Please, do start thinking what you would like to provide in the way of sandwiches and cakes and also if you have anything you can contribute to our raffle table: just contact myself or Jane Hickey if you have a raffle prize to collect, or bring a gift on the day. The success of our events throughout the year rely on your input and generosity.
  Enjoy this balmy autumn weather, especially the wonderful sunsets we are currently experiencing, finish planting your bulbs, spring will not be long coming.          Jaki Moorhouse, IGC President

JULY - AUGUST LETTER

The weather forecast promised fair weather but the morning gloom was not encouraging for our 2nd Horticultural Show and Garden Party. However, the committees' optimism was finally rewarded and just as everyone started arriving in the afternoon the skies brightened and spirits were lifted  - especially by the lovely bubbly that Cilla was dispensing! The marquees (courtesy of Richard Evans) were appreciated by members whilst they enjoyed the wonderful array of sandwiches, scones and cakes. A huge thank you to everyone for your contributions, between us we cleared the tables and drank the tea pot dry!
   Our esteemed member, Michael Hicken escaped unscathed from his judging duty, mainly due to his fairness and attention to detail but also, I suspect, it was his wonderful smile that won the day. As last year, members came up with lots of entries, despite the vagaries of this year's weather. We had geraniums growing out of a hare’s head, black beans, folks who had numeracy problems (yes, Michael definitely said 5 means 5) and jams and conserves which our judge manfully ploughed his way through, checking every one! I hope that Michael enjoyed his task as much as we enjoyed his company and appreciated his judging prowess.
   My thanks go to all your committee (and ex-officia members) who never cease giving of their time and expertise to bring all these activities to you during the year. Our feature months such as the garden party require a great deal more commitment, and I am sure that you will agree Cilla and Jane deserve special thanks for their organisational skills. Of course, without Jacquie there would be no notifications, gentle reminders and on this occasion, winners certificates!  I am indebted to them, to Siegi Strasser, Ian White and Meryl Evans for huge assistance on the day and to Richard Evans who was at the venue both on the day and the day before erecting all the marquees and generally being incredibly helpful: so often unsung heroes.
   Next month we have a visit to Les Jardins du Coq in Montignac le Coq near Aubeterre to look forward to with a BYO picnic lunch to enjoy together. This again is a meeting where we welcome your guests and family, so, do put the 10th August in your diaries and come a spend a few hours in a delightful garden amongst friends.
   Now is the time to begin reaping your gardening rewards, but equally, another gentle reminder - remember to stop and smell the roses and all the fragrances that abound.​
                                                                                                               Jaki Moorhouse - IGC President

​​FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017

Dear Members,
  It was a real pleasure to see so many members in Lusignac at our first 'home' meeting of 2017.
  We welcomed several guests on this occasion, and were delighted that some have already chosen to join the club this year. Forty nine people enjoyed a terrifically informative lecture by fellow member, Erica Lainé.  Erica always manages to impart her vast knowledge in a really interesting way and I noticed how everyone was listening intently to what she had to say and so enjoying the many slides that complemented her talk.  The maçonnes, working on the church adjacent to the hall, decided to time the offloading of copious amounts of steel beams onto the road outside to coincide with the lecture...congratulations Erica for carrying on as if nothing, including the beep beep of reversing lorries, was happening!
  As ever, the bring and share lunch was sumptuous and much enjoyed and judging by the level of conversation I am sure that everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable meeting. Thanks to all for their generous contributions and to the members who helped return the hall to normality, this is always so appreciated.
  We now look forward to Gerald Chambord joining us to talk about the planning, designing and developing of his Gardens at Montignac Le Coq on March 9th. This will be preceded by our Annual General Meeting, which, whilst being a necessary part of any society’s life, will hopefully not be too onerous.  We will start promptly at 10.30 am to ensure members have ample opportunity to participate in discussions.
  When the winds die down, the temperature could fool us into thinking we are well past winter, however, lambs and lions do come to mind. Hopefully we can take advantage of these sunny days to clear the debris and prepare for the spring.
                                                                                                          ​​Jaki Moorhouse, IGC President