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25 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 22 March 2014

Cherrie McIlwaine presents the weekly programme for keen gardeners with the latest advice, news and visits to gardens large and small around the province.

  • Cherrie's Garden Notes

    Ballynahinch Gardening Club celebrate their 40th Anniversary this year and as part of their anniversary festivities they invited us along to record this week’s programme.

    So on Tuesday evening the roadshow rolled into town, with Neil Porteous and Anne Fitzsimons charged with the task of dispensing the knowledge on the night, which they did with a smile and a story and a bucket-load of good gardening advice.

    We met in the inviting halls of Edengrove Presbyterian Church, lovingly restored and modernised and incorporating elements of the original building which dates back to the 18th century , the un-plastered, re-pointed stone walls reminding everyone of the history and heritage of the church and it’s place within the community.

    The Gardening Club meet there every month and the hall was packed with members and friends from Ballynahinch and from gardening clubs in Newcastle, Crossgar and Comber.

    We recorded a short interview for the top of the programme with Dr Jack Patterson, founder member and first Chairman and the current Chairperson, Roberta Sloan, who kept us up to speed with the ethos of the club and with this year’s birthday activities.

    Then it was time to join the throng inside in the hall to hear the all-important questions. And very interesting they were too.

    There was a question about those most glamorous of pests, the Chinese-lacquer red Lily-Beetle which does such a good job at devouring lovely lilies,  how and when to treat a 20’ sweep of Leylandii hedge, showing early signs of disease and what to replace it with, if need be.

    A 20-year-old Magnolia with leaves not behaving as they should, an Orchid with yellowing foliage and black-spots and Irises with weeds creeping through the “toes” of the rhizomes, all put in appearances too.

    As did Comfrey fertiliser, the use of ash in the vegetable garden and how to manage a Phormium Tenax becoming too big for it’s boots.

    The final question “If you were a shrub, which one would you be and why?” gave us all something to think about as we made our way out of the main hall after the recording, for supper.

    I’m still trying to decide, but there is nothing like product placement to focus the thinking and as there were beautiful Ikebana arrangements of the lovely, spring shrub Corylopsis, with it’s soft buttery yellow flowers and fine branches, on show throughout the halls, I think I’ll go for that.

    I’m lucky enough to have one in my own garden and I love it’s delicate brightness and it’s slender aspect and the fact that the soft, bright, green leaves appear after the flowers, bringing a a double whammy of loveliness into the garden at this time of the year.

    You can hear all the answers to this week’s questions and find out what Anne and Neil chose as their shrubby alter- egos on this week’s programme which you can also download as a podcast or listen to again via BBC iPlayer Radio.

    Just go to the Radio Ulster homepage and follow the links.

    While you’re there if you’re feeling inspired, why not tweet us your thoughts on the shrub you’d like to be or check out the pictures from our evening with Ballynahinch Gardening Club. Our thanks to them for the invitation and the warm welcome and may their passion for plants continue for the next 40 years.



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