Middle Rasen & District

Horticultural Society

The club meets from September to March on the second Thursday in the month. Meetings, with speakers on various subjects, are in the Village Hall, LN8 3LD, at 7pm for a 7.30pm start

Officers ~ Membership

President .............. Mrs Joyce Rhodes
Chair ........................  Mr John Bennett    
General Secretary....Mrs Janet Davies
Treasurer .......    
Seeds Secretary .....

Meetings & Events

The September & March meetings are small shows for members with the points going towards  The Hubbert  Trophy  for the most points throughout the year. September also being the AGM. meeting the December & January meeting may be a little different as it may be the Christmas Dinner.

Two shows take place in the year. The 3rd Saturday in June is The Sweet Pea Show The 3rd Saturday in July is The Annual Show & Fete, both are now held in the Village Hall.

Dobies seed catalogues come in late September & distributed to members, usually having to share. The orders to be back to the seed secretary by 1st December at the very latest, so that hopefully no one is disappointed with their order. We usually get 40% off the seeds & 10% of plantletts & garden equipment, with buying in bulk & the orders distributed at the February meeting.

In August 2020, the Community Spirit committee was saddened to hear the news of the passing of May. As you are all aware, May and John wrote monthly gardening tips in the Community Spirit and have done so for many years now! Her input will be sadly missed! Our thoughts, prayers and love are with John, their son Matthew and his family at this very difficult time!


Gardening tips from Community Spirit as published by John & May Bennett

Time to propagate HERBS.

•  If your perennial woody herbs are getting old, it's time to increase your collection by taking semi-ripe cuttings of Rosemary, Bay, Sage and Thyme.

•  Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from this year's growth where the shoot is still soft at it's tip, but hardening further down.

•  Get your plant pots ready with 50:50 compost and grit, rooting hormone if you wish.

•  Plant immediately, do not allow the cuttings to dry out.

•  Dill, Chervil, and Parsley can still be sown direct this month.

•  You could make a late sowing of Basil in the greenhouse and move the seedlings indoors on a sunny windowsill for later use.

•  It is a good time to split Chives and Mint, divide them and pot up sections into small containers. Then when established bring indoors onto the kitchen windowsill to stretch the season further.

•  If your plants of Coriander, Fennel or Dill have gone to seed, don't waste them. Collect the ripe seed, dry and add them to your store cupboard.

•  Continue to care for your established herbs, especially container grown plants which need regular feeding and watering.


JULY ~ Grow some glorious perfumed pinks

•  Grow in a border in a well-drained soil in full sun.

•  Or in containers in a good quality compost.

•  If the pH falls below neutral point of 7.0, add lime.

•  Do not grow in soggy areas as the plant would rot.

•  Plant new plants about 12 inches apart. Can buy plants now to get started.

•  Propogate by seed sown in the spring.

•  Or by softwood cuttings from your old plants now in July. Snip off a few shoots that do not have flowers on. Remove lower leaves and root in a sandy compost.

•  Or by layering after flowering.

•  Deadhead regularly, water only when and if needed, and put on a balanced fertilizer in the spring.

•  Here are some varieties to try – Doris – ‘Grans Favourite' – or Widecombe Fair. There are many other lovely varieties out there to try.

•  Replace your old plants about every three years with your replacements to keep up a good show.


•  We can now sow directly any spare seed , of French beans, runner beans, broad beans directly into the ground or pots to give a continues crop later in the season. Pinch out the top of broad beans once the bottom flowers have set to prevent black fly.

•  Dead-head roses and feed. But only feed after a rain or watering.

•  Support tall plants like cornflowers with twigs for support.

•  Cut down lupins, delphiniums etc as the flowers fade.

•  Continue to cut the lawn and edge the grass.

•  Peg down runners of strawberries to make more plants for next year.

•  Keep planting salad crops.

•  Plant tomatoes, courgettes, squashes and outdoor cucumbers outside.

•  Water blueberry plants with rainwater, for a successful crop.

•  Continue to experiment with seeds and cuttings, using paper pots, yogurt pots, and plastic bottles. Will have loads of plants to use in the garden later or give away. Don't forget to take cuttings of houseplants. They are becoming very popular again.


Some more unusual plants to grow – all with green flowers.


•  Nicotiana langsdorffii

•  Amaranthus caudatus ‘Viridis'.

•  Nicotiana ‘Lime Green'.

•  Zinnia elegans ‘Envy', and Moluccella laevis.


•  Helleborus argutifolius and H. foetidus.

•  Alchemilla mollis – very common, but lovely, especially with Sweet Peas in a vase.

•  Heuchera cylindrica ‘Greenfinch'.

•  Kniphofia ‘Percy's Pride, also Rudbeckia occidentalis ‘Green wizard', and also the green euphorbias.

Research and find your favourites!

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society .


Useful herbs for flavouring when cooking and also for preserving .

•  Herbs are a healthy way of seasoning food.

•  Seeds of mints, marjoram, thyme, coriander, sage, rosemary, borage, parsley, tarragon, and other herbs, which you may like to try, can be sown now on your windowsill etc. Then prick out as normal. Grow on either outside or inside, depending on the hardiness of the variety.

•  Also cuttings taken between late spring and early summer will root quickly.

•  You could buy plants and make up your herb garden immediately.

•  Herbs can be grown in the garden, in containers such as pots, window boxes or even hanging baskets, raised beds etc. Mints must always be grown in a pot on their own, due to being so invasive! There are so many flavours these days. Try new ones such as chocolate and ginger mints.

•  Don't forget that lavender can be used to flavour cakes and biscuits.

•  Sweet Cicely can be used to sweeten and flavour rhubarb when stewing.

•  Basil is a very popular herb and can be grown on the kitchen windowsil.

•  Harvest herbs just before flowering and when it is dry.

•  Preserve herbs by drying, freezing, or for crystallization or putting in oil or vinegars.


Winter Growing CANNAS - a time to look for rhizomes.

1.Cannas are vibrant, tender perennials

2. They have very showy flowers in shades of red, pink, yellow and orange. Flower from June until October.

3. Useful plant for containers and borders in the summer.

4. Easy to grow from rhizomes.

5. Fill a container with John Innes No.3 compost and add a controlled release fertilizer.

6. Plant the rhizome 4inches or 10cm deep, in the greenhouse March to April to get early flowers.

7. Water as needed.

8. Only put outside after risk of ALL frosts.

9. Place the pot in full sun, and water well in dry spells, (every other day),and feed throughout the summer. Do not forget to deadhead.

10. Plant rhizomes in the border if you wish, and incorporate plenty of manure into the soil. But we feel it is better to grow them in pots so that they can be brought inside for winter protection. Pots can be placed in the border as a focal point in the summer

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society.



Propagating plants from root cuttings in November

•  The following can be propagated from root cuttings now :- Acanthus, Oriental poppies, Japenese anemones, Echinops, Verbascums, Phlox and even climbers such as Passion Flower and Solanum.

•  Root cuttings need little care and should be done whilst the plant is dormant.

•  Lift a clump carefully and wash the root ball , to remove soil and expose roots.

•  Only take a few from each root and plant it back in the garden immediately.

•  Select a few roots about the thickness of a pencil, that look healthy.

•  Cut into sections about 5-10cm. Cut off any thin pieces or fibrous side roots. Use a straight cut at the top and a slanting cut at the bottom.

•  Then pot them up using 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and grit. Insert the straight cut into a pot or cell tray making sure the cutting is flush with the top of the compost. Then cover with a thin layer of grit.

•  Water and put in a cold frame.

•  When rooted in the spring pot up individually.

Growing Sweet Peas - October

•  Easy to grow, needs NO HEAT whatsoever.

•  Sow in the first two weeks of October to flower in June.

•  Grow in good seed compost. Water compost two days before sowing and allow it to drain.

•  Sow five seeds in a plastic pot or one seed into a toilet roll card.

•  Leave in a COLD greenhouse or even better transfer to a cold frame.

•  Leave lid off cold frame at all times except when very wet or an extreme frost. If frost is extreme cover with an old carpet.

•  Do not pinch out tops from an autumn sowing.

•  Plant out in March when weather is suitable.

•  Can be grown up tripods, netting or even in large pots on tripods, but for best results grow as cordons.

•  Key is to cut the flowers regularly, and cut off the tendrils to keep the stems straight.

•  Grow named varieties like Gwendoline, Jilly, Mrs Bernard Jones, Charlie's Angel, or Windsor to name a few.

Go to www.rpsweetpeas.com for loads more information on growing these beautiful flowers.

Propagating PENSTEMONS .

•  Many are not reliably hardy, if a hard winter. Take cuttings in late summer as an insurance.

•  Fill 3 ½ inch pot with perlite or sharp sand and compost.

•  Take non flowering tip cuttings. 4-5 inches long and trim just below a leaf node.

•  Remove bottom leaves and trim remaining leaves by about a third to prevent moisture loss.

•  Each pot can take up to five cuttings.

•  Label, water, and allow to drain.

•  Put in a propagator or cover with a plastic bag. Do not allow the cuttings to touch the bag.

•  Should root in about four weeks.

•  Can be left undisturbed over winter or potted on separately.

•  Grow on in a cool, frost free place.

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society


July - plant a new STRAWBERRY patch.

•  Can be grown in borders, containers and hanging baskets.

•  Avoid area prone to frost and where you have previously grown potatoes and tomatoes.

•  Can use your own runners but advisable to buy new plants from a good supplier.

•  Prepare soil by incorporating well rotted manure or garden compost.

•  Plant 35cm apart and leave 75cm between rows.

•  Water well to get plants established.

•  In early spring apply some Growmore (fertilizer).

•  Give a liquid potash feed during the growing season.

•  May need to net to protect the fruits from the birds

•  If frost threatens ripening fruits, cover with fleece and also tuck straw beneath plants to keep the fruit clean. Enjoy.

June is time to take softwood cuttings

•  Shrubs to try are, Philadelphus, Deutzia, Ceanothus, Cotinus, Euonymus, Forsythia, Hydrangea, Lavender, Ribes, Spiraea, Hebe, Cistus, Sambuca, etc.

•  Cheap way of extending your stock and can swap rarer varieties with friends.

•  Use clean, sharp secateurs.

•  Handle the soft cuttings carefully and make them about 4-5cm long.

•  Trim the shoot, cutting just below a node, and remove the lowest pair of leaves and the soft tip. Cut any large leaves in half to reduce their surface area.

•  Fill 13cm pots with cutting compost.

•  Then dib holes around the side of the pot and insert the cuttings.

•  Water.

•  Put in a propagater where they will root quicker.

•  Or if one is not available put a clear plastic bag over the pot and secure with a rubber band.

•  Make sure the bag does not touch the cuttings, as they could rot.



For the Horticultural competitions, as announced by Janet Davis.

•  For Wheelbarrow and containers very important to provide drainage by having holes in the bottom and cover with old crocks or polystyrene.

•  All baskets will need a liner.

•  Use good compost and beneficial to add water retaining granules to compost at time of planting.

•  Fill all containers to no more than 2 inches of the rim to allow for watering.

•  Very important, water daily and twice if hot as last summer.

•  Deadhead regularly.

•  Be bold with colour and mix flowering plants with grasses and other foliage plants.

•  It is good to use plants that hang over the sides of the barrows as well to cover the raw edge of the container.

•  Plenty of flowering pot plants and annuals to choose from.

•  Keep inside until the risk of frost has passed.

•  Need not be expensive, it's the finished colourful display that matters.

•  Good Luck! Make Middle Rasen a blaze of colour.

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society.

Creating a “mini” landscape using ALPINES in the Easter break

•  Can use an old sink, an old galvanised container or an alpine pan. Make sure you have suitable drainage holes in your container.

•  Fill your container with a John Innes potting compost and mix about half of sand or grit into your mixture.

•  Place a few rocks to make a landscape, keeping in mind the size of your container.

•  Set your plants.

•  Topdress the surface of your container between the plants with gravel, stone chips or pieces of slate. Will give it a nice finish.

•  Water in and place in full sun.

•  Silver leaved saxifrages can be attractive all the year round. But a selection of a mixed variety of plants can also be as attractive.

•  Avoid rampant plants.

•  Do your research for true alpine plants, and your trough will be look good for a long time. Deadhead any flowering varieties when required.

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society.




Hints from The Horticultural Society to Middle Rasen Residents.

1. In both cases make sure that there are drainage holes. Add a layer of broken pots or gravel to allow drainage.

2. Use a John Innes No.3 soil based compost or a multi – purpose compost.

3. Before planting water all plants and allow them to drain.

4. Go for mixed colours or a colour co-ordinated scheme.

5. Can use bedding plants, home grown geraniums, annuals, begonia corms or plants, herbs, ivies and other foliage type plants, also succulents.

6. Could do a herb planter

7. Or a mixed variety of succulents dressed with gravel. This is a cheap way if you grow them yourself.

8. Bedding plants of your choice in the wheelbarrow or planter. Could use grasses as a focal point in the wheelbarrow.

9. Another cheap way is to plant calendula seed NOW direct into the container and put nasturtium seeds around the edge.

10. Do not put bedding plants outside in containers until risk of frost has gone in May.

11. Water regularly, and dead head too to keep in peak condition.

12. Put container undercover when rain is forecast, to prevent the blooms from becoming marked.

John & May Bennett, Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society.


Earlier Articles By John and May

Colourful Flowers for Cutting – The Gladioli

•  Plant corms in deeply dug, well drained soil with added sand and leaf-mould, especially if your soil is heavy.

•  Plant the corms in succession from the 2 nd week in March to the 2 nd week in May, at fortnightly intervals.

•  You will get continuity of flowers until the autumn.

•  Plant the corms 6 inches apart and 6 – 8 inches deep. They should not need staking.

•  Can grow in rows for cutting but as border flowers, plant in groups.

•  If growing for exhibition, can give weekly feeds of liquid manure once the flower spikes have started to open, but water first, if the ground is dry.

•  When the flowers have finished at the end of the season, allow to dry naturally. As soon as the corms are very brown, dig them up and tie in bunches, each variety labelled if this applies to you. Hang in the shed!

•  Can be cleaned and stored in sand.

•  You may have small offsets forming – you can plant them immediately in a prepared bed of good soil, over old manure and leave to grow on for 2 years until they have reached the required size.

•  Enjoy! They are superb cut flowers for the home.



WHITE GARDEN – for all the year round interest.


•  This was brought on by our favourite – Snowdrops - slit the plants now whilst they are in the green. Plant immediately, do not allow to dry out. They will look lovely under shrubs, naturalized or anywhere in the garden or tubs.

•  Other bulbs to plant in the Autumn – Daffodils, Tulips, Crocus, Allium, Anemone blanda, or Leucojum vernum ( known as the snowflake).

•  Annuals to sow seed in March – Cornflower, Statice, Achillia, Cosmos, Busy Lizzie, etc.

•  Biennials- Honesty, Foxglove.

•  Shrubs – Camellia, Philadelphus, Buddleja, Jasmine, Spiraea, or Choisya ternata.

•  Perennials – Delphinium, Peony, Phlox, Primula denticulata, Pulmonaria, Lily-of –the valley, Hellebores, Campanula, Astilbe etc.

•  Climbers – like Roses and Clematis or Sweet peas.

•  Agapanthus in pots. Then can be placed in the garden where a gap needs filling.

•  For soil types, height and exact planting time, and also the months they flower, do research from catalogues or the internet.

•  You may find many more favourite flowers to include.



Grow some NERINES for autumn flowering.

Someone asked when to plant Nerine bulbs so that sparked the subject for us to do for January. Beautiful bulbs that are out now.

1.Beautiful. Comes in shades of pink, red, and white.

2.Grown from a bulb.

3.Nerine bowdenii is hardy and can be grown outside.

4.Plant bulbs in spring or early summer.

5.Plant outdoors in a well drained soil or in a container, or at the foot of a wall.

6. Will NOT FLOWER in a shaded area. Must be in full sun.

7. Leavers appear in spring, die down at the end of summer. Flowers follow in the autumn. Average height is 60cms.

8. Clear away foliage when it has died back.

9. Lift very congested clumps in early summer and divide.

10. If the summer is very hot like last year, containers etc. may need a little water.

11. Suggested varieties to grow are:- Nerine bowdenii – Isabel – dark pink flowers. HT. 18 inches. Nerine bowdenii – Nikita- pale pink flowers. HT 20 inches and Nerine bowdenii – Blanca Perla – white. Ht 30 inches.


We wish you all the best of health for 2019 and happy gardening!

Naturalising bulbs in grass or putting bulbs and plants in containers. Baskets, pots and all shapes of containers can be used. In lawns plant crocus, daffodils and dwarf iris or aconites. Scatter the bulbs randomly and plant where they fall.

You can grow many types of bulbs in containers, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, alliums, crocus, dwarf iris, anemone blanda is a favourite of ours.

To guarantee dense display of colour-on your patio next spring by layering bulbs in pots. Put large bulbs like daffodils and tulips at the bottom and smaller bulbs like crocus and iris at the top. Cover each layer with multipurpose compost.

Plant pansies, violas, heathers, ivies etc in tubs or baskets along with crocus, dwarf iris, etc.

A bowl packed with single colour dwarf tulips can be stunning.


Can be taken from: Buddleia; Camellia; Choisya; Forsythia; Hebe; Hydrangea; Potentilla; Weigela; Lavender etc. Choose shoots that are almost fully grown except for the soft tip. Pinch the soft tip out.

Length of cutting 3 - 4" long. Strip the lower leaves from each cutting.

Can use root hormone if you wish, but not essential. Insert cuttings around the edge of a pot. Put in a cold frame or cloche.

Remember to label and water thoroughly.

Check that they do not dry out at any time.

You can supply your friends with your new plants as well as stocking up your own garden.

John & May Bennett Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society

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Reports & News

As I am writing this it is raining again, however, my garden has been full of surprises over the past few weeks! The pear tree has been in blossom and the roses are still full of blooms, in fact the beds look full of colour, which in these times is cheering but I know that autumn is on its way as the House Martin's nesting in our eaves have just left for the long journey to warmer climates and I wish them a safe journey especially the three sets of fledglings that have kept us amused through the summer!

We are sad to announce that our friend and committee member Carol Ryalls passed away. Carol had been a long standing committee member and will always be remembered for the lovely lunches and teas that she organised for all our shows - she was always happy with a teapot in her hand! Carol will be really missed and our thoughts are with her family!

As the guidelines for Covid 19 have recently changed, we are unable to hold our monthly meeting, which is a real shame as we have not been able to meet since March. Unfortunately I cannot give out any dates for any future events and our Christmas Quiz night and annual dinner sadly also look unlikely to take place. I didn't know that when we started on this journey at the beginning of March, we would not be able to get together for the rest of the year. Still, the summer has been wonderful and we have been able to enjoy our gardens, getting some exercise and safe distance chats with friends and neighbours.

Here's hoping we will all be able to meet again soon but in the meantime keep well and safe

Janet Davies Nov 20


Photos By Tracy Milson

Dobies Seed & Equipment Catalogue 2021


The new Dobies seed catalogues for 2021 have arrived. There is no need to belong to the Horticultural Society to qualify for 50% off seeds & 12% off equipment. If you buy your vegetable & flowers seeds from Dobies, then the Unique Order Code for online ordering is GD1042G up until the end of August 2021. Please enter this code at the end of your order & watch the website calculate your discount.

I can email you an order form, but if you wish to post your order please contact Carole Sellars 01673 842645 or at smiths.top@btinternet.com




In previous years the Horticultural Society helds it's Annual Sweet Pea & Summer Flower show in the Village Hall on a Saturday in early June.

There are normally more than 30 classes of exhibits and thers for children's art work & plants they have grown. Visitors see an array of fragrant displays of sweet peas and other early summer flowers such as Delphiniums, Carnations and Roses.


For more information during 2021 contact May Bennett (843206). Raffle prizes donated by local well wishers and businesses will be gratefully received



May Bennett sent a very special thanks went to Mrs Joyce Heath and family for hosting the show for some 41 years. The committee offered thanks to the Heath family for the use of their garden and for everything Joyce and her family had contributed over the years. It was Joyce and the family made every show a huge success. May Bennett


Mrs Joyce Heath enjoying a quiet moment in her garden after a very busy and emotional day

Rev'd Chris & Julia Harrington with the winners at the 67th Annual Horticultural Show and Fete held by kind permission of Mrs Joyce Heath (front)

The members of Middle Rasen & District Horticultural Society would like to express how sad they were to hear of the passing of one of their active long-term members, Mrs. Joyce Heath on 23rd May having suffered from ill health for several years.

Joyce had been a Vice-President and an Honorary member of the society. The Annual Show had been hosted by the Heath family at "Rosslyn" for around 40 years. In the early years Joyce would knock on doors collecting prizes towards the tombola on show day and organise it in her garage. She also acted as a steward on the day, after baking, making lemon curd and doing flowers to enter in the show, winning many trophies. That was not all, she would bake for the refreshments too. Joyce was well known for her very tasty sausage rolls whenever we had a meal coming up.

Her home was also open for many tasks on show day. Committee meetings were also held at her home for many years. We could go on, but the hospitality of Joyce and the whole family will never be forgotten. A true member of the community, and our society. Joyce was also a regular worshipper at Middle Rasen Parish Church where she helped with the brass cleaning, flower arranging and after Church coffee. She loved her garden and would potter around for hours. She wouldn't give in until whatever she had started had been finished! She loved company and was always pleased when someone popped in for a chat and a cuppa! She loved her family, enjoying spending time with her 3 Grandchildren and 6 Great Grandchildren!

Thank you Joyce, we will all miss you.

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