Welcome to the first meeting of our 2023/24 season. Already an unusually dry February raises fears of another year of drought and restrictions so we will need to think carefully about plant management and water conservation. An earlier sharp frost has killed some of my favourite shrubs and attacked the top of the euonymus hedge, but the view of a patchwork of snowdrops, daffodils, iris and hellebores through my kitchen window is a joy, remembering that according to the Meteorological Calendar, 1st March was officially the first day of Spring.
We have a very interesting and topical programme for the coming year. Programme cards are now available and can be collected at the March meeting when you pay your annual subscription, which stays at £15 for another year. We may have to consider a small increase next year as all our costs are rising, especially speaker fees, and our involvement in the Alresford Show is always costly. One way to avoid this is for us to increase our membership which would help our finances, so please encourage your friends and neighbours to join. Speaking of paying subscriptions we can now offer payment by bank transfer which our Secretary, Shireen Coghlan has already mentioned in her publicity for this meeting. If you need a reminder of the banking details, just ask the Membership Secretary or Treasurer. You can of course still pay by cheque if you wish.
It was good to see so many members at the AGM last month on a cold and frosty evening. We are pleased that all members of the committee offered to stand again. There was an exchange of roles when Janet Pooley was elected Chairman and Stephen Morley took on the role of Speaker Secretary. Members gave Stephen a round of applause and thanked him for his ten-year chairmanship. The committee later made him a suitable presentation. The formal part of the meeting was followed by a talk by Simon Justice, Course Manager, about all that is involved in maintaining the Alresford Golf Course in tip top condition after which we enjoyed the usual refreshments.
Looking forward to the coming year our next highlight is the Members Only SPRING SHOW on 12th April and as the season gets earlier and earlier, we hope there will still be plenty of entries for the Show and a winner for the Bosie Cup. Later in the month we have our annual Coffee Morning and Seed Swap in the Community Centre from 10.00am on Saturday 29th April and would welcome offers of cakes, plants and seeds. Again we will be supported by the Country Market.
Val Ramshaw has organised a trip to Wisley on 1st June which promises to be a great opportunity to see the gardens at their best. Remember that members have free entry to Wisley as part of our affiliation to the RHS. As I write, the Society holiday to Yorkshire 19-22 June is uncertain unless we can encourage a few more people to sign up. Please speak to Val if you are interested (Tel 01962 733160 ). A decision has to be made by the end of March.
Other highlights of the programme include our summer garden party on 1st July by kind invitation of committee member Vivienne Isemann, and the hanging basket and container competition, also in July. The theme will be ‘ROYAL’ to mark this Coronation year so bear that in mind when you are selecting your plants.
It’s not too early to start thinking about the Alresford Show and the show committee are already reviewing the Schedule. We will be looking for helpers on the day, especially stewards who do not need to be members so please speak to Ann Winfield if you can help – AND SAVE THE DATE!
Tonight we welcome as our speaker Susan Simmonds of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and the title of her talk is ‘Wilder 2030’. Janet Pooley Chairman