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Winter Gardening and Galanthophiles

- an illustrated talk by Richard Ayres

Friday 19th November 2010

In November, Richard Ayres gave us a talk about the development of the Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey at Lode. Richard is an engaging speaker and few would guess from his appearance that it was ten years since he retired from the National Trust as Head Gardener at Anglesey Abbey. He has since created a new garden for Lord Fairhaven at Kirtling Tower and has been awarded an MBE for his services to gardening.

In a talk full of reminiscences, he told us of his own love of snowdrops and how some fellow galanthophiles will pay several hundred pounds for a single rare bulb. He explained how it was his idea to create a new winter garden in an area where an old shelter belt of trees was being removed. It now contains over 150 species of plants, which look at their best in the winter, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year.

His stunning photographs showed us how much colour can be achieved with stems as well as the winter flowering plants, such as aconites, hellebores and multiple varieties of snowdrops. At the end of his talk, he kindly offered to answer questions, sharing his expert knowledge with the audience. Some of us are now awaiting snowdrop flowering season to check our own gardens for rare varieties!