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Oxeye Daisies and Red Campion

Three Villages Gardening Club

New Gardening Club Website

The club has a new website which is at

This page will be removed from the BretonHeath website once the new website is fully established.


We are a small friendly gardening club, set up in 2006 and centred on the three villages of Birch, Layer Breton and Layer Marney, about 5 miles south of Colchester in Essex. Our membership of about 50 includes quite a few from surrounding villages.

We are all very interested in gardening, but we enjoy the company of others with a shared interest and we try not to get too technical! Gardening should be fun and in our Club it certainly is. Everyone turns up for every meeting if they possibly can.

When Do We Meet and What do we do?

We meet every month. Normally we meet at 7.30pm in Birch Memorial Hall during the winter months. In the summer we arrange perhaps two or three evening visits to gardens or other outside venues, plus a social barbecue for members and their guests. The December meeting always has a strong social element to it. Occasionally a few members get together in small groups for visits to gardens, guided talks etc. Many of us enjoy visiting somewhere in the company of a few others rather than going alone, so a little informal co-ordination is provided. Usually these are very small groups of perhaps up to 8 members who purchase their own tickets but share transport with someone they know. One very useful function provided by the Club Committee is to scan through the large number of courses and events and keep members informed of a few local ones that may be of interest.

As we are a relatively small club, finding enough people to fill a coach at an acceptable cost is impractical, especially mid-week, so we either book a block of seats on a coach excursion that is open to the public or we car-share.

What Does it Cost?

Membership costs £15 for a calendar year (only £12 for existing members renewing for 2017) and there is a meeting attendance fee, usually just £3 to cover hall expenses etc. Each year we aim to have at least one 'celebrity' speaker. These have included Bob Flowerdew, Christine Walkden, Matthew Biggs, Nick Hamilton, Ursula Buchan and Ken Crowther. Our talks cover most of the usual subjects that are of primary interest to gardeners, and the less usual topics have included Garden Birds, Garden History & Antiques, Chile & the Andes, Heathland Conservation, Arboriculture, and Photography. We've had practical sessions on cuttings, grafting and soil testing. Amongst our private evening visits to nearby gardens are RHS Garden, Hyde Hall, where Curator Ian le Gros has personally taken us on guided tours, Feeringbury Manor, (home of RHS past president Giles Coode-Adams), Green Island Garden at Ardleigh, Hugh Johnson's garden at Saling Hall, and of course the Beth Chatto Gardens. With a membership of around 50, we average attendances of 35 for talks, and somewhat more for garden visits and social events where members often bring their 'other halves' along.


Geoff Russell Grant was formerly chairman. You may email him - see contact page for address. He can be telephoned on 01206 330235; in many ways that is better, as you may want to ask questions.

We use email for our Club communications as it reduces cost and clerical time. Members receive an email every month.

2017 Programme

The schedule of monthly meetings is set out below. Additional events may be shown separately as appropriate.

Bulk Purchasing Schemes

We run both spring and autumn bulb purchasing schemes. We also order snowdrops, aconites and bluebells 'in the green' in bulk. One significant benefit for bulbs and herbaceous stock is the range of species and cultivars available; few retailers stock a wide or predictable range, or provide a catalogue from which to draw up a planting scheme. We also belong to the Kings Seeds Club Purchase scheme, which gave a 50% discount on all club seed orders placed from their 2016 Catalogue. Members participating submit their order via the Club as part of a once-only annual ordering process, with each order individually packed and delivered to the Club.


As a Club we have no central library. However, individual members have a huge range of material from books through advisory leaflets to course notes. One of our objectives is to make this source of reference available to all members. However we are well aware that setting up a complicated system is a waste of time unless members both wish and are able to make use of it. It may well be that publishing a bibliography will go a long way towards achieving something useful.

Hints and Tips

We do not intend to provide these on our own website. There is already too much information available in books and on the internet, so we aim to provide just a few links - see Links section at the foot of this page. We accept no responsibility for the content of these sites.

2017 Programme of Monthly Meetings

We meet monthly on the 2nd Monday at 7.30pm in Birch Memorial Hall, unless otherwise advised. Arrangements for garden visits will be notified to members nearer the relevant dates.

January 8th Paul Harrison - 'The Very Best 50 Small Trees for Small Places'

February 13th Michael Warren - 'Three Days in the Loire'

March 13th Ben Smith - 'Low Maintenance Gardens'

April 10th Claudio Bincoletto - 'Edible Weeds, Flowers, Fungi'

May 8th 6-30pm - Guided Walk Through Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden with David Ward.

June 12th 6-30pm - Visit to Braxted Park Walled Garden and Beyond!

July 10th 6-30pm - Visit to 'Moverons', Brightlingsea. To be confirmed.

August 14th From 6-30pm - Summer Social and Barbecue. Venue to be advised to members.

September 11th Chris Mead - 'The Adventures of Beekeeping'
(Joint meeting with Birch & Layer Breton Women's Institute)

October 9th Lucy Redman - 'The Placing of Sculpture Within a Garden'

November 13th Sue Jackman - 'Flower Hunting and Trekking in Bhutan'

December 11th Bryan Thurlow - 'The Perennial Mr Potter'


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Page updated: 29 Jan 2017 at 15:13