Hello and welcome to the new blog for The Painter’s Forstal Gardeners' Club.


Having had a thoroughly inspiring club trip to RHS Hyde Hall a few weeks ago I have been finding space for the few plants that Paul and I purchased at Hyde Hall.

We are, for the first time, opening our garden in the National Garden Scheme in a couple of weeks time and then again in September. We've been busy, as you can imagine, nipping and tucking and dead-heading way ahead of time in the hope that things will be looking extremely colourful on the day in question. Trying to gauge when to let the plants do their own thing, it is all a bit of a gamble especially as the weather is in total charge of events and the whole day could be a washout.

However all will not be lost because whatever happens, be it sun or rain and wind, the fact that we are in the yellow book has focussed our gardening minds and we have at long last altered and improved things in the garden which most likely would have been kept on the back burner. Sometimes we all need a bit of a target to get things done!

Right now we're really pleased to have propagated so many plants at the end of winter which is allowing us the luxury of adding colour as and when we need . We've potted up and potted up, so much so that we'll have enough to add to the plant stall which will be part of our NGS day. Propagating from seed and constantly taking tip cuttings has given immense satisfaction even if it means we're running round like headless chickens for most of the time.

If you're interested in coming along then you'll find details of our garden and when we'll be open on the NGS site HERE

That's it for now.

Frances x



Hello garden club members, I am offering a free lunch for your knowledge! I am a complete gardening novice and need help sorting a small patch out. I live locally in Hansletts lane, Ospringe, if you are able to help me do please let me know. You can contact me via the Contact Page and I'll provide you with more details of what I need and where you can find me. If you would like to join me I'll need to know vegetarians and vegans for catering, there will be wine too if you would like a glass!

Many thanks

Trish Stanford


A message from our chaiman, Frances

As Chairperson of the club I just have to send a quick message to the blog today following yesterday's successful Spring Show. So many enthusiastic new members and exhibitors entering for their very first time in a horticultural show. Even better they had successes on the show bench. New faces means a healthy club and it is all so good for competition. Every exhibit added to the colour, scent and spectacle with great all round support. Lovely to see members attending in the afternoon even though some hadn't managed an entry. Thanks to all. A super atmosphere and a super event. Thank you all.

Now is a great time to mulch your flower beds. This will help with moisture retention especially in our part of the south east. Don’t be stingy with it either but do keep the material away from the main stems of plants. Keep on top of weeds. Also don’t be tempted to put bedding plants out until risk of hard frosts is past.

We do need some good rainfall so keep an eye on your pots especially those with small shrubs. They will need watering.



Some of you may know that I am new to the area having moved down to Faversham from South London in June 2018. So why is this upstart, new to the club, writing the blog? You may well ask! It’s a question I have asked myself a good few times as the weeks have ticked by and I haven’t managed to put pen to paper! Well at the AGM in February Frances asked for volunteers, at the time no one put their hand up including me but having thought about it I felt it may be a good way of getting involved and getting to know the club a little better.

I have never before been a member of a gardening club and although I am a garden designer by profession and a competent gardener I am no expert in growing and propagating and have little or no experience in growing vegetables. So if anyone would like to contribute veg talk or any specialist growing tips or indeed any amusing stories that I can add to the blog I would be most grateful.

So why did I join? Well it seemed a nice thing to do. My old friend and fellow alumni of Hadlow College introduced me to the club by taking me along to the summer show but it was not until the Dahlia Show that I was really hooked. I have blown hot and cold about dahlias over the years but I could not help but be seduced by the amazing blowsy blooms on show, so much so that I have just potted up my dahlia tubers and can’t wait for them to spring to life. I don’t have a greenhouse or a decent window sill so they are tucked into the shed by a window and, as far as I can tell, seem happy. 

As a new dahlia grower I don’t think I will be giving Andrew Bruce any sleepless nights but I hope I will be able to at least get some reasonable blooms together to enter in this year’s show on 9th September. So if you haven’t got your dahlia’s yet get them ordered and get potting, spring is just around the corner. 

While I am talking about growing I wanted to confess I have a bee in my bonnet (!) about insects. The news , recently, that insect populations were in catastrophic decline should make us all think about what we can do in our gardens/ balconies/window boxes to help improve things albeit it in a small way. While most of the blame lies with the farmers and intensive food production I believe that we gardeners have our part to play.

Please think twice about using pesticides, if it means things are a little chewed then so be it. Many moons ago I gave up growing things that needed chemical intervention to survive, my garden still had loads of flowers, my beans had a bit of blackfly but nothing a good squirt of the hose couldn’t deal with but the real joy for me was that I had masses of bees, butterflies and other beasties. 

 We can also help by choosing to grow insect friendly plants. Whereas the glorious double flowered varieties are a feast for our eyes they are not much good as a source of nectar for the polinators, so if you are choosing what to grow from seed this spring throw in a couple of packets of flowers with a simple (often flat) structure and don’t forget something night scented for the moths

A few jobs to do in March:

  • If you havent already done so cut back late flowering clematis to about six inches from the base, don’t be fooled by all the leaves trying to burst out, if you cut them back you will have more flowers and no straggly stems
  • Cut back deciduous grasses before new growth appears, make sure you don’t damage any new shoots coming through
  • Divide snowdrops
  • Divide overgrown clumps of perennials
  • Prune bush and climbing roses
  • Cut back cornus and salix grown for colourful winter stems
  • Get weeding
  • Put in supports for lanky perennials

Hope you liked the new blog, I'd welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvement and please someone, help with the veg talk! 

See you in April.

One of my favourites, Clematis Etoile Violette