Painter's Forstal Gardeners' Club - A History

In the small back room of the Whitehill Chapel back in 1979 on a cold December evening, 43 of the local Painter's Forstal residents got together and decided it was about time to start a gardeners' club. Between them they agreed there would be monthly meetings, a summer outing and a summer show to be held every July. This format remains pretty much the same today, although we have added a few events since then such as the Spring Show, a Dahlia competition and a Christmas party! One of the attractions of the Gardeners club was then, and still is today, the discounts that club members can get on their seeds, fertilisers and composts.

Whitehill Chapel

The first talk was presented early in 1980 by Diane Jenner from Kennaways, followed in May 1980 with the first club outing to Sandling Park.

In July 1980 was the clubs first ever Summer show. This was a tremendous success, with 105 classes with both open and members classes

As you can see from this article published in August 1980 the event was a resounding success and the Painter's Forstal Gardeners' Club would never look back.

In 1985, with the club firmly established and having been put on to a waiting list, we we're accepted into the "Neame Cup" gardeners' quiz competion, an annual competition to find the most knowledgeable gardeners' clubs.

In that first year we beat teams of four from Challock, St Dunstans and Barham to set up a final with Chartham. Which I'm very happy to say we won.

Lorrie Clarke, John Clarke, June Neame, John Moore, Ruth Moore

At the 2018 Summer Show we were delighted that five of the orignal club founders, who are all still active members, came along to show their support!

Of the original founders sadly Lionel Clark, passed away in September 2017 aged 90. His knowledge and enthusiasm was an inspiration to all, a true horticulturalist involved in trialing new varieties and we still see his work at the Cambridge Botanical Garden to this day and other important gardens. He was instrumental in forming the club’s successful Neame Cup Quiz team, see the news article above, his knowledge of plants being encyclopaedic.  Always a keen competitor at shows and always encouraging others to ‘have a go’. A kind and generous man remembered fondly.

In 2018 Noreen Mitchell also passed away, she was our club secretary for over 20 years, keeping the club running smoothly and efficiently, as well as organising a great many trips to botanical gardens. She was always warmly welcoming and will probably be best, and most fondly, remembered as "keeper of the hats", her delight in organising the Christmas party entertainment was both jolly and infectious.

We are a traditional, and very friendly, gardeners' club where very little has changed over the years, although we now meet in a new venue at Lorenden School which is a terrific meeting place

If you are, or were, a member of the club, and you have any anecdotes or memories you'd like to share then do please get in touch, it would be great to hear from you.

If you're interested in finding out more about the club do please contact us