The Donheads Gardening Club - Page reproduced from the Donhead Digest.

October/November 2019

Donheads Garden Club History

With the garden club about to enter its 17th year. I thought it would be a good time to interview Neville Pughe, who had the idea to set the club up. Neville was kind enough to let me ask him about this and you can read his responses below.
FR: What decided you to start a garden club for the Donheads and surrounding areas?
NP: When Linda and I came to Donhead St Mary in July 1997 we were struck by the wonderful gardens, large and small, in the area. It was a surprise to learn that there had not been a Gardening Club here, so we, rather nervously, proposed starting one.
FR: How did you advertise the Club and did you get a good response?
NP: There was no "Nextdoor Donhead" email system then, so notices were put up in the Ludwell shops, local pubs and village notice-boards, suggesting a public meeting in Donhead St Mary Village Hall on Saturday 8th March 2002. We were expecting about 20 keen gardeners from both Donheads, however, 47 enthusiastic people arrived.
FR: Why was it to be known as a Gardening Club not a Horticultural Society?
NP: It was agreed at the Inaugural Meeting that 'Gardening Club' was more 'down-to-earth' shall we say. (Some even thought that Latin plant names should be discouraged!). However, it was accepted that a formal Constitution would be needed, and regular Newsletters.
FR: Were people forthcoming to serve on the Committee, and how long did it take to get the Club up and running after that first meeting?
NP: I don't recall any problem getting volunteers for the Committee; people were really enthusiastic. It seemed a good idea to have members from both Donheads involved. Our first Chairman, Phil Thorp, and Treasurer David Laker, were both from Donhead St Andrew. As Events Secretary, Liz Henry from Ludwell volunteered. She was already a member of the Shaftesbury club, and her experience and initiatives were a major help in those early days. The Committee's subsequent proposals - Meetings should take place every month on a second Monday evening, that the initial membership fee should be £5, and members should be encouraged from all other villages around, - were duly accepted at the next meeting which was on 18th June 2002 . We had had 4 Committee meetings by then, and the Secretary (me!) was entrusted with writing the Constitution, which, as you know, for any public organisation is important, especially for its finances. Within the first month 90 people had joined!.
FR: Did you get any help from the RHS and/or Wiltshire Gardens Trust, and how did Castle Gardens become involved?
NP: Not really, but we thought it wise to get the Club formally affiliated to these two Charities, and Castle Gardens were very supportive from the start. We gleaned some ideas on speakers and events from all these.
FR: Can you remember who or what subject the first speaker was?
NP: All the early meetings were either visits to places such as Hilliers Arboretum or talks by our own members. The September 2002 meeting, for example, was a marvellous talk by Mike Montgomery on Canna Lilies and Flowering Ginger. Fascinating and amusing. No wonder that, by the First AGM, in March 2003, membership had grown to 125 (although 25 had yet to pay their fee, I believe!)
FR: Has the Club fulfilled your original ideas?
NP: Yes, to a very large extent. It has been a huge success in terms of education and enjoyment, with some memorable talks and visits. It is, of course, constantly developing, and I would hope to see more interaction among members, exchanging experiences, information and ideas, The club does, however, bring a superb social benefit to the communities in this lovely area, and whether keen gardeners or learners, more members are always welcomed.
Many thanks to Neville for his time and input.
We met again after our summer break in September at Donhead St Mary Village Hall, where we had Denis Balden along to speak to us about 'Carnivorous Plants', this was an interesting talk and we continue to meet on the second Monday of each month.

Fran Robson & Neville Pughe

The Donheads Gardening Club is affiliated to:

The RHS, The Gardens Group Sherborne and the Wiltshire Gardens Trust.

We always welcome new members, please see our membership page for details.

Useful Links

Country Gardener Magazine

Open Gardens - National Directory

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