Spring - days lengthening, buds breaking, birds singing?

Well yes, for all the choppy blustery wet cold of late, spring is here. As well as blossoms and bumblebees, it brings news of the horticultural society flower shows and outings, of plant sales, garden openings, community projects - all the things that can make gardening a sociable as well as a solitary pursuit.

The evergreen Susan Bennett and Earl Hyde held their garden owners’ party in Muswell Hill in March, handing out yellow posters and sundries to those opening to the public under the National Garden Scheme (NGS).Ham & High: Susan Bennett promotes gardening charity NGSSusan Bennett promotes gardening charity NGS (Image: Newsquest Archive)

I go to meet people whose gardens we have not already featured in this paper, to reconnect with many we have, and to enjoy Earl’s cakes (not to mention their life-enhancing garden at 5, St Regis Close, N10). A good spin-off this year was to hear from Alan Swann (garden in N19) about the new life of the once remarkable, since neglected, Noel Baker Peace Garden in Elthorne Park N19.  An inspirational tale of community involvement.

Going to Flower Shows is another life-enhancer.  Muswell Hill Horticultural Society got in early with their Spring Show on April 1, but Highgate Horticultural Society’s is on April 15 at the United Reformed Church, Pond Square from 2pm – 4.30pm. The members would love to attract people new to gardening, or to the area, to their lively, welcoming shows.

The Royal Horticultural Society has honoured Anne and Alan Dallmann, former stalwarts of the Society and its shows, with one of its new Certificates of Recognition.  Hampstead Garden Suburb Horticultural Society starts its show season in June, but its website details events before then.

2023 NGS handbook to London gardens open to the public is free at garden centres, libraries. https://ngs.org.uk/

Details of Horticultural Society events can be found at: Muswell Hill https://www.bloomingn10.co.uk/ Hampstead Garden Suburb http://hortsoc.com/ and Highgate https://www.highgatehorticulturalsociety.org.uk/

Plant Heritage Spring Plant Fair, April 29 from 9.30am – 2pm St Michael’s School, Highgate N6.

Ham & High: Magnolia in Ruth Gorb's Hampstead GardenMagnolia in Ruth Gorb's Hampstead Garden (Image: Ruth Pavey)

Readers may have heard that one of the H&H’s heroine writers, Ruth Gorb, has died.

As Amanda Blinkhorn mentioned in her obituary, Ruth was a gardener, and for years wrote about gardening in the Ham&High. Something I would like to add is Ruth’s championing of a competition she called Seen from the Street. It was in response to the privatising of front gardens, the throwing up of fences and security gates, the ethos of Private Keep Out.

She was also dismayed by messy front gardens, but it was particularly what she saw as the meanness of those wanting to keep beautiful surroundings all to themselves that inspired her to celebrate good planting left open for all to see. A losing battle, perhaps, but a generous one.Ham & High: Ruth Gorb who was a keen gardenerRuth Gorb who was a keen gardener (Image: Courtesy of the family of Ruth Gorb)

Ruth’s own Hampstead garden has several marvels. A mature cherry is visible from the street, but the fantastic magnolia and wisteria, probably both as old as the house, are not. I was lucky to be shown the magnolia coming into glorious flower by Nigel Sutton, our photographer.

Fingers crossed that whoever lives there next will appreciate these treasures.