The Valley Gardeners was founded in the year 2000. Several keen gardening friends, living in the Itchen Valley in Hampshire, had the idea to start a club for like minded residents of the villages and towns in the Winchester area. Now, 22 years later, the club has 120 members (as well as a substantial waiting list) and is a thriving part of local life. Members enjoy not only the 16 plus events organised by the Club each year but the friendship and social interaction which comes through the shared love of gardening and plants.
Club meetings take place every 2nd Tuesday of the month, from January to November. In a varied programme of events, there are talks and lectures from experienced garden professionals, garden historians and designers, as well as demonstrations and workshops of practical gardening skills.These take place in the Itchen Abbas & Avington Village Hall at 2.30 pm, after which tea and biscuits or cakes are served. We also hold purely social gatherings, such as our Annual Lunch, which are hugely popular. In addition to our printed programme of events, we put on the occasional evening meeting, which cover a diverse range of horticultural subjects, with alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments provided!
In the warmer months of the year, The Valley Gardeners visit interesting and beautiful gardens throughout the south of England. This might be an afternoon visit to a local garden in Hampshire or a day long excursion by coach to a more distant garden (or two), often with lunch and/or tea included in the day's itinerary. We have introduced Study Days recently when a small group of members concentrate on a specific topic with refreshments provided of course! In 2020, David Hurrion taught us how to create our own cutting garden and the year before we had a study day all about permaculture from Maggie Harland and in March 2023, David will be back to reveal the secrets of successful pruning at a morning workshop with refreshments served.
We organise a holiday by coach each year, visiting gardens in different areas of the country and in 2012 we made our first foray overseas, to Normandy to see some stunning French gardens and a unique opportunity to visit the French version of the Chelsea Flower Show, at Courson. In 2019, we visited 4 wonderful gardens in Essex including the iconic Beth Chatto garden and in 2021, we enjoyed a trip to gardens in Monmouthshire.
Like everyone and every organisation, 2020 was a challenging year but we were able to offer our members a revised programme of events, working within the Covid 19 rules and regulations. Highlights of 2020 included having socially distanced visits to other members' gardens in the Itchen Valley when larger gardens open to the public were closed and displaying wonderful photographs of our own gardens on the Club website so everyone could see the beautiful properties many of our members work so hard to achieve. It was a real morale booster for us all! The early months of 2021 forced us to rely on Zoom for our lectures but we had many very varied lectures given by well known and fascinating gardening experts as well as talks on how we, as gardeners, need to respond to the changing climate.
Our 2022 programme was delivered with just one casualty, our Annual Lunch in January. So we decided to move this event to the summer so we can enjoy being the fine weather outside whilst we have our lunch. 2023's programme includes a 4 day holiday to the gardens of Northamptonshire.
We always welcome guests at our talks so do come and join us if you can. We make a small charge of £10 for guests but it is £5 if you are on our waiting list.