President of Retford Ladies Probus Club, Mylie West, welcomed 55 members, five new members and one guest to the April meeting, she then introduced Dave Newman to speak on ‘Life in the Victorian Garden’. Dave, who has been involved with gardening most of his life, is now running with his wife, a Community Interest Company based at Eagle Hall between Newark and Lincoln. The company uses the environment to help the elderly, the lonely and those with dementia and other health issues. Together with their carers, these people do various activities which will help to enhance their social mobility skills.
Dave told members that in Victorian times Clumber walled garden employed 28 men. There was a strict pecking order in this male dominated occupation, Head Gardener at the top, boys at the bottom. The Head Gardener was responsible for supplying fruit and vegetables to estate owners, keeping the grounds immaculate, supplying strawberries at Christmas, as well as being an expert at pot planting and flower arranging. You would have thought that the invention of the lawnmower would have been a godsend, but in actual fact, grazing animals had previously done the job so it meant more work!
The development of the railways and the Post Office meant that seed catalogues were more easily available and produce could be more easily transported. Dave spoke of ingenious ways of growing out of season fruits and controlling pest and plant diseases, many of which have now been banned.
The club’s next meeting will be on 10th May at Ordsall Community Centre, at 10.00am for a 10.30am start, when the focus will be on Mr Straw’s House. All are welcome.