Monthly Report



On 3rd October we had a good turnout for our first speaker of the season: Lottie Newitt talking about “Gardening for Wellness”.


Lottie’s session was more than a “talk” as she demonstrated her ideas by building 3 pots full of plants during the evening. She started by stating that we can use plants to enhance our moods and explained how different colours can have different effects on our moods.


Jewel colours can brighten our mood. We notice the trees changing colour and the reds and golds of autumn can brighten us up, but what about the borders in our gardens?  Lottie showed us how cheerful the bright colours of orange berries on pyracantha and purple berries on callicarpa (also known as the beauty berry) looked. She showed us other plants whose berries can brighten the border in autumn such as cotoneaster and skimmia. Berries also have the advantage of providing food for birds, and watching them can be relaxing.


As well as berries there are some flowering plants that come into their own in autumn such as asters and calluna (heathers). Finally she talked about how foliage can also add colour using plants such as such as heucheras in a variety of colours from greens through yellow and orange to reds and the dark almost black “Obsidian”,  and physocarpus Red Baron for its deep red leaves.  Lottie demonstrated how, by putting two contrasting plants together, we can make the colours really stand out. 


She then made up a tub with so many plants we could not believe they would all thrive!  As she built the display she also explained how to ensure it did well.  Starting with a layer of old broken polystyrene to provide drainage and insulation against the cold ground, she built the display layer by layer adding bulbs to come through for different times in spring, slow release fertiliser and a top layer of six different plants. The result was a pot that looked lovely now and for most of the winter, but then would have the added value of the allium and tulip bulbs as they emerged in spring.


Heuchera obsidian, dwarf hebe, 

skimmia rubella, calluna, pansies,

gaultheria and dwarf aster




Tulip bulbs


Compost with slow release fertiliser


Allium bulbs





Broken polystyrene









60 cm

After the jewel colours Lottie demonstrated how softer colours can be calming.  She made up a smaller pot using pastel and white flowers and grey/green foliage, including a grass to add texture and narcissi bulbs to bring additional colour in spring.


Finally she made up a small wire basket lined with moss.  Scent is an important sense and we can sometimes underrate how it can calm our mood. In this wire basket she put violas, the herbs sage and thyme for their scent and scented cyclamen. Such a basket could be put on a table so you can appreciate the scent as well as the visual beauty.


This was an enjoyable and informative evening and I am sure a lot of members will be using her ideas in future. Our next meeting is Tuesday 7th November when our speaker will be Emma O’Neill from Ryton Organic Garden talking about “An Introduction to Organic Gardening”.  Do come and join us – old friends and guests plus new members always welcome.


The full list of speakers and garden visits for 2023 -2024 is also posted on our Programme page


Jean Harris