Monthly Report

January Meeting.


Starting her career as a research scientist, Hilary Collins, has channelled her enthusiasm into one genus - Eucalyptus. Her knowledge knows no bounds and she was keen to share it with our Garden Club audience of around 50 members at our January meeting. 


Hilary now runs Grafton Nursery as a research nursery (at Grafton Flyford, Worcs. WR7 4PW with her husband Steve and is continually running trials into new way of growing and using the genus. It is open to the public. 


The myths associated with this beautiful tree were easily countered by Hilary's evidence to the contrary. We learnt that there are many species, aside from the admittedly thuggish 'Gunii', that have less dramatic growth rates and which are suitable for small terraces, or large pots.  Grafton Nursery offers a 'dwarf selection' for smaller gardens. Indeed, most Eucalypts can be coppiced (cut back close to the base) to encourage new growth of juvenile leaves, which are often have a very beautiful, delicate appearance. 


With 33 species tolerating temperatures down to -15 decrees C, some even lower, hardiness is not an issue. The longer they live, the hardier they are. Their demise in winter in this country is usually through dehydration - lack of water which they need all year round! They need to be planted so their roots can reach below our frozen soil and access still-liquid water. This year-round thirstiness makes them eminently suitable for turning swampy ground into a useable surface and thus their planting close to sporting grounds is counteracting winter flooding, ensuring year-round use.  Yes, they may drink a lot, but this can be turned to our advantage.


Eucalyptus grown for sale in a round pot do not thrive as their roots continue to grow in a circular, restricted, fashion once planted and so are liable to felling in strong winds.   Grafton Nursery now uses an intriguingly-shaped and fully recyclable 'air-pot', developed in Australia and manufactured in Glasgow. Nicknamed the 'rocket pot', it coaxes roots outwards which then continue thus once planted, creating a firm anchor in the ground. 


Without being aware of it, we probably come into contact with Eucalyptus every day as they are used in newsprint, loo paper, construction timber, aviation fuel, furniture, towels, carpets, cleaning products, cosmetics,  medicine and perfume, to name a few. 


Such a beautiful and versatile tree deserves to feature more in our gardens and to counter the myth that 'nothing will grow beneath them', Hilary's slides showed mixed borders with Eucalyptus as the crowning glory above rhododendrons, azaleas and ferns. Careful selection of the the right one for your needs - screening or hedging or purely decorative - was advised and Hilary produces an excellent booklet to aid this decision. She is also very ready to help first-hand when you phone or visit her nursery, something which I think several SGC members are already planning.


Please join us on February 4th at 7.30 in the Village Hall to hear Tony Clear's talk on 'Pots & Patios'. Further details: call 01789 731830                                     


Gillie Waldron, Chairman