Notes of the MGS AGM held on 16th February 2015
Welcoming some forty members to the recent Annual General Meeting, Chairman Brenda Burt reported another successful year with high quality exhibits at two shows, outings to Andrew’s Corner, Pinetum Gardens and a social evening. Assistance by members at the plants stall of Meavy Oak Fair had brought thanks from the fair committee. Efforts by Kay Moore and Michael Ashton at car boot sales had raised significant funds for the production of a calendar for 2016.
Brenda, in announcing her retirement thanked all the various members of the Committee for their hard work and support over her five enjoyable years as Chairman.
Martin Burt began the treasurer’s report by thanking Kirsty Winter for examining the accounts, and Michael Parle for maintaining the website. Membership has reduced in recent years but several new members have been welcomed and the Society remains solvent. Large banners to aid the Society’s visibility had been purchased and should last for several years. However, the costs of speakers and their travelling continue to rise so that the membership fees are likely to be increased for 2016 and beyond. For publicity, the Tavistock Times and local village magazines are very willing to publish material sent in but there is a real need for someone to actively keep everything up to date.
Society President, Cyril Sparey, thanked the committee on behalf of the members. As the remaining committee members were willing to continue, they were re-elected en bloc.
Annie Inman then took over as Chairman and listed the planned activities for this year. These include a coach outing to Forde Abbey on May 21st, car sharing to Hidden Valley Gardens at Par on September 16th, an interesting variety of talks, and the major Summer Show on August 8th when the public are invited to view members’ flowers and vegetables.
The guest speaker was Mick Martin, who grew up in Kent where the family home had a woodland garden full of snowdrops and he has loved them ever since. After a visit to RHS Wisley he realised there were different species and varieties and began to collect them. On moving to Cornwall, he brought his collection along too.
The Latin name “Galanthus” simply means “white flower”. Snowdrops grow wild in Britain but are not native having been brought by monks from the Continent; they are native to a great swathe of countries from the Pyrenees in the West across Southern France, parts of Italy and Greece, into Turkey and further East. They like the shelter of deciduous woods and a rich friable soil that is moist but does not become waterlogged.
Until the mid-19th century Snowdrops were little regarded, when it is possible that soldiers returning from the Crimean war brought different species and varieties home. A member of the Elwes family of Colesbourne in Gloucestershire, discovered in the Middle East a remarkable species with tall broad leaves; named G. elwesii this became a parent of many hybrids. There are now reckoned to be 20 different species and over 200 varieties, with the number constantly growing.
Although all snowdrops have a basic similarity, there are great differences in detail. Leaves may be short and narrow, or long and broad, some have a fold in the middle, others a silver stripe. The flowers may be single or double, with differing numbers of petals and varying amounts of green on the inner trumpet, which can be wholly green. The outer petals also can have green markings, while especially sought after are flowers with yellow markings. Enthusiasts, known as “galanthophiles” may pay many pounds for a single rare bulb. As a result, the owners of any snowdrop garden which has been open to the public, often notice that plants are missing.
Mike brought many snowdrops in flower to illustrate his points, and some to sell. He also kindly donated one unusual plant as a raffle prize, much appreciated by the winner. A most informative but relaxed and humorous talk, with frequent bursts of member’s laughter.
The next meeting begins at 7:00 pm in Meavy Parish Hall on Monday 16th of March. This is the Spring Fun Show of the results of members’ efforts in garden and conservatory. The judges will be Jenny and David Miles and while they make their choices, the members will struggle with competitions. For more information visit www.meavy.org.uk/mgs or call 01822 852984. Visitors or new members are always welcomed.