The last of the winter evening talks was held on the 17th March; "One Man's Vision" was the story of Hinton Ampner, a house and garden that many of us have visited over the years. John Wood, head Gardener for the past twenty years explained how Ralph Dutton, the last Lord Sherborne, created the grounds and remodelled the house to his own taste and style.
He inherited the 16,000-acre estate in 1935 and work started in 1936 to make the house more comfortable (this included adding bathrooms of which there were none at the time). As war came closer, materials were harder to source and eventually work had to be suspended. A girls' school from Portsmouth occupied the house during the war years and it was not until 1945 that Ralph returned, and it took another 15 years to complete the work. By 1960 it was finally ready, only for a fire in April of that year to destroy much of the house; it was to take another three years to remedy the damage and for Ralph to begin living there again.
But the house was not the only area that he wanted to improve, and the gardens today are much as he planned. In Spring there are carpets of snowdrops close to the house and later the woods are full of bluebells; roses are the main attraction during the summer and in the autumn dahlias take centre stage. John explained that there are three full-time gardeners and 35 volunteers to maintain all areas of the garden. The talk was accompanied by some beautiful slides showing the gardens in all the different seasons.
The first show of the year was held on the 2nd April. Despite flurries of snow and heavy overnight frosts, 29 members managed to produce 145 entries to ensure that the village hall was full of spring colour and perfume.
Always well supported is Class 1, a container of daffodils from bulbs purchased from the Society; the Pat Miller Cup is awarded to the winner and this year it was Robin Hall. Robin also won the Best Daffodil Bloom for one of his small cup narcissus in Class 4, with Christine Leonard winning the Daffodil Society Medal for a vase of 9 mixed stems in Class 6. Jill Howard-Duff won the Diploma for the best exhibit in the Flower and Pot Plants for her six yellow and white hellebore heads.
The Domestic classes were also well supported, especially the class for Leek and Potato Soup, which was won by sue Gamble, also earning the Diploma of Merit for the entry that the judge declared to be the best in show. Irene Bradbury won two first prizes in the Handicraft section with her lovely spring painting and her beautifully dressed peg doll. The Vi Dowse trophy for craft was presented to Jennifer Mitchell for three pebbles painted like bees; the judge said they made her smile. Jennifer also won the prize for the best Floral Arrangement and Angus Mckay won three 1st prizes in the photography section.
The show opened to visitors at 2.30pm and it was pleasing to see so many people come in to admire the exhibits and enjoy a cup of tea and cake in the marquee.
Don't forget the plant sale on Saturday 14th May. Weather permitting, this will be held on the village green again and all donations should be brought along between 8.30 to 9.30 am. Plants will be on sale from 10am.