Murray Bridge garden club mourns former committee member

Mr Phillip Christian with his award winning potted cyclamen

Mr Phillip Christian with his award winning potted cyclamen

It was on a sad note that the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club commenced its August meeting with secretary Dawn Hoffman announcing the recent passing of life member and committee member, Malcolm McDougall.

“Malcolm was a loved and respected by all his family, friends and garden enthusiasts,” she said.

“He was always willing to share his friendship, knowledge and enthusiasm for gardening with other people.

“Malcolm was a valued life member and committee person of the Murray Bridge Garden and Floral Art Club for many, many years.”

“Malcolm enriched our garden club immensely and has been an invaluable member and friend to us all.”

“His willingness to help, encourage, mentor, exhibit, judge and share his knowledge of gardening with others was outstanding.”

“Malcolm will indeed be sorely missed.”

Following a minute’s silence for the late Mr McDougall, vice president Barry Hoffman introduced the guest speaker, Kevin Bowden, from the camellia society based in the Adelaide Hills.

Mr Bowden proceeded to inform members of the society’s camellia garden that is located at Stangate House, Euston Road, Aldgate.

“Stangate House was designed in the 1940s by Adelaide architect, Mr Eric Michael and is set in 4.5 acres,”  Mr Bowden said.

“The gardens were first planted in 1972 and by 1977 some 700 camellias had been planted.

“The gardens are one of three in Australia and 30 world-wide with the gardens are open to the public during every Sunday in September from 12noon to 4pm.”

In towns like Murray Bridge gardeners are highly recommended to grow camellias in pots because both the weather and the ground conditions are not suitable.

These days many of the labels that appear on the camellia plants in the nursery will inform gardeners whether the camellia is suitable for growing in a pot.

Repotting should be done when the camellia has outgrown its current pot and should always be repotted to the next pot size up. 

The potted plant can remain for two to three years in the pot before re-potting.

Camellias prefer light shade with protection from drying winds in summer with gardeners advised to be careful not to place them in too heavy a shade as they won’t flower.

Watering camellias depends on the prevailing conditions, but in general gardeners are advised not allow the plant to dry out completely.  With regards to fertilising, more camellias are killed by over fertilising than under.

At Stangate House the camellias receive two doses of fertiliser a year, one in spring and the other in autumn to coincide with the plant growth flush.

Fertilisers need to be acid based which can be in either liquid, pelletised for granular form.

Camellias can be pruned with no ill effects, but this does not have to be on an annual basis. 

It is best to remove dead wood as camellias flower on new growth. 

The best time of the year to prune camellias is once the plant has ceased flower and just before the spring growth flush.

Meetings of the Murray Bridge Garden Club are held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Seventh Day Adventist Church hall in Murray Bridge. 

Meetings start at 7.30pm and finish by 10pm. For further information contact Chris Butcher 8532 3580 or 0419 856 414.

August competition results -

Fruit: 1st J Hansen, 2nd B Rule, 3rd D Griffiths

Large Garden Cut: 1st D Bolt, 2nd B Rule, 3rd D Griffiths

Small Garden Cut: 1st D Woidt, 2nd D Griffiths, Equal 3rd D Woidt & D Woidt

Rose Bloom: 1st P Christian

Vegetables: 1st B Rule, 2nd B Rule, 3rd B Pascoe

Home Produce: 1st D Woidt, 2nd H & J Hansen, Equal 3rd B Rule & D Woidt

Pots/Containers/Hanging Baskets: 1st P Christian, 2nd H & J Hansen, 3rd H & J Hansen

Craft: 1st B & D Hoffman

Eggs: 1st H & J Hansen, 2nd B & D Hoffman

The late Mr Malcolm McDougall with his beloved sweet peas

The late Mr Malcolm McDougall with his beloved sweet peas

Overall champion: P Christian