The entry for the Wallington gardening Club is, sadly, now only a holding entry because it ceased to exist (in its present form) after Christmas 2015. Over the years it had held monthly meetings with guest speakers and had through the year arranged a variety of outings (like trips to Wisley) and other activities. Once it had hosted BBC’s Gardeners’ Question Time and had occasionally welcomed notable local gardening celebrities like Brian Kidd.
A gardening club existed in the village before the Second World War (and maybe before that) but it lay dormant until the Wallington Village Community began in 1979. The birth of that society acted as a nucleus for several groups that formed under its umbrella (e.g. the Wine Circle) and many of the people involved were active across the range of new village activities.
The Harvest Festival was one of the first functions resurrected in the village when the Wallington Village Community was born. Though long gone, it had not been forgotten thanks to the memory of older villagers, and it returned to its traditional home of the White Horse public house in autumn 1979. For many of us that evening there was a feeling that it brought together those who had only recently found the closeness of the land that is on our doorsteps, and those who had been fortunate enough to have known it all their lives. The hops hanging from the bar and the centrepiece of the bread wheat sheaf kindly donated by John Gauntlett, our nearest farmer, left an abiding impression. After the event had relocated to the newly acquired Village Hall its running passed fairly naturally to the Gardening Club and so it remained. However many of the stalwarts of the club have been harnessed to this particular plough for over thirty-five years and, not surprisingly, need a rest. Whether their sapling that grew into a tree will remain dormant or will be tended by new hands and blossom again only time will tell.
In the meantime popular functions like the Horticultural show and the Harvest Festival will continue, perhaps in a different format, and be looked after with greater input from the Executive Committee and co-opted members of the WVCA as happened once before.
A home-grown recipe for spring lawn treatment from Tom Hilton:
The late and greatly respected Tom Hilton lived in Drift Road. He was a long-time resident of Wallington and his working life, except for a period of War service, was spent at Prices School Fareham where he was a chemistry master and, latterly, the Deputy Headmaster.
His garden, especially its lawns, was a picture and in the Once in a While of February 1982 he passed on his secret formula for Lawn Sand – which some of us have used to good effect ever since. He wrote:
‘The first feed can now be put on. I use lawn-sand that I make myself; 20 parts of dry sand, 3 parts of sulphate of Ammonia, 1 part sulphate of Iron. This needs to be applied at the rate of 4 oz. Per square yard. Besides encouraging the growth of grass it will deal with the bane of all lawns – moss. One word of caution; try to apply the fertilizer when the grass is dry.’
He went on to recommend killing weeds with Boots Lawn weedkiller in April and then applying the second dose of his patent Lawn Sand in June. The visible results of his methods were obvious throughout his garden – although it has to be said that he never did manage to stop what appeared to be a leak from his pond that produced a year-round damp streak in the road! There may be a clue in the former name of the house, which was Byrhfunt. In Old English this is said to mean ‘spring of (or at) the fortification or town’.
[Tom died in 2006, aged 93.]