Autumn Newsletter 2020

As we mark the transition from Summer to Autumn with a week that sees a dramatic fall in temperatures, we thought it would be helpful to give AHS members an update on what the society has been doing this year. We know that not all members use email or have access to the internet, so we have revived the AHS Newsletter.

If you use email, but are not currently receiving AHS updates, please provide your email address to membership secretary Ginny Morris using the contact page on this website so we can keep you updated.

 Scott and Gill McPherson, Co-chairs, AHS

Members Enjoy Safe Socialising on Lovely Garden Walks

Our annual Garden Walk took place in July in hugely different circumstances to normal. We put in place additional measures to keep everyone safe, with separate entry and exit routes and a one-way system in each garden, as well as allocated time slots for the nearly 100 members who had booked places in advance. 

We know that everyone enjoyed the two lovely gardens and it was also a very sociable event with lots of people chatting to friends that they had not seen during lockdown (from a safe distance, of course!)

Success for First Ever Virtual Summer and Autumn Shows

Given the ongoing restrictions due to Covid-19, we were unable to hold our traditional shows in Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall. So, for the first time in our history, our two shows took place online, with the judges evaluating anonymised photographs of the exhibits. All the entries and prize winners can be viewed on this website. 

The online shows were a great success and we know that some other local horticultural societies have looked on jealously! Analysis by Show Secretary Ken Reeves showed that while we had fewer classes than normal, we had more entries per class – and it was great to see some members entering for the first time. Next year we will be looking at how we can support new exhibitors and share the vast experience and expertise of our ‘old hands’.

Fantastic New AHS Website Developed for Free!

AHS has had a website for several years – originally developed and then maintained by Ken Reeves. This really moved the society forward and provided a valuable way for sharing information with members. But the website was starting to show its age – as seems to happen with technology these days! – and it had limited capabilities. With the committee’s desire to run an online show, the time had come for something new.

Co-chair Gill McPherson worked with Ken to plan a new website and by working with Business In the Community (set up by HRH The Prince of Wales nearly 40 years ago) was able to obtain free professional help from an specialist web-developer to design and produce our new modern website. Most importantly this meant we could easily upload and display photographs of the all the fantastic entries to the shows.

You should now find the new website if you search for ‘Ashtead Horticultural Society’, and you will see that the old site has now been closed with a message directing you to the new site at:

For members who use Facebook, we also now have an Ashtead Horticultural Society Facebook page, which features regular updates, tips, and interesting links.

You could also join the (non-AHS) Facebook Group ‘Ashtead Gardeners indoors and out!’ which describes itself as “A place for gardeners, vegetable growers, houseplant hoarders and windowsill horticulturalists to come together and share their knowledge, advice and love for all things green!”. AHS Member Chis Golding regularly provides helpful advice on this site. for which he won our Most Enthusiastic Member this year.

Autumn Talks cancelled… but annual Quiz gets its own night!

Unfortunately, we had to cancel our two Illustrated Talks planned for October and November as we could not safely hold them in Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall. Committee Member, and talks organiser, Allison Burrell contacted the speakers to see if they could do their talks online – for example through a ‘Zoom’ call – but they felt this would not have the same impact and declined.

Instead of doing a fun quiz at the end of the AGM we will run an online quiz during the time originally allocated for the November Talk (7:30pm on Wednesday 11 November). More details will be provided nearer the time. Please check the website or Facebook page for updates.

We plan to hold the AGM in December as a video call for members. Allison has now lined up a great series of speakers for 2021 and we very much hope that they will be able to take place as normal.

Coming Soon: Simpler Ways to Pay Membership Fees

The membership fee has not increased for many years and provides amazing value for money with a range of local discounts as well as participation in the society’s activities – but paying the fee can be inconvenient for some members and collecting the cash is one of the most time-consuming jobs for our road stewards.

For next year we plan to give members a choice of how to pay: online through a secure system on our website; by sending a cheque payable to ‘Ashtead Horticultural Society’ to the membership secretary (Virginia Morris, 19 Culverhay, KT21 1PP); or to your road steward in the usual way. We hope everyone will find this more convenient.

Road Stewards will still have a vital role to play in delivering the programmes to members and collecting fees from those who have not paid online or by cheque.


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