WE have enjoyed a very good start to our spring programme with two interesting speakers. In March, we welcomed Wendy Bates, a camellia enthusiast who came with a large box of plants to illustrate her talk. Wendy introduced the evening by saying that sadly many people thought that camellias were difficult to care for and expensive to buy; she then dismissed both of these misconceptions by giving us easy-to-follow ideas for the planting and care and told us that many camellias could last for 60 years or more which gave a new calculation on the price of annuals.
We learned that the camellia family is vast, about 35,000 different varieties and that many flower at different times of the year: the plant originated in China.
Wendy showed us examples of the six flower shapes which many of us had not noticed before. She mentioned that bees love camellias which must be an incentive to find a variety for each season to help the national bee problem. She also spoke of the type of soil preferred, pruning and propagation. A thoroughly enjoyable evening which inspired us all to encourage our gardens back to productivity after the long, uncomfortable winter.
Our April speaker was Raymond Hale whose talk was listed Camouflage in the Animal Kingdom. Raymond introduced his talk by telling us of his life-long interest in animals and particularly in insects; he and his wife have travelled the world in their explorations but return regularly to their favoured part – south east Asia.
Raymond showed us slides to illustrate the various ways in which animals camouflage themselves; for many of us camouflage means spots, stripes and colours but we discovered how much more is meant by this umbrella term! Some of the slides showed spiders, birds, bats and animals on tree trunks or standing in woodland but, despite being told they were there it was extraordinarily difficult to discover them.
Many of the slides showed animals from Africa and Asia but some showed superbly camouflaged insects on Beachy Head. Throughout his talk Raymond showed his enthusiasm and interest in the animal world and in photography and infected us with a wish to know more.
In addition to speakers we have an interesting programme; we participate in local, county and national events. St Helen’s W.I. meets monthly on Tuesday evenings. We welcome visitors and new members.
For further information please call 01424 713937.