The Caton and Brookhouse Gardening Club was founded, way back in 1882, with the rather grand sounding name of The Caton and District Floral and Horticultural Society, in order to foster an interest in horticulture and to provide a community of interest in the district.
In the early days it had a full committe of very knowledgeable people and flourished as a genuine 'Horticultural Society', the centrepiece of it’s annual calendar being a full blown 'mini Chelsea' Show.
Unfortunately, over the last decade or so of 20th century, the experienced members of the committee were becoming very thin on the ground and those who were left were 'slowing down', as happens to all of us as we age, so staging the show was becoming more and more difficult. At the same time the Society experienced difficulties recruiting people on to the commitee, and, sadly, it slowly started to die. Despite the efforts of Chairman Moyra Loads (wife of the late Fred Loads, one time committee member of the Society), for a short time, the Society was virtually dormant.
In 1998, Moyra's efforts to resurrect the Society finally bore fruit. The members of the old committee handed over to a new band of people who, while they were enthusiastic, lacked the skills of the old guard. Consequently, while the Society's official title is still The Caton and District Floral and Horticultural Society, it now operates in a much less formal way and, since 2004, under the less intimidating name of The Caton and Brookhouse Gardening Club. George Woodend became chairman and Moyra Loads was awarded life membership.
The Caton and Brookhouse Gardening Club has settled down and is thriving on a fairly fixed annual programme of events, most of which are held in the Victoria Institue in Caton at 7:30pm on the second Thursday in any month. In addition to the annual programme, committee members maintain the planters, millenium trees and the seat outside the old library.
Annual membership costs the extortionate amount of £3.50! This is payable at the AGM which is held on the second Thursday in April and starts our year which looks something like this:
Sees us holding our annual Plant Sale and Coffee Morning - usually on the first or second Saturday morning. We buy in plants from a local nursery and, with just a modest mark up, sell them on. This provides a service for the local community and helps us to stock our coffers which cannot manage with just a £3.50 annual subscription. We also sell plants donated by both our members and generous members of the public and, for the entry fee of £1.00 we provide tea/coffee/juice and some posh biscuits.
From 2016 we have expanded our Plant Sale to make it more of a Spring Fair. We now include, in addition to the plants, tables for various village organisations / schools / 'craftspeople' / people to advertise their presence and/or sell whatever they want to sell. We don't try to make a profit from them as we want to create a convivial village atmosphere: 'A Nice Morning out at the Victoria Institute'. However, we do have to cover the cost of the tables and, to date, the cost of a table has usually been around £4.50 for the morning. So. if you want a table at our next Nice Morning Out at the Victoria Insitiute, please contact our secretary.
On the second Thursday in June we have an Evening Trip to a garden in the area. The evening trip gardens are often, but not always, gardens from the Yellow Book. The Evening Trip usually involves our members in a tea drinking and cake eating activity as well as that of wandering round someone's garden oooohing and aaaaahing and getting ideas for our own.
Every four years or so we organise the Caton and Brookhouse Open Gardens event sometime in the last fortnight of June. This event is enjoyed as much by the people who open their gardens as the people who visit the gardens and has always been a success . . . even in the years when the heavens have opened on us! To see a slide show of the 20 gardens opened in June 2018 please click the following link: https://youtu.be/-dE4xcctKyY .
Is the time we host our Mini Harvest Show. This is a very informal affair for members to show off their arts. We have several classes including such things as home grown fruit and veg, some sort of baked item, a piece of craftwork with a floral theme, a flower arrangement, an indoor plant and so on. Entries are anonymous and we developed a democratic system for judging them using a voting system. Each person attending the event has one vote for every class and the winner of a class is that entry polling the most votes. We also dish up tea and posh biscuits and have a good old chin wag while the votes are being counted
Our Speaker Secretaries arrange for varied and interesting speakers to come to the Victoria Institute to speak to us and October sees our first 'Speaker Evening' of the year, accompanied, of course, by the ubiquitous tea and posh biscuits.
In November we do not invite a speaker; we have a Gardening DVD Night. This saves speaker fees and actually makes for a very pleasant occasion accompanied, of course, by, you guessed it, tea and posh biscuits.
In December we have a break from speakers and used to hold a Social Evening where we have a bit of fun. But this is not accompanied by tea and biscuits, this is accompanied by wine and nibbles.
As from 2019 our 'Social Evening' is being morphed into a members' question and answer evening. This is an event where we all sit round the room guzzling mince pies and drinking tea and where a member can ask a question on a problematic gardenening issue and, hopefully, receive an answer from another memeber who has already experienced and soved the issue. Watch this space.
Our members are usually so busy in December that we hold our annual Festive Meal in January at some local hostelry. We usually have some sort of quiz and prize to add a bit of interest as most of us are a bit jaded by the time Christmas and New Year are over!
Sees our second Speaker Evening, accompanied, of course, by tea and posh biscuits.
Sees our third and final Speaker Evening. Guess what accompanies it? Correct :)
And that completes the circle with in
The Annual General Meeting that starts off the following year accompanied by, no, not tea and posh biscuits, but wine and nibbles.
Entry to speaker evenings for members costs just £1.00. We have between 50 and 60 members though would welcome new members at any time of year.
Non members are welcome to our speaker evenings but for a charge of £2:00.
Oh, and incidentally, membership of the Caton and Brookhouse Gardening Club entitles a member to 10% discount at WCF in Claughton and Bay View Garden Centre in Bolton-le-Sands but . . . hold your horses . . . only on producing a current membership card and satisfactory identification.