Our gardening club of ca. 150 members, as with many other gardening/horticultural clubs and organisations, is made up of a wide cross section of horticultural experience and interests. From the expert to those merely active in their garden to those who just like to look at and appreciate gardens and plants.
Above all else we are a group that welcomes all levels of gardening interest and likes to foster a friendly social experience with gardens and plants at its core.
We cater for all levels of gardening expertise and arrange events and activities accordingly.
Everybody is accorded a friendly welcome and encouraged to participate in our activities, enjoy their time with us and learn from people around them.
President – Bernard Cooper
Vice Presidents – Ray Collard
Chairman - Peter Cooke
Secretary - Peter Cooke
Speakers Secretary - Martin Ward
Treasurer - Philip Forrester
In 1976 Allestree Community Association was looking to initiate local activities and a gardening club was suggested. Bob Smith placed posters around the village and interested parties were invited to a meeting at the Allestree Memorial Hall. Twelve people attended in the spring of that year and from those a Committee of the Allestree Gardening Club was formed.
President & Vice Presidents:
Frank Constable had been the only President of AGC from 1978 until his untimely death in 2014.
Bernard Cooper was appointed President in 2017.
The First Vice Presidents appointed in 1981 were:
Since that time there have only been a further four Vice Presidents:
The first committee meeting took place on 24th July 1976 in Darley Abbey. The seven people who attended were:
Ted Slater – appointed Chairman
Bob Smith – appointed Secretary
Jim Dyet – appointed Treasurer
Mrs M. M. Smith
During the 40 years that Allestree Gardening Club has existed, forty four members have served on the club committee, including the following officers:
Chairman: The club has had 4 chairmen to date:
Ted Slater (1976-79)
Alan Islip (1980-82)
Peter Tyler (1982-97)
Peter Cooke (1998 – Present)
Secretary: 7 people have filled this role:
Bob Smith (1976)
Mary Smith (1977-79)
Geoff Wilson (1980-81)
Kath Thornhill (1981-83)
Sheila Islip (1984-86)
Ruth Woodward (1987-2005)
Janet Hodgson (2006- 2019)
Peter Cooke (2019 - present)
Treasurer: 5 people have filled this role:
Jim Dyet (1976-80)
Peter Cooke (1981-97, 2002 & 2017)
Cliff Dobson (1998-2001)
Don Campling (2003-4)
Christine Caister (2005-2017)
Philip Forester (2018-Present)
By 1977, after only 1 year in existence, 84 members had joined the club and the 100 mark was reached in 1978. This was a remarkable start for a new club and such support has been maintained over the last 40 years. The current membership of 150 has been similar for at least the last 20 years and attendance at the annual 12 monthly meetings over that period has remained close to 90 people.
The membership fee in 1976 was set at £1 and a nominal Monthly Meeting charge was soon to follow. By 2014 the annual fee had risen to £8 with no Monthly Meeting charges. It is clear that throughout the last 40 years, the cost of membership of Allestree Gardening Club has represented excellent value for money.
During the first year the club did not have a permanent base for its monthly meetings but used rooms at St Mathews Church in Darley Abbey and Allestree Woodlands School. In October 1978 the club moved to the Evergreen Hall on Cornhill, Allestree, which has been its base ever since.
Monthly talks were arranged from day one, taking place on the 4th Monday in the month, as they do today. Many speakers who were mainly local gave their services free of charge in the first year until the club built up its finances. 40 years on and with a sound financial footing, the club can now afford to attract nationally known speakers.
It is clear from the formal records that the club undertook various activities from a very early date, including outings, an annual show, a spring dance, an autumn dinner dance, a photographic competition, a garden competition and plant sales, many of which exist today but in slightly different guises.
Several outings a year and local garden visits were initiated in 1976. These continue today in the form of a day trip by coach, three times during the summer months. There were even plans for a 3 day trip to Amsterdam in the early 1980’s but no record of it having taken place. The AGC 4 day holiday that has proved very popular with members was only introduced as recently as 2010.
First held in 1977 in the Evergreen Hall in September, this tradition has continued to the present day except for a brief transfer to Woodlands School in 1990 when it was thought that the number of exhibits would exceed the available space. This did not fully materialise and the show soon returned to its ‘home’ where it has remained ever since with a very similar and successful format.
In 1981 a Spring Dance was introduced with a Dinner Dance in the Autumn but the former was discontinued and the latter reverted to a dinner only a few years later. Today a very successful annual dinner is held in the Autumn.
Initially introduced in 1980 for slides only, these were judged by Ted Slater and presented by him at one of the monthly meetings. The format today is for colour prints, made much easier in the digital camera age. Annually the Competition attracts over 100 entries and the winning entries are displayed on the AGC Website.
Garden Competition/Open Gardens:
A Best Kept Garden competition was introduced in 1986 but after a few years changed to an Open Gardens day to remove the competitive element and to attract more involvement by the members. Generally, 10 members open their gardens for the members to enjoy and get new ideas for their own gardens.
In 1979 the club participated in the first Allestree Gala Day which took place in late May and was run by the local Football and Cricket Committee to raise funds for the cricket pavilion. This first participation on the Allestree Recreation Ground raised £47 for club funds and was viewed as a great success. These were all day events with members out in all weathers, resulting in many funny stories about mud running through stands and efforts to erect tents in howling winds. These events continued for another 13 years.
For 3 hours one Saturday morning in 1993, AGC held a plant sale near Park Farm Centre in Allestree, on spare land before the Park Farm Medical Centre was built. This one-off event proved to be so much more successful for the club and since 1996 a Plant Sale has been held on the first Saturday in May at the Evergreen Hall. This busy two hour event is well supported by visitors and members and raises the funds necessary to ensure that AGC remains active and is able to offer inspiration through specialist talks and national garden visits.