Estuary Articles

June 2022

Back to normality
With considerable relief we have started our normal summer programme of visits and events, first with a visit to Bicton College to learn how they teach horticulture. Bicton has a range of part time courses on horticulture and other land based activities. Then we had a busy Plant and Seed Swap where people exchanged news and views as well as plants and seeds. Next is our Open Allotments on Saturday 4th June between 10am and 11.30am where people can see what is available at low prices from our Trading Hut and what is involved in caring for an allotment. Then there is a visit on 7th June to RHS Rosemoor which is a bargain - £10 for the coach to Rosemoor and entrance.  Priority is given to TAGS members but others can apply, email
As the summer matures we hold our Annual Show on August 21st,  which is available for all Topsham residents to enter, and finally we go to Forde Abbey by coach on 15th September.

Hollyhocks Project.
If anyone has any surplus hollyhock seedlings, rather than throw them away, I would like to receive/collect them so they can be used at the base of the walls in the two children’s play areas in Topsham.
Freddie Bush TAGS President

Some suggestions of tasks to do in the garden in June
    1. Snip off dead roses and spray.
    2. Protect ripened fruit from ravenous pests.
    3. Plant out tender vegetables like courgettes and french beans.
    4. Start feeding and pinch out side shoots on tomatoes.
    5. Feed hanging baskets and containers.
    6. Lift tulip bulbs if not already done and store in a dark area.
    7. Hoe borders,  mow lawns and treat and feed but, if possible, leave some grass uncut for wild life.
    8. Keep watering, especially if no rain and stake tall or floppy plants.
    9. Shade greenhouses to keep cool.
    10. If you haven’t already, put new barley straw in ponds to keep algae under control.   
Pam Bush and Sue Parr, Garden Reps.

For What's On

Saturday June 4th Open Allotments Morning for Platinum Jubilee at Butts Park 10-11.30am, no need to book.

Tuesday June 7th Coach trip to RHS Rosemoor leave 9.30am, return about 5.30pm

Please email or phone 877318 to book

Coach trip to RHS Rosemoor leave 9.30am, return about 5.30pm

Please email or phone 877318 to book

May 2022


The bags of free seeds are steadily being taken from the Trading Hut at Butts Park and will be available on Saturdays and Sundays 10.30-11.30am until 30 April.

The City Council have agreed that we can plant seedlings against the walls of the play areas by the swimming pool and at the end of Tappers Close. We have arranged to place pegs so that hopefully the plants are not strimmed with the grass. Sunny sides of garden or allotment sheds are good places for hollyhocks. Also if they are in your front garden then many people will be able to enjoy their bright colours as they pass.
 Freddie Bush


We are looking forward to our annual Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Show on Sunday 21st August, with its wide range of classes. In recent years it has included a Photograph Competition run in conjunction with the Goat Walk Land Trust and Estuary League of Friends. Last year entries were sent in by email, judged by local photographer Adam Oseland and then displayed on the screen at the Show and on various websites.
However we need someone to manage all this, collate and prepare the photos for judging and display. It is not onerous, but will require a bit of free time in early August and some computer knowledge.  Please contact Richard Carson (07788 577300 or for further details. If nobody comes forward by the end of May, we will have to abandon it for this year at least.

May is a busy month in the garden and on the allotments but, hopefully, it will be warmer and rewarding.
    1. Prune Spring shrubs – such as Forsythia, after flowering.
    2. Plant out Dahlia tubers after risk of frost has passed.  Also plant out summer bedding.
    3. Tie in new shoots of climbing plants, including Clematis, Wisteria and Honeysuckle, to their supports.
    4. Continue sowing annuals into gaps in the borders, for colour later on.
    5. Plant up hanging baskets but keep in porch or greenhouse for a few weeks to establish before putting outside.
    1. Earth up potatoes.
    2. Reduce snail population by going on regular evening hunts.
    3. Start sowing dwarf and climbing French Beans as well as Runner Beans directly outside in warmer weather.
    4. Pluck rhubarb stems as they develop and water plants with liquid feed.
    5. Start hardening off tender young plants such as Tomatoes and Courgettes ready for planting out in mild areas.
    6. Open fruit cages so pollinating insects can gain access to the flowers.
Pam Bush and Sue Parr, Gardening reps

What's On

Saturday June 4th Open Allotments Morning for Platinum Jubilee at Butts Park 10-11.30am, no need to book.

Tuesday June 7th Coach trip to RHS Rosemoor leave 9.30am, return about 5.30pm

Please email or phone 877318 to book


APRIL 2022


Pam and I have spent some holidays on the Ile de Re off the west coast of France in the past, and we were always impressed by the number of hollyhocks growing against walls in all the villages. Blank walls were transformed into seas of colour during the summer months, and we would like to try and encourage our residents to do the same for Topsham.

I have collected seeds from last Autumn, bagged them up with propagation instructions, and they will be available free to all Topsham residents at the Trading Hut on Butts Park, Elm Grove Road during the hours from 10.30am to 11.30am every Saturday and Sunday from 25 March.

Hollyhocks are biennial plants, so further seeds will be available in Spring 2023 to provide a succession of coloured stems over future years when they self seed.

Who can grow the tallest stem?

Freddie Bush, President, Topsham Allotments and Gardens Society


We were delighted to have the benefit of the collective wisdom of Caradoc Doy, Roger Webster and Saul Walker at our very own GQT. As well as answering questions on individual plant problems they gave very useful advice on how to go peat free and reduce the use of plastics in our gardens. TAGS is selling out the very last of its peat containing composts at the Trading Hut and all new orders will be for peat free compost. Rather than using plastic labels, it was suggested we could revert to using slivers of slate or white painted wood labels where pencil writing works well and does not fade in the sun. The recycling of plastic pots has improved greatly in recent years, and we checked with Exeter City that they recycle all colours of reasonably clean small plant pots, but of course pots should be washed out and reused where possible.


1. Clean and tidy greenhouse and use soap and water on the glass to make the most of increasing light levels.

2. Start to feed citrus plants.

3. Feed shrubs and roses and hard prune late flowering shrubs.

4. Sow a new lawn or repair bare patches and sprinkle fertiliser or turf conditioner before lawn gets going.

5. Prune fig trees.

6. Plant dahlia tubers, new ones as well as old ones lifted last Autumn.

7. Divide bamboos and waterlilies and put nets of barley straw in ponds before sunny days turn the water green.

8. Increase water given to house plants.

9. Keep weeds under control,

10. Before putting young plants out wait for frosts to disappear and check they are not harbouring any pests or diseases,

Pam Bush and Sue Parr, Garden Representatives

MARCH 2022

Get involved, meet people!

Our membership year starts on 1st April so it is soon time to renew your membership or consider joining TAGS. You do not need to have an allotment or even a garden to join, but just enjoy gardens in their many forms. And the cost of membership - £4 for a single member, £6 for a couple at the same address.

The benefits include the use of our Trading Hut for garden basics at good prices, a 10% discount at St Bridget's and use of our reduced entry price card for all the RHS gardens. You pay lower prices for our trips and talks, which is a great way to meet like minded people too.

Our first event for the coming year is a guided tour of the gardens of Bicton College and a visit to neighbouring Bicton Gardens on 27th April.

Also if you like gardening, enjoy being part of a team, have basic computer skills (emails and attachments and a printer) and would like to support our Topsham community, there is a vacancy for you on the TAGS committee. Minutes Secretary is the smallest role, as we only have 5 committee meetings a year, plus the AGM. Other committee members manage the allotments, organise e-mailings and membership, social events, the show, the trading hut, finance and open garden events. The vacancy is due to ill health and anno domini, not because it isn't a fun or interesting job. For more information, contact Ella on 668207 or Pam on 879512.

We are looking for someone to take on running the Photo Competition, which we like to run alongside our Annual Flower, Fruit and Vegetable Show in August. Your job would be to compile all the photos emailed in to TAGS in early August and prepare them to send to the judge and set out for display during the show and on websites thereafter. Have a look at the section on our website, and see how you will be the first to see the wonderful entries. For more information contact Richard at


1. Lift and divide clumps of perennials like agapanthus or sedum.

2. Hoe and mulch weeds to keep under control early.

3. Start feeding fish in pond.

4. Last chance to prune bush and climbing roses.

5. Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes.

6. Plant summer flowering bulbs.

Pam Bush and Sue Parr, Garden Reps