The first Open Meeting of our Ruby Season was opened by Chairman Peter Staples who welcomed the nine lady guests in attendance. Four apologies had been offered prior to the meeting.
Regrettably sad news had been received of the passing of former member Phillip Sladdin who had left due to health problems and had been in Belmont Care Home for some time.
A final reminder for Christmas Lunch orders to John Taylor today was given and thanks proffered to Peter Belton for deputising in Mike South’s absence and preparing the room.
Today’s Speaker was Miss Sue Wood from Harrogate Borough Council’s Park and Open Spaces Department whose titled talk was “Park Life”. Sue , a horticultural expert , of twenty-eight years with Harrogate Borough Council Parks Department is also a Judge on Yorkshire and Britain in Bloom panels. Her coloured slide-driven presentation updated the listeners on current parks and garden projects and advised of the consolidated work structure now in operation which encompasses environmental and waste issues. However her concentration was on parks, gardens and gardening services including tree maintenance, plant and flower propagation and grass-cutting work and we were made aware of some significant statistics in terms of areas of land covered, number of plants/flowers produced, trees looked after and monitored and also the number of visitors to Council sites. The operation of Harlow Hill Nursery was discussed and the considerable output of flowers and plants by a low number of staff with minimal mechanised aids–600 baskets and troughs for the Council and over 200 also produced for private clients e.g. hotels and sales to the public. Displays were also prepared and produced for events at the Harrogate International Conference Centre and occasions such as the Mayoral Meeting at the Royal Hall. There was also a large emphasis on green waste composting and the recycling of broken equipment such as plant pots and tools. Sitting benches positioned around the District are now made from recycled plastic with much improved durability and lifespans.
Bereavement was also part of the team’s remit with 10 cemetaries and 11 closed churchyards looked after with approximately 1500 cremation and 350 burials annually. Over 6/7 years a project of making safe the gravestones has been carried out with help from the Probation Services and indeed the Parks and Gardens Department work with Schools, Junior Soldiers, Askham Bryan students and Community Groups to enhance the considerable and varied flower and foliage enjoyed in Harrogate District. Responsibility for the 900 Hectares of grass-cutting on a fortnightly basis is another challenge and other events supported include the Trans- Pennine Rally (August each year); the 1940’s day in the Valley Gardens; Cie Carabosse (Harrogate International Festival), the erection of Christmas trees around the District and working with “Friends” of groups e.g. Jacob Smith; Bachelor Gardens ; Valley Gardens and various “Bloom ” Groups. Following the end of the talk an attentive and enlivened audience raised a number of relevant and sometimes controversial issues making it obvious that the presentation had been well received.
The Vote Of Thanks was given by Roy Smith on behalf of the thirty-eight member attendees and our nine lady guests.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY