Too wet for the VPA

Well, it’s now the middle of October as I write this newsletter and instead of having a very dry allotment like last month, I now have an allotment which is like a quagmire.   Our weather is always ‘all or nothing’ – no rain throughout the summer and monsoon type rain in the autumn – what can we expect this winter?

Our Annual General Meeting takes place on Wednesday 6th November at 7.00pm In the Vale Room at Blewbury Village Hall. We will be announcing the Committee’s future plans for the VPA and we are pleased to confirm that members of the Didcot and District Wood Turner’s Club will be giving a demonstration on how they produce beautiful items from simple pieces of wood.

Please Join Us.

To end 2019 on a high note we will be holding our usual Annual Social on Saturday 7th December at Upton Village Hall. Our theme this year is “Around the World with the VPA ”. A two course meal will be served (which will cater for those with special dietary needs). Please bring any drinks you may want, although non-alcoholic drinks will be available. We have an unusual table quiz and a couple of extra special indoor games!!  Everyone is welcome, so why not make it a family evening out. Tickets are £9 per person.

Tickets will be available from the 1st November at Blewbury Post Office, or you can telephone and book your ticket with Margaret Maytham – 01235 850126 or Eileen Bracken – 01235 510095.    Please advise of any dietary requirements you may have, at the time of booking your ticket.Tickets will need to be booked by Tuesday 1st December at the latest.

DID YOU KNOW?  There is an old saying that if a shrub flowers before the middle of summer, prune it in the autumn; if afterwards, then wait till spring. There are exceptions to this, but generally it holds true.

Happy Gardening


V.P.A. Notice of AGM and Social

Don’t forget our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 6th November at
7.00pm for 7.30 in the Vale Room, Blewbury.
Please also put Saturday 7th December in your diary – it’s our Annual Social
in Upton Village Hall. Every year it has been a very popular event and 2019
will be no exception. The social consists of a lovely homemade two course
meal together with an evening of special quizzes, games and fun for
everyone. It starts at 7.00pm and is all for the price of £9 per person. Full
details will be in the November issue of the Upton News.
Using a power mower, with three or four horsepower, for one hour to cut
the grass releases the pollution equivalent of driving 350 miles in a car!
AND – in one hour the average sprinkler uses the equivalent of two days’
water consumption by a family of four. The average family uses
approximately 500 litres of water per day!

August News from the VPA

We are now well into summer and I hope you are all reaping the rewards of your labours in the garden or allotment with abundant supplies of fruit, flowers and vegetables.   The summer has certainly meant plenty of watering and my arms feel 2” longer carrying watering cans on my allotments, but it has been worth it – my sweetcorns are delicious!!

Well, the next VPA event will be in the autumn – it’s our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 6th November in the Vale Room of Blewbury Village Hall, 7.00pm for 7.30. The Didcot and District Woodturners Club will be giving a demonstration of the wonderful things they can do with a lump of wood. We would be very pleased to see as many of you as possible so that we can tell you first hand the future plans the Committee has for the Village Produce Association.

Don’t forget to put Saturday 7th December in your diary – its our Annual Social at Upton Village Hall. It is a very popular event and hopefully this year will be no exception. There will be a few surprises in store plus the usual tasty food.

More details of these events will be in the next issue of the Upton News.

Did you know?  Minnie Aumonier (N.D.) wrote: “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.” 

Happy Gardening


VPA Annual Show Report

Well, the 72nd Annual Show has taken place!   Unfortunately, Karen our Show Secretary being unwell was unable to carry out the work needed to prepare the Show so the Committee rallied round to get the work done.   A special thanks to Maggie Maytham who did all the work necessary for us to be able to provide tea and cakes and raffle prizes and also for sticking all the raffle tickets on the Tombola prizes!  Thank you also to my friend Ruth (from London), who helped me with the paperwork which included entering every entry received from each exhibitor on the Excel spreadsheet ready for recording the results on Saturday after the judging.   Of course, thanks to Chris & Toby and Malcolm who helped with the setting up of the village hall on the Friday evening.  Well done to Mary Gutfreund who did a grand job serving the refreshments on Saturday afternoon.

We had a total of thirty four exhibitors including five children.   With a total of 170 exhibits in the fruit, vegetable, flower, cookery, handicraft and photography it provided a very full and colourful hall.   Entrants came from Blewbury, Upton, Harwell and Didcot.   We award the Royal Horticultural Society Banksian Medal to the exhibitor with the most points in the horticultural section and this year Joanna Fielden from Didcot was the winner – congratulations Joanna!

It’s lovely that the Blewbury pre-school always put in an art exhibition from the children and this year was no exception.  It was a really colourful display.  Thank you for taking part.

Despite one or two hiccups, the Show was a great success and enjoyed by all the visitors in the afternoon.

We are now preparing for the 73rd Show and hope to have something extra special.   Watch this space!!

I hope those of you who are off on your summer hols are enjoying yourselves, whether it’s in the UK, Europe or further afield.  For those of you who are still at home, don’t forget our special event in Upton. On Thursday 8th August, Maggie Maytham of Toad Hall, Stream Road, Upton, is very kindly opening her garden (weather permitting – otherwise in the house) for an afternoon tea (cost £3 per head) starting at 5pm.  After tea we will then walk to Prospect House and have a guided tour of the 2-acre garden.  Alternatively you can drive from Maggie’s and park in the Village Hall car park.  You MUST register for this event either at Blewbury Post Office or with Maggie (01235 850126) by the 1st August.

DID YOU KNOW ?  Howard Carter and his archaeological team found many seeds and plants stored in the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings including, garlic, cumin, coriander, watermelon, wheat, barley, lentils, fenugreek, chickpeas, olive oil, almonds and dates.


Minnie Aumonier (N.D.) wrote: “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”  (Sounds rather appropriate given the current political climate!). 

Happy Gardening


VPA July News

On Saturday 8th June a small group of us visited The Vyne at Basingstoke and had a great time. The house is quite amazing and the new roof which cost £4M is outstanding. The room guides said how much warmer the house is and no more leaks into the rooms.

Our next event is the Summer Show on Saturday 13th July. The Schedules are now available at Blewbury Post Office, or Maggie Maytham at Upton (ring 01235 850126). You can also get it on line by emailing We want as many exhibitors as possible, so please make the effort and enter – even if you have only one item – you could win a prize!!

On the Thursday 8th August we have a very special event in Upton. Maggie Maytham is very kindly opening her garden (weather permitting – otherwise in the house) for an afternoon tea (cost £3 per head) starting at 5pm. After tea we will then walk to Prospect House and have a guided tour of the 2-acre garden. Alternatively you can drive from Maggie’s and park in the Village Hall car park. You MUST register for this event at Blewbury Post Office or with Maggie by the 1st August.

DID YOU KNOW? Bees are particularly attracted to blue, white, yellow and purple colours for their ultraviolet properties. It is no use planting red flowers in your garden to attract bees because bees cannot see red.

Happy Gardening Eileen

VPA Summer Show Schedules Now Available

Don’t forget our day trip on Saturday 8th June to The Vyne at Sherborne St John RG 24 9HL. The Vyne is a National Trust 16th century country house and estate. Full details of the time a nd transport arrangements will be available from Karen at Blewbury Post Office or from Maggie Maytham in Upton (01235 850126)

There has been a slight delay in producing the Summer Show Schedule – it should now be available either in the Blewbury post office or online by emailing Eileen on or by ringing Margaret in Upton on 01235 850126. You don’t have to be an expert and it’s great fun taking part. Don’t forget the Childrens’ Section – hopefully we will have a few more junior exhibitors taking part this year.

DID YOU KNOW ?  “The sunflower is a native plant of the Americas, where the Indians used its seed as an important source of food.  The Incas of Peru were sun worshippers and used it in religious ceremonies.  The sunflower leans towards the sun in a process known as heliotropism.”

Happy Gardening—Eileen

V.P.A. to visit The Vyne.

Don’t forget we have a day trip on Saturday 8th June to The Vyne, Vyne Road, Sherborne St. John, RG24 9HL

The Vyne is a National Trust,16th century estate and country house. Following its huge 2-year roof project, this former Tudor palace has re-opened to tell the story of a Victorian brother and sister who saved the mansion. Full details of the time and transport arrangements will be available with Karen at Blewbury Post Office or contact Maggie Maytham in Upton (01235 850126).

The Summer Show Schedule will be in the Blewbury post office from May onwards or you can get it online from Eileen on  or by ringing Margaret in Upton on 01235 850126. This is an opportunity for you to show off your skills – growing fruit, flowers and vegetables, or cooking, or handicraft or photography. You don’t have to be an expert and it’s great fun taking part.  There’s also a Childrens’ Section, so hopefully we will have a few more junior exhibitors taking part this year.

DID YOU KNOW ?  “The apple can grow at the highest latitude of all the fruits. Apple trees need almost 1,000 hours of cold autumn and winter air to produce their flowers, which explains why they cannot be grown in hotter climates. The apple was the earliest to be cultivated by man and, like so many other plants, it was introduced to Britain by the Romans. Today, China is the world’s leading apple producer.”

Happy Gardening



V.P.A. March Notes

Well, what about that March wind!!  On my allotment, one shed was blown over and two people lost (not literally)  their walk-in poly tunnels – they were crumpled up with the force of the wind.   Two polycarbonate panels of my greenhouse blew out, but fortunately didn’t break, so I got them back in with loads of clips.  I was surprised how well my over-winter broad beans survived – I now have flowers on them!   At home I’m still waiting to see if my red acer has survived from the heat of last summer – the leaves were burnt and fell off.   I can’t see any buds at the moment.   It seems as though everything else has survived and my Daphne and Viburnum have bloomed and smell beautiful.  Anyway enough of my personal ramblings.

We have an updated programme availabe in Blewbury Post Office and with Maggie Maytham in Upton.  It gives you the details of our event in August and also gives the correct date for the June outing – apologies for the previous error.

Don’t forget to look on the back of the programme for the tools we have available to hire for a donation.  You might find them useful when you really get going in your garden or allotment.   Our Mantas rotavator is up and running and is lightweight enough to make it so easy to use.

Karen is our Show Secretary now and is in the process of preparing the Schedule for the Summer Show – hopefully it will be in the Post Office soon and Maggie in Upton will also have copies.  So we can get our exhibits ready – there is a great variety of categories which cover gardening, cookery, handicraft, photography, so there must be something you can enter.

DID YOU KNOW ?  Raspberries can be grown anywhere from the Arctic to the Equator.   Strawberries were considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle Ages and a soup of strawberries, borage and cream was traditionally served to newly-weds for breakfast.”

Happy Gardening


V.P.A. Welcomes Members from outside the Villages


Well, so far so good with the weather – a bit of snow just to remind us all it’s still winter, but not too much rain to make it difficult to get into the garden and onto the allotments.

Many of you know I infiltrated the Blewbury and Upton VPA a good few years ago (although it was by invitation) and have been on the committee for quite a while. I live in Didcot on the Ladygrove Estate – I’m one of its original residents, having moved from London in 1988 and I’ve had an allotment on New Road since 2001. That’s the allotment site on the road coming into Didcot from Blewbury and Hagbourne.

The reason I am boring you with this information is to let anyone who is currently reading this edition of the Upton News and is not a resident of Blewbury or Upton know – “where ever you live, you are more than welcome to join us and take part in all our activities and events, especially our Summer Show.  Best of all Membership is free!”

If you would like a copy of our 2019 Programme send an email to and I will send you a copy on line, or pop into Blewbury Post Office and pick one up.

Our first 2019 committee meeting took place last week and we discussed the Schedule for the Summer Show which takes place on Saturday 13th July at Blewbury Village Hall. Despite the really hot weather last year the Show was very well supported with over 30 exhibitors. Categories include exhibiting fruit, vegetables, flowers, cookery, handicraft, photography and also a childrens’ section. We also have a novice section in each category, so if you’ve never exhibited before – give it a go. It’s all great fun and you could win a trophy and prize money!!

Next month will have more details on the visit to The Vyne on the 8th June and we will let you know when the Summer Show Schedule is available.

DID YOU KNOW ?  Apart from being bad for cabbages, rue, is bad for many herbs. Some old wives’ tales say that it can make sage planted near it positively poisonous; but it is more likely to simply kill it, as it may basil. Many people plant gladioli in the vegetable garden, simply because the stakes that they need look ugly in the flower beds.  They are, however, extremely bad for peas and beans, and so bad for strawberries that these will suffer from them planted up to fifty feet away.”


Happy Gardening


New Year Update from the VPA

Our Annual Social took place on the 8th Dec and everyone had a very enjoyable evening.   The theme was France with French themed quizzes and a game of ‘Pin the flag on the Eiffel Tower’!   It culminated in a ‘snowball’ fight – I think the ladies proved to be better throwers than the men!

I can give you a few dates for our 2019 programme:

8th June – A visit to The Vyne (National Trust)   /   13th July – the Annual Summer Show at Blewbury Village Hall

August (date to be confirmed) – a visit to a garden in Upton and Afternon Tea in Maggie’s garden.

6th November – VPA Annual General Meeting    /    7th December  – Winter Social at Upton Village Hall.

Our programme is being finalised and we may have some more events planned.   Details will be in the next Upton News.

From all the Committee members of the Village Produce Association have a Peaceful New Year and we look forward to seeing you at our 2019 events.

DID YOU KNOW ?  Trees generally lose their leaves in the following succession:  walnut, mulberry, horsechestnut, sycamore, lime, ash;  then after an interval, elm;  then beech and oak;  then apple and pear trees, sometimes not till the end of November;  and lastly pollard oaks and young beeches, which retain their withered leaves till pushed off by their new ones in spring.”

Happy Gardening