40 years of Milton gardening club (MUWAGA)

As The Wychwood magazine celebrates its 40th anniversary we (the unwashed and unworthy scribes) have been encouraged to look back at our own organisations and their genesis. This turned out to be easy for me since the founding Chairman and later President, Paddy Roche, wrote about the early years of MUWAGA and I inherited a copy of this when I, Johnny-cum-lately, became Chairman. Paddy and his wife moved to Milton in 1982 and he took on an allotment. It took him until 1986 to convince any of his fellow allotment holders to set up an association, so in effect MUWAGA was born in November 1986 with the first AGM held in May ‘87.

The first Show was held in 1988 and I don’t believe a year has been missed since. Thus, whilst we cannot quite match the 40 years of The Wychwood, we are now in our 34th year. Not bad. The early years were clearly a bit of a struggle with one meeting having only three members resent.

So many Chairmen/women, committee members and members have been the essential life-force of the Association. They have been vital to the success, indeed, even existence of the Association over the years. Above all, it has been a team effort. I must however just mention two people: the first is Irene Glaister, who guided the association over two spells as Chairperson and latterly as President. She was a true plantswoman and alpine specialist as well as a delightful person to know. And Colin Colbeck who, as Chairman, managed to con me into taking over his job.

The Association still thrives with 150 members and a full calendar of events. Our past is important – we must not forget it – but the real focus has to be on the future and here the role of the Association must evolve in line with society to remain relevant and vibrant. It is interesting that with the pace of modern life there is more and more talk of the therapeutic benefits of gardening, both physical and mental, and science now provides the data to support this conclusion. I think gardeners have always known this intuitively and so I think promoting gardening to relax and refresh those parts other activities fail to reach will continue to be part of the Association’s future.

Looking ahead, things are still pretty wet as I put finger to keyboard, but surely by April spring will be under way. With such a wet winter I think the only advice I can give is to take your time. Sowing into wet cold soil will only bring disappointment. Inevitably, late sowings catch up. I struggle to take the advice myself so it is probably a case of mark my words, not my actions. Good luck!

Our next talk is on 22nd April, and will be given by Claire Masset on the subject of A celebration of the rose and inspiration from a classic rose garden. May brings our AGM on 27th with the (free to members) cheese, wine and pate evening. This bribe/encouragement is the only way I can get anyone to listen to me! All our meetings are in Milton village hall, starting with tea and coffee at 7pm, the talk to follow.

Happy gardening!

Tony Lewis

April – May 2020