Whitstable and District Horticultural Society
Whitstable and District Horticultural Society was established in 1930. Born as many societies of that era, to primarily assist and encourage the public to grow their own. This of course was the time of the great depression. The membership was almost exclusively male and for many years most gardening societies tended to concentrate mainly on food production. The much vaunted English Cottage Garden was originally in essence a production plot. The historic image for gardening societies of elderly men locked in deadly rivalry and competing to grow ever larger or perfect fruit and veg exists to this day. The focus on food production was again highlighted during the years of WW2 to support the 'Dig for Victory' campaign.
The continued rationing of food for several years after the war kept outside space firmly devoted to feeding the household. Every family table was graced at some point by home grown produce no matter how limited your outside space. To grow only decorative plants was unthinkable for most homes as both financial and time constraints left little room for leisure gardening. Since the end of post war rationing and a continually improving standard of living, like all societies attention has gradually divided between food production and leisure gardening. In fact the pendulum swung in virtually the other direction in the 70’s and 80’s.
Today we recognise that our gardens are precious resources to be used to compliment the lifestyle of each individual owner. We aim to offer a varied and enjoyable programme each season to accommodate these choices.
The society thrived until the latter part of the last century and held many successful and well attended Autumn shows which were a highlight of the local calendar. However, as we moved towards the 21st century longer working hours, distances travelled for work and increased leisure opportunities whilst not decreasing the public interest in horticulture, did result in membership numbers and involvement declining for the society.
Like many special interest groups it verged on the point of folding. However, the rise of popularity TV programmes such as 'Ground Force' and a renewed interest in using our outside space effectively started a renewed interest in how we used our outdoor spaces. As we have moved through the noughties since the millennium, a growing interest in all things 'eco' like food miles, chemicals and processes used in the growing and storage of the food we purchase has shown a renewed appetite for many people who are interested in our environment, gardening being one.
Whitstable and District Horticultural Society is meeting this challenge by providing every garden owner with a framework from which to take ideas and information and share the pleasure of taking ownership of their garden.
Our recently created logo fuses an image from a historic hand painted board used to advertise the society of a Thames Barge alongside a representation of the rare Giant Hogweed (Peucedanum officinale) which grows on Tankerton Slopes. Due to its presence the slopes are now a site of special scientific interest.
Kent Federation of Horticultural Societies