On Wednesday, 17th February 2016 an audience of nearly 250 members, friends and people from our local communities were educated and entertained by Christine Walkden, the Gardener, Horticulturist, Lecturer and Radio and Television Gardening Expert, in a wonderful, entertaining evening at Darland School Theatre Hall, Rossett.
In her talk, "The Life and Times of a Gardener", Christine guided her audience through her life in Horticulture, starting at the age of 11 when she was already earning money caring for 53 of her neighbour’s tiny front gardens. She nagged her parents until she was able to take over an allotment near to her home two years later, when she also started formal education in Horticulture on a day release course at her local college.
“I was pretty hopeless at school", she said, where she had to continually fight the Establishment’s demand for formal school qualifications. Through her dogged determination she gained further qualifications, including her Masters at Writtle Agricultural College, and an an Honorary Degree from Essex University.
After a career which took her to The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew based at Wakehurst Place, looking after the growing side of the seed physiology unit before moving to Llangollen in North Wales where she worked for Dobies, Carter, Cuthbert and Dom Seedsmen as a Technical Advisor. Following this, she then moved to the Rhondda Valley to set up a training workshop for the Manpower Services Commission.
She finally took the plunge and became a freelance Horticulturalist; writing, lecturing and leading escorted tours abroad. This quickly led to a career in Radio and Television, alongside a hectic schedule of book writing, lecturing and talks.
During the interval, when cheese and wine was served, Christine signed copies of her books, allowing members of the audience to take away a memento of this memorable evening. This was then followed by a Question and Answer session where Christine answered numerous and varied technical questions from the audience.
The Chairman, John Whiteley, then proposed a vote of thanks and, in his closing remarks thanked The Committee and volunteers, in particular Bob and Carolyn Bates, for their hard work in making the evening possible. He also thanked Bellis’ Garden Centre for their generous Sponsorship and for supplying a free gift, consisting of a pair of secateurs, to each member of the audience.
He then addressed Christine and said, “Christine, it's been a wonderful evening. We can only stand back and admire your obvious love of your subject, your lifelong dedication to Gardening, your passion, your no nonsense approach and, above all, your devotion to sharing your knowledge and experience.”