Hardy Plant Society (Middlesex Group)

Newsletter HPS April/May/June 2020

Dear HPS Middlesex Members and Guests,
I do hope that you are keeping well and have avoided this horrid Covid 19. Try to Garden if you can as it will lift your spirits.
We have had to cancel the HPS Middx June meeting as we have not had Government restrictions lowered. September will be the first meeting. (fingers crossed). Brian has also cancelled his plant sales. We have also had to cancel all outings and events until September 2020. 
Hopefully, you have all been in your gardens, sowing seeds, planting, weeding, etc.  You can buy from Franchi seeds by mail order and delivered.  02084275020, www.seedsofitaly.com, Compost and bark you can buy new from B&Q Yeading or order bulk online www.compostdirect.com, Many of the Speakers who have attended our meetings are selling plants by mail order from their Nurseries. If you go to the RHS website it will list all the Nurseries who supply the RHS shows. www.rhs.org.uk.
Regarding our big event HPS Middlesex 'Passionate about Plants' that should have taken place on 4th April, 2020.... Well, I am personally devastated that we had to cancel after all the work involved. I'm still recovering. I would like to thank the rest of the PAPS Committee for all their hard work. There is a great deal of work involved in setting up this event. We need a full year to organise this.  
Firstly, the Venue that will bring in an audience and have good parking facilities to cater for the speakers and garden lovers, Plant stalls, market place. WC facilities, catering etc.  That in its self is a challenge as many Halls, Schools, etc do not want to take on such responsibility, plus we were looking for a tiered hall. In the past, we have used a School in Eastcote but due to a change in management they did not want us there again.
The perfect venue was found being Brunel University, Uxbridge in the New wing with an Atrium covering all the facilities required, and the capacity was increased to 400 seated with 1000 parking spaces. The next stage are the Speakers.  Again we have mainly TV celebrity Gardeners and those with RHS garden awards in order to capture a market audience.
The costs of speakers are of course much higher than the normal. We have to coordinate to make sure all Speakers are available on that day and make sure that the Topics for each speaker are different. This year we had 4 speakers.
We then have to set up the publicity, flyers and a programme, which is really time-consuming. Getting drafts done, approvals etc. Finally the printing. Then we have to sell the tickets. We started in September with our HPS Middlesex Members offering them a discount. Many older Members prefer to pay in cash or by cheque as they do not like 'technology' and doing this online. They had 2 months to pay our Treasurer Carole at 2 HPS Meetings. Also at this time you could go online through Ticket Source which means that the general public and members can pay online directly and a email is sent with a ticket reference that you bring along with you to the event. Plant stalls and various renowned Nurseries were contacted by Marcelle to sell their wares on that day. Market Place, I organised 2 charities to participate, bric-a-brac and Brenda with her rustic garden pots and planters.
Sponsorship was very difficult, as many prefer to sponsor youth. I, along with Pam tried our utmost to obtain funding to ill avail. Publicity is very important from the inset. I contacted all the various establishments in Hillingdon along with all border counties, Social media, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter , Eventbrite, local magazines etc.   Janet contacted her local newspaper and Nurseries in Bucks and Herts.
Catering to be organised. We met with the Catering Manager and Administrator at the venue.  Brenda organised and got us sponsorship for the wrist bands that were required on the day of the event for entry into the auditorium, she also got printed our flyers.
The Raffle was being organised, we got many prizes arranged and Pam was to coordinate this.  All PAPS committee member distributed flyers to dentists, GP Surgeries, garden centres everywhere.  All was going to plan by the end of 2019 and we were then going to have a surge in ticket Sales like all events in the last 8 weeks, which has also been the pattern in previous 'Passion about Plants' events.  
However..... from January 2020 Covid 19 raised its ugly head, starting of course in China. The weeks following people were feeling very uneasy following the fear factor of what could happen and indeed did happen.! I tried everything in a mad panic for last-minute sales but the damage was done. I was told by Ticket source and Eventbrite that this was nationally the problem, it was the uncertainty and nobody wanted to go to an event until they were reassured with the Coronavirus.  Following cancellations and closures everywhere we then had to cancel the whole event as Brunel was to close, and we had to cancel the Speakers, Nurseries etc.  
Many people had booked a hotel in the vicinity, so it was a decision not taken lightly but we simply did not have any choice. One year's work down the drain.  Fortunately, the Venue and Speakers have waived their fees due to exceptional circumstances, but of course, we will not have any revenue from this event which is what we rely to keep going as HPS Middx and to continue with our wonderful Speakers at our Meetings.  Without this revenue our future looks dim.  
Please note that Carole our Treasurer will eventually reimburse all those members that paid in cash or by cheque by or at the September meeting. Anyone buying from Ticket Source should have already been reimbursed by them. If not please call them. On a positive note, I have spent 5 hours a day gardening and buying seeds from Franchi our local supplier, and have loads of seedlings ready for my veg plots.
Keep well and Keep safe.
Kind regards
Lynn Ronayne-Belhadj
Chair - HPS Middx