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WHA's 70th Birthday

 

The Wokingham Horticultural Association celebrated its 70th birthday in 2023.

A Potted History...

The WHA was officially founded on the 1st November 1953, with an annual subscription of 3/- per member (15p), but the Association had evolved from the Wokingham Produce Association which was founded 10 years previously to encourage Dig for Victory.

Amongst our members, numbering nearly 400, we have two Horticultural Judges, one member who on WHA's behalf won the Horticultural Societies collection at the National Daffodil Spring Show, and a lot of very keen, friendly and enthusiastic allotment holders and gardeners of all ages. We hold four seasonal shows a year which are well supported not only by our members and the entrants but also the local people.

Good fun with a competitive spirit, mostly good natured! This also applies to the queue for the delicious homemade cakes offered with the Afternoon teas. We are affiliated to several national societies including the RHS, Daffodil, Sweet Pea and Dahlia Societies and exhibitors in our shows receive annual awards from each of them.

We run a very well supported craft group, their scarecrow, made each year to a different design, regularly wins 1st prize at local shows. This year Grumpy Granny won at the Hurst show. We also offer our members the chance to join excursions to places of horticultural interest including Wisley, the Malvern Show, Kew Gardens and Waddesdon which is popular with a lot of our more senior members.

As we celebrate our 70th year we still remember those who initially started the WHA and we aim to continue with the original values of Nature, Nurture, Wellbeing, Friendship and Laughter which are as important today as they were several decades ago.

We have close links with the LINK Visiting Scheme a local charity confronting loneliness and celebrating friendship with befriending in the Wokingham Borough. Several of our members are also members of other local Horticultural Associations - Ascot Horticultural Association and California Gardeners' Club to name but two. We have links too with In Bloom, which is part of the RHS Britain In Bloom organisation. Wokingham won Gold for the first time in the Regional Finals in 2022 and took part in the National Finals in 2023, winning a Silver-Gilt award.

Wokingham is an old Berkshire Market Town, dating back to Saxon times, and was originally called Oakingham which means the “town of the forest” and this is where the acorns on the coat of arms are derived. There are still a lot of old buildings standing, one being 15 The Terrace which dates back to the 14th Century. Wokingham was renowned for its Bell Foundry which operated from the mid-1300s until 1622.

 

The town is famous for two Molly’s, the first being Molly Millar, reputedly the town witch who lived by the wayside and remembered today by the Lane which bears her name. The second was Molly Mogg, daughter of the landlord and barmaid at the Rose Inn, which once stood in the market place. She was immortalised in the 1726 poem ‘Molly Mog, or the Fair Maid of the Inn’. The poem was written by John Gay in collaboration with Alexander Pope and Dean Swift whilst they were sheltering from a storm at the Rose Inn. Molly (or Mary as recorded on her death) Mogg never married and died a spinster at the age of 67 in 1766.

We celebrated our birthday by hosting a recording of BBC's Gardeners' Question Time. Wokingham Town Hall, where the broadcast was recorded, was built in 1860 and is still very much in use today.

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