In 1983 a number of likeminded residents thought it would be a good idea to establish a gardening club of some sort in the two parishes. An open meeting was held in Swalcliffe Village Hall which was well enough attended for a committee to be formed and the journey of the Swalcliffe & Tadmarton Horticultural Society to begin.
The first committee was duly formed comprising Jane Asser, Colin Harris (Chairman), Judith Hitchin, Freda James (Treasurer), Malcolm Moodie (Vice Chairman) and Joan Robinson (Secretary). The society soon affiliated with the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) and by the end of its first year had 50 members of which 8 are still members to this day.
Included with membership were discounts at Ridgeway Nurseries in Bloxham, Clows and Lampreys in Banbury and the garden centre in Middleton Cheney.
The first Summer Show took place as “The Flower Show” in Swalcliffe Village Hall in 1984 with only two trophies to be won – The Swalcliffe & Tadmarton Horticultural Society Trophy for most points in the horticultural sections and the Asser Cup for Cookery. Over the years many new trophies have been added with a total of 12 now being presented along with the RHS Banksian Medal.
In 1988 the Spring Show was added to the calendar and held every year since in Tadmarton Village Hall. This gave members the opportunity to show blooms from all those wonderful spring bulbs that herald Spring. Just like the Summer Show only two trophies were presented – The Two Parishes Tray and the Craft Cup although a further 6 have been added since.
From the onset the calendar of events for each year included numerous talks from experts near and far, a visit to a local garden of note and an Annual General Meeting. Over the years the AGM has become one of the highlights with a wonderful buffet put on by the committee to celebrate a successful year with all members.
In 1986 the first coach trip was booked and where else could we go but visit the delights of the RHS garden at Wisley. Over the subsequent years these wonderful gardens have been visited many times.
The first foray into Residential Trips took place in 1999 when the society joined an organised trip to France to visit Monet’s garden in Giverney. This was very well received and subsequently initiated a regular 3 or 4 day trip to somewhere in the UK or Ireland as well as a visit to the Floriade at Haarlemmermeer in Holland in 2002.
1997 saw the first tentative steps towards a plant sale with a seedling exchange in Swalcliffe Village Hall. By 2001 this had metamorphosised into a full blown Plant Sale including Teas and Cakes. This has since become a very important part of fund raising efforts and a highlight of the calendar.
Over the years a number of membership benefits have been added including a discount scheme with a leading seed merchant that provides a wide range of flower/ vegetable seeds and sundries and once a year a compost/fertiliser order is placed with a horticultural wholesaler for collection at a central point in the village giving members the opportunity to purchase all their supplies at preferential prices.
In 2004 it was decided to mark the 21st Anniversary of the society with a dinner at Tadmarton Heath Golf Club. This was a resounding success and so in 2008 the 25th Anniversary was held with Timothy Walker providing an entertaining after dinner talk. This has been repeated at Rye Hill Golf Club for our 30th and 35th Anniversaries in 2013 and 2018 respectively.
Over the years the membership has grown from the initial 50 in 1983 to 89 spread over a somewhat wider area than just the two parishes in 2019.