About the Group
The group meets at West Monkton Village Hall, Monkton Heathfield, Nr Taunton, TA2 8NE (map)
t. 01934 732441
For full information visit the Somerset Group Website
Saturday 14th January, 2017 – 11.00am
As well as being the Head Nurseryman at Avon Bulbs, Alan Street is the creative mind behind the company’s gold medal-winning displays at Chelsea. An incurable galathophile, he will be expanding our knowledge of a range of small bulbs; which varieties to choose to achieve a continuity of display throughout spring in our own gardens, and how to care for them.
Plants and bulbs for sale
Saturday 11th February, 2017 – 11.00am
Fibrex Nursery is well known for its pelargoniums, but it also boasts possibly the most extensive commercial collection of hardy ferns in the UK. Heather Godard-Key, co-owner of Fibrex, will be giving us a talk on this ancient family of foliage plants which are so invaluable for shady spots in our gardens.
Plants for sale
Saturday 11th March, 2017 – 11.00am
Derek is the Chairman of the Conifer Society and owns Kilworth Conifers in Leicestershire, a wholesale nursery with the largest selection of conifers in the UK. He also co-wrote the two volumes of the RHS Encyclopaedia of Conifers, the definitive guide on the subject. If you find the word ‘conifer’ conjures the squat dwarf forms which populated rockeries in the 1970s, come along and be converted – there is a conifer for every garden and Derek will be persuading us all to go evergreen with style.
Plants for sale
Saturday 25th March, 2017 10.00am – 4.00pm
Sixteen of the South West’s top nurseries will be attending the fair, and the Margery Fish Plant Nursery will be open.
Admission to the Plant Fair and the famous cottage gardens: £4. ( RHS & HPS members: £3.50)
Saturday 8th April, 2017 – 11.00am
Helen is the third generation of her family to be involved in running Old Court Nurseries and The Picton Garden in Malvern, Worcestershire, which houses the Plant Heritage National Collection of autumn flowering asters, with over 400 varieties. Helen’s lecture will be all about rethinking autumn in the English garden, extending colour in our borders using a range of late season perennials and shrubs including, of course, asters.
Plants for sale
Tuesday 18th April, 2017
Haldon Grange is a well-established, family-run 12-acre garden containing what has been described as the finest display of azaleas and rhododendrons in the South West. It is particularly stunning in spring when they are in full bloom, along with exquisite camellias and magnolias. There is a small lake and also ponds with river and water cascades. In 2011 a 5-acre arboretum was planted with a wide range of unusual trees and shrubs.
Tea and cake available to purchase but bring your own packed lunch.
Saturday 22nd April, 2017 10am – 12.30pm
Members can contribute to the plant sale in two ways:
Wednesday 17th May, 2017
In view of Mary Benger’s forthcoming talk in October, this visit to Burrow Farm Gardens is an opportunity to see her garden firsthand. This is a true plantswoman’s garden, with sweeping lawns between island beds of unusual shrubs, rhododendrons and herbaceous plants. Outstanding views over the Devon countryside blend seamlessly with the garden. A rill flows quietly down the centre of the garden, and in a Roman clay pit a woodland garden incorporates ponds and a bog garden, combining primulas, iris and other moisture lovers with the many wild flowers which flourish there.
Light lunches and refreshments available in the tea shop.
Sunday 18th June, 2017
There is something to suit everyone in this selection of around 30 gardens opening over the weekend for charity. Highlights include the garden at Cerne River Cottage, designed and planted by Chelsea gold medallist Nick Williams-Ellis. His designs characterise many of the Cerne Abbas gardens. This natural garden is bordered by trees and shrubs with a beautiful and colourful bog garden running along the south side. Don’t miss the lilies, persicaria, filipendula and the statuesque Gunnera manicata alongside the river. Two white bridges link the separate parts of the garden providing a Monet feel to the overall.
Lunchtime meals may be obtained in the local pubs or teashop. The Squibb Garden next to the church is open all day and is a good place to picnic.
Tuesday 4th July, 2017
Part of the Leckford Estate, purchased by the retailer John Lewis in 1929, the Longstock Park Water Gardens covers around seven acres. Over the years it has become one of the finest water gardens in Britain, home to 40 varieties of waterlily, over 100 different species of trees and a wealth of native wildlife. Visit Longstock Park Nursery, with its large collection of unusual wall plants, magnificent herbaceous border and 100-yard arch entwined with roses and clematis.
Lunches available at the Leckford Farm Shop Cafe, or bring a picnic.
Wednesday 26th July, 2017
Following Wolfgang Bopp’s talk last November, this is your chance to see the Hillier Arboretum in all its glory. Established in 1953 by the distinguished plantsman Sir Harold Hillier, the gardens currently hold one of the world’s most important plant collections, incorporating over 42,000 plants from temperate regions around the world, set within 180 acres. The Centenary Border, one of the longest in Europe, is a summer highlight and is not to be missed.
Lunches and cream teas available at the restaurant.
Sunday 13th August, 2017
To be held at Creech St Michael. Further details in the June 2017 Newsletter.
Saturday 16th September – 11.00am
Kevin Hughes Plants is based at Heale Gardens, near Salisbury, where he grows a superb choice of good quality hardy trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials, many of them not widely available elsewhere. With a vast horticultural knowledge yet an unassuming manner, he is a popular and absorbing speaker. In this talk, he will be showing us some of the more unusual plants we can enjoy in our own gardens. Bring a notebook!
Plants for sale
Saturday 21st October, 2017 11.00am
Mary Benger moved to Burrow Farm, near Axminster, almost 60 years ago and has since transformed the accompanying ten acres of fields into the stunning garden it is today. Encompassing a variety of different garden styles, Mary’s creation is a feast for the eyes, both within the garden itself and in the views which surround it. In this talk, Mary will be bringing the development of the gardens to life and guiding us around some of the highlights.
Plants for sale
Saturday 18th November, 2017 10am for 10.30 AGM. Lecture starts 11.15am
AGM, followed by
Over the course of 44 years, Helen Dillon and her husband Val created an astonishing garden at 45 Sandford Crescent, Dublin. Robin Lane-Fox of the Financial Times described it as ‘the best walled town garden one can hope to see’. Having made the decision to downsize, the Dillons held their final garden opening at the end of September 2016 and say they are looking forward to the challenge of a new plot. Don’t miss out on this world-renowned plantswoman’s visit to our Group – Helen is a mine of information and a lively speaker with years of experience.
|Saturday 13th January 2018 – 11.00am
‘Making the Most of Peonies and Irises’
A renowned expert on irises and peonies, Sue grows them commercially at her nursery, Hurst Brook Plants, near Crewkerne. Her garden houses a National Collection of 21 intermediate bearded irises, originating from the Langport Collection bred in the 1970s by the former manager of Kelways, John Lloyd. Discover how to get the best out of peonies and irises and bring some sumptuous colour into your garden in May.
Plants for sale.
|Saturday 10th February, 2018 – 11.00am
‘Hestercombe: The Restoration of the Edwardian and Victorian Garden’
Claire is the Head Gardener at Hestercombe, which combines the landscape garden originally created in 1750 by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde with the early 20th century formal gardens designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll. Claire will be talking about the challenges of restoring a heritage garden, including the difficulties in maintaining colour in a garden that was originally only designed for summer, as well as tracking down the original plants outlined in Jekyll’s design.
|Saturday 10th March, 2018 – 11.00am
‘Container Plants and Something Different’
Brian has been growing tender and unusual plants for over 30 years at his nursery, Trevena Cross Nurseries, near Helston in Cornwall. He is a member of the RHS Tender Ornamental Plant Committee and a RHS Gold Medal winner. In this talk he will be inspiring us to plant our pots and troughs with flower and foliage combinations that will turn heads!
|Saturday 24th March, 2018 10.00am – 4.00pm
HPS Somerset Early Spring Plant Fair
East Lambrook Manor, South Petherton, Somerset, TA13 5HH
Admission: £4 HPS and RHS members: £3.50
Our popular Early Spring Plant Fair always brings folk out after a long winter. With specialist nursery stalls nestled all over the gardens of East Lambrook Manor, each one glowing with the jewel-like flowers of spring, who can resist? It’s the perfect way to kick off the new season and buy something special for your garden. Don’t forget that East Lambrook’s own nursery will also be open, offering a wide selection of perennials, and the gardens themselves will be bursting with early spring colour.
Refreshments available at the Malthouse Cafe on site.
|Saturday 14th April, 2018 – 11.00am
‘Two For The Price of One’
The former director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum, Timothy Walker is a lively and engaging speaker whose talks are always amusing and informative. This talk is particularly useful for those of us with small gardens which demand maximum impact and value from the plants grown in them, as it features plants whose characteristics give us two or more reasons to grow them. Flowers and fruit is an obvious combination but scent, foliage and autumn colour also count. A useful and entertaining lecture.
|Saturday 28th April, 2018 – 10.00am – 12.30pm
Group Plant Sale
West Monkton Village Hall Admission: £1
A diverse range of hardy perennials – many unusual – will be on offer at our annual Plant Sale, as well as shrubs, annuals and vegetable plants. Come early to grab a bargain. Everyone is welcome, so bring your friends and relations!
Members can contribute to the plant sale in two ways:
(a) Occupy a table in your own right. If you would like your own table, please contact Roy Stickland. The charge will be £5, payable on the day. This will be waived if you commit to donate all your takings to charity. There are only 16 tables available and they are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
(b) Grow plants to donate to the Group table. If you have plants to donate to the Group table, just bring them along on the day (please note this is not a 50:50 sale).
|Wednesday 2nd May, 2018
Coach Trip to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St. Austell, Cornwall
Twenty-five years ago, Heligan’s historic gardens were unknown and unseen, lost under a tangle of weeds. It was only the chance discovery of a door in the ruins that led to the unveiling of this once great estate. Painstakingly restored, The Lost Gardens now take pride of place among the finest gardens in Cornwall. Highlights include giant statues which appear to arch out of the ground itself, a 100ft rope bridge which sways above large-leafed ferns and tropical jungle plants, and Europe’s only pineapple pit (used to grow pineapples for The Queen). The wider estate encompasses ancient pastures and the woodland, ponds and lakes of the Lost Valley, from where a walk leads down to the harbour at Mevagissey.
|Wednesday 16th May, 2018
Self-drive Visit to Watcombe,
A ¾-acre, mature Edwardian garden with colour-themed, informally planted herbaceous borders. A strong framework separates several different areas of the garden: a pergola supports a varied collection of wisteria, there is unusual topiary, a lime walk, pleached hornbeams, cordon fruit trees and a diverse collection of over 80 types of clematis. A peaceful and beautiful place to wander.
Please contact the Group for full details.
|Wednesday 20th June, 2018
Coach Trip to Iford Manor and Axbridge Lavender Farm
Harold Peto’s creation at Iford is a dream of a garden. Italianate in style and romantic in character, it combines beautiful garden buildings with broad walks, statues and pools, all set amid cypresses, wisteria and naturalised martagon lilies. The steep hillside affords the visitor breathtaking views of the valley.
Axbridge Lavender Farm, run by the Hamblin family, basks on the southern slopes of the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The lavender field is a sight to behold in June, and the scent from the 9 different types of Lavandula Angustifolia is divine. Fresh lavender, oil and lavender products are available to buy from the shop.
|Saturday 23rd June, 2018 – 2.30 for 3pm
‘My Life with Plants’
To celebrate the 25th anniversary year of the Somerset HPS Group, world-famous plantsman and President of the HPS Roy Lancaster will be coming to speak. This talk commemorates the publication of his autobiography, ‘My Life with Plants’, a very personal book which takes us through the life of this Lancashire lad who became a renowned horticulturist. With lively anecdotes from his early days in horticulture and stirring tales of plant-hunting in exotic places, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a lecture by this legend of the gardening world.
Admission for guests: £5
After the lecture there will be the chance to chat with Roy. A light buffet with wine and soft drinks will be available, which is free for members and included in the £5 entry fee for guests.
|Sunday 8th July, 2018 10.00 – 4.00pm
HPS Somerset Summer Plant Fair at Hestercombe Gardens
Our first Summer Plant Fair at Hestercombe, and what a wonderful occasion it promises to be. Diverse specialist nurseries will be gathering to offer visitors the best of their plants in high summer. Hestercombe’s own nursery will be open, and refreshments available at The Stables Cafe.
|Tuesday 17th July, 2018
Coach Trip to Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire
Waterperry Gardens was home to a renowned horticultural college between 1932 and 1971. Over the past twenty years the gardens have developed and grown, and many new projects have been undertaken and completed, including the Formal Garden, the Mary Rose Garden, a Waterlily Canal and the Long Colour Border. Beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, secret corners and long vistas make this a garden well worth visiting.
|Sunday 12th August, 2018
Group Plant Swap and Lunch
Location: Smeatharp, Honiton Ticket price to be announced
|Saturday 15th September, 2018 10.00 – 11.00am (Hall opens at 9.30am)
50/50 Plant Sale: followed at 11.00 am by
‘How the Flowers Became’
Many of you will be familiar with Julian Sutton who, with his wife Sarah, runs Desirable Plants, a mail-order nursery based in Totnes. In this lecture, Julian will be looking at the nature of flowers, their form, colour and even their biological behaviour. The lecture includes a series of fascinating stories surrounding the evolution of floral diversity, including the origin of flowers themselves, all illustrated by garden-worthy plants.
Plants for sale
50/50 Plant Sale
The 50/50 Plant Sale prior to the lecture at our September meeting each autumn continues to prove popular. The Group keeps half the money taken and returns the other half to the seller. The hall will be open from 9.30am – 10.00am to receive your plants to sell.
Please ensure that each plant has two identical labels, both of them bearing the name of the plant, your name and the price. One will be removed so that the amount you are owed can be totted up and given to you at the end of the meeting, when you can also reclaim any unsold plants and your labels (tip: write in pencil on the labels so that they may be reused).
Selling will take place between 10.00am and 11.00am, at which point the lecture begins. Offers of help with selling on the day will be most welcome.
Our speaker this month – Julian Sutton – will also be bringing plants for sale. Altogether, it promises to be an excellent opportunity to grab a bargain and plant in time for a colourful spring.
|Wednesday 19th September, 2018
Self-drive Visit to Midney Gardens, Mill Lane, Midney, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 7HR
The garden at Midney was started in 2009, with the aim of creating a place which people would want to visit and enjoy. Eight years on, the garden offers visitors a chance to experience a plantsman’s garden of exceptional quality. Subtle themes and a natural planting style draw the visitor from one garden area to the next and each area has its own character. The onsite nursery specialises in herbaceous plants, alpines, grasses and herbs – all organically grown.
Refreshments available in the tearoom.
|Saturday 20th October, 2018 – 11.00am
‘Create a Garden as a Work of Art’
Dr Laura de Beden
Laura is a landscape architect and garden designer whose talks are always well received and interesting. In this design masterclass, she will be discussing spatial composition, ideas and materials, demonstrated by simple yet effective practical examples. Discover how the rich language of art applies to garden-making and how to relate this to your own plot. This talk could change how you view your garden!
|Saturday 17th November, 2018 – 10am for 10.30
AGM, followed at 11-15am by
‘Erythroniums and Other Woodlanders’
Anyone who has heard Keith speak or visited his garden, Wildside, will know what a treat this lecture will be. An erythronium fanatic, he has raised and named several hybrids of his own. As well as erythroniums he will be discussing the many other woodland plants that he adds to the mix, and showing how observations gathered from seeing plants in the wild helps him to provide the conditions they need. Even if you don’t have an acre of woodland, most of us have an area under trees in our gardens where these plants can grow.
Plants for sale.