HARDY PLANT SOCIETY
Write up by Susan Solomon
On a beautiful Summer’s day 45 members and friends enjoyed a visit to 2 gardens near Bath.
Our first stop was at Hanham Court. Our arrival, just as a coach of Dutch visitors was leaving, caused a traffic jam in the narrow country lane and meant that our driver, Alan, had to reverse some distance back to the garden. There we were met by our guides and were treated to a very welcome drink and delicious home-made cakes, which were enjoyed outside in the shade of the loggia. Its walls were festooned by the dark red rose ‘Étoile de Hollande’ with a beautiful fragrance; a bloom was passed around the group, so everyone could enjoy the scent.
Our guide gave us a potted history of the house; the oldest part was the barn, with foundations dating to 1048. The gardens are much newer, having been laid out by the garden designers Julian and Isabel Bannerman who moved to Hanham Court in 1983. The garden was described as nostalgic and romantic, but I felt that it had a modern feel with its straight lines and oddly-shaped yew sentinels, out of scale with the rest of the planting. There have been 2 owners of the house and garden since the Bannermans left in 2012.
The walls of the house are almost obscured by Wisteria and roses. With plenty of mainly pastel-coloured flowers near the house, including massed planting of Eryngium bourgatii ‘Picos Blue’, the garden gave way to a less manicured, greener space as you moved away from the house. In ‘The Dell’, the forlorn sight of large black trunks of dead tree ferns was sad to see. They were killed by frost a few years ago, but we were told that the current owners intended to plant new small ferns of the same species into the trunks in the hopes that they would grow. There was also a stumpery - a smaller prototype of the one the Bannermans later installed at Highgrove House. A tree-house high in a yew was a reminder that this was a family garden, not just a designer’s showpiece.
On then to Derry Watkin’s garden and Special Plant Nursery. Leaving the coach at the top of a very narrow lane, we were ferried by car to the garden a mile away. From the 11th century house at Hanham Court we moved to the 21st century house designed by Derry Watkins’ husband, the architect Peter Clegg.
The garden was everything you would expect of a renowned plantswoman, with mixed plantings of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees and unusual plants jostling for space with old favourites. I was surprised to see the pendant blue trumpets of a large specimen of Iochroma australe, as it is generally thought to be half-hardy.
A series of pools was alive with the darting movement of blue and red damselflies. An interesting modern twist was provided by clipped shrubs making ‘Shapes in the Landscape’; at the centre of one was a large stone slab which I thought could have been a sacrificial altar. The crunch of dead leaf clippings underfoot as I walked through the shrubs added another element. On the far side of the shapes a massed planting of blue Triteleia contrasted well with the dark green box.
Moving away from the riot of colour around the house, the garden became calmer and greener with a perfect circle of mown grass surrounded by meadow grasses and a view of the hills beyond. Following the path through the wood there was a large seat positioned to catch the sunset and beautiful view over the landscape. A roller-coaster wooden path wound its way back to the house and the nursery, which was a Hardy Planter’s dream with a huge range of plants and seeds to tempt us. After a shopping frenzy, we made ourselves at home in Derry Watkins’ kitchen where we were served with a drink and more delicious cake.
Thanks to the helpful staff at the nursery our many purchases were ferried with us back to the coach. Thanks also to Alan who is always smiling and helpful and doesn’t complain no matter how many plants we put in the hold.
Overall, a very enjoyable and stimulating visit with plenty of inspiration to take home to our own gardens. A very big thank you to all those who researched and organised the day.
Write up by Sue Miles who was on the first trip
After I read an article in Gardens Illustrated and visiting the garden during the Malverleys' Fete Day, suggesting an outing was a ‘no brainer’.
Debbie worked hard to successfully persuade Head Gardener Matt Reese to lead us on a tour of the wonderful Malverleys. Lady luck was certainly with us on our visit, for in spite of rain all around we spent our time wandering in the sunshine. Matt and his team made us very welcome with cake and coffee. Although not keen being a tour guide, Matt led us on a visual journey of the last eight years. Gone the football pitch, roads and Tom Stuart Smith walled garden design. Now a softer, more relaxed ten acres, full of delights. Yew hedged rooms with masses of tulips, a vegetable garden with striking cages sits within the walled garden and a wonderful white garden full of treasures is a joy. Not to be missed the Coade Stone ‘Neptune Calling the Seas’ in the Cloister Garden.
Matt was most generous, sharing his plans for the future plantings and changes to the gardens as they mature.
The packed lunch was much enjoyed on our journey through villages and countryside looking lovely in the spring sunshine on our way to Hardy's Cottage Garden Plants. I had planned to visit for years so it was great to have this very special Nursery as part of an outing. We were made very welcome, again with refreshments served before we had a tour by Rosy Hardy of the very impressive operation she runs. Benches of seedlings nurtured and slowly moved from one poly tunnel to the next. The importance of light, heat and careful watering was stressed.The use of organic pest deterrents was explained in detail for each plant type. Rosy has wonderful staff who propagate thousands of plants which are brought on, mainly outside to produce robust material as she calls it. Many of the plants in the final tunnel were for Chelsea and for the many other shows at which Rosy stars. Of course, many of us were eager to visit the comprehensive plants sales area where we enjoyed spending money. I came home with several treasures to put in my woodland garden.They will have to wait to be planted as a pair of very tame Sparrow Hawks have decided to nest in a Silver Birch along the path!
A big thank you to Debbie and her team for making this outing so very enjoyable.
April 7th 2018
The first half of David's talk concentrated on the different types of soil.
In the second half he then went on to talk about composting, mixing brown and green waste so that they reacted well together. He was asked so many questions that by the end of the talk, we didn't need to have an Answer and Question session as we had already "asked" as we went along. It was clearly a subject that many of the audience were very interested in.
We all came away with lots of good ideas - but will we see them through? Another excellent speaker, well received by all.
February 24th 2018
A.G.M. and Ray Broughton
Our A.G.M. went well as we remembered how the Group was founded 20 years ago. Lyn Ovens stood down, after serving for 3 years, and Roy Hole, Hugh Walters and Barbara Melton all stood down as well. Janet Riggs joined the committee so we now have 9 members on the Main Committee.
Ray's talk was well worth the wait. He gave us so many hints and tips. Where do I start? From telling us how to avoid leggy seedlings (which is due to lack of carbon dioxide emissions rather than light deficiency), that it is dead marigold heads that keeps white fly and thrip away from veg (so DON'T deadhead or just leave the deadheads around the veg), wiping vinegar around the inverted holes under your pots to deter slugs, about 2 spot ladybirds and so on. If I tell you anymore, you won't go to any of his talks....and you would miss a treat.
At the end he offered an information sheet which we have offered to distribute to the members that were at the meeting in return for a donation to his Gardening Charity "Perennial".
January 27th 2018
We had been looking forward to welcoming Helen who had been to see us several years ago. As always she was extremely friendly and was amazed to see how many people turned up. Both the Day Trips and Membership tables were kept extremely busy, especially as a 2nd Malverleys trip had to be hastily arranged, when the 1st sold out before the meeting. We even wondered if there would be sufficient chairs.
Anyway Helen did not disappoint with her entertaining and humorous style accompanied by some beautiful slides. She showed how common perennials, shrubs and annuals can still produce a wonderfully colourful and interesting autumn garden. Amongst the many discussed, she praised the Agaranthemum "Jamaican Primrose" and the Diascia Personata, both of which are regularly propagated and found for sale on our Plant Sales Table.
Despite one of our largest turnouts, 160 in all, we surprisingly managed to squeeze everyone in!
November 25th 2017
Famous for his grasses at Knoll Gardens, Neil entertained a large enthusiastic audience (of 126) Hardy Planters and visitors. His talk, entitled "Using Perennials in the Modern Garden", was well demonstrated with many beautiful slides from his garden. Neil is always very humorous and couldn't resist joking about the grasses, which of course appeared in the slides. There were also plenty of quips about the excellent homemade cakes which were to be served half way through the lecture. He also told us how he had embraced the natural aspect of his garden -with experts frequently making surveys of the garden covering butterflies, bumble bees, moths and birds and also bats - He also explained how many self seeders such as oenethera, verbena bonarienses, gaura and violets had placed themselves naturalistically within the garden. It was a very happy and informative afternoon, hopefully enjoyed by all.
October 28th 2017
Roy Lancaster-Afternoon Talk, and Evening Meal
What a fabulous way to celebrate the National Society's 60th anniversary. The idea to issue tickets proved to be a good one as the afternoon was a complete sellout. The room was packed with 165 in attendance. Roy Lancaster gave an extremely interesting talk about his life, from when he first showed an interest in plants, up to the present day. He signed and sold many copies of his latest book, happily posing for many selfies with members and visitors alike.
September 30th 2017
Another packed hall saw Marina as she talked about Gardening with Gravel, explaining how deep her gravel beds were dug and the details of the different layers of pebbles, grit and stone. She then listed many of the plants that grow well in such conditions and explained how little care many of them need. The ultimate aim being to attract and sustain as many beneficial insects as possible.
She specialises primarily in Mexican and Mediterranean plants that love such conditions. As always she was very entertaining and remains a favourite with our Group.
As we got on the coach at Colehill the torrential rain (and sleet) started. Not the greatest of omens. However by the time we reached Ringwood, to pick up the rest of the party, the rain had almost stopped. Once we reached Sherfield English it had stopped completely and the sun meant that Nick Gilbert needed to wear his sunhat to protect his head. Cake was wonderful, the brief talk Nick gave us was just enough to get us interested in advance of his visit to Colehill later next year. The range in size and colour was wonderful - there was truly something for everyone.
Next it was on to Andy McIndoe's private garden which was literally "just around the corner". We were 15 minutes early but he was not phased at all. In his gardening clothes, rather than his fancy colourful shirts, he took us into the garden and gave us a guided tour explaining the transformation since he moved in 17 years ago. He shared many nuggets of information with us and kept us all amused as we wandered around.
Finally we relaxed with a glass of wine and some nibbles - a perfect ending to a lovely afternoon out.
Saturday July 8th 2017
Plant Stall at the COLEHILL SUMMER PARTY
Some of us took plants to the Summer Party and met several of our members who live in Colehill. Many local residents had come to buy cheap plants and it was lovely to chat to them and tell them all about our Group. Hopefully some will come in September, when Marina Christopher will be coming to talk to us.
The event was organised with a view to raising monies for the Colehill Library and I am sure it was extremely successful. The disco outside and accordion player inside added to the wonderful atmosphere. We made a donation, based on a percentage of every plant sold, of just over £50 to the Library.
A good time was had by all!
We were lucky with the weather. It was dry and sunny. With over 120 visitors to the garden, many came to the Plant Stall and bought lots of plants. Luckily we had plenty to sell! Almost £300 worth of plants were sold - not bad in one afternoon.
There is always a good atmosphere as we see how many cups of tea and cake we can get out of the Lupus Group! Anne and Guy, as always, made us so welcome.
We spoke to many about the Group, and what we do, so who knows who may come and join us at the next Meeting in September, when Marina Christopher comes to talk. The visitors included a couple from Germany and some friends from Holland - a truly European gathering.
A wonderful day at RHS Rosemoor. It’s a long way to go so necessitated an early start but it’s always a joy to drive through West Dorset and Devon, the views are vast and spectacular. The weather was worrying, and we drove through downpours, but the sun shone the whole time we were at the gardens although the wind was lively. New to me was the extensive meadow, with orchids dotted about and plenty more colour to come. The hot garden wasn’t hot yet, but the roses were wonderful, the vegetable gardens immaculate, the cottage garden delightful, etc. etc. There’s so much to see at Rosemoor, even a kingfisher on the lake! And always new plants to desire and ideas for your own garden. (B Gooch)
Saturday, June 3rd
41 Wimborne Road West, Wimborne
Our member, Marie Fitzwalter, opened her garden for the first time ever. With the help of her friends and family, she welcomed 84 visitors to her garden on a perfect day weatherwise. Her sister, Elaine, made some wonderful cakes which everyone enjoyed immensely.
Marie would also like to thank everybody for their support. She added "It was really lovely to have so many people enjoying our garden and taking the time relaxing with a cuppa, a piece of cake and chatting to friends".
In addition many plants were sold. Marie has £84 to go to National Hardy Plant Society and a further donation will be made to a local charity. Thank you Marie & Co and thanks to everyone who came along.
April 29th 2017
Yet another excellent speaker with an incredible in-depth knowledge of his plants. Kevin's talk Stars of the Spring Garden included some highly unusual plants, as well as some of those we all know and love. He also brought along with him some very different plants for sale that are not often available, but of course would be at his own nursery, Heale House, near Salisbury. We are lucky to have such a resource relatively close to hand!
April 22nd 2017
Knoll Gardens Information Stand
8 Members of the Group and Committee ran an Information Stand at Knoll Gardens' Plant Fair. It was a busy day with many coming to see the Specialist Nurseries and walking around the garden, which was looking particularly good.
March 25th 2017
Ken Thompson came to talk to us about Dealing with Plants that Behave Badly. It was a highly amusing talk, describing problems that all of us experience in our gardens and how to cope with them. An extremely entertaining and interesting afternoon.