Spring 2009




Vivienne McGhee

Thanks to all the contributors to this edition. It contains the papers for the Group AGM in May as well as nomination forms for new committee members. There is also an update on the planning for the Autumn Study Weekend and information on the ways in which you can help to make the event a success. Again there are contributions from three new members and I hope that now they have 'put pen to paper' once they will do so again. It is not too painful!

This is my last newsletter and I hope that you will continue your support with articles and other contributions to the new editor, Judith Doughty. The copy date for the next Newsletter is 17th October

Chairman's Report - Spring notes

Rebecca Dale

Yet again I am overtaken by time. One minute there seems to be ages before writing needs take place, then flash I should have submitted. Our Society is still moving with good momentum, we are very lucky to have such a cheerful hard working team. As Society Saturday dawns, you can guarantee the weather will be good and it will be a real effort to leave the garden and come to the meeting. But the reward of excellent speakers, comfy surroundings, and good company - not to mention home made cakes and the chance for some to win a super raffle prize is well worth the effort.

Our Christmas party proved great fun. We had a table groaning with good food and then really enjoyed a talk on Mistletoe. We learnt some very impressive facts and fiction and I realised cutting my large piece from the apple tree with the secateurs was completely wrong. I have added silver scythe to my present list for 09 and hope that will increase the pecking prospects for the following yuletide

The membership has continued to support the committee well and it is particularly pleasing to see so many local members from Peopleton coming along. Do continue to drag your friends along to meetings. It is a lovely sight to see John our treasurer beaming at the entrance as he welcomes all to the meeting. It helps to distract him making metal plant supports and he may need a calculator soon.

Thank you to all who make the wonderful cakes we have at the tea break. It is a special moment after all the hard work to bite into a delicious mouthful of home made cake.

Infact it is a very rewarding experience being part of such an enthusiastic team. As we approach the end of my first year we shall be sorry to say good-bye, but thank you to some committee members. We would be very pleased if the were any members who, having a sense of humour, a desire to be involved and lots of ideas would like to come and join us.

My garden is looking very tidy. This is due to my part time help and the cold weather. Flooding has not been too bad and we have managed to get round all the beds and are working on the hedgerows as I write trying to curb the brambles. My husband's gardening contribution is to act as a type of Colditz Guard marching round the boundaries thwarting the nocturnal diggings of Brock with breezeblocks and any large boulders he has to hand. I note Brock is now chewing holes in the wire fence. Husband is deep in thought on this challenge. Husband's vigilance has paid dividends in the garden. It has not sustained any assault from this threat yet!

However, I note that growth is coming on fast so our complacency will be shattered soon. But the pleasure of getting back outside into our borders will outweigh the backache pains at the beginning of the season. No Easter eggs this year - just a large tube of Ibuprofen.

Good gardening.

Secretary's Notes

David Pollitt

It is gratifying to see so many new members at our meetings. For their benefit it may be worth explaining how the plant sales system works.

Many of our speakers bring plants for sale. Where that is not the case the Committee tries to invite a specialist guest nursery that pays a nominal charge. In that way, we are constantly being presented with interesting and unusual plants as well as having the opportunity to learn about their cultivation and propagation from the experts.

In addition, members are encouraged to donate plants for sale and a table, usually managed by Margaret Lewis, is set up for this purpose at each meeting (Donated Table). Plants should be well presented in clean pots and labelled wherever possible with the full plant name. Proceeds go to Group funds and are a valued source of income. Any unsold plants should be reclaimed at the end of the meeting.

Members also have the option of selling plants on the so-called Growers' Table, retaining 75% of the proceeds and passing 25% to the Group. The system works as follows: each plant should be provided with two labels, one bearing the member's name and the price (which he/she sets), the other showing the full name of the plant and its description. The first label from any plant sold will be returned to the grower together with his/her share of the money. Unsold plants must be removed at the end of the meeting. No more than 25 plants per household may be brought to any one meeting and the Growers' Table is not open to commercial enterprises and nurseries.

Dorset Garden Tour

Thanks to all those who have booked and paid their deposits. Travel packs have been issued and the balance is due by the end of the month (March). A list of participants is posted on the notice board.

The trip has been very well supported and we have used up our full allocation of rooms at the hotel which is now fully booked. Please let me know if you are interested in joining the party, however, so I can contact you in the event of a cancellation.

New members

Win Botterill

Living in a small village in South Warwickshire, I couldn't be in more different surroundings than where I grew up and where my first interest in gardening was aroused.

And yet, there has always been a constant in my life - a love of flowers.

From the scent of 'lad's love' by the seat in my Grandad's allotment, and that of sweet peas tenderly grown by my Father in an allotment greenhouse atop the Pennines in N.E. Lancashire in the 40s and 50s to the perfume from our collection of old roses today and the whiff of new cider, produced from my husband's latest hobby, the feel and flavour of the garden as much as its appearance has been one of life's real joys.

Though I number and value many non-gardeners amongst our friends, friendships of gardeners, remembered as they are in borders and orchard, are deep-rooted and flourishing.

To join your Society is a privilege and I am looking forward to being part of what appears to be a very well organized, active and friendly group of gardeners.

Jackie Newitt

I believe there is a saying, "if you want to keep a plant, give it away".

Just over 15 years ago, we moved from this area to Suffolk, and took a host of potted- up favourites from my then garden in Clifton upon Teme.

Alas, as well as having a considerably lower rainfall, there were several summers in succession when we didn't see rain for weeks. I should have foreseen the situation when we viewed the house, as Miss Wilmott's Ghost was stalking the garden. Even my Persicarias sulked and I lost several other favourites altogether. It took a few seasons for Beth Chatto's advice to match plants to conditions to sink in.

So when we returned on my husband's retirement and I revisited old friends' gardens. I would recognise plants I had divided for them, so I shamelessly asked for little bits back, such as Brunneras and Tiarellas.

Actually, there were compensations for living on that side of the country - our house was mid way between Beth Chatto and Woottens of Wenhaston - always good for an afternoon out!

Julia Dale

My name is Julia Dale -- no relation to our Chairman Becky Dale although I had to look twice when I saw her name, as my daughter-in-law is also "Becky Dale". I live in Peopleton, so am able to walk to meetings, which is great. I was introduced to the HPS last summer by a member (I didn't know that you existed, let alone met in our Village Hall) and joined in the Autumn. I have lived in Peopleton for 27 years and have a medium sized garden. Up until two years ago it received minimal attention, but then my husband and I retired!

We decided to concentrate on the garden and have had enormous joy from it. A year ago my husband adapted a corner rockery into a 'water feature' with a small waterfall and pond. We had some fish to start with but through wrong advice from the supplier, they eventually died. Very upsetting! So we decided to leave it to nature and have had visits from two frogs.

We also prepared (well my husband did) part of a border for soft fruit and veg. I had some success and some failures, but learnt a lot as well as the pleasure of 'picking your own' (and giving some away!). I particularly enjoyed bringing on cuttings given by friends and had success for the first time last summer with Lupins and Delphiniums. Previously our friends the slugs have got to them before I have had a chance to think about 'Slug Stop'. I also like 'rescuing' plants from garden centres, especially the 'reduced to clear' and nursing them back to health! Our project for this year is an archway with climbing roses -- but where to put it?

I have found the HPS meetings so interesting, friendly and informative. How the speakers remember all the 'proper' names of plants, I do not know!

Easter visit to Highgrove 11th April '08

Marti Illingworth
The day dawned overcast and rainy, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm. After all, we had waited some time to take this trip to Prince Charles' gardens at his Highgrove home, a mile from Tetbury in Gloucestershire. We arrived in Tetbury an hour before our 'slot 'at 12.50pm, so there was time to see Tetbury and look at the shops or have some lunch, before we arrived at Highgrove gardens.

Highgrove House was built in the seventeen nineties and at one time had been home to the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan between the nineteen fifties and early sixties. When Prince Charles bought the house in 1980, there was so much to do as the garden was neglected ... a few thorn bushes, a brown lane round the house, a lawn, but happily a marvellous cedar tree, which Prince Charles loved and has made into a feature. He was lucky to have the excellent help, advice and support with his vision for the place, from renowned gardeners such as Miriam Rothschild, Sir Roy Strong and the late Rosemary Verey and so over the time since then, the garden has evolved from a sad state, to the amazing place it is today.

Everything was well organised for our arrival, and after we had shown our passports and security had been addressed, we were introduced to our lady guide, one of a team of volunteers. She was very informative and answered our many questions as we walked along. There was much to admire. The garden unfolded into walks, rooms and vistas...Cottage garden, Lavender Garden, Wild Flower Meadow, Tulip Walk, Azalea Walk, Walled Garden, Woodland Garden, Southern Hemisphere Garden, Sundial Garden, Rose Pergola, Thyme Walk, Arboretum, and Carpet Garden. All need to be visited and admired, but I will describe those that especially appealed to me such as the topiary.

Walking towards the Thyme Walk, and from the Formal Garden (with its Cotswold stone kiosks and avenue of golden yew hedging), the walk is enclosed by stilted hornbeam hedges, which are planted in rectangles to frame the statues of the four seasons. The golden clipped yew lines the Thyme Walk. Here the effect created by Sir Roy Strong, with his eccentric and geometric topiary, was stunning. The yew was sculptured and scalloped and there were crowns and coronets in his topiary along the lawn. The path we walked along was composed of brick, Cotswold stone and a mixed aggregate and we were told it was inter-planted with 20 varieties of thyme, merging into a carpet with Corsican mint. Apparently the topiary takes nearly three months to trim. In the new Topiary Garden, twelve different types of box have been planted and 'shaped' in gothic style, to prevent the rain from getting into their centres and rotting them. This is because English box has been such a problem. At the end of this walk we saw the massive terracotta pot, given to Prince Charles for his 50th birthday.

From thereon we went to the Fountain Garden, planted in Mediterranean style, then by the Laurel Tunnel and passed into a fernery. With the time of the year being early we missed certain plants e.g. the Prince's National Collection of Hostas but we did enjoy seeing the stumpery. A medley of tree stumps and ferns (a Victorian concept renewed), there was also a fern pyramid. On display we also saw the thatched tree house where Princes William and Harry played as children. The azalea walk looked promising, but needed a visit in late May to see it at its best. The Kitchen Garden was made with box hedges arranged in the shape of crosses of Saint George and St. Andrew, composed of eight triangles and eight squares. All vegetables are organically grown; in fact there are a total of fifteen acres of organic gardening on the estate.

The garden is planted for year round interest and as we were at the late end of Easter we were able to enjoy the planting success of the many deep cerise tulips which led up the path to the house. As I write I can only imagine the Arboretum, as it must be this autumn. The reds and yellows of the acers must look marvellous.

There was much to see on our walk. Before we went for tea we caught a glimpse of St Mary's Church in Tetbury, through the foliage of the trees near to the front of the house. -- a really lovely vista to see. So........ a garden with lots of interesting areas, great ideas and vision realised. A truly delightful place to visit, and hopefully visit again at a different time of the year. It must be a special place to be sitting in at eventide.... the scents, the shadowy shapes, and the outlines of the various trees at dusk.... Thinking of these, I am reminded of the words inscribed onto a stone arch in the garden... 'The garden is a reflection of the flowers of the sky.'

A Riverside Garden

Sue Deakin

I've known for a long time that no matter how many lovely plants I buy, my sum total is never a lovely garden. I started my first garden and thought that pretty flowers made a pretty garden. Later I realised other things are of far greater importance. I joined the Hardy Plant Society and visited inspirational gardens, but I couldn't create magical effects once I got my inspiration home.

So I've done it! I've decided! I'm going to get a decent designer to make me my own little bit of Paradise. I know it will be expensive, but if it gives me pleasure every day for the rest of my days, then it doesn't seem a big price to pay.

My garden isn't big, about 40foot square, and it slopes down to the riverside. A very pretty location, we moved there just over two years ago. I've put a lot of plants in, and I know it looks better than when we came, but it doesn't have any 'wow', and 'wow' is what I want.

My first candidate for the design job, Roger, said he would be delighted to come and look. But it was all too small for him. He upset me by muttering something about 'a sow's ear and a silk purse' and he never got back to me. It was a while before I recovered.

Last month I saw two garden landscapers who advertised in my local parish magazine (no job too big or too small). Clive came first. He was very nice, but his ideas didn't inspire. The second man was Pat, and he loved the location and could see potential. I asked him to take the job on, but before we could finalise anything he withdrew for personal reasons.

Last week I started again. I got out the Yellow Pages, selected three firms, rang them up, and made appointments. This week I have seen Andrew, Richard and Paul. And I'm delighted to report that Andrew is my man!

I've seen some lovely gardens that he has designed. The planting is perfect and if I can end up as nice as that I shall be happy.

So.. Andrew is going to come round next week to survey the site. He wants me to make a list of things I must have, would like, and must change. He will work with me to come up with a design, and then he hopes to have the garden finished by early summer!! I'm so, so pleased and I'm pinning such hopes on the outcome -- my Riverside Garden will be my own little bit of Paradise.

I'll keep you posted!!!


Alan Hale

When you move home, the house itself is an empty shell, the previous owner having departed with all the contents, but the garden is a very different matter. Here you inherit, not only the lay-out with its hard landscaping, together with any out-buildings but also the furnishings in the shape of trees, shrubs and herbaceous, even the weeds prevalent in the area.

So, what do you do? Well, if you are happy with your inheritance, you needn't do anything, just maintain it. At the opposite extreme, you could call in one of those garden designers who advertise their services, and, at vast expense and considerable disruption, have it all changed round. The third alternative, and one I would suspect most people follow, in particular Hardy Planters, is to work on the garden over a period of time, improving, altering and planting until you have reached a situation where you are satisfied with the results.

After 4½ years working on our garden in Mickleton we have just about reached that stage. We have: - erected a small heated greenhouse - an essential item for propagation, and maintaining half-hardy plants through the winter, and a haven in wet weather: created a composting area in the corner behind the summerhouse: re-aligned one of the paths: had a low Cotswold stone wall built to contain a slightly raised bed: increased the size of all the existing beds and dug out four narrow beds alongside our boundaries, to accommodate our ever-increasing collection of clematis: and finally, and most importantly have removed 25 trees of various sizes, mostly conifers, a similar number of old and woody shrubs and a few herbaceous. And planted anew.

Trees, of course, are major contributors to the structure and appearance of the garden, so, I thought it would be interesting to make an inventory of those remaining of our inheritance. Going round the garden, in a clockwise direction, first, there is an Apple tree, not a very good fruit bearer and not particularly attractive, but it does play host to a Jackmanii clematis and is a reminder of the fact that once this land was an orchard. Next a Beech, the patriarch, or is it matriarch, of the garden. I can't imagine anyone would plant a forest tree, capable of growing to 100ft, up against the fence in a small garden like our's and can only assume it was here before the land was parcelled out and the house built. Twice we have had it 'reduced' all over, to curb growth, but I'm not sure if it will tolerate that treatment indefinitely. From where we sit by the french door, drinking our morning coffee, and reading the daily paper, we look directly at the beech. We rather like it, fascinated by its annual cycle of growth and dormancy from the buds opening to wonderful fresh green leaves, usually about St George's Day, through to the dark green of high summer then the coppery colours of the fall. This last seems to be variable. One year it held on to its leaves until the spring, whereas in 2008 they were all down by the end of November. There must be some explanation, but it eludes me.

Further along there is a fastigiate Irish Yew, about 15ft tall, with a climbing dicentra and a Hagelby White clematis growing through it. I like the narrow, erect profile, a complete contrast to the other trees around and a good guide to wind direction. By the summerhouse there is a 'Dalecarlica' variety of the Silver Birch, better known as the Swedish Birch. It is a beautiful tree, differing from the common birch in having upswept branches and deeply cut leaves.

Further around again, there is a small Holly which every year produces a splendid crop of brilliant berries, a cheerful sight in early winter until that is, they are discovered by the migratory Redwings who strip the tree bare in 48 hours. Next, two common Silver Birches only about 10ft apart. They are attractive undemanding trees with great charm. In the top corner, a young Rowan which is struggling to make growth, suffering from competition with a large wild pear and an elder, close by on the other side of the fence. Completing the picture in the back are two Japanese Maples, set in the lawn, one at the top and one in the lower section of the garden. Although they are a bit of a pain, when it comes to mowing the grass, they are delightful trees with good autumn colour, and help to give character to the overall picture. Unfortunately, I don't know which variety they are.

In the front there are just two trees. A gnarled old Pear, another reminder of orchard days past, and a conifer, which has been spared the chop, because it helps to hide the oil tank for our boiler.

Just 12 trees remaining from the originlal 37 but quite enough to provide interest and contrast for the size of the garden. I have no plans to reduce our inheritance further.

A follow up note on Helleborus torquatus

Vivienne McGhee

You may recall my piece in the last Newsletter -- well it is in flower! It has dark red, oval shaped, drooping flowers with green inside. I think that they are beautiful on the plant in the garden. Enquiries have revealed that the plant is the great, great, great, great grandfather of the modern Helleborus x hybridus. ( It might even be more 'great' than I have indicated.) Whilst it is a lovely plant in the garden, the contrast with modern hybrids is interesting. It looks insignificant in the display I have of those I grow and which range from very dark red through pink to white and with a range of speckles in between. I display and admire them floating in tea-light holders in the kitchen. Without H. torquatus I would not be admiring the beauty, so I shall treasure it also.

Botanical Nomenclature - part 3

Jackie Davies

Before I give you yet another list, the following paragraph perhaps helps to clarify the reason why botanical nomenclature can be so necessary - if you were a Scot, the plant we in the rest of the UK know as a harebell would be known as a bluebell i.e. Campanula rotundifolia. We call Hyacinthoides non-scripta our English bluebell which we are all familiar with in our woods and lanes in May. To complicate usage of bluebell as a common name, in the USA a bluebell is Campanula americana and also Campanula parryi. So - quite useful to have the correct botanical name when identifying a blue flowering plant!

The following list shows how the surname of the finder of the plant has been used:-
Buchananii(Buchanan)e.g. Salvia buchananii
Douglasii(Douglas)e.g. Limnamhes douglasii
Forestii(Forest)e.g. Sorbus forestii
Fortunii(Fortune)e.g. Euonymus fortunii
Jeffreyii(Jeffrey)e.g. Pinus jeffreyii
Tradescantii(Tradescant)e.g. Aster tradescantii
Wilsonii(Wilson)e.g. Magnolia wilsonii
Now following on with place names which I guess are fairly obvious too:-
Americana(from America)e.g. Agave americana
Canadensis(from Canada)e.g. Cornus canadensis
Chinensis(from China)e.g. Taxus chinensis
Europaeus(from Europe)e.g. Euonymous europaeus
Indica(from India)e.g. Tamarindus indica
Nova angliae(from new England)e.g. Aster novae angliae
Sinensis(from China)e.g. Miscanthus sinensis
Enough to take in for now but I am sure you'll find most of the above quite obvious -- and without needing any knowledge of Latin!!

More next issue if you can stand it.

Summer Outing. Saturday July 25th '09

Sue Chitty

Hampton Court was founded by Henry lV but the current building was designed for the Arkwright (Spinning Jenny) family. In 1994 the dilapidated house and 20 acres of parkland, were bought by Van Kempen, an American banker. Several years and many £millions later, the garden has been beautifully restored to plans designed by Simon Dorrell, art editor, and David Wheeler, editor and owner of "Hortus" magazine. The current plans were based on designs for Hampton made by George London in the 1690s.

Now, under new owner-ship, the gardens flourish. Arkwright's walled garden, now designed as a series of interlocking gardens, is reached through a 150 year old wisteria tunnel, and opens on to herbaceous borders. A maze of 1000 yews surround a tower which has panoramic views from the top and a secret tunnel from its base leading to a waterfall in the sunken garden. Beyond the lawns and ancient trees which surround the castle are riverside (River Lugg) and wooded walks. The extensive kitchen garden, again fascinating designs and plantings, provide produce for the restaurant which is housed in the Orangery, designed by Joseph Paxton.

This summer the Castle will be opening to the public.

Stockton Bury also has a very interesting, and colourful and bloody early history dating back to 660. (More info. in their brochure!)

Now owned by Raymond Treasure the farm at Stockton Bury came into the hands of his great grandfather in 1886. Raymond recalls that in 1900 it took 20 men and boys and 2 gardeners to farm the land, but now the farm and garden require just 4 staff! Two maiden aunts continued to live in the house for 30 years after the death of their father. In 1944 Raymond's father, Henry, began to farm the land and to begin restorations to the farm buildings and house. In 1984 Raymond was joined by Gordon Fenn, formerly Head Gardener at Hereford Cathedral School, and with the addition of donated plants from Raymond's second cousin, John Treasure of Burford House Gardens, the development of the gardens continued and were opened to the public in 1995.

What we now have is a fascinating and beautiful garden, covering about 4 acres, with much variety in design, and planting for all year-round interest. Some of the original features remain; the Monastic Fish Pond, Pigeon House complete with revolving ladder and the Tithe Barn, now used as a restaurant. The Dingle, an interesting series of pools, fed by spring water and well stocked with water plants and marginals, follows a gentle gradient in what was formerly an old gravel quarry. The Paddock Garden, formerly a plum orchard and kitchen garden, has island beds of unusual shrubs. And with mixed and herbaceous planting, kitchen borders and clever design features this very interesting garden is a Treasure by nature as well as by name!

Photos and a report on the visit.

Propagation Workshop at Pershore College

David Pollitt

We are in discussion with Pershore College about the possibility of them holding a workshop on all aspects of propagation just for our Group members. One session would be held in early summer with a second one later in the year. For practical reasons, numbers would be restricted to max. 12.

This is a great opportunity to learn about a rewarding aspect of gardening from the experts and we are grateful to the College for their support. Please contact me without delay if you are interested. Applications will be handled on a first come first served basis.

David Pollitt Tel. 01905 381739

Autumn Study Weekend 25/26/27 September 2009

Vivienne McGhee, Becky Dale, David Pollitt, Judith Doughty and John McGhee

This is an update on the planning and an outline of how you can help us host a successful national event. Thank you to all who have already volunteered. The theme for the weekend is "The Role of Plants in Gardens".

The outline plan for the weekend:

The closing date for booking is 6April. John (McGhee) is receiving these. After that confirmation packs will be sent out. As time progresses more information will be available about how each Worcs. Group volunteer can help. From the April meeting onwards Judith Doughty will have a table to answer questions and discuss the allocation of duties.

Malvern Spring Show

If you are visiting the R.H.S. Malvern Spring Show 7th-10th May 2009 do look out for the HPS stand and display. It is being managed by the Staffordshire Group and is called "What's in a Name?"


Notice of Annual General Meeting
To be held on Saturday 9th. May 2009
at Peopleton Village Hall at 2 p.m.

  1. Apologies for absence
  2. To receive and adopt minutes of the AGM held 10th. May 2008
  3. Matters arising
  4. Chairman's Report
  5. To receive and adopt the accounts of the preceding financial year
  6. To transact any other business of which at least 21 days notice has been given.
  7. Election of Officers
  8. Election of Committee -- please print and use this slip to nominate someone as a committee member. Please obtain their permission first and send or give the slip to the Secretary.
  9. Elect an independent examiner of the accounts.
  10. To vote on the following proposed amendment to the Constitution:
    Delete: "The financial year of the Group shall end on 31st March."
    Add: "The financial year of the Group shall end on 31st December."

Subscriptions for Group Membership 2009

The annual subscription for 2009 is now overdue. Members who have not yet paid are asked to send a cheque to me, John McGhee, at Half Acre, Main St, Aldington, Worc's, WR11 7XB, or better still, come to the next meeting and pay on the door. The subscription remains at £12.50 and cheques are payable to 'H P S Worc's Group'. A reminder that you also need to be current a member of the Hardy Plant Society.

Data Protection Notice

The personal data that you provide is stored as paper and/or computer records by the HPS Worcestershire Group and used for the Group's administrative purposes only. It will not be disclosed to anyone outside the HPS. If you are concerned about the methods used to store your data or wish to see what data is held, please contact the Group Secretary, David Pollitt.