Four nights, 49 people, 12 gardens, several hundred newly-bought plants – and one happy time.
That just about sums up the Worcestershire HPS five-day garden tour to Devon in June.
We started off in the private garden of a retired banker – with borders designed by the legendary Tom Stuart-Smith and a legendary pergola.
And the tour ended at the former home of gardening hero Margery Fish, in East Lambrook, where one of our own members, Pippa Hilton, worked for 15 years when her brother owned the property in the '80s and '90s. Coincidentally, the garden was featured on Gardener’s World on BBC-2 the night after our visit, where a certain David Pollitt was also spotted scanning irises at Aulden Nursery near Leominster.
We saw a truly wild garden – courtesy of HPS member Lyn Miles – and were truly privileged to be able to visit the garden of Keith Wiley, which he created after leaving The Garden House, where he was head gardener for 25 years.
We’ve asked 12 people on the tour to write a small piece about each garden and you can catch up on their efforts in the next newsletter, which David is pulling together this autumn.
For me, my clear favourite garden was Cothay Manor, near Wellington, which I’d never even heard of before the tour itinerary was published. We were met by the owner, Mary-Ann Robb, who introduced us to the garden in a witty, humorous, engaging way before we were swept away by the romance of the place. But I’ll leave it there for now – I shall be contributing a few words for the newsletter on one of the other venues, The Garden House.
One of the high spots, for me, was the purchase by my wife, Joan, of new plants for our garden. Usually it’s me who buys new ones – this time six have been added by her. I think she may have caught the bug!
It was a genuine pleasure to be part of this tour – and my enjoyment is due almost entirely to the organising skills of David and his family. Sadly, David has decided, finally, to call it a day after organising eight group tours in recent years.
We’re more than keen to preserve and build on his strong legacy. The boots that need filling here are big. So, if you would be interested in talking about helping to organise our next trip – who knows where that might take us – or just want to find out more about what exactly is involved, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.