Plant of the Month: Rosa Madame Alfred Carrière – 1879

That roses are all about opulence, indulgence, hedonism, I never found out until my thirties. My early experiences of the stiff, inelegant, synthetic modern roses found them wanting. It was not until I saw Peter Beales’ stand at Chelsea one year that I discovered their romance: the colours, the perfume, their sheer joie-de-vivre.

During the late Victorian era thousands of roses were bred, introduced, and vanished again. Occasionally the odd survivor lives on unrecognised in an old garden, its name long forgotten. That some are still available in rose nurseries often owes much to their tenacity and their willingness to put up with less than ideal conditions. Or perhaps to their exotic French name, and their exceptional scent.

When Vita Sackville West planted roses at Sissinghurst, she was inspired by the legend of the Sleeping Beauty and the old tudor Tower. She loved the story of the gallant prince who cut swathes of roses to climb the tower and waken the princess with a kiss. But the stiff hybrid teas and floribundas of the early ‘30s did not seem to fit the bill.

So she searched in small old nurseries for those unfashionable roses that had all but disappeared by the turn of the 20th century and discovered one or two languishing in a corner, unnamed and unloved. She identified them and commissioned more from the nurserymen.

Word of her quest spread and quite soon she was filling her new Rose Garden with more of the glorious ‘old’ roses. She loved their names, their perfume, and, controversially, their single-flowering. She would say that no-one expected, or wanted, their daffodils to flower out of season. So it should be with roses.

One of her favourites, among many, was Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’. She climbs, vigorously, at least to the eaves, even on a north-facing wall. Her flowers are loose and palest flesh pink, with an exquisite true-rose perfume. The foliage is apple-green, and scented of apples too, and the flowering starts in June and continues until the autumn. La Madame seems to combine all the very best attributes of any rose of any age. She really is a grand ‘old’ trooper.

Sally Gregson

Members Open Garden : Kilmington Nr Axminster

Our member Judith Chapman will be opening her garden this Sunday 16th June for Hospicare.

The 3+ acre garden has mature trees, a rose garden, orchids in a developing wild flower area in mid/late June, mixed borders , two ponds. A major feature is a bog garden which has recently been extended and newly planted; this uses natural springs in the garden. There are shrubberies, mixed borders, a small vegetable garden and orchard.
Tea, coffee and cake are available. Entrance is by donation to Hospiscare.
Address: Breach, Shute Road, Kilmington, near Axminster, EX13 7 ST

Lower Severalls Plant Fair: Catering Van & Volunteers Needed

At the Lower Severalls Plant Fair on July 7th will be a food truck from O-Jas. O-Jas provide delicious Vegan and Vegetarian options.

The main Chef at o-jas is Mark who has a wealth of experience in fruit, vegetables and wholefoods. From his early days in Spitalfields Market he progressed to the role of Chef in a leading vegetarian café in Sheffield and a popular vegan restaurant in Nottingham. As well as cooking he has also run backstage bars at Glastonbury Festival.

Meanwhile we need volunteers to help Sally run the event. If you can spare some time in return for free entry to the garden and fair, please reply to this email.

Lower Severalls Plant Fair – 7th July

Our next plant fair is coming up in July – Sally Gregson needs volunteers to help at the fair – please get in touch and Sally will organise a rota with you.

Nurseries attending will include:

  • Mill Cottage Plants
  • Hardy Way Plants
  • In Clover
  • MAJ Allison Plants
  • Blooming Hill Plants
  • Shady Plants
  • Pickett Lane Nursery
  • Fox Plants
  • Phoenix Plants
  • Elworthy Plants
  • Barracott Plants
  • CB Plants

In addition we have two non-plant tables:

  • Andrew Tolman (Arthur & Strange)
  • Somerset Wild life Trust.

Sunday 7th July

HPS Somerset Summer Plant Fair

Lower Severalls Garden, Crewkerne, TA18 7NX

10am – 4pm

Admission: £3.50 for all HPS members  (£4 for non-members)

The garden at Lower Severalls is set in front of a beautiful hamstone 17th century farmhouse, with a formal front garden and borders full of colourful herbaceous perennials and herbs.  It has been owned by the Pring family for 90 years and has featured in Gardens Illustrated.

The stalls at the Summer Plant Fair will be arranged outside the grounds this year, leaving the garden unencumbered for everyone to enjoy.   Mary, who now runs a B&B in the farmhouse, will be providing us with her homemade cakes, tea, coffee and elderflower cordial.

The garden is home to CB Plants, a traditional nursery run by Catherine Bond, specialising in unusual hardy perennials, wild flowers and cottage garden favourites.  All the plants are grown in peat-free compost and many are of benefit to wildlife, being nectar-rich and great for attracting pollinating insects.

This promises to be a great day out, so come and pick up a treasure or two.  

Piet Oudolf Five Seasons Film via Hestercombe


The Gardens of Piet Oudolf “For me, garden design isn’t just about plants, it is about emotion, atmosphere, a sense of contemplation. You try to move people with what you do. You look at this, and it goes deeper than what you see. It reminds you of something in the genes — nature, or the longing for nature.”

– Piet Oudolf

After completing a feature documentary on New York’s High Line, award-winning filmmaker Thomas Piper met the inspirational designer and plantsman, Piet Oudolf, and the idea for a new project was born. The documentary, FIVE SEASONS: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf, immerses viewers in Oudolf’s work and takes us inside his creative process, from his beautifully abstract sketches, to theories on beauty, to the ecological implications of his ideas.

Intimate discussions take place through all fours seasons in Piet’s own gardens at Hummelo, and on visits to his signature public works in New York, Chicago, and the Netherlands, as well as to the far-flung locations that inspire his genius, including desert wildflowers in West Texas and post-industrial forests in Pennsylvania.

As a narrative thread, the film also follows Oudolf as he designs and installs a major new garden at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, a gallery and arts center in Southwest England, a garden he considers his best work yet.

Piet Oudolf has radically redefined what gardens can be. As Rick Darke, the famous botanist, says to Piet in the film, “your work teaches us to see what what we have been unable to see.” Through poetic cinematography and unique access, FIVE SEASONS will reveal all that Piet sees, and celebrate all that we as viewers have been unable to see.

There will be a short talk from Hestercombe’s Head Gardener Claire Greenslade and refreshments will be available.

Lost Property From the Coach Trip

Despite the driver’s very clear request, I found a man’s jacket left on the rack.  It was about one third of the way from the front of the coach on the near side.  It is a light weight jacket cream(ish) in colour, size 42 chest and probably belongs to one of our elder men since the label is Canda i.e C&A so it is probably all of 30 years old!

Unfortunately it contained no wallet with loads of money in it.

Send us an email to reclaim your jacket!

Best wishes, Roy

Sudely Castle Coach Trip Reminder

Our coach trip in June is approaching. If you would like to go there are plenty of places available on the coach, so just contact me the usual email address, please.

Janet Murley

Thursday 20th June

Coach Trip to Sudeley Castle and Gardens.

Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, is buried at Sudeley, and the garden reflects the castle’s Tudor heritage.  Of nine individual garden areas, the centrepiece is The Queen’s Garden, famous for its abundant roses which are at their peak in June. There is a Knot Garden, designed according to a pattern on a dress worn by Elizabeth I, and also a Rare Breeds Pheasantry, conserving a variety of beautiful and gloriously-coloured birds. The Tudor Physic Garden originally provided the household with culinary and medicinal plants.

There is a restaurant and a cafe on site.