Reminder: Group Plant Sale at West Monkton Village Hall – April 27th

The HPS Somerset Group’s yearly Plant Sale takes place this coming Saturday 27th, from 10am to 12.30pm.  There will be a wide variety of plants available, including herbaceous perennials, shrubs, annuals and biennials, all designed to add colour and interest to your borders.

All donated plants will be gratefully received on the day, just bring them along on Saturday morning and they will be added to the Group Table.

It is useful to have clear and accurate labelling  – customers are far less likely to buy a plant when they can’t identify it – so please put the genus and species or variety on the label, if you know it.  If you don’t know the species or variety, then the genus and flower colour would be better than nothing.

Erythronium – April 2019

For years I wrestled with Erythroniums. Not physically, but mentally. There seemed to be no pleasing them; they flowered gloriously in their first spring but thereafter they disappeared. Forever.

I could grow E. ‘Pagoda’, with its upturned, golden petals like the eponymous Chinese temple, but it was the other, stunningly beautiful varieties that seemed to hate anything I did to them. Until, that is, I met the late Joan Loraine.

One April an old friend and I arranged to visit her fabled woodland garden, Greencombe, in Porlock, where Exmoor meets the sea, in search of Epimediums. Of those we found a very few, but the wooded slopes were dizzy with Erythroniums: pink, white, lemon-yellow; they danced in the light breeze which rippled through the trees.

It is an acid garden. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that the pH of my own soil might not be suitable for them, but when we spoke, Joan explained how she grew them to perfection; such perfection that some were self-seeding around the mother plant.

Firstly, Joan took advantage of the gentle sloping site by excavating a depression and filling it with a mixture of soil and composted leaf-mould. This meant that each plant had its own supply of moist, but draining, soil. Then in went each precious plant. It flowered, set seed, and then retreated for the summer. It worked; I still have an exquisite plant of E. ‘Winifred Lorraine’. And it is increasing.

Sally Gregson
February 2019

Meeting Reminder: Saturday 13th April, Kevin Hughes ‘Joy in the Spring Garden’

Saturday 13th April – 11.00am

Kevin Hughes – ‘Joy in the Spring Garden’

Kevin recently purchased Cally Gardens in Scotland, previously owned by the esteemed plant hunter Michael Wickenden.  Kevin is renowned for the interesting range of plants that he has collected, bred and developed, many of which are not well known or widely available.  As many of you already know, he is an engaging speaker and a veritable mine of information.  In this lecture, Kevin will revel in the fresh green foliage and jewel-like flowers of spring.

Plants for Sale

Colour in the Margins, led by Plantlife

Good Afternoon,

I hope this email finds you well. My name is Zoe Morrall and I am the Outreach Officer for a HLF funded national project called Back from the Brink, working on one of the umbrella projects called Colour in the Margins, led by Plantlife

The project aims to raise awareness of arable habitats and how modern farming practices such as use of herbicides and pesticides and changes in farming are threatening this habitat. This project is focusing on 13 species; 10 plants and 3 ground beetles. The project aims to develop ways to introduce and manage for these species and will bring them back to suitable sites

The project is looking for volunteers to help us survey for arable plants on farmland within our six project areas: Cornwall & Devon, Somerset, Wessex, Breckland, Kent and Yorkshire. These surveys will help to build on our records by mapping species distribution, highlighting patterns of decline and identifying sites in need of focused conservation management. We will be supporting volunteers at every botanical skill level with training workshops and going out with Project Staff to learn hands on.

The next event we have local to you is on the 9th June:

If you would like to circulate the following link to your volunteers, they can register their interest in the project by receiving our monthly newsletter so they can find out more about the project and events that are running in their area;

We also have a Facebook Group anyone can join to find out more about the project too:

To find out more about the Back from the Brink project which is being led by Plantlife, please head to our website –

Thank you for your time,

Zoe Morrall

Colour in the Margins Outreach Officer

Be On TV: Love Your Garden


My name is Anna & I work on Alan Titchmarsh’s garden makeover show, ‘Love Your Garden’. We redesign and makeover the gardens of families across the country. This year we are trying something new and want to inspire the UK to do more DIY gardening projects at home.

We are looking to follow DIY/novice gardeners/residents and any upcoming domestic garden projects they want to do at home themselves ( not community projects) or on alltoments. We are hoping to follow them over a 6-8 period.

Below are some potential new builds we would ideally like to follow, although we are open to new ideas!

  • Wildlife pond
  • Flower meadow from seed
  • Unusual raised bed project eg out of furniture?
  • Vertical gardens perhaps in a limited space, on a roof terrace perhaps?
  • To find a novice gardener who is willing to let us set up a new build in their space and willing to take care of it for
  • 6-8 weeks and do a video diary for us
  • A naturalistic kid’s den or play area
  • Make their shed look prettier with edible vines

I wondered if you could kindly help with my search by forwarding this on to any of your gardening contacts in the UK? If anyone Is interested in this project, my contact details are below. Ideally it would be great if they emailed me photos of their garden, and a description of the project they are doing/want to start.

Anna Altounyan | Assistant Producer

Spun Gold TV | 2nd & 3rd Floor | Cranmer House | 39 Brixton Road | London SW9 6DZ

Mob: +44(0)751 859 8002 | Work: +44(0)20 7065 6927

Exmoor Lost Gardens: John Knight Spring Lecture

  • Wednesday 10 April at 2:30pm
  • Exmoor Lost Gardens: John Knight Spring Lecture given by Rob Wilson-North
  • Monks Yard, Horton Cross, Ilminster, TA19 9PY

Somerset Gardens Trust is holding a talk on the lost garden of the Knight family at Simonsbath. The garden was laid out in the 1820s but was never completed. Its creator was the cousin of Richard Payne Knight and a leading proponent of the “picturesque” movement. The Exmoor garden seems to have followed the same principles. Knight’s activities had a significant impact on the Exmoor landscape. On an estate once comprising some 20,000 acres, he built farms, an estate wall 29 miles long, roads and canals, as well as developing gardens at Ashcombe (which is in Somerset).

Rob Wilson-North is a landscape archaeologist who specialised in the study of abandoned gardens before settling on Exmoor. He is the Head of Conservation & Access for the Exmoor National Park Authority.

Tickets £15 to include tea and cake.  Please email you would like to go.

East Lambrook Manor Plant Fair 2019

The HPS Early Spring Plant Fair at ELM was a great success.  Prior to the gates opening at 10am, the lane had a queue of hundreds of people, and soon afterwards the carpark was filled to capacity.

Many thanks to all those who manned the gate, those who manned the SHPS plant stall, anyone who contributed plants for our stall, and finally to the Werkmeisters for hosting the event.

For those that couldn’t make it, the video below will give you an insight (including some thoughts from our ex-Chairman).

Sally Gregson,
SHPS Plant Fair Coordinator

Help requested for placing signage around April 27th

From Pauline Foster:

I am ordering 8 road side adverts for our forthcoming Annual Plant Sale to be erected within a fairly local radius of the village hall. I will need some helpers to put the signs up. The locations are A38 about 500 yards away from the junction with the A3259 in the Bridgwater direction; A358 past Henlade on both sides of the road ; A3259 Yallands Hill on both sides heading towards and away from Taunton and, finally, somewhere on the new housing estate at Monkton Heathfield. I don’t have a road number for that one. We will also need the loan of a staple gun to attach the signs to the wooden stakes which I will obtain. My intention is to have the signs and paraphernalia with me at the next meeting, 13th April. Hopefully there will be a merry band of helpers on hand!

Thanks, Pauline.

Final Call for Somerset Group Irish Gardens Holiday 2019

I shall soon need to send all the booking information to the tour operator. We still have a few places available on the trip (including some single rooms) so if you are thinking of booking please do so very soon. After mid April there will be no guarantee that there will be a room available for you, even if there is space on the coach, but please enquire if still interested after this time.

Until the end of March I can accept your booking with a £50 deposit and the following information:

  1. Full name (as on passport) and title;
  2. Date of Birth and Nationality;
  3. Room type required (single, double or twin);
  4. Pick up point required (see;
  5. ravel Insurance required? Yes/no.
  6. Any special requirements? (dietary, wheelchairs/walking aids, ground floor room required etc).
  7. Your e mail address and home address

After 31 March 2019 all bookings must be accompanied by the full payment of £535.00 (plus an additional £135 for each single room booked). All other balance payments are due by 20 April 2019.

The itinerary is as follows:

  • 10 June 2019 – 10:00hrs – Guided Tour of June Blake’s Garden;
  • 10 June 2019 – 13:30hrs – Lunch at Jimi Blake’s (for an additional 12 Euros to be paid on the day) followed by a Guided Tour of Jimi Blake’s Garden, Hunting Brook Gardens, followed by tea/coffee & cakes
  • 11 June 2019 – 10:30hrs – Knockrose Garden;
  • 11 June 2019 – 13.30hrs – Lunch stop at Avoca, Kilmacanoge, followed by Valclusa Gardens & Nursery (2 Euros per person entrance payable locally)
  • 12 June 2019 – 10:00hrs – Corke Lodge Garden;
  • 12 June 2019 – 13:30hrs – Dublin Botanical Gardens (lunch at DBG cafe);
  • 13 June 2019 – 10:30hrs – 90 minute guided tour of Mount Usher Gardens (lunch at cafe).

All entrance fees are included (except Valclusa who are asking for a 2 Euro donation on arrival which goes to an environmental charity). Lunches are at your own expense. All timings are approximate.

Thanks, Jane Hunt.