Seavington Gardening Club: Rosy Hardy

A talk by the most decorated female exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show, with 23 gold medals to date. Rosy and her husband Rob have turned their Hampshire-based nursery into one of the UK’s leading nurseries, with an unrivalled selection of over 1,200 herbaceous perennials. Rosy will draw on her vast experience to look at attributes of different plants, how to grow them, how to combine them for wonderful combinations, and how to avoid common pitfalls.

When and Where

  • 10th October 2019 at 7.30 pm in the Millennium Hall, Seavington St Mary, TA19 0QH
  • Visitors welcome, £2 payable at the door. For more information contact Karen Day 01460 249728

Plants for Sale

Rosy will be bringing plants for sale but you can also place an order online then she will bring your plants to the meeting. To do this please follow the steps below:

  • Visit their website
  • Select the plants you want and once you are ready to complete your order tick the box marked COLLECTION (CLICK & COLLECT FREE)
  • Then proceed with the order by completing all your details
  • When you come to the ORDER REVIEW page you will find a comments box.
  • In this box please write ‘to collect from Rosy’s talk at Seavington Gardening Club on Thursday 10th October’.

PoTM: Toad Lilies and Cuckoo Flowers

The temple gardens of Japan are renowned throughout the world for their raked gravel, well placed rocks, and no plants. At least, very few. Such occasional plants are placed strategically, singly, designed to engage the visitor with their enigmatic immediacy.

Each plant is native: cherry, chrysanthemum, wisteria; it is symbolic; and it celebrates a season.

Tricyrtis is just such a plant. The Toad Lily, to use its English common name, is called ‘hototogisu’ in Japanese, an onomatopoeic word for the cuckoo whose spotted chest the flower is thought to resemble. But it is the delicacy and complexity of the flower structure that appealed to the Zen monks who made the temple gardens. They found in it a metaphor for life itself. And in Zen poetry, ‘haiku’, the tricyrtis indicates the late summer whose days are shortening into autumn.

And here, in northern Europe, these Japanese tricyrtis flower during that long lean gap in any shady garden between the last of the foxgloves and astrantias, and the first of the snowdrops and hellebores. It accompanies Hydrangea serrata, Japanese anemones and soft lush ferns from August to October, and merits a position close to the path, the better to examine the flowers more closely.

And what intricate flowers they are! From fat, flat-bottomed buds a ruff of six petals opens, in some species spotted, in others plain. The reproductive parts of the flower, the stamens and the stigma, are supported on an elongated style above the level of the petals. When the flower is pollinated, the whole corolla drops away leaving a shining green seed capsule the same shape as the bud.

The most commonly grown tricyrtis in this country, T.formosana stolonifera, the ‘Toad Lily’, is, however, native to Taiwan. There it spreads by the roots in moist, loose, leafy soil in light shade. It has typical spotted flowers, and is easy to grow in the right conditions. Tricyrtis hirta grows wild on shady rocks in the wooded mountains of Japan, arching down to present its paler, spotted flowers over light green, slightly hairy leaves. And Japan is home to many other species of tricyrtis, among them T.macropoda with recurved white flowers and pink spots. This plant is called ‘yama-hototogisu’ in Japanese, the ‘mountain tricyrtis’.

There are some golden yellow species that are also worth seeking out from the specialist nurseries. Tricyrtis latifolia has, as its name suggests, leaves as wide as saucers, setting off yellow flowers that are speckled chestnut brown. It would trail prettily down a shady bank or over rocks or down a wall.

So try a few tricyrtis under a light tree canopy where the soil keeps its moisture without getting boggy. Dot a few, discreet, slug-pubs about. Slugs and snails are lager-louts: they prefer beer to beauty.

And you too will surely get hooked on toads, or should that be cuckoos?

Sally Gregson

September 2019

Last Call: Bicton Coach Trip on September 17th

Tuesday 17th September

Coach trip to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens.

Once recognised as being one of the finest gardens in England, Bicton Park is set on a hillside leading down to formal water gardens with canals, fountains, a small stream and a large lake. A fernery and rock gardens are overlooked by a flint stone hut which houses a shell collection. The pinetum and arboretum boast over 1,000 trees, including 25 Champion (exceptional specimen) Trees, and the drive to the nearby college is flanked by an extraordinary avenue of monkey puzzles. One of the main features of Bicton park is the semi-circular Palm House, built in the 1820s, which predates the one at Kew by 20 years and comprises Tropical, Arid, and Temperate Houses.

There is a restaurant on site.


Please download the booking form here and return to Janet Murley as instructed.

Gardens of the National Trust – Study Day

The Professional Horticulture Group (South West) invites you to ‘Gardens of the National Trust’ on September 25th.

A study day involving:

  • A conducted tour of Barrington Court gardens by the Horticulture Team
  • A buffet lunch in Barrington Village Hall
  • A talk by NT Gardens Adviser Ian Wright “Gardens: our living works of art opportunities & challenges in caring for the National Trust portfolio
    of diverse gardens and cultivated plants


  • 10.30. Assemble in the car park at Barrington Court, Ilminster, TA19 0NQ for registration and coffee
  • 11.00. Welcome by the Horticulture Team, followed by tours of the Walled Garden and the famous ornamental gardens.
  • 12.30. Assemble at Barrington Village Hall, TA19 0JE, for a buffet/
    finger lunch.
  • 13.30. Introduction by the PHG Chairman, Professor Geoff Dixon, to the afternoon session and welcome to our speaker:
  • IAN WRIGHT AHRHS FCIHort, Conservation Manager and Lead Adviser for the National Trust, SW
    • Gardens: our living works of art — Opportunities and Challenges in caring for the National Trust’s portfolio of gardens and cultivated plants”. Afterwards there will be ample time for discussion.
  • 4.00 Conclusion and tea


The Professional Horticulture Group (South West) had its origins in the Institute of Horticulture, where senior Founder members and Fellows based in the south west formed their own group.

The Group includes a variety of professional horticultural practitioners who are keen to visit centres of horticultural excellence, and to share and cascade their knowledge and skills.

On this occasion they wish to invite keen and experienced gardeners to join them for this special event.


Use the form below to notify the PHG of your interest. Upon acceptance, instructions and the £20 fee are described below.






Events of interest at Hestercombe Gardens – autumn

Cuttings Workshop
Monday 9th September, 10am – 12.30pm
£25 per person + half price garden entry

Join head gardener Claire Greenslade for a morning’s workshop. She’ll share her expert tips and you’ll be able to take some cuttings from Hestercombe’s gardens home with you.


Gardens Drawing Workshop
Tuesday 17th September, 10am – 3pm
£75 per person, includes lunch

Learn to draw with charcoal.
See the gardens in a way you’ve never seen them before in this workshop with Gemma Lane from Green Fox Workshops. Suitable for beginners and intermediate. Lunch and refreshments included, see website for more details.


International Garden Photographer of the Year: Images of a Green Planet
18th September – 20th November
Normal garden admission applies, free to members

Hestercombe is pleased to welcome the International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition 2019.

From September 18th – November 20th come and enjoy this outdoor exhibition of botanical imagery from the selected winners.

The competition which is open to amateurs and professionals worldwide followed the theme
Help us celebrate the beauty and importance of a green planet.

The stunning images range from plant portraits to fantastical botanical landscapes – they all inspire us to see the value, beauty and importance of a green planet.

Selected winners are exhibited at the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew each February and then tour to locations across the UK, Europe and worldwide, including Hestercombe Gardens!

Categories included:

The Beauty of Plants; Beautiful Gardens; The Bountiful Earth; Wildflower Landscapes; Greening the City; Wildlife in the Garden; Trees, Woods & Forests; Breathing Spaces; Abstract Views.


Deer in a Day: Christmas Willow Workshop
£95 per person including materials, lunch and refreshments

Expert willow weaver Sarah Webb will guide you through the process of creating a beautiful willow deer at this fun workshop.

Take your deer home to display in your garden or use it as a festive decoration.

Enjoy tea, coffee and mince pies while you work in the Bampfylde Hall and a delicious two-course lunch will be served at the halfway point of your exciting project.

The workshop is suitable for beginners with no prior knowledge of weaving.


Agapanthus Offers from Ro FitzGerald

Ro FitzGerald, still needing to lighten her plants load before a potential house move, has a number of Agapanthus which could be divided this autumn. Some have plenty of spare bulbs which will be inexpensive, ‘lost label’ plants even more of a bargain than named varieties. email for photographs, or for a time to come and see them. Could deliver to an autumn meeting.

PoTM August: Gladiolus

Some years ago the late, great Christopher Lloyd sprung a shock on us gardeners. He started to use that seriously maligned, deeply unfashionable plant, the Dahlia, in his traditional herbaceous borders. And very soon they became the latest, trendy ‘new kids on the block’. The gardening world was taken by storm. However there are still one or two plants that seem to be the epitome of bad taste, notably the Gladiolus.

I first acquired a plant/bulb of the glorious, and hardy, Gladiolus ‘Ruby’ from the much-mourned Hadspen Nursery run by Nori and Sandra Pope. It is clearly a cross between G. papilio, with its globular shape, and a.n.other strong ruby-red gladiolus. I planted it in a very sunny part of the garden, adding a layer of horticultural grit at the bottom of the planting hole. ‘Ruby’ powers up through clumps of pink-and-white Lychnis coronaria and catches every eye throughout August. She is utterly gorgeous.

I have also tried Gladiolus byzantinus with its dusty magenta spires in April and May. But all too often the badger gets to them before they flower.
And I do not fail to grow a pot of the heavily scented G. murielae (Acidanthera murielae) from Abyssinia to put by my seat in autumn. Last year I attempted, yet again, to over-winter the bulbs to repeat-flower. I took them out of the pot, sorted out the bigger bulbs, and left them in my sunny, frost-free glasshouse to ripen. But they did not even try to perform.

This year I have planted some of the more conventional, tender, ‘glads’ not only in the cut-flower garden, but also in my borders. It’s a steep learning curve. They certainly bring a pizazz to ornamental grasses. They seem happy. But. Quite often the lengthening shoots have to twist their way around the neighbours. Sometimes they get quite tangled up and flower from curled stalks on the ground. They clearly like their own space in the sun. The recommendation is to regard them as summer-flowering tulips, so I will lift them in autumn to prevent dozens of mini-bulbs growing where once there was one, and store them in a frost-free shed. I shall keep trying. I will not give up.

Sally Gregson
August 2019

PotM: Border Phlox – July 2019

One of the stalwarts of the English cottage garden in July is the Border Phlox. Those sturdy, upright stems with their spicy scented flowers have been a favourite since Victorian times. Phlox paniculata was introduced into the UK from the USA in the early 1800s as a garden plant. It originates in the eastern states of North America, growing at the edge of woodland, often on the banks of streams, which indicates their preferred environment: rich but draining soil, in sun or a little light shade.

Over the years the old cultivars have often succumbed to mildew in a close, damp summer, and more seriously, to Phlox Stem and Leaf Eelworm. This manifests itself on the plant as brown, twisted leaves, and sometimes split stems. The only recourse is to dig it up, bag it, and bin it. The eelworm does not affect the roots, so root cuttings can be taken in late winter, with moderate success.

But far better, and more successful, would be to clear a different area of the border in winter (it’s too easy to leave a little bit of stem or leaf in the soil), incorporate lots of organic matter and plant some of the gorgeous new varieties. These are often more mildew-resistant, and providing they are bought from a professional grower they should be clean of eelworm.

Of the new varieties there are one or two that are becoming very popular, and with good reason. Phlox paniculata ‘David’ is a highly-scented, strong-growing variety that is resistant to mildew and its porcelain white heads repeat until the autumn.

Phlox paniculata ‘Rosa Pastell’ carries large loose heads of pale, flesh pink flowers from darker buds until September. It has an especially strong perfume, is vigorous and easy to grow. And Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ is especially sought after for its ‘blue’ flowers, the colour of a stormy sky at dusk. It marries well with the mauve spikes of Veronicastrum virginicum, and is exceptional with pink forms of Hydrangea macrophylla in a little light shade.

Once the early summer bloomers are over: the Iris sibirica, the early Thalictrums; and the first Geraniums and perennial poppies, have been cut back, then clumps of tall Border Phlox will carry the border through into the autumn, filling the garden with that unique scent, humming with bees, and dancing with butterflies.

Sally Gregson
July 2019

Somerset Wildlife Trust – Open Gardens

With an estimated 124,500 gardens in Somerset, covering 19 square kilometres of the county, the gardens of Somerset have huge potential for nature. So Somerset Wildlife Trust are developing an open gardens programme in order to inspire people to make their own gardens more friendly towards wildlife, as well as to raise funds for the Trust.

Sunday 4th August 2019, 11am – 4pm : Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Badbury Flower Company

Helen Toon

Badbury Flower Company are opening their flower gardens in aid of Somerset Wildlife Trust. This is a truly inspiring place to visit and everyone will leave wanting to be a Flower Farmer. Ticket sales are kindly being donated to Somerset Wildlife Trust, and proceeds from other stalls are going towards the Isle Abbotts village hall. The garden is wheelchair accessible, however there are grassy paths and uneven ground. Tickets £4.
Badbury Dairy House, Isle Abbotts, TA3 6RS
More information:

Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Hillcrest

Garden viewings by prior arrangement between March and September

Charles and Charlotte Sunquist

Hillcrest is a 5-acre garden with so many special places within it that everyone can find a perfect spot to sit and contemplate. The lawn is the most formal part of the garden but is perfect for cartwheels! It has incredible far reaching views overlooking the Somerset Levels. You can see Glastonbury Tor and Burrow Mump but Hillcrest has its own standing stone if you would like something even closer. There is a very large wild flower meadow leading down to an enormous wildlife pond full of dragonflies. There are bee hives to visit too with a bee expert on hand to answer any questions you may have about these essential visitors to our gardens.
Hillcrest, Curload, Stoke St Gregory, Taunton, Somerset, TA3 6LA

More information: 01823 490852 or email

Somerset’s Wildlife Garden: Broomclose

Garden viewings by prior arrangement between April and September

Nicky Ramsay

A large wildlife-friendly garden with a huge array of plants for pollinators and with views over the Vale of Porlock to the sea.

To arrange a visit, please contact Nicky or David Ramsay. Broomclose, Porlock, Minehead, Somerset TA24 8NU

More information: 01643 862078 or email