Somerset HPS Ireland Trip 2019

As the Group celebrates its 25th anniversary we have a treat planned for 2019: a trip to southern Ireland from 9 to 14 June by luxury coach. Our tour operator will be SwanTours of Devon ( have offered us multiple pick up points en route so hopefully no-one will have to travel too far to meet the coach.

We will be staying in three star hotels – the Wilton Hotel, Bray for the first four nights, moving to the Maldron Hotel, Wexford for our final night. There will be a full programme of garden visits in between and perhaps an opportunity to spend an afternoon enjoying the sights of Dublin. Gardens to be visited include Jimi Blake’s Garden, Huntingbrook, June Blake’s garden, Carmel Duignan’s Garden, Corke Lodge Garden and Mount Usher Garden.

The cost of the holiday will be £535 per person sharing a twin or double room. Some single rooms are available at a supplement of £135 per person. This is on a half board basis. The cost includes all entrances and admissions*, luxury coach travel and return ferry crossings. Insurance is available at an additional cost of £30 per person.

We need to confirm our reservation with the holiday company as soon as possible so £50 deposit is required per person booking (cheques made payable to “Hardy Plant Society Somerset Group”). Please send to Jane Hunt, Frogs Hole Farm, Brinscombe, Weare, Somerset, BS26 2LH with the following additional information for each person booking:

  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. Travel Insurance required? Yes/no.
  6. Any special requirements? (dietary, wheelchairs/walking aids, ground floor room required etc).
  7. Your e mail address or a stamped addressed envelope.

Friends and relatives are welcome to join us for this holiday. Please just ensure that I receive their details as above plus address and telephone number with their deposit.

Please let me know if you have any questions and I will try to help you

Jane Hunt

*I am negotiating an additional garden to be added to the itinerary so there may be a very small increase in cost as a result.


Roy Lancaster Talk – Cakes Opportunity

The special event on Saturday 23 June, when Roy Lancaster will be our guest speaker is in celebration of the Group’s 25th Anniversary.

Around 100 members and visitors have booked places, so we should have a good turnout. Booking is still open. After the talk we will be serving a sort of high tea comprising sandwiches, cakes and tea/coffee. There will also be a celebration cake which we shall ask Roy to cut. Arrangements are in hand for the sandwiches, but I would like to invite members attending the event to bring some ‘nice’ cakes to follow the sandwiches.

We will want to cater for people who have a gluten free requirement and one almond and orange cake has already been promised. One other gluten free of a different kind would enable us to offer a bit of choice. Requests of this kind usually get a good response with people joyfully baking their favourite recipe, and I hope this one will be no exception.

It will be helpful if those who are happy to offer a cake would let Biz Gibbs know what they will bring so that she has some idea what to expect. Contact her at Let’s celebrate your culinary skills as well as Roy Lancaster’s talk and our anniversary.

Apologies for sending this message if you will not be coming on the day.

Volunteers Needed!

We have been offered a stall at the English Country Garden Festival at the Bishop’s Palace at Wells on Sunday 24th June. Roy Stickland will be overseeing the day but he will need help on the stall to tell visitors about the Society and the Group and perhaps sell a plant or two. In return, helpers will receive a free ticket to the event and be able to park in the adjacent exhibitors’ parking area.
If you can help, please would you contact Roy indicating whether you would prefer a two hour morning or afternoon slot.
We have also been asked to provide help on the entrance gate at our Plant Fair at Lower Severalls on 8th July. We therefore need another five or six people to help – especially in the morning. If you are available that day and aren’t already committed to helping on our own plant stall we would welcome offers of help – once again, free entry to the event is your reward! Please would you contact Roy if you can help for a couple of hours on the gate.

Open Gardens

43rd Cerne Abbas Open Gardens (via Jane Hunt)

25 Private Gardens Open June 16th and 17th, from 2-6pm

  • Day ticket to all gardens £7.00
  • Ticket for 2 days £10.00
  • Accompanied children free

Teas in St Mary’s Church from 1:30 pm Plant Stall from 1 pm

Free Car Park (DT2 7GD) open from 11 am

Proceeds divided equally between: Cerne Valley Scout Group & Dorset County Hospital Cancer Appeal


Isle Abbotts Gardens

Historic village dating from Saxon times, located on edge of Somerset Levels with many thatched stone cottages. C13 Grade I listed church is described as ‘The Jewel in the Crown of Somerset Churches’. Open church tower. 3 well-established unique gardens with many exquisite herbaceous borders.

  • Greggs: ⅓-acre garden of many parts, shrubs, borders and vegetable beds joined by winding paths.
  • Monks Orchard: ¾-acre garden developed over 14 yrs. Many large mixed borders with lots of unusual plants. Stunning views. Plants for sale propagated from garden. (Home of our member Maureen Bradshaw)
  • Monks Thatch: Front garden is a charming Elizabethan style topiary herb garden with water features and gazebo. At the rear is a seductive, private exotic paradise water garden with boardwalk, bridge, spiral courtyard and tropical planting.

Visit the church tower and take a train tide too.

Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th June, full details on the NGS website here.


25th Anniversary Lecture | Roy Lancaster

We are privileged to have our President,Roy Lancaster as our guest for our 25th Anniversary Lecture on Saturday 23 June, 2.30 for 3.00 pm.  It is a special event and we would like to have a good crowd to welcome him.  We are issuing invitations to surrounding Groups to join us as visitors.  Members of Somerset Group have free entry, but you must book a place with Janet Murley ( who will send an email confirmation (or a ticket if you book by post) which you should bring with you as an entry pass.  If you do book by post please remember to include SAE for Janet to send you your ticket.

All visitors will be very welcome and the cost for them will be £5.00 which they can pay in advance by cheque sent to Janet (Marigold Cottage, Whitnage, Tiverton EX16 7DT) together with SAE for the return of the ticket.  Visitors arriving without a ticket can pay their £5.00 on the door.

Roy Lancaster’s latest book will be on sale at a discounted price and he will be willing to sign a few copies on the day.  Please let Janet know if you might be tempted to buy a copy so that Roy will have some idea of how many copies to bring.

Roy is always a lively and authoritative speaker with a breathtaking range of knowledge and experience, making this an event not to be missed.

Group Plant Sale 2018

Saturday 28th April – 10.00am – 12.30pm
West Monkton Village Hall Admission: £1

A diverse range of hardy perennials – many unusual – will be on offer at our annual Plant Sale, as well as shrubs, annuals and vegetable plants. Come early to grab a bargain. Everyone is welcome, so bring your friends and relations!

Members can contribute to the plant sale in two ways:

(a) Occupy a table in your own right. If you would like your own table, please contact Roy Stickland. The charge will be £5, payable on the day. This will be waived if you commit to donate all your takings to charity. There are only 16 tables available and they are allocated on a first come, first served basis. NOTE: ALL 16 booked, sorry.

(b) Grow plants to donate to the Group table. If you have plants to donate to the Group table, just bring them along (labelled with the plant name) on the day (please note this is not a 50:50 sale).

Meeting Reminder – Timothy Walker – Saturday 14th April

Saturday 14th April – 11.00am

Timothy Walker – ‘Two For The Price of One’

The former director of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden & Harcourt Arboretum, Timothy Walker is a lively and engaging speaker whose talks are always amusing and informative.  This talk is particularly useful for those of us with small gardens which demand maximum impact and value from the plants grown in them, as it features plants whose characteristics give us two or more reasons to grow them.  Flowers and fruit is an obvious combination but scent, foliage and autumn colour also count.  A useful and entertaining lecture.



The day dawned grey and overcast with intermittent fine drizzle; the previous weekend there had been snow (again) and the following weekend has been the coldest, wettest Easter I can remember in years.  There were local road closures following a devastating fire at a neighbouring property.  All this added up to the most inauspicious start imaginable to our plant fair.  Thankfully the drizzle stopped before the gates opened, and it stayed dry until evening.  So we were very lucky with the weather.  Despite the unpropitious start there was a queue of people at the gates and 907 people had come through by the end of the day. YES! Over 900!  The best ever by an astonishing margin of 25%.  Mike has worked overtime on publicity and, my word, it really paid off, and the result for the Group, taking into account pitch fees and sundries on the day, amounted to just over £720.  As Mike put it so succinctly, it was our best-ever plant fair.  If we work at it we might even top the 1000 next year!

As I chatted to people waiting at the gate, it was clear that we have a great reputation, with some regular visitors looking out for the publicity and making sure to get there promptly.  Not surprisingly, therefore, it was not long before people were seen going out carrying several bags, and a few minutes later waving their entrance ticket to come back for more.  This year we had four additional pitches in an unused part of Mike’s nursery area and this enabled people to visit all the stalls via a circular tour of the site.  This undoubtedly worked very well, and with 20 nurseries on parade it gave the punters plenty of ground to cover.  There was a remarkably good selection of plants available, despite the appalling growing conditions.  It was a tribute to all the nurseries that they could offer such an amazing range of attractive plants.  They went away generally happy with their sales, with some reporting ‘best ever’ results.  I suspect some of the customers had a ‘best ever’ haul!!

Most of the day the place was buzzing, and I must thank everyone who came to help and provided plants for us to sell.  It was all very busy and very rewarding. Here’s to 2019!

Roy Stickland

Photos courtesy of Mike Werkmeister