Website appearance


I discovered that the styling for our website (which uses a pre-made theme) had reached the end of it’s life according to WordPress. As a result this removed one feature regarding placing images into news items which we can’t do without.

As a result the site has undergone a small makeover and changed appearance.  This has also caused the image of Somerset to mismatch with the new home page.

If any member has a suitable wide and narrow image of something in Somerset we could use to make a new home page header, please send it over.

Hopefully the change of appearance won’t cause too may sleepless nights.

Best wishes, Bill.

Abigail Willis ~ The Remarkable Case of Dr. Ward and other Amazing Garden Innovations

Secateurs and seed banks, ha-has and herbaceous borders, greenhouses and lawnmowers – these are the some of the inventions and ideas we take for granted now, but which were once radical new ideas. “The Remarkable Case of Dr Ward and Other Amazing Gardening Innovations” looks at the way we garden today through the prism of 50 innovations.

Abigail Willis is an arts and gardening writer whose previous book “The London Garden Book A-Z” has twice been shortlisted for the Garden Media Guild’s Inspirational Book of the Year award. She lives and gardens in Somerset.

“A rollicking potted history of horticulture from the Roman Empire to the inspired innovators of the 19th century.” Amateur Gardening

Abigail is appearing on May 30th at 14:00 at Ilminster Literary Festival, more details here.

Further Sylvagrow News

Sylvagrow compost is also available at Cove Nursery (between Tiverton and Bampton) full details on our HPS nurseries list.

Regards, Kate Harris

Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil stock Sylvagrow multipurpose and will deliver free within 25 miles, no minimum order and payment taken over the phone if you don’t want to visit the garden centre in person.

Steve Fry

Peat Free Compost

Being a determinedly peat-free gardener, I have been very keen to find a source for Melcourt’s ‘Sylvagrow’ composts in Somerset. They are acknowledged to be much the best in this category, in particular the ‘Sylvagrow with added John Innes’ (which handles just beautifully as well as being an excellent growing medium), but it’s hard to find a retailer locally as most places only sell the cheaper brands such as Westland. I’ve been thrilled to find that Sanders (the big garden centre at Brent Knoll) is stocking the range, and they have plenty. I hope some of you will try it – this firm really is leading the field to produce positively excellent peat alternatives, and I believe they deserve our support.

Ro Fitzgerald

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