Garden Visits on February 24th

February 24th – Visit to two Dartmoor Gardens 

Our first visits of the year are just 3 weeks away; another encouraging sign that spring really is on its way! 

Our first stop is at Higher Cherubeer, near Winkleigh on the edge of Dartmoor.  This is a naturalistic woodland garden with national collections of snowdrops and species cyclamen.  These are set among numerous winter-flowering shrubs and many salix and cornus whose winter stems enhance this impressive early spring garden which sits so comfortably in its surrounds.  Our hostess Jo Hynes will give us an introduction to the garden and be on hand to answer any queries.   There should be plants on sale and tea/coffee and cake will be served.

There have recently been (at least) 2 good articles on this garden which can be viewed from the following links:

Our second visit of the day is to Stone Lane Gardens near Chagford, an RHS partner garden, where we can see their National Collection of birches in all their winter glory.  Although we miss the usual sculpture garden for which Stone Lane is also well known, the sight of the birches, some maybe already with their catkins, but still with their stark leafless silhouettes and bright trunks, should be memorable.  The head gardner Paul Bartlett, will give us an introduction and history of the garden.  Tea/coffee and biscuits will be served and pre-ordered trees can be collected – not too big though we shall only be in a mini-bus!

Their website is :

The bus will leave Taunton Hankridge Farm (just off the M5) at 8.30 and we expect to be back at approximately 4.30pm.  If there is sufficient demand we could also stop at the service station next to the Tiverton exit of the M5 to collect/put down passengers.  Stout footwear will be in order, and probably waterproofs too, being Dartmoor in February.  Packed lunches should also be brought as there are no other catering facilities available on the day.  Both venues however have loos for our use! 

If you have any other queries about the visit please contact Kate Harris at or
to book please contact Penny Berry Tel 01278 662 720 or email

Flower Competitions

Helen and Roy Stickland got in touch to help clarify the flower competitions we run.

The rules of the competitions are as follows.  Members are invited to bring a flower and/or a pot plant to each of our seven meetings at West Monkton Village Hall throughout the calendar year.  The entries will be judged by our guest speakers and the top three in each section will be awarded points:  3 for 1st, 2 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd.  Points will be accumulated during the year, and the overall winners will receive gardening vouchers as their prize. 

  1. For the flower section, the requirement is a single flower (usually displayed in a vase) if that is how the plant grows, e.g. a narcissus or a dahlia.  If it is a flowering shrub, for example with clusters of flowers along the stem, then it is the whole stem that you display.  The point is that it is not a flower arranging exhibit, so multiple blooms or stems are not what we are looking for.  If you are an Ikebana fiend then you’ll know, of course, that even a single bloom may be displayed artistically!
  2. For the pot plant section, much the same rule applies. The requirement is for a single plant growing in a pot.  For a plant that naturally produces little offsets all around the central growth, as many succulents do, you do not have to remove all the offsets!
  3. During January to April there is an additional category of a cut flower from a bulb.

Bring something along for the Jan 14th meeting to liven up the room.


Meeting reminder: Charles Chesshire and The Art of Dishevelment

On Saturday 14th of January at 11am we resume our monthly meetings.

After a lifetime of travelling the world designing gardens, studying plants, writing and teaching, Charles has settled near Bridport in Dorset where his garden design business is based alongside his rare plant nursery. Charles has been curator of Burford House Gardens and consultant to Sudeley Castle and Sezincote Gardens in Gloucestershire.

This talk is a personal, and occasionally tongue-in-cheek, exploration of the levels of control we assert over our gardens, taking a tour through the garden from perfect order to anarchy, a journey that is part psychological, part historical and part political.

At every meeting we have the Plant of the Month competition. For 2023 we will remind everyone to bring along an offering to expand the competition. Your mission is to bring either a cut flower and / or a pot plant, or both. The competition is usually judged by the Speaker and points awarded towards an annual award at the AGM.

Let’s give Roy and Caroline some competition this year – find your best plants and bring them along on Saturday.

See you on Saturday,


Refreshments rota

Happy New Year to all,

I have arranged refreshment volunteers for our next meeting.

On Saturday there will be a Tea & Coffee volunteer form on the welcome desk for members to add their names & contact details for the remaining meetings this year.

Mike Vernoum

Leaflet Volunteers Needed

Good day everyone, 

Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2023! 

We are still, seeking a few more volunteers to deliver the specialist nurseries leaflets.  Please could you let me know if you would be able to deliver to any of the following nurseries:

Avon BulbsBurnt House Farm, Mid Lambrook, South Petherton, TA13 5HE
Beggars Roost PlantsBeggars Roost, Lilstock, Bridgwater, TA5 1SU.
Broadleigh GardensBarr House, Bishops Hull, Taunton, TA4 1AE
Burrow Farm GardensDalwood, Axminster, Devon, EX13 7ET
C B PlantsLower Severalls Nursery, Crewkerne, TA18 7NX 
Champion PlantsAntiques Bazaar. South Street, Crewkerne, TA18 8AG
Dorset Water LiliesYeovil Road, Halstock, Yeovil, BA22 9RR
Forton NurseryNormans Cross, Forton, Chard, TA20 4HD 
In Clover1 Rose Cottage, Long Lane, Dinder, Wells, BA5 3PH
Kapunda PlantsKapunda, Southstoke Lane, Bath, BA2 5SH 
Longacre PlantsSouth Marsh, Charlton Musgrove, Wincanton BA9 8EX.
Margery Fish NurseryEast Lambrook Manor Gardens, East Lambrook, South Petherton, TA13 5HH
Peake PerennialsHookswood Lane, Farnham, Dorset DT11 8DQ 
Perrie Hale NurseryNorthcote Hill, Honiton, East Devon, EX14 9TH 
Special PlantsGreenways Lane, Cold Ashton, Chippenham, SN14 8LA.
The Blooming Wild NurseryCabbage Lane, Horsington, Templecombe, BA8 0DA
Triffid NurseryThe Nursery, Withy Lane, Oakhill, Radstock, BA3 5SE

The leaflets will be available for collection at our next meeting at Monkton Village Hall on Saturday 14th January at 10:45 hrs, prior to our lecture with Charles Chesshire.

I would like to thank all of you who have already kindly volunteered to deliver to our other specialist nurseries.

Best regards


Somerset HPS Programme 2023

The Programme page on the Somerset HPS website has now been updated for 2023. Click here to read about a range of fascinating speakers coming to give talks from January onwards. There is also a range of garden visits, starting with snowdrops and cyclamen in Devon this February, and of course the Group plant sales and fairs to look forward to.

Happy New Year!

Marion Jay

Help needed: Specialist Nursery Leaflets

The 2023 SHPS Specialist Nursery Leaflets will be ready for distribution at the beginning of January.  Please could you let me know if you are able to deliver leaflets to any of the following nurseries:

11 COVE GARDEN NURSERY – delivery sorted.

I look forward to hearing from you, ideally by 6th January 2023, please use the form below to get in touch with me directly.

Season’s greetings!

Many thanks.


Zoom Talk: “A Year in John’s Garden” by Nigel Hopes, Head Gardener, Ashwood Nurseries

Scottish and Northern Borders Group of the Hardy Plant Society

Zoom Talk – Tuesday 17 Jan 2023, 7pm for 7.30pm

“A Year in John’s Garden” by Nigel Hopes, Head Gardener, Ashwood Nurseries

In this talk, Nigel Hopes provides a Head Gardener’s behind the scenes tour of John Massey’s Private Garden at Ashwood Nurseries, with highlights through the year and plenty of practical advice. Nigel did his work experience at Ashwood Nurseries, and then went on to study horticulture, becoming a student at Birmingham Botanical Gardens and built up a huge knowledge in his time there, enriching his work with placements at RHS Garden Wisley and a plant hunting trip to South Africa.

“John’s Garden” at Ashwood Nurseries is a wonderful three acre private garden created by nursery owner and Chelsea Gold medallist John Massey VMH. Informal borders, island beds, woodland dells and a wildlife garden are set against the beautiful backdrop of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

Regarded as one of the finest private gardens in the UK, there are magnificent collections of trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and conifers adding to the interest all year round with an abundance of rare plants as well as familiar favourites.

John’s garden has now become his sanctuary, as well as a trial ground for his many plant passions. He firmly believes that a garden should be “somewhere you want to go every day of the year,” and he doesn’t subscribe to the idea of putting the garden to bed for winter.

The cost of the lecture is £5. Payment should be made by Bank Transfer if possible

1. Bank details are

  • Bank of Scotland HPS Scotland
  • Sort code 80-22-60
  • Account number: 17144166
  • Reference: Zoom Nigel 23

2. Email Marjorie Anderson with your name, email, and telephone number when you have made the payment.

You will receive an email from her with login details a few days before the lecture. Please check your spam folder if you have not received it

If you need to pay by cheque email Marjorie Anderson for details

The deadline for payment is 12th January

Your Committee

Following the 2022 AGM, the updated committee list is below. This group give their time enabling the group to run successfully:

  • Chair – Caroline Reeves
  • Secretary – Jane Hunt
  • Treasurer – Neil Morse
  • Speakers Secretary – Hester Messom
  • Visits Organiser – Kate Harris
  • Visits Bookings – Penny Berry 
  • Publicity and Marketing – Kay Savage 
  • Meet and Greet – Maralyn Norman
  • Refreshments Rota – Mike Vernoum
  • Noticeboard – Dick and Sue Sheppard 
  • Newsletter Editor – Vacant (Caroline Reeves caretaking)
  • Plant Fairs – Vacant (Jane Hunt caretaking)
  • Nursery List – Angela Summers
  • Website & Emails – Bill Hodgson

You can see we have two vacancies, for which we need help.

Plant Fairs

The work to organise our annual plant fairs is vital. The plant fairs raise the most money of any activity and enable us to have speakers like Fergus Garrett. We need someone to get involved to take on the plant fairs, for which you will have the support of others on the Committee, and enable the group to remain fully funded in the coming year.

The work involves sending emails, making phone calls, and handling the arrangements following a pattern which we repeat each year. If you can handle basic admin and could take this on, please get in touch.


For simplicity we aren’t producing a printed newsletter at the moment, making this role easier. What we need is someone with an interest in plants who will solicit, edit and send articles to the website for publication. Whilst this has happened on a semi-annual basis before to suit a print run, I would suggest this can be an on-going activity as we can distribute news easily and at any time via the website.

Full help will be given to get you going, you need to be able to send and receive emails, edit articles and then forward them to Bill for publishing. If you can find time during your year to give the group an on-going source of news and plant knowledge then please get in touch.

Website tweaks

I have recently updated the naming of the group on the website, partly due to ignorance. Our official name in the group constitution is The Hardy Plant Society Somerset Group, which is now correct in various places. I’ve also updated the home page photos from those in 2017 to some taken at the 2022 AGM.

From myself and all the committee, we hope you have a good break, and see you in 2023!

Bill Hodgson