Meetings and lectures are held at West Monkton Village Hall unless otherwise specified.  All meetings at West Monkton Village Hall are free to members (except for the Group Plant Sale in April), and there is a modest charge of £2 for non-members. The Group has a plant stall and a book stall at most of the lectures listed and holds a Flower & Pot Plant of the Month competition.

Visits & Trips

All coach trips and garden visits must be pre-booked with Penny Berry via email: or phone: 01278 662720.  Penny deals strictly with bookings only, so if you have any queries about a trip or event, please contact Jane Hunt at or phone 01934 732441.  Please refer to Newsletters for further details of trips.

The HPS booking form for this year’s trips and events is available to download and print off here: Somerset HPS Booking Form 2020

Location maps or directions will be supplied following booking a place on an event.

Somerset HPS Programme 2020

A handy one-page, printable version of the 2020 programme is available here.
All other meeting details can be found on the meeting page.
Refreshments are served before the lectures.

Saturday 18th January – 11.00am

David Usher – ‘Gertrude Jekyll: Her Plants and Designs’

David was Head Gardener for 15 years at Hestercombe Gardens, near Taunton, where he restored the gardens to Gertrude Jekyll’s original design from the many drawings that were available to him.  This talk covers Jekyll’s career, from her beginnings in horticulture to the designs which made her one of the most influential women in the history of British gardening.

Plants for Sale

Wednesday 12th February

Winter Social & The Snowdrops of East Lambrook Manor Gardens

East Lambrook Manor Garden entrance and talk – £5.25 per person

We will gather in the Rose & Crown pub opposite East Lambrook Manor Gardens for lunch – a snack or a slap-up dinner (you choose!) and then head over to East Lambrook Manor Gardens at 2.00pm for an introductory talk and to see their growing snowdrop collection.

Saturday 22nd February – 11.00am

Stephen Griffith – ‘Abbotsbury – Past, Present and Future’

Stephen first arrived at Abbotsbury Subtropical Garden in the aftermath of the great storm of 1990, when hundreds of trees were lost.  As Head Gardener, he set about repairing the damage and discovering the history of the garden.  He has since travelled the world in search of new plants, bringing his finds back to thrive in the shelter of Abbotsbury’s microclimate.  Now its Curator, he will guide us around the garden and perhaps inspire us to experiment with more tender plants ourselves.

Plants for Sale

Wednesday 4th March

Coach trip to the Orchid Festival at Kew Gardens

Combined coach and entry price is £36.00 for those aged 60 and over, and £37.70 for everyone else

Immerse yourself in the tropics this winter by exploring the wonders of Indonesia through Kew’s iconic 25th annual orchid festival.  Rainforests and volcanoes will be brought to life inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory through an exotic array of vibrant orchid displays.

Over 5,000 species of orchids can be found in Indonesia, alongside the staggering wildlife found nowhere else on earth.  This year’s festival is a celebration of the cultural and natural diversity that is scattered across the country’s archipelago of 17,504 islands, and the scientific discovery being made by Kew’s intrepid scientists.

As well as visiting the orchids, there will be plenty of time to enjoy the rest that Kew has to offer.

NB – As Kew tickets have to be pre-purchased, there will be no refunds for illness within the last week.  The coach will depart from Hankridge Farm, Taunton and there will also be a pick up at Great Western Rd car park (free) in Clevedon.

Kew Orchid Festival

Saturday 21st March – 11.00am – Cancelled

Dr. Andrew Ward – ‘Marvellous Mints and Perfect Poppies’

Dr Andrew Ward and his wife Helen own and run Norwell Nurseries, near Newark in Nottinghamshire.  They specialise in rare and unusual herbaceous perennials, as well as the more usual choice of plants.  This talk covers a selection of Andrew’s favourites from two diverse plant families, and includes the myriad spires of salvias, ajugas and phlomis contrasting with the diaphanous chalices of papavers, meconopsis and sanguinarias.

Plants for Sale:  Members may pre-order plants direct from Andrew and he will bring them to the meeting.  Email or call 01636 636337 to pre-order.

Saturday 28th March – Cancelled

Somerset HPS Group Early Spring Plant Fair at East Lambrook Manor Gardens

10.00am – 4pm
Entry : £3.50 HPS members  –  £4 non-members

The Spring Plant Fair at East Lambrook Manor Gardens is a highlight of the Somerset HPS year.  With an array of stalls displaying the best of early spring colour, it is hardly surprising that this event is increasing in popularity every year.  The jewel-like colours of spring blooms are such a joy after the long days of winter, and there is such a wide variety available here.  East Lambrook’s own nursery will also be open, with a wonderful range of cottage garden plants on offer.

Refreshments available at the Malthouse Cafe on site.

Saturday 18th April – 11.00am 
– Cancelled

Jane Moore – ‘Colour in the Garden: Clever Colour Combinations’

Jane Moore joined The Bath Priory as Head Gardener in March 2003, bringing her trademark passion, enthusiasm and experience to the hotel’s four acres of walled gardens.  She has received many accolades, including a silver medal at Chelsea in 2003.  In this talk, Jane brings her own broad plant knowledge to bear on sensational colour combinations through the seasons.

Plants for Sale

Saturday 25th April – Cancelled

Somerset Group Plant Sale at West Monkton Village Hall

10.00am – 12.30pm            Entry:  £1.00

Members can contribute to the Plant Sale in two ways: (a) take a table in your own right, or (b) grow plants to donate to the Group table.

If you want your own table, please get in touch with Sally Gregson (contact details on back cover of Newsletter) or use the contact form on this website.  The charge will be £5 for one table and £10 for two, payable on the day.  The £5 fee for one table will be waived if you commit to donate all your takings to charity (not applicable to two tables).  There are only 16 tables available and it’s first come, first served.

If you have good quality plants to donate to the Group table, just bring them along on the day.

Clear and accurate labelling is vital – 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 leaving it blank.

Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd June

Self-Drive Trip to Vellacott, Lawford, Crowcombe, Taunton, TA4 4AL

Entry: £3 per person

You are invited to enjoy the delights of Pat and Kevin Chittenden’s beautiful garden, with wonderful views over the Quantocks.  The Chittendens are anxious not to overcrowd the garden and the limited parking available, so the visit is to be spread over two days and numbers will be limited on each of the days.  Please specify which day you would prefer when booking.

Refreshments will also be available to purchase on the day.

Tuesday 16th June

Self-Drive Visit to Westbrook House, West Bradley, BA6 8LS

Entry: £10 per person, including refreshments

We are visiting Westbrook House, which covers 4 acres with three distinct gardens including a formal layout around the house.  Further away from the house there is also a meadow and orchard with species roses and lilacs.  Planting and layout began in 2004 and continues to the present.

Saturday 4th July

Plant Swap and Lunch – Ann & Peter Owen, Watcombe, 92 Church Road, Winscombe, BS25 1BP

£12 per person

We are very pleased that Ann and Peter Owen will be hosting our ever popular Plant Swap and Lunch in their exquisitely designed garden in Winscombe.  ¾ acre mature Edwardian garden with colour-themed, informally planted herbaceous borders.  Strong framework separating several different areas; a pergola with varied wisteria, unusual topiary, box hedging, lime walk, pleached hornbeams, cordon fruit trees, two small formal ponds and a growing collection of clematis.  Many unusual trees and shrubs and a small vegetable plot.

Attendees are requested to bring a few surplus plants – seedlings, young plants and rooted cuttings – to swap with others.  Numbers will be limited to 30.

Sunday 5th July

Somerset HPS Group Summer Plant Sale at Lower Severalls

10.00am – 4.00pm
Entry : £3.50 HPS members  –  £4 non-members

The Summer Plant Fair at Lower Severalls is not to be missed.  Colourfully stocked stalls flank the avenue, offering late-flowering perennials to fill those awkward gaps in your borders.  This is the place to seek those more unusual plants, and find out how to grow them.  Lower Severalls’ own nursery, CB Plants, will also be open for business.

Wander round the gardens and find a secluded bench on the lawn.  Enjoy tea and a slice of cake in beautiful surroundings.  Take home some new treasures for your garden.

Thursday 30th July

Coach Trip to Broomhill, nr Dorchester, and Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens

£28.50 per person (including tea/coffee and cake at Broomhill)

Following February’s lecture by Stephen Griffith on ‘Abbotsbury – Past, Present and Future’ we will be paying a visit to the gardens.

On the way, we will be visiting Broomhill; once a farmyard, now a delightful, tranquil garden set in 1½ acres.  Island beds and borders are planted with shrubs, roses, masses of unusual perennials and choice annuals to give vibrancy and colour into the autumn. Lawns and paths lead to a less formal area with large wildlife pond, meadow, shaded areas, bog garden and late summer border.

We then make the short journey on to Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens to enjoy the many exotic plantings as well as the collection of hydrangeas, which should be at their best at the time of our visit.

The coach will depart from Hankridge Farm, Taunton and there will also be a pick up at Cartgate service area.

Wednesday 2nd September

Self-Drive Visit to Babbs Farm, Westhill Lane, Bason Bridge, Highbridge TA9 4RF

Entry: £8.50 per person, including refreshments (tea/coffee and cake)

Babbs Farm is a ¾ acre plantsman’s garden on the Somerset Levels, gradually created from fields surrounding an old farmhouse over the last 20 years, and still evolving.  Trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials have been planted with an eye for form and shape in big flowing borders.  There are various ponds (formal and informal), box garden, patio area and conservatory.

Ian and Teresa Moss will be bringing salvias and other plants for sale.

Saturday 19th September – 
Plant Sale 10.00am
Lecture starts at 11.00am

50/50 Plant Sale:  (Hall opens at 9.30am)  followed by:

Charlie Pridham – ‘Climbing Plants’

Charlie and his wife, Liz, run Roseland House Nursery in Chacewater, near Truro, Cornwall where they hold two National Plant Collections: Clematis viticella and Lapageria rosea.  They also grow a great range of other exciting climbing plants and conservatory plants, so this talk should inspire us to cover that bare wall or fence in something unusual and interesting.

The 50/50 Plant Sale prior to the lecture at our September meeting each autumn is a popular event. The Group keeps half the money taken and returns the other half to the seller.  The hall will be open from 9.30am – 10.00am to receive your plants to sell.

Please ensure that each plant has two identical labels, both of them bearing the name of the plant, your name and the price.  One will be removed so that the amount you are owed can be totted up and given to you at the end of the meeting, when you can also reclaim any unsold plants and your labels (tip: write in pencil on the labels so that they may be reused).

Selling will take place between 10.00am and 11.00am, at which point the lecture begins.  Offers of help with selling on the day will be most welcome.

Plants for Sale:  Members may also pre-order plants direct from Charlie Pridham and he will bring them to the meeting.  Email or call 01872 560451 to pre-order.

Saturday 17th October – 11.00am

Sally Gregson – ‘Practical Propagation’

Somerset Group member Sally Gregson runs Mill Cottage Plants, in Wookey.  Together with Bill Hodgson, she created the video on fern propagation for the Somerset Group:  This talk is a purely practical explanation and demonstration of how to make more from your garden, including some ‘tricks of the trade’.  How to get plants for free – what’s not to like?

Saturday 21st November – 10am for 10.30 AGM.

AGM, followed at 11.15am by

Bob Brown ‘My 30 Best Plants’

Some of you may have visited Bob Brown’s nursery, Cotswold Garden Flowers, near Evesham.  His mail-order catalogue is a delight, with pithy comments and marks out of 10 for plants: scores that he changes if a plant fails to live up to its initial grading.  Known for his forthright views and occasionally controversial opinions, in this talk Bob will be taking us through his best ‘doers’.  It promises to be an entertaining hour in the company of a true plantsman.