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

Visits & Trips

All coach trips and garden visits must be pre-booked with Janet Murley via email: or phone: 01884 820840.  Please refer to Newsletters for further details of trips and download the HPS visits booking sheet Summer 2018 here.  Location maps or directions will be supplied following booking a place on an event.


Somerset HPS Programme 2018

A handy one-page PDF version of the 2018 programme is available by clicking here.  All other meeting details can be found on the meeting page.  Refreshments are served before the lectures.

Saturday 13th January 2018 – 11.00am

Sue Applegate – ‘Making the Most of Peonies and Irises’

A renowned expert on irises and peonies, Sue grows them commercially at her nursery, Hurst Brook Plants, near Crewkerne.  Her garden houses a National Collection of 21 intermediate bearded irises, originating from the Langport Collection bred in the 1970s by the former manager of Kelways, John Lloyd.  Discover how to get the best out of peonies and irises and bring some sumptuous colour into your garden in May.

Plants for sale.

Saturday 10th February – 11.00am

Claire Greenslade – ‘Hestercombe: The Restoration of the Edwardian and Victorian Garden’

Claire is the Head Gardener at Hestercombe, which combines the landscape garden originally created in 1750 by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde with the early 20th century formal gardens designed by Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll.  Claire will be talking about the challenges of restoring a heritage garden, including the difficulties in maintaining colour in a garden that was originally only designed for summer, as well as tracking down the original plants outlined in Jekyll’s design.

Saturday 10th March – 11.00am

Brian Hiley – ‘Container Plants and Something Different’

Brian has been growing tender and unusual plants for over 30 years at his nursery, Trevena Cross Nurseries, near Helston in Cornwall.  He is a member of the RHS Tender Ornamental Plant Committee and a RHS Gold Medal winner.  In this talk he will be inspiring us to plant our pots and troughs with flower and foliage combinations that will turn heads!

Saturday 24th March 

HPS Somerset Early Spring Plant Fair

East Lambrook Manor, South Petherton, Somerset, TA13 5HH

10.00am – 4.00pm     Admission: £4      HPS and RHS members: £3.50

Our popular Early Spring Plant Fair always brings folk out after a long winter, and this one is bigger than ever.  With 21 specialist nursery stalls nestled all over the gardens of East Lambrook Manor, each one glowing with the jewel-like flowers of spring, who can resist?  It’s the perfect way to kick off the new season and buy something special for your garden. Don’t forget that East Lambrook’s own nursery will also be open, offering a wide selection of perennials, and the gardens themselves will be bursting with early spring colour.

Refreshments available at the Malthouse Cafe on site.

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.

Saturday 28th April – 10.00am – 12.30pm

Group Plant Sale

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.

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

Wednesday 2nd May

Coach Trip to The Lost Gardens of Heligan, St. Austell, Cornwall

Twenty-five years ago, Heligan’s historic gardens were unknown and unseen, lost under a tangle of weeds.  It was only the chance discovery of a door in the ruins that led to the unveiling of this once great estate.  Painstakingly restored, The Lost Gardens now take pride of place among the finest gardens in Cornwall. Highlights include giant statues which appear to arch out of the ground itself, a 100ft rope bridge which sways above large-leafed ferns and tropical jungle plants, and Europe’s only pineapple pit (used to grow pineapples for the Queen).  The wider estate encompasses ancient pastures and the woodland, ponds and lakes of the Lost Valley, from where a walk leads down to the harbour at Mevagissey.

Wednesday 16th May

Self-drive Visit to Watcombe, 92 Church Road, Winscombe, Somerset, BS25 1BP

A ¾-acre, mature Edwardian garden with colour-themed, informally planted herbaceous borders.  A strong framework separates several different areas of the garden: a pergola supports a varied collection of wisteria, there is unusual topiary, a lime walk, pleached hornbeams, cordon fruit trees and a diverse collection of over 80 types of clematis.  A peaceful and beautiful place to wander.

Wednesday 20th June

Coach Trip to Iford Manor

Harold Peto’s creation at Iford is a dream of a garden. Italianate in style and romantic in character, it combines beautiful garden buildings with broad walks, statues and pools, all set amid cypresses, wisteria and naturalised martagon lilies.  The steep hillside affords the visitor breathtaking views of the valley.


Saturday 23rd June – 2.30 for 3pm 

Special Lecture: Roy Lancaster – ‘My Life with Plants’

To celebrate the 25th anniversary year of the Somerset HPS Group, world-famous plantsman and President of the HPS Roy Lancaster will be coming to speak.  This talk commemorates the publication of his autobiography, ‘My Life with Plants’, a very personal book which takes us through the life of this Lancashire lad who became a renowned horticulturist. With lively anecdotes from his early days in horticulture and stirring tales of plant-hunting in exotic places, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a lecture by this legend of the gardening world.

Admission for guests: £5

After the lecture there will be the chance to chat with Roy.  A light buffet with wine and soft drinks will be available, which is free for members and included in the £5 entry fee for guests.

Sunday 8th July

HPS Somerset Summer Plant Fair at Lower Severalls, Crewkerne, TA18 7NX

10.00 – 4.00pm     Admission: £4.00     HPS & RHS Members: £3.50

In a change of venue (previously listed as Hestercombe), our Summer Plant Fair will now be taking place in the beautiful setting of Lower Severalls Garden.  This is the first time the HPS has held a Plant Fair at Lower Severalls, and what a wonderful occasion it promises to be.  Diverse specialist nurseries will be gathering to offer visitors the best of their plants in high summer.  CB Plants (Lower Severalls’ own nursery) will also be open.

Tea, coffee and home-made cake available.

Nurserys Attending
  • Barracott Nursery
  • Blooming Hill Plants
  • Elworthy Cottage Plants
  • Entwood Farm Plants
  • Gardeners Delight
  • Hardy Way Plants
  • Hill Top Nursery
  • In Clover
  • Kevin Hughes Plants
  • MAJ Allison
  • Mill Cottage Plants
  • Millwood Plants
  • Pickett Lane Nursery
  • Phoenix Plants
  • Roseland Nursery
  • Shady Plants
  • Wild Thyme Nursery
  • Plus CB Plants (resident nursery at Lower Severalls)

Tuesday 17th July

Coach Trip to Waterperry Gardens, Oxfordshire

Waterperry Gardens was home to a renowned horticultural college between 1932 and 1971. Over the past twenty years the gardens have developed and grown, and many new projects have been undertaken and completed, including the Formal Garden, the Mary Rose Garden, a Waterlily Canal and the Long Colour Border. Beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers, secret corners and long vistas make this a garden well worth visiting.

Sunday 12th August

Group Plant Swap and Lunch

Location: Smeatharp, Honiton              Ticket price to be announced

Saturday 15th September

50/50 Plant Sale: 10.00 – 11.00am (Hall opens at 9.30am)

11.00am: Julian Sutton – ‘How the Flowers Became’

Many of you will be familiar with Julian Sutton who, with his wife Sarah, runs Desirable Plants, a mail-order nursery based in Totnes. In this lecture, Julian will be looking at the nature of flowers, their form, colour and even their biological behaviour.  The lecture includes a series of fascinating stories surrounding the evolution of floral diversity, including the origin of flowers themselves, all illustrated by garden-worthy plants.

Plants for sale

50/50 Plant Sale

The 50/50 Plant Sale prior to the lecture at our September meeting each autumn continues to prove popular. 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.

Our speaker this month – Julian Sutton – will also be bringing plants for sale.

Altogether, it promises to be an excellent opportunity to grab a bargain and plant in time for a colourful spring.

Wednesday 19th September

Self-drive Visit to Midney Gardens, Mill Lane, Midney, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 7HR

The garden at Midney was started in 2009, with the aim of creating a place which people would want to visit and enjoy.  Eight years on, the garden offers visitors a chance to experience a plantsman’s garden of exceptional quality.  Subtle themes and a natural planting style draw the visitor from one garden area to the next and each area has its own character.  The onsite nursery specialises in herbaceous plants, alpines, grasses and herbs – all organically grown.

Refreshments available in the tearoom.

Saturday 20th October – 11.00am 

Dr Laura de Beden – ‘Create a Garden as a Work of Art’

Laura is a landscape architect and garden designer whose talks are always well received and interesting.  In this design masterclass, she will be discussing spatial composition, ideas and materials, demonstrated by simple yet effective practical examples.  Discover how the rich language of art applies to garden-making and how to relate this to your own plot.  This talk could change how you view your garden!

Saturday 17th November –  10am for 10.30 AGM.                         Lecture starts 11.15am

AGM, followed by

Keith Wiley – ‘Erythroniums and Other Woodlanders’

Anyone who has heard Keith speak or visited his garden, Wildside, will know what a treat this lecture will be.  An erythronium fanatic, he has raised and named several hybrids of his own.  As well as erythroniums he will be discussing the many other woodland plants that he adds to the mix, and showing how observations gathered from seeing plants in the wild helps him to provide the conditions they need.  Even if you don’t have an acre of woodland, most of us have an area under trees in our gardens where these plants can grow.

Plants for sale.