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 £5 for non-members (when space is available).  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 Kate Harris at .  Please refer to Newsletters for further details of trips.

For trips in 2022 please download, print and return this booking form.

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

Somerset HPS Programme 2022

All other meeting details can be found on the meeting page.
Refreshments are served before the lectures.

Saturday 15th January – 11.00am

Sue Applegate – ‘English Wines and Vineyards’

Sue, of Hurstbrook Plants, has spoken to the Somerset group before, but she usually talks on the subjects of peonies and irises.  However, she also runs a two acre vineyard, Stocklands Vineyard, producing award-winning white, rose and red wines grown and made in the Polden Hills, right here in Somerset!

In this talk, Sue will talk about the development and progress of English wine-making, the techniques involved, and its increasing popularity.

Saturday 12th February – 11.00am

Michael Marriott – ‘The Rose: The Most Garden-Worthy of All Plants’

Michael Marriott was the chief rosarian at David Austin Roses for 35 years. His enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge of roses is encyclopaedic, especially for species roses, old roses, climbers and ramblers, the best modern roses and, of course, David Austin’s English Roses. He has designed many rose gardens and borders around the world. His own gardens have always been run on organic principles, selecting only the healthiest varieties of roses and using companion plants to attract beneficial insects.

Michael believes that roses are incredibly variable and versatile plants: “Not only can they look even more beautiful in association with other plants, they can also help with reducing pest and disease problems. It is easy to argue that they are the most garden-worthy of all plants.” This talk should persuade even the hardened sceptic that no garden is complete without roses.

Saturday 12th March – 11.00am

Tamsin Westhorpe – ‘Stockton Bury Gardens Through the Seasons’

With over 25 years’ experience in the horticultural industry, Tamsin has plenty of practical, hands-on knowledge. She was Editor of The English Garden magazine for six years, and is now the curator and gardener of Stockton Bury Gardens in Herefordshire, an award-winning garden which was created by her great-uncle, Raymond Treasure. Tamsin is also an RHS Chelsea Flower Show Judge, and author of Diary of a Modern Country Gardener.

This talk will feature plants and practical tips particularly relevant to spring and early summer; Tamsin has years of experience fielding visitors’ questions during Stockton Bury’s open days, so she’s aware of what gardeners really want to know.  This promises to be a lively and informative talk covering a wide range of topics.

Saturday 26th March   10.00am – 3.00pm

HPS Somerset Group Early Spring Plant Fair

Yeo Valley Organic Garden, Holt Farm, Blagdon, BS40 7SQ

Booking essential. A free parking permit must be booked for all vehicles.
Tickets may be booked at: 

This year our popular annual Spring Plant Fair is to be held at Yeo Valley Organic Garden for the first time. The 6.5 garden was the inspiration for RHS Chelsea Gold and People’s Choice Medal winner Tom Massey, assisted by owner and Head Gardener Sarah Mead. Many of the 2021 Chelsea plants will have been planted in the garden, and there could also be the opportunity to purchase some for yourself.

This, and the array of gorgeous plants, rich with the fresh foliage and jewel-like flowers of spring, from 12 of the best specialist West Country nurseries, will get your garden off to a flying start. The garden cafe will be open, so you can refresh yourself with coffee and cake.

Saturday 9th April – 11.00am 

Sally Gregson – ‘Practical Propagation’ 

Co-founder of the HPS Somerset Group, Sally Gregson trained professionally at Hadlow College and ran Mill Cottage Plants in Wookey, Somerset, for 20 years. Together with Bill Hodgson, she created the video on fern propagation for the Somerset Group (see ‘Videos’ on this website). This talk is a purely practical explanation and demonstration of how to make more from your garden, including some ‘tricks of the trade’.  As the author of ‘Practical Propagation’ (2008), Sally is also supremely well placed to answer any questions from the audience. 

Saturday 23rd April

HPS Somerset Group Plant Sale

West Monkton Village Hall

10.00am to 12.30pm

Admission: £1 on the door 

Sale tables may be booked with Jane Hunt at £5 per table (members only). If you have a lot of plants and want to book two tables, it will be £10. 

Tuesday 10th May

Self-Drive Visit to Little Ash Bungalow, Fenny Bridges, and South Wood Farm, Cotleigh, nr. Honiton (same day)

The garden at Little Ash Bungalow was created by Helen Brown, who arrived there in 1998 with two horse-box trailers full of plants. Helen follows Gertrude Jekyll’s colour theory, and her soft and voluptuous planting style is contrasted by metal sculptures dotted throughout the garden, and solid, oak-slab seats. The garden includes a gravel garden for alpines, a pond surrounded by rodgersias and hostas, extensive mixed borders crammed with sun-loving perennials, and an alder copse which is home to a variety of woodlanders.  Little Ash was the winner for the South West Region in the Nation’s Favourite Garden Competition 2021, run by The English Garden magazine.

South Wood Farm was redesigned and renovated by Arne Maynard in 2008, and as a country garden it exemplifies how contemporary design can be seamlessly integrated into a traditional setting. Surrounding a 17th century thatched farmhouse, the established garden of five acres is set within an area of traditionally managed hay meadows. Herbaceous borders, roses, yew topiary, a knot garden, wildflower meadows, orchards, lean-to greenhouses and a mouthwatering kitchen garden combine to create an unforgettable sense of place.

Tuesday 7th June

Coach Trip to Stockton Bury Garden, nr. Leominster, and Stone House Cottage, nr. Kidderminster (same day)

Following Tamsin Westhorpe’s talk in March, this trip gives members a chance to see the garden where she works. Stockton Bury Garden sits at the heart of a working farm, which was originally one of the Bury farms of the Benedictine Priory in Leominster. The dovecote and medieval barns remain important landmark features.

The garden has been in the Treasure family for three generations, and much of it was pasture until thirty years ago, when Raymond Treasure and Gordon Fenn transformed it into this well-acclaimed garden. The original Victorian kitchen garden and impressive monkey puzzle tree are still very much part of the new garden, but a recent addition is the Pavilion – a perfect place to sit and enjoy views of the countryside. There is a plant sales area, too, for those who have gaps in their borders at home.

The garden at Stone House Cottage is an enchanting gem created by owner Louisa Arbuthnott. Although only one acre, it seems much larger. The beautifully maintained walled garden is enhanced by Louisa’s late husband James’ unusual red brick follies, the walls, arches and towers of which are covered with a multitude of rare climbing and twining plants. According to Louisa, he “just liked bricklaying”.

Tigridias such as ‘Red Hot Tiger’, green or dark orange-red flowered veratrums – the place is full of fascinating and diverting attractions. The garden acts as a shop window for the adjoining nursery. Here you can buy plants of almost everything that grows in the garden – the list of shrubs and climbers includes many rarely seen for sale in the UK.

Sunday 12th June

HPS Somerset Group Summer Plant Fair at Lower Severalls

10.00am – 3.00pm 

Admission:  Non-members £4     HPS and RHS members £3.50 

Our Summer Plant Fair is being held a month earlier this year, which may bring a different palette of plants to the stalls.  The fair at Lower Severalls is a popular event, with independent nurseries from across the South West bringing their best plants to sell.  June really will be bustin’ out all over!

Further details to follow.

Thursday 7th July

Coach Trip to Mothecombe House, Holbeton, nr. Plymouth and Little Dartmouth Farm, nr. Dartmouth (same day)

Mothecombe House and gardens are tucked under one side of a valley running down to Mothecombe beach.  Several degrees warmer than the nearby village of Holbeton, the gardens are sheltered from the prevailing south westerly salt-laden winds, allowing tender plants to flourish.

Mothecombe House is a Queen Anne house with additions by Sir Edwin Lutyens. On the south front there is a walled garden with Lutyens terraces planted with eryngiums, nepeta, salvias, hebes and agapanthus, and a lawn with herbaceous borders. Along the bottom path, two giant gunnera of elephantine proportions flank a pool, and in the bog garden masses of cool green ferns and huge arum lilies thrive. The Bee Garden was created in 2013; the planting of 250 lavender plants in 12 varieties has brought a visible increase in bumble bees, solitary bees and hoverflies to the garden.

From its extraordinary position on the South Devon coast, Little Dartmouth Farm commands a vast panorama of sea and sky, its garden merging seamlessly into land that slopes gently to the cliff edge. Owners Edward and Sally Benthall bought the 300-acre farm 14 years ago and have remodelled the house, outbuildings and landscape, working with garden designer Dan Pearson to create a sustainable garden which fits well in the landscape.

Sally says it has been interesting “living and evolving with a ‘designer’ garden”. Curving beds wrap around the sides of a stepped terrace, and below the terrace a ha-ha allows uninterrupted vistas to the sea, with areas of mown lawn and longer meadow grass echoing the contours of the wider landscape. A superb vegetable and cutting garden, large greenhouse space, beautifully wrought dry stone walls and airy, naturalistic planting give this garden the ‘wow’ factor.

Saturday 10th September

HPS National AGM, hosted by the Somerset Group

Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre near Taunton

Saturday 17th September

50/50 Plant Sale, followed by

Charlie Pridham, Climbing Plants

Hall opens 9.30am.  Plant Sale 10.00am.  Lecture 11.00am.

Charlie and his wife, Liz, run Roseland House Nursery in Chacewater, near Truro in 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.

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 would be most welcome.

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

Saturday 15th October – 11.00am  

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.

Andrew will be bringing plants for sale.  Members may also pre-order plants direct from Andrew and he will bring them to the meeting. Email or call 01636 636337 to pre-order.

Saturday 19th November – Doors open at 10.00am

AGM at 10.30am, followed at 11.15am by

Fergus Garrett – ‘Designing with Plants’

Fergus Garrett is a bundle of energy and his talks are inspirational torrents, enthusing about ambitious planting projects and introducing unconventional colour combinations.  Head Gardener at Great Dixter since 1992, he collaborated closely with its creator, Christopher Lloyd, and still espouses Lloyd’s bold, experimental style to this day. He is a speaker who makes you want to rush home and get straight into the garden. 

Designing with Plants will give plenty of advice on how best to manage your garden throughout the year to create cohesion and maximise your garden’s potential.  Themes include: how to construct a border (spacing, staking, concealing gaps, getting into your border); staggering your planting and getting more than one season of interest from your plant choices; planting for contrast in shape, colour and texture; taking the pressure off spring (what you can do ahead of the busiest growing season to ensure you’re ready); and how to consider biodiversity in your borders.