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.  The HPS visits booking form for Summer 2019 is available to download here.  Location maps or directions will be supplied following booking a place on an event.

Somerset HPS Programme 2019

A handy one-page PDF version of the 2018/19 programme is available by clicking here.  All other meeting details can be found on the meeting page.  Refreshments are served before the lectures.

Saturday 19th January – 11.00am

Jo Hynes – ‘The Winter Garden: Why Stay Indoors?’

Jo holds the National Collection of cyclamen in her garden in Dolton, near RHS Rosemoor, and with borders full of hellebores and more than 300 named snowdrop varieties, plus a great many winter flowering shrubs, she is an inspiration to other gardeners who want to brighten up those bare-boned winter months.

Plants for Sale

Jo’s NGS Open Garden

Saturday 16th February – 11.00am

Nick Wray – ‘Microclimates’

Nick is the Curator of the recently re-established Bristol University Botanic Garden and has been awarded the RHS Associate of Honour.  In this lecture, he will show us how to identify garden microclimates and describe how these can be manipulated to create better growing conditions for a wider and more diverse range of plants.  If you’ve ever wondered how botanical gardens manage to successfully grow plants from all over the world, this is your chance to find out!

Saturday 16th March – 11.00am

Mary Payne MBE – ‘Grasses and Perennials Make Good Companions’

Mary is a celebrated garden designer, horticultural consultant, broadcaster and writer who has won Gold at both Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows.  Horticultural advisor to the stunning gardens at Compton Acres in Dorset and Lady Farm in Somerset, in this talk she will be sharing her wealth of knowledge about grasses and prairie-style gardening in general.

Mary will confirm at a later date if she will be bringing plants for sale.

Saturday 23rd March  

HPS Somerset Early Spring Plant Sale

East Lambrook Manor Gardens, South Petherton, TA13 5HH

10am to 4pm

Admission: £3.50 for all HPS members  (£4 for non-members)

One of the highlights of the Somerset Group year, the Early Spring Plant Fair at East Lambrook Manor Gardens is not to be missed.  Set amid the pretty cottage garden created by Margery Fish, twenty of the best nurseries in the southwest will be offering a tempting variety of plants, guaranteed to bring colour and charm to your spring borders.

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

Saturday 27th April  

Group Plant Sale at West Monkton Village Hall

10am to 12.30pm

Admission £1

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 contact Roy Stickland on 01934 843280.  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 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 nothing.

Wednesday 15th May

Coach Trip to Wildside Garden and Nursery, Buckland Monachorum.

Includes a tour of the garden with its creator, Keith Wiley.

Wildside is one of the most exciting gardens in England, drawing ecstatic reviews from visitors. Keith is an energetic proponent of a ‘new naturalism’ movement in gardening, and has sculpted the landscape to create different habitats for plants from around the world. Ros Wiley is an artist, and her influence is evident throughout; the planting has rhythm and verve, and the rich colours catch the light to stunning effect.

Sunday 9th – Friday 14th June

SHPS Trip to Ireland

As the Group celebrates its 25th anniversary, we have a treat planned for 2019: a trip to southern Ireland, from 9th to 14th June, by luxury coach.  For full details of the trip, the gardens and itinerary, click here.

Thursday 20th June

Coach Trip to Sudeley Castle and Gardens.

Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, is buried at Sudeley, and the garden reflects the castle’s Tudor heritage.  Of nine individual garden areas, the centrepiece is The Queen’s Garden, famous for its abundant roses which are at their peak in June. There is a Knot Garden, designed according to a pattern on a dress worn by Elizabeth I, and also a Rare Breeds Pheasantry, conserving a variety of beautiful and gloriously-coloured birds. The Tudor Physic Garden originally provided the household with culinary and medicinal plants.

There is a restaurant and a cafe on site.

Sunday 7th July

HPS Somerset Summer Plant Fair

Lower Severalls Garden, Crewkerne, TA18 7NX

10am – 4pm

Admission: £3.50 for all HPS members  (£4 for non-members)

The garden at Lower Severalls is set in front of a beautiful hamstone 17th century farmhouse, with a formal front garden and borders full of colourful herbaceous perennials and herbs.  It has been owned by the Pring family for 90 years and has featured in Gardens Illustrated.

The stalls at the Summer Plant Fair will be arranged outside the grounds this year, leaving the garden unencumbered for everyone to enjoy.   Mary, who now runs a B&B in the farmhouse, will be providing us with her homemade cakes, tea, coffee and elderflower cordial.

The garden is home to CB Plants, a traditional nursery run by Catherine Bond, specialising in unusual hardy perennials, wild flowers and cottage garden favourites.  All the plants are grown in peat-free compost and many are of benefit to wildlife, being nectar-rich and great for attracting pollinating insects.

This promises to be a great day out, so come and pick up a treasure or two.  

Tuesday 9th July

Self-drive Visit to Newton House Garden, Yeovil BA20 2RX

The gardens of this Jacobean manor house are Grade II listed and slope down to the river Yeo. They include an extensive walled garden, a 90ft-long greenhouse, over 70 standard ‘weeping’ roses, a formal potager, mediaeval carp ponds, pleached limes, statuary and an orchard. The summerhouse, which has since been converted into a cottage, dates from 1750 and was built as a 3-storey octagon with 2-storey flanking wings.  Newton House Gin, hand-crafted using botanicals picked from within the walled garden, and distilled on site, won Gold at the 2018 World Gin Awards in 2017.


Plant Swap and Lunch (to be advised)

Wednesday 4th September

Self-drive Visit to Prospect House Gardens, Axminster, Devon, EX13 5BH

Early September is the perfect time to visit Peter Wadeley’s one-acre plantsman’s garden, when the late-summer display reaches full splendour.  Hidden behind high stone walls, bold plantings of crocosmia, rudbeckia, helenium, echinacea and ornamental grasses form swathes of colour.  Rare shrubs – many borderline tender – and over 200 varieties of salvia combine with breathtaking views across the Axe Valley to make this a wonderful private garden to visit.

Tuesday 17th September

Coach trip to Bicton Park Botanical Gardens.

Once recognised as being one of the finest gardens in England, Bicton Park is set on a hillside leading down to formal water gardens with canals, fountains, a small stream and a large lake. A fernery and rock gardens are overlooked by a flint stone hut which houses a shell collection. The pinetum and arboretum boast over 1,000 trees, including 25 Champion (exceptional specimen) Trees, and the drive to the nearby college is flanked by an extraordinary avenue of monkey puzzles. One of the main features of Bicton park is the semi-circular Palm House, built in the 1820s, which predates the one at Kew by 20 years and comprises Tropical, Arid, and Temperate Houses.

There is a restaurant on site.

Saturday 21st September – Plant Sale 10.00am                          Lecture starts at 11.00am

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

Marcel Floyd – ‘Clematis’

Marcel is the owner of Floyd’s Climbers and Clematis in Wiltshire, and has been growing award-winning clematis for over 30 years.  He will be demonstrating how to prune and take cuttings from various types of clematis, as well as advising on how and where to grow the different varieties.  All your clematis questions answered!

Plant orders can be made online, and Marcel will bring them to the meeting.

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.

Our speaker, Marcel Floyd, will also be bringing plants for sale.

Saturday 19th October – 11.00am

Peter Cantrill – ‘Unusual Herbaceous Plants’

Peter runs the wholesale nursery Dayspring Plants near Exeter, which supplies plants to National Trust gardens, amongst others.  With a lifetime’s experience in the business, his horticultural knowledge is second to none, and the plants he brings to sell have been known to cause a rush to buy at the end of his lectures.

Plants for Sale

Saturday 23rd November – 10am for 10.30 AGM.                           Lecture starts 11.15am

AGM, followed by

Tom Hart Dyke – ‘Tales of a Modern-Day Plant Hunter’

Tom Hart Dyke first shot to international prominence in the year 2000, when he was kidnapped in the Colombian jungle on a plant hunting expedition that went dangerously wrong.  His plant-hunting jaunts have taken him from the volcanic archipelagos of the Cape Verde Islands to down under in Tasmania, and from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco to the remote Mentawai Islands in Indonesia.  Many of his collected plants are housed in the World Garden of Plants, which he created within a two-acre walled garden in the grounds of his ancestral home of Lullingstone Castle in Kent.  This promises to be a talk woven with adventurous and exotic tales…and some fascinating plants.