Social meeting - 5 th March 2020

This was the first event of the year and attracted an attendance of nearly 30 members. Bob’s slide show reviewed our trips during 2019, reminding us of the three enjoyable outings, Harrogate Spring Show, Tilston village open gardens, and Kedleston Hall (NT )/ Meynell Langley Trial gardens. All were favoured with decent weather and Rosemary was thanked for organising them. Trips for 2020 should be just as good and hopefully be well supported by members.
Raffle prizes were provided by Mike Healey of Shallcross Nursery where we can get decent discount on plants purchased.

Talk by Patrick Harding on “Mushroom Miscellany”- 3rd October 2019

We had an excellent and very amusing talk this month by Patrick Harding, a freelance broadcaster, author and adult teacher entitled “Mushroom Miscellany”. He brought a large range of samples with him, which he had picked over the last 24/48 hours, and explained that because of the recent very wet weather, it was now an excellent time to go out looking for mushrooms and toadstools. It appears there are some 4500 species in Britain and of the larger umbrella shaped fungi with a cap and stem, mushroom is a popular term for those edible, and toadstool for those poisonous. A fungus is not a plant, but like animals needs a food source, which in most cases is a plant or animal dead or alive! Plants have cells but mushrooms and toadstools have very thin tubes which branch out and produce a web of threads, which on flat surfaces often grow as an expanding disc. A good example of this in a simple fungi is moulds on food. Patrick has produced a number of books, which were for sale and his wife is a botanical artist and he also brought some of her cards . Overall a very entertaining afternoon which we hope everyone enjoyed.

Social meeting - 20 th September 2019

On a glorious sunny autumn afternoon 14 of us met to chat and enjoy an informal garden quiz taken from the
internet by Bob who acted as quizmaster. All 6 teams were given maximum encouragement and scoring was
quite respectable, with Joan Wood and Annette Dunk winning with an amazingly high score. Well done to
them both. Each received a prize of a small pot of Cyclamen Hederafolia. There were 2 raffle prizes ,potted
cyclamen, won by Lesley Berry and Jean Clough. Rosemary provided the light refreshments , without wine
due to Uniting Church rules, but this didn’t detract from the event and members were happy and smiling as
they made their way home in blazing late afternoon sunshine.

Kedleston Hall (NT) and Meynell Langley Trials Garden - 5th September 2019

It was pure luck that we got good weather for this trip as conditions on the adjacent days were not favourable, especially the Friday when it was wet nearly all day. So all 21 of us enjoyed plenty of sunshine and no rain albeit the breeze made it feel cool. On arrival at Kedleston Hall we were given a guided tour of the main rooms and brief history of the Hall since its completion in the 1760s. It was designed and built as a family home for Sir George Nathanial Curzon who was mega rich and Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, The famous architect Robert Adam was employed, using local stone and materials such as local sourced alabaster or Hopton Wood stone for the Marble Hall floor. Inspired by the architecture of ancient Rome the rooms are quite magnificent, especially the recently refurbished Drawing Room. Later we had refreshments and were free to revisit the Hall and look around the garden, featuring a colourful wildflower area.
Next we visited close by Meynell Langley Trials Garden, renowned for its hanging baskets. The owner, Robert, gave us an entertaining tour. An illustrated handout gave us a brief history going back 25 years. Due to the extremes of weather over the last 2 years the garden has suffered despite all efforts to combat the various problems. However Robert is hoping for better fortune over the next few years. We were introduced to “Morris” the auto mower who trundles around cutting the grass, he is quite harmless. After visiting the plant sales and another cuppa and cake at the café we made the return journey via Golden Green coach driven by Wendy. Rosemary was thanked for an interesting and enjoyable trip.


Tilston Open Gardens - 8th June 2019

Amazingly this trip avoided the rain which was plaguing Whaley Bridge and many other areas of the country most of the day,albeit there was no sign of sunshine. Again our numbers were relatively low, a disappointing 15, but this did not affect the enjoyment of the day as we viewed 8 gardens, mostly quite large, varied and some spectacular . Stretton Old Hall garden was the first and most striking for its ‘controlled exuberance’. Only developed over the past 10 years it was full of interesting and expensive features. The previous day’s prolonged rain had done some damage and flattened many roses but not disastrously. Some gardens were set up to provide refreshments , toilets etc, and the attractive village pub was available for lunch. The church and vicarage were included on the schedule and we finished at The Well House, a large cottage garden featured in many NGS Open Garden days. All proceeds went towards the cost of overhauling the church organ.


Harrogate Spring Show - 29th April 2019

Amazingly the weather was fine after atrocious rain the previous 24 hours and the showground was dry for this final day. There were 19 of us on a brand new 22 seater Golden Green coach which got us there and bank without any problems. The show was bustling with activity and there was plenty to see and admire in the large modern exhibition halls. Refreshments were easy to obtain from numerous points albeit seating was only just adequate at the busiest times. With the hubbub of people it wasn’t difficult to become disorientated, but finally we all made it back to the coach with the usual trophies to fill up the boot. Overall it was a successful trip to start the year.


Talk by Jane Allison on ‘ Banquets for bees and butterflies’ - 4th April 2019

We welcomed back Jane to give this talk, which was well attended. Most of the photos featured were her own (not from the internet) illustrating how bees and butterflies gather nectar from flowering plants and in doing so transfer pollen from one plant to another, aiding the process of pollination. Around two thirds of what we eat is from pollinated plants, so it is important that these insects are encouraged into our gardens via ‘nectar bars’ and ‘insect hotels’ ; mining bees like hollow bamboo and bumble bees in colonies like to hibernate in nooks and crannies even in compost heaps. We are urged to sow mixes of native flower seeds, red flowers attract butterflies and yellow ones bees. Countrywide the bee and insect population is dwindling due to various factors, some from diseases other from farming chemicals so we should be aware of this . Jane then went through an extensive list of suitable flowers for these insects. Wildflowers in hedgerows are a good source of pollen but a lot of hedgerows were lost during the last century due to new farming techniques. We were shown photos of the more common butterflies and moths which are also valuable for plant pollination. Finally Jane showed photos of a comprehensive list of her top plants for pollinators of which buddleia, alliums and even teasels featured. Nettles are also excellent for attracting bees etc so we should all consider having a small patch in our gardens ! It could easily catch on, couldn’t it ?

Talk by Alan Clements on Cascades Garden, Bonsall - 4th October 2018

The talk, entitled ‘Jungle to Paradise’ attracted a good attendance (around 35). Roger had made all the arrangements but unfortunately was unable to attend and as a result missed a very entertaining afternoon. Alan Clements gave a colourful description of how he and his wife acquired the house and garden in 1996 after being inspired following visits to Tibet where he had an audience with the Dalai Lama, and Japan and India where he again consulted Buddhist monks on the ‘meaning of life’, having lost his daughter to a kidney disease. He learnt the benefits of meditation and to revere nature which on his return caused him to visit iconic gardens such as Heligan, Hidcote, Bressingham etc and study the gardening gurus Beth Chatto, Alan Bloom etc. After completely re-landscaping the garden it was give the name Cascades due to the numerous small waterfalls.fed by the local stream. The 4 acre site was badly overgrown and needed much excavation with mechanical JCB diggers to tame the wild gorge . The garden has evolved over the last 20 or so years and is now a haven of peace in an idyllic natural limestone cliff setting with the stream and old corn mill leat running down its length. The talk was well illustrated throughout. Alan’s passion for Japanese garden design has added to other influences all blended into the natural landscape which can be enjoyed from wooden seats at strategic points giving different views into the garden rooms. An earlier small structure still existing is the ‘Gin & Tonic’ hut which Alan now uses regularly following his retirement from business. The garden is just a hobby. Due to a recent violent storm there has been severe flooding through the valley floor causing not only damage to the garden but also to tools, equipment and records kept in the house basement. It is hoped all will be restored and safeguarded against future floods


Social meeting - 21st September 2018

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the number of members attending were a disappointing 14 following an electricity power cut affecting numerous households in the Elnor Lane area and some atrocious stormy weather throughout the day resulting in flash floods. Nonetheless those present had an entertaining evening with the third annual Gardening Quiz which was conducted light heartedly by Bob. The teams did very well and Dave Osborn and Judy Hardman were worthy winners . Plant prizes were awarded, the booby prize in an old Tate & Lyle syrup can to Sue Mellor and Lorna Moss. The raffle prize was won by guess who- Dave Parker yet again, (the man is a genius at it). Refreshments followed and most got away before another brief downpour.



Biddulph Grange Garden - 23rd August 2018

The coach felt quite full for a change with 18 of us on a 19 seater. Amazingly we had yet another good weather day apart from a short spell of very light drizzle for this last trip of the year. Many had never visited this National Trust garden before and were amazed at its beauty and diversity, ‘a formal Victorian horticultural masterpiece and a quirky, playful paradise full of intrigue and surprise ‘ as described in the NT handbook. The marvellous dahlia avenue was quite impressive but would be even better in another week or two. Thankfully the 400 steps did not cause us a problem, it felt more like half that number. Sadly the little brass bells were missing on the temple in the China inspired garden but we were told they would soon be restored and fixed more securely. There was much historical information on James Bateman, the visionary owner who created the garden and NT seem to be doing a good job with its development and maintenance. All in the party had a very enjoyable day and Rosemary, our organizer, was warmly thanked.



Open Garden visit to Maurice and Chris Lomas’s garden at Westgate, Combs -18 th June 2018

Nearly 30 members were present on a cloudy but warm evening to view and admire Maurice and Chris’s extensive garden (still listed in the NGS book) and its beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. It was definitely a good opportunity for members to socialise and Maurice was happy to pass on gardening tips whilst chatting as we toured around the garden before tea/coffee and biscuits. The invitation arose when Roger was chatting with Maurice recently and we were duly grateful to have a member’s garden opened to the Society after a number of fallow years.


Arley Hall and Gardens - 17th July 2018

Arley Hall & Gardens is rated one of the most interesting and attractive stately homes in the North West., so it was regrettable the numbers on this visit were rather low. We had good sunny weather and were warmly greeted on arrival. After refreshments we had an excellent guided tour of the hall, an impressive example of a Victorian country house built in the Elizabethan style. Our guide was an elderly gentleman, Geoffrey Lomas, who originated from Whaley Bridge so there was an immediate rapport with our party. His wife played a Bechstein piano to evoke the atmosphere of the period. The beautiful rooms were light with large windows and marvellous plaster pattern ceilings (the library in particular), all portraying the Egerton-Warburton family throughout the last 2 centuries. The current owner Viscount Ashbourne (an Irish Peer) hires the hall out for weddings etc. After lunch we viewed the Gardens, which are amongst the finest in Britain, outstanding for their vitality, variety and historical interest and particularly celebrated for the magnificent double herbaceous border, which was near its best, having been watered copiously during the current drought. There were many other interesting and attractive parts of the garden including – kitchen and walled gardens, an avenue of giant cylindrical hollies, smaller herb garden and lovely mixed shrub and woodland area. After a final visit to the tea room and impressive Tudor Cruck barn we re-boarded the coach for the return journey.


Lea Rhododendron Garden and Forest Garden Centre -17th May 2018

We had 22 on this visit to Lea Rhododendron Gardens near Matlock and what a marvellous day it was. The display of rhodos and azaleas flowering at their peak was spectacular and members wandered around in the bright sunshine, sheltered from the cool easterly breeze, enjoying the microclimate as much as the plants. The good gravelled paths made it relatively easy to view amazing collection specimens from the far corners of the world.
In 1935 at the age of 68, John Marsden-Smedley built the garden , inspired by his visits to Bodnant and Exbury gardens. Using skilled craftsmen from his estate, paths and verandas were built using the abundant stone from the old quarry dating back to Roman times. Soil was brought from other parts of his estate to top up beds of sand. Smedley’s mill still produces fine knitwear for a worldwide market. The garden was further developed by the Tye family who bought the gardens around 1959, and it now covers some 4 acres.
After taking advantage of the tearoom and plant sales we travelled on to Forest Garden Centre ,Darley Dale for lunch and a bit of shopping.


Talk by Sarah Witts, Wed Garden Manager, re- RHS Garden Bridgewater project - 19th April 2018

We had a very good attendance (over 30) for this excellent talk which obviously attracted the curiosity of members. The work on redeveloping this garden which has been derelict for decades is already in progress and it is ultimately going to become the focus of RHS in the North West, albeit the garden will not open until 2020. It is situated on the Worsley New Hall estate, south facing towards the Bridgewater canal.
Sarah gave us an excellent presentation illustrated by historical photos and plans showing how the walled garden and estate was originally set out. The owner at that time c 1840 was Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater , who built the Victorian Worsley New Hall (now a ruin) in the extensive grounds. He was extremely wealthy having amassed his fortune from the coal and cotton trade, but times changed and the garden suffered neglect and lack of investment over the two world wars. The land is now owned by Peel Holdings and leased for 999 years jointly to the RHS and Salford City Council. Sarah showered us with numerous facts and gave a detailed insight into the walled garden restoration, which will have a modern interpretation. There are some very old apple trees which will have other varieties grafted onto the various branches to give different apples on each branch. Quite novel. Also there will be a therapeutic garden and other RHS innovations.. Currently a team of Berkshire pigs is busy helping to clear the ground. Old rhododendron ponticum plants are being taken out by students and local volunteers and all kinds of rubbish and detritus is being removed. Some remnants are being retained- Ice house, octagonal fountain, bothy and head gardener’s cottage
Tom Stuart-Smith has designed the very interesting masterplan for the walled garden. There will be a modern low level reception building and adequate car parking of course and the BBC are filming progress of the whole development. The old lake has been drained and cleared of sunken objects and will be re-instated together with a second lake. Currently there are 10 garden staff to be increased to 30 in 2020. Ultimately the site of the derelict hall will be cleared and glass houses will be built.
Overall costs are targeted at £32m of which £2m has been spent to date.

Sarah’s enthusiasm was infectious and our continuing Interest will probably result in the Society paying a visit in due course when the garden opens.

Social Meeting - 15th March 2018

The first meeting of the year was attended by over 20 members and featured the now annual slide show given by Bob Kellock on last year’s coach trip garden visits. The first was a visit in May to Don Witton’s Euphorbia Allotment near Sheffield followed by an afternoon in Sheffield Botanical Gardens. The second was in July visiting Bridgemere Garden Centre and Dorothy Clive Garden, and the final one in September a visit to Trentham Gardens. All were blessed with fair weather which will hopefully be the case on trips in 2019.
Rosemary organised the refreshments and Roy officiated. To everyone’s amazement Dave Parker yet again won a raffle prize.

Talk by Joan Davies on Japanese Gardens - 5th October 2017

We enjoyed a very enlightening and detailed talk on Japanese gardens from Iaon Davies who is principle for the NW Region of the National Japanese Garden Society. The illustrated talk covered just about all aspects , exploring the culture and history of Japanese gardening traditions. It all began in 5thC mainly by Buddhist monks in a desire to capture the spirit of nature. There are a wide range of these landscaped gardens large and small but all have common features to inspire meditation in a peaceful setting.
Traditional features are rocks, minimum 3 of different sizes, raked gravel areas (resembling water), zig zag stepping stones, cherry trees , acers , topiaried box and cloud pruned pines. Probably the best example in this country is at Tatton Park. The JGS NW region maintain a Japanese garden at Sale, Cheshire and also various hospice gardens in the region.

Social evening - 22nd September 2017

A small gathering of 14 had an enjoyable and entertaining evening . A second light hearted slide show quiz was held due to the success of the one held last year, and while there were only 2 on each team it didn’t matter as much fun was had, especially due to the incomparable Dave Parker, jester supreme. The winning team was Roy and Rosemary who scored 20 out of 24. Quizmaster Bob apologised as the prizes ( small cyclamen plants) had inadvertently got left at home. Following on there was plenty of chat during the refreshment which as usual included wine . The raffle was won by Marion Parker and Jean Philbin’s friend. A third quiz is available for next year when hopefully there will be a few more participants.


Trentham Gardens - 14th September 2017

Sadly there were only 14 of us to enjoy this wonderful trip. The very changeable weather relented and it was mainly sunny albeit cool in the shade. Our guide, Clive, gave us a very interesting tour of the gardens and brief history of the house, now in ruins. Already millions have been spent on restoring the gardens and there are plans for more major expenditure on restoring the house over the next 10 years. Certainly there has been a great improvement over the last 10 years, with new meadow plantings around the mile long lake originally landscaped by Capability Brown, the historic Italian garden re-vamped by Tom Stuart-Smith with 80,000 perennials looked fine with fountains , topiary and statues, and a large area of prairie plantings, by Piet Oudolf, featuring ‘rivers of grass and floral labyrinth’ with drifts of grass seed heads swaying dramatically about in the breeze. Some of the party walked the path around the lake while others enjoyed the café and interesting retail area or the extensive garden centre. Just after we re-boarded the coach a heavy shower arrived, thankfully too late to spoil the day.


Bridgemere Garden Centre and Dorothy Clive Gardens -20th July 2017

Luckily, despite recent changeable weather it was fine for this trip, in contrast to the atrocious wet weather on our previous visit. At Bridgemere we spent the morning viewing the enormous range of plants and garden related products , had refreshments and viewed the interesting varied display gardens. There were some bargains /offers as usual for those who were tempted, and the coach was soon filling with plant acquisitions. After lunch and a short drive we arrived at the Dorothy Clive Garden to sunnier weather making it look quite colourful and almost sub tropical with banana trees planted in a hot bed near the tearoom. In the lower garden there was much of interest in the mixed borders and down to the pool and new Royal Botanic Glasshouse. The upper quarry garden was very shady , the large collection of rhododendrons had finished flowering a few months earlier, but the waterfall was quite attractive. In some areas the display was over, the laburnum arch and hardy geraniums for instance, but overall there was plenty of interest in a lovely setting and members enjoyed the experience and had a good day.


Don Witton’s Euphorbia Allotment & Sheffield Botanic Gardens - 22nd May 2017

Following the talk given by Don Witton last year on his national euphorbia collection it was decided that we would accept his invitation to visit his allotment garden this year. Thankfully the weather was fine and 19 of us had a pleasant relaxed day. We arrived first at Don’s plot on Firvale Allotment site,Harthill south of Sheffield. After a welcome speech Don gave us freedom to browse around pointing out plants of extra interest and answering any questions. Apart from the great variety of euphorbias there were many other plants making it an attractive garden. Next we were taken to his house for refreshments provided by his wife and many plants were bought. All proceeds from the visit went to the NGS scheme.

After leaving Don’s house we drove into Sheffield for lunch at the Botanical Gardens followed by a very full guided tour given by Kay Keeton, one of the Friends of Sheffield Botanical Gardens. The tour included some of the history in particular of the three linked glass houses which were fully restored some years ago. They now feature plants from specific areas around the globe. Likewise the planting in various sections of the gardens were explained and we were told how they are using volunteers to maintain the gardens. Later we met Peter Khol who gave us a talk last year on the Scottish garden he and his wife developed at Kerracher. Rosemary acquired some excellent plants from him which went in the raffle on our return. Finally we were given light refreshments in a brand new building at the lower end of the gardens aimed at educating school groups. An enjoyable day out was had by all.


TALK and DEMONSTRATION - 18th May 2017

Happily there was a good number attending this event, 25 in total, entertained by Jacqueline Iddon who runs a hardy plant nursery at Bretherton near Preston The demo was on how to plant up baskets and containers covering both winter and summer using mainly plants she has propagated . In fact she has been enthusiastic for plant propagation since she was a young child, guided by her parents, and her enjoyment in the work was very evident to us all. From the large collection of plants brought by her and her husband to the event she selected the most suitable, from flowering plants to decorative contrasting foliage and small variegated evergreens,. producing very interesting arrangements in pots and containers. Throughout she delighted us with her comic sense of humour, the slugs and snails that got batted into the adjacent field with an old badminton bat, various yarns about rabbit problems , they even eat berberis, now solved by a rabbit proof fence, unless some youngster carelessly leaves the gate ajar, and the chocolate hips we can get. With each plant she gave a detailed description and tips , for example old heucheras can be re-invigorated by pruning back hard. After well deserved applause Jacqueline was kept quite busy selling plants to members during the refreshments . Overall the afternoon a great success.


Social Event -2nd March 2017

Just over 30 attended the meeting, of which 2 were guests. Roy welcomed all, especially new members Rose Dickinson, and Tim & Val Crispin. Bob gave the now annual slide show reviewing the four coach trips run by the Society last year. Amazingly the weather was good on each occasion and members were able to fully enjoy the trips. The sunshine helped brighten the photos, providing light and shade, and gave members a feel for what the trips will hopefully be like this year. As usual Bob managed a few candid camera photos to raise a laugh or two and got a decent round of applause for his efforts. It was noted that some members were not able to hear Bob’s commentary clearly so next time a portable PA system might be used.
Rosemary had arranged a very appetising mixed buffet which members enjoyed following the slide show whilst chatting merrily amongst themselves. The meeting closed around 4.30pm.

talk - Don Witton on ‘Euphorbias and other Vibrant Perrenials’ 6th Oct 2016

The meeting attracted 23 people (including 3 non-members) who all enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining talk by
ex-schoolteacher, Don Witton who has a national collection of Euphorbias on his allotment in Sheffield. He has been passionate about these plants for many years and was visited by Carol Klein and the BBC Gardeners World team who took 7 hours to film his plot for a 5 minute slot in a Monty Don programme recently. In fact this prompted the general public to view the allotment when it was opened a weekend later and to Don’s amazement the numbers grew from a manageable 30/40 to over 400 for the full day, making a continuous line of people following a route around the plot at the busiest times.
Don informed us there are over 2000 species of Euphorbia but he is only able to grow the hardier ones due to the location, 500’ above sea level. They can often be propagated from cuttings but we should avoid the white sap which can be an irritant on ‘delicate’ skin. Gloves should be worn ! Another feature is the seed capsules which when ripe crack and explode, catching out the unwary. Humorous stories and jokes were weaved into the presentation which was illustrated by colour photos of a wide range of vibrant perennials from early flowing in April to late flowering in October followed by a wide range of euphorbia photos mostly from his allotment or garden .
Incidentally Don’s favourite euphorbia is a variety named E.Donii which has very attractive foliage. On enquiry he found it was named after a grandparent of Monty Don !


Social Evening 23rd September 2016

The focus for the evening was a pictorial slide show featuring one of three Gardening Quizzes obtained from Graham Morris (Swansea). Happily just the ideal number of members were present to make seven teams of 3 to compete with each other. Bob (our quizmaster ) was in charge , having gone through the preparation as called for in the instructions. Each team faired quite well in picking the correct answers from the four choices given for each of the 24 questions, albeit all scores were in the mid to high teens (out of 24). Roger’s team were the winners who shared the prize of three lots of spring bulbs. A further round of applause was given in lieu of a booby prize to Dave Parker’s team. Overall the event was undoubtedly enjoyable and a complete success. Wine and light refreshments followed and a raffle to round off a great evening.

Harrogate Autumn Flower Show - 18th September 2016

The weather was absolutely perfect, making up for the atrocious conditions experienced on a previous visit some years ago, but regrettably there were only 14 of us to enjoy the Show on this occasion. It did seem well organised and not too crowded until mid-afternoon. As usual there was plenty to keep everyone interested, including a multitude of plant displays in the various pavilions , band entertainment, garden advice platforms , all manner of local craft stalls etc. and the show gardens of course. Food outlets with adequate seating were always close at hand.
The plant ‘sell off’ began at promptly at 4pm after which we collected purchases from the plant crèche before making our way back to the waiting coach for the smooth return journey.


Melbourne Hall and Dower House Garden - 16th Aug 2016

The day was warm and sunny. The trip enjoyed by all 23 of us started with a guided tour of the Dower House garden (an NGS garden), given by the relatively new and young head gardener, Sean. He gave a short introductory talk with background history of the house as the present owners Griselda Kerr and her husband were away at the time of our visit . After liquid refreshment in front of the large elegant house we viewed the garden which is on a south facing slope looking across a large lake, Melbourne Pool. Most of the garden has only been developed by Griselda over the past 20 years. There were multiple features including a rose tunnel and herb garden, adding interest and colour to the well kept herbaceous borders dropping from the house, terrace and surrounding mature woodland. The setting of the house is idyllic with very attractive views down to the lake.
During the interval before the guided tour of Melbourne Hall some took refreshments or visited the beautiful parish church dating back to the 12th C (Norman architecture). We had two guides for the Hall and were given a wonderful tour covering the detailed history of the house, family , and garden. We learned that Melbourne , Australia got its name from the then prime minister Lord Melbourne (a favourite of Queen Victoria). Following the tour we were free to enjoy the large garden with its lawns, vistas and long lumpy yew borders, lake and the most celebrated feature, the impressive ‘birdcage’ wrought iron arbour (1706- Robert Bakewell). The unusual hexagonal Muniment Room was a dovecot originally and is a survivor of the 17thC garden. Frequent planes flying low into East Midlands airport and noise from the nearby motorway and Donington Park Races didn’t cause a problem and the it was evident that everyone felt this was a very rewarding trip.


Thrumpton Hall - 27th June 2016

This trip was a success despite various set -backs along the way. Of the original 26 booked only 23 completed the trip, two didn’t turn up and another, Pauline Price, was taken ill on arrival and ended up in hospital at Nottingham. We trust she recovers soon and returns home. Miranda Seymour, the lady owner at Thrumpton Hall had not informed us until just before the visit that she would be unable to cater for lunches as there were some other visitors due and we would be required to leave immediately after her guided tour of the hall. To fill the gap Rosemary arranged for us to visit nearby Felley Priory garden(normally closed Monday) in the afternoon and lunch was taken at a local garden centre tea room. The tour of Thrumpton Hall was interesting showing us how it has changed over the last 4/5 centuries, and Miranda was proud to relate many historical facts leading up to her family’s possession of the house. We saw an authentic priest’s hole and a superb carved decorative grand spiral staircase made from wood taken from trees on the estate. The garden had a large lake with a family of swans but apart from the formal rose garden it was mostly parkland.

By contrast Felley has excellent well-kept gardens with superb topiary features. The herbaceous borders were nearly at their best and the variety of planting was a delight. To finish many took advantage of the good selection of plants on sale. The weather was ideal throughout the day, mainly sunny and warm.



Maenan Hall Gardens 13th May 2016

This was a wonderful start to this year’s trips, the weather was perfect and the new coach was making its maiden journey. There were 19 present and after a lunch stop at Bodnant Gardens and time for visiting their plant sales, we drove a few miles further up the valley arriving at Maenan by 2pm. The next 2/3 hours were a delight completely exceeding expectations. What a glorious outlook from the hillside with views to the mountains across the valley. We were met by the head gardener Debbie and her deputy, Owen. She gave an introductory talk covering brief history of the house, a late medieval dwelling with numerous later additions, expansively restored in 1955 and now a Grade 1 listed building. It is presently owned by Christopher McLaren who visits it twice a year.
The extensive garden is on sloping ground surrounded by woods full of bluebells and other spring flowers. It has two ornamental ponds and a folly tower at the highest point. Egyptian statuary added further interest, but the best came after light refreshments when we walked back down through the garden to the Dingle and Dell which were stunning with glorious rhodos and azaleas in full bloom together with vivid pieris and other colourful shrubs all in a perfect setting with natural rock outcrops. Bodnant Gardens certainly has a secret rival on its doorstep- Maenan Hall garden !


talk - “The Making of a Garden in Kerracher, Scotland”

On a gorgeous Thursday afternoon 25 members attended an excellent illustrated talk given by Trish & Peter Kohn on how they came to acquire a remote croft, abandoned about 70 years ago, at Kerracher on a sea loch near Kylesku, only accessibly by boat or on foot as the nearest road was 2 miles away. On retirement in 1992 they visited friends who then owned the croft and on finding it was to be sold they immediately agreed to buy it, and went ahead to develop an exotic garden over the ensuing 16 years. The situation had potential as it was at sea level, sheltered by mountains and a tree belt, and had a small beach. Over the year temperature ranged from – 3 to +18 degrees, with exceptionally high rainfall in the winter months but quite modest in summer. Buttressed wooden slatted fencing was erected as wind shelter , also a polytunnel to keep potted plants from the winter rain, and alder trees were grown to improve drainage and give extra shelter. As expected there were many trials and tribulations but with the help of the Scottish locals machinery was delivered by landing craft from a nearby fish farm, including a digger to drain and prepare the ground. Help was also obtained from two tall strong lads to clear bracken, and rotavate the soil which needed much improvement by means of fertiliser and lime to raise the pH from 4 to 6.5. A large shed was built on piles (no planning permission needed) and also a small jetty so the local boat, taking tourist up the loch to the highest waterfall in Scotland, could bring its passengers to view the garden and buy plants. High winter tides were a threat and the salt water from the SE gales in winter had to be washed off the evergreen plants with fresh water. Eventually the garden developed with plants from Sheffield and around the world. Amidst the 3000 species of imported plants, many exotics, an old rowan tree was retained ‘to keep the witches away’.
Transformation of the barren coastline was achieved but eventually maintenance of the garden became too much for the couple and following the cessation of the boat trips their customers dwindled and they decided after 16 years to give it up and return home to Sheffield, where they are active as ‘Friends of Sheffield Botanic Gardens’.
Verdict- fascinating.

Social Meeting 3rd March 2016

Despite cold damp weather the attendance for this first meeting of the year was quite good, approx. 30. This number included a few guests of which one was persuaded to join the Society. After welcoming all, Roy introduced the main item, a slide show given by Bob Kellock illustrating the 4 coach trips which were organised for members last year. The gardens visited were quite diverse and provided plenty of interest and colour, sufficient to lift spirits and whet the appetite for this year’s trips. Bob was applauded and Rosemary briefly reminded members what is in store over the next months and invited bookings. Following the show there was plenty of general chat between members during the refreshments . The two raffle prizes were won by Jean Philbin and David Osborn.

Illustrated talk by Anthony Norman of Conquest Nursery 29th October 2015

Some years ago, Anthony gave us an interesting talk based on variegated plants and Roger Wood, our talks organiser, thought it was time to have him back for a different talk on ‘Colour in the seasons’. It was well attended by 32 people who enjoyed seeing Anthony’s selection of plants/flowers through the four seasons with his pertinent and informative narrative. By showing such a wide range of plants he was suggesting we experiment to get more interesting effects, using combinations in colour and form but always remembering the conditions have to be right for the plant to thrive. Even in the depths of winter there needs to be something of interest in our gardens and his examples were predominantly suited to our locality. Plants like hostas will grow vigorously but we learned that slug and snail damage is best combated at an early stage when the growth is young and tender. Regular attention is needed to avoid repeated attacks but damaged foliage can be chopped back at any time to promote fresh new growth. Other tips were given throughout the talk which at times was sprinkled with wry humour. Following the talk members bought from the interesting selection of plants which Norman had brought from his Conquest Nursery. Roger gave the vote of thanks on behalf of all attending.


Norton Priory walled garden - 1st October 2015

This was the final trip for 2015, attracting just 21 which resulted in use of a small coach. Thankfully Indian summer weather prevailed and the day went very well. The drive was fairly short and some time was spent initially at Daresbury visiting the Lewis Carroll centre, a recent extension to the parish church where his father, Rev Dodgson, was a much loved vicar. After light refreshment our lady guide gave an excellent talk explaining the history of Lewis Carroll and the many references in the memorial stained glass window. He was evidently a very gifted man and apart from storytelling he invented puzzles, was a university don, a pioneer photographer and churchman. He delighted in setting his audience/readers hidden meanings. After a brief stroll in the village and collection of some horse chestnuts (conkers) the party had lunch at the Ring o’ Bells pub and then were driven a short distance to Norton Priory. A short walk took us to the restored Victorian Walled Garden and a guided talk was given by the head gardener with specific reference to national collection of quince and apple trees. We were reminded briefly of the history of the ruined priory (now being excavated) and the long demolished 19thC manor house. Later a tasting session was offered and freshly harvested fruit and preserves were available for members to buy before the return journey.


Social Evening - 25th Sept 2015

There were a good 25 at the meeting including some newish members, David & Diane Beever and Mary Prime with her husband Terry ,making an ideal number for the size of room. After initial briefings by Roy, Bob and Rosemary, the meeting got off to an entertaining start with Dave Parker giving a short presentation/demo on ‘Air-Pot’ system for container and pot plants which are grown in black plastic sheeting moulded into cones both inside and out, cut to size and assembled. Plant roots get more air via the holes in the outer cones and keep moist from the reservoir effect of the inner cones. It is claimed to eliminate root circling and promote good fibrous root system which in turn leads to healthier and faster growth. Dave was enthusiastic about the idea and offered details to anyone interested, but isn’t particularly cheap.
A large quantity of surplus harvest apples were shared out and a few plants likewise . The evening went well and the refreshments and wine certainly added to the conviviality. We were grateful to Alec & Jean Clough who had come direct from a day’s cycling on the Wirral to help out before returning to their home at Chapel-en-le-Frith.


Burnby Hall Gardens and Breezy Knees Gardens - 23rd July 2015

A party of 18 set out on a cool and cloudy ‘summer’s’ day thankfully free of rain. Our first stop was Burnby Hall gardens and museum, approx. 15 miles east of York, renowned for its superb national collection of hardy water lilies (over 100 varieties). With a little sunshine the flowers began to open up , each patch of lilies labelled on posts on the upper and lower lakes. We had a brief introductory talk by the head gardener . The original owner of the estate, Major Percy Stewart, an adventurer and collector, developed the gardens, inspired by his wife Katherine, and left them in trust after his death in 1962. The lakes are full of carp and roach which could be easily fed along the edges adding greatly to the interest. Other attractions were the stumpery, Victorian garden, aviary, and rockery, all in a very attractive park setting. Refreshments at the Lilypad café were enjoyed by all.

Our next stop was Breezy Knees Garden & Nursery, on land which was arable farmland, exposed to the wind- hence ‘Breezy Knees’. The site has been developed since 1999 with trees, shrubs and hedges, then flower borders, created in 2006, and expanded into numerous varied gardens covering an extensive area. It was quite possible to get disorientated but everything was extremely well laid out with very impressive large scale planting combined with features such as the timed fountain and double borders. To minimise weeding and retain moisture the beds are generously covered with bark chippings which also show the planting off to best effect. All the plants are kept in excellent condition, almost too good to be true, and must reflect a considerable investment. The Nursery claims to be ‘perennial specialists’, reflecting everything seen growing in the gardens. We certainly felt they were designed to show plants at their best. As visitors we were duly impressed if not overwhelmed, but glad of some further refreshments at the café to restore us before the journey back home.


Cobble Hey Farm & Gardens - 4th June 2015

By good fortune the day was blessed with fine warm weather and plenty of sunshine, far better than the preceding weeks. All 21 enjoyed the trip despite the lengthy delay due to road resurfacing on the A6 north of Preston. The first venue, Cobble Hey was eventually reached along some narrow lanes towards the Forest of Bowland, a very quiet area with beautiful views of the countryside down towards the coast. The present owners , Dave & Edwina, have developed the farm and gardens over the last 10 years making it into a haven of peace and tranquillity in the beautiful rural setting. In addition to the garden the various animal rare breeds with their young provided extra interest. Lunch refreshments were excellent and good value, and to cap it off some sampled the delicious home made ice cream.
Our second venue, Clearbeck House garden, was reached in the afternoon, after a very scenic drive along quiet narrow roads. This garden is phenomenal. It has virtually everything , a small lake, stream, stone bridges, a rill, vista, temple and mount ,focal points etc. all delightfully arranged. The owners, Peter and Bronwen Osborne, are passionate gardeners, steeped in garden history, and from what was an old farm, have developed the garden over many decades, adding new features year on year. Its design is exceptionally attractive, blending well into the scenery which includes a view of Ingleborough in the distance. There is a good of diversity of plants but the garden is also artistic with sculptures of stone, metal or wood, and other novel features such as the large fish with CDs reflecting the sunlight colours, all subtlety positioned to catch the eye. In places there are various references to classical myths and legends, appealing to the intellect. Peter did his best to enlighten us in his introductory talk. Light refreshments were taken on the patio with lovely views overlooking the garden, before the uneventful return journey. This was indeed a memorable day.


Norton Priory walled Garden talk

This illustrated talk, attended by 25 members, was given by Kathy Williams aided by her husband Keith and both are dedicated volunteers of the Walled Garden at Norton Priory. It became immediately obvious that they are deeply involved in the restoration and maintenance of the garden . Initially Kathy gave us a full insight into the history of the priory from 900years ago, which at one time was a significant monastery but is now a ruin which is being excavated thanks to millions granted via the Lottery Fund. The walled garden came into being when an Edwardian Mansion was built on the Priory site, to provide flowers and food produce for the rich owners at the time, as was the custom in the late 18th Century, but the estate was sold off by the owners who had grand houses elsewhere and the ‘Priory’ house latterly became derelict and eventually had to be demolished as the fabric was crumbling through lack of maintenance. Over the last decade the walled garden has been restored mainly due to local volunteers, guided by old plans and records found. Kathy took us on a virtual tour of the garden with its four quadrants and the Head Gardener’s house and plot. Apparently the Head Gardener was in full charge of running the garden for the house owners and had a prestigious position. He dressed as a gentleman not a worker and was responsible for all the planning and management of the work force, never actually doing any physical work himself in the garden. Keith enlightened us with his comments on how he passed his ‘ladder training’ which gardeners now need before they can be allowed to harvest fruit on high tree branches. He also pointed out an interesting asparagus ‘hedge’ on one of the photos. The garden has the national collection of approximately 25 quince trees and members will have an opportunity to experience a tasting session on the booked visit this coming autumn.


Hodsock Priory, 26th February 2015

Despite atrocious wet weather throughout most of the coach journey 28 of us arrived at Hodsock Priory to a warm welcome and much dryer conditions, albeit somewhat cold and windy. The main attra_ction was the award winning snowdrop woods which were looking at their best. Through the garden there was bright colour from cyclamen coum , various hellebores , yellow aconites and the white snowflakes, slightly bigger than the snowdrops, wych-hazel (hamamelis), specimens of garrya elliptica with long graceful grey racemes, and various other early spring flowers and blossoms.
After lunch the present owner’s son George Buchanan gave a short talk on the history of the large Hodsock estate ,pre Domesday book to date.The most notorious owner, Henry Francis Mellish, lost all his money gambling and the house fell into ruin, but it was rebuilt by his sister Anne Chambers in 1829 and became known as Hodsock Priory, although it never was a priory.The house is now the residence of the Buchanan family and run as a business, hosting wedding receptions etc.
During the afternoon the weather brightened up and sunshine prevailed before we departed for home having had a rewarding day.



Anne Beswick on “Garden Design” 2nd October 2014
A total of 19 members attended this meeting forfeiting the autumn afternoon sunshine, but were rewarded by an interesting and relevant talk on the criteria for designing a good garden.There was plenty of useful advice and warnings of things to avoid e.g. letting trees grow too big before deciding to remove, planting in wrong situ, and getting carried away buying plants without thinking if they are suitable. Anne suggested adopting a theme for the garden which would then focus attention on a limited range of plants making it easier to choose and manage. The theme would need to be suited to the conditions . Things like water features and climbing plants eventually become problems to maintain and in her opinion should be avoided. As a rough guide Ann recommended adopting the 1 : 2 thirds ratio (open space to planted area or vice versa) which is the garden layout usually found most pleasing to the eye, and showed pictures of various gardens which illustrated this. Garden features, ornaments etc should be placed in the most favoured spot for their size to be viewed and fit the surroundings.
Following the talk Anne answered members’ questions mostly in relation to their own gardens. David Jeremy had a humorous idea to use his old bicycle as a garden feature, subject to his wife Jean’s agreement of course.
Raffle prizes were won by June Irwin, Jean Jeremy (for a friend), and Hilda Burgess.

SOCIAL EVENING 12th September 2014
Attendance at the social evening lacked quantity but not quality! 12 members and 2 guests were able to make it. Home- made preserves were brought by David Osborn, Margaret Day and Joyce Eyre. Excellent refreshments were produced by Rosemary Kellock and a glass of wine added to the general enjoyment. David and Margaret discussed with those present the proposed trials of traditional and peat-free composts, which members of the Society will undertake next year. Watch this space and let David know if you are interesting in being a participant. Sufficient compost for the purposes of the trial will be provided.

Shrewsbury Flower Show, 9th August 2014.

By contrast this trip only attracted 13 people and we therefore had Golden Green's small brand new 19 seater coach driven by Wendy. The weather was perfect and we arrived spot on time to be dropped of at the main entrance to the show rather than the more remote coach park. The show had everything you would expect and more. Numerous displays and events were linked to commemorate WW1 and the fact that the show in 1914 was cancelled because of the war . The brass bands were superb and kept going throughout the day with various programmes some of which were war time themes. There was a Red Arrows fly past just after 2pm which people were reminded of beforehand, but cameras had to be at the ready to get a decent photo due to the brevity, only a few seconds it was gone.
Apart from the large floral marquees and pavilions there were numerous stands for societies, traders and exhibitors and some show goers were dressed in period costume or dress inspired by the WW1 period, especially the various forces which were represented and ladies dressed as suffragettes. One of the most stunning and poignant displays was a WW1 life size trench scene made up of paper and cardboard created by Birmingham City University students. Celebrities such as Pippa Greenwood gave lectures on gardening topics and there were cookery sessions. On the entertainment side there was a large arena where horse show jumping, dog display teams and other events took place. Amusement shows abounded, including giant Punch & Judy characters, penny farthing bikers, flowerpot men and numerous others throughout the show ground. We were duly sated by the time we re-boarded our coach, with some souvenirs of course. Rosemary organised flowering plants for the three raffle prizes.



“The weather was set fair apart from thunderstorms rumbling up the country, which happily didn’t affect us. This proved a very popular trip with 47 on a comfortable modern coach (Golden Green). Initially we visited Cartmel with its very impressive 800 year old priory and the small but very attractive Cumbrian Food market being held that day. Getting the large coach through the centre of Cartmel to the racecourse car park was quite a feat but after a short drive to Grange over Sands we arrived at the narrow lane up to Yewbarrow House; this was deemed too awkward for the coach and so most of us had a steep climb uphill. The house owner Mr Jonathan Denby was present and brought the less vigorous up the road by car. The elevated house and garden overlook beautiful Morecambe Bay and Mr Denby explained that the garden benefits from being south facing, with over 40 inches of rainfall a year. It is well sheltered by mature trees and has its own microclimate enabling exotic plants to thrive . Situated on limestone, the drainage is very good and most plants overwinter well. The Dahlia trial beds were very colourful and we were impressed by the opulence of the garden features, a modern orangery with pool , a Japanese hot spring pool, walled Victorian Garden and numerous interesting sculptures, including a Italianate terrace and Victorian kitchen garden, throughout the 4 acre sloping site. Altogether this turned into a very interesting and varied day out.”


Wollerton Old Hall 14th May 2014

fter some very heavy prolonged showers the previous days we were very relieved to have a warm sunny day for this visit. We filled the 27 seater coach and had a good journey both there and back. As the garden is only open to the public Fridays and weekends and our trip was by special arrangement, we had the garden virtually to ourselves. After an introductory talk by the head gardener, Andrew, (formerly at Biddulph Grange) we were free to wander and enjoy this idyllic garden created over the last 25 years by the owner Leslie Jenkins who moved back in 1983 after living in the Hall as a child. Despite being between seasons, there was still plenty of interest and colour. The formal layout of the numerous individual gardens rooms and crossing vistas was wonderful to behold. The Well Garden was particularly stunning with its arrangement of slender yew pyramid spires and there was much more to admire, including a delightful Rill garden, Shade garden, Old garden, Font garden and the informal Croft garden with a magnificent Cornus Florida. Andrew was happy to answer all our queries on unusual plants featured in the garden. The 500 year old Hall (not open to visitors) is small , having a more recent extension which blends quite well, and is greatly enhanced by the garden. An excellent pre-ordered light lunch was served in the adjacent tea room and we returned with many trophies from the plant sales.


Talk by Irene Dougan "Gardens of Derbyshire" 1st May 2014

This talk, aborted last year due to severe winter conditions, was held on a Thursday afternoon rather than an evening in response to members suggestion. Happily it attracted an attendance of 33 including 2 non–members and was held at the Whaley Bridge Uniting Church. The speaker, Irene Dougan, Derbyshire County Organiser for NGS, talked on NGS and ‘Gardens of Derbyshire’. She briefly outlined the origins of NGS which started in 1927 attracting donations for the Queen’s Nursing Institute. The Scheme now covers England & Wales and last year well over £2 million was donated to national charities such as Carers Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Help the Hospices, Perennial, and the QNI.
She then gave us an illustrated insight into the listed Derbyshire gardens including some interesting anecdotes. It pays to read the Yellow Book entry before a visit. For instance, despite its name, Bluebell Arboretum is not a wood full of bluebells. The range of gardens varies enormously from small back gardens to large estates, of which Melbourne Hall is a favourite. The list also includes some National Trust gardens such as Calke Abbey. However Irene did make the point that people relate very strongly to smaller gardens.
Finally she gave an insight into how gardens are included in the Scheme pointing out that it requires a lot of ongoing work throughout the year for gardens to be at their best when open. In many cases the owners can only accept visitors by appointment, particularly when it is a small garden or if the owner is very elderly or where access is limited in some way. Nonetheless she believes it to be very rewarding for the ego to have one’s garden included.
The talk certainly gave food for thought and should inspire us to visit NGS gardens more frequently.

Ashwood Nurseries - 20th Feb 2014

With the recent chaotic weather it was a great relief to get a good day for this trip. There were 28 on the coach , boosted by another 6 at the Nurseries. After initial refreshments we were given an hour’s guided tour explaining the propagation of hellebores, one of their speciality crops for which they have received international acclaim. Our expert young lady guide was quite superb, holding our attention throughout, and giving a wealth of detail in the most easily understood manner. She gave us fascinating insights into the processes and demonstrated how tweezers and labelling are essential tools in cross pollinating. After lunch at the very busy restaurant we had a guided tour of the owner’s celebrated private 3 acre garden, tucked behind the nurseries on the bank of the Staffs & Worcestershire canal. Again our guide was excellent, an elderly recently retired employee who knew the garden intimately, and we were amazed at the various features and wide variety of planting from snowdrops, cyclamen, and aconites forming carpets of colour, to witch hazels and sarcococca filling the air with scent. A wide range of hellebores also featured amongst a variety of other plants, including various conifers, birch, dogwoods, acers, willows and a stunning border of ornamental grasses. Overall this was excellent start to this year’s trips !


Social Evening 13th February 2014

We have abandoned our usual venue , Holy Trinity Church rooms, due to stairs being a problem for some elderly members. This was our first meeting at WB Uniting Church using their ground floor room and kitchen which was perfectly adequate for our purpose. However the Uniting church rules strictly forbid any alcohol on the premises, so we had to make do without wine, but it appeared the 26 members attending had no complaints. Otherwise the refreshments organised by Rosemary were much the same as usual, tea/coffee, biscuits, cakes etc.. Another rule forbids the holding of a raffle ( it's deemed a form of gambling) unless no money changes hand, so raffle tickets were free and prizes were won by Janet Aldridge, Joan Macbeth and Dave Parker . The main item of the evening was a slide show given by Bob Kellock featuring last year's coach trips (excluding the Highgrove visit). There was a minor delay at the start due to a minor traffic incident on the ramp up to the car park, involving Bob & Pam Pierce, but thankfully nobody was hurt and the car was restored to the road surface by some local strongmen volunteers. In his introduction, Roy welcomed two new members, David & Christine Brooks, local Whaley residents. Finally the kitchen was left beautifully clean by helpers, Joyce Eyre and Jean Philbin.


Coffee Morning 14th December 2013

We had probably our best ever Coffee Morning last Saturday 14th December, at the Mechanics Institute. Luckily the weather was good so there were plenty of people around the village and extra interest was
generated by the sale of numerous Xmas flowering bulbs planted up in bowls and baskets. This was due to the inspiration of Rosemary (Social Sec) who with the committee's approval went ahead and bought hundreds of bulbs in bulk at wholesale prices . It entailed a considerable amount of effort on her part, potting up the bulbs and housing them for nearly 2 months before the event., and then there was the pricing and labelling of the 65 items and transport. Thankfully the hard work paid off as virtually all the bulbs were sold and a handsome profit was made. This considerably boosted the takings but results from the raffle and sale of refreshments, cakes etc. and bric-a-brac were also very good due to the splendid team effort involving committee and members who gave their time to help out. Thanks is due to all involved.


Bee-Keeping - talk 18th October 2013

There were 27 attending the meeting , including 2 guests from New Mills Allotments and new member Judy Hardman, all of whom were warmly welcome by chairman, Roy Jennings. Roger Wood, the Society’s talks organiser, then introduced the speaker, Paul Wheeldon who hails from Disley . Paul then gave a very interesting talk on honey bees which he has been keeping for some 14 years, currently possessing around 12 colonies. He is highly qualified local expert and very passionate about bees. The excellent informative talk covered the types of honey bee, their yearly cycle, reproduction, hive construction, swarms, etc. all illustrated on Powerpoint. Even more information was divulged in the subsequent lively question and answer session when Paul told us a number of humorous anecdotes, keeping us entertained for far longer than expected until the vote of thanks which was followed by the raffle and finally refreshments.

photo #1, photo #2

Social Evening 13/09/13

Despite the rain, over 20 members attended the Social meeting Friday 13th Sept '13 at Trinity Chuch rooms, Whaley Bridge. The buffet refreshments included wine and the remains of the 30th anniversary celebration cake which had matured slightly due to being frozen for a few weeks. There was a selection of home produce, mostly fruits, assesed by our expert, Margaret Day . It was plain to see there was a huge difference in the size of blueberries grown from bushes in containers compared to those grown in the ground which were much larger.
Unfortunately the raspberry tasting was limited to Margaret's excellent offering and a small contribution from Rosemary Kellock. It seems not many members grow raspberries. However there was evidence of other fruits, Worcester berries, Victoria plums, blackberries etc. which had all done well this summer. To the amazement of all, Dave Parker and his wife Marian won both the raffle prizes, an attractive planter and a potted cyclamen.


Coton Manor

Despite a bad weather forecast for much of the country no rain was encountered and the conditions were good for viewing this wonderful garden. The attractive 17th century manor house is complemented by the adjacent terraces with lawn and colouful herbaceous borders, all beautifully laid out with numerous interesting features. The well maintained garden, laid out in 1925, slopes down gradually from the manor house and is landscaped on different levels with an impressive variety of effects. The whole balance of the garden seemed perfect., plenty of mature trees, stream-lets and a couple of ponds one with ducks the other with flamingos. There were also rare breed chickens roaming around on the lawns or in the flower beds( no damage apparent). The bluebell wood and the wildflower meadow would be great for spring/ early summer visitors. The stableyard cafe and plant sales were all commendable, adding to the enjoyment of this excellent garden visit, the last for the current year.


Saturday 27th July 2013
30th Anniversary Garden Party

Over 40 members and guests attended this landmark event which was hosted by Derek and Anne Lear at their house, Greenoak,Taxal, with its fantastic garden which they have patiently developed over the last 30 years. Happily warm sunny weather prevailed although thunderstorms followed in the evening. A magnificent full buffet with wine was enjoyed in the wonderful garden. To crown the event there was a huge iced celebration cake which chairman, Roy Jennings, carved following a
Short speech where he paid tribute to Bob & Pam Pierce founder members, and gave a vote of thanks to the hosts and all who had contributed towards the catering , especially Rosemary Kellock, Social Secretary, who was responsible for organising the event.. Anne Lear was presented with a bouquet of flowers and subsequently a donation of £100 was given to Derek in support of his Kenyan Charity. Finally there was a raffle to round off a delightful summer afternoon.


Burton Agnes

There were 24 of us on this excellent trip. With summer truly in full swing we were very appreciative of the air conditioned coach as the temperature rose well into the 20s Celsius. On arrival, there was a marvellous view of the Hall through the large gatehouse archway up the drive, bordered with well-trimmed topiary, to the grand Elizabethan Hall. A much smaller Norman Manor House, dating back nine hundred years, was also on view nearby. The extensive walled garden was crammed full of interest and holds a National collection of campanulas, which were looking very impressive around a huge white Kiftsgate type rose, flowering over a central arbour. With the recent few weeks of sunshine plant growth has been exceptional and the profusion of flowers and shrubs was quite spectacular with vibrant colours, especially the roses and delphiniums. Alas, the fragrances were rather muted due to a pervasive smell drifting over from nearby farmland. The potager was overflowing with fruit and vegetable plants. Water lilies featured in the classical pond set in a lawn area bordered with more topiary.
The courtyard café served excellent refreshments and there were some very interesting items in the plant sales (at reasonable prices). Those, who opted to view the Hall, were able to admire some fine elegant rooms, including bedrooms for the King and Queen. The Great Hall with its furnishings was very impressive as was the early Georgian long gallery. Thankfully photos were permitted ! Raffle prizes were won by Annette Dunk, Joan Wood and Fran Allen.

Muncaster Castle

Despite a bad weather forecast 19 of us went on this trip. After a 3 ½ hour drive we arrived just as light rain set in. It didn’t prevent us enjoying the huge rhododendron collection and extensive gardens. The lovely grass terrace, with its clipped yew and box edging (approximately ½ mile long), was very impressive giving fine views up the estuary towards the mountains. We were told about the World Owl Centre by the head keeper and had close up views of a tawny owl and a very attractive barn owl both of which were getting quite wet with the worsening weather. The other owls were viewable in their enclosures. Shelter from the weather wasn’t difficult as there was an excellent café in the stable yard and of course the castle to view. Owned by the Pennington family since 1208 it is an impressive structure featuring the Great Hall and the elegant octagonal library and drawing room with barrel ceiling. Its present owner, the rather eccentric, but feisty octogenarian, Gordon-Duff-Pennington, personally thanked us just before the coach left for our return journey.

Photos:- Mike's , Bob's

Dunham Massey

There were 22 on the trip to Dunham Massey (NT) and the weather was delighfully sunny and warm despite a cooling breeze. Some attended an initial short talk giving historical details of the Georgian house and garden and then we strolled around the gardens including the large 'winter' garden which was a little disappointing, mainly due to the long harsh winter and late spring. The fragrence from shrubs of lonicera was wonderful and there were plenty of daffodils/narcissus on view together with the ubiquitous hellebores and other spring flowers, albeit the snowdrops were over. After refreshments many of us went sightseeing around the hall which is very extensive and reveals the wealth of its past aristocratic owners. Two attractive horaries c 1800 were displayed in the small but prized library and there was an impressive collection of silverware. Adjacent to the restaurant building there was a 400 year old saw mill in good working order which proved yet a further point of interest to cap off an excellent day out.


Social Evening

report photos

Parcevall Gardens

This was the last garden visit this year and thankfully the weather did not spoil it. There were just 17 in the party which was fortuitous because only a small coach could access the single track road and narrow gateway upto the Hall. On arrival a few decided on refreshments first at the teashop by the entrance while the others started viewing the upper end of the estate. The natural limestone rock garden, and rose garden led further uphill through woodland to a lovely scenic viewpoint overloooking Troller's Gill. Following the paths down led to the Hall complex, built from the a derelict 17C farmhouse by Sir William Milner after aquiring the property in 1927. He restored and enlarged the house (not open to visitors) and laid out the gardens and grounds, enhancing the already attractive Wharfedale scenery. In particular the terraces laid down the hill from the Hall are beautifully engineered with stone butresses supporting the retaining walls, and there is a good variety of trees, rhodos etc in the wooded areas. The most spectacular floral display were specimens of Eucryphia glutinosa cascading in a huge arch .
Other striking plants in flower included two beautiful clematis draping the stone walling, and a long border of deep blue agapanthus, The south facing panorama view from the top terrace across the valley was just perfect. Above all it was so peaceful, being in a very quiet part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We came away feeling very contented.


HighGrove Visits


Ness Gardens and Barton Village Gardens

Mixed weather was forecast for the day but on arrival at Ness it was initially cloudy then turned quite sunny in the afternoon with NO rain for a change. The botanic garden at Ness had a lot to offer, especially in the area of terraces which are being enlarged and which give distant views over the Dee estuary. The grounds are quite extensive and incorporate numerous features such as a labyrinth, various ponds and waterfalls, a potager and alpine house etc. and appear to be well kept under the custody of Liverpool University. Lunch refreshments were had at the visitor centre, after which the coach took us a short distance to Burton village. Special arrangements had been made for us to view two superb house gardens, the first beautifully managed by Pauline (a very fit elderly lady) and the second a much larger garden derived from extra land hidden well behind the main road from the house owned by Liz Carter, a perfectionist and dedicated garden enthusiast. Each of these gardens had a WOW factor. As usual, members enjoyed the tea/coffee and cakes, and then took advantage of the plant sales. In between we had a brief but interesting guided talk on the restoration of Burton Manor garden.


Hodnet Hall Gardens

Despite clashing with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and an abysmal weather forecast, we managed to nearly fill a small coach with 18 people made up of members and friends. It was certainly an umbrella day
right from the start but tolerable because we could get shelter when necessary in the large tea room and marquee. Both these places were serving refreshments and the marquee provided some light entertainment
from young flute players and a very good choir. The Planthunters Fair was intertesting with plenty of good quality plants on offer, and it was good to see our friend Anthony Norman of Conquest Nursery who had a
stall. Unfortunately the attendance was very disappointing due to the persistent wet weather and Jubilee activities. The extensive and well kept garden grounds included numerous points of interest , in
particular the rhodos and azaleas (see photos below) . The privately owned hall buliding was closed to the public . While the poor weather did mar the enjoyment, most of us felt it was a worthwhile and interesting visit.

Plant Swap 2012

Many thanks to the many members and friends who attended and sent plants to our annual plant swap, it was avery succesful morning. The weather played its part by being fine and still enabling members to sit, mingle and swap gardening experiences. The remaining plants will be taken to the coffee morning on June 9th .

RHS Spring Show - Harrogate

Having been spoilt by good weather on last year’s trips, we had a sudden reversal this time with absolutely diabolical weather. All day it was so cold and wet with driving rain that the Show was actually closed 2 hours early at 3.30 pm. There were 39 of us on the Golden Green coach after 4 members were unable to join us. Umbrellas were useless in the strong northerly wind and the showground was literally awash except inside the 3 large halls or the complex of huge marquees housing the vast assortment of exhibits, displays, demonstrations etc. where everybody congregated. The indoor caterers were inundated with people wanting hot refreshments but outdoors the bands never got going through lack of an audience and the stallholders were doing very little business. Amazingly most members kept smiling despite the ordeal and some managed to bring back a few trophies . Ironically the next day the wind had dropped and it was marvellously warm and sunny. Well as they say ‘you can’t win them all’.

Photos - Bob's, Mike's


report awaited

Social Evening and Slide Show

A superb slide show of last year's visits provided by Bob (Kellock) attended by 38 members,

followed by drinks, nibbles and good chat.

For those who missed it there is a selection of the photos under each visit on this page

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

report photographs

Cholmondeley Castle and Gardens

report photographs



Hebbs Farm

On 4th June with the promise of a lovely summer day, 31 members set out for Nottingham to visit Hebbs Farm and Norwell Nurseries. We had a very good journey through lovely countryside to reach Hebbs Farm owned by Stuart Dixon at Stoke Bardolph. As we walked through the gate, the scent of the many roses greeted you and the Rambling Rector rose on the tall wall at the side of the garden was spectacular. Stuart and his wife offered us a very welcome cup of tea on arrival with home-made scones which were eaten on the lawn whilst admiring the rose garden. The 18th Century garden was recreated gradually and the various “garden rooms” are all very attractive with peonies, delphiniums, flowering shrubs and trees and there was a small plant sale area with some good bargains. We then moved on to our lunch stop at Manor House Farm which served us with a selection of sandwiches, strawberries and cream and optional coffee.
Our coach then took us through lovely scenery to Norwell to see a Nursery and garden created by Andrew and Helen Ward. Andrew explained that the garden is separated into different plant areas and we were taken round this with a very detailed talk on the plants, their habits, likes & dislikes – I have not seen so many note-scribblers on a trip for a long while. The garden was very colourful and the adjacent nursery was very well stocked with plants of good quality which had all been propagated by Andrew. (He also supplies plants by mail order and has a website). We finished the day with a cup of tea and selection of cakes before departing with a coach-load of plants, arriving back at Whaley Bridge slightly later than advised, but no-one was complaining.

hebbs farmhoose photo - Bob's photos link

Plant Swap

Although the rain held off many members must have thought it was going to rain because the attendance was poor after the good weather last year, however a lot of plants changed hands especially tomatoes with members trying different varieties,squash plants donated by Dave Powell of Fernilee found a new home with Jean Clough of Chapel who had a corner to fill. Most of the left over plants will be on sale at the coffee morning when we will hope for more support,

Felley Priory

The visit proved to be a success as although the daffodils had partly gone over because of all the sunshine – there was a well laid-out garden, very much in keeping with the building itself, with a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants in bloom. I think many photographs were taken – one interesting feature was the large number of fritilleries of all different colours growing in the rough grass under the trees. Their nursery was well stocked with bulbs, bedding plants and small shrubs as competitive prices and in good condition, and there was a mini specialist plant sale by the house as well. The tearoom was a bit crowded as this was small – unfortunately the furniture had not arrived in time to open the new one and the prices were also very good. I think most members came back with some purchase judging by the fact that the boot of the coach was filled with yellow NGS carrier bags, full of plants. Raffle prizes went to Jean Philbin, and Dr. & Janet O’Donohue.. Easily found, just off the M1 north of Nottingham,this venue can be recommended to all.

Bob's photos link .....Mike's Photos link

Restoration of the Japanese Garden , Tatton Park

34 members attended this excellent lecture held on 31st March. Simon is Assistant Head Gardener at Tatton Park and has been deeply involved with Tatton’s Japanese Garden during and since its restoration, completed ten years ago. The talk was beautifully illustrated and we learnt a lot from Simon’s extensive knowledge. The components of the Garden were bought by Alan de Tatton, 3rd Baron Egerton and transported to Tatton from their original site at the great Japanese British Exhibition held in London in 1910. The garden is unique. The Japanese created at the exhibition an integrated showcase of the many types of garden which existed in Japan at that time. It is a sampler displaying moss, stone, mountain and water gardens, which would have existed in isolation from each other in their homeland. It is unique for this reason and also because an Englishman made a selection of components in line with his own ideas and enthusiasms. The garden fell into disrepair after the death of Lord Maurice Egerton in the 1950s. The restoration was undertaken with funding from diverse sources and with the support and guidance of Professor Fukuhara from Osaka University. In the 10 years since the restored garden has been viewable by the public, further developmental work has continued. Many of the non-Japanese elements, which were already present in the site used for the Japanese garden, have been removed. Vistas have been opened up and surprise views created, enhancing its “Japanese” character without compromising its uniqueness.
Special events to celebrate the centenary of the garden are being held At Tatton Park around the Japanese Garden on 2nd and 3rd May. There will be special activities for children on 2nd May (Children’s Day in Japan) and informal and interactive talks about Japanese Gardens on 3rd May. Fukuhara-san and his team will be present on both occasions. Anyone interested in attending can get further information from the website www.tattonpark.org.uk (go to Attractions/Whats On or call Tatton Park on 01625 374400 for more details.

talk photo, shrine photo, selection of Roger Wood's photos

Store opening - 27th March 2011

the stores is open - proof

Coffee Morning -11th September 2010

The recent Coffee Morning went as well as could be expected given the
fact that it clashed with The Whaley Bridge Flower Show and the very
changeable weather, hot and sunny and then torrential rain showers and
very humid. Also some of our regular helpers were unavailable for
various reasons albeit those who did managed to cope quite adequately.
Thanks are particularly due to June Christon who brought numerous
homebaked cakes, was part of the catering team from the start, and sold
coffee and raffle tickets around the village shops jointly with Barbara
Driver. Members from Chapel, Alison Berry and Rona Coley, also made
significant contributions of cakes, merangues, trifles which proved a
big attraction. The main raffle prizes were won by Dorothy Pearson
(again), and Wendy Tasker.

Open Meeting

At Trinity Church rooms, 13th August there was an attendance of 19 members. The chatting was
quite animated at times and it all went off very informally, with Roy
saying a few words of welcome and thanks as well as mentioning
forthcoming events eg the Malvern Show trip and talk by Simon Tetlow.
There seemed no need to have a Q & A session but this may be worth
reconsidering for the next time. Overall members appeared happy with the
evening, exchanging views and chatting generally, and it was suggested
we arrange more such meetings, sometime next year as we have a Coffee
morning in September and the AGM late October this year. The wine and
refreshments (courtesy of Rosemary Kellock & Irene Osborn) were taken
care of by Mary Howes and Joan Wood (Rosemary being indisposed following
a foot operation). Founder member, Bob Pierce, brought some old press
cuttings and records from the early years of the Society which were
passed round with interest.


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Meynall Langley Trial Gardens & Kedleston Hall

A group of 27 of us set out to just beyond Ashbourne to the Meynall Langley Trial Gardens arriving around 10.15am.
These gardens are very decorative with hanging baskets packed with plants in full bloom and various plants and vegetables growing alongside in beds and the greenhouses. On entry, each member was given detailed listing of all the plants in each of the numbered hanging baskets on display. Mr. Robert Walker also gave an informal talk and spent a lot of time just chatting with members and giving advice or comments on questions. It was interesting that he uses Kings Seeds for all his vegetables and some of the flowers and has found their seed grows true to type and with good results – he also feels they are good value under the various schemes run by them. He was also using some eco-earth to raise plants in which was produced at a recycling plant near Ashbourne, which sounded very interesting. After the talk and a cup of tea, the plant nursery was visited and the coach accommodated quite a number of purchases in the undercarriage.
We then departed for Kedleston Hall and were met by a member of staff who was very helpful and our tickets were sorted without delay. The Hall has had some recent restoration work done and there is a museum worth looking at, as this relates back to the days when Lord Curzon was Viceroy of India. There is also a very well preserved Norman Church alongside the Hall. Unfortunately the garden area has reverted back to mostly rolling parkland due to this “sudden oak death” which is affecting rhododendrons, trees etc. and so vast areas have been cleared to try and stop the disease spreading. The weather managed to stay dry and we all boarded the coach for the raffle and home.


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Alexis Budd's Open Garden

See attached photos taken at Alexis Budd's Open Garden this afternoon.
Attendance was disappointing, approx 20, but we collected £77 and the
Society is increasing this figure to £100 in recognition of the effort
put in by Alexis and others, to provide a donation to the Anthony Nolan
Bone Marrow Trust. A child called Oliver who attends the same school as
Alexis's children is suffering from leukaemia and will benefit from the

I found it very interesting to see how they had overcome the problem of
very steep ground in the back garden by a gigantic terrace which was
well designed and gave a decent sized level area split between lawn and
herbaceous borders with shrubs and trees, a summer house with decking,
and a section for poultry and raised beds with fruit and veg. The
children had a play area at one end and Brian, Alexis's husband, got his
model railway working for us. We also saw some of Alexis's artwork
displayed on the large retaining wall. The catering was excellent and
fresh home grown produce was on offer including eggs and courgettes. The
very warm weather also helped make it a perfect occasion for a Saturday


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Open Gardens - July 2010

Always of interest to WBAGS members, three local gardens were opened to the public recently for charity fundraising. A report will follow in the next edition of the Newsletter.


Coffee Morning - Saturday, 19th Jun 2010

The Coffee Morning raised the net sum of approx £300 on top of which there was a further £28 or store items sold. The plant sale run by Roger and David was very impressive(and professional), and the catering looked mouthwatering, managed as usual by our experienced ladies team. The raffle went well, and 1st prize of a beautiful pink flower dark leafed trailing begonia in a hanging basket was won by member Dr Dorothy Pearson. Thanks all those members who donated plants, cakes, raffle prizes etc. as well as the members for giving the event their support.

Plant Swap - 23rd May 2010

Many of our members took advantage of the beautiful on Sunday May 23rd to attend the annual plant swap.
Plenty of well grown and good plants changed hands, everybody going away with something different.
Members and Friends who had nothing to swap can also take plants in exchange for a small donation to the Society please come along next year and get a bargain. Plants that were left will be on Sale at the Coffee Morning on June 19th

For Photos please see Picture Gallery

Himalayan Garden near Ripon

On Saturday 8th May, 25 of us set out for the Himalayan Garden near Ripon in a small coach, which was just as well because when we turned into the driveway, it was just wide enough for the coach – the view down to the lake was stunning. The owner gave us a brief informative talk as to how the garden had been planned & planted and then we all wandered off in different directions. Paths were good but fairly steep in places but the colours of the rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and bedding plants and foliage were beautiful and there were some very good as well as very quirky sculptures in and around the garden – some of which were for sale at serious prices. It was a painters and photographers paradise as we had good weather and it was not too cold, so everyone made the most of their time there before loading the coach with plant purchases and heading back to Derbyshire in time for a late supper. The raffle was drawn for 2 plants and some fudge. A big thank you to Charles Johns, one of our members, for bringing this private garden to our notice, which is only open briefly in Spring and AutumnOn Saturday 8th May, 25 of us set out for the Himalayan Garden near Ripon in a small coach, which was just as well because when we turned into the driveway, it was just wide enough for the coach – the view down to the lake was stunning. The owner gave us a brief informative talk as to how the garden had been planned & planted and then we all wandered off in different directions. Paths were good but fairly steep in places but the colours of the rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias and bedding plants and foliage were beautiful and there were some very good as well as very quirky sculptures in and around the garden – some of which were for sale at serious prices. It was a painters and photographers paradise as we had good weather and it was not too cold, so everyone made the most of their time there before loading the coach with plant purchases and heading back to Derbyshire in time for a late supper. The raffle was drawn for 2 plants and some fudge. A big thank you to Charles Johns, one of our members, for bringing this private garden to our notice, which is only open briefly in Spring and Autumn.

For Photos please see Picture Gallery



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On March 9th, 32 members attended this talk by Jane Allison and I am sure we all went away with ideas on how we can improve our plots. We had some initial problems with the projector, for which Jane apologised but otherwise the evening went well and thanks go to all involved in helping on the night. I certainly know of one member who has asked Jane to visit her to discuss a project. If anyone else is interested let me know (01663 732112), so we can perhaps organise a combined visit. There was a good selection of plants on sale, together with leaflets on plant fairs in the area, where Jane will be attending. A downside of the evening was that Jane managed to lock her keys in her car when packing everything away, so did not leave until late and arrived home at 1.30am. Her only comfort was that, according to the breakdown team, it often happens with this model of car.


Rhubarb at Oldroyd’s Rhubarb Farm – 6th March 2010

On a cool March morning, 30 members set off to visit the Oldroyd Rhubarb Sheds within the Wakefield Triangle, arriving in time for the start of a very detailed and informative talk given by Mrs. Oldroyd-Hume, who has been involved in the family business most of her life. It transpires that there were originally 200 growers in the region who raised rhubarb for the English and European markets, but as with so many products, the demand waned after the war when exotic fruits became available and rhubarb suffered a decline. As a result there are now only 12 growers in the region. However, rhubarb is again very much in demand and Oldroyd’s supply all the needs of three supermarket chains with forced rhubarb. As a result of her drive to achieve regional recognition, Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb has recently been awarded special status by the EC. Mrs. Oldroyd-Hume also gave us an insight into the properties of rhubarb for healing purposes together with some excellent tips on how to cook and store rhubarb. We then went into the sheds, which are silent and candlelit to show us the actual forcing process as carried out commercially.
All of us came away with a mixture of rhubarb and related products, having found the whole experience very interesting. A “pub lunch” awaited us across the road, where we sampled rhubarb beer, rhubarb relish and rhubarb ice-cream amongst other things. All in all, everyone enjoyed the day out and the raffle produced Jean Graves, Linden Smith and Margaret Day as winners of the rhubarb related prizes.

For Photos please see Picture Gallery