Open Garden visit to Maurice and Chris Lomas’s garden at Westgate, Combs -18 th June 2018
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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
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.
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
Anne Beswick on “Garden Design”
2nd October 2014
SOCIAL EVENING 12th September 2014
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.
CARTMEL AND YEWBARROW HOUSE AND GARDENS 18th July
“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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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’.
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
Cholmondeley Castle and Gardens
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
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,
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.
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.
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
At Trinity Church rooms, 13th August there was an attendance of 19
members. The chatting was
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.
Alexis Budd's Open Garden
See attached photos taken at Alexis Budd's Open Garden this afternoon.
I found it very interesting to see how they had overcome the problem
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
Plant Swap - 23rd May 2010
Many of our members took advantage of the beautiful
on Sunday May 23rd to attend the annual plant swap.
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.
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TALK - “USING SPACE IN THE GARDEN”
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.