Member Open Gardens

This weekend there are three member open garden opportunities:

  • Saturday 23rd May, 4 – 8pm, Julie Wise (NGS)
  • Sunday 24th May, 1 – 5pm, Sue and Mike Kellard (Preston Open Gardens)
  • Sunday 24th May, 1 – 5pm, Hugh and Meta Reeves (Preston Open Gardens)

Julie Wise / Rustling End Cottage

julieMeander through the wild flower meadow to a cottage garden with contemporary planting. Behind lumpy hedges explore a simple box parterre, topiary, reflecting pool and abundant planting. Late flowering borders feature blue camassia in late spring. Naturalistic planting including the use of wild flowers with perennials and grasses. Our terrace hosts drought-tolerant planting. Hens in residence.

NGS Page

Preston Village Open Gardens

On Sunday 14 village gardens will open, including those of two HHPS members:

  • Kilnwood Cottage is the lovely, informal garden of Sue and Mike Kellard
  • Crunnells Green House is the large garden, including a kitchen garden, of Hugh and Meta Reeves

More information is available here

HPS at the RHS Shows

With exhibitors at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show finally learning the results of the judging, Annie Godfrey of Daisy Roots Nursery, a Herts HPS ex-Chairman and long standing member, won a Silver Gilt for her vibrant exhibit of drought tolerant plants.  You can watch a short video from the BBC, of Annie being interviewed by Nicki Chapman on the mid-afternoon programme on Tuesday, by clicking on the links below.  Congratulations from all of us, Annie! For the video interview, the links below will download the video, pick the format which suits your computer. Depending on your internet connection you may want to make a cup of tea whilst these download to your computer.

Annie got a 2nd interview with Carol Klein also:

Kent HPS also did well at the Chelsea Flower Show, taking home a Silver Gilt for their Grand Pavilion exhibit ‘Over the Garden Gate’.  Their design represented a typical hardy planter’s plot, with a diverse range of interesting plants for both sun and shade, and an emphasis on the propagation and swapping of surplus plants. For more information click here. In other news, The Hardy Plant Society won a Gold Medal at the RHS Malvern Spring Show with an exhibition entitled ‘Shade and Woodland Plants’, incorporating an information board on the activities of the HPS.  For more details, and an absolutely sumptuous plant list, click on the link here. Marion Jay.

Did You Receive Your Copy of The Spring Hardy Plant Journal?

Our group secretary Heather would like to follow up on a request from HPS Head Office, as it appears that some members may not have received their copy of the HPS Spring Journal. The spring edition has a lovely peony picture on the front and is yellow in colour. If you are missing your copy, please use the form below to send a message to Heather who will pass on the information to Ruth Plant in Head Office.

If you are viewing this as an email, please click here to go to the website and use the form.

Members’ Open Garden: Renata Hume, 10 Cross Street, Letchworth

Renata Hume’s garden in Letchworth is open three times in the coming week:

  • Friday 15th May, 5 to 8pm
  • Saturday 16th May, 11am – 2pm
  • Sunday 17th May, 2 – 5pm

renataA cottage garden fronts a Letchworth Garden City exhibition cottage of 1905. The back garden contains informal planting dictated by the gently sloping plot and three formal circular lawns. Trees, shrubs, grasses and herbaceous perennials combine to create interest in the different areas. The garden also contains a lily pond, a small pond for wildlife, a well-stocked greenhouse and an apple walk with a selection of old varieties.

More information at the NGS Page & HHPS Photos from a previous HHPS garden opening.

Members’ Open Garden – The Abbots House

On a bright afternoon last Sunday a small group of Herts HPS members gathered to visit Sue and Peter Tomson’s garden at The Abbot’s House in Abbot’s Langley. It was a real treat to explore the large garden, with myriad paths leading to many different areas, each with their own distinct character and atmosphere. Tall trees shelter the garden from cutting winds and appear to have created a kind of microclimate. It was noticeable that a lot of the plants were advanced compared to those in our own gardens, and several borderline-hardy specimens seemed to be entirely untouched by frost damage; three large Abutilon ‘Suntense’ shrubs were smothered in large, papery, soft-lilac blooms and the stems of an exuberant Grevillea rosemarinifolia were adorned with bunches of exotic, claw-like, rich red flowers. The borders contained many unusual plants and both Sue and Peter were put to the test as visitors asked for names of rare and interesting subjects.

Mown paths led visitors through areas left to grow as wild meadow, filled with Queen Anne’s Lace, bluebells, buttercups and dusky-pink sorrel. Beyond a long Rosa rugosa hedge was an area arranged with specimen shrubs and trees, the grass between them studded with masses of nodding cowslips. Cornus kousa displayed its large white flowers with aplomb; the layers of Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, the Wedding Cake Tree, were enhanced by its flat, horizontal, greenish-white flowerheads, and the exquisite, pale pink flowers of a small quince tree held the promise of a bumper harvest to come.

There were lessons to be learned in shade planting from the Tomsons’ garden. Under the superb Snowdrop Tree (in full flower), grew a small thicket of Smilacina racemosa, its frothy white flowers pumping out scent all around, and a chirpy outcrop of bright blue Omphalodes cappavocica ‘Cherry Ingram’. Nearby, under a shady brick wall where the soil was dry, a mauve-blue Iris confusa was blooming like mad.

At the bottom of the garden, in another area left to grow as wild meadow, stood the beehives. The bees were lively that afternoon, and one breakaway swarm had grouped in a nearby tree, clinging to one another and creating a sort of ‘beard’ hanging from the branches. As we watched, the beard suddenly split and fell into two parts. Quite an extraordinary thing to witness. Apparently, swarming like this implies that the hive has a robust colony. In moving out, the queen is looking for new accommodation and back in the hive a new queen will be chosen. It is vital that the breakaway swarm is captured and rehoused in a hive as soon as possible. Peter went off to phone the bee keeper.

Tea, cake and biscuits were served near the house, where the Tomsons’ conservatory boasted a beautiful Mandevilla boliviensis, its velvety red trumpets strongly contrasted against glossy green foliage. It was a lovely afternoon for all who attended, and our thanks go to the Tomsons for their warm hospitality and remarkable memory for plant names!

Marion Jay

The next Herts HPS Members’ Open Garden event will be held at the Deacons’ in Old Knebworth on 7th June.  If you plan to attend, please email hertshps@gmail.com as we would like to have an idea of numbers beforehand.


Click on the photos to enlarge them, point your mouse to see the captions.

Exclusive Members Social Event: Garden Opening at The Abbots House, Abbots Langley

Coming up on Sunday 10th May is the first of two social events for HHPS Members. Sue and Peter Tomson will be opening their garden from 2 – 4pm. The Tomsons have been opening for the NGS for many years, and their garden is much admired.  Don’t miss this opportunity to get together with other members and spend an afternoon in beautiful surroundings. Our garden visits are one of the benefits of HHPS membership and we encourage everyone to come along.  Tea and biscuits provided.

tomsonThe 1¾-acre garden contains unusual trees, shrubs, mixed borders with interesting colour combinations, a scented garden, sunken garden, pond, Oast House and many Himalayan plants. Highlights in May include the unusual, ruby red-flowered climber, Schisandra rubriflora; the Calico Bush, Kalmia latifolia, and the Snowdrop Tree, Halesia carolina. More information at their NGS Page.

Their address is 10 High Street, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, WD5 0AR, the map below indicates their location. I have found that both normal Google Maps and Streetmap get the location of the house wrong; the entrance is off the roundabout, not further down the road. Try the map below to see where the entrance is (the red pin) and the red line is the boundary of their garden (not a guided walk).

Map Link: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zueQIeQUcUsY.kVG8cquXrP5c&usp=sharing

Map below:

John Wimpenny

Dear Members,

Sadly John Wimpenny, a long standing member of the HHPS, died on Monday, 27th April. His funeral will take place at St Peters Church St Albans at 11.30am 15th May followed by tea in the Octagon room. Our thoughts are with Angela and her family.

Irene Cowan

Garden Openings: Julie Wise and Marion Jay

This weekend two of our members are opening their gardens for the NGS:

  • Julie Wise at Rustling End Cottage, Saturday 2nd May from 4pm to 8pm
  • Marion Jay at 84 Valley Road, Sunday 3rd May from 2pm to 5:30pm

Julie Wise / Rustling End Cottage

julieMeander through the wild flower meadow to a cottage garden with contemporary planting. Behind lumpy hedges explore a simple box parterre, topiary, reflecting pool and abundant planting. Late flowering borders feature blue camassia in late spring. Naturalistic planting including the use of wild flowers with perennials and grasses. Our terrace hosts drought-tolerant planting. Hens in residence. More information at Julie’s NGS Page

Marion Jay / 84 Valley Road

marionThis will be the final year of opening so do not miss the chance to visit this lovely garden. A dramatic garden rising steeply from the back of the house, using an ‘amphitheatre’ of stone wall terracing to accommodate the slope. Planting is largely in the modern perennial style, mixing drifts of drought-tolerant herbaceous plants with a variety of grasses. Three ponds and new front garden prairie planting. There will also be a sizeable plant stall selling plants propagated from the garden. More information on Marion’s NGS Page & also at English Garden Magazine


The full list of member garden openings for 2015 can be seen here at this earlier news item.

2015 Seedling Swap

Garden Opening: Sarah Marsh

HHPS Member Sarah Marsh will be opening her garden three times in the coming week:sarah

  • Weds April 22nd from 2pm to 5pm
  • Sat April 25th from 2pm to 5pm
  • Sun April  26th from 2pm to 5pm

Sarah’s garden has a listed millhouse (not open) with semi-walled garden bordered by a bridged millstream and mill race. This romantic spring garden has ancient apple trees underplanted with an abundant display of tulips and white narcissi. These set off a garden full of perennial promise, within which nestles a stylish summerhouse, a hidden parterre and productive potager. Featured in The Telegraph and Countryside magazine. Click over to her NGS Page for full details and directions.

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