New National HPS Website

After a huge investment of time and effort, the national Hardy Plant Society website has been transformed into something colourful, interesting and new. We have our own page on the site, but overall the new design has made better order of the vast amount of information available. Click the link above or the screenshot below to visit the new site.


HPS Diamond Jubilee Garden Opening

To celebrate the Hardy Plant Society’s 60th anniversary in 2017, the national HPS is looking for members who would be willing to open their gardens to both the public and HPS members. Each garden owner may choose the date(s) on which they would like to open, so that their garden may be seen at its peak and ‘star’ plants can be at their best.

An entry fee will be charged at each garden (similar to the pricing for NGS or other openings) and £1 per admission will be passed back to the national HPS to cover the scheme’s administration costs. The balance of each admission may be donated to a charity of the garden owner’s choice, or to their local HPS group, whichever they prefer.

The national Hardy Plant Society has arranged insurance for the opening gardens along the lines of that adopted by the NGS.

A booklet is to be printed at the end of this year, which will give details of all the gardens opening for the HPS Diamond Jubilee across the country. As the booklet will be going to print early next year, the closing date for applications is December 31st.


If you feel you would like to open your garden for this once-only special event, visit the HPS Diamond Jubilee website and provide your details.

Member’s Open Garden Reminder – Liz Machin’s Garden

Sunday 21st August 2016

Our second open garden event this summer is Liz Machin’s garden in Harpenden.  With lots of late summer colour and interesting features, it’s sure to be a hit with Herts Group members, so join us if you can.

2, Barlings Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2AN, 2 – 4pm

Liz Machin will be opening her garden to Herts HPS members at its peak this weekend.  Set in a mature development, the garden is packed with unusual plants – shrubs, herbaceous perennials and climbers – designed to provide all-year-round structure, colour and contrast.

Highlights in August include green-and-white petalled Clematis ‘Alba Luxurians’, starry-flowered Clematis x triternata ‘Rubromarginata’, and towering blue-flowered chicory, Cichorium intybus.

There is also a delightfully colourful courtyard garden incorporating a water feature, and a secluded shade garden. Come along and while away an hour or so in beautiful surroundings. Liz’s garden is also described on her NGS Page

Member’s Open Garden | Tessa Davies

Sunday 31st July

Don’t miss the chance to visit Tessa’s garden in St Albans this weekend.  It promises to be in full summer swing, with plenty of inspiration for Herts Group members.

Member’s Open Garden, 13 Seymour Road, St Albans, Herts, AL3 5HL, 2 – 4pm

Tessa Davies’ surburban garden is planted for all year interest, with contrasting trees, shrubs and grasses forming the backbone of the garden, interwoven with flowering perennials. Planting is broadly Mediterranean in an English garden setting, i.e. with a lawn at the centre. Tessa says Beth Chatto has been a strong influence, as has Christopher Lloyd.

Highlights in July include Cytisus battandieri (pineapple broom); tooth-leaved Melianthus major; Pyrus salicifolia ‘Pendula’; Cornus alternifolia ‘Argentea’, and felty-foliaged Ballota acetabulosa. Rosa glauca sends up arching sprays of glaucous foliage scattered with dainty pink flowers, and ornamental grasses, such as Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Stipa gigantea, add shimmer to the borders.

The back garden is approximately 90ft long and is dominated by a large and very old Bramley apple tree, underplanted with aromatic Phlomis fruticosa and P. russeliana, the perennial poppy Papaver rupifragum and evergreen shrubs such as box. In July, different varieties of phlox and hydrangea are the main flowering plants, but Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and Achillea ‘Moonshine’ will still be going strong. Refreshments provided.

Members Peter and Sue Tomson Featured in Hertfordshire Life

The Abbots garden created by Peter and Sue Tomson are featured in Hertfordshire life, illustrating 25 years of gardening to create the lovely place we visited in 2015. Some of us will recall the HHPS open garden visit there, recounted in this article on the site here. Well done to Sue and Peter.

As a reminder we have two open gardens coming up (check the programme for details):

  • Tessa Davies, Sunday 31st July, 13 Seymour Road, St Albans, Herts, AL3 5HL, 2 – 4pm
  • Liz Machin, Sunday 21st August, 2, Barlings Road, Harpenden, Herts, AL5 2AN, 2 – 4pm


I hope you are enjoying the abundance in your gardens in July and finally some Summer weather.

Date Correction for Margaret Easter

Margaret Easter is opening her garden with a national collection of Thymus on Sunday 3rd July, not Sunday 2nd July. The programme has been updated with this detail, you can read more about Margaret’s garden by clicking here.

Coach Trip Departure Time is 8:45

Please note the coach trip departs at 8:45 from Westminster Lodge, not 8:15 as mentioned in the previous reminder.


Coach Trip Reminder

It’s not too late to go on the annual coach trip this coming weekend, click here to download the booking form and get in touch with Maggie Lacey immediately using her details on the form.  Full information on the trip is below.

Coach Trip – Merriments and Great Dixter

Saturday, 18th June 2016

Coach departure time: 8.15am, from Westminster Lodge, AL1 2DJ

The acclaimed Merriments gardens were laid out on yellow clay in the early 1980s, covering four acres. They are made up of several different areas, including the Wild Area, the colour-themed Golden Border, the Ponds & Tropical border, which were constructed only recently, and the Formal Garden. Also of interest are the Blue Gravel Garden (agapanthus, delphiniums and grasses) and the Hot Border.

The adjoining nursery has an excellent selection of plants for sale, some of which can be seen growing in the garden; their stock-list includes a number of unusual plants which should kindle a lot of interest.

There is a restaurant at Merriments selling hot meals, sandwiches and baguettes, as well as a wide selection of drinks and even desserts. There are two or three gluten-free and/or vegetarian options available, including filled jacket potatoes.

The home and garden of the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter really need no introduction. Most of the garden design was originally by Lutyens, consisting mainly of mixed borders with no specific colour schemes, in contrast to Merriments. Areas include a damp ‘Cat Garden’ (the planting includes caltha, geraniums & lilacs), the Barn Garden, the Topiary Lawn and the famous Long Border with its succession planting. Possibly the most famous part of Great Dixter is the Exotic Garden, where Christo notoriously dug up the old formal rose beds, replacing them with a riot of exotic planting (but I noticed on my last visit there were still a few ‘Mrs Oakley Fisher’ roses left – it will be interesting to see whether they are still there).

You will be able to visit the house if you wish, but our trip price does not include a guided tour. Great Dixter has a good-sized nursery stocking an exciting variety of distinctive and unusual plants, 80% of which are grown on site and may well be seen in the garden.

Refreshments are available from the Loggia next to the Great Dixter shop, including baguettes, salads, cakes and hot drinks. There is no hot food, however.

Picnics may be taken in designated areas near the car parks at both venues, NOT in the gardens, please.

Grand Plant Sale, Before and After



The HHPS Plant Sale team ready themselves for the public



Once the public arrived, a flood of buyers

Beryl (our plant sales coordinator) would like to pass on her thanks to everyone who helped make this annual event a success.


Grand Plant Sale Reminder

Our annual plant sale takes place on Saturday 4th of June from 10am to 12 noon at the URC Church Hall in St Albans. Full address:

United Reformed Church Hall, Homewood Rd, St Albans, AL1 4BH

On the Friday night from 6pm to 9pm member volunteers are required to help sort and price the plants. Members with plants to donate should deliver them to the URC hall at the same time.

Roger Trigg Offer : Geranium maderense

Roger asked us to pass on an offer of Geranium maderense. If any member would like one (they’re at the 1L pot stage) and has the necessary conservatory or heated greenhouse to over-winter it, would they contact Roger (email or 01923 774293) and I’ll bring it/them on Saturday.

Annie Godfrey Success at RHS Chelsea 2016

Our ex-Chairman Annie received a Silver-Gilt at RHS Chelsea 2016 for her garden in the main pavilion. Annie described it like this:

The exhibit showcases plants that are resistant to drought conditions. The lower or ground level features plantings in gravel, which create a beach-like feel. A path winds through the planting, leading to steps and a second, more densely planted area. Daisy Roots hope to prove that low rainfall does not mean low levels of interesting planting.

Photos courtesy of Heather Osborne