Upcoming Events

The links to the Hardy Plant West Yorkshire group membership form and privacy policy are available at the bottom of this page.

Friday 8 February:   

Sledmere Gardens through the Year: Andrew Karavics 

 Andrew trained at Bishop Burton College & arrived at Sledmere House in 2009. After two years became the Head Gardener. Since then he has given the gardens a whole new lease of life – they are now renowned for their innovative planting, wildlife and continual development. 

Andrew set about creating themed gardens. The first one was the Potager – an ornamental vegetable garden. Then there was the Angel Garden which has gentle planting followed by the Lark Ascending Garden which contains 12,000 spring bulbs. Andrew introduced a more naturalistic form of planting and started growing plants from seed. Now, not only is the garden full of bright, vibrant flowers throughout the year, it also attracts wildlife.

The ‘Reflection Garden’ has a central pond, a brick path surrounded by swags and honeysuckle and lots of plants in reds, oranges and purples. There is also a croquet lawn.

Andrew likens gardening to 3D painting; that is how we see it. He is supported by a team including Ralph the Labrador.

Sledmere House, Sledmere, Driffield YO25 3XG 

Snow Drops in the Grounds – Free entry until 15 February: https://www.sledmerehouse.com/DB/events/snow-drops-in-the-grounds-free-entry-until-15th-february.html


Friday 8 March:

“Things that turn me on” – Confessions of a Plant Freak: Nick Macer

Nick is the owner of Pan Global Plants. He describes himself as a ‘Globetrotting botanical nerd’.


For more information on the programme for 2019 visit the programme page.

There is a monthly raffle apart from the months when we have a Plant Auction and during the summer months. Tickets £1.00. Prizes – good quality plants. 


*Important date for your diary: Saturday 4 May 2019, 10 am – 4 pm:*

THE MAGIC OF PLANTS  – biennial conference
Britannia Leeds-Bradford Airport Hotel, Bramhope, Leeds LS16 9JJ


Jimi Blake                   Hunting Brook through the Seasons

John Grimshaw       Paying Rent : plants that earn their keep

Rosy Hardy                The Plants are the Stars of the Show

John Massey             The Magic of the Changing Seasons – Spring into Summer

Plant Sales:

Green End Farm Nursery

Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants

Morton Plants Nursery

Ridgefield Cottage Nursery 

HPS West Yorkshire

Book online at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/west-yorkshire-hardy-plant-society

£25 or £31 including lunch. PRE-BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.

Open to non-members.

Update 13 January:  Please note tickets are selling  fast. Postal bookings have now closed. Please book online.

There is now a new section on the website dedicated to the conference.

For more details including venue and times please see conference flyer.

For more information on the speakers please see dedicated conference page.


The membership renewal form can be downloaded here as a word document or open as a PDF document here


Download a copy of our Privacy Statement

or view our Privacy Policy page.

Title image: Newby Hall border (Image courtesy of HPS image library)

Event reports (2018)

Dahlias: The history of Halls of Heddon. 9 November 2018

David Heddon is the third generation to run the family nursery in Heddon, Northumbria. He is a well known Dahlia and Chrysanthemum grower and exhibits at shows throughout the north east.  His grandfather established the nursery in 1921, initially specialising in Pansies and Delphinium, but later specialising in Dahlias and Chrysanthemums. The nursery is based in the walled garden of Heddon House. The trial fields have over 6000 stock plants and 293 varieties of Dahlias including 70 varieties bred by amateurs.

Although Dahlias originated in Mexico, they flourish particularly well in the UK. They were introduced to Spain in 1702 initially as a food crop, and have been exhibited for their blooms since 19th century. They can be relied upon to produce an eye-catching display of colour in almost any garden from late summer until the first frosts providing they are given a few basic requirements. To perform at their best Dahlias need a sunny position with a well-drained soil whilst at the same time needing plenty of water. They require regular feeding to produce good blooms. They should be grown in an open sunny site, with some protection from prevailing winds. They will grow in most soils but a rich soil with good drainage is ideal. Dahlias need plenty of moisture but will not cope with being waterlogged, and a complete fertiliser such as Fish Blood and Bone should be applied to the soil a couple of weeks prior before planting.

Tubers store water and should therefore be protected from frost depending on the prevailing conditions of the region where they are grown. Commercially, tubers are lifted and kept in heated greenhouses. It is possible, with the right conditions, to get 6-10+ cuttings from each tuber before the time comes for planting out. Although it is possible to plant the tubers directly into the garden and grow on as they are,  one has more control over the growth of the plant by starting off with fresh cuttings each year. Planting out should not be attempted until all risk of frost is over. This will be late May in the south of the country, but in the north, mid June might be best.  Plants should be well hardened off before planting, although tubers can be planted in mid April taking precautions to protect emerging shoots from frost by earthing up or covering with newspaper overnight. Plants should be well watered before planting. Dahlias need staking and tying in, but do not require disbudding.

For more details on cultivation follow this link.

Pest and diseases that can affect Dahlias include aphids, greenfly, capsid bug, earwigs, mildew and viruses. For more information follow this link.

David described the 15 groups of Dahlias; amongst the most interesting for gardeners as opposed to the show bench are:

  1. Single flowers: Twynings After Eight, Hadrian’s Sunlight and Midnight
  2. Anemone flowers: Purple Puff
  3. Collerette flowers: Christmas Carol – good for butterflies. First introduced in 1850’s.
  4. Waterlily flowers: Kilburn Glow – double flower
  5. Decorative: Black Monarch (giant) and David Howard (miniature) – showing
  6. Ball: showing
  7. Pompon: showing
  8. Cactus: showing
  9. Semi-cactus: Doris Day – good in pots and containers.
  10. Miscellaneous including: species, Star, Orchid, Anemone and single flowered Dahlias.
  11. Fimbriated: showing
  12. Star: Honka – sweet pollen
  13. Double orchid:  Art Deco – bedding
  14. Peony: Bishop group – old species
  15. Stellar: USA introductions with vibrant blooms

The RHS first published the International Dahlia Register in 1969 and have published regular supplements since then.

The national trials bed are held annually at Golden Acre Park, Leeds.

Pat Inman gave the vote of thanks.

Images from Halls of Heddon


‘Plants Grow in Dirt’ by Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers. 14 September 2018.

The hall was full for the welcome return of Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers Nursery near Evesham, which stocks a wide range of unusual plants. The catalogue makes for an interesting read. He is a world-renowned gardener and garden writer (Gardening Which).

Before the start of his talk there was a sales area with a variety of plants from his nursery, which he started in 1990.

His talk was designed to stimulate and provoke. He gave us lots of information, which I admit seemed a bit random but the tips and topics were varied:

  • Plant Nerine bulbs in spring, but on no account should you mulch them.
  • Agapanthus cultivars including ‘Navy Blue’ which is very hardy, can be planted in January, but do not apply a mulch otherwise the bulb rots. ‘Silver Moon’ is a good variegated sport from ‘Headbourne Hybrids’ that flowers well.  Agapanthus need room to grow, food and water for them too flower and sometimes struggle in pots. Most are hardy and they need sun on the neck of the plant (like Nerine) to set seed. Only 5% are not hardy. Replant just as the new growth appears.
  • Camassia look like Agapanthus!
  • DO NOT DIG the ground (life is too short!) – do not bury compost in the ground but put it on surface – the worms do all the hard work of incorporating the compost. When there is a clay soil mix compost with sharp sand and grit (including builder’s sand) and cover soil with a layer 3 – 4 cm deep.
  • TOP DRESS – pelleted chicken manure is less attractive to foxes.
  • Herbaceous plants with the exception of grasses and Michaelmas Daisies, can be planted in Autumn; not in clay unless improved. If plant in Spring need rain to get established.
  • Growing in pots – slugs hide amongst the crocks at the bottom;  whilst it allows water to drain the result is often that the compost dries out. Capillary matting can overcome this problem. If I remember correctly, when it comes to pot feet it is on in winter to prevent water-logging and reduce the risk of frost damage, and off in summer.
  • Slug pellets – concentration matters – 2 pellets/m2 – and not next to the plant because the slugs will eat the soft shoots. Fine grit may help. Other remedies include garlic spray in the greenhouse and keep chickens. Apparently slugs eat slugs so my tip of drowning slugs in water and using the water to deter other slugs doesn’t work!
  • PLANTS THAT GROW IN DIRT  include Spanish Bluebells, Ash, Sycamore…
  • Remember to clean secateurs – use methylated spirit, but the best advice of the evening was:

Images from cgf.net.

Alan Wilson gave the vote of thanks and wished Bob and his wife all the best on their 50th wedding anniversary.


WYHPS Norfolk Holiday 30 June – 4 July 2018: 

The report of the holiday can be found by clicking here for the link.


Evening Garden Visits Summer Season 2018:

The first visit of the summer season was to ‘The Old Post Office’, Kettlesing, on Friday 4 May.

This coincided with the second day of the Tour de Yorkshire, which was going through Ilkley in the late afternoon. Despite this everyone appeared to arrive on time. Andrew and Angela Durance used to run a nursery but have now retired. They now spend time their time visiting places where the plants they propagated for years came from. It was a hot, balmy evening and the garden was looking good.

The stream-side garden is surrounded on the side away from the house by a wooded area.

There were a number of different species of trillium and erythronium which were thriving in the shade.

The azaleas and other spring-flowering shrubs were in full bloom.

Ruth Baumberg is an excellent photographer and has sent me three images of this garden.

The second visit was to ‘Ridgefield Cottage Nursery’, Knaresborough, on Thursday 14 June.

Jo & Tony Pickering bought the property 25 years ago. The site had been a nursery for over 100 years, growing conifers, wallflowers and fruit trees. The mound planted orchard was a method of growing fruit trees on piles of rubble and soil to raise their roots above the wet clay. The new herbaceous plants and shrubs are in circular beds under the ancient fruit trees. As the fruit trees have died or blown over, they have been replaced by specimen trees including Acers, Cercis Forest Pansy, Liquidamber and Cornus Norman Haddon to name a few.

The circular beds are edged by large stones, which Tony acquired through his job, which includes building gardens.

The weather was kind to us and once again the sun shone. We were welcomed with a glass of wine and canapés, and some delicious home-made cakes.

Jo runs a nursery and is well known to our members as she has had a regular plant stall at our biennial conference and lends plants for the Harrogate Flower Shows. Needless to say many members visited the nursery and bought plants.

The final visit of the summer season was to Home Farm, East Carlton, on Friday 10 August.

The weather was glorious for our last evening visit to Home Farm,  and the garden was a sheer delight. Sarah Crowson started to develop the garden 4 years ago when her sons had left home. The front garden was quite formal with a pleasant planting scheme. The walled garden at the rear of the house was delightful, full of surprises with a lovely colour pallet, and some beautiful specimen plants, and repeat planting. In addition there were some lovely pots around the house.

Sarah is in the process of developing the field / orchard. We were closely observed by the two Alpacas in the adjacent field. Many of the group were envious of her wonderful potting shed.

The refreshments which included delicious cakes and a glass of wine or tea /coffee, rounded off a very successful evening visit to a beautiful and evolving garden.


Harrogate Spring Flower Show is the first big event in the gardening calendar, welcoming the new growing season with a spectacular celebration of the very best in horticulture.

The West Yorkshire Group of the Hardy Plant Society has had a display at the Spring and Autumn Shows for many years and has won many accolades over the years. This year we were awarded a Silver Gilt.

Again we had a circular stand, with a central urn feature and path going across the display. The stand attracted a lot of attention and was much admired.

There were over one hundred different species of spring flowering plants and shrubs.

One of our members, Peter Williams lent us two beautiful plants:

Syneilesis aconitifolia, commonly called shredded umbrella plant, is an herbaceous perennial of the aster family that is native to hillside forest margins and slopes in China, Korea, Japan and eastern Russia. It is one of Peter’s prized plants.

Paeonia japonica came into flower during the show. Peter sourced the seed from Japan.

Alan Wilson, another of our members lent us this magnificent example of Convallaria majalis ‘Variegata’, (variegated Lily of the Valley).

Kate van Heel our membership secretary lent us Wulfenia carinthiaca. This is a  seldom-seen rock garden plant, native to the Albanian Alps.

Pat Inman our secretary and Harrogate Show leader, contributed the beautiful Helleborus ‘Penny’s Pink.

Lastly, our chairman Sue Gray contributed the lovely Anemone pavonia.

Apologies for the blurred images but my camera struggles with shades of red, as confirmed by Peter Williams who won 1st prize in the HPS photographic competition last year (2017). Click here for the winning image,

To read more about building the display please read my blog. Click here for the link.



Epimediums and friends by Sally Gregson of Mill Cottage Plants, Somerset. April 13th 2018

There was a very full hall for Sally’s talk, 4 ½ years after a previous visit when her talk was about her other plant love, hydrangeas.

As she had brought some plants from her nursery, (click here for link to nursery website), members had to be called away from the plants to enable her talk to start.

Sally, who has recently written a book on Epimediums, has obviously done a lot of research. The talk was illustrated with pictures of Epimediums and the major players in their introductions and hybridising.

There were plenty of pointers on the cultivation of the different varieties. They are essentially a deciduous woodland plant which gives a clue to their ideal place in the garden. This works for Sally, as she can plant them under her Hydrangeas!

The older varieties, she suggests, should have their leaves sheared in February to show off the new seasons flowers.

The grandifloras from Japan are acid lovers and deciduous. They grow well in pots for those of us with high pH.

Two other cultivation tips, split after flowering and replant with plenty of leaf mould in the bottom of the planting hole.

The definitive reference collection is in the Ghent Botanic Garden.

The vote of thanks was given by Peter Williams.

Report submitted by Pat Hunter


Page image: Phlox paniculata ‘Caroline van den Berg’ (Image courtesy of HPS image library)

WYHPS Holiday to Norfolk 2018

Day 1  Saturday 30 June 2018:

Ellicar Gardens, Nottinghamshire: 

Ellicar Gardens is a young, vibrant family garden set in 5 acres. Owners Will and Sarah Murch have set about creating a naturalistic garden that is rich and diverse in wildlife and plants.

With sweeping borders and flower gardens spilling into wildflower meadows, within a framework of young specimen trees and shrubs, the garden is as beautiful in winter as in the height of summer.

Borders overflow with colour, dance with butterflies and hum bees. The garden is a haven for birds and alive with birdsong.

At the heart of the garden is the beautiful Natural Swimming Pool – a sky mirror, watery retreat and magnet for wildlife.

‘Beautiful pond area with a mass of waterlilies. Loved the large archways with Clematis Etoile Violette’, Denise.

‘The pond area was amazing – especially the pink and white water lilies ; impressed with water boatman’.

‘I loved the idea of the swimming pond. Chatting to the man, he said they only cost £80,000 to install’, Wendy.

‘The hedges were full of birds and the borders full of butterflies and pollinating beetles.I’d have liked to try the natural swimming pool / pond. Enticing water and impressive water lilies’

‘The talk on the four favourite garden implements –  some captured on video was a really useful piece of gardening advice / guidance’.

‘The naturalist style was really impressive, the combining of all the wild, trees, flowers, with the more formal flowers’.

‘Beautiful pond area and waterlilies; arranging the large metal arches added a formal touch to a lovely garden. Very good coffee and cakes.’

‘Loved the livestock; particularly the chicks’.

‘Goats, pigs, horses, geese, bantams and dozens of tiny chicks, scurrying about. Wonderful garden and home for children and wildlife. Could move in’.

‘If only Sue had told us to pack our swimsuits! Best ornamental pond and combined swimming pool I’ve ever seen, and with waterlilies’.

21 Chapel St, Haconby (NGS), Lincolnshire: 

Cottage garden behind 300year old cottage planted to provide colour throughout the year. In spring there are snowdrops, primroses, hellebores and many different spring flowering bulbs. Through the year, colour is provided by bulbs and herbaceous plants and in autumn there are asters, dahlias, salvias and many of the autumn flowering yellow daises.

‘A treat of a traditional cottage garden with amazing plants – Aeoniums, Geranium ‘Summer Skies’, Clematis in profusion, Erigeron, a bit of everything and all the better for it’. 

‘Beautiful cottage garden, so many plants. Dainty clematis and many succulents’.

‘Huge number of species kept in this much loved garden. Very brave owner. lots of small exquisite groupings of ‘to die for’ plants and a Galanthus keeping bed / collection’.

‘They had a whole patch in the veggie garden full of snowdrops in pots buried in the ground. It is covered by netting to stop the birds pulling out the labels. Had lots of different succulents in pots’.

‘Wonderful clumps of mature ferns, some many choice plants!’

‘Delightful true cottage garden. Wonderful collection of clematis (old varieties); loved the harebells / Tulbaghia / Erigeron and large clump of Eryngium in full flower. Picture window in tearoom – lovely. Spoilt by shortness of visit’.

‘Amazing collection of plants in a comparatively small garden. Needed more time to appreciate properly’.

‘Loved the clematis and mauve Convolvulus mauritanicus’, Denise.

‘Wonderful garden. So many pockets of superb planting. Going back in September’.

‘Lovely stems of Dierama growing out of the gravel. Veg patch full of all sorts of interest. Some beautiful clematis’.

‘Beautiful garden, lots of unusual plants – obviously a lot of love has gone into this garden. Came many years ago to see the owner’s snowdrop collection – he was a lovely man full of fun!’

‘Super garden, from the large Lobelia tupa to the tiny Anomatheca. A joy’.

‘A dream of a garden with so many drought resistant plants. Could have spent much longer enjoying them. Pity no plants for sale’.

‘Lovely village garden and with many interesting plants. Loved the Hosta ‘Dark Star”.

West Acre, King’s Lynn:  

Specialist Plant Nursery and display gardens set in unusual D-shaped walled garden of an old Norfolk manor house, now owned by the sculptor Antony Gormley.  This nursery is a treasure trove for plant lovers and the extensive display gardens have year round interest and beauty.

Plants very good and reasonably priced. Teas and cakes excellent. Well stocked garden with interesting selection’.

Very helpful nursery staff, no question too much trouble for them to find you the answer’.

‘Fabulous nursery, unusual plants, reasonably priced, Pity not nearer home. All staff very obliging with plants and refreshments. Lovely garden, cakes and plants, good choice’.

‘Fantastic choice of many (unusual) plants – but not enough time to see them all!’

Great choice of plants at very good prices. We could have easily spent more time here. Excellent tea and cakes!’

‘I’ve been looking forward to this nursery and I haven’t been disappointed!’

‘Superb tea room and cakes, and especially good plant nursery. Recommended’.

‘Gorgeous plants, could have spent a fortune!’

‘Wonderful plants’.

‘A great nursery, tea room a delight, very enjoyable’.

‘Wonderful tea and plants. Garden not so exciting. Cheap and interesting nursery; great foxgloves, hardy geraniums etc.’.

Day 2 Sunday 1 July 2018:

Chestnut Farm (NGS), Holt: 

Mature three acre garden with a lifetimes collection of plants, including many unusual ones. In Spring over 90 different varieties of Snowdrops, and large drifts of crocus, together with seasonal flowering shrubs and bulbs. Later the colourful borders come into their own, including Cornus capitata and kousa and many other flowering trees and shrubs. Creating a new woodland garden for 2018.

‘Such an absolute pleasure; wonderful people – so welcoming’. Ruth C

Peaceful garden. Welcoming and very knowledgeable owners. Have a whole list of shade plants I didn’t know and roses’.

‘Wonderful woodland, unusual trees and shrubs. Rambling roses up huge trees. Also herbaceous plants in the cottage style. Delightful areas with more formal hedging around scented plants. Beautiful setting’.

Incredible owner John took the camera / video person all round the garden and gave superb descriptions of his ‘choice plants’ – so knowledgeable and enthusiastic’.

‘Loved  the flowering Cornus kousa. Interesting to see them flourishing in shade. Impressed with the summerhouse garden; full of colour. Denise’.

‘Saw and smelt what my Daphne ‘Eternal Fragrance’ should be like. Took some tips from the owner’.

‘Superb collection of shrubs and trees, some not often seen. Lovely refreshments’.

‘Plantsman’s garden with flowering and fruiting trees. Thought I’d never see Davidia fruiting. Wonderful Calycanthus’.

”Lovely garden and plants’.

‘I saw three (not ships) but Tulips – on a TREE!!!’

‘Fantastic Aanemone rivularis – cool white blue backed buttercup, spires of Verbascum chaixii (and album) everywhere, good trees, the biggest Spotty Dotty I have ever seen and elegant Arisaema triphyllum (last seen in the foothills of the Himalayas)’.

East Ruston Old Vicarage: 

When the present owners first came to the Old Vicarage there was no garden whatsoever, it was a blank canvas.  This was no bad thing because it afforded them the opportunity to vent their creativity. They have developed a 32 acre iconic garden. Each separate garden was designed entirely by them as were the various buildings and this was all done without outside help.

Throughout the garden you will see many rare and unusual plants growing. The owners endeavour to propagate these in small numbers so that they may be purchased from the plant sales area. Many of these are difficult or slow to increase, hence their rarity, so if you see a plant growing in the garden that you would like do ask, as there may be some tucked away for you to purchase as a souvenir.

The garden lies 1½ miles from the North Sea in an exposed prairie landscape containing large arable fields. Many of the wildlife habitats for birds and mammals had long been swept away. The owners have endeavoured throughout the garden to replace some of these by the planting of mixed hedgerows, banks, wildflower areas and ponds.

The soil here is of excellent quality being a light sandy loam with a neutral pH. Due to the maritime influence the garden suffers less in the way of serious frost damage and they have planted large shelter belts of Pinus radiata, the Monterey Pine, Alnus cordata, the Italian Alder, Holm Oak and Eucalyptus. This enhances the garden’s unique microclimate which enables them to grow such a huge range of plants.

‘Amazing gardens, thoroughly enjoyed the water garden and walled garden’.

‘Wonderful! Every plant possible is there. Loved the long vistas framing a distant church, a lighthouse or simply a view’.

‘Wow! Wow! Wow!!!’

‘Incredible variety of unusual plants some of which would be too tender to grow elsewhere such as Acacia baileyana and Echiums…. Fabulous’.

‘Lovely to see the many roses, clematis and especially delphiniums. Every different area covered with unusual well co-ordinated planting especially the fantastic pots of annuals and half hardy perennials. Loved the architecture of the fruit cage! ‘

‘Amazing garden, so meticulously planned; something to enjoy round every corner and many plants to puzzle over too. So much floral colour’.

‘So amazing! You could visit every week and see something new. Wows around every corner’.

‘Wonderful garden – loved the Jubilee Garden’.

‘Wonderful garden, so much colour. A vista at every turn’.

‘Wonderful to return to my favourite garden, it was fantastic – colour blending was fantastic’.

‘East Ruston’s planting of pots is absolutely superb’.

‘A marvellous achievement of planting and planning for just two men. Fantastic’.

‘A very theatrical garden overflowing with stunning plants; the pots in particular showed what can be done with much warner conditions than we are used to!’

‘Incredible garden with much to enjoy. Good plant centre too’.


Day 3 Monday 2 July 2018:

High House Gardens, Shipdham (NGS), Thetford: 

3 acre plantsman’s garden developed and maintained by the current owners, over the last 40 years. Garden consists of colour themed herbaceous borders with an extensive range of perennials, box edged rose and shrub borders, woodland garden, pond and bog area, orchard and small arboretum. Plus large vegetable garden.  Small attached nursery stocking plants propagated from the garden.

‘Amazing what can be achieved and maintained by two people (one of whom works part-time). Such a lovely tranquil garden’.

‘Stunning garden. Wonderful delphiniums’.

‘Great variety of moods in the garden – and a well – ordered plant sales area too. Enjoyable start to the week’.

‘Very good nursery and cheap plants’.

‘Blue and yellow themed gravel area looking great in this hot dry season’.

‘Lovely garden, stunning delphiniums, loved the pond and waterlilies’.

‘Magnificent herbaceous borders’.

‘Lovely country garden. Relaxed style with some fabulous plants as well’.

‘Peaceful country garden, full of the scents of summer. Amazing they have time to maintain the nursery area as well as the garden; great selection of their own plants’.

‘Much bigger garden than expected. Wonderful delphiniums and lavenders full of bees and butterflies’.

‘Delightful garden where I acquired yet another dahlia (D. ‘Totally Tangerine’) for my collection’.

‘What a wonderful surprise this garden was, the plants were gorgeous and so couldn’t resist a lovely purple/blue phlox’.

‘Lovely garden in a lovely setting’.

‘Delightful garden with clouds of campanulas and delphiniums creating a blue haze. The pond was full of dragonflies and damselflies, and good nursery plants’.

Creake Plant Centre, Fakenham: 

Stocking a wide range of shrubs, herbaceous and climbers.  Specialities include Hellebores, Old Roses & Salvias. (Please note the website is under construction.

‘Wondeful nursery, good selection for Hardy Planters’.

‘Just too quick (45 minutes) !! Trevor is well and forgotten back op’.

‘Needed longer; good selection of plants’.

‘A sweetie shop!’

‘I would like to thank our patient driver; he has had a difficult job getting us to these places. The nursery was excellent and added shops of wicker and pots etc. were interesting extras’.

‘Lots of plants, excellent choices. The coach is beginning to look very pretty’.

‘Great nursery, purchased a Hydrangea I have been wanting. Convolvulus sabatius very popular!’

Holkham Hall: 

The 6 acres of walled garden which was originally laid out by Samuel Wyatt during the late 1700s has recently been restored.

The entrance to the garden is through Italian iron-work gates which were brought from Venice in 1908 and this opens into one of the seven sections, known as ‘rooms’. The walls within the garden act as a windbreak and reflect the sun to create a gentle microclimate. In Victorian times the garden would have provided a constant and varied supply of food and decoration to the hall, ranging from vegetables and flowers to a wide variety of both common and exotic fruits.

There is a spectacular stand of large Victorian greenhouses which have been renovated back to their original splendour with the help of English Heritage. There are also sunken greenhouses designed to be at a lower level to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.

In the ‘Arena of Plants’ there is a variety of blooms and range of colour and scents, with seating provided to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

A working area, the vegetable garden, provides sufficient produce for the family’s kitchen, for entertaining and any surplus food is used at The Victoria Inn. There is also a vineyard.

At the far end of the garden, one ‘room’ has been laid to lawn with surrounding flower beds and has been designated for weddings and other events.

‘Impressive layout of gardens’.

‘Loved the open – air buggy ride! You would not want to work in the walled garden on such a hot day; pity the young gardeners!’

‘Too hot to do it justice. Can’t remember much from my last visit aged 7 years’.

‘A welcome lunch and fun ride to the walled gardens and back. Well worth the visit; the greenhouses are amazing. Good to see the resurrection but I like the deteriorating old greenhouses’.

‘Best sausage rolls EVER!!’

‘Roses in walled garden stunning especially in this hot summer. Agree about old greenhouses’.

‘On our bucket list for longer visit to Hall’.

Dunbheagan (NGS), Westfield: 

Relax and enjoy walking among extensive borders and island beds – a riot of colour all Summer aiming for the WOW factor. Includes unique ‘heaven and hell’ and a vibrant hot border. Vast collection of rare, unusual and more recognisable plants in this ever changing plantsman’s garden. Sculptures by Toby Winterbourn.

‘Stunning……..beautiful garden’.

‘After a tiring day this garden was a lift for the spirits. The description in the yellow book was correct. A wow factor at every turn. Different moods all the way through the garden. Owners very friendly and welcoming  Tea delicious with scones,  jam, clotted cream and strawberries with a wide selection of cakes. Perfect end to the day’.

‘First encounter with a Wallema Pine – beautiful!’

‘Such a helpful owner and lovely scones’.

‘Loved the gravel garden full of little gems. Gorgeous rose and clematis arches. Beautifully maintained’.

‘WOW welcoming, original and wonderful’.

‘Exuberant planting!’

‘Fabulous planting with pathways through and between beds. I loved the ‘Heaven and Hell’ idea’.

‘Nice people, good refreshments and a garden to die for – especially the rockery’.

‘From seeing the front garden on arrival the back garden was a wonderful surprise  full of beautiful and interesting plants’.

‘Beautiful garden. I was feeling jaded but its freshness restored me!’

‘Lovely garden and such nice owners. Especially liked the gravel beds’.

Day 4 Tuesday 3 July 2018:

The Harralds, Gissing: 

Garden belonging to Dr Janet Sleep, a regular contributor to the HPS journal. (Click here to read her article on ‘Living with Drought’ which appeared in  the HPS journal ‘The Hardy Plant’ published in autumn 2017).

‘Knowledgeable, helpful owner. a lovely plantswoman’s garden’.

‘Fabulous garden and very interesting plants also for sale. Clever planting but of course she is a Hardy Planter’.

‘Such a lovely gardener and so generous with her knowledge’.

‘Want to go back with my brother. Lots of great ideas and varying conditions’.

‘A garden in which to feel completely at ease, no frills, lovely planting, charming lady’.

‘Great colour combinations’.

‘Lovely refreshments, plenty to see’.

‘So much to learn from the garden and from Janet. Liked all the self – seeders which gave such a natural feel amongst structure and planting’.

‘A plantswoman’s garden. Many interesting specimens. Very enjoyable talking to the owner’.

‘Such relaxed, interesting planting. Delightful setting. Lovely obelisks with roses and clematis pairings. Lots of creative ideas to borrow! Always great to buy a plant from the garden as a memory’.

‘What a range of plants to drool over. Real HPS garden – all sorts of good varieties and combinations – brilliant clematis and pleasant divisions sections – ferns particularly good’.

The Plantsman’s Preference:

Independent nursery stocking a range of unusual perennials and grasses.

‘Wonderful selection of geraniums!’

‘Lots of special plants reasonably priced and well laid out’.

‘A treasure trove for plant hunters!’

‘Excellent nursery with some quite unusual plants’.

‘Good to see specialist nursery growing all their own stock and knowledgeable owners’.

Bressingham Gardens, Diss: 

Six distinct gardens totalling over 17 acres of world class gardens including ‘The Dell’ garden, famous for the array of islands beds developed by Alan Bloom, and ‘Foggy Bottom’ garden with it’s noted collection of conifers developed by his son Adrian Bloom.

The founder of Blooms Nurseries, Alan Bloom (1906- 2005), began developing a garden in front of BressinghamHall in 1953, devoted to a new concept of using perennials, the nursery’s speciality, in Island Beds. Six acres and nearly 5000 different species and cultivars were taken in and planted by 1962, when the gardens were first opened on a regular basis to the public.

Returning from four years abroad (including two years in the U.S.A.) in 1962, Adrian Bloom began developing more gardens, starting his own, Foggy Bottom Garden in 1967 devoted to conifers, heathers, trees and shrubs.

In 2000, additional gardens were added by Adrian, linking them up to create a more diverse attraction to visitors, and joining the gardens together to create a Foggy Bottom Trail, leading from the entrance near the Steam Museum to the furthest and lowest end of Foggy Bottom. Today, although changes are still constant, the newer gardens are maturing; new planting designs and plants are being tried. Heritage and novelty exist together with the number of distinct varieties now in the region of 8000.

Bressingham Hall, near the entrance to the gardens, plays a historic role and has an iconic presence. It was Alan Bloom’s home for 50 years and that of the Bloom family. It has now been fully re furbished and is available for use as holiday lets and for wedding and other group stays.

There is also a plant nursery on site. Click here for link.

‘Outstanding, especially Foggy Bottom. Pricey plants!!!’


‘Wonderful to finally see this iconic garden on a glorious day and blue skies’.

‘The trees, the forrest of flowers stand out in my mind’.

‘Wonderful visit. Well maintained to a high standard, especially Foggy Bottom’.

‘Fun dodging the sprinklers!’

‘Discovered Kniphofia thomsonii var. thomsonii!’

‘Amazing how well kept everything is with lots of watering! Loved Foggy Bottom’.

‘Foggy Bottom my favourite – so tranquil and stunning mature planting creating special vistas – early planning shows much skill and foresight’. Denise.

‘A lovely setting to see all the plants looking very colourful in the island beds. My highlight was the carousel ride’.

‘Enjoyed the train ride but it didn’t take us round the edge of the gardens as we’d hoped, but past the rather sad derelict greenhouses and polytunnels on the Bressingham Estate’.

‘Alan Bloom’s Dell Garden was my favourite. Gorgeous island beds of wonderful colours – purples, oranges, lilacs, yellow, blues….. and so many names that were new to me’.

‘The visit to Bressingham proved a pleasant experience – the Dell garden very colourful and Foggy Bottom immaculately manicured’.

‘Lovely to see these gardens ‘in the flesh’ at last. All helpfully labelled and very colourful. The carousel and an ice cream – perfect end to another sunny afternoon!’

‘Foggy Bottom looked lovely in spite of the drought. The famous island beds were stunning’.

Day 5 Wednesday 4 July 2018:

Bank House, Marshland St James (NGS), Cambridgeshire: 

An exuberant and established 2 acre garden. Range of growing conditions from damp shade to dry gravel: veg and fruit areas, ornamental grass garden, bog garden, new pond, formal lawn, mixed borders, patios, terraces and variety of secret spaces. Year-round interest but especially a range of primulas, irises and roses peaking May-July. Grasses and dahlias in August. An oasis in the Fens!

‘Has the wow factor, a secret garden with amazing plants’.

‘Words fail me!! I loved it. So welcoming, loved dogs too’.

‘Standing under the 200 year old weeping willow and gazing up at the majestic tangle of branches – awesome’.

‘Healthy glowing delphiniums’.

‘Wonderful tidy and decorative potager’.

‘A heavenly garden perfect for the house. Lots of areas and paths, roses to clematis; not enough time’.

‘Amazing use of natural materials – myriad of ideas around every bend. These gardeners have triumphed in difficult gardening conditions – 15 feet below sea level and winter flooding’.

‘Some very unusual plants – lovely Catananche caerulea’.

‘Lovely ‘secret areas’ and winding paths leaving to wonderful plants – not long enough time to appreciate everything!’

‘Lovely garden with lots of surprises as you wander round. Wonderful plants; could have stayed all day’.

‘Lovely relaxing garden with interesting planting, could have stayed there longer!’

‘What a wonderful garden, many different parts with very interesting plants as well’.

‘A really tranquil spot, we could have stayed much longer! Amazing weeping ash tree’.

‘A garden that matched the old cottage. They offered a ‘cooked lunch’ next time, so we could stay on longer. Sold out of eggs though! Shame’.

‘Real country garden – relaxed and flowery, good flowers – Catananche, day lilies, sweet williams, Digitalis. Lovely places to sit for tea and cakes’.

‘A very good garden and top of my list I think. Interesting plants, a well – stocked sales area and a pleasant, chatty hostess’.

Doddington Hall, Lincolnshire: 

Extensive gardens covering an area of 5 acres which have, in recent years, been restored, nurtured and developed to fulfil their potential.


‘The Hall itself very interesting. Very good tree specimens especially Castanea (very old) and Paulownia tomentosa (in full flower). Thank you everyone for being so friendly and welcoming, I’ve really enjoyed the week’. Josie.

‘Enormous Paulownia in full flower. Should make more of mature, ? ‘king’ trees’.

‘Garden gives impression of lack of effective direction. Owner away a lot?’

‘Is the garden there specifically for the sculptures!’

‘Disappointing garden but nice lunch’.

‘Loved the large Paulownia – otherwise a bit of a letdown’.

‘Not impressed, garden needs help!! Beautiful house, enjoyed my lunch’.

‘Gardens disappointing but Hall very interesting – especially the tapestries’.

‘Gardens not as the brochure reads; plenty of trees and views but the planting was disappointing. The pair of sculptured swans was the best of it for me’.

‘Picturesque house, good eateries and the best Catalpa tree I have ever seen in the grounds’.

‘Two lovely stops for the last day. The first garden was beautiful and the owners welcoming. The lady very good at propagating and letting us have her hard work at cheap prices. Doddington made a good lunch stop and afternoon tea and the trees were old and happy with flowers on the Foxglove and Tulip trees’.

‘NOTE:  Perhaps we missed the Paulownia but we did see a TRULY spectacular Catalpa’.

‘Doddington Hall looked a lovely house although I didn’t go inside, and some of the trees were very impressive. Walled garden disappointing especially as it’s only 10 years since they had lottery money to completely renew it’.

‘Too hot to really enjoy it but significant trees including a Catalpa in full blossom’.

‘Anyone for weeding? Such a shame that we ended with a poor recommendation – not Sue’s fault – goosegrass and willow herb flowering well!’

Images to follow.

WYHPS Day Trip to Wynyard Hall and the Northeast

 Saturday July 28th   

Sion Hill Hall, Kirby Wiske

The charming gardens at Sion Hill Hall are laid out over 5 acres and perfectly compliment the splendid neo-Georgian architecture of the Edwardian house. After many years of neglect – some areas even grazed by sheep – the now inspiring gardens have been restored and transformed by Michael Mallaby to include an impressive variety of sweeping lawns, landscaped vistas and pathways.

The south front garden displays a formal parterre based on the designs at Chateau de Marly with Baroque statues, clipped hornbeam and yew trees, pink flowering horse chestnut and box hedging. The lawns lead to The Long Walk originally laid out in the 1850’s for Lady Louisa Lascelles, daughter of The 4th Earl of Mansfield, which are now restored to exhibit a delightful double herbaceous border. Here seating can be found for you to rest and absorb the tranquil surroundings. The Long Walk joins the meandering path of The Lower Walk a woodland style garden lightly shaded by mature trees which follows the route of the River Wiske, where Osiers once harvested willow for making baskets. At the end of the walk an intriguing door leads to The Lower Kitchen Garden.  An area which is meticulously maintained in a traditional manner to harvest fruit, vegetables, and flowers. Returning towards the house, to the east, lies The Centenary Garden created in 2013 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the house in 1913. This garden fills with the fragrance of pink perfumed roses, amongst the cherry trees and striking blue delphinium.

‘Amazing gardens – very impressed! Especially with the kitchen garden and the peacocks. Also liked the area with the curly willow and giant gunnera’.

‘Michael Mallaby was welcoming and knowledgeable’.

‘An inspiring kitchen garden – very beautiful’.

‘Appreciated the hospitality as much as the garden’.

‘I loved the structure and the greenness – very southing to the soul’.

‘Beautiful layout – very serene. Sorry we missed the roses – but an excuse to come back’.

‘A big surprise to find a Surrey house in North Yorks! It looked so elegant and stylish – it would be the perfect place for tea on the lawn on a summer’s afternoon’.

‘Beautifully designed and planted. Gunnera amazing. Lots of neat pathways. Amazing kitchen garden. Beautiful house and interesting owner’.

‘Amazed that one gardener does everything to help keep it in such good order. Pleased to see such a good kitchen garden’.

(Note from editor – Michael Mallaby works in the garden with one full time gardener and a volunteer).

‘Enjoyed the kitchens and the architecture of Sion Hill Hall. Particularly liked the vegetable garden, very neat and tidy; impressive maze. An enjoyable visit’.

‘Beautifully designed garden – stunning planting – loved it! Lovely garden: loved the Gunneras and kitchen gardens especially.

Wynyard Hall, Stockton on Tees

The Gardens have been intricately designed and created by multi RHS award-winning landscape architect Alistair Baldwin, along with rose expert Michael Marriott from David Austin Roses and Wynyard Hall’s own dedicated team of gardeners.

From the moment they were first developed in 1822, The Gardens have offered a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. They were originally created by William Sawrey Gilpin who crafted gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies, and winding paths to form beautiful shapes within the landscape.

Durham historian William Fordyce in 1857 describes the landscape, ‘From the mansion, a broad terraced walk conducts to the gardens, which cover many acres of ground. The front or flower garden is flanked with glass houses, containing rare and exotic flowers and fruits. A broad gravel walk, arched over with roses, leads to the orchard and the dairy – a pretty rustic building. Sloping down towards the lake, extensive pleasure-grounds are intersected with numerous gravel drives and grass rides several miles in extent.

A significant time in the history of The Gardens was during Theresa, Lady Londonderry’s title. Pioneering for her time Theresa re-developed The Gardens in 1912. Along with the re-development Theresa create a garden album which records in great detail the series of gardens she transformed…Beyond the Ratisbon Gates, the Italian Garden produced a stunning effect. A series of carpet beds, densely packed with brightly coloured tender plants and muted foliage provided a superb show. According to Theresa, ‘to sit on the seat under the oak on the rising ground and to look at the brilliant colours displayed in this garden is most satisfying to the eye.’

Theresa also created a series of ornamental gardens, including a rose garden, a lily garden, a thyme walk and a herbaceous broad walk, 270 yards long, bounded by a high yew hedge. In contrast to the formal gardens, the wild garden presented a range of shrubs, plants and bulbs in a natural setting, with grass paths, known as ‘the garden river’.  The final words of her journal demonstrate Theresa’s love of this area. ‘Wild garden, grow! To me your paths are memories and every flower a friend.’ The Gardens were not only created for appearance, they had a purpose, which was to sustain the great house.

The area now known as the Walled Garden, the site for Sir John Hall’s Rose Garden, was originally, the kitchen garden. The Head Gardener’s cottage stands in the corner. A bell hanging at a central point high up on the wall adjoining his house marked the gardeners’ day. Beds edged with box hedges were used for the cultivation of apple trees and vegetables. Pears, apricots, peaches and cherries were trained on the walls. Soft fruits, including vines, peaches and figs were grown in glasshouses.

At the turn of the 20th century, visitors flocked to the gardens, which were open to the public three days a week for a considerable part of the year however closed shortly before the war.  In 1987, as well as embarking on major restoration work in the house, Sir John Hall turned his attention to the grounds. Consultants suggested the restoration of the Walled Garden and Italianate Gardens, plans which are now coming to fruition, thanks to the determination and vision of Sir John and his family.

The Walled Garden itself, dates back to 1822. It was originally created by William Sawrey Gilpin, who crafted gently curved flowerbeds, raised terrace walks, irregularly shaped shrubberies, and winding paths to form beautiful shapes within the landscape. It provided a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, forming a beautiful visitor attraction until it closed shortly before the war. The restoration and opening of the Walled Garden in 2015, saw this legacy reinstated, as part of Sir John Hall’s personal ambition to create the most exquisite rose garden in the UK.


Woodside House,   Bishop Auckland  

NGS garden. Stunning 2 acre, mature, undulating garden full of interesting trees, shrubs and plants. Superbly landscaped (by the owners) with island beds, flowing herbaceous borders, an old walled garden, rhododendron beds, fernery, 3 ponds, grass bed and vegetable garden. Delightful garden full of interesting and unusual features: much to fire the imagination. Winner of Bishop Auckland in Bloom.