Besthorpe Hall and Seamere

Written by John Metcalf. Posted in News

Liz Nicholls and Shirley Baxter, accompanied by Shirley's husband, Graham, and Liz's brother, David, had the signs up and their fee-gathering table set up in very good time and did a very efficient job of collecting the cash and the e-mail addresses. More people came than expected, so both hosts will have been happy with the results
We were very sorry to be told that John Alston had had a severe stroke during last year, and , whilst he had recovered his speech, was still unable to show us round the garden. He kindly described what we would see looking good and provided us with tour guides in the shape of two gardeners, Nathan and James.
We were also given a brief history of the coat of arms, which contained 16 'quarters' of the arms of other families which had been added to the Alston family arms.
Wisteria, Magnolias and other early flowering shrubs were very visible. We were surprised by the buds on Delphiniums in the walled border. The Guinea fowl were surprised by us and made a hasty exit through a grove of bamboo beside the huge pond.
Mr Alston had been very welcoming, but had also said he could do with an inch of rain, which, sadly, he didn't get today.

Over the longer lunch break that Linda had arranged for us, I spotted a few members at Peter Beales Nursery, and others owned up to having made it to Walnut Tree Nursery.

At Seamere we were met by Judy Watson, who showed us 'her cowslips', which turned out to be an almighty field full of them, This was part of a Stewardship project, which included a dipping pond.
The garden brought forth anguish and envy on a number of fronts, I noticed, with the range of really interesting plants, including a pretty parasite. Judy usefully explained that Lovage can be used for celery flavour in soups etc. Following a very interesting guided prowl round the mere, the various areas of the garden, and again, with a brief history of the house, Judy served us  very welcome tea and cake ,but not before I had snapped Graham by the moongate.

Chris Davies


Kew Gardens jobs to be axed in £5m shortfall

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in News

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is facing a shortfall of £5m in 2014-15.  About 125 jobs could be cut as the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, west London, faces a £5m shortfall in revenue in the coming financial year. Kew Gardens said it had been facing "significant financial challenges" over the last few years and it was working on strategies to boost income. But trying to fill the shortfall by a third will mean "changes in staffing" for the 750 people working there. Compulsory redundancies would be a "last resort", a spokesman said. Visitor at Kew Gardens Also known as Kew Gardens, the site is on the World  Heritage List
 The news of job cuts comes as the site saw a 29% rise in visitors last year. In a statement, the Royal Botanic Gardens said: "We aim to fill roughly a  third of the shortfall next financial year through income growth. "We will be working with staff to explore all options including schemes for voluntary exits, reduced working hours and unpaid leave, before moving on to consideration of redeployment, voluntary redundancies or, as a last resort,  compulsory redundancies."
There is a petition on the direct gov website regarding this subject: E-petition - Kew Gardens funding and an article on the web site

Do you own one of Britain's Best Gardens?

Written by HPS. Posted in News

Or do you know someone who does?


Well Alan Titchmarsh wants to hear from you for a major three-part ITV Series

2014 is the 50th anniversary of Alan Titchmarsh’s horticultural career and to celebrate, Alan is launching a year-long nationwide campaign to find the country’s 30 best private gardens. The search will honour the outdoor spaces of the nation’s horticultural heroes, who have turned their backyards into amazing spaces and the final 30 selected gardens will be revealed in three primetime, hour long shows, to air on ITV in 2015.
Alan has spent 50 years immersed in the world of horticulture and in that time, he has met every type of gardener, from the passionate amateur to the royals. But Alan understands that to truly appreciate the nation’s obsession with gardens, one needs to look beyond the stately homes and National Trust properties and look to Britain’s private domestic gardens.

Alan and his team will be conducting their search in conjunction with the National Gardens Scheme. Together they will appeal to the public to nominate the gardens of friends, neighbours or, indeed themselves, with all gardens being eligible, big or small, urban or rural, classic or modern.

The series will feature 10 gardens per episode and each show will be loosely based around a theme. Alan will also look at how these spaces reflect Britain’s ever changing relationship with its outdoor space. We are a nation of gardeners and Alan wants to reveal the reasons for our unique relationship with horticulture. He will also meet the people behind the gardens to find out the stories behind the gardens’ creation.
Says Alan, “Britain has the greatest gardeners in the world and the greatest domestic gardens. I want to discover thirty of the best private gardens in the country, regardless of their size, that show off the growing and design skills of their gardeners to brilliant effect.”

Commenting on the forthcoming series George Plumptre, Chief Executive of the National Gardens Scheme said ‘I’m delighted that the NGS will be providing assistance to Spun Gold in helping find examples of the types and styles of gardens that will enable Alan to illustrate the programmes with those that he is most passionate about.’

Applying to the programme is easy – just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with some information about the garden (please include its location, size and contact details for yourself – phone and email) along with a few photos of the nominated garden. Or write to Britain’s Best Gardens, PO Box 64382, London, EC2P 2GJ.

The Galapagos Islands talk by Kathy Gray

Written by John Metcalf. Posted in News

Kathy GrayThe unique flora of The Galapagos Islands an illustrated talk by Kathy Gray illustrated with photographs by Tony Gray. Kathy and Tony visited the Islands in May 2013 and this a record of their fascinating visit .

A fuller report of this talk will appear in the next Newsletter







photograph by John Metcalf


event cancelled

Written by John Metcalf. Posted in News

Unfortunately the morning garden visit to Marlingford on Saturday 28th September has had to be cancelled as the owner is recovering from pneumonia. The scheduled afternoon visit to The Old Sunhouse at 2pm will still go ahead.

Winter with a vengence

Written by John Metcalf. Posted in News

Winter has arrived with a vengence. Here  in South Norfolk the temperature dropped last night to -7c (February 11th) and is expected to be as cold again tonight)
all photographs by John Metcalf

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