The Diamond Anniversary Annual Lecture Day of the HPS

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

25th March 2017

Norfolk and Suffolk Group can be proud of themselves following the successful hosting of the Diamond Anniversary of the Society's Annual Lecture Day.

Of the 173 attendees, 53 were local Group members, showing their support. These included the ALD committee and all the volunteers for the day.

Speakers were Matthew Biggs on 'Lessons from Great Gardeners' and Alan Gray on 'What is Hardiness?'.

During the long lunch break Norfolk Radio was broadcasting 'The Garden Party'  from an adjacent room, and members could drop in and ask questions of the panel between lunch and shopping at the plant stalls, books and raffle, plus garden ironmongery, until it was time for the AGM, during which stallholders and other non-members could drop in on them.

New Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary and their introductory speeches made the AGM a long one.

The celebration cake was ceremoniously cut by Flora Bloom, before the cake that was cut earlier was served with tea or coffee, Then Flora, second wife of Alan Bloom, and the other founders' descendants, Penelope Hellyer and Fabian Sambrook, were presented with baskets of our Norfolk and Suffolk Heritage Plants, with their smart labels, and one of the lifelike sugar-paste hellebores taken from the cake, before inviting Alan to give his talk. Alan was also given a set of four mugs sporting hand-painted characatures of his own cats, since he had given his talk free of charge. (Matthew was given a Heritage Plant)

A number of volunteers stayed back to help clear up, for which the Catering Manager was very pleased. I explained to him that most of us were old ladies with well-trained husbands.

Chris Davies



Indoor Meeting: Talk by Jamie Blake "Around the World in 80 Plants"

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past


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This was the title of the talk by Jaime Blake in which he described his choice of plants with reference to a world map, picking plants from countries and regions as he went, beginning with the UK, France and Western Europe, detailing several snowdrops and a favourite hardy geranium, before moving on to Italy and some of its anemones, asters and lathyrus.

Then there was Greece, with Acanthus, among others, followed by Turkey with alchemilla, hellebores and fritillaries, and their attendant Lily-beetles, leading onto the kniphofias  and amaryllis of  North East Africa.

After that Jaime moved onto Nepal and Northern India, noting an arisaema, adiantum and favourite miscanthus. Thailand raised another arisaema, and Malaysia the hardy begonia B.evansii.

China was the source of a number of lovely plants, including cherries, peonies and Hostas , to name just a few, whilst Japan was the source of astilbe and other miscanthus species.

The USA provided the infamous Leylandii conifer, but also trilliums, verbena, phlox and a number of favourite 'daisies'.

Jaime arrived back in the UK in Liverpool, mentioning a couple of aquilegias, explaining that

 Norah Barlow was the granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

For a longer round the world trip with Jaime, you will have to wait for the next newsletter.

Chris Davies

Breaking News on our Cotswold Holiday

Written by Colin Pusey. Posted in News

 2nd March 2017
Car Parking for the trip will be as normal at Notcutts.
Look there are a few places left why not come on John & Brenda Fosters fantastic holiday to the Cotswolds - Book Now !


Indoor Meeting: Talk by Jane Lister "Hoecroft Throught the Seasons"

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

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11th February 2017

Jane Lister, of Hoecroft  Nursery and Garden, at Wood Norton, Norfolk, talked of the development of the nursery and gardens over the past 25 years, illustrated with slides from photographs taken by Brenda, who described herself as ' head- cook and bottle-washer'.

The Nursery focuses on ornamental grasses of all shapes, sizes and colours, and plants with coloured foliage, whether trees, shrubs or herbaceous.

Jane described combinations of trees, shrubs, grasses, other foliage plants and flowering species and varieties that would create an interesting effect at any time of the year.

Much of her material was evergreen, or gold, or perhaps pink, white and green, and showed what could be done with very few additional flowering plants, dwelling more on the shapes and textures, and contrasts of stems, leaves, seed heads and forms of growth in differing habitats.

Jane gave us a huge amount of information in the time, and a long description of plant combinations, which are more fully noted on the account in the forthcoming Newsletter.

Jane told us that the Nursery will be closing this year, but the garden will be developed further, for visiting groups. Take advantage of this place while it is still there!

Chris Davies


Indoor Meeting: Talk on 'Flowers in Spring' by John Foster

Written by Brian Ellis. Posted in Events Past

14th January 2017

John began with a potted history of Gable House which was bought in 1965 and was derelict.  Not only was the one acre garden full of stinging nettles, but dead trees seemed to be thriving too!  The first job then was to clear the land, pull the trees out with a tractor and clean the soil by growing potatoes and vegetables to eradicate any nasty weeds, this happened through the first five years.  A good move as John also ran a greengrocers and could supply the shop with fresh produce.  The only remaining tree being the Horse Chestnut at the front of the house.
The garden is planted in layers, below the trees and shrubs there is a layer of herbaceous perennials and below them many, many bulbs.  When the crocus and snowdrops etc die down geraniums are used to fill the space and then later in the year these are cut down to allow the colchicums to show.  The garden is split into three main sections and the early bulbs occupy the first.
The interest in plants was laid in his formative years as John lived in Enfield near to E A Bowles ‘The Crocus King’ at Myddelton House.  His garden was full of rare and interesting plants and  John was taken by his father on open days and plants were purchased then.  There are many Fritillaria imperialis rubra in the garden which originally came from him in the 1950s.  Myddelton is also known for its snowdrops and E A Bowles had a wide circle of friends with whom he exchanged bulbs.
 Although snowdrops fell out of fashion the interest was re-awakened in the 1960s and 1970s and places like Colesbourne in Gloucestershire became well known and is still one of the best places to go to see snowdrops. Henry Elwes lived there and  gave his name to Galanthus elwesii which likes an open, sunny position and is a good parent for hybridisation. Galanthus plicatus was brought back by soldiers from the Crimean War, some found their way to the Rectory at Warham in Norfolk and it is believed that the Rector sent some of these to E A Bowles in 1916.  These two varieties crossed with G.nivalis giving some good hybrids.  
One of the first people to deliberately cross snowdrops was Heyrick Greatorex an eccentric living in Witton near Brundall.  He bred from G.nivalis ‘Flora Pleno’ and G.plicatus although he also grew other varieties such as G.woronowii and G.ikariae. He produced some fourteen crosses named after Shakespeare’s ladies such as ‘Nerissa’, ‘Hippolyta’ and ‘Lavinia’  and the site of the garden has since given rise to many others which are natural crosses.
The year starts with Galanthus reginæ-olgæ, which flowers from September through to Christmas, comes from the peleponnese in Greece and is named for Prince Philip’s grandmother Queen Olga.  Other varieties include G. platyphyllus which grows high in the Caucasus mountains and is grown by John on the north side of the house in shade.
Of the snowdrops on display and for sale, G.’Castlegar’ is one of the earliest ‘main season’ snowdrops flowering from mid December. Originating in Ireland some people think that there is some G. reginæ-olgæ in it’s parentage. G.’Wendy’s Gold’ is one of the better yellows and was found at Wandlebury Ring in Cambridgeshire. Another yellow form of G. nivalis was discovered by John in a Lincolnshire nursery and after some detective work he found that it had been brought down from Northumberland (home to many yellows) by Ray Cobb whose name it now bears.
There are several varieties of aconites growing at Gable House, many from the continent such as the delightful straw-yellow Eranthis ‘Schwefelglanz’ which comes true from seed, a double from Copenhagen as well as E.’Noel Ayres’ found at Anglesey Abbey and E. hyemalis ‘All Saints’ found by John in a local churchyard to name but a few.
As the garden is a good size John and Brenda rely on some good ground cover and one such plant is cyclamen, of these C.hederifolium has some wonderful patterned leaves and some good silver-leaved seedlings.  Cyclamen coumis another useful variety flowering with the snowdrops.   John grows these from seed taken in June/July and sown direct which gets almost 100% germination, the seed is first washed and them sown in trays in a shady spot germination taking a couple of months, these can be potted on in their third year.  
A great plant for scent in a shady spot is Sarcocca confusa which has tiny white flowers and black berries which can still be on the plant when the next seasons flowers open, Arum italicum provides beautiful leaves valued by flower arrangers and in dry shade polygonatum grows well - as long as you keep a watch out for gooseberry leaf sawfly and either pick or wash its caterpillars off.  In contrast Iris unguicularis needs a hot sunny spot as it comes from Algeria. In the autumn it can be cut right down to the base so that the new flowers are not swamped by the old leaves. Other plants grown amongst the perennials include Crocus chrysanthus which quickly disappears after flowering, the ephemeral beauty of Corydalis, and at the front of the borders varieties of Ipheion. One of their favourite shrubs that was planted 25 years ago was a knee-high Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ which is now 20 feet high and full of fluttery blush-white flowers.  It’s advantage over M. soulangeana varieties is that if frosted it will produce new growth and more flowers.
Hellebores are another plant loving the heavy soil at Redisham. The old leaves are trimmed to the base before Christmas to keep the foliage disease free. They are gross feeders and some of the best come from John Massey at Ashwood’s nursery although John showed a particularly dark double ‘Party Dress’ from Robin White.  Amongst these are grown dwarf narcissus including N. ‘Lionel Bacon’ and 'Tête á Tête’ preferred because the dwarf varieties don’t get blown over. Also here are Anemone nemorosa varieties.  After the ‘spring flush’ early aquilegia and Thalictrum aquilegifolium take this area over and the top of the garden takes over as the summer garden from May onwards
Brian Ellis