Members’ Reports

Here you will find links to illustrated reports or brief summaries of past excursions and events. Bursary reports are here.


Remarkable gardens of south-west Wales

Sunday 12 to Wednesday 15 September 2021

The National Botanic Garden of Wales had been on our wish list for years and a trip based in Carmarthen to visit it and four other gardens in the region has come to fruition.

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Oxford Botanic Garden and Merton College Garden

August 2021

Members enjoyed a day of guided visits to the UK’s oldest botanic garden and one of Oxford’s earliest colleges.

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Ottershaw Cacti and Dunsborough Park

Monday 14 June 2021

Lesley Jones organised visits and a picnic in Surrey, assisted on the day by Melvyn Jope. The first time members had been able to gather in person felt special, as described by MG Jones in his report. Visiting a UK cactus nursery was a novelty for MPG.

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Visit to Sussex Prairie Garden

Friday 18 September 2020

Another beautiful sunny day for our visit to the wonderful garden created by Paul and Pauline McBride. Ben and Julia Martin have given us all an insight into the trip.

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Visit to Beth Chatto Gardens

Friday 17 July 2020

At last members were able to meet up and travelled separately, on a glorious summer day, to the, now world-famous garden in Elmstead Market, Essex. Stephen Cole has written about his experience.

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Wild Flowers and Holy Sites, Israel

Tuesday 25 February to Thursday 5 March 2020

This is the most recent MPG trip before the Covid-19 lockdown. It was an energetic expedition covering a wide range of habitats from the Golan Heights in the north to the Negev in the south. One of our bursary recipients, Catherine Cutler, has written a wonderful resumé of this ​fascinating tour, led by Oron Peri.

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Winter Meeting 2020

Our speaker at the Winter Meeting was John David, head of horticultural taxonomy at the RHS. His talk, entitled ‘To Spain for daffodils’, covered details of his research trips to study daffodils through a transect of the country from north to south, covering most of the 25 species found in Spain. Pictured here is Narcissus papyraceus. A recording of the lecture with video of the slides is available on Vimeo.

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Visit to RHS Lindley Library, Vincent Square, London

Monday 25 November 2019

​MPG members had an interesting tour of the RHS Lindley Library archive. We saw a small sample of the vast store of books – an edition of Gerard’s Herbal, the seed catalogue drawn by Ernst Benary and an insight into the early world of garden design in the book ‘A new orchard and garden’ first published 1618.

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Plant Hunting in Crete

Thursday 17 October – Thursday 24 October 2019

Another wonderful trip to western Crete led by our specialist member John Fielding. Despite a very dry autumn, the 20 participants found plenty of interest.

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Second Lazio

Friday 30 September – Friday 7 October 2019

We offered members another chance to visit Lazio and the tour was, once again, fully booked. Some repeat visits and some new gardens to see. Geoff Hughes and Anne Rendell have put together a beautiful report.

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Mona’s Garden

Saturday 17 August 2019

It was a sunny Saturday for the MPG members to visit the exotic garden of MPG member Mona Abboud who was kindly hosted us for our second visit. Mona was generous with her time and plant stories explaining how she topiarises things to fit the garden. “My garden treads a fine line between messy and natural” she jokes. This year again Monas contributed the money raised to the MPG bursary fund and to Plant Heritage.

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Theobald’s Farmhouse

Wednesday 17 July 2019

A full and illustrated report from Sue Tymon.

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Dorset Summer Garden

Sunday 30 June to Thursday 4 July 2019

Our AGM this year was held in Dorset followed by a tour of gardens in glorious weather, all expertly arranged by Sue Bennison. Christopher Bailes’ lecture can be found on Vimeo.

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Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Cadland

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Several members to the opportunity of a private tour of Sir Harold Hillier’s famous Gardens by the current curator David Jewell and also the first curator of the Gardens, Roy Lancaster, OBE. Members then visited the gardens at Cadland, at the invitation of member Gilly Drummond.

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Visit to Catalonia

Sunday 19 – Saturday 27 May 2019

​Twenty-four members had an interesting and enjoyable trip to north-eastern Spain – Barcelona, gardens around the Costa Brava, plant-hunting in the Montseny National Park and a special private garden in the mountains further north.

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Botanising in the Maremma

​Sunday 5 to Saturday 11 May 2019

Our first plant-hunting trip in Italy was a memorable experience for members who walked, in almost perfect weather, the beautiful limestone hills and pine forests of the area led by professional botanist, Goffredo Filibeck. Finds included such as Orchis Morio (left).

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Spring Flowers in Peloponnese

Thursday 21 to Thursday 28 March 2019

At the end of March, MPG members spent a spectacular botanising week, with excellent weather, in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Vida Svahnström held an MPG bursary for this trip. Vida says, ” “It was the most productive, well planned, and enjoyable botanising trip I have ever been on. Most of the trip was spent hunting for native wildflowers and other plants in stunning natural landscapes with our very knowledgeable and helpful guide John Fielding”.

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Chiswick House Tour

Friday 8 March 2019

In mid March MPG were given a guided tour of the Camellia house with Head Gardener Geraldine King. The conservatory, built for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1820, was originally designed for growing fruit but by 1828 they grew the fashionable camellias form China, Korea and Vietnam. ​On display is a lovely collection of very old varieties, Camellia rubra plena being one of the original plants. This was followed by a tour of the gardens, propagation area and the Palladian house and we got to purchase some special camellias propagated by Geraldine’s team.


Visit to Cambridge Botanic Gardens and Orchid House

Thursday 28 February 2019

Organised by Denise Pawlett, our group of 25 members was split and led by three very knowledgeable volunteer tour guides around the heritage listed garden. On a lovely winter afternoon we discovered the rare and notable plants of the garden.


Botanising in the Drakensburg and Cape Town

Wednesday 7 – Wednesday 21 February 2019​

Members had a wonderful tour of South Africa in February, visiting the Drakensberg and Cape Town, botanising. Becky Cross was awarded an MPG Bursary to help her to fund this trip.

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Lazio Tour of Gardens

Sunday 14 – Friday 19 October 2018

In the autumn members visited nine classic gardens in the Lazio area of Italy, from Hadrian’s summer villa dating back to c110 BC to the fascinating and astonishing gardens of the Sacro Bosco, with amazing oversized sculptures and Villa Lante, featuring a water chain, thought to be the first in horticulture. All Guy Cheeseman’s beautiful images from this tour can be viewed on Flickr click on ‘Lazio’ and then the monitor icon.

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Mona’s Garden

Saturday 8 September 2018

In early September 25 members visited the exceptional garden of one of our members – Mona Abboud, after meeting for lunch nearby. Mona’s Garden, in north London, has been created entirely by opera singer Mona herself and contains a tremendous range of plants, many from the southern hemisphere and Mediterranean-climate areas. Mona contributed all the money raised to the MPG bursary fund, Plant Heritage and the NGS.


Lullingstone Castle, World Garden

Monday 6 August 2018

Tom Hart Dyke showed us around his garden at Lullingstone Castle. He designed it in his head while held hostage in the Colombian jungle in 2005, after being captured when he was hunting plants in the Darien Gap. Once released, he implemented his design in the walled garden of his home. The area is divided into continents and includes a collection of Mediterranean plants mostly grown from seed including the national collection of Eucalyptus. Cacti, orchids and other tender plants are housed in special hothouses.


Garden Visits, Dumfries and Galloway

Sunday 24 – Thursday 28 June 2018

Members travelled to Scotland for the Annual General Meeting this year. This was followed by visits to some interesting gardens, both private and public where many of us were enticed to buy plants to take home. You may also like to view the gallery of Flickr photographs of this visit from member Guy Cheeseman.

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Tom Stuart-Smith’s Barn Garden

Monday 18 June 2018

On one of the first very warm days of summer members gathered near Kings Langley for a guided tour around The Barn and Serge Hill, the gardens of landscape architect and garden designer, Tom Stuart-Smith and his sister Kate. Tom’s repeat planting combines naturalism and modernity and make for a fresh look with plants very much in the water-wise gardening style.

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Chelsea Visit

Tuesday 22 May 2018

​Many members took up the opportunity to visit the Chelsea Flower Show early on Members’ Day, with entry to the grounds at 6.30am.


Fulham Palace Garden Tour

Saturday 19 May 2018

The tour of Fulham Palace Gardens, sited alongside the Thames, was guided by volunteer Jane Swithinbank who explained the importance of the site. Bishop Henry Compton (b 1632) was one of the botanising bishops, said to have selected missionaries for their botanising skills. His most talented and prolific protégé was John Bannister, who sent back seeds and specimens from North America, North West Africa, Gibraltar, India, the Virgin Islands and West Indies. Finds included seeds of Cedrus atlantica, Sequoiadendron giganticum, Liquidambar and Quercus coccinea. A highlight was the walled garden with its Wisteria from the late 1800s and the restored glass house.


Costa Blanca, Spain

Sunday 15 – Sunday 22 April 2018

Members had a memorable visit to the Elche and Denia areas of the Costa Blanca – visiting inland wild flower areas, a government research station with botanic garden, the palm groves of the city of Elche, private gardens owned by Spanish residents, a Moorish Tea Garden designed in the style of Granada’s Alhambra, and two of the famous gardens of Valencia. All interspersed with delicious meals.

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Charmed Lives at the British Museum

Saturday 24 March 2018

Members visited an interesting exhibition documenting the lives of Patrick Leigh Fermor, John Craxton and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika which has been on from March to July at the British Museum. Its focus is the art and friendship of these three men in post-war Greece. The exhibition was built around the places they lived: Ghika, on the island of Hydra, Leigh Fermor in Kardamyli and Craxton’s home in Crete. Artwork, photographs, writings and other memorabilia give an insight into their interlinked. Members enjoyed an excellent lunch afterwards.


Spring Walk – Highgrove

Thursday 15 March 2018

Planning a UK garden visit in March risks bad weather but the weather was perfect for our visit to Highgrove. The woodland garden with Cyclamen coum and scillas looked particularly good. The skill of the gardeners in the walled garden drew lots of positive remarks and the framework created by the topiary in parts of the garden near the house was very impressive. The opportunity to spend time talking to the head gardener Debs Goodenough was an unexpected pleasure. All in all a very enjoyable visit.


Tenerife – An Island of Climatic Contrasts

Sunday 25 February – Sunday 4 March 2018

Members were guided on this trip by Oron Peri. They visited the laurel forests of Anaga, the volcanic plateau, coastal plains, pine forests, green valleys and botanic gardens. The picture, taken in the Park of the Dragon Tree, Icod de los Vinos, shows the iconic Dracaena drago in the foreground and snow-covered Mount Teide in the background. See also Jenny Bovaird’s report of a previous lecture on the island’s plants.

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Bulb Hunting in Greece

November 2017

A group of members went from Athens to Nafplio and on to the southern Peloponnese for a bulb-hunting trip led by John Fielding. Our first bursary recipient, Becky Cross, seen left with Sternbergia at the top of the ancient site of Mystra, has written an illustrated diary of the trip.

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Buckingham Palace Gardens

Saturday 5 August 2017

Members met up for a privileged tour around the private gardens of Buckingham Palace with the head gardener, Mark Lane. The gardens hold the National Collection of Morus, (mulberry), with 34 named varieties across all the royal gardens. There were many delights including an interesting Buddleja nivea from China.


Lambeth Palace Gardens

Monday 17 July 2017

30 members visited the 10-acre private gardens of Lambeth Palace. Nick Stewart, head gardener, pointed out ancient trees dating from the Reformation, Mediterranean plants such as Plumbago and Alyogne and explained the history of the garden. Highlights included the stunning herb garden, shady border and terracotta pots made for the archbishop and bearing his crest. Christopher Woodward, director of the Garden Museum, talked about the museum, showed us the Dan Pearson garden, and Tradescant’s collection.


Isle of Wight Tour

Sunday 25 to Wednesday 28 June 2017

Members met on the Sunday for our AGM. This was followed, over the next three days, by a tour of some wonderful gardens, mostly private ones not regularly open to the public, but also including the Ventnor Botanic Gardens, shown to the left, and the gardens of Osborne House.

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Early Bird Visit to RHS Chelsea

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Members took advantage of Manoj Malde’s invitation to visit the Chelsea Flower Show before the crowds: at 6.30 in the morning on the Tuesday, before the results of the judging were announced. It was a beautiful summer day and of course everything was looking at its absolute best. We all felt very privileged to have this unusual opportunity, including a Champagne breakfast after the gates had opened to the general public. Manoj’s beautiful ‘Beneath a Mexican Sky’ garden won Silver Gilt.


Garden Tour in the South of France

Friday 5 – Wednesday 10 May 2017

Sue Bennison’s illustrated report describes the tour of gardens in Provence, organised by Guy Cheeseman. The group included members from Australia, Spain and South Africa and visited gardens including La Louve and Olivier Filippi’s Nursery. The picture shows Olivier’s demonstration garden. To read the report click here

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Walks and Endemic Plants on the Greek Island of Evia

Saturday 29 April to Saturday 6 May 2017

MPG’s visit to Greece’s second largest island. Members from UK, Greece and Belgium made up the group. Pictured left is the rare endemic Campanula celsii subsp. carystea.

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Visit to Eccleston Square Gardens, London – Home of the National Collection of Caenothus

Friday 28 April 2017

Members visited one of the largest private gardens in a London square, shown round by Roger Phillips. Roger has managed the garden for decades and his expertise – combined with the input from more than one head gardener from the southern hemisphere – make this a precious sanctuary. The privacy inside the garden resulting from luxuriant planting on the perimeter amazed some of our members. Members lunched together after the visit.

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The North London Garden of Botanist E.A.Bowles

Thursday 13 April 2017

Members had a great day out on Maundy Thursday to the Myddleton House Garden of the celebrated horticulturist E. A. Bowles. James Hall, the head gardener, gave a memorable tour and had much to show including a dry gravel garden trying many Mediterranean plants including Nerium outside. The image shows a lovely Thunbergia in the greenhouse. (Photo: Stephen Jury)


Plant Hunting in Jordan

Monday 20 to Tuesday 28 March 2017

Members enjoyed a fabulous field trip to Jordan led by plantsman and bulb expert Oron Peri. See full account of the trip and some wonderful images taken by one of our members.

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Mediterranean Bulbs at Kew

Tuesday 28 February 2017

Nearly 40 members went to look at Mediterranean and other bulbs at Kew in February. They were shown round by Tom Freeth, Rock Garden, Alpine and Aquatics Supervisor, and Kit Strange, a highly experienced horticulturist. The visit included the Davies Alpine House and surrounding rockery, with the extra bonus of going into the Bulb Yard not normally open to the public.

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Winter Meeting, Chelsea Physic Garden

Saturday 20 January 2017

Guest speaker in the afternoon was John Grimshaw on the theme Broadening the horizons – Looking beyond the Mediterranean for Mediterranean plants, giving members exotic ideas from other continents for Mediterranean basin or even UK gardens. In the morning members looked round the Chelsea Physic Gardens, had structured opportunity to put forward ideas on MPG’s future programme of events, within the UK and overseas and heard a bit about 2016 events from John Fielding. The meetings and lunch were attended by more than 60 members.


Mediterranean Vegetables

Saturday 29 October 2016

Members met at Seeds of Italy in Harrow for a talk by Paolo Arrigo UK distributor for Franchi Seeds, a company that has been growing its own seed since 1783. He talked about fast-cropping lettuce, the best tomatoes for eating and cooking, the sweetest red onions, perfect sized tasty pumpkins, Moscard de Provence, how to dry Borlotti beans, grow fresh chickpeas and lentils. This was followed by a tasting of delicious homemade pesto Genovese and a wonderful Italian classic sauce ‘Bagna cauda’ made with giant Italian anchovies.


RHS Wisley

Thursday 15 September 2016

On possibly the last summer’s day of the year, members made a tour of parts of Wisley’s gardens relevant to the Mediterranean which was beautifully organised by Melvyn Jope.

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Summer Gardens Tour

Sunday 10 July to Thursday 14 July 2016

Members gathered in Norwich for our Annual General Meeting followed by a four-day tour of nine Norfolk gardens, many of which had a Mediterranean, even tropical, feel.

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Coriander Club and Museum of the Orser of St John

July 2016

We visited Spitalfields City Farm in Brick Lane, London where the ladies of the Coriander Club grow, sell and cook Bangladeshi vegetables. We followed this with a visit to the Herb Garden and Museum of the Order of St John. View images

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Inns of Court Gardens London

May 2016

Our visit to Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court Gardens, London took place on a beautiful spring day. Read illustrated account of the day.

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Plant Hunting in Crete

April 2016

A visit to look for rare, endemic and interesting plants in Crete with John Fielding as botanical guide.

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Gardens of Southern Morocco

March 2016

During our visit to Taroudant, Marrakech, the High Atlas and surrounding areas, we visited beautiful gardens created by enthusiasts of many nationalities, some designed by Eric Ossart and Arnaud Maurieres. We saw the raw, gritty side of the country too, at a poor potters’ village, at a weekly market where pitiful animals were suffering, and in an oasis village where women were cracking argan nuts as part of the slow process to produce oil. Christine Daniels has written a beautiful report of this trip. Do look at our gallery of images taken by members and Guy Cheeseman has kindly given us access to his Flickr images of the trip.


Winter Meeting

January 2016

Oron Peri, specialist in geophytes and a hunter of beautiful and rare plants, gave two fascinating lectures to the Winter Meeting on 23 January. A recording of Oron’s two lectures with illustrations is available.

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Visit to RBG Kew

November 2015

Members visited the Alpine House and Princess of Wales glasshouse, seeing many bulbs in flower and other plants including Hypericum aegypticum, restricted to parts of Crete and north Africa in the wild. John Fielding, Rossana Porta and Gareth Stanfield showed us the Mediterranean planting, on which Rossana, a Kew horticulturist until 2012, had worked in 2007. Three areas of trees – olives, cork oaks and stone pines – predominate, with a cistus collection on the slopes up to the King William Temple. Picture shows Lynne Leveson, Gareth, John and Denise Pawlett.


South Africa Trip

August/September 2015

This trip, led by Charles Smith, began by exploring Cape Town and taking a cable car up Table Mountain. Over the next 12 days the tour visited Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, the Cape of Good Hope, Clan William, Nieuwoodtville, Namaqualand, noted for fabulous wild flowers, the Babylonstoren garden, Springbok and Stellenbosch. A slide show of photographs is available in the gallery.

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

July 2015

Twenty years ago it was a dumping ground for abandoned cars and old fridges where the 2012 Olympic Games were held. Now a stunning park provides employment and is used by thousands of local residents. One of the largest MPG London groups visited the park on 18 July, led by three specialists now maintaining the areas and Andy Churchman, head gardener of the South Park. See John Fielding’s images in the Gallery including the UK’s tallest sculpture (the ArcelorMittal Orbit).

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Post-AGM Garden Tour

July 2015

Our Sunday evening AGM was followed by two and a half days of visits to gardens including the famous Bryan’s Ground owned by David Wheeler and Simon Dorrell, the Laskett owned by Sir Roy Strong, both in Herefordshire, and Allt-y-Bela just over the border in Wales created by Arne Maynard. The very popular programme was organised by Sue Bennison and attended by 50 members. The picture here shows Sir Roy Strong with MPG chairman Heather Martin. More images by Guy Cheeseman may be viewed on Flickr.

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Six day field trip to Armenia

July – August 2015

Richard Robinson sponsored Dr Asatryan in this work in memory of his mother who had taught him the names of many English wild flowers even before he started school. Richard’s mother died shortly before he and his wife Vicky travelled to Armenia as members of the MPG’s field trip in June 2015.

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Wild Flowers of Armenia

June 2015

MPG’s visit to discover the rich endemic flora of Armenia, led by Dr Anna Asatryan, senior researcher at the Institute of Botany, National Academy of Sciences, consisted of eight full days visiting contrasting habitats. Here Caroline Bilsby is photographing Anemone fasciculata in a wet meadow. Members walked in the hills near Dilijan, beside ancient monasteries, on the shores of Lake Sevan, and on mountain slopes south of Goris at over 3100 metres where a huge variety of plants were observed. Read John Fielding’s illustrated report.

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Garden Tour in Northern Tuscany

May 2015

Carol Smith and Heather Martin led two groups each with 22 members on consecutive tours based in the beautiful walled city of Lucca. As well as grand villas such as Villa Oliva (left), the visits included many to private gardens ranging from tiny ones in the old hillside village of Buggiano Castello to magnificent ones of Italian, British and Dutch plant lovers, and a citrus nursery.

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Chelsea Flower Show Win for “Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse”

May 2015

Members of MPG and sister associations in France and Portugal arrived at the Chelsea Flower Show at 6.30 am on Tuesday 19 May, thanks to an invitation from James Basson’s company Scape Design. Scape won a Gold for its main show garden “Perfumer’s Garden in Grasse”. “It was a dream. Having gone to Chelsea almost every year for the past 50, I can definitely say that this was our best ever visit,” writes Rosemary Halford who sent this picture of James’s gold-winning garden.


Cleveland Square

April 2015

Members met at Sue Baring’s beautiful home in Cleveland Square, London, on Friday 24 April for a garden visit. After coffee on the south-facing terrace, members divided into two groups for guided tours and explanations of the planting and the problems of shade, honey fungus and children playing football. The guides were experts: garden manager Suzanne Etherton and head gardener James Leonard. Most of the group went on to have lunch nearby.

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City Gardens

March 2015

A group of members visited the Barbican Conservatory in the morning then after an early lunch were led by professional guide Tina Baxter to see a side of London most had not known before. Tina is also a volunteer with Friends of City Gardens and gave a lively and knowledgeable insight as well as taking the group to some gardens not normally open to the public.


Salvias and Lavanders

North West Kent, 2014

We enjoyed exceptionally interesting visits to two Kent gems of specialist excellence on a cloudless summer day. Firstly, the Great Comp Garden and Dyson Nurseries followed by the Downderry Lavender Nursery.

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The Pergola

Hill Garden and Golders Hill Park, 2014

Gareth Stanfield, a professional gardener who worked in the Hill Garden planting in the 1990s, led a visit to the Pergola at the Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath. The garden was originally created between 1906 and 1925 and was restored from 1992 using cultivars that would have been present in the Edwardian era. The kitchen garden was designed to incorporate low-maintenance plants. We went on to visit the area of Mediterranean planting in Golders Hill Park, before lunch at the Old Bull and Bush.


Garden and Nursery Visits

Lincolnshire, 2014

A programme of visits to gardens and nurseries, with two evening talks by recognised specialists, one on peonies and one on lavenders. Accommodation near the cathedral.

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Crete Trip

April 2014

In April 2014 Heather Martin organised a one-week trip to Crete, with John Fielding as the botanical guide. Click here for a beautifully illustrated article by John. Further pictures taken in the same week by Roger Foden may be seen here.

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Cornwall and Tresco

April 2014

A group of 16 visited Cornwall in the first week of April 2014, and spent one day at the Abbey Gardens on Tresco. The group was shown round by owners and head gardeners. Click here for the full article.

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Montenegro

May 2012

A group organised by Heather Martin and John Fielding visited Montenegro. You can read John’s diary of their trip.

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