July Meeting

David Pearce took us through a career path that led him to practice sustainable gardening, starting in the Isle if Wight and a 2-year apprenticeship working with wild collected and rare plants, learning how to propagate and consider the habitats in which they liked to grow.

On to RHS Wisley for a solid grounding on all aspects of horticulture and David began to look for an alternative and holistic approach to gardening.

Then Highgrove where he says he ‘fell in love with the artistry of gardening’. His prior experience had been science based, now he learnt about organic gardening, sustainability and biodiversity.

Next Whatley Manor, a 1920’s Arts and Crafts, Lawrence Johnston designed garden. Here he experimented with knowledge gained at Highgrove, creating different habitats and planting for specific conditions.

David is currently Curator at Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Garden, 30 acres of established gardens nestled in a wooded valley with its own microclimate; sustainable gardening is top of his remit.

David explained that he has travelled to several countries to study how plants grow in the wild and feels this is key to sustainability: right plant, right place resulting in healthier growth negating the need for intervention such as irrigation, feeding and chemical pest management.

He urged us to grow our own plants from cuttings and seeds or seek out and support small independent nurseries. David also encouraged us to experiment with planting and take notes, to observe our gardens natural environments and learn from them.

David Pearce

June Outing

The club visited Kiftsgate 6 years ago in spring, so as well as the plants being totally different, the orchard with its wildflowers and mound wrapped in Rosa rugosa, hiding a seating area that led your eye along an avenue of tulip trees to a distant sculpture, was new to us.

The garden was packed with great planting combinations where blooms picked out the colours of their neighbour’s stems, leaf margins, buds or seed pods and toned beautifully.

Groups of vivid red roses and fiery Hemerocallis seemed to glow and pops of orange lilies contrasted with purple Cotinus coggygria. Romantic mixes of soft silver textures amid baby-pinks and blues tumbled to the paths and honeysuckle grew in the borders. We found the unusual, such as the tubular mauve flowers of Fabiana imbricata f. violacea, spikey, blue Eryngiums, a few late peonies and even one or two grasses.

We trod lightly over the faux grass for a shady seat in the calming water garden, inhaled deeply the delicious scents and enjoyed the fabulous views from the pool in the lower garden. Tea and cake or scones were taken inside or out and the plant sales area perused. We marvelled at a huge stand of Dahlia Merckii (I think) and of course roses were everywhere with Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ cascading magnificently from its high hedge.