August Outing

The minibus trip to Broughton Grange was thoroughly enjoyed by all, the consensus was that the Tom Stuart-Smith walled garden was an outstanding design .

See our photos page for more pictures.

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.

June Meeting

John Heathcott talked about the Woodland Trust and Ancient Woodlands of the Cotswolds, explaining that colonizer trees, firstly silver birch, were followed by Scots pine, hazel, willow, lime, oak and others; this information having come from carbon dating pollen grains which are practically indestructible!

John described ancient forest as areas with single native trees showing evidence of repeated coppicing and pollarding also having areas of native mature trees, standards, for timber and areas of straight single stemmed trees, high forest, with boundary ditches on the inside of the forest’s edges.

He explained that all our native trees regrow when coppiced or pollarded and this cycle creates differing levels of light and shade, allowing wildflowers, ferns and fungi to flourish providing diverse habitats and food for wildlife.

John, in his role as a Woodland Trust Ranger, manages Lineover Woods near Cheltenham.  Along with volunteers he works to increase habitats and biodiversity by widening paths and clearing around old oaks. The team coppice 1 or 2 limes a year, for if you don’t, John says they fall over! Cut wood is used to make charcoal to sell and for hedges and fences. Introduced conifers cut out light which being bad for biodiversity are removed and new trees planted which frustratingly, John says, can be destroyed by squirrels or disease!

Lineover wood is home to rare large leaf limes and many wild flowers including, bluebells, lily of the valley and orchids; 500 species of fungi have been recorded and wildlife abounds, such as deer, birds and rare butterflies.

For more information visit

John Heathcott
Ancient oaks, remains of an ancient forest affectionately known as ‘The Committee’

Latest Outing

Sounds like a smashing time was had by all who attended the trip to Pasture Farm on 2nd June.

I’m told there was lots of interesting topiary – including a giant hare and an elephant! 

The planting was a lovely relaxed mix of perennials, shrubs and trees with a wildflower meadow – sounds delightful.

The tea and cake was delicious by all accounts too.

See the outings page for details of the next trip – hope you can join us

A few photos of the Pasture Farm trip

May Meeting

Dominic Hamilton, Garden Director at Painswick Rococo Gardens, gave a fascinating talk on the history and restoration of the gardens.

Through Dominic’s enthusiasm we learnt that in 1730 Charles Hyett moved from Gloucester to Painswick due to asthma, building a house alongside an old farmhouse, calling it ‘Bueno Arie’ -good air.

Three years later, on his death, his son Benjamin inherited and after the ‘Grand Tour’, came home with Baroque ideas for the house and garden: asymmetry, C and S shapes, pastel colours and shell work.

Dominic informed us that at this time people began to use their gardens for pleasure. Buildings for shelter, nooks for privacy and ponds, fountains and cascades began to appear. Painswick was a garden designed as a backdrop for pleasure!

Dominic went on to say that by 1820 the garden was used for growing vegetables, ponds had been filled in and by 1921 Hyett’s descendants had let most of the Rococo elements deteriorate.

In 1950, in a dilapidated state, Lord Dickinson purchased it, sacking gardeners, planting trees and leaving it to nature.

Due to an exhibition of Thomas Robins’ work, one of which was Painswick painted in 1748 and following a visit in 1984, an article was sent to Lord Dickinson stating that Painswicks’ Rococo elements could be restored.

Luckily Lord Dickinson agreed and began to restore its buildings, prune trees, reinstate ponds, gardens, walks and vistas.

The garden opened to the public in the 1980’s and today visitors can see the fruits of his labours.

For more information visit

April Meeting

Eddie Bailey gave a talk entitled, ‘Rhizophyllia, the Soil Food Web and No-Dig Gardening; his enthusiasm was infectious and the subject fascinating.

Eddie talked about the importance of the many and varied microbes in the soil, using great visuals to illustrate their differing forms, movements and speeds.

We were informed how they all play a part in making nutrients available to keep what we grow healthy; by what they eat and excrete, and the connections made by mycorrhizal fungi and bacteria with plant roots to exchange and gather minerals.

Eddie explained it is vital to feed the soil, keeping these microorganisms healthy and in balance so that they can function. He warned that digging, leaving soil bare over winter, (mulching recommended), compaction , synthetic fertilizers and insecticides can disrupt this web.

Eddie touched on making compost advising us to invest in a thermometer to check the temperatures of our heaps; up to 70* will kill weed seeds whilst above 70* will kill helpful organisms, (time to make holes with a broom handle).

Another tip from Eddie – cut comfrey leaves and add to compost heaps to break down and feed the soil rather than make comfrey tea. Soaking will gas-off most of its nitrogen and produce other chemicals that give it that nasty niff – these can burn roots if applied too concentrated.

This talk left us hungry for more!

Check out his website for more information

Eddie Bailey

March Meeting

Vanessa Berridge gave a fascinating talk about the National Garden Scheme and gardens that open in Gloucestershire. Vanessa, a County Organiser for Gloucestershire, regularly opens her own garden.

Vanessa took us through the history of the NGS from 1859 when William Rathbone retained Mary Robinson to nurse those in Liverpool that couldn’t afford to pay. Rathbone went on to work with Florence Nightingale to develop training for and set up a district nursing service.

In 1927 the NGS was founded to raise funds for district nursing and 609 gardens opened at a charge of ‘a shilling a head’, raising £8,191.

In 1932 an illustrated list of 1,079 gardens was published, this garden guide became yellow in 1949; today over 3,500 gardens open, 80 of them in Gloucestershire, most selling teas, a good proportion sell plants and have a card reader.

Vanessa said whether you look for a garden in  the ‘yellow book’ or on line, you are sure to find a range from small, group openings to larger gardens in a variety of styles. Her photos illustrated a choice of traditional, through tropical to those with a wilder theme.

She urged us not to forget those that open by arrangement  as these, often unable to cater for many cars, are great for small groups and often give a personal tour.

For more history, information and gardens visit

The Generous Gardener News

The Generous Gardener, previously run by Mel Tanner at Ampney Crucis, has been taken over by Sarah Rivett-Carnac and Sarah Biddulph.

For more information on lecture days to be held at Rodmarton Manor go to

Speakers include James Alexander-Sinclair, Jinny Blom and Pippa Greenwood

Also three Specialist Plant Sales to be held at 

Charlton Farm near Malmesbury

Unusual plants and sundries as well as the opportunity to look round the garden created by Sarah Rivett-Carnac