Hardy plants in Hertfordshire

The Hertfordshire group of the Hardy Plant Society meet regularly at Wheathampstead offering the opportunity to find out more about these versatile plants. Philippa Pearson finds out about the group

IN all the gardens I design, perennials play a key part in the planting scheme. Their colourful, exotic, adaptable and infinitely interesting good looks add height, texture and spadefuls of charm throughout the year, whatever the soil or light conditions. I first became hooked on perennials when I worked with the late Alan Bloom VMH whose garden at Bressingham, Norfolk is a homage to these plants.An eminent nurseryman, Alan founded the Hardy Plant Society over 50 years ago with other keen plantsmen to extol the delights of perennials to gardeners. As a member of this friendly society you get the chance to find out more about perennials through various publications during the year, participate in national events and an opportunity to enjoy seeds donated by members in the annual seed distribution scheme, a process which also helps to preserve in our gardens the legacy of perennial plants.But what is great fun in this society is to also meet with other like-minded gardeners at one of over 40 local groups and spend time listening to interesting speakers, getting plants at their plant sales and visiting local, national and international gardens with your new friends. As well as the local groups there are seven specialist groups which meet regularly and produce their own newsletters: these groups focus on plant families such as paeonies, hardy geraniums, pulmonarias and variegated plants.The Hertfordshire group of the Hardy Plant Society has just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They meet at Wheathampstead Memorial Hall from October to April for monthly talks from plant nurseries and fascinating plantspeople, all followed by tea, homemade cakes and the all important plant stall. Here, members bring plants in to swap with others and you have a wonderful opportunity to pick up something unusual or different for your garden, tried and tested by other members.Meetings focus on a range of topics but are also a sociable occasion where friendships are formed and you can talk about plants and gardens to your heart’s content. Members have gardening skills of all levels so even if you are new to gardening you won’t be on your own and if you are an accomplished gardener, you’ll find something new and interesting. All members and visitors are welcomed with enthusiasm. During the summer months, monthly meetings transform into outings and the chance to get out and about to look at members’ gardens in the county or further a field. Last year’s summer outings included visits to Mariners and Potash gardens and Foxgrove Nursery in Berkshire, Bates Green Garden and Marchants Hardy Plants nursery in Sussex, and two Hertfordshire HPS members, one in St. Albans the other in Welwyn Garden City, opened their gardens for the group. Other members also open their gardens for the National Gardens Scheme or Red Cross. In April there’s a seedling exchange and during June a grand plant sale, all in good time to get your own garden stocked. Hertfordshire HPS welcome visitors to meetings but you do need to be a member of the national Society before you can join the local group. National membership costs �17 for one person or �19 for joint membership.

The Hardy Plant Society Hertfordshire GroupMeetings take place monthly from October to April at Wheathampstead Memorial Hall, Marford Road, Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire AL4 8AY. Visitors are welcome, �2 admission fee. Membership of the Hertfordshire group is �5 for one person, �8 for joint membership. See www.hertshps.com for further details.

Forthcoming talks at Wheathampstead:Saturday, January 9 at 2pmThe Manor House Gardens, inspiration and creation by Kathy BrownSaturday, February 6 at 2pmRoses for pleasure by Ann BirdSaturday, March 6 at 2pmEuphorbias by Don Witton

Contact the Administrator for details about national membership: Mrs Pam AdamsThe Hardy Plant SocietyLittle OrchardGreat CombertonPershore, WR10 3DP01386 710317   email admin@hardy-plant.org.uk www.hardy-plant.org.uk