Garden Visit: Batteleys Cottage, Wortham, Suffolk

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past


11th August 2018

 Members were welcomed to the garden by the owners, Linda and Andy Simpson, on a bright, warm day, just after the ‘changeable’ weather had set in, following the weeks of drought.

Linda said that she had a special announcement to make, and proceeded to explain that, after having moved there in 2010, and spent the subsequent years clearing and developing the garden, they had begun to open, and raise funds for the NGS. She had waited to see how many of us would turn up and pay the entry fee, and was delighted to tell us that our contribution had taken their fund-raising to over £10,000.

About 30 members joined the visit. From the first, there were beautiful little groups of plants, adjacent to the front door, and every little corner and nook. As we rounded the house, a charming typical Suffolk cottage, but with the individual character that develops over time, the view expanded across a lawn, with a central bed, notably stocked with pink and white cleome, and a metal sculpture.


From the lawn, surrounded by interesting plantings of shrubs and perennials, a number of pathways disappeared into the surroundings, although the eye was taken round the periphery by regular splashes of Orange flowers, in pots, set on the edge of the borders.

Everywhere, as we wandered between the plants, there were places to sit and look at a peaceful  view, or the pond, or noisy bird-feeders. Linda and Andy had placed a large pot of Zantedeschia aetheopica in the pond. This was actually floating, although the pot was submerged, and caused a few of us to doubt the evidence of our own eyes, as we saw it gently drifting across the pond, presumably prompted by goldfish nibbling around the roots.


Those of us who like variegated plants were attracted by a clump of Lysimachia clethroides ‘Geisha’, with its pretty, crooked spikes of white flowers and pale cream variegated leaves, and also a bright crimson Phlox, with variegated leaves, P. paniculata ‘ Mary Christine’, with much stronger colour in the flowers than the better-known P.’Norah Leigh’. Both the Lysimachia and the Phlox were growing next to plain green versions of the same plant. Linda owned up that the plain ones were reversion from the variegated, but she had separated the clumps, and they made an interesting contrast with each other. There was also a smart clump of a very pale-leaved variegated persicaria, providing lovely contrast to the green growth nearby.



The little pathways led to varied parts of the garden, several in shaded areas, perhaps with an atmospheric, mauve clematis, draped through the trunk of a tree, or a Lutyens-style seat, with clumps of early-flowering cyclamen, in pink or white, blooming against the shiny, black leaves of Liriope nigrescens. There were hostas and ferns in the shade, and heliopsis and echinacea in the sun. A glint of sun on the water picked out a stream, with the sound of a cascade, behind another well-placed seat, chosen by a couple of discerning members to enjoy their refreshments.


In many places there were surprising little artefacts, all adding to the sense, as one member put it, that this was very much a personal garden.

Linda and Andy had individual vegetable gardens, and the piles of logs, both old and overgrown, providing homes for small creatures and insects, and the smart, fresh ones, no doubt storing fuel for the Winter, added to the individuality of the garden.


To complete our visit, there was a large table and chairs, shaded by an umbrella, on the lawn, and another large table near the house, where members could enjoy their tea and choice of delicious cakes and reflect on the lovely day and well-planned garden stocked with interesting plants, of which, Linda knew nearly all the names.


Chris Davies

Norfolk and Suffolk Group HPS Summer Social 2018

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in Events Past

28th July 2018

Sue Bulbrook had been persuaded to host the Summer Social after having held her daughter’s wedding reception in their beautiful garden, last Summer.

Since this year started with a long period of snow, excessively low temperatures, then a great deal of rain, Sue was already struggling before the 50+ days of drought immediately preceding the event.

The first rain, several hours of it, occurred on the day before, and it was slightly showery while we were setting up on the morning. However, the sun shone, the caterer  arrived and members were welcomed with a glass of wine or home-made elderflower ( from Sue’s own shrubs), or other cordial before roaming round the garden and meeting other members.

We had provided members with name-badges, requested by a fairly new member, and useful to many of us who remember faces, but not names, unless, of course, they are plant names.

Sue had been complaining bitterly that her garden was not as colourful as she would have liked, - and it certainly wasn’t as orange as it was two years ago when we were last there,-  due to the vagaries of the weather. Without that background knowledge, the garden was still interesting in its layout and design, the plant associations and colour-schemes, as well as the textural relationships between foliage, stonework, and  containers.

The stepped terrace, directly outside the back of the house, with groups of tables and chairs, provided vantage points for members to admire the immediate groups of colourful and varied plants in pots, and the collection of Japanese Acers and others on a tiered stand in a shady corner. From there, we could glimpse inviting pathways between the shrubs and flower beds to hidden glades beyond.

There were a number of large trees in the garden, providing shade, and green lawns - an unusual sight for many of us just now. A degree of excitement was caused by a sudden cracking sound when a large branch of an old Acacia tree broke and swung, hinged by an edge, fortunately not close to anyone, but giving Judy Wilson a near heart-attack.

The lunch, of delicate canapés was enjoyed by all, but perhaps mostly by those who got there first!

We had a plant stall, for which some members brought fresh plants. Other than that, they were the ones being nurtured ( or otherwise) by Linda and me, and we were very grateful to members who bought them, helping us to fund-raise for the Group.

A newish member brought some pots of seedling Lapeirousia, also known as Anomotheca, and apparently correctly known as Freesia laxa, ( but don’t quote me there!). Several members examined them in perplexed interest. I was rash enough to buy some. ( See separate note).

After lunch, Linda called the raffle, for which we had plenty of donated prizes, all of which, I trust, went to good homes.

There was then time for a final scan of Sue’s interesting plants, a brief wander, and, for several members, an excursion into Sue’s husband, Lee’s,  mystical Workshop, where he, with the mind of engineering scientist, worthy of the title of  ‘inventor,’ showed some of his projects and equipment.

Starving members, and their passengers, came round to my garden for a cuppa and a cheese roll before facing the drive home.

The general feeling was that Sue’s garden was better than anybody had a right to hope for and a good day was had by all.

Since numbers of members attending were half what they have been in recent years, the committee would be interested in changing the format to suit more members.

Did you consider it too expensive?

Was it too soon to visit the same garden again?

There was a suggestion that an evening meeting, perhaps later in the Summer, would attract more members. An earlier one would suit, if John and Brenda were organising the holiday in another month, than June, 

if a lot more members were prepared to contribute food, it would be feasible to return to our old ways, but for just the committee to do it is too much work, we don’t get to take part in the event, and we can’t produce enough food, given reasonable expenditure of our voluntary time. 

Tell us what you think.

Chris Davies.





Lapeirousia laxa

Written by Chris Davies. Posted in News

HPS member, Geoff Hinchliffe, donated some pots of seedlings of this plant, also known as Anomotheca, and Freesia laxa to our plant stall at the Summer Social 2018. Other members showed no signs of knowing the plants, although I believe that Sally Smith might grow them.

At present, I still have 5 of Geoff’s pots of these, @ £2/ pot of about 6 seedlings.

Geoff’s source describes them as follows:-“From a flat fan of tiny iris-like leaves arise thin stems carrying large, brilliant carmine, star-shaped flowers.These lovely flowers are very long lived and hardy in a sheltered spot and I a well-drained rockery they will self-seed and make fabulous drifts.”  

They will develop corms. The foliage grows to about 8”. They need sun, good drainage and shelter from Winter wet and cold.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED CONTACT ME:- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 01362 668784


Written by Super User. Posted in News

We regret any inconvenience to our members but the website is in the process of being updated.

If you have any queries please contact Linda Hall on 01379 641519.

Indoor Meeting: Talk by Mel Collins 'Beware of Gifts'

Written by Linda Hall. Posted in Events Past

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10th March 2018

Mickfield Hostas is a family-based micro business, which has grown out of a collection of the genus Hosta. Check their amazing website for plant combinations and where to position. Watch the mini movies and even sign up for their informative newsletters. They attend many shows – check their website for full details.

They hold the largest Plant Heritage National Collection of Hosta in the UK and offer over 1,000 different species and cultivars for sale, grown peat-free, at their nursery, which is open throughout the season in the village of Mickfield, in Suffolk.

In 2011 they were awarded their first RHS Gold medal at the Malvern Spring Flower Show. Many more awards have followed since.

In 2016, their 40th Anniversary Year, they were awarded gold at Harrogate, Malvern, Hampton Court, Tatton Park, Sandringham and BBC Gardeners World – quite an achievement.

Mel’s talk was very informative and explained Hostas belong to the Hostacae family. Large varieties prefer to be in the ground rather than containers. If hostas are gown in containers she recommended placing the container in a shallow tray of water with a gap between the tray rim and container. It is snails that damage hostas and they cannot swim!

A full write-up will appear in our newsletter later in the year. 

Indoor Meeting: Talk by Richard Hobbs "Spring & Early Summer Bulbs & Plants"

Written by Sarah Rix. Posted in Events Past

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10th Febuary 2018

Richard kindly stepped in when our original speaker Joe Whitehead was unable to attend.  Richard came straight from the 'Radio Norfolk' studios where he had been a guest on the 'Garden 'Party programme.

So on a cold dreary grey February afternoon we were transported by slides and a uplifting and wonderful talk on Spring and early summer bulbs and plants.  Within minutes we were there in a spring garden.  Some of which were new and are firm favourites and we have in our gardens and some that we have now added to our list of desirables.

Richard took us on a journey of colour and scents - some more appealing than others.  He described and explained the origin and homelands of these species that we have come to expect and take for granted to see in our gardens.  By understanding the origins of these flowers and plants this should help with the citing and long term care to enable year after year enjoyment.  The variety of Spring and early summer bulbs for all areas and condition within our gardens was truly amazing.

Richard and Sally were kind enough to also bring along lots of plants for us to buy and as always additional advice in plants and aftercare.