AGM & Spring Trip

Rhododenrdons at the end of the 2nd (wet!) tour

At our AGM on Tuesday 14th May the usual reports were received then all the committee who were standing for one more year were re-elected and members endorsed a proposed annual membership fee of £20 for the 2024/25 year. The official business was followed by a quiz with two tables sharing the seed prizes then we had our usual raffle. Members collected their free Tigridia bulbs to grow on for the members’ only class at our August produce show, plus SAGG membership discount cards for some nurseries.

Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’

Then two days later we enjoyed a spring trip to RHS partner BridgemereShowGardens near Nantwich, with the first guided tour being luckier with the weather than the second one! There was some beautiful colour to enjoy with rhododendrons, cornus kousa and calycanthus as you can see from the photos, with more on our Gallery page.

Cornus kousa ‘Moonbeam’

There are 13 individual gardens set in 6 acres, including 8 Gold and Silver Medal award-winning gardens from RHS Flower Shows plus 3 more recent Silver Gilt winners such as the ‘Down Memory Lane’ dementia garden. Wildlife is also actively encouraged and there’s a blend of formal and informal planting to great effect, with something to admire in every season.

The peaceful pond
Topiary in the Victorian Garden

Importantly there are also two restaurants (with highly recommended cake mezze!) plus a large garden centre with good quality plants, and a myriad of retail therapy options with a large indoor shopping village. The coach luggage area certainly had quite a few large purchases in it….

Spring Coach Trip

Starting our tour
Bulb display on the patio

We finally made it back on the road for our first trip of the year to John’s Garden Ashwood Nurseries on Wednesday 19th April. Our club members and guests were whisked by coach to Kingswinford with time for a coffee before our personal guided tour with Head Gardener Nigel Hopes. The garden is an absolute delight at any time of year and Nigel gave us an insight into its background as well as many useful tips on growing the various plants for the best display.

Striking trilliums

It was dry if rather chilly but we’re all hardy perennials and it gave us an appetite for lunch afterwards in the excellent tearoom. Then everybody had an opportunity to browse the garden again at their leisure or explore the rest of the nursery including plant sales, gift shop and orchid/houseplant displays before our coach was loaded with the various purchases and returned us to the village hall after a very full day that was enjoyed by all. Please do have a look at more lovely photos taken by members on our gallery page.

Autumn Coach Trip

Cosmos at Wildegoose

We were lucky to have wonderful weather for our last outing of this year. First we were taken through the attractive Shropshire countryside to the delightful Wildegoose Nursery which talented young couple Laura & Jack Willgoss have transformed from its derelict overgrown state into a nursery & walled garden showcasing many unusual plants, working in tune with nature. In front of the recently restored unusual curvilinear Georgian greenhouse, Jack explained the background to their venture then took us on a tour of the garden, with time to for us to browse round, make plant purchases & visit the tearoom before the coach took us on to the nearby Morville Hall. 

Those of us who are National Trust members took up the opportunity to tour the hall which is tenanted & only open 3 days a year. Others explored the adjacent Dower House Garden owned by historian & writer Katherine Swift, telling the history of English gardening, with hidden gems in the nooks & crannies. Some even managed to visit both before enjoying refreshments at St. Gregory’s church, completing a lovely day out. Please do have a look at many more photographs on with links to all three gardens on 

Topiary at the Dower House
More autumn colour at Wildegoose

The Garth Summer Evening Visit


On 18th July sandwiched in between two wet days we were lucky to have lovely weather for 40 of us to visit Anita Wright’s beautiful garden on Cannock Chase. We really enjoyed her talk in February & our expectations were met with this visit! It is difficult to describe or photograph to do full justice to this half acre garden which surrounds the house built on a sandstone ridge, containing a wealth of interesting and unusual shrubs &  herbaceous plants. Many hidden seating areas, rock-hewn caves & quirky touches add to its delights. After exploring the garden we were made most welcome in the house with hot drinks and cakes, which rounded off a lovely evening. Please do have a look at the rest of the pictures on our gallery page!    

Walking down to the lower gravel garden


Calke Abbey Spring Trip

We had our first coach trip of the year on the 2nd May to Calke Abbey to see the beautifully tended walled gardens springing into life. They also have a rare auricula theatre and we were lucky to catch it before they put all the pots away for the summer. There are some immaculately pruned wisterias underplanted with forget-me-nots & tulips as you can see from the photos, as well as the herbs & vegetables coming through. The grassy banks round the house were full of cowslips and some of us opted for a longer walk up through the bluebell woods which were at their peak. There is so much to see spread over quite a wide area and there is a buggy service from the house to the gardens for anybody wanting to rest their weary legs! We all had a good day despite early morning rain which saw us all head straight into the tea room till it abated for delicious cakes & scones. The house itself was open for those who could tear themselves away from the garden and it is very unusual, being described as an "un-stately" home, preserved as it was when last lived in. There will be more photos on the gallery page shortly.