Reviews of past meetings


February 2017

This month our secretary, David Livermore, gave us a talk on a trip he made to the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa, including a trip into Lesotho up the spectacular Sani Pass. Not only were there lovely flowers, but beautiful scenery and some of the wildlife Africa is famous for. Certainly a place worth visiting if you want to escape from the January cold.


December 2016

This month we had a very interesting talk with stunning photographs by National Collection holder Tony Goode from Norwich on the genus Crocus. Tony explained how to get the best out of these lovely flowers and how with careful choice of species, you should get flowers from late Summer through to Spring - eight months of the year. 

And if you're growing them in pots, why not enter them in the monthly competition in February - there's a class especially for bulbous plants. 

November 2016

A bumper turnout for a first rate talk by John Mitchell from RBGE on "The Stans" - Afghanistan, Tajikstan, Uzbeckistan and Kyrgystan - officially known as "In the Footsteps of the Snow Leopard"! It had it all - interesting and unusual flowers, amazing scenery, a look at the people and culture of the area and eventually a snow leopard. 

And a very well supported monthly competition. Thank you to everyone who brought plants or photographs and congratulations to the winners - full details in the newsletter 


October 2016 

The October meeting is always our AGM, where we review the past years events, accept the accounts, elect the Officers and Committee for the next year and present the monthly competition awards. Debby Horsman stepped down from the Committee due to other commitments but will continue to support the Group and attend meetings when she can. Thanks were given to Debby for all the hard work she has done over the years. This leaves the Committee a little thin on the ground, so please think hard about volunteering.

Cups were awarded for the aggregate points for the monthly competitions over the 2015 / 16 season. The winners were as follows:

Open section: Sue and Colin Buxton, Novice Section: Debby Horsman and Artistic Section: David Livermore

After the meeting there was a plant sale and, as 2016 is the Group's thirtieth birthday year,  some delicious party food instead of the usual biscuits.


September 2016

Martin Sheader gave an excellent talk on the AGS Trip to Northern Peru. It is always nice to see and hear about plants from areas most of us will never get to. In this case, most of the plants are especially interesting as they are not in general commerce 

August 2016

Christine and Jim McGregor entertained us with a description of some of the many plants to be found in their own garden in Worcestershire, including alpine bulbs as well as larger hardy plants 

July 2016

This month Doug Joyce made a return visit to the Group with a talk about the plants of southern Sweden - including the islands of Oland and Gotland. This was an area well known to Carl Linnaeus and listening to Doug's talk we really felt we were following in the footsteps of the great man. 

June 2016

This month we were treated to an amusing and highly informative talk by that ever popular speaker Vic Aspland. He gave some very practical advice on how he solved those problems that all alpine gardeners have - moving house and moving your whole garden at the same time and how to go away on a three week holiday in the height of the growing season  and still win a Farrer medal a few days after you come back!

May 2016

We had two speakers at our members evening - Rob Amos talking about Plant Conservation and Liz Livermore with another talk on Japan - this time the temple gardens of Kyoto.  

April 2016

This month Clive Daws and Stephen Waters gave us a talk on the Burren, that remarkable area of limestone pavement in Ireland where Mediterranean and alpine plants grow side by side. The monthly competition was extremely well supported - possibly a record number of entries.  

March 2016

This month we had a talk by Chris Birchall of Tale Valley Nurseries focusing on the genus Rhodohypoxis. Not only did he describe the cultivation of the various species and cultivars, he took us on a tour of the Drakensburg mountains and the Sani Pass in Lesotho where Rhodohypoxis and some other lovely alpines grow in the wild. 

February 2016

At our first meeting of the new calendar year, the speakers were two of our own members, Roger and Penny Gray with a talk entitled "Primulas, Pedicularis, Prayer Flags and much more in Sichuan & Quinghai ". Fortunately the weather was much better than this time last year and there was a good turnout for this very interesting talk.

 December 2015

At our last meeting of the calendar year we welcomed back Peter Sheasby, who gave us a tour of the Caucasus mountains, both the Russian and Georgian sides. This is an area very rich in botany and has a range of habitats from steppe and grassland at low levels, through forest, to the high alpine areas. As always Peter's slides were superb and his encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, without referring to a single note!, was astounding. We were much luckier with the weather this month - in fact unseasonably mild  for December - so many more of our members were able to enjoy Peter's talk.

The December monthly competition results and the points table will be updated soon. Watch this space!

November 2015

We were unfortunate that the weather was very foggy which impacted on attendance, but those who did venture out were rewarded with a superb talk from Tim Lever of Aberconwy Nursery about his travels in the mountains of the Arunachal Pradesh in North East India. We were introduced to a wide range of woodland and high alpine plants as Tim took us from the relatively low forests up to above the tree line at 4000 metres or so. As well as the plants there were breathtaking views of the Himalayan scenery and we learnt something about the people who live in that harsh environment.

The weather also affected entries in the monthly competition:

Results were 

Class 1 - no entries

Class 2

1 David and Liz Livermore
Oxalis massoniana

Class 3

1 Not awarded
2 David & Liz Livermore
Sedum "Capoblanca"

Class 4

1 David and Liz Livermore
Ozathamnus selago

Class 5 and 6 - no entries

Artistic Class

1 David Livermore

Ixiolirion tartaricum

2 Roger Gray
 Fritillaria minima
3 Catherine Hook
 Fritillaria meleagris




October 2015

This month was our AGM, where we review the past years events, accept the accounts and elect the Officers and Committee for the next year. Colin and Sue Buxton stepped down from the Committee and Jasmine Dorricott  joined it. Thank you to Colin and Sue for all the work they have done over the past few years, especially for the Group outings which Sue will still continue to organise. 

Cups were awarded for the aggregate points for the monthly competitions over the 2014 / 15 season. The winners were as follows:

Open section: Sue and Colin Buxton, Novice Section: Jasmine Dorricott and Artistic Section: Elsie Willett

After the meeting there was a bulb sale and a short talk from Liz Livermore on the Gardens of Tokyo - some "rock" gardens with a difference.



September 2015

We welcomed back Kit Strange from Kew as our guest speaker. Kit has given us several practical demonstrations in the past but this time it was a presentation about a project she has been working on in the Falkland Islands. She was working alongside local horticulturalists to collect and propagate native plants. These were then used to repopulate the areas cleared of mines and also sold to local people to encourage them to grow local species rather than introduced aliens. Kit has also helped establish a collection of Falkland Island plants at Kew.

Results for the last monthly competition of the 2014 / 15 season were:

 Class 1

1 Colin & Sue Buxton
Gentiana "Serenity"

Class 2

1 Elsie Willett
 Cyclamen graecum
2 David & Liz Livermore
 Cyclamen hederifolium "Red Sky"
3 Sue and Colin BuxtonCyclamen hederifolium

Class 3

1 Robert Amos
Biarum marmarisense

Class 4

1 Sue and Colin Buxton

Dryopteris affinis "Crispa Congesta"

Sempervivum cilosum,

Jovibarba heuffelii


Class 5

2 Jasmine Dorricott
Cyclamen hederifolium


Class 6 and Artistic - no entries



August 2015

Diane Clement was our speaker in August with an extremely informative talk on Cyclamen and Hepaticas - two genera she is particularly passionate about. As well as comprehensively covering the major species and their habitats, she described their cultivation in great depth and delighted us all with some stunning photography.

With August a quiet time for alpines, there weren't many competition entries, the winners were:

Class 1, 2 and 3: No entries

Class 4

1 Peter JonesCyclamen colchicum

 Class 5 and 6: No entries

Artistic - Needlework

1 Jean MorrisSempervivum calcareum 'Guillaumes'
 2 Jean Morris
 Montage - Iris, Primula, Leontopodium, Papaver, Crocus, Galanthus
 3 Jasmine Dorricott
 Cyclamen, Hellebore, Crocus, Aconite


July 2015

In July, Stephen Cotton gave us a very interesting talk based around several trips he has made to the South Tyrol. This area of Northern Italy, dominated by the rugged and beautiful Dolomites, was the scene of some fierce battles between Italy and the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire a hundred years ago. Hard to believe it now, seeing the tranquil mountains and valleys covered in flowers.

The July competition winners were: 

 Class 1

1 Roger CoveLewisia "Litle Plum"

Class 2

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonDryopteris "Crispa Congesta"

Class 3

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonSaxifraga "Tumbling Waters"
2 Roger CoveEchiveria sp

Class 4

1  Sue and Colin BuxtonSempervivum arachnoideum
Sue and Colin Buxton Arisaema candidissimum "Red Form"
3  Roger CoveSempervivum "Blood Tip"

Class 5, 6 -n o entries


1 Elsie WillettParis quadrifolia
2 Elsie WillettBiarum tenuifolium



June 2015

Our June speaker was Corinne Price, manager of the Shuttleworth Trust's Swiss Garden, talking about this historical Regency garden which has recently undergone major restoration.

The June monthly competition winners were: 

 Class 1

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonDryopteris affinis "Crispa Congesta"
2 Sue and Colin BuxtonSempervivum "Gulle-Dame"

Class 2

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonSedum humifusum                   

Class 3

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonSempervivum arachnoideum
2 Sue and Colin BuxtonJovibarba heuffelii

Class 4

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonSaxifraga "Whitehill"
2 Sue and Colin BuxtonSaxifraga "Tumbling Waters"

Class 5

1 Jasmine DorricottWurmbea stricta     

Class 6 and Artistic - no entries



May 2015 

In May we enjoyed a fascinating talk by Rick Lambert describing a visit he made to China, giving us insights not just into the wonderful plants, but also the culture and people of this vast country. 

The May monthly competition winners were:

Class 1

1 Elsie Willett
Lewisia cotyledon
2 Liz and David Livermore


Lewisia cotyledon 

Class 2

No entries

Class 3

1 Elsie WillettArisaema amurense


Class 4

1 Liz and David LivermoreSempervivum arachnoideum

 April 2015

In April we had our annual Members evening, featuring short talks from Debby, Liz and David. We discovered Debby is a passionate Galanthophile - growing a staggering number of these little beauties in her garden. Then, Liz told us about her  travels around Europe to see her favourite alpine (the gentian) in the wild and her not too successful attempts to grow them back home. Finally, David showed us some of the lovely wild orchids which can be seen in Anglesey in June, ranging from some reasonably common Marsh Orchids to the exquisite and rarer Dune Helleborine.

Again a very good entry for the monthly competition..

The April winners were:

Class 1

1 Sue and Colin Buxton
Narcissus bulbocodium var conspicuus
Narcissus "Hawera"
Tulipa "Pinocchio"
2 Sue and Colin Buxton


Anemone Blanda "White Splendour"
Muscari "Baby's Breath"
Narcissus "China Gold" 
3 Robert Amos
Draba "John Saxton"
Primula "Broadwell Milkmaid"
Crassula socialis

Class 2

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonSaxifraga x apiculata "Alba"

Class 3

1 Liz and David LivermoreNarcissus bulbocodium "Golden Bells"
2 Sue and Colin Buxton Fritillaria meleagris Alba
3 Sue and Colin Buxton Tulipa praestans "Fusilier"


Class 4

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonAnemone ranunculaceae        
2 Elsie WillettHepatica nobilis
3 Sue and Colin BuxtonOzothamnus selago


Class 5

1 Debby Horsman        Chionodoxa luciliae rosea
2 Jasmine DorricottMuscari "Valerie Finnis"
3 Jasmine DorricottMuscari spp



 1 Elsie WillettParis quadrifolia
 2 Elsie Willett Cyclamen trochopteranthemum


March 2015

For our March meeting we welcomed back Jim Almond with a talk on his Juno Iris collection. The alternative title of his talk was "Growing Junos with pots, grit and a hammer!" Well, we found out what the hammer was for - the Junos grow such big roots that it's sometimes the only way to get them out of the pot at repotting time. Jim gave us a very detailed and comprehensive guide to how to succeed with these irises, which are often considered a difficult group. His photographs were superb and certainly inspired us to try to grow some of these beautiful flowers. 

With alpines approaching their peak season we had a very large entry for the monthly competition.

The March winners were:

Class 1

2 Sue and Colin Buxton
Dryopteris affinis "Crispa Congesta"
Ozothamnus selago
Galanthus "Brenda Troyle"
Bulbocodium vernum
3  Robert Amos
Draba "John Saxton"
Muscari inconstrictum
Crassula socialis
Crocus sp

Class 2

 1 Sue and Colin BuxtonGalanthus "Seagull"                          
 2 Sue and Colin Buxton

Galanthus woronowii

 3 Robert AmosPrimula "Wharfedale Ling"

Class 4

 1 Roger Cove Abies koreana "Kohout's Ice Breaker"
 2 Elsie Willett Ozothamnus selago
 3 Robert Amos                  Cyclamen graecum ssp candicum

Class 5 (Novice) 

1 Jasmine DorricottIris reticulata "Harmony"

No entries in Class 3 or artistic entries




February 2015

At our first meeting of the New Year our speaker was Alan Outen with the subject "Orchids can be Alpines too". As well as being a member of the Group, Alan is a professional botanist and ecologist and leads wildlife tours for Naturetrek. His superb slides illustrated orchids from all over the world, some living in cold high altitude locations and others preferring warmer habitats. He explained which ones can be classified as Alpines and highlighted some of the recent nomenclature changes within the various genera. Alan has built up quite a collection of orchids himself, both hardy and more tender varieties, so even more impressive that many of the photos were of his own plants.

After a feast of these exotic beauties it was quite a shock to step out and find that several centimetres of snow had fallen during our meeting. Not a nice drive home for our members.

Despite the weather we had a reasonable number of entries for the monthly competition.

February's winners were: 


Class 1

1 Sue and Colin BuxtonIris reticulata "Harmony"
1 Sue and Colin BuxtonGalanthus atkinsii
1 Robert AmosCrocus sieberi "Hubert Edelsten"

Class 2

No entries

Class 3

3  Robert AmosPleione "Barcena"

Class 4

1 Robert AmosCyclamen graecum ssp candicum
2 Sue and Colin BuxtonDryopteris affinis "Crispa Congesta"
3= David and Liz LivermoreOzothamnus selago
3= Elsie Willett Ozothamnus selago

 No novice or artistic entries


December 2014

At our last meeting of the year we welcomed David Charlton from Derbyshire with a talk on some of his favourite plants: mats, cushions and carpets.  But these weren't ones from his own collection or close to where he lives - they were from two very different places at opposite ends of the planet!  New Zealand - which we had all heard of and some of us had been to; and Svalbard - which few of us had heard of and none of us had been to! David was fortunate to visit both these places in the space of 6 months and so it enabled him to compare and contrast the plants he found there. Although so far apart there are great similarities in the habitats and consequently the plants have used the same methods to adapt to and  survive in the harsh conditions. The scenery was spectacular, especially the mountains in the South Island of New Zealand, and in Svalbard we discovered a new hazard to botanising in the field - polar bears!

Not quite so many plants for the competition this month, but we did have our first Novice entry.


December's winners were:

Class 1

 No entries                


Class 2

1  Robert Amos Oxalis versicolor


Class 3

1  David & Liz Livermore Sedum spathulifolium Capo Blanco
2  Robert Amos Raoulia (x Leucoraoulia) loganii



Class 4

1  Robert Amos Cyclamen graecum ssp candicum
2= David & Liz Livermore Cyclamen hederifolium
2= Robert Amos Cyclamen graecum ssp graecum


Class 6
1  Jasmine DorricottCyclamen hederifolium




November 2014

For the first meeting of the new season, Bob and Rannveig Wallis treated us to an amazing pictorial tour of their own lovely hillside garden in South Wales. They experience a wet, windy and sometimes very cold environment, but have expertly adapted the site to provide a range of habitats to extend the range of plants they can grow. This talk featured just the outside planting, but many of their slides showed a tantalising glimpse of some seriously large greenhouses. Perhaps the subject of a future talk?

As expected, these very popular speakers attracted a large audience, so large we seriously thought we might run out of chairs and cups and saucers!

Thank you to everyone who brought plants for the monthly competition - 15 entries this month! Not bad for November. 

And a big thank you to Jasmine, who has just taken over the admin for the competition, for her efficient organisation of the event.

November's winners were: 

Class 1 

 Robert Amos Cyclamen intaminatum
 Robert Amos Cyclamen graecum ssp anatolicum
 David & Liz Livermore Cyclamen purpurescens



 Class 2

 Robert Amos Oxalis versicolor
 Roger Cove Lewisia cotyledon



Class 3 

 Roger Cove Echeveria shaviana -Pink Frills
 David & Liz Livermore Rosularia aizoon
 Roger Cove Echeveria secunda glauca



 Class 4

 Roger Cove Saxifraga - Hare Knoll Beauty
 Robert Amos Cyclamen graecum ssp candicum
 Roger Cove Saxifraga paniculata -Clara