Meavy Garden Society Meetings


Meavy Garden Society AGM 2017 held on 20th February 2017


Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 24th April 2017

Caroline Stone `Nerines`

On 24th April the society enjoyed a very interesting and informative talk from Caroline Stone who gardens near Launceston. Last year she had given an excellent talk to us on double primroses.

Caroline `got into` nerines by chance and she admitted to never doing things by half! She had somehow become the editor of the Nerine and Amaryllid Society Journal, had therefore learned more about nerines, had been given some and ended up with more and more! They suited her damp garden.

Nerines were introduced to this country just over 100 years ago. They are part of the Amaryllidaceae family, a genus of bulbs. Snowdrops and alliums are also part of that family. A Devonian called Athelstan Cornish-Bowden, who became Surveyor General of the Cape Province in South Africa and was responsible for much of the layout of Capetown, sent Nerine bowdenii back to The Royal Horticultural Society. It was awarded an AGM of the RHS in 1904 and the price then was three shillings and six pence per bulb. He came from Blackhall near Avonwick. There are bulbs in the garden there, probably originals.

There are about twenty different species of nerines.

Nerines are not now recorded in the Cape area. Nerine bowdenii subspecies wellsii can still be found in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Caroline organised an expedition of three to South Africa; herself, as she is a good organiser!, the RHS chief scientist and the International Registrar for Nerines. Their aim was to look for nerines in the wild. On arrival at Port Elizabeth airport, the first wildlife they encountered were giraffes, warthogs and gazelles! They explored parts of Kwazulu Natal, and the Transkei and the Eastern Cape beyond Queensdale. They needed a security guard with them as these areas were not safe to travel in. The communities were poor and donkey carts still in use. It was difficult to get permission to go on to people`s land. There was some magnificent scenery and terrifying terrain for vehicles. Amongst those they found were Nerine bowdenii Weza Forest form growing in a Methodist minister`s garden. They did not find Nerine bowdenii growing in the wild but did see seven species altogether. However it sounded an exciting expedition.

In 1912 a herbarium specimen had described Nerine bowdenii as `prevalent` and in 1941 `plentiful`. Increased forestry and little respect for botanical life were factors which had probably caused such a large decline in nerines growing in the wild. Caroline showed pictures of several types of nerines.

Nerines should not be planted too deep. The top of the neck should just be showing. Although they have been commonly described as needing planting at the base of a wall that often is too dry a place especially if under the eaves of a house. Divide only very occasionally. Feeding is not usually necessary but if needed use a low potash feed such as thinly diluted tomorite.

Some RHS trials are finishing soon.

The Nerine and Amaryllid Society has 200 members. They have a huge stand at the Malvern Autumn Show. Bickham Cottage, Kenn near Exeter has a large collection which can be visited.

Questions were asked and Caroline was thanked for an excellent talk.

On 22nd April a group of members enjoyed a visit to Champernowne Nursery by kind invitation of Mr Peter Argles.

The next meeting of the Society will be on Monday 15th May when Mike Stephens will talk on `Alliums`, another part of the Amaryllid family! The meeting starts at 7.30pm with refreshments served from 7pm. New members and visitors always welcome.



Meavy Garden Society Meeting, 20th February 2017

The Garden House Story - Sue Allen, the Friends of the Garden House

After the conclusion of the AGM, a talk was given to the members on `The History of the Garden House` by Sue Allen, Honorary secretary of the Friends of the Garden House and former trustee, who confessed that she didn`t actually like gardening very much, but was passionate about gardens.

The garden was created by Lionel Fortescue, a former Head of classics at Eton College. When the Garden House come on the market in1945, he viewed it and bought it, correctly believing thatís its moist and mild situation and acid soil would suit his collection of rhododendrons. He and his wife developed the area around the house and the walled garden below, and realising they had created a garden of significance formed the Fortescue Garden Trust in 1961 with the aims of giving public access and enjoyment, leadership in horticultural innovation and excellence, and providing education and training. These are still its aims today.

The garden was blessed with several inspirational gardeners. In 1973 Keith Wiley took over and displayed great energy and vision in his planting. The area to the west of the formal gardens, that had been used as a commercial nursery, he developed in a more naturalistic style, creating a South African garden (now the summer garden), Quarry Garden, Cretan Cottage and Wildflower garden. When Keith moved on to create his own garden at Wildside down the road, Matt Bishop took over from 2003 Ė 2012. As a renowned authority on snowdrops, he introduced many new varieties and other spring bulbs. However his chief legacy was the design and completion of the arboretum on derelict ground to the east of the main garden. This was completed in time for the Golden Jubilee of the Trust in 2011 and provides a still developing space of tranquillity, rich in wildlife.

At the helm now is Nick Haworth who was head gardener at the National Trust property Greenway near Dartmouth. He apparently believes that there may have been almost too many new projects in recent years, and wants to settle down and garden the existing property to the highest possible standard of excellence.



Meavy Garden Society Meetings 2016

Meavy Garden Society Meetings 2015

Meavy Garden Society Meetings 2014