Celebrating over 60 years of cultivating knowledge and friendship


Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Garden Visit to Pine Lodge Garden & Nursery

Denis Shand reports

For our April outing to Pine Lodge, members were first taken to Trethorne Leisure Centre for their coffee break before reaching their destination in Cornwall.

On arrival at Pine Lodge many were pleased to see the gardens bathed in sunshine. However, what was not expected was the strong and bitterly cold wind that blew across the less sheltered areas. Undaunted, and well wrapped up, members disappeared amongst the spring shrubs, plants and trees that adorned the edges of a series of paths that make Pine Lodge so interesting.

The present owners purchased the land in 1976 and became fascinated with the world of plants. The collection of rare and unusual plants now stands at over 6000, all labelled. The 30 acres of land is divided into individual areas. Noteworthy areas were the cottage garden, sunken garden, slave garden, Japanese garden and water garden. Since our last visit, an area of the parkland had been transformed into a winter garden, with freshly planted beds and a magnificent centre piece of a bronze stag standing on a raised rocky area, surrounded by vibrant red rock tulips.

With the wind being so strong many members made for the shelter of the woods near the lake, and gazed at a variety of geese, ducks and two black swans preening themselves on the bank.

Our day concluded with a return visit to Trethorne for an evening meal before travelling back to Tiverton.

Photographs taken by Ros Nichols

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Garden Visit to Forde Abbey House and Gardens

Denis Shand reports on the first garden visit of the year.....

What good fortune club members had for their day out to Forde Abbey in March 2008. The weather was bright and sunny all day, making the 30 acres of award winning gardens look spectacular for the time of year. Wild daffodils in grassed areas could be seen in abundance and the rockery and bog gardens were displaying early spring colour.

The cascade of lakes provides a wonderful setting for the Centenary Fountain the highest powered in England, where rainbow colours could be seen in the drifting spray. The architectural beauty of the house and its splendid interior dating back more than 900 years creates a wonderful backdrop to the grounds. Members enjoyed sitting on the numerous benches provided, either to eat their packed lunches, or just to sit and take in the beautiful views.

On leaving the Abbey, our driver Kelvin gave members further excitement to the day by driving along narrow country lanes towards Honiton, finally ending up at Otter Nurseries for tea.

Photographs taken by Maureen Coldham

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

March Talk

“Gertrude Jekyll - her plants and designs”
An illustrated talk by David Usher from Taunton

For the second of this season's evening talks, the club invited David Usher, formerly head gardener of Hestercombe Gardens, to talk about Gertrude Jekyll, her plants and designs.

Our programme secretary, Denis Shand, reports that

With the aid of colour slides, David described the early life of Miss Jekyll, who at the age of 19, despite having poor eyesight, had an eye for painting, embroidery, carpentry and arts and crafts. On moving to Godaming in Surrey, she became very interested in gardening, writing articles for magazines and newspapers.

After meeting Sir Edwin Lutyens for tea, she decided that he should design her house. By this time she had become very interested in photography, processing her own shots for publication. In collaboration with Lutyens, Miss Jekyll designed the stunning Edwardian gardens at Hestercombe and later was invited to design an area of the gardens at Barrington Court. Apparently she hated to see soil in the border, preferring to fully plant them for depth of colour. She did like using canes for support and was a great lover of gladioli and yuccas. She also had a love of cats and like to see them lazing in the garden during the summer months, particularly on walls with plants growing out of the brick and stonework.

David concluded that from 1870 to 1932, this remarkable lady designed more than 300 gardens and many of today's landscape gardeners have been inspired by her.

February Talk

"Walking the Alps from winter into summer"
An illustrated talk by Ivan & Sue Godfrey from Tiverton
A new addition to the programme - a February evening meeting.

Our guests were Tivertonians Ivan and Sue Godfrey who talked about their charity walk in the Alps in 2007. Showing digital slides of their adventure, they explained the geology, geography as well as the flora and fauna of the route on their long distance walk.

Further information and photos of their walk can be found on their website :

As Ivan & Sue are charity fund raisers, the club donated the proceeds of the evening to their nominated charities : Hospicare and Childrens Hospice South West. The sum raised was in excess of £230 which is a fantastic acheivement.