Whether you consider gardening a pleasure or back-breaking work, we all need some respite now and again, so those hardy plants fill a few less time-consuming patches.
In The Telegraph recently Val Bourne has written of the benefits of joining a charity established in 1957 to encourage the cultivation of hardy plants. The Hardy Plant Society was instigated to recultivate hardy perennials after many had disappeared after the Second World War. Nursery fields were turned over to vegetable growing and, later, housing and the hardy herbaceous perennial suffered as a result.
At the time when Val joined there was a free seed exchange – something that some Transition Towns, such as Clitheroe and Totnes, offer to encourage gardeners to get growing. But one of the biggest benefits was the meeting of like minds – new friends who, like her, just wanted to ‘veg’ out and cultivate their gardens, with the odd bit of (still gardening-based) socialising.
Val appreciates the help she was given by experienced gardeners willing to share their knowledge plants and gardens.
Far from being stuffy and old-fashioned as its name and background suggests to some, the Society is friendly and simple – it’s just about gardeners meeting gardeners and costs a mere £20 to join. There are specialist groups that you can choose to join, which cost and extra £5 a year to join, such as The Galanthus Group, the Peony, the Variegated and four others besides. The groups offer seed exchanges, seed purchase, days out and garden visits.
The Society has enough standing to attract respected gardeners such as Margery Fish and Percy Thrower as its chairmen, and the current chairman, Vivienne McGhee and its president, Roy Lancaster, are considered charming, affable types – maybe gardening brings it out in us?
If you’re interested in viewing some of the best hardy plant gardens around, then try gardens such as Chaddesley Corbett near Kidderminster which opens each year under the NGS scheme – find one in your locality at http://www.ngs.org.uk/gardens/gardenfinder/garden.aspx?id=12679.
The Society still uses its charitable status to save threatened plants such as a phlox, currently being developed at RHS Wisley. So why not investigate the Hardy Plant Society and see whether it could buy you a bit of time off with the addition of some new specimens to your garden.
The Hardy Plant Society’s website is at http://www.hardy-plant.org.uk.