March 20th 2021


Visit to Kapunda Plants

Visit to Kapunda Plants a two-acre Garden near Bath specialising in the growing and propagation of Lentern Hellebores

February 2021



Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival 2021

This year the Festival is a little bit different but with the theme ‘Hope in Nature’ there is lot to celebrate !





January 13th 2021 7pm


Gardening for wildlife

A zoom talk by Angela Morley

Wednesday October 7 th

AGM Due to current restrictions this will be a virtual meeting details to follow.

Wednesday November 4th th


Wednesday December 1st

Connors Quiz night Our youngest member Connor will be running a Virtual quiz night

…………more details to follow..

Wednesday 8th January 2020

Growing a Floral Field of Dreams: A talk by Paul Stickland Paul Stickland, a local flower grower, florist, artist and illustrator, will give a talk about Black Shed Flowers and their creation of a floral field of dreams.

4th December 2019

Christmas Wreath Workshop

Fantastic to see so many members turn out for our wreath workshop. What a creative bunch members are!  I don’t think any wreath workshop has ever seen such a variety of greenery transforming in to such a fabulous range of styles and designs.


Merry Christmas Everyone!

Autumn Show 2019

What fabulous produce, such enthusiastic gardeners…

We all voted using the ‘People’s Choice’ system and once again it was extremely difficult to choose just one winner per category.  You will see from the photos how difficult it was so I guess it came down to the finer details of presentation…


Elmcroft Garden – Glastonbury

This is a garden where colour, foliage and form take centre stage and areas are themed a bit like a mini film set.

Tetrapanax – large impressive leaves
Cornus contraversa ‘Variegata’ – commonly known as the wedding cake tree
Euphorbia mellifera
Digitalis ‘Pink Illumination’
Podopyllum versipelle -commonly known as Spotty Dotty – large spotted leaves, red flowers, for shade
Dianthus carthusianorum – tall dainty dianthus


A magical garden – Westbrook House

We were given a warm welcome on a damp evening by Keith and David, two very talented gardeners and designers.  We were shown around their 4 acres which is laid out as 3 distinct gardens:  a formal layout around the house, meadow and orchard with spring bulbs, species roses and lilacs.

There were many roses of note in this garden, these are a few I jotted down:

  • Rosa ‘Moonlight’
  • R. ‘Stanwell Perpetual’
  • R ‘Bromfield Abundance’
  • Rosa ‘Pearl d’Or’
  • Rosa mutabilis
  • Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’
  • Rosa ‘Mortimer Sackler’
  • Rosa ‘Jacqueline du Pre’
    Tip: a few of our members highly recommend Rosa ‘Gipsy Boy’ too
The garden was superbly planted with repetition, colour, scent, leaf textures and evergreen structure.

We were all wowed by this ivy leaf geranium (Pelargonium) that was trained up the greenhouse wall.
The transition between the house lawned garden and the meadow:  the entrance gates are flanked by two bold beds of Rose rugosa.
In the meadow areas, large once blooming roses were planted along with large shrubs such as Philadelphus.  Examples of the roses included:
  • Rosa ‘Dupontii’
  • Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ (climbing up through an apple tree)
  • R. eglanteria
  • R. andesonii

The meadow is cut just once, usually at the end of July.  The entrance to the meadow was planted with Camassia.  There were wild flowers such as the Corky Seeded Water Dropwort, a poisonous native of damp grazed meadows.


Interesting fact
Danea racemosa to replace Sarcococca that died from box blight



If you missed this visit, Westbrook House opens under the NGS garden scheme again on 15th June – a must see garden!

Notes by Angela Morley


Miller’s House, Nunney

On the 1st May, 24 members of the Hort Soc visited the gardens of the Miller’s House in Nunney. The large, three-story Victorian house sits high on the edge of the tree-filled valley through which Nunney Brook flows. There is also a man-made mill leat, diverted from the brook, that powered the mills in the valley.

The Miller’s House gardens are split into three sections and were pleasant to explore for their historical context as well as their more contemporary plantings.

The gardens level with the house, on a terrace at the the top of the valley, were the most cultivated with lawns, flower beds, rockeries and vegetable patch, but the recent cold weather meant that they were not very floriferous for the time of year.

Perhaps of more interest were the gardens that sat below house, further down the valley. A large mill pond provided beautiful reflections of the property and valley, and no doubt were fantastic for wildlife.

Beyond that, stretching back up the valley between the leat and brook was semi-wild paddock, melting away into shady woodland, wild garlic, comfrey and abandoned industrial workings. Two very large and contorted apple trees were yet to blossom but added to the ancient air of the valley – a great place to walk and watch and soak up the atmosphere.

The garden is open again on 2nd June for the Nunney Open Gardens Day and no doubt the upper terrace will be in full bloom then, and so would be worth a repeat visit.


Notes by Dominic Weston

Shepton Mallet Hort Soc on trend 2019

These notes were taken during Naomi Slade’s talk – Delving into Dahlias – Naomi Slade

Interesting facts

  • Many Dahlias are from the mountainous regions of Central America and therefore they like good drainage and humidity
  • Known due to their hollow stems as the ‘water pipe plant’
  • Many Dahlia tubers are edible as are the petals
  • Dahlia pinnata was cultivated by the Aztecs and was introduced to Spain in 1798. Modern dahlias are often the product of hybridization between D. pinnata and Dahlia coccinea
  • Dahlias were brought to Europe in the 18th Century by plant collectors which sparked off hybridisation leading first to ‘Ball’ forms, then Anemone forms (e.g. D. ‘Totally Tangerine’)
    Until the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, Dahlias were only for the elite plant collectors, the exhibition was the first exposure to the public which led to even more hybridization leading to Collaretted types, Lilliput types, Cactus (e.g. ‘Willo Flecks’) and Peony types (e.g. D. ‘Bishop of Llandalff’)
  • Dahlias are octaploid which means they have 8 sets of chromosomes (we are diploid with only 2 sets), this makes for endless genetic diversity and hybridization options. Save your seeds and see what grows
  • Dahlias are related to Jerusalem artichoke, their carbohydrate storage food is the same – inulin
  • Dahlias fell from popularity in about 1940′s
  • Dahlia Renaissance in 2000 – new uses of Dahlias for containers and floristry rather than only showing them
  • New cultivars from New Zealand e.g. ‘Moonfire’, ‘Happy Single Party’ and the bronze foliaged ‘Mystic Dreamer’
  • The National Collection of Dahlias is near Penzance, free to visit and well worth it
  • Dead heading helps to enhance flowering

Check out

Dahlia ‘Hamari Gold’

Dahlia imperialis – grows to 6-8m although more usually 2-3 and rarely flowers in our climate

Dahlia merkii – single scrambling plant good to mix into borders, can take a while to establish


Editor’s note – Try

Orange Dahlia with Stipa tenuissima, pale yellow Achillea, and yellow Kniphofia


Notes by Angela Morley

Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival 2019

Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival is fast approaching 16 & 17 February.  There will be specialist snowdrop stalls: Avon Bulbs & Triffids Nursery on both days. A lecture on Galanthophiles Sunday 3pm and a Gardener’s Question Time panel on Sunday 11am- 12 featuring 4 local horticulturists on the panel: Mickey Little from Avon Bulbs, Chris Inchley from Kilver Court, Christo Nicole from Wyld Wood Garden Services and designer Angela Morley.
Questions can be emailed in advance ( or taken from the floor.

Full programme at

Medicine Plants by Malcolm Mills from Castle Gardens

 A full house for Malcolm’s talk on Medicine Plants. Malcolm, from Castle Gardens in Sherborne, gave us a very comprehensive talk with many examples, below is a summary.

Many plants (including fungi) produce compounds that we use for medicinal uses, otherwise knows as alkaloids – powerful complex chemicals.

Why do plants produce alkaloids? Some reasons include:

  • To protect them from predators
  • To prevent rotting in damp growing conditions
  • May encourage healing after damage and stop infections…

Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for 5-6000 years, Otzi the frozen mummy found in the Alps, had a medicine kit with him containing birch fungus. Egyptians made the first pills using clay as a base medium then mixing in Opium or Myrrh.

All medicines ending in “ine” are derived from plants, for example morphine, caffeine, nicotine..

Only about 20% of all plants in the world have been tested for medicinal use therefore it is most important that biodiversity (including the rain forests) is preserved as it is highly likely that cures are held in the gene pool.

40-50% of plant medicines are derived from plants (although many are now synthesised).

80% of the world still relies on plant medicine for health and well-being.


Common names in folklore often refer to the plant’s medicinal uses, NOTE THAT THESE ARE OUTLINE NOTES AND YOU SHOULD NOT CONSUME ANY OF THESE PLANTS for example:

  • Pulmonaria officinalis – lungwort
  • Acmella oeracea – toothache plants (annual, will grow in UK)
  • Geranium sanguineum – bloody cranesbill, stops bleeding
  • Artemesia – wormwood – kills parasites
  • Symphytum officinalis – Comfrey, Knitbone or Bruisewort
  • Prunella vulgaris – Self heal


Other medicinal plants:

Taxus baccata – yew, cancer treatment
Digitalis purpurea – foxglove, cardiac stimulant

Galanthus – snowdrop – Galanthamine for memory impairment
Salix alba – willow, Salicylic acid for Aspirin

Atropa belladonna – deadly nightshade, muscle relaxant VERY POISONOUS
Papaver somnifera – opium poppy, sleep inducing used in Morphine & Codeine

Ficus elastica – rubber plant, stops infections

Galuthera procumbens – wintergreen, ericaceous low growing evergreen with red berries that smell of ‘Germalene’ and Euthymol toothpaste
Salvia officinalis – Sage, antiseptic and therefore hisotrically used in meat stuffings
Taraxicum officinalis – Dandelion, diuretic, blood purifier

Thymus officinalis – Thyme, Thymol which is a strong antiseptic, antimicorbial compound – used for Varroa control in bees and historically for stuffing meat
Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender, used before Penicillin as an antiseptic and anti inflamatory, insecticide and fungicide
Eupatorium purpureum – Joe-Pye-weed, from North America, cured fevers

Rubus idaeus – Raspberry, leaf infusions against sore throats & tonsellitus
Mentha – mint, Menthol, antibiotic & insecticide

Notes by Angela Morley





A merry time

There was a great turn out for our Christmas social last night – it was a bit of an alternative bash kicking off with ‘Pass the Sprout’ – one of the many prizes being a ‘slimy slug’

We then moved onto a festive multiple choice quiz based around Royston’s top ten tips on vegetable growing (with quite a complicated marking scheme!) – the winner of which was Alex. Alex and Jen were two of our three new members last night. Welcome Alex, Jen and Julie!

We finished off with decorating some fruit, vegetable and flower shaped lanterns which will form our first entry in the Shepton Lantern Festival which takes place on 22nd December.

Chips were our treat as an alternative to the usual mince pie (we are a garden club after all!).



New categories at Mid Somerset Show

Shepton Mallet Horticultural Society has worked with Mid Somerset Show to review the horticultural categories at next year’s show.  There will be new categories to encourage novices and we are also sponsoring two cash prizes for Dahlias – type of your choice (one prize in adult class and one prize in junior class).

Shepton Hort Soc are having a focus on Dahlias next year, kicking off the season with a masterclass lecture by Naomi Slade on 9th March (see below for details).   The aim is to get everyone excited about Dahlias and to enter the Mid Somerset Show with their blooms next August.

Saturday 9th March
“Dive into Dahlias” – A lecture and book signing by Naomi Slade plus Dahlia propagation demos
10.30 coffee, 11am Lecture, 12-12.30 Questions & book signing, 12.30-1 Propagation demonstration
St. Paul’s School hall, Shepton Mallet BA4 5LA   £10 (£7.50 to members)

Here is the complete new list of categories at MSS 2019:


Mr & Mrs Martyn and Valerie Davis, Nailsea (Judge)

Affiliated to the National Dahlia Society

Dahlia bloom sizes: Mediums – between 150mm & 200mm

Small – between 100mm & 150mm

Miniature – not exceeding 100mm

Class 1000 Dahlias, decorative and/or semi and/or cactus, medium, 2 vases, 3 blooms in each not less than 2 cultivars.

Class 1001 Dahlias, ball, miniature and/or small, 1 vase 3 blooms

Class 1002 Dahlias, cactus and/or semi cactus, miniature or small, 2 vases, 3 blooms in each not less than 2 cultivars.

Class 1003 Dahlias, cactus and/or semi cactus, small and/or miniature, 1 vase, 3 blooms

Class 1004 Dahlias, 1 vase, 1 bloom. Type of your choice (eg single or anemone) Sponsored by Shepton Mallet Hort Soc £10 Garden Voucher for winner

Class 1005 Roses – 3 blooms.

Class 1006 Sweet peas – 1 vase, 6 spikes with sweet pea foliage. Mixed colours.

Class 1007 Gladioli – 1 vase, 3 stems.

Class 1008 1 vase 3 spray chrysanthemum

Class 1009 Trailing Geranium (Pelargonium) of any colour – potted

Class 1010 Upright Geranium (Pelargonium) of any colour, not trailing – potted

Class 1011 ‘Sunset’ a vase of cottage flowers, at least 3 varieties.

Class 1012 Cooking apples, one dish of 3

Class 1013 Dessert apples, one dish of 3

Class 1014 Dish of soft fruit – one variety to be displayed attractively using plant foliage

Class 1015 3 potatoes – white named if possible

Class 1016 3 potatoes – coloured named if possible

Class 1017 3 carrots – long, 2.5″ foliage

Class 1018 3 carrots – stump root

Class 1019 3 onions not exceeding 250g each

Class 1020 3 onions over 250g each

Class 1022 3 round beetroot

Class 1024 6 runner beans

Class 1025 6 french beans

Class 1026 3 tomatoes – medium red

Class 1027 6 tomatoes – cherry of any colour of one type

Class 1028 3 tomatoes – any variety not mentioned above

Class 1029 3 parsnips

Class 1030 3 different herbs in bunches, not in flower

Class 1031 3 leeks

Class 1032 3 matching courgettes flowers optional, not exceeding 15 cms

Class 1033 1 pair mini cucumbers

Class 1034 1 pair long cucumbers

Class 1035 Basket or tray of salad. Maximum size: 46 cm x 30 cm

Class 1036 Vegetable collection – 5 kinds displayed attractively in maximum space92cm x 68cm. Not less than 2 of each kind.




Class 1037 Ugliest vegetable. Any variety, any size

Class 1038 Oversized vegetable. Any variety

Class 1023 Plate of 5 chillies

Class 1021 Fun-size vegetable or fruit. 3 matching types of small but perfectly formed fruit or veg

Class 1039 Flowers, any single variety, 1 vase of 3 blooms

Composting masterclass

An excerpt from Somerset Federation of Gardening Clubs Newsletter November 2018

A Basic Guide To Home Composting
Composting is important to the natural garden as it enables us to recycle organic matter that would otherwise be thrown away. Any organic matter, if left long enough will eventually rot away, but by composting, we can speed up the rate of decomposition, and be left with a good source of natural plant food.

Chicken Manure 7:1              Lucerne hay 13:1

Cow manure 15:1                  Food Waste 15:1

Weeds 19:1                             Lawn clippings 20:1

Seaweed 25:1                        Fruit waste 35:1

Leaves 60:1                            Straw 100:1

Paper 170:1                           Eucalypt bark 250:1

Sawdust 450:1                     Pine bark 500:1

The Carbon:Nitrogen ratio
Gardening books will frequently refer to an elusive C:N ratio, particularly when they are talking about composts. The most important requirement for effective decomposition in the home compost is the ratio of carbon (C) to Nitrogen (N) in the materials.

This is called the Carbon-Nitrogen (or C:N) ratio. C:N ratios are sometimes written as a ratio, such as ’20:1’. Other times they are written as a simple number, since the ratio always refers to the quantity of carbon for each one unit of nitrogen.

The C:N ratio of a freshly made compost should be about 30:1. The C:N ratio of a finished compost is usually more like 10 or 20:1, since the carbon is utilized by organisms as they compost the materials To get a suitable C:N ratio it is necessary to mix materials with a high C:N ratio such as sawdust, with materials such as manures that have a low C:N ratio. It is not necessary to get out the chemistry equipment and measure the C:N ratio of the compost as you make it, but you should think about the approximate quantities of carbon and nitrogen in the materials you use. The table provides some C:N ratios for common materials that might be added to home composts.

It is perfectly acceptable to make guesses about other materials, based on this table and what the material looks, smells, and feels like.

Compost Needs:
Plenty of organic matter.

Sufficient nutrients, particularly nitrogen – The bacteria that break down material in the compost need Nitrogen to survive. If the Nitrogen levels become too low then they will die out.

Sufficient, and well dispersed oxygen – to speed up the rates of decomposition. Oxygen can be added to a compost heap by using ventilated pipes running through the heap to introduce oxygen, or by turning the compost regularly.

Sufficient and well dispersed water – The compost should have the moisture content of a squeezed sponge, damp but not soggy. If the compost is too dry, water can be added to the compost when it is turned. If the compost is too wet, drainage pipes can be placed underneath,

or the compost can be turned more readily.

A source of cations – especially calcium, to stabilize the compost. The calcium will act as a buffer to stop pH levels from varying to much. Gypsum is sometimes added to compost heaps as a source of calcium at the rate of 1-3kg per cubic metre of compost. Gypsum also has the effect of reducing odours and reducing nitrogen losses.

Appropriate temperature – For the compost heap to decompose effectively, the heap needs to reach a heat of between 40 and 60 degrees C. This heat is generated by the ‘body’ heat given off by the microbes in the heap.

Appropriate pH – as plant sap is acidic, compost heaps will start off acidic and may even become more acidic in the early stages of decomposition, but this will return back to earlier levels later.

Moist or juicy material should be in thin layers (no more than 3cm thick) covered by dry organic material such as dry straw or shredded paper The layers of organic material should be between 5 and 10cm thick when first laid down (note that as the heap settles this will settle.)

If using a large amount of cooked food, or dry material such as straw, wood shavings or paper, add some manure to boost the levels of nitrogen in the composting material.

Compost bins
Compost bins are useful as a tidy way of making compost, and will fit well in many urban situations. In direct sun, the plastic can trap heat, speeding the decomposition process, but can sometimes get too hot. The plastic bin also holds in moisture well, but can sometimes get too moist.

Worm farms’
When earthworms feed, they work with raw materials and turn them into rich fine compost. This compost is rich in castings or manure of the earthworms which is superior to animal manures. Worm ‘farms’ can be purchased or made from just about any sort of container that will hold the worms and the material they are being fed on, but will allow drainage. Worms can be fed kitchen scraps, straw, manure, paper, etc. An example of the proportions of materials is: 70% weeds, leaves, grass clippings, 25% manure and or table wastes; 5% topsoil. It is advisable to use purchased worms as they thrive best under domestic conditions. Tiger worms or red wrigglers are two of the best varieties. The worm farm should be kept moist but not saturated, and ideally should be maintained at a standard temperature (not to hot and not too cold) with as little temperature fluctuation as possible. It is the combined action of the earthworms, bacteria and fungi that produces the best kind of compost.

The Finished Product
Compost is ready to use when:

It is crumbly and generally an even texture (Material such as straw, or flower stems might be intact still, but will frequently crumble when squeezed between the fingers).

It should drain well, but still have good moisture holding capacity.

It should be dark in colour

It should smell earthy, not rotten or mouldy.

The high temperatures that occurred in the centre of the heap during decomposition should have dropped.

Compost can be used either as a mulch, spread on the surface of the ground, or dug in (mixed with soil), to improve the structure of soil. Compost can be applied at almost any time of the year, but best results will frequently be had if it is applied in autumn or spring, and dug into the topsoil. Do not leave compost too long before using it, as nutrients can be lost over time – particularly in warm wet weather.


‘Make your own Garden Potions’ A talk by Stephanie Heffarty

Last night we had a very comprehensive talk on how to make different natural, eco-friendly potions using plants from the garden and hedgerows. For example potions for cleaning the house, rubbing on your sore feet, making liquid soap using Saponaria, how to dry herbs for teas and herby salts…

Many of the recipes are on Stephs blog  below is a brief overview of the things covered:

Potions for the soil
Marestail liquid and use as foliar feed – this is also a valued natural fungicide
Comfrey juice using root or leaves
Yarrow leaves add to the compost bin

For the kitchen cupboard
Calendula vodka
Rose petals (including Calendula) to colour rice during cooking
Vodka & lemon peel
Elderflower sugar
Elderflower vodka
Rhubarb gin
Raspberry gin
Flower liqueur

For cleaning the house
Vinegar & lemon peel – for cleaning the house
Marestail is a natural scourer and can be used to clean mould

A good supplier of fruit trees Walcot nursery




notes by

Autumn show 2018

What fun we had, with Ann scooping many prizes

 Winning pink rose and winning pearsSecond prize for beautiful basket of grapes

College Barn – Nr Shepton Mallet

We were welcomed by Alex, Jen and Sam with a beautiful fold out planting plan for the garden, this promised to be something special.  Indeed we were all swept away with the garden design and planting, who says they don’t have any flowers in their garden during July and August?

This is a young garden (5 years old) with block planting of herbaceous perennials dotted with ornamental grasses.  It was created from rough ground using the ‘no dig’ method of spreading cardboard, newspaper and a thick layer of weed free mulch over the ground – planting directly into this.

I will let the photos speak for themselves ….


Plants that caught our attention:
Monarda ‘Prairie Night’
Molinia ‘Moorhexe’
Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’
Nepeta ‘Washfield’
Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’
Viola ‘Broughton Blue’
Dahlia ‘Honka White’
Euphorbia ‘Humpty Dumpty’ (does not like being moved)
Foxtail barley grass that ‘explodes’ it’s seed heads

Eucryphia glutinosa – tall evergreen shrub with white flowers August/ September.  Required ericaceous soil

College Barn opens under the NGS scheme

Notes by


Bake off 2018

We held our bake off event once again at the allotments courtesy of Lester Holly who organised the venue with a marquee and bar.  Lester is a key player at the allotments encouraging new members with mini plots, building raised beds for wheelchair users, helping with growing advice and watering as well as running the marquee and bar.  The allotments, bowling green and tennis courts form part of a lovely community encouraging local families to get involved.   There will be an Allotment Open Weekend and Art Trail on 18-19th August to coincide with the Mid Somerset Show.  Check it out!

So our bake off competition got underway once all the entries had arrived and people had had a chance to walk around the allotments with a drink in hand.  It was a very social and fun evening.






Collett Park plant sale

Another successful plant sale at Collett Park, all the plants are grown and then sold by our members to raise funds for our club.  It is a fun day, meeting new people and enthusing about plants.  We also attracted two new members.

The Snowdrop Festival had a stand next to us raising awareness, selling raffle tickets and poetry books from our previous festivals.


Carymoor Nature Reserve visit

We were met by Neil on a glorious sunny evening at Carymoor Environmental Centre. Neil manages the nature reserve, he was a wonderful host, patiently answering all our questions, pointing out wild flowers, shedding light on the details of landfill site problems and solutions.

It was a full evening and we only saw the tip of the iceberg, I am not just referring to the landfill face. We walked around the site (4000 steps according to Ann’s pedometer) taking in the newly restored pond, the old ammunition stores, wildflower meadows, Andrew’s dragon, methane gas & leachate treatment sites, the land fill face and the composting windrows, getting back to the centre for tea and cake as the light started to fade.

The site has many habitats to create as much biodiversity as possible:

  • rough grassland – good for moths, butterflies, voles & barn owls…
  • flowering meadows – insects including butterflies, reptiles, birds…
  • marsh wetlands and reedbeds – insects, flora, birds, amphibians…

Carymarsh (next door) is grazed by ponies in the winter and has bird hides


Flower rich meadow
At least 50 species including dyers green weed, fairy flax, spiny rest harrow.
The meadow is cut end of September using an Allen scythe although volunteers use scythes also.
The late cutting (due to the late flowering Devil’s bit Scabious) does allow some scrub to get established (hawthorn, bramble), this is could be treated with spot application of glyphosate or the meadow cut a bit earlier in the season on a rota of 1 in 5 years.

Global citizenship days
Schools are invited to spend a day at the ‘shanty town’ at Carymoor to appreciate how millions live across the world.


  • Garden waste arrives on site, is shredded and shaped into huge rows (windrows)
  • Huge windrows of garden waste are turned by huge machines every 7-10 days
  • Natural bacteria in the organic matter start to break down the material creating heat
  • The windrows heat up to 70oC (important to kill off an Ecoli bacteria)
  • The composting process takes 3 months from start to finished product
  • The finished product is used as a soil conditioner rather than a compost (high in carbon, low in nitrogen), it is great for clay soils


Landfill in a nutshell

  • Carymoor is a large site with 100 acres of capped landfill (dating from the 1970′s), this part is managed by Carymoor Environmental Trust as a nature reserve
  • The landfill and composting site is managed by Viridor
  • The landfill operations will cease in 2019/2020 (due to high landfill taxation and the cost of maintaining the landfill (e.g. monitoring for contamination…) instead it will become a waste transfer site, with all rubbish being taken to Avonmouth’s new incinerator
  • Modern incinerators burn plastics, they produce less pollution, provide more electricity, stone & metal are extracted from the ashes and then sold, carbon is captured from the chimneys and converted into building blocks
  • Tests are carried out every 7-10 days across the landfill site for methane escape and leachate escape / pollution
  • Methane capture from the old landfill is burnt on-site producing steam which is used to create electricity which is then sold to the National Grid, powering 1500 homes all year round. Carbon dioxide is less damaging to the atmosphere than methane. We could smell a sulphurous smell, this is sulphur released from the methane.
  • Leachates are mainly ammonium, they are pumped out of the old landfill and broken down by bacteria in a special plant, the liquid is then run through a 3 hectare willow bed (nitrogen feeds the willow). The willow will in time be used as bio-fuel.
  • It is a naturally clay site (blue lias clay), this is scraped off the site prior to the landfill and is then used to make a 1m deep cap over the landfill
  • Landfill sites are low mounds, their domed shape helps to shed water as well as merge with the landscape
  • Somerset Waste Partnership produce and end use register to show you where our recycling ends up



  • Searching for grass snakes and slow worms
  • Skylarks (heard for the first time on this site since 2013)
  • Wonderful compost heaps
  • The horror of the landfill face
  • Chrisi’s rhubarb cake and tea made by Ann (but provided by Carymoor)



  1. Reduce – ask yourself do you really need it?
  2. Recycle – local recycling centres now accept all plastic containers for recycling. Somerset recycles about 50% waste, this is short of the 75% target
  3. Reuse – plastic out-competes cardboard when it is re-used

Notes by Angela Morley


Carnival Bucket Collection

20th April 2018

Five of our members participated in the Shepton Mallet carnival bucket collection last November. With wheel barrows and buckets our team wore fancy dress inspired by Bill, Ben and Weed. On 20th April Shepton Mallet Carnival club presented Ray and Royston with a cheque for £200 to go towards the Shepton Mallet Snowdrop Festival.
 Photo by June MacFarlane

Kilver Court Gardens

Under a lovley evening light, the fresh spring leaf colours of trees, shrubs and herbaceous shone beautifully. We were guided by gardeners Matt Rees Warren and Chrisi Inchley around the pond, over the bridge, under the viaduct to the new borders and finally through the giant rockery with cascading stream.

The new borders are planted in an array of foliage colour rather than flower colour this ‘colourist theory’ ‘focuses on harnessing the power of colour through design’. The border at one end starts with yellow foliage moving to mid green, red, purple, grey/green and finally to silver.


Artemisia ‘Valerie Finnis‘ has shown itself to be hardier than Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ in the cold, damp conditions in the shade of the Viaduct

Heucheras are very useful for offering a wide range of foliage colours

Salix udensis ‘Golden Sunshine’ – is an unusual willow with yellow foliage

Lithospermum ‘Heavenly Blue‘ – its early bright blue flowers caught many people’s eye

Tiarella – foam flower, good in shade


Notes by Angela Morley

Wildlife Gardening Tips

Penny Richards for Somerset Wildlife Trust spoke to us about wildlife gardening, here are some points to consider:


Research by Jenniver Owen (Leicester), BUGS project (Sheffield) and RHS Wisley have revealed how important gardens are for insects, this may be in part because gardeners aim to have a succession of flowering times. Not all garden plants have to be native although it is important that some are.

Gardens can act as a refuge, for example: Spottted flycatcher, song thrush, slow worm, dormouse, hedgehog. Consider providing habitat and food for these creatures.

Massive decline in insects species and numbers over the past 30 years. Today insects (including bees) tend to be underweight, infected (imported diseases) and stressed (loss of habitat) all at the same time.

Less than 1% of all 22,000 UK insects are pests. It is all about balance, the good (beneficial) and the bad (pests). For example the larvae of ladybird, hoverfly, lace wings, wasps are all voracious consumers of insects such as aphids.

Provide variety
Grow a variety of different shaped flowers, for example Buff tail bumble bees like lavender shaped flowers, Carder bee likes pin cushions of Scabious. The almost black Hairy Footed bee makes itself conspicuous by dancing around on Pulmonaria flowers (also likes the pea family). Hoverflies like flat daisy shaped flowers (hoverflies (short antennae) and bees (long antennae).

Provide native food
Alder Buckthorn – a great plant for mixed hedges – food for Brimstone larvae
Sorrel & docks – food for larvae of Small Copper butterfly
Blackthorn- food for larvae of Brown Hairstreak
Grasses, Cardamine pratensis (Lady’s smock), hedge garlic – larvae for Orange Tip butterfly.
Willow, birch, hawthorn, oak, honeysuckle… – great for moths of which there are 1000′s
long grass – grasshoppers & crickets

Provide habitat
a) A tree, native if possible, for example: crab apple, willow, Sorbus torminalis, silver birch, Rowan, apple, plum…

b) Early & late flowering plants, for example Mahonia, Sarcococca, Lonicera fragrantissima, Begenia, Pulmonaria, spindle berry, holly, Ribes sanguinea… Note that Hebe is better than Buddleia for insects since it has a longer flowering period.

c) Hedges provide food, habitat & shelter. Twiggy top as well as the leafy base beneath them.

d) Climbers especially single flowered roses & honeysuckle

Provide flowers over a very period of long time
Good examples include: Snowdrop, primrose, Pulmonaria, daisy types, tubular flowers, umbel flowers, low flowers such as Bugle in the lawn, pea family, foxglove, lavender*, sea holly*, marjoram*, Echium*, Monarda*, Scabious, Sedum*, Eupatorium, Echinops, heather.

Annuals include Phacelia, borage, cornflower, marigold.
* Very valuable plants

Other things you can do include:
Provide a pond, long grass (e.g. mown path through wild area), a log pile or a wildlife hotel, undisturbed parts of the garden.



Amphibians & reptiles
Toads, newts, slow worms, grass snake all benefit from rock piles, dry stone walls, leaf & log piles (e.g. keep your compost bin separate from these habitats)

Eat insects attracted and breeding in the garden but also some benefit from seeds and berries left on plants over the winter (e.g. Verbena bonariensis, ivy, Knautia, lavender. Sarcococca, holly, Cotoneaster...)

Water summer and winter (e.g. a pond)

Twiggy bushes, hedges and trees for nesting & nest boxes

Their numbers have dropped by 25% in the last 10 years in part due to: use of fences in gardens (hedgehogs have large roaming areas), use of pesticides, tidy gardens without hibernation sites, roads, badgers (compete for the same food).

Small mammals
Voles & wood mice are an important part of the food chain, they are very susceptible to poison.

They feed on insects (e.g. moths) as well as shelter (winter & summer roosts)


Wildlife gardening forum – signup for their newsletter
How to make a wildlife meadow
RSPB gardening for wildlife book
Chris Baines’ - How to make a wildlife garden
Charles Flower -Where have all the flowers gone
Field Studies Council – Identification charts
Pam Lewis - Sticky Wicket  (note this garden is no longer open to the public)