Saturday & Sunday, 19th & 20th Feb 2022


Seed Swap

Come and see us at the Snowdrop Festival in St Paul’s School Hall on 19th and 20th February. Bring any unwanted seeds to swap or just come and buy some for a small donation.

Wednesday February 2nd 2022 @7.00




Annual General Meeting

It will be confirmed nearer the date if this will be a virtual zoom meeting or held at the Thatched Cottage

New members very welcome


Wednesday 1st December 2021 @ 7.30pm

Christmas Wreath Workshop

Join us for Wreath making and mince pies .

Shepton Mallet Bowls and Tennis Club
3 Frithfield Walk Shepton Mallet Ba4 5LY

Wednesday November 3rd 2021 @7.30

A Talk from Abigail Willis

Abigail is a freelance arts writer and editor with a particular interest in gardening and the arts,

Abigail will explore why Somerset is such a great place to be a gardener inspired by the experience of writing and researching  of her most recent book Secret Gardens of Somerset

The Thatched Cottage , Charlton Road , Shepton Mallett BA4 5QF

Members £3.00 Non -members £5.00

Wednesday 6th October 2021 @ 7.30

Grasses in the Garden

Speaker  : Malcom Hills from the Garden Group

Grasses can provide amazing autumn color and texture in the garden . This talk with tell you all about Grasses and how to get the most out of them.

The Thatched Cottage ,

Charlton Road , Shepton Mallett BA4 5QF

Wednesday September 1st 2021 @ 7pm


Harvest Festival


1. Bunch of flowers
2. Single Bloom
3. Best Fruit Basket
4. Trio of Tomatoes
5. Pair of Cucumbers
6. A Bundle of Beans
7. 3 Perfect Carrots
8. Most Impressive Fruit or Veg!
9. Silliest Fruit of Veg!
10. Best House Plant

Members £2.00 Non-members £3.00

The Thatched Cottage , Charlton Road , Shepton Mallett BA4 5QF

Wednesday August 4th 2021 @7pm

Charles Dowding

A visit to the organic market garden at Homeacres and an introduction to The NoDig method of gardening for flower and Vegetable growing.

Homeacres Althampton , Somerset BA4 6PZ

Members £6.00


Wednesday July 7th 2021 @ 7pm

West Brook House

West Bradley



Members £6.00 Non members £8.00 including refreshments



Wednesday June 2021 2nd 7pm

Rugg Farm

Somerset BA22 8EQ

Plants for sale . Please bring correct change

Members £5.00  Non members £7.00 including refreshments


Sunday May 2021 9th

2pm onwards

Open Under the NGS Garden scheme

Holland Farm 


Members pre booked £5.00 Non members £6.00

Saturday April 2021 10th

Booked time slots 2pm onwards

East Lambrook Manor Gardens

“The Home of the English Cottage Garden”

Somerset TA13 5HH

Members £5.00 Non members £6.00


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