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Newsletter of the Norfolk Group of the Alpine Garden Society January 2015



Index on page 6


Please note, there is no meeting on Jan 21st; there is a pantomime in the hall.


AGM Norfolk Group AGS

Wednesday 16 December 2014

Chairman’s Report

As the national AGS continues to discuss its name, its finances and the way it runs its business, we here in the Norfolk Group remain assured of our way of working and our focus on the broad range of plants which form the basis of the current AGS remit.

The Group continues to enjoy a very broad spectrum of lecture subjects and keynote speakers for which we must thank Tony Goode for organising such a comprehensive programme.

The Show in 2014 was once again superbly well organised and run under the well-practised guidance of John and Brenda Foster. The show continues to receive plaudits from AGS management, from judges, from exhibitors and from visitors – and rightly so. If the AGS was looking to demonstrate how a show should work, then they couldn’t go far wrong in focusing on Norfolk.

The planned visit to Kew went ahead and was a great success. The behind-the-scenes look at the Alpines Section in the company of Kit Strange couldn’t have been better. Perhaps the only frustration was that we couldn’t make a weekend of the trip and taken in another venue – possibly a challenge for 2015.

Midway through the year we accepted an invitation to the Plantation Gardens as part of a Group social evening. Even though we had to dodge some heavy rain and shout to be heard above the sound of thunder, we enjoyed a thoroughly lovely visit, guided by Marj and Nick through the history and plantings of this magic spot on the edge of the city centre. A somewhat drawn-out but nevertheless pleasant meal at the Earlham Arms made for a fine conclusion to our evening.

I hope you will agree that the Committee, which is charged with ensuring the smooth running of the county group, fulfilled its remit. My thanks, therefore, go to all my fellow committee members. In particular, I should mention Diane Blyth for managing the correspondence and the diary and pulling together the many and varied facets of our Group. Thanks also to our Group Treasurer, Roy Mellor, firstly for volunteering to take on the job and secondly for ensuring that we manage our finances and satisfy the AGS by complying with the requirements they put on a regional group. As Rosie Ward stands down from producing the Newsletter, we thank her and welcome Jim Laws to the role for the coming year.

Finally, with, amongst other things, a wide-ranging programme of speakers, a trip to Gothenburg and yet another major conference in 2015, we can look forward to an extremely exciting year for the Norfolk Group.


Ian Black


AGS Norfolk Group


Page 2

Congratulations to Cecilia Coller

At the Alpine Garden Society A.G.M. at Stratford on Avon in November, our member Cecilia Coller was awarded her 42nd and 43rd Gold Bars for her Gold Medal.

A great achievement you may think; but the effort, preparation, travelling and sheer know-how with the plants is prodigious.

If you fancy going in for this National award you have to exhibit at a regional show, after having got 50 firsts, you have earned a Gold Medal!,  for each 50 more firsts that you are able to win, you are awarded a bar., So fifty firsts gets a medal and then the next 50 firsts gets a bar.  So Cecilia has a medal with 2200 firsts. Jim McGregor our Shows Record keeper says “ When you consider that most exhibitors feel they are doing well with half a dozen firsts in a year, this is an incredible achievement.”

How did you become "hooked" on alpines? 

In my case it started when I was invited by a friend to go to a talk at the lecture theatre in Norwich Library. The talk was entitled "Back Packing in the Dolomites" 

At the Library my friend, a committee member, went off to do her 'job' and I was left alone.  I knew nobody there so I went to join an old lady sitting by herself who looked as lost as I felt.

It turned out the old lady was the speaker for the evening's talk and she was going to tell us about back packing at the age of 70 in the mountains.  An enthralling talk followed and at the end I asked her if she still went to the mountains.  She replied that at 82 her back packing days were over, but she still loved to go if she could find a driver.      

So I volunteered and ended up driving Connie Greenfield to the Alps in my little red Panda car.  She knew all the best places to find the best flowers, most of them high up along steep switch backing roads with hairpin bends, but marvellous scenery which could only be fully appreciated when we were able to find somewhere to park!  Connie could name all the plants and delighted in lying on her tummy to photograph them.  (She sometimes needed a hand to get up again, but she was 82!)

We stayed in hotels wherever we happened to find ourselves at the end of the day and it was truly a magical experience.  And the magic didn't end when we got back to England.  I was taken under Connie's wing and introduced to the alpine world, to photographing them, growing them, showing them and giving talks about them.  I was also introduced to many of the top growers and showers and made many friends.

So the time I spent talking to a seemingly lonely old lady at the Library in Norwich back in 1982 was 5 minutes that changed my life!       

Ann Borrill 


We hope this theme will be a regular feature of our newsletters. How did you discover Alpine Gardening?

If you have anything for the next Newsletter (to be sent in August), please send it to Jim Laws, using the contacts at the foot of Page 6.

Important Diary Dates for East Anglia Show and One Day Conference

Saturday 2nd May 12 noon to 4pm East Anglia AGS Show at Wymondham High School, NR18 0QT

Plant sales from 10.30am.

Show in Main Hall opens at 12 noon

Nurseries who have already confirmed they will attend this year's Show:

Aberconwy,  Jil Ag of Choice Alpines,  Potterton's,  Tim Ingram.


Saturday 19th Sept 9am to 5pm The One day Conference; Alpines-Home and Away at

The Abbey Conference Centre, Carrow, Norwich, NR1 2DD.

Our speakers are Peter Korn from Sweden for 2 lectures (some of us will have seen his garden at Gothenburg) and Paul Cumbleton, Senior Supervisor of Alpines at Wisley before he retired.


Page 3

Lecture Programme 2015 

 January; no meeting

18 Feb   - Members Night

18 Mar  - Show and Photo Competition –Possible Guest Judge!

15 Apr   - Tony Goode – Hilary’s View

20 May  - Martin Sheader –With the AGS in Peru

17 June - Richard Hobbs – Bulgaria, Mountains, Flowers and Wildlife.

16 Sept - David Haselgrove - TBC

21 Oct   - Pete & Jackie Murray - Following the Snowmelt

18 Nov - John Good – Plant Portraits

16 December – AGM & Christmas Social

There should be a good smattering of growable alpines featuring in our programme this year. Three of the speakers will be covering European alpines, many of which can be cultivated in UK gardens.

Tony Goode is now a seasoned veteran of the AGS Lecture circuit, you can hear him speak in

Tonbridge Wells, Leeds and Cleveland on this years tour! Hilary’s View is based on a friendship with mountain fanatic Hilary Rhodes who lives in Switzerland. The breathtaking views around Hilary’s village will feature alongside flowers and wildlife of the Vaud pre-Alps including some of Hilary’s own remarkable photos.

Fellow Norfolk member and wildlife expert, Richard Hobbs will take us to Bulgaria in June. It is too many years since we enjoyed Richard’s wit and wisdom. Leading wildlife travel tours, he is not always able to commit to our lecture dates.

In October, Pete and Jackie Murray will talk about the Alpine Spring based on an AGS funded month long trip. Expect outstanding photography, informed observations and a little humour along the way.

Martin Sheader will be making an overdue first visit to the Norfolk group in May. An acknowledged expert on the flora of South America he will bring us a flavour of Peru as seen on an AGS tour.

David Haselgrove, widely travelled, will also take us on a journey .... but at time of writing it is a mystery tour! He is another expert on South America; I may seek to book a lecture to compliment Martin’s trip down South.

To close the Lecture season we have John Good, retired Professor of Ecology and writer of the North Wales diary on the AGS website John will give  a series of Plant Portraits, featuring plants he has grown, with tips on how to get the best out of them.



Page 4


Members Gardens Open in 2015


NR34 8NE   Brenda and John Foster (01502 575298)


Sunday 15 February 11 – 4p.m

Snowdrop and Hellebore Day in aid of The National Gardens Scheme (NGS)

Large collection of snowdrops, aconites and cyclamen in a one-acre garden. Entry £3.50


Sunday 7 June 11 – 5p.m

in aid of The National Gardens Scheme.  Entry £3.50 Flowering shrubs, roses, perennials, water feature.


Sunday 6 September 11 – 5p.m.

Autumn bulbs and perennials. Collection of cyclamen, crocus, colchicums, fritillaria, erythroniums etc.

Free entry


Groups welcome at other times by appointment


The garden of Richard Hobbs and Sally Ward will be open on Sunday 12 April 11 to 4pm.  There will be plants for sale and refreshments.  16 Witton Lane, Little Plumstead, Norwich, NR13 5DL.


My garden is open from 10.30 to 3.30 on Sundays February 15th and March 1st ..

153, Limetree Avenue, Wymondham, NR18 0TG. There is a small charge of £2 per person in aid of Help for Heroes, with a free cup of tea or coffee included!  There will also be a few plants for sale.
I have a small urban garden with over 200 varieties of snowdrops and many other spring flowering plants e.g. Hellebores, primulas, crocuses etc. Last year I raised £250 for Help for Heroes.
(I just hope the warm weather we are having doesn't make all the snowdrops go over too early! But there are lots of other plants to follow on)

Ann Borrill


The Garden at Chestnut Farm West Beckham Holt NR25  6NX

will be open on the following days:-

Sun   Feb 22        for NCT       11.00 – 4.00 Snowdrops Aconites and very early spring bulbs

Thu   Feb 26        for NGS       11.00 – 4.00 Snowdrops Aconites and very early spring bulbs

Sun   Mar 01        for NGS       11.00 – 4.00 Snowdrops Aconites and very early spring bulbs

Sun   Apr 26        for NGS        11.00 – 5.00 Spring flowers, bulbs and shrubs

Sun   May 10       for NGS        11.00 – 5.00 Spring flowers, bulbs and shrubs


Enquiries to Judy Wilson 01263 822241      NCT = Norfolk Churches Trust

Show Schedule (Norfolk AGS)

We have the club show at our March meeting, and NOW is the time to start thinking seriously about it and making preparations.  Buy some bulbs and pot them up, even some plants perhaps. Don’t  think this show is for others, it is a Club effort for all to join in and enjoy.  Another possibility is to dig up a plant from your garden, pot it up according to the schedule and bring it along.  You will find that there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from entering, and it will extend your knowledge base as well .


Kind regards,



       Page 5



Exhibitors are allowed to have 2 entries in each class in Beginners and Open Section

Exhibitors cease to be eligible for the Beginners Section if they have won the Beginners Section on 2 occasions, or have won the Open Section at the spring show.

BEGINNERS SECTION:  19 cms pot maximum

       Class  1         3 pans rock plants distinct

       Class  2         1 pan rock plant in flower

       Class  3         1 pan foliage plant, Sempervivum or cushion plant (not in flower)

       Class  4         1 pan bulbous plant

       Class  5         1 pan rock plant from seed or cutting (date of propagation to be stated)


OPEN SECTION:          36cms pot maximum     

       Class  6         3  pan rock plants distinct

       Class  7         1 pan rock plant in flower

       Class  8         1 pan dwarf shrub (includes conifers)

       Class  9         1 pan bulbous plant

       Class  10       1 pan foliage plant

       Class  11       1 pan primulaceae   

       Class  12       1 pan cushion plant

       Class  13      A display of one or more cut alpine flowers not to exceed 20 cms square



1   2 entries may be made in each class per exhibitor

2   Please obtain an exhibitor’s card from the show secretary at the time of exhibiting

3   Definitions of the terms used in this schedule can be found in the AGS Guide to shows.

     Judging will be under AGS rules

4   Maximum pot sizes:   Beginners Section - 19cms        outside pot diameter

Open Section            - 36cms      outside pot diameter

5   Points for prizes:   1st - 3pts,   2nd - 2pts,   3rd - 1pt.

    Double points will be awarded for 3 pan classes 1 & 6

6   Bulbs in classes 4 & 9 as rule 27 in the AGS shows booklet produced annually



Exhibitors are allowed to have 2 entries in each class

Class  1   Portrait of an Alpine plant in the wild

Class  2   Portrait of an Alpine plant in cultivation

Class  3   Alpine plant/s in a wild landscape

Class  4   Alpine plant/s in a garden setting

Name of plant/s to be displayed.    Name of exhibitor on the back

For this initial competition photographs may be any size, mounted or unmounted.  Exhibitors and potential future exhibitors are invited to share their thoughts on how to organise future competitions during the evening. We might invite a visiting expert to judge and/or talk about photography.  It could be a separate meeting to the show night.  Perhaps an AGM event instead of on screen entertainment …. or we could have a competition for digital images.  But perhaps you have some better ideas?

Page 6


AGS Norfolk Group Trip to Gothenburg 2015

The Group's planned trip to Gothenburg is now confirmed and a number of people have booked flights and accommodation. There is, obviously, the opportunity for anyone else to join in with this group. Booking of flights will need to be the responsibility of those intending to travel (though help can be offered if required). Information on flights and detail of the accommodation booked so far can be obtained from Ian Black - or phone 01760 724092. 

The outline programme, around which arrangements have been made so far are:

  • Tuesday 12 May – Travel to Gothenburg
  • Wednesday 13 May – Visit Botanical Gardens
  • Thursday 14 May – Visit Peter Korn’s garden
  • Friday 15 May – Travel to UK

NB I. To date, most, if not all, have booked early flights on Tuesday out of Stansted and evening return flights on the Friday.

NB II. Also, if anyone prefers to travel overland (train from London or ferry and train), Rosie Ward has researched this option and can advise -

Index to this newsletter

Page 1:  Chairman’s Report

Page 2:  Congratulations to Cecilia Coller

              How did you become "hooked" on alpines? Ann Borrill's path to discovery.

              Important Diary Dates for East Anglia Show and Conference

Page 3:  Lecture Programme 2015 , compiled by Tony Goode

Page 4:  Members Gardens Open in 2015

              Judy Wilson explains the Show Schedule (Norfolk AGS) and invites entries.

Page 5: The Norfolk Group AGS Spring Show. March meeting

Page 6: AGS Norfolk Group Trip to Gothenburg 2015, an update by Ian Black.


If you have a contribution for the next Newsletter, to be circulated in August,

please e-mail Jim Laws at,  phone him on 01502 675264, or write to:

Jim Laws, West End Lodge, Wrentham West End, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 7NH.


Contributions should ideally be sent in by mid July.




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