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Garden Diaries

Our garden diaries cover a range of topics related to alpine plants, including gardening, photography and travel. Maintained by gardeners at every level, they are full of tips, advice and inspiration on how to grow alpine and hardy plants.
Acer palmatum Villa Taranto

The rockery at Wisley with orange-leaved Acer palmatum 'Villa Taranto' as a focal point in this alpine bed

Hamish Sinclair’s Wisley Diary

Hamish has been a volunteer at RHS Garden Wisley for three days a week since 2019. In his new diary he will attempt to document and share with us the developments in the Alpine Department as well as the wonderful plants growing there.

AGS Trainee - Joshua Tranter

AGS Trainee - Joshua Tranter

A passion for alpines – Joshua Tranter’s Diary

With a keen interest in alpines from a young age, I decided to apply to be the next AGS trainee (2023-2024). I am really looking forward to expanding my knowledge and work experience during the 18 months of the programme, working in various gardens and networking with alpine enthusiasts. My blog will give you insights into my life as an AGS Trainee.

As a charity, the AGS supports the development of knowledge and skills in the alpine field by funding the AGS Trainee Scheme. During the 18 month placement, the successful candidate has the opportunity to work at various horticultural institutions (such as RBG Edinburgh, RBG Kew, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, RSPB Haweswater Nature Reserve and the AGS Garden at Pershore). The work includes maintaining and enhancing the alpine plant collections in all the gardens as well as management of plant records. At RSPB Haweswater the trainee with help with conservation work.

ags show benches

A view of the exhibition benches from one of our shows.

Photographer’s Diary

Jon Evans is one of the official photographers at AGS plant shows. He also visits gardens across the UK to photograph them. Here Jon shares photographs from the shows he attends as well as gardens he visits.

North Wales Diary

John Good keeps this diary from his garden in North Wales. Overlooking the sea, his garden is full of a wide range of alpine and woodland plants. An AGS member for more than 50 years, John is a retired research forest ecologist with a lifelong interest in the observation and  cultivation of plants.

Archived Diaries

These diaries are no longer being updated but contain useful information for gardeners.

at Harlow Carr 2021

Jamesbrittenia bergae

Bertie Swainston’s Diary of an AGS Apprentice

This diary documents the year Bertie Swainston spent at RHS Harlow Carr Garden and RBG Edinburgh as AGS Trainee.

Northumberland Diary

This diary has been kept since August 2006. The diarist, John Richards, is a former president of our Society and Lytell Trophy Holder (the highest accolade given by the AGS). John shares a wealth of information on how he grows alpine and rock plants in the north east of England. 

Beginner’s Alpine Diary

Katharine has her own gardening blog, The Tea Break Gardener, but is new to the world of alpine gardening. Here, she documents her experiences growing alpine plants as a beginner in her garden in the Chiltern Hills. A great resource for anyone just getting started with alpine gardening.

Gentiana sino-ornata autumn flowering on the rock garden

Gentiana sino-ornata

Scottish Horticulturist’s Diary

Connor Smith is based at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), having previously worked at nurseries in America, Germany and Italy. In his diary, he shares some of his favourite plants, experiences at RBGE and details of his travels.

Kent Diary

Since 2014, Tim Ingram has been keeping his diary from his garden in Kent. He runs Copton Ash Nursery in Faversham and has been a member of the AGS for most of his gardening life.

Midland Diary

Diane Clement is an inveterate seed raiser, enthusiastic gardener and exhibitor at AGS shows. Written from her garden in central England, her diary is an excellent record of how to raise different types of plants from seed.

Old Court Nursery & the Picton Garden

Written from 2014 to 2017, this diary is an interesting log of activity in the Old Court Garden. The nursery was founded to breed and sell Asters by Ernest Ballard. It was then owned by Percy Picton who started the garden and developed an interest in alpine and rock plants. The nursery and garden are now run by his granddaughter Helen and her husband Ross, who maintained this diary. 

Schachen Diary

An interesting insight into a true alpine garden. The Schachen garden lies at an altitude of 1,850m in the Bavarian Alps. It takes a three hour hike through alpine forests and meadows to reach it! Jenny Wainwright-Klein was our guide from 2011-2012.

Lakeland Diary

The beautiful Holehird Gardens overlook Lake Windermere in the Lake District. It’s maintained by volunteers from the Lakeland Horticultural Society. Alpine enthusiasts are particularly interested in the National Collection of Meconopsis maintained here. Alan Oatway kept this diary for a few years from 2012.

Cambridge Diary

This previous blog came from the alpine and woodland team at Cambridge University Botanic Garden. The entries were provided by Helen Seal and Simon Wallis from 2012-13.

Cyclamen coum collection

A collection of Cyclamen coum forms

Wisley Alpine Diary

Paul Cumbleton was team leader of the alpine section at RHS Wisley before he retired. In this diary he gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the alpine department of this renowned garden.