Our friendly, active group has been established since October 1962 and one or two original members still turn up occasionally!
We currently have a membership of 70+ and they range from those new to alpine gardening to experts with a wealth of experience.
We have an excellent programme of lectures on a wide range of topics, always stimulating and interesting. We serve tea, coffee and biscuits and there is a chance to chat to other members of the group. We have a raffle, a plants sales table and a display table each month.
In March we have a competitive plant show for the David Benton Rose Bowl and in May a photographic competition for the Margaret Hedges Trophy. April sees the Annual Plant Sale which we all look forward to with much excitement! Several garden visits are organised in the spring and summer.
Membership of our group is open to all – you don’t have to be an AGS member, although always recommended to enjoy the wider benefits of the Society. Do come along as a visitor and see if you’d like to join us regularly. You would be most welcome.
Ben Parmee (Secretary): Tel: 02380 265672 or 07501 083504
AGS members: £10. (Joint £14)
Non-members: £11.00. (Joint £15)
Visitors: £2.50 (per meeting)
23 September 2021 – At Chilworth Hall
Martin Sheader – Group member and AGS Judge and Tour Guide
‘A remarkable flower-rich Patagonian mountain – Meseta del Lago Buenos Aires.’
28 October 2021 – Zoom
Jim Almond – AGS official photographer
‘Alpines for Everyone’
This will be via zoom as Jim prefers not to travel long distances.
25 November 2021 – At Chilworth Hall
Tim Lever – of Aberconwy Nursery
‘Jewels in the Rain’: Walking the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh
We expect Tim to bring plants for sale!
9 December 2021 – At Chilworth Hall – note this is the second Thursday
Seasonal meeting including quiz and short presentations by members and refreshments.
27 January 2022 – via Zoom
Chris Gardner of ViraNATURA Tours
Flora of the Silk Road
24 February 2022 – via Zoom
Jim Jermyn of Branklyn Gardens – Scotland
European alpines in nature – a new look
24 March 2022
David Dickenson – Group Member and Tour Guide in the Cevennes – France
Isolated in Time – How the Cévennes uniquely survived the Ice Age
Plant Competition: The David Benton Rose Bowl is awarded to the winner of the Plant Competition
28 April 2022
Annual General Meeting and …
Tim Ingram of Copton Ash Nursery
Gardens of the Czech Republic
April – Annual Plant Sale – Date and venue to be announced.
26 Thursday May 2022
Colin Everett – Member of The Fritillaria Group
‘Growing Fritillaria What I Do and Why’
Photographic Competition Results. The Margaret Hedges Trophy for the photographic competition winner.
For more info: Email Ben.Parmee@alpinegardensociety.org / ring 07501 083504
Directions / venue http://chilworthhants.org.uk/index.php/village-hall/
Paddy and Ben Parmee are opening their garden for spring alpines and the Group’s plant sale.
Plant sale and open garden with refreshments TBA – May / June 2022
Members of AGS Groups and friends are invited to join Paddy and Ben at their garden in Chandlers Ford to enjoy Alpines at there best.
Venue: 179 Hursley Road, Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, SO53 1JH
Entry: Free entry – donations for refreshments to Hampshire AGS.
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Parking: Please park in Cuckoo Bushes Lane 50 metres to the North or other nearby street parking.
We look forward to seeing many of you on the xxxxx.
Best wishes Paddy and Ben
Please contact the Secretary on 07501 083504 or 02380 265672; Email Ben.Parmee@alpinegardensociety.org
David Dickenson went up to Aubrac, France before returning to the UK for the winter, where the Crocus nudiflorus was putting on an extraordinary show on the South-facing pastures.
For me, 2020 brought more than just Covid-19 as a surprise. In lockdown in Southern France at Florac, restricted to walks of 1 km, I stumbled across many new species, but none more so than a Mediterranean sage never reported our side of the Atlantic/Mediterranean divide. There it was, a large colony of Salvia verbenaca subsp. verbenaca, just 500 m along the main road, clearly well-established. How could I have missed it in earlier years, I thought with embarrassment? The answer came a week later. The colony passed from first flower to nothing but ripe seed in just 7 days. Three days later, the verges were all strimmed bare by the highways department. Global warming and human activities are set to extend the range of this species by 50-100 kilometres. This is a hare that is set to beat the tortoise.
A more spectacular appearance was on the steppe-like pastures at the edge of Nîmes-le-Vieux. Just before the feather-grass (Stipa gallica) opened to reveal waves of angel-hair, a bright ribbon of blue and yellow appeared in mid-May, only a few metres wide, but about a full kilometre long. Investigation of this floral river uncovered groups of blue Echium vulgare, not unknown here, but mixed with a huge number of yellow Cerinthe minor subsp. auriculata, unknown outside Provence and the Pre-Alps. This was clearly the result of some pipe-laying work, but how did several thousand Cerinthe seeds get into the mix? These plants have now set seed. My estimate is over 50,000 seeds ready to romp across the region and change the ecology of the Causse Méjean for a lifetime. I hope the sheep have a good appetite.
Another surprise was more personal. Gardening beside a tributary of the Tarn, subject to the infamous spring and autumn storms of the Cévennes, can be a challenge. But the area has never seen a flash flood in mid-June, and of such amplitude. In full leaf, trees were stripped from the banks, and then the rocks themselves. The riverine landscape was transformed into a disaster zone. My garden took the full force, and was instantly denuded. What leaves remained were so macerated that they died over the next fortnight. Four hard weeks to relieve the garden of several lorry-loads of sand and rocks, and gaze dismally at the bare sticks of vegetation. Then the buds began to swell, and slowly life came back; by September, few would notice that there had ever been such a catastrophe. My respect for nature, the power to destroy, the power to heal, has never been so great.
Nîmes-le-Vieux is the jewel in the crown of the karstic landscape of the Causse Méjean in Southern France. The flora and spectacular architecture of the Arcs de St Pierre are less known, but make for a serious rival. Higher rainfall and lack of grazing ensure a very different flora, and it is unrivalled for its range of summer orchids. We pass from the endemic Ophrys aymoninii to the helleborines such as our trio of Cephalantheras (Cephalanthera longifolia, C. damasonium and C. rubra) and their relatives (Epipactis atrorubens, E. distans, E. helleborine, E. microphylla and E. muelleri). Not wanting to be accused of name dropping, I shall spare you the list of countless other orchid species.
The undisturbed natural pine forests host a scattering of wintergreens, such as Orthilia secunda, Pyrola chlorantha and my favourite, Moneses uniflora, with their diminutive heads drooping from modesty or deep depression; they have not confided which. The open arenas of dolomitic sands host the endemic thrift, Armeria girardii. These tough little plants make a superb rug for picnicking whilst gazing with awe upon the phallus of La Grande Place.
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