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West Yorkshire

At our monthly meetings we normally have an expert guest speaker, plants sales, a plant display and a raffle followed by tea/coffee and biscuits. Twice a year we have a plant show. ************************** The AGS West Yorkshire Group meetings are currently suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. The suspension will continue until further notice but the committee would like to be optimistic that we can meet again from September 2020. **************************

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  • Introduction to the group

    Our meetings take place on the second Saturday of each month September to May inclusive.

    We are a friendly group and you are welcome no matter what level of expertise you have. There are members who have a keen interest and a good knowledge about growing plants such as saxifrages, crocuses, cyclamen, gentians, hepaticas, snowdrops, narcissi, fritillaries, primulas, dianthus, trilliums, hellebores, campanulas, androsaces, sedums, dwarf pines and many others.

    There is usually a guest speaker at the meetings who gives a talk for about an hour on a topic of interest to growers of alpine plants.

    Before the main part of the meeting, normally the talk, there is a chance to chat, ask questions of the appropriate experts and to swap, buy and sell plants. Afterwards we have tea or coffee with biscuits. There is also a raffle.

    We have a display table at each meeting (non-competitive) on which members display any plants for our interest.

    At each meeting there are plant sales tables where volunteers sell spare plants on behalf of members with a contribution going to Group funds. Some of the plants sold are unusual and hard to obtain elsewhere. We also have sales tables for second hand gardening books and greeting cards produced by a talented artist member.

    There are Local Group Shows in September/October and May. There is also the AGS Harlow Carr Show in mid-October, organised by one of our members with the help of many other members.

    Meetings are held at St Chad’s Parish Centre, Otley Road, Far Headingley, Leeds LS16 5JT (see map below). The Hall opens from 1.45 pm for a 2.30 pm start to the Meeting. There is ample parking and good disabled access. This is easily reached, lying just 1 mile south of the Leeds Outer Ring Road (A6120) at the junction with the A660. Beware speed cameras! The Fisherman’s Wife (Bryan’s as was) Fish and Chip shop nearby provides both take-away and restaurant facilities.

    Click here for a Google map showing St. Chad’s Parish Centre (opens in a new tab):

    Our Membership Secretaries, Bob and Di Dark, welcome everyone just inside the Main Hall.

    Bob and Di can also be contacted by phone: 01430 626482 or email:

    Subscription: £15.00. Vistors £2.00. Annual membership runs from September.

  • Programme

    Saxifraga oppositifolia ‘Theoden’

    9th February 2019     Frank Hoyle
    A taste of Colorado
    Frank’s talk is about a visit to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and some of the plants he found there.

    9th March 2019     Eric Rainford
    Buried treasures in Latvia
    Eric, from our local Group, will talk about the visit that he and a few other members made to Janis Ruksans’s specialist bulb nursery in Latvia. Janis Ruksans is the author of books such as ‘The World of Crocuses’.

    13th April 2019     Derek Spicer
    Conifers – new, unusual, colourful, dwarf
    Derek is a respected grower of conifers and co-author of ‘The Encyclopaedia of Conifers’ from the RHS. He has a large conifer nursery in Leicestershire and has been an AGS member for several decades. Derek will tell us about new and unusual conifers, including dwarf ones.

    11th May 2019
    Local Group AGM, Group Show & short talk by a Group member.

    8th June 2019, Saturday
    York Gate Garden visit, 2pm

    15th June 2019, Saturday
    An all-day field trip visiting three nature reserves (Ledston Luck, Townclose Hills and Ledsham Bank). Coordinated by local group member Charlie Philpotts.


    14th September 2019     Drs Ian & Carole Bainbridge
    Modern rock gardening
    Ian and Carole are very involved in the Scottish Rock Garden Club for which they have run the seed exchange, been Show Secretaries and Presidents. They live in Galloway where they have an alpine garden open to the public by arrangement. They have travelled extensively studying alpines and alpine gardening.

    12th October 2019, Saturday     AGS Harlow Carr Show (national show)

    13th October 2019, Sunday     AGS West Yorkshire Group Local Show (at Harlow Carr)

    19th October 2019     Jo Walker
    (Note this meeting is one week later than usual.)
    New Zealand South Island Top to Bottom with the AGS
    Jo and Brian Walker, from the West Midlands, have a very large alpine garden with a huge number of alpine troughs. They hold open garden days for the West Midlands group and are are AGS judges. They have travelled extensively around the world and have a wealth of knowledge on alpines.

    9th November 2019     Neil Huntley
    Neil runs Hartside Nursery in Cumbria with his wife, Sue. The nursery attends many alpine shows. Neil has specialist knowledge of alpines including primulas, gentians, dwarf rhododendrons, roscoeas and hardy ferns.

    14th December 2019     Mincepies and members’ photographs

    11th January 2020    Robert Rolfe
    Some favourite genera – from Androsace to Viola
    Robert has a tremendous knowledge about growing alpines and about which he has written books and many articles. He has had great success showing plants at alpine shows and has travelled widely to see plants in the wild. He is an excellent photographer.

    8th February 2020 Tony Willis
    Tony returns from Lancashire to give us a talk on a visit he made to Macedonia.

    14th March 2020     Tommy Tonsberg
    Growing alpines and woodland plants in Norway
    Tommy, from Norway, is an gardening magazine editor, photographer and radio broadcaster. He has written four gardening books and runs a small nursery and open garden near Oslo.

    18 April 2020    Ben Preston
    (Note, due to Easter, this meeting is one week later than usual.) MEETING SUSPENDED
    York Gate through the seasons
    Ben, Head Gardener at York Gate Garden, will talk about the garden and how it changes through the year.

    9th May 2020
    AGM, Group Show & short talk by a Group member

    12 September 2020     Brian Burrow
    Growing and propagating alpines in the North of England
    Brian, former nursery owner, author, plant breeder and lecturer returns to us to pass on some of his wealth of experience with alpines.


    Androsace sempervivoides ‘Susan Joan’

  • Keeping in touch

    To help us keep in touch amid the coronavirus outbreak, Charlie Philpotts is aiming to produce occasional Garden Diaries and Interim Newsletters. These will be emailed or posted to members. He would be pleased to receive photographs of your own garden or plants (with a caption) or short written piece about something to do with your gardening. Some contributions will only appear in this part of the website, including a sort of Spring Show alternative (see below).

    Garden Diary
    Click here to open a copy of Garden Diary Number 1:

    Click here to open a copy of Garden Diary Number 2:

    Click here to open a copy of Garden Diary Number 3:


    From Bob & Di Dark (23rd March 2020)
    Here are a couple from us, first one taken last month, the other a couple of days ago.

    A corner of the front garden. I shall shortly be dividing spreading the snowdrop (and giving some to a friend who has only doubles in her garden).

    Haven’t taken a pic from here before, looking across the front garden.

    Derek Spicer
    We heard the sad news that Derek Spicer has died. He gave us his talk on conifers almost exactly a year ago, in April 2019. It sounds like he had had a recent serious operation and his death wasn’t coronavirus related. Below is the Picea glauca Di got from him last year.


    Plants that I may have entered into the Spring Show

    Please try to send Charlie photographs of plants that you might have brought along to our local Spring Show on May 9th. These photographs will go below. Don’t take the show date too literally – plants a month or so either side of the date would be good. Photographs to show plants in a pot and taken this year..

    From Di and Bob Dark

    Primula ‘Lindum ‘Celebration’

    Primula ‘Clarence Elliott’

    Bellevalia forniculata

    Lewisia tweedyi ‘Rosea’

    Cyclamen coum

    Iris suaveolens

    Androsace studiororum

    Primula ‘Fred Salter’

    Lewisia ‘Carousel Yellow’

    Draba mollisima

    Lewisia nevardensis

    Lewisia cotyledon

    Ornithogalum sigmoideum

    Pan with Erigeron scopulinus



    From Eric Rainford

    Daphne x susannae ‘Cheriton’

    Cyclamen persicum, sown 2011

    Saxifraga pentadactylis. From wild seed collected from Sierra Cantabrica (at 1900m) in Spain in 2014.

    From Michael Wilson

    Lewisia tweedyi


    From Charlie Philpotts

    Cypripedium ‘Sunny’

    Cypripedium ‘Sunny’


    From Ian and Georgina Instone

    Narcissus bulbocodium

    Narcissus bulbocodium white petticoat

    Narcissus rupicola

    Lewsisia cotyledon

    Hepatica nobilis

    Hepatica majalis

    Helichrysum corraloides

    Hacquestia epipactis

    Gypsophila aretioidea Caucasica

    Fritillaria uva vulpis

    Scilla bifolia

    Draba cappadocica

    Draba ‘John Saxton’

    Dianthus ‘Pirrin’

    Cyclamen coum, silver-leaved form

    Corydalis malkensis

    Corydalis solida ‘George Baker’

    Arenaria alfacarensis

    Androsace sempervivoides ‘Susan Joan’

    Androsace himalaica

    Androsace carnea x pyrenaica

    Trillium rivale

    Trillium kurabayashii

    Techophilaea cyanocrocus

    Soldanella ‘Spring Symphony’

    Sebaea thomasii ‘Bychan’

    Scilla libanotica

    Saxifraga ‘Karel Capek’

    Saxifraga grisebachii

    Primula ‘Tony’

    Primula ‘Netta Dennis’

    Primula marginata

    Primula ‘Ingwersen’s A’

    Primula griffithii

    Primula frondosa

    Primula elatior

    Primula ‘Broadwell Milkmaid’

    Primula auricula

    Polygala chamaebuxus grandiflora

    Leptinella squalida ‘Platt’s Black’

    Iris bucharica

    Jeffersonia dubia

    Pulsatilla caucasica

    Oxalis enneaphylla

    Lewisia cotyledon

    Iris suaveolens

    Draba longisiliqua


    Dionysia involucrata

    Acis nicaeensis

    Trillium albidum

    Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Flora Plena’

    Salix myrtilloides ‘Red Tassels’

    Ranunculus montanus ‘Molten Gold’

    Pulsatilla vulgaris Alba

    Primula reidii

    Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’

    Pleione formosa

    Primula siebaldii, dark pink form

    Primula siebaldii

    Ranunculus parnassifolia

    Rhododendron ‘Night Sky’

    Trillium sulcatum

    Fritillaria pontica

    Iris cristata

    Lewisia columbiana

    Orostachys spinosa

    Ozothamnus selago

    Lewisia columbiana

    Lewisia ‘George Henley’

    Muscari comosum

    Physoplexis comosa

    Rhododendron ‘Arctic Tern’

    Saxifraga ‘Anneke Hope’

    Scilla verna

    Allium karatvience

    Aster soulii

    Dactylorhizza maculata

    Haberlea rhodopensis

    Jovibarba heufelii

  • Shows

    AGS West Yorkshire Group Spring Show

    Date: Saturday May 9th 2020. CANCELLED

    The West Yorkshire Group Spring Show will take place at St Chad’s. Entries are very welcome from any member. The AGM will also take place on this Saturday and there will be a short talk by (tbc).

    Spring show schedule 2019 (2020 schedule still to be published):

    Spring Show, 2018 (photo Di Dark)


    AGS Harlow Carr Show

    The 2020 Harlow Carr Show is CANCELLED.

    RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, HG3 1QB

    Show bench AGS Harlow Carr Show, 2018 (photo Di Dark)


    AGS West Yorkshire Group Autumn Show

    Date: Sunday October 13th 2019
    RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, HG3 1QB

    Judging the Autumn Show, 2018 with Georgina, Ian, Eric & Trevor (photo Di Dark)

    The local West Yorkshire group of the AGS are holding their Autumn Show and members plant sales from 12 to 4 pm at Harlow Carr Gardens, Harrogate. Staging is open from 11 am and must be completed by [tba]. Exhibitors must be members of the AGS West Yorshire local group for some sections but members of any AGS local group can enter other sections.

    Entry is free to the show (normal entry fees to Harlow Carr Gardens apply). AGS West Yorkshire Group members have free entry to Harlow Carr Gardens, on this day only, upon presenting their AGS West Yorkshire Group membership card.

  • Photo gallery

    Photographs from the display table

    Crocus thirkeasus (syn. C. herbertii)
    Crocus thirkeanus (syn. C. herbertii) – Eric Rainford (photo Matthew Childs)


    Petrocosmea cryptica – Ian Instone (photo Matthew Childs)



    AGS Harlow Carr Show

    Alan Newton, Norma Pagdin, Lawrence Peet & Bob Dark, 2017 (photo Di Dark)


    Gentian, 2017 (photo Di Dark)



    AGS West Yorkshire Autumn Show

    Best Plant in Show Gaultheria procumbens – Ian Instone, 2018 (photo Di Dark)


    Plant stall with Fred Bundy, David Woolveridge & Michael Wilson, 2018 (photo Di Dark)



    AGS West Yorkshire Spring Show

    Primula sieboldii, 2017


    Erigeron aureus ‘Canary Bird’ – Matthew Childs, 2017



    Harrogate Spring Flower Show, 2018

    The AGS exhibit of alpines from different continents made by the West Yorkshire Group and Cleveland Groups (photo Ian Instone)

  • Newsletter

  • Links


    Grit sand
    Several of our members find that the ‘Horticultural Sharp Sand’ from Deco-Pak (Chelsea Garden Range) is excellent. It is markedly grittier than most sharp sands/grit sands but the particle size is considerably smaller than alpine/horticultural grit. The product is a good pinky colour. At around 18.5kg, the bags are a bit smaller than is usual. It is available from Lumby Garden Centre, Leeds/Selby Rd, South Milford LS25 5LE. Tel. 01977 682815.
    The price is £4.99 per bag or £3.99 with the buy-four-get-one-free deal (Spring 2017).

    This Deco-Pak Horticultural Sharp Sand is also available from Daleside Nurseries Ltd at Killinghall near Harrogate The price is is £4.49 per bag (Summer 2017).

    Keith Singleton’s John Innes
    This is a top quality John Innes that isn’t widely available. Stocked by Swincar Nurseries, Guisley, LS20 9DL. Tel. 01943 874614. JI2 is normally only available Jan-May. It’s worth a phone call to this very helpful nursery owner to check for special ordering. Price £4.95/33 litre bag (as at Jan 2016).

    Download this pdf for an article by Paul Cumbleton about choosing John Innes composts and some comments about Keith Singleton’s John Innes: Choosing a Potting Compost by Paul Cumbleton (2016)

    Miniature conifers
    Daleside Nursery at Killinghall near Harrogate has a wide selection of miniature conifers. A list (dated 2017) of them can be downloaded here:

    These conifers are supplied to the nursery by Derek Spicer, respected grower and co-author of The Encyclopaedia of Conifers. Derek’s wholesale nursery is about 25 miles south of Shepshed in Leicestershire. Anyone wishing to visit will be welcomed providing they contact the nursery beforehand. Shepshed is the new venue for what used to be the AGS Loughborugh Show. (John Stone)



    Dryad Nursery (Anne Wright’s site):

    Slack Top:

    The Alpine Plant Centre:

    Mendle Nursery:

    Aberconwy Nursery: (with latest Plant List available as a pdf):

    Hartside Nursery Garden:

    Other websites

    York Gate Garden:

    Lawrence Peet Alpines:

    Parcevall Hall Gardens:

    Wakefield & North of England Tulip Society (holds an annual show in May at Horbury, Wakefield):

  • Committee

    Committee officers 2018 -2019

    Chair Eric Rainford
    Secretary Anne Wright
    Membership Secretaries Bob & Di Dark
    Programme Secretary Matthew Childs
    Treasurer Sonya Walker
    AGS Harlow Carr Show Ian & Georgina Instone


  • Contact

    Contact Anne Wright for more information:
    01423 358791