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A successful second AGS Young Person’s Weekend

June 21, 2023
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Over 30 participants learned about alpine plants during visits to nature reserves, nurseries and gardens and by taking part in a crevice garden-building workshop. This year the event has been made possible by the financial support from the Hendry Fund and a SRGC sponsorship

The AGS Young Person’s Weekend aims to bring together the next generation of alpine enthusiasts. Gardeners, students, writers and horticulturists were all part of the venture which welcomed amateurs and professionals who shared an interest and passion for alpine plants and their natural environments. As a registered charity, the AGS funds education, cultivation and conservation projects across the UK and abroad.

The first Young Person’s Conference generated a lot of interest in this year’s event. Successful applicants included a garden writer, a Norwegian nurseryman and author, AGS & SRGC members, professional horticulturists working at RBG Kew, RBG Edinburgh, the National Botanic Garden of Wales, RHS Harlow Carr, RHS Rosemoor, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, the Botanical Garden in Utrecht and our very own AGS Trainee.

Where to start? I've just had the most wonderful weekend hosted by the AGS exploring the most incredible wild areas in the Lake District. Thank you to all the amazing people I got to experience this with. I've learnt so much and enjoyed every single minute. Elinor

AGS Young Person's Weekend 2023

Evening walk to Red Tarn near Helvellyn

Trips to nature reserves on the AGS Young Person’s Weekend

The event started on Thursday evening with a walk to Red Tarn, led by David Morris. David is the current President of the AGS and also area operations manager for the RSPB across Cumbria and Northeast England. The walk gave us the chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery near our base, YHA Helvellyn.


AGS Young Person's weekend

David Morris talks about conservation at Haweswater

The next day, the group went on guided tours of Naddle Farm, Mardale Mountain Meadow and Swindale Hay Meadows, which are sites managed by the RSPB. Author and site manager Lee Schofield, nursery manager Jo Chamberlain and David Morris presented the conservation work performed at Haweswater Reserve by the the RSPB and its partners, AGS and United Utilities.

It was amazing to see how the vegetation recovers after the pressure from grazing is removed. Grass monoculture soon leaves space for a more diverse vegetation with benefits to carbon sequestration and habitat diversity. Luigi

Garden visits

Glenn Shapiro is an AGS member and Plant Heritage National Collection Coordinator for Cumbria. Glenn opened her garden in Silverdale for our group on Saturday morning. Participants learned how she built the rock garden and about her passion for Hepatica which is a genus of spring-flowering woodlanders from across the Northern Hemisphere for which Glenn is a National Collection holder. Participants were able to learn practical aspects of how to grow Hepaticas and were able to buy spare plants. (click on images to enlarge).

Glenn gracefully and humbly shared a wealth of knowledge on the cultivation of Hepatica after sharing her beautiful garden with us. Emily

Summerdale Garden Nursery

After a short drive from Silverdale, the group arrived at Summerdale Garden Nursery, where owners Gail and David Sheals talked about their Primula collection and kindly offered us tea, coffee and cakes.

AGS Young Person's Weekend on a visit to Summerdale Garden Nursery

Gail and David Sheals talk about the Summerdale Garden Nursery Primula collection

It was an afternoon treat to visit Summerdale Nursery who specialise in Primula auricula and to visit their garden full of vistas and outdoor rooms to discover. Aaron

Days are long and warm in June and with time to spare, the group was led by David Morris to several sites near Orton. After a brief but tasty visit to Kennedys Fine Chocolates we were able to botanise along SSSI road verges and in wet meadows on the moors. Several species of wild orchids were observed and we found a couple of examples of schwingmoor communities. These ‘quaking bogs’ are among the rarest habitats in the UK. They are formed when mosses (Sphagnum in particular) grow as a thick blanket over acidic water. The moss is anchored by roots of grasses, sedge, perennials and even small shrubs like willows.

We had an epic weekend of botanising, garden and nursery visits and even wild swimming during the AGS Young Person's Weekend in the beautiful Lake District, England. Thanks also go to SRGC for supporting this event. Kirsty

The AGS Young Person’s Weekend 2023 ends at Hartside Nursery

Aspects of horticulture were a feature of Sunday’s visit to Hartside Nursery where the owners Neil and Sue Huntley welcomed the group. In the garden, Ian and Carole Bainbridge delivered a hands-on workshop about building a crevice garden. Neil showed us around the nursery and talked about the positives and negatives of running a business selling plants. One of their nursery’s specialities is Roscoeas and Neil kindly gave away many seedlings left over from his breeding programme, making many of us extremely happy.

The AGS would like to thank the various hosts of all the weekend activities and also all who took part and shared their love of alpines, rock gardens and mountain habitats. We hope to continue organising similar events. If you want to take part, make sure to follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter.