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April 2008 Visit to Spetchley Park

Spetchley and Park Gardens: Spetchley written in Domesday Book as "Speclea" and in the pre-Domesday period known as "Spaecleahtun", in the 16th century the name "Spechesley " was used, it is a parish which encompasses White Ladies Aston and Churchill and consists of few properties and has a present population of around 90, in the early 1920s it was approximately 125, it lies 3 miles east of Worcester and can be reached via the A422 Worcester to Stratford upon Avon Road.

Spetchley House Park and Gardens

Once boasting a Post Office and a Blacksmiths these facilities have now gone. An important and popular attraction to visitors is Spetchley Park Gardens, created in extensive grounds they have the distinction of being one of the first three gardens opened under the national garden scheme in 1924, they are considered to be some of the finest examples of late Victorian times.

Visitors will see Magnolias, Hydrangeas, Crocus, Narcissus, Tulips, Cytisus Battander, Olives, double flowering Pomegranate as well as climbing hydrangeas, wisteria, Chinese Gooseberry, tree paeonies, camelias, this is to name just a few of the many fine examples to be seen in the gardens, in fact there is something for all seasons, the love of the gardens and gardening by members of the Berkeley family is evident and it appears to be a trait inherited from their forbears.

website link:www.spetchleygardens.co.uk

*Please click the photo above to access a photo slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Spetchley and Park Gardens in April 2008

Photographs were taken by Nita Fenton, Dorothy Witcomb & Terry Williams.

May 2008 Visit to Chelsea Flower Show and 
RHS Gardens Wisley

Chelsea Flower Show
: Every year, for five days in May, the grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, are transformed into the fabulous show gardens, inspirational small gardens and vibrant horticultural displays that make up the world’s most famous flower show.

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is the first event of the summer season and showcases the finest examples of horticultural excellence, created by the best garden designers, plantsmen and plantswomen. It sets the latest gardening trends, is plant breeders favourite place to launch new plants and features the newest and most desirable gardening products.

photo: Chelsea Flower Show

Designers from across the globe apply to create show gardens and, with a limited number of spaces, only very special designs make it to the show. A committee of horticultural experts meet three times to assess the applications before selecting around 20 show gardens, which will create the impact and spectacle that Chelsea is renowned for.
The smaller gardens, which often act as a platform for up and coming designers, are split into four different categories - the stylish and bold chic gardens, courtyard gardens, which are for rural or semi-rural settings, roof gardens and city gardens, which are sanctuaries for urban dwellers.

Within the Great Pavilion - the centre-piece of the show - more than 100 floral displays create a vision of colours and textures and an explosion of scents. Specialist nurseries and leading exhibitors from all over the world go to great lengths to ensure their blooms are at their very best for show week.

On top of all this, visitors can pick up a wide range of gardening accessories, and many new gardening products make their debut at the show. Those wishing to learn and discover some of the latest scientific developments in horticulture must see the Lifelong Learning exhibits within the Great Pavilion. The latest trends in floral art and floristry can also be seen at the show.

Visit the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and experience the wonder of the greatest flower show on earth

Slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Chelsea Flower Show in May 2008

*Please click the photo above to access a photo slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Chelsea Flower Show in May 2008

Photos taken by Glenice Dallow, Nita Fenton, Marillyn John & Terry Williams

RHS Gardens Wisley: The Royal Horticultural Society was given Wisley in 1903, although at that time only a small part of the 24-ha (60-acre) estate was actually cultivated as a garden, the remainder being wooded farmland. The original garden was the creation of George Ferguson Wilson - businessman, scientist, inventor and keen gardener and a former Treasurer of the Society. In 1878 he purchased the site and established the 'Oakwood experimental garden', with the idea of making 'difficult plants grow successfully'. The garden acquired a reputation for its collections of lilies, gentians, Japanese irises, primulas and water plants. The present Wild Garden at Wisley is the direct descendant of Oakwood and despite changes is still true to the original concept.

photo: The Canal at Gardens Wisley

After Wilson's death in 1902, Oakwood and the adjoining Glebe Farm were bought by Sir Thomas Hanbury, a wealthy Quaker who had founded the celebrated garden of La Mortola, on the Italian Riviera. In 1903, Sir Thomas presented the Wisley estate in trust to the Society for its perpetual use.

Nothing could have been more providential in the circumstances. For at least 30 years, the Society had been seeking a larger garden 'beyond the radius of the London smoke', to replace the garden at Chiswick which it had leased since 1822. It was also committed to building a new exhibition hall and offices in Vincent Square (and the construction work had already started).

Both projects were seen as a fitting way to celebrate the Society's forthcoming centenary in 1904 but there were heated arguments among the Fellows over which should have priority for the available funds. Sir Thomas' generous donation solved both these problems at a stroke. By May 1904, the move from Chiswick to Wisley was complete and, in July, the new headquarters at Vincent Square was officially opened by King Edward VII - both in time to mark the centenary.

While Wisley was taking shape as an ornamental garden, its educational and scientific roles were never forgotten. A small laboratory was opened and the School of Horticulture founded to instruct young people in the principles of horticulture and prepare them for careers as professional gardeners.

Many leading horticulturists have benefited from the School of Horticulture including Robert Fortune, one of the great plant hunters and Joseph Paxton who was later knighted for designing the Crystal Palace.

Following the move to Wisley the trials of flowers, vegetables and fruit - an important part of the Society's work since 1860 - were resumed and expanded. The trials 'epitomise...the Society's endeavour to show to the public the best kinds of plants to grow' and remain one of the principal objects of the garden. That combination of learning with pleasure is the essence of Wisley.

Website link: RHS Gardens Wisley

*Please click the photo above to access a photo slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to RHS Gardens Wisley in May 2008

Photos taken by Adrian and Glenice Dallow, Nita Fenton, Marillyn John,
Dorothy Witcomb & Terry Williams

June 2008 Visit to Hergest Croft Gardens

Hergest Croft Gardens: Four distinct gardens extend over 50 acres, with over 4000 rare shrubs and trees. Described as 'one of the finest collections of trees and shrubs in Britain', the gardens are sure to delight everyone.


Photo: Hergest Croft Gardens
The Kitchen Garden contains an avenue of ancient apple trees over a riot of bulbs in spring, with magnificent 120 foot double herbaceous borders, an old-fashioned rose garden as well as a traditional fruit and vegetable garden.

The Edwardian House is surrounded by many special plants, including magnolias, cherries and hydrangeas. The croquet lawn is enclosed by tall yew hedges containing vases of sweetly scented lilies in summer.

The Azalea Garden
is dominated by a massive avenue of cedars, with spectacular azaleas shaded by many of the magnificent birches that form part of the National Collections held at Hergest Croft. The Maple Grove, started in 1985 contains many new plants introduced from China and elsewhere.

Park Wood
, in a secluded valley hidden deep within an ancient oak wood, many giant rhododendrons and exotic trees, create a Himalayan scene that will surprise and amaze you.

Website link: Hergest Croft Gardens


Slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Hergest Croft Gardens in June 2008

*Please click the photo above to access a photo slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Hergest Croft Gardens in June 2008

Photographs were taken by Glenice Dallow and Terry Williams.


July 2008 Visit to Barrington Court Gardens


Beautiful Jekyll-inspired gardens, working kitchen garden and Tudor manor house let to Stuart Interiors
  • Elegant formal gardens influenced by Gertrude Jekyll
  • Colourful layout in a series of 'rooms'
  • Arboretum with vivid golden hues in autumn
  • Kitchen garden produce used in the restaurant
  • Stuart Interiors furniture showroom in the Manor House
  • Centenary exhibition 'the house that nearly died' open until the end of 2007


Slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Barrington Court in July 2008

*Please click the photo above to access a photo slideshow of our Gardening Group visit to Barrington Court in July 2008

Photographs were taken by David Evans, Nita Fenton and Marillyn John.

August 2008 Holiday to Brussels to carpet of Flowers
staying in Bruges

All photos in the Slideshows photos were taken by Jennifer King,
Terry Williams, Glenice and Adrian Dallow

Brussels Flower Carpet:
As if the Grand Place - one of the world's most beautiful squares - was not spectacular enough, every two years the Belgians cover it with a carpet of flowers.

The enterprise involves considerable time and effort, when you think that over 300 square metres have to be covered with a massive 800,000 fresh begonias. The blooms then have to be kept fresh for four days in the scorching August heat, helped by the addition of fountains within the pattern of the carpet.
*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of the Carpet of Flowers

The end result, however, is well worth it. The multicoloured carpet forms a stunning centrepiece to the square, often including scenes from Belgian folklore and myth amongst its intricate designs.

Fireworks and a sound-and-light show launch the display on the preceding night, while those who want a better view can pay a small fee to take a look from the first floor of the town hall.

: is known as "Venice of North", it is a beautiful medieval city, interlaced with canals. The historic Market square has been the heart of Bruges since the 12th century. The guild houses which surround the square are now restaurants, and there is a bronze statue in the centre of the square depicting Bruges' heroes Jan Breydel and Pieter de Coninck. Dominating the square is the 13th century Halle (covered market) and its Belfry, climb to the top of the Belfry for fantastic views across Bruges.

photo: Belfry of Bruges

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to Bruges and Brussels

The belfry of Bruges is a medieval bell tower in the historical center of Bruges, Belgium. One of the city's most prominent symbols, the belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other danger. A narrow, steep staircase of 366 steps, accessible by the public for an entry fee, leads to the top of the 83-meter-high building, which leans about a meter to the east.

The belfry was added to the main market square around 1240, when Bruges was prospering as an important center of the Flemish cloth industry. After a devastating fire in 1280, the tower was largely rebuilt. The city archives, however, were forever lost to the flames.

The octagonal upper stage of the belfry was added between 1482 to 1486, and capped with a wooden spire bearing an image of Saint Michael, banner in hand and dragon underfoot. The spire did not last long: a lightning strike in 1493 reduced it to ashes, and destroyed the bells as well. A wooden spire crowned the summit again for some two-and-a-half centuries, before it, too, fell victim to flames in 1741. The spire was never replaced again, thus making the current height of the building somewhat lower than in the past; but an openwork stone parapet in Gothic style was added to the rooftop in 1822.

The Last Post Ceremony, Ieper — Menin Gate

*please click the image below to access a photo slideshow of our visit to Ieper, the Menin Gate ceremony and Hooge Crater Cemetery and Museum

Every night at 8.00pm (20:00 hours) a moving ceremony takes place under the Menin Gate in Ieper.

Some evenings, particularly in summer, there are large crowds of visitors. At other times, on a weekday or in winter, the pavements under the memorial can be empty - though that is becoming rare now. In any case, every evening the busy road through the memorial is closed to traffic shortly before the ceremony.

Just before 8 o'clock the Buglers stand ready. The traffic is stopped from passing through the Gate and the Buglers then make their way to stand in the centre of the Hall of Memory at the eastern entrance of the Menin Gate Memorial.

u8 For a few moments the noise of traffic ceases and a stillness descends over the memorial. At exactly 20:00 hours up to six members of the regular buglers from the local volunteer Fire Brigade step into the roadway under the memorial arch. They play Last Post, followed by a short silence and then play Reveille.

On some occasions the ceremony may be extended. Visiting individuals and groups may lay a wreath and there may be music by bands, choirs, orchestras, or a parade by Standards and military personnel.

The Last Post Ceremony has become part of the daily life in Ieper (Ypres) and the local people are proud of this simple but moving tribute to the courage and self-sacrifice of those who fell in defence of their town.

Hooge Crater Cemetery and Museum is 4 kilometres east of Ieper town centre. Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting throughout the First World War. There are now 5,924 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 3,578 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials record the names of a number of casualties either known or believed to be buried among them, or whose graves in other cemeteries were destroyed by shell fire.


The Eden Project Cornwall

The first architect involved was Cornishman Jonathan Ball, who worked with Tim as co-founder of the Project to bring the idea to physical reality, and then passed the baton to Nicholas – now Sir Nicholas – Grimshaw.

photo: The Eden Project

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
the Eden Project

Two construction companies, Sir Robert and Alfred McAlpine, worked for 18 months without payment or contract (something neither had done in their respective 175-year histories) and then, for good measure, agreed to loan Eden a significant sum only to be repaid if the Project was successful.

Eden's Visitor Centre opened to the public in May 2000 and the full site in March 2001. Since then we have seen nearly seven million visitors come through the doors and have witnessed the opening of The Core, our new education centre that Tim Smit called "the finest modern building in the world".

Eden has played host to huge, world-renowned events such as Live 8 Africa Calling and the Eden Sessions (outdoor summer gigs featuring acts as a diverse as Moby, Keane, Basement Jaxx and Brian Wilson) and wows audiences with its themed seasons such as Bulb Mania in the spring, A Time of Gifts in the winter and Jungle Nights in the summer.

Eden, however, like its plants, is always growing and will continue to develop and change. Next in the pipeline is The Edge, but plenty more is planned.

Website link: www.edenproject.com/

The Lost Gardens of Heligan

These gardens, near Mevagissy in Cornwall, have been restored and well marketed by Tim Smit. They have had a four part TV series on channel 4 in 1997, there is a best selling book on the "Heligan story", and there have been countless newspaper articles.

Heligan, seat of the Tremayne family for more than 400 years, is one of the most mysterious estates in England. At the end of the nineteenth century its thousand acres were at their zenith, but only a few years later bramble and ivy were already drawing a green veil over this "Sleeping Beauty". After decades of neglect, the devastating hurricane of 1990 should have consigned the Lost Gardens of Heligan to a footnote in history.

photo: The Lost Gardens of Heligan

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
Lost Gardens of Heligan

Instead, events conspired to bring us here and the romance of their decay took a hold on our imaginations.

Our discovery of a tiny room, buried under fallen masonry in the corner of one of the walled gardens, was to unlock the secret of their demise.

A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads "Don’t come here to sleep or slumber" with the names of those who worked there signed under the date - August 1914.

We were fired by a magnificent obsession to bring these once glorious gardens back to life in every sense and to tell, for the first time, not tales of lords and ladies but of those "ordinary" people who had made these gardens great, before departing for the Great War.

Heligan has now established a large working team with its own vision for our second decade. The award-winning garden restoration is already internationally acclaimed; but our lease now extends into well over 100 acres of the wider estate, leaving the project far from complete.

We intend Heligan to remain a living and working example of the best of past practice, offering public access into the heart of what we do.

Website link: www.heligan.com

Trebah the garden of dreams:

A garden for all seasons, with year round colour and scent. It has something for everyone with children's activities, special events, The Gallery Shop, Planters Café, and Garden Shops.

Photo: Trebah the garden of dreams

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
Trebah the garden of dreams
One of the 'Great Gardens of Cornwall' and part of the 'Eden Trail' is rated among the 80 most beautiful gardens in the world. This lovely wild sub-tropical ravine paradise winds through huge plantations of 100 year old giant tree ferns, rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias, palms and 2 acres of massed hydrangeas to the private beach on the Helford River.

The Gardens
: The steeply wooded ravine garden falls 200 feet to the Helford River. A stream cascades over waterfalls through colourful water gardens and ponds of Koi Carp, and winds through two acres of blue and white hydrangears before spilling out over the private beach. Glades of huge subtropical tree ferns, palms and 18 foot high Gunnera mingle with a multitude of trees, shrubs and 100 year old rhododendrons to give Trebah vistas of ever changing year-round colour and scent.

History of The Gardens
: The garden was planted in the 1840's by Charles Fox. By the 1930's it had acquired a unique collection of the rarest and most exotic plants gathered from all over the world.

In 1939 the estate was sold and suffered from 40 years of neglect. The Hibbert family bought Trebah in 1980, and began a massive restoration and replanting programme. They opened it to the public in 1987, and in 1990 donated it to the Trebah Garden Trust, a registered charity, to ensure that it will remain open for everyone forever.

Website link: www.trebah-garden.co.uk


Mevagissey: (Cornish: Lannvorek)

A village and fishing port situated six miles south of St Austell in Cornwall. In recent years tourism has passed fishing as the dominant industry in the village.

Mevagissey harbour

photo: Mevagissey harbour

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
Not too brilliant a day at Mevagissey Harbour as you can see we were trying to keep out of the rain by drinking coffee, watching the world go by, mostly our U3A members and occasionally popping out for an ice cream

The village nestles in a small valley near the centre of east-facing Mevagissey Bay. The inner and outer harbours are busy with a mixture of pleasure vessels and working fishing boats, the remains of a once major industry.

The old centre consists of very narrow, picturesque streets with a wide choice of places to eat and shops aimed at the tourist trade. The outer, newer parts are mostly residential and built on the steep slopes of the surrounding hillsides.

website link: www.mevagisseyonline.co.uk


Visit to Malvern Flower Show SATURDAY

Visit to Malvern Flower Show

Malvern Spring Gardening Show

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
Malvern Flower Show

The finest and friendliest gardening event of the year!
In its beautiful setting at the foot of the scenic Malvern Hills, this truly inspirational show enjoys a national reputation as the finest and friendliest gardening event of the year.

A joint venture of the Three Counties Agricultural Society and the Royal Horticultural Society, the event attracted 100,000 visitors in 2006, from all over Britain and beyond, and has a demographic profile of 84% ABC1.

Those who know the Show and its wonderful location will understand what makes it such a favourite with gardeners of all ages and expertise. It is widely acknowledged as one of the top big events on the horticultural calendar, renowned for the quality of its exhibits and high numbers of RHS Gold Medal honours!

Website link: Malvern Spring Gardening Show


Visit to RHS Gardens Rosemoor

Visit to RHS Gardens Rosemoor

photo: The colourful Rosemoor woods

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to Rosemoor Gardens

The story of the RHS Garden Rosemoor begins for us in 1959 when Lady Anne Berry (Lady Anne Palmer) caught measles from her children and, while recuperating in Spain, met the noted plantsman Collingwood Ingram. He invited her to visit his garden on her return to England and encouraged her to return to Rosemoor with a few of his plants to start a garden of her own.

Lady Anne's Garden, as the original garden of Rosemoor is now known, is a plantsman's garden and is of great horticultural and botanical interest. Inspired by the enthusiasm of plantsman Collingwood Ingram, the garden development continued with the planting of specimens collected by Lady Anne on her travels all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Japan, the USA and temperate South America. All the new introductions have been carefully labelled and their origin documented to provide the collection with its fascinating history.

Website link: Royal Horticultural Society/Rosemoor

Visit to Snowshill Manor and Snowshill Lavender Farm

slideshow of our visit to Snowshill Manor and Snowshill Lavender Farm

photo: Snowshill Manor

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to Snowshill Manor and Snowshill Lavender Farm

Snowshill Manor The treasure house of the Cotswolds, once described as 'a house for the evening hours, surely the loveliest spell of the day', Snowshill Manor is a typical, traditional Cotswold house, built of golden yellow local stone and set on a hillside above the Vale of Evesham. The Manor holds one of the most remarkable collections that the National Trust maintains and is surrounded by an intriguing and intimate garden.

Website link: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Snowshill Lavender Farm

We are a third generation family farm set in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold Hills. The lavender plant loves our free draining limestone soils 1,000 feet above sea level giving the best growing conditions for the highest quality English Lavender Essential oil. Our crops are steam distilled on the farm and made into our unique range of lavender toiletries including Soap, Shower gel, Bath oil, Balms and many more Lavender Gifts.

Website link: http://www.snowshill-lavender.co.uk/cm/

Burford House and Gardens, The Picton Garden

13th September 2007: Visit to Burford House and Gardens (home of the national collection of Clematis)plus The Picton Garden, Colwall (holders of the National Collection of Michaelmas Daisies)


Slideshow of our visit to  Burford House

photo: Burford House and Gardens

Website link: Burford House and Gardens

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to
Burford House

Slideshow of our visit to The Picton Garden

photo: Picton Gardens

Website link: Picton Gardens

*please click the image above to access a photo slideshow of our visit to The Picton Garden

21st April 2006 Holiday to Dutch Bulb Fields

The Group set out early on Friday, 21 April for a 6-day coach tour to Holland. Soon after 7 a.m. we were heading out of Portskewett with 43 on board. Our driver for the trip, Glyn, who several knew from previous overseas trips - could be likened to Les Dawson not only from his build but also his jokes about his wife and mother-in-law. A break at Reading Services, then Folkestone, train through the "Chunnel" and we were in France. The drive to Zeist (just east of Utrecht) passed very smoothly travelling around Antwerp and the Kennedy Tunnel. After a speedy check-in at the Golden Tulip Hotel Figi we were soon up to our very comfortable rooms to get ready for dinner.

photo: Amsterdam with its bicycles.

*Click the photograph above to access a slide show of the 21st April 2006 Holiday to Dutch Bulb Fields
Next day we set-off in the coach to see the Annual Flower Parade only to find we are not the only country with a traffic problem. The procession had over an hour lunch break at Sassenheim so some of us took the opportunity to view and photograph the spectacular floats whilst they were stationary. At 2 o'clock the procession set off again down the main street, which was now deep with people on both sides. It was a marvellous spectacle with all the colours of the flowers plus the marching bands, majorettes, etc..

Sunday saw us all on the coach again to travel to Lisse to visit the famous Keukenhof Gardens only to find Sunday morning traffic around Utrecht was just as bad as any weekday and caused Glyn to come out with his favourite expression "Happy Days"! Glyn was not to be beaten by the Dutch drivers and before we knew it he had turned off the motorway and was taking his 50-seater coach up a narrow road on an embankment alongside one of the many waterways. Luckily most of the other traffic was bicycles but even these were difficult to pass which gives some idea of the width of the road. Soon we were seeing field after field of tulips so we felt the gardens couldn't be far away. It is difficult to find words to adequately describe the beauty of the hundreds of spring blooms that greeted us once inside the gardens.

A canal cruise in Amsterdam was on our itinerary for the next day so we headed straight for one of the many canals when we reached the city. This boat trip took in many of the sights of the city including the beautiful facades of 17th century merchant houses and warehouses, churches, the old harbour with a floating Chinese restaurant and many river cruise ships. On our way we even passed a multi-storey bicycle park. Next we visited Gassan Diamonds, (no free gifts!) plus clog and cheese makers. The afternoon was spent at Volendam, a traditional Dutch fishing town with a pretty harbour, narrow streets and quaint houses.

For our last day 26 of us took the option of a very early breakfast to leave the hotel at 7.00 a.m. to travel to Aalsmeer to see the flower auction in full swing. An amazing venture and well worth visiting.
The next morning saw us all ready for an 8 a.m. start for the return journey. Again Glyn made it pass very smoothly for us with a stop at a chocolate factory before we left Belgium behind us and entered France. Another stop on the outskirts of Calais for wine and diesel and the coach was soon on board the train again. A quick stop at Reading services and then the welcome sight of the Severn Bridge before we were all home again with very many thanks to Norma for a wonderful holiday and to our "stewardesses", Mo and Alma for keeping us supplied with hot drinks on the coach.

David Evans

11th May 2006 Visit to Aberglasney and National Botanical Gardens

photo: Botanical Garden
*Click the photograph above to access a slide show of the 11th May 2006 Visit to
Aberglasney and National Botanical Gardens

One April morning a coach full of keen gardeners travelled to West Wales and there nestling in the stunning, beautiful Tywy valley was our first delight, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales.
The weather was good to us, so we were able to stroll past the beautiful lily ponds and aromatic scented plants to the millennium square.

From there you could take in the sparkling lakes and Principality house, which is all that is left of Middleton hall which was designed by Samuel Pepys and built in the 18th century, but was burned down in 1931.

The plants in the Great Glasshouse, designed by Lord Foster, have improved immensely since I saw them 5 years ago. The trees and shrubs have now grown and matured into stunning specimens and there is such an array of exotic and rare flowers in every colour and shape imaginable from all over the world.

After lunch in the restaurant, we spent a tranquil time in the Japanese garden, then walked through many other themed gardens before coming upon the Auricula Theatre, which was a display of plants in a tiered formation, wonderful to behold! We then headed back to the coach for our next destination, Aberglasney Gardens.

They are one of Wales's most exciting garden restoration projects. Fully restored is the Elizabethan / Jacobean cloister and parapet walk, which is the only example of its kind in the UK. Restoration work is still on going, at present they are working on the aviary.

My favourite was the Ninfarium, a unique garden created within the ruinous rooms and courtyard of the mansion .It is covered with a huge glass astrium and contains a wonderful collection of orchids, magnolias, palms and cycads.

There was so much to see! Having wandered peacefully past the Pool garden, the formal and manicured Walled gardens and the serenity of the Sunken garden we meandered through the Stream garden to Pigeon House Wood. I understand that many a poet has drawn inspiration from these gardens and I can understand why. The beauty of the new fresh leaved deciduous trees and the scent and colour of the bluebells could only be God created!

We ended the day having a scrumptious cream tea on the terrace at the Gardeners' cafe, with the sound of birds singing, water flowing gently into a pool and the scents and colours of a beautiful garden, paradise!
Thanks to the driver of Edwards' coaches we had a safe journey home. Thank you Norma and Jenny for organising another great trip.


10th Anniversary Pageant 2005
Click the photograph above to access a photo album of the

*Click the photograph above to access a photo album of the
10th Anniversary Pageant
Convenor Norma holds the notice while Dr Aid sorts out the plants complaints. Nurse Beryl brings tears to their eyes with promises of ridding them of their green fly by dowsing them with soapy water!

14th April 2005 Visit to Kew Gardens

*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit to Kew Gardens.


23rd April 2005 Cardiff Flower Show

*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit to the Cardiff Flower Show

12th May 2005 Visit to Batsford Arboretum and Sezincote

*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit to Batsford Arboretum and Sezincote

6th/11th June 2005 Holiday in Austria

*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit: 6th/11th June 2005 Holiday in Austria

7th July 2005 Visit to Hampton Court Flower Show
*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit to the Hampton Court Flower Show
3rd August 2005 Visit to Ball Colegrave Trial grounds

*Click the photograph below to access a photo album of the
Visit to the Ball Colegrave trial grounds

Ball Colegrave Ltd is the major supplier of flower seed and plug plants to commercial growers and local authority departments throughout the UK.

Visit to the Ball Colegrave trial grounds

It was a most enjoyable day where everyone enjoyed the vast colourful displays of the established plants and those that were on trial, everyone was allowed to place a blue flag against the new varieties that they thought would sell well.

(Thanks to Terry Williams for the photo's)

Gardening Group visit to Normandy

*please click the image below to access a photo slideshow of the
Gardening Group visit to Normandy
Gardening Group visit to Normandy

The Gardening group and driver, Ray (centre) on a recent trip to Normandy, France, where we were made so welcome by everyone - Thank you

Pegasus Bridge

*please click the image below to access a photo slideshow of our visit to Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge 1944

On the night of 5 June 1944, a force of 181 men, led by Major John Howard, took off from RAF Tarrant Rushton in Dorset, southern England in six Horsa gliders to capture Pegasus Bridge, and also "Horsa Bridge", a few hundred yards to the east, over the Orne River.

The force included elements of B and D Companies, 2nd Battalion,Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, a platoon of B Company, Royal Engineers, and men of the Glider Pilot Regiment. The object of this action was to prevent German armour from crossing the bridges and attacking the eastern flank of the landings at Sword Beach.

Gardening Group visit a Calvados Cellar to do some tasting

*please click the image below to access a photo slideshow of our visit to a Calvados Cellar

Gardening Group visit a Calvados Cellar to do some tasting

A traditional alembic pot-still ‘l'alambic à repasse’ or ‘charentais’ used to distill calvados

Calvados is distilled from specially grown and selected apples, of which there are over 200 named varieties. It is not uncommon for a Calvados producer to use over 100 specific varieties of apple to produce their Calvados. The apples used are either sweet, tart, or bitter with the latter category of apple being inedible.

The fruit is picked (usually by hand) and pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry ciderit is then distilled into eau de vie. After two years aging in oak casks, it can be sold as Calvados. The longer it is aged, the smoother the drink becomes. Usually the maturation goes on for several years. A bottle of twenty-year-old Calvados can easily command double the price of a bottle of ten-year-old Calvados.


Our day out to Hestercombe
*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of the Gardening Group day out to Hestercombe
Our day out to Hestercombe

1st & 2nd May 2004 Visit to Barnsdale Gardens, Rutland and the
Spalding Flower Parade

gardening/barnsdale/Barnsdale 13 04a.jpg

Above two photo's from Barnsdale Gardens, which is in heart of Rutland. The gardens were set up by the late Geoff Hamilton of BBC "Gardeners World".

An enjoyable and memorable visit was had by all to these works of art by Geoff Hamilton and the present staff.
Below a selection of photo's from our visit to the Spalding Flower Parade and the new Springfield outlet shopping centre attached to the Festival Gardens

The photo on our home page was taken of one of our members admiring a water feature in the Festival Gardens, how nice if we could have one like this in Caldicot.

*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of the Spalding Flower Parade

Was this an engine bound for the Severn Tunnel!

Welcome to spring time

Welcome to spring time

(photo taken by Ann Taylor-Heard on a recent walk in the Usk area)

We must return to this beauty spot in 2005

Photograph taken by Rosa Morgan during our visit to Clyne Gardens,
Swansea, in 2003

Visit to Highgrove

During August, 25 members of the Gardening Group were invited by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, to tour the garden at Highgrove.

We were met on arrival and introduced to our Garden Guide. After being requested to all stay together we entered the garden through the Laurel Tunnel and across the wild flower meadow, which had been cut at this time of year. Our first stop was at the water feature at the top of the thyme walk leading to the house.

Our tour lasted one and a half hours and it would be impossible to describe it in detail. It is a quite unique garden, small and intimate in some areas and bold and dramatic in others. I am sure we all had our own personal favourites, but we all agreed it was a wonderful experience, that concluded with coffee and a visit to Highgrove Shop, where, amongst other purchases, we bought a video of the garden. If anyone would like to borrow this video, please contact me.

Norma Shreeve.


U3A Gardening Group Loire Valley Tour 2003

*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of the Gardening Group
Loire Valley Tour 2003

Photo: 'Past and Present' ( From left to right ) Caldicot and District U3A Past Chairman Jean Imrie seen waving with our Chairman Peter Shreeve from a balcony in the Chateau of Chenonceau in the Loire Valley. Norma Shreeve, convenor of the Gardening group and organisor of the trip is seen next to Peter.

Loire Valley Tour

Another stop was at Chinon Castle where we were kept spellbound by the English speaking guide. I know I went to the Loire Valley with the Gardening group but came away bursting with knowledge of French and English History, after visiting the Castle.

A trip to the bottom of the Valley, a meal in the Town square, washed down with French wine, a group photograph in front of Joan of Arc Memorial and we were on our way again, after another wonderful day

Another stop was at Chinon Castle where we were kept spellbound by the English speaking guide. I know I went to the Loire Valley with the Gardening group but came away bursting with knowledge of French and English History.

Another wonderful day out while visiting the Loire Valley The Chateau of Chenonceau ( le Chateau des Dames ) built across the river Cher.

During our recent visit to the Loire Valley we were fortunate in the choice to visit Chateau Villandry and the beautiful gardens.

The Loire valley today boasts a very large number of historical monuments including its majestic châteaux along the river, which take us on a journey through the major and minor events of the history of  France .

The Loire is also associated with a large number of monuments which do not necessarily reflect in its waters… For example, Chambord dominating the banks of the Cosson, Azay-le-Rideau mingling with the Indre, Cheverny nestled in the valley of the Beuvron, Chenonceau spanning the Cher, and the château of Chinon, flirting with the Vienne.

All these monuments from the château of Sully-sur-Loire (the furthest upstream) to that of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes (the furthest downstream) passing by Valençay (the southernmost), benefit from a legendary mild climate and the dazzling beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Medieval fortresses, royal châteaux and Renaissance residences, bucolic manors, impressive cathedrals… This artistic miracle which was under development without any interruption for over three centuries and which gave birth to what historians call « the French way of life », is in fact the result of a military disaster : the battle of Agincourt (October 1415).

A defeat which forced the King of France at the time, Charles VII, chased from Paris by the English, to take refuge for safety reasons on the banks of the Loire, in Touraine, where several sturdy fortresses were already standing. The region presented in addition a number of advantages : rich and fertile, it was crossed by a river, main means of communication between the Mediterranean, Burgundy, the Lyonnais and the provinces further to the west.

Forced initially to take refuge, the nobility remained here, and then, much to its pleasure settled for much longer stays! The region was thus named the « the Garden of France ». The golden age of the Loire valley was at its very beginning… Once the country had found peace again, economic prosperity combined with the development of the arts gave birth to an unprecedented architectural frenzy.


The Château of Villandry, in the Centre Val de Loire region, is a Renaissance château located at the heart of three levels of terraced gardens. It is the last of the great Renaissance châteaux to be built on the banks of the Loire river. Remarkable for the harmony of its architecture and also of its gardens, the estate is especially known for the latter, spread out on three terraces, combining aesthetics, diversity and harmony


The Royal Fortress of Chinon is situated in the Centre Val de Loire region. Overlooking the town, the fortress built by the Count of Blois, Thibaut I, is a reminder of that period where the history of France and that of England were closely entwined. In 1429, in the main hall of the Royal House took place the historical meeting between Joan of Arc and the Dauphin, future Charles VII.


The Château of Chenonceau is located in the Centre Val de Loire region. Property of the Crown, then royal residence, the Château of Chenonceau is an exceptional site, both in the original idea of building it on the Cher river, but also in its destiny: loved, managed and protected by women such as Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici. Today, the Château of Chenonceau is, after Versailles, the most visited château in France.

Thank-you Norma.


Three photos of our visit to the Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of our visit to
Hampton Court, Herefordshire.

Hampton Court

Give an idea of the breathtaking variety of scenes we were to see in the gardens as we strolled around the grounds of this beautiful house, built in the early 15th century.

Visit to Clyne Gardens & Swansea Botanical Garden.

*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of the visit to
Clyne Gardens & Swansea Botanical Garden.

7th August 2003 Visit to Taunton Flower Show

During the Gardening groups visit on the 7th of August to the Taunton Flower Show four of our lady members were caught on camera admiring the exhibits or were they part of it.



The gardening group had a wonderful and memorable time when they recently visited France.
Their first visit was to Monet's Garden, then they went on to visit other beautiful locations, including Paris.


*Click the photograph below to access a slide show of MAISON ET JARDINS CLAUDE MONET

Claude Monet's garden in Giverny. Located 80 km West from Paris France in the village of Giverny, 4 km from the town of Vernon, Claude Monet House and Gardens are now open to visitors. This section describes the visit and presents photos of the water lily pond, Japanese bridge, Grande Allee, flower garden and more.

Chateau de Chantilly

*Click the photograph below to access a slideshow of Chateau de Chantilly

Chateau de Chantilly

From 1386 to 1897, the domain was passed on by inheritance to different branches of the same family, without ever being sold.  The ORGEMONT family (14th - 15th centuries), followed by the MONTMORENCY family (15th - 17th centuries), one of the most powerful families in France and which largely contributed to its development, especially in the time of Le Connétable (the Constable) Anne de Montmorency (1493 - 1567).

A friend of Kings François I and Henri II, he commissioned Jean Bullant to build the Petit Château. Later came the Bourbon Condé family (17th - 18th centuries), cousins of the Kings of France, the most famous of whom, Le Grand Condé, entrusted the lay out of the grounds to André le Nôtre, and finally Henri d'Orléans, Duc d'Aumale (1822 - 1897), the son of King Louis Philippe of France.

The Duc d'Aumale inherited Chantilly from his great uncle, the Prince de Condé, when he was eight years old, in 1830. He had the Grand Château, which was razed to the ground during the French Revolution, reconstructed in order to house his magnificent collection of paintings, drawings, objets d'art, books, etc.

Gardening Group visit to Versailles

*Click the photograph below to access a slideshow of Versailes

The Palace of Versailles, known in French as the Château de Versailles, was the royal palace in Versailles for over one hundred years until the King moved back to Paris. It is still a symbol of absolute monarchy in France.


*Click the photograph below to access a slideshow of Paris


Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The Paris region receives 45 million tourists annually, 60% of whom are foreign visitors. The city and region contain numerous iconic landmarks, world-famous institutions and popular parks.