Meetings and Talks

2020 Talks resumed via Zoom

We are delighted to inform you that our autumn/winter talks have resumed via ZOOM but we do need as many as possible of you to attend to make these talks viable in the near future.  We therefore  warmly encourage you to join us for further talks in the following months and PLEASE don’t miss the  next one!


FRIDAY, 18th December at 19:30

For our “Christmas Special” talk we are delighted to welcome our Guest Speaker: Margie Hoffnung, Conservation Officer at the Gardens Trust on the subject of:

“Garden Visiting – A Very British Tradition” – a light-hearted look at the many aspects of gardens through the ages which might tempt people to visit them : taking in everything from classic English parklands by Capability Brown and Repton, to herbaceous borders, cottage gardens, gnomes, snowdrop lunches, hermits, giant veg, flower shows, or even lawn mower racing.  Something for everyone whether your interest lies in garden history or plants.

Biography: Margie Hoffnung completed a four year Horticulture Degree at Writtle College, after working at Westonbirt Arboretum as pre-college work experience for 6 months. Her sandwich placement was with Rosemary Verey, the well-known plantswoman, author and garden designer, with whom she continued to work for over a decade until Rosemary’s death.  She also spent some years at Highgrove as both gardener and garden guide for HRH The Prince of Wales, as well as manning Jekka McVicar’s herb stand at flower shows like Chelsea and Hampton Court for several seasons.  She subsequently completed a Masters’  in the Conservation of Historic Gardens & Cultural Landscapes at Bath and since 2013 has worked for the Garden History Society (now the Gardens Trust) and is their Conservation Officer.  In this role she liaises closely with County Gardens Trusts all round England and responds to planning applications which might affect listed historic designed landscapes, to make sure as far as possible, that these proposals do not have an adverse effect on those sites or their settings.  She is a regular speaker to gardening societies on a variety of topics as well speaking on conservation issues relating to historic gardens to heritage bodies.

Please note that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the following talks have been cancelled or postponed.  We are currently hoping to organise new talks via Zoom, so please keep an eye on this website.

The following speakers and talks will be rescheduled for 2021, and dates will be published as soon as arrangements are finalised.

Tony Brewer: “Photographing Plants” 

Tracey Akehurst: “The Planthunter, Botanist, Spy and Thief”

St Anne’s Allotments – Unique Heritage Gardens

Don Witton: “Once Seen, Never Forgotten”

Danny Wells: Joseph Paxton, ‘The busiest man in England’ – gardens, conservatories, parks, architecture and much more.


Previous Talks & Events

27th November 2020 Via Zoom –  Matthew Biggs on the subject of “Secrets of Great Botanists” – Based on his RHS book of the same name, Matthew examined just what it takes to make a great botanist.  Using examples through history and from around the globe, he revealed the extraordinary lives of several botanists, including William Dampier, and Jeanne Baret who circumnavigated the world in disguise. He considered the motivations that drove them to succeed and what we, as gardeners can learn from their experiences.

This was an absolutely fascinating talk that left us all speechless and wanting to purchase his book for Christmas!

30th October 2020 Via Zoom – Elizabeth Gowing: “125 000 flowers – what it takes to make a spoon of honey”. Elizabeth gave us a fascinating talk of her experiences as a beekeeper and her research for her Little Book of Honey, published in 2012 and Travels in Blood and Honey: becoming a beekeeper in Kosovo. She shared with us the principles of bee-friendly gardening along with fascinating information about how a colony of bees operates – and a few tips on how their products can be used in cooking and healthcare. 

Elizabeth gave us a very engaging talk, the first of this autumn season. If you missed it, you can still see it here for a limited time, so be quick. Click on this link:

31 January 2020 – Roger Merryweather: “The Apple Through the Ages”. Roger gave us a fascinating talk about the history of the apple, leading up to the introduction of the Bramley’s Seedling Apple by his great grandfather Mr Henry Merryweather in the late 1800’s.


8th December 2019 – Christmas Social. Lunch at Carsington Water Visitor Centre, DE6 1ST(Mainsail Restaurant). For all bookings please contact Caroline Pollard.

22 November 2019 AGM at 7.15 pm, followed by: Graham & Judy White – “Gardening Mishaps and Disasters” – A hilarious talk by entertaining speakers, on how not to do things!

18 October (change of date from 25th October) – Catherine James – “Derbyshire – Where Writers Walked” – her book published in August 2018. Local author Catherine gave us a very illuminating and engaging talk about the fascinating connections that our county has had over centuries including not just ‘big name’ writers.

27 September – Maureen Taylor – “(Medieval &) Tudor Garden Style” – a costumed presentation.
“Maureen, in full Elizabethan costume, spoke about romance, intrigue, ostentation, old gardening tools and women gardeners being paid less than men!  There were some lovely and amusing old pictures from the era”.
9 August – Meynell Langley Trial Gardens – Our final social event for this summer. Meet at 6pm, for a guided tour with the owner. Cost £4 per person (the cafe will be open for teas and coffees to be purchased afterwards). 
24 July – Ringwood Hall – The third of our social events this year. Meet at 5pm, for a guided tour with the head gardener followed by a buffet. Cost £14.95
8 June – Cascades Gardens, Bonsall. The second of our social events this year. Meet at 4pm for a guided tour.
6 May – Chatsworth Gardens. This was the first of our social events this year. Members enjoyed an exclusive and informative tour around the grounds and gardens led by Mick the horticultural technician and Phoebe the PGG student whom we have supported this year. Large areas have been transformed and imaginative plans are being taken forward to the next stage. We await with interest to see further developments each year.
26 April – Judy Popley – “A Prospect of Arley” – the Cheshire Hall, Gardens and personalities from the 1890’s onwards.
Judy gave a fascinating illustrated talk on ‘Prospects of Arley’ the lovely Cheshire Garden, based around a collection of photographs from the 19th Century, of the staff and the gardens as they were at that time. Typical sepia tones helped to set some bowler-hatted gardeners, with splendid moustaches, into their proper context; the housemaids and kitchen staff, in long dresses that seemed improbably cumbersome for the jobs they had to do, also featured. All was assisted by photos of some of the same situations as they are in the 21st Century.

22 March – Michael Brown – “Early Gardening Methods” – from the Romans onwards.“We were given a lively talk, following trends in design over the past 2,000 years.  The excellent selection of pictures (of both methods and tools) was enhanced by wry comments from Michael.  Many tools were recognisable; of particular interest were the small differences from modern tools, giving glimpses into the conditions under which past gardeners worked.”

22 February 2019 – Alan Clements – “Cascades Gardens” of Bonsall. This was a fascinating talk by the garden creator who outlined all aspects of the garden’s development over the past 25 years. It’s influences from Buddhism and from Japan were beautifully illustrated throughout. A visit here is planned for later this year.

25 January 2019 – The Gardens Trust and the GOGLE project (including Allestree Park). Dr Tamsin McMillan (Historic Landscape Officer) and Margie Hoffnung (Conservation Officer) from the Gardens Trust  gave us a lively and illustrative talk on the work they do and how we can all help in the protection of historic sites that we value through research, recording, and helping with planning. Allestree Park is one of the eight sites from the East Midlands region, selected for this project. *UPDATE: Unfortunately this project did not get any funding in this current round of grant applications to the HLF. However, a new bid will be submitted soon and it is hoped the project will progress in the near future.


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