Past Newsletters:

Scroll down to bottom of page to see plant lists and resume of a talk given by Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter

February 2021 Newsletter

Fergus Garrett on Biodiversity zoom lecture 


We had another spellbinding talk from Fergus on Friday 15th January.  It is so important that we remember we share this planet with a multitude of organisms other than ourselves, many invisible to the naked eye, and garden with them in mind by providing a variety of habitats and plants: leaving some grass long in summer, not cutting everything down in autumn, etc. In this way we can help to preserve a rich biodiversity (and it can still look pretty!)


Friday 19 February 2021

Lewis Normand will talk to us on We forgot about shrubs. Plantsman, garden designer, horticulturalist, lecturer, gardener, “Plants are my life”.  Lewis reminds us that shrubs are an incredibly diverse, low maintenance and versatile way of providing year-round interest in our gardens. Get some inspiration for planting up your own garden this Spring. 8.00 pm on Zoom. The link will be sent out to everyone a few days before the talk, no need to register for this one.


Tuesday 16 March 2021 and AGM


Jacqueline Aviolet, owner of Rosie’s Garden Plants in Aylesford will talk to us about Herbs, Cultivation and Folklore. Hopefully we can combine this with the AGM this year.  


If the Hall is not open by then, we hope to hold this talk and the AGM via Zoom.


Plea for a new committee member

If you have an interest in gardening (you don’t need to be an expert!) we would love you to join us on the committee from March this year.  We’re a small, friendly bunch and the work is not too taxing! Please contact me via the email below.

January 2021 Newsletter


An additional date for your Diary


Just before Christmas, Fergus Garrett confirmed he would conduct another 1 hour lecture on Friday 15th January 2021 at 7.30pm. This time he will be talking on Biodiversity, showing how gardens can play a role in conserving some of our most threatened species.

We shall not be charging a fee but we invite donations for this event, bank details are on the Upcoming Events Page.



Friday 19 February 2021


Lewis Normand from Bernard Nurseries will talk to us on We forgot about shrubs. Plantsman, garden designer, horticulturalist, lecturer, gardener, “Plants are my life”.  Lewis reminds us that shrubs are an incredibly diverse, low maintenance and versatile way of providing year-round interest in our gardens.  7.30 for 8.00 pm


Tuesday 16 March 2021 and AGM


Jacqueline Aviolet, owner of Rosie’s Garden Plants in Aylesford will talk to us about Herbs, Cultivation and Folklore. Hopefully we can combine this with the AGM this year.  


We are hopeful that the Hall will be open for these events, but if not, then both of these will be held via Zoom.


Plea for a new committee member

If you have an interest in gardening (you don’t need to be an expert!) we have a new vacancy and would like you to join us on the committee from March this year.  We’re a small, friendly bunch and the work is not too taxing! Please contact me via the email below.


Tessa Crowe 

December 2020 Newsletter


On behalf of your committee, may I wish all our members a lovely festive season and a happy and healthy 2022.  


Once again, the year has not been without its challenges, but thanks to your  continuing support, I believe we have made a pretty good fist of it!  Some great talks on Zoom and in the Hall, a supremely successful Plant Sale in May and a  joyous Summer Show in July means we’ve generated enough funds to survive another year!  


We do need your support though, and I urge you to participate as often as you can in our organised events and a few may even like to join the committee!  Please get in touch if you would like to join our small but friendly band.  Your committee works long and hard to put events on in a Covid-safe environment, but if only a few join in or turn up it’s very disappointing and, indeed, demoralising.  Numbers for the Summer Show in particular were well down on previous years.  On that note, please make sure you visit the Christmas tree festival in St Dunstans church from 28th November to the 5th December, where we have also entered a themed tree, and vote for your favourite! It’s always a very beautiful event.


John Logan’s tips are taking a break here for the month (although they will be on our website) but I will just say keep planting tulip bulbs whenever you have a spare moment away from Christmas preparations. There are some great bargains to be had from on-line bulb suppliers and garden centres right now.  You can plant tulips right up until the end of December - they look great in pots - it gets you out into the fresh air and you will really appreciate your efforts come Spring!

Tessa Crowe

November 2020 Newsletter


As you know, we have sadly had to cancel this year’s Autumn Supper, but instead on Friday 20th November 2020 at 7.30 pm we have arranged an exciting live one-hour Zoom lecture exclusively for Mayfield and other local Horticultural Societies. In this way, those of our members who have not yet been able to share in our programme this year will also be able to participate. If you have Zoom at home, please watch it there, but if not, up to 30 members can watch the talk in the Memorial Hall (Covid restrictions permitting).

Painting with Plants

the Great Dixter Way


Our talk is with the legendary Fergus Garrett, entitled ‘Painting with Plants the Great Dixter Way’. In his inimitable style, Fergus will take us through how he composes the world-renowned borders at Great Dixter, and anyone interested in gardening cannot fail to be inspired. There is always something to take away from one of Fergus’s talks and they are all different. Attached to this email is a stunning poster that Gt Dixter has created for us to publicise the event.

The speaker for the Autumn Supper is always well-known and therefore considerably more expensive than our regular speakers. The cost of the speaker is factored into the cost of the event. Fergus Garrett is highly in demand as a speaker around the world. We have however arranged this hour-long talk for just £10 a head - and for the first 50 members to book and pay, your Society will subsidise your payment and the cost to you will be just £5! A course at Gt Dixter would have cost at least £130 per person this year, so this talk is an absolute must!

As you know, Great Dixter is one of the nation’s great gardens and has been instrumental in educating and inspiring gardeners young and old across the world in the Dixter Arts and Craft style. Although the garden has been open since July, numbers of visitors have been severely down due to to Covid restrictions. As with all charities, income is well below normal levels. They need our support now more than ever. All the proceeds from this event will go to the Great Dixter Charitable Trust.

Tessa Crowe


Plant List – ‘We Forgot about Shrubs!’


Mayfield Horticultural Society – 19th February 2020, 8-9pm


© Lewis Normand (iPlantsman) 2020


Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for welcoming me digitally into your homes. Talks by Zoom are a great boon in these Covid dangerous times and open up a world of opportunity, with me some 500 miles away from you. They are, however, a lot less personal and intimate than I’m used to in talking to groups in a village hall or theatre, where reaction is easy to gauge, questions easy to answer from both sides of the lectern and a general confidence in knowing that your audience can hear you and understand your message well. I am someone who relishes the human response, so it is difficult to feel as connected to your experience last night. All I can say is that I really hope that you enjoyed it and that you each got something from it. I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have. Please either direct them through Tessa, or email me directly on Always happy to help as best I can and to hear your opinion on the talk.


Hopefully in the not to distant future I can be with you all again for another talk, this time in person, as I will be visiting England regularly with work. If not, then hopefully you will see plants that I have supplied to a number of show gardens at RHS shows in 2021 and beyond.


Keep safe and have a great year.


We Forgot About Shrubs!


General images from the following Gardens were used.


Show Garden designed by Freddie Whyte for RHS Hampton Court, Wakehurst, Chartwell, RHS Wisley, Pinehurst in North Carolina, Powis Castle, Topiary Garden in Funchal Madeira, A private front garden near Wakehurst, Hidcote, ST. Andrews Botanic Gardens, Hadlow College Grounds, Camperdown Park, Sissinghurst.


Plant Images


Hebe ‘Carey Pink’ Cover image, not discussed in the talk.


– A new introduction for 2021, raised by legendary plant hunter and breeder of New Zealand Flora Graham Hutchins of County Park Nursery (Hornchurch, Essex.) Sadly, Graham is no longer with us. I spotted this seedling on his nursery in 2005 and he let me name it after my mum. It is being included in a new RHS Wisley Plant Trial of the Genus Hebe starting in a couple of months and will be available for sale from a number of places this year as a testament to a great Plant Hero of mine and my darling Mum.


Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’

Buddleja x bicolor (Syn. ‘Flower Power’) 

Anisodontea ‘El Rayo’ – Amazing plant! – Also described in Unsung Heroes Larger Shrubs


Seasonal Colour


Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ (Syn. ‘Senkaki’)

Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ and Cornus alba




Ribes gordonianum

Ribes sanguineum

Ribes sanguineum ‘Albescens’

Ribes laurifolium

Ribes sanguineum

Ribes odoratum

Ilex aquifolium ‘Rushmore Gold’ – mentioned more ‘Ripley’s Gold’ and ‘Lawsoniana’ as more commonly available similar forms.

Ilex verticillata – don’t forget you need males and females for berrying. You can have one male for every 3-5 females (a busy guy!)




Aralia elata

Santolina rosmarinifolia ‘Primrose Gem’

Colettia paradoxa


Flower Power


Berberis valdiviana – Also mentioned in Unsung Heroes Larger Shrubs

Daphne gemmata (Syn. Wikstroemia)

Camellia ‘Desire’

Ceanothus ‘Cynthia Postan’ – Plant in a tripod of three if freestanding to get a stable and impressive shrub. Also mentioned in Unsung Heroes Medium Sized Shrubs

Callistemon viridiflora

Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’ – Also, don’t forget to join the Hebe Society A great, inexpensive, small plant society for lovers of Hebe and other New Zealand plants.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Green Shadow’

Grevillea ‘Canberra Gem’

Chaenomeles ‘Moerlooseii’

Cercis chinensis ‘Avondale’ – As per first slide

Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’

Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’

Kolkwitzia amabilis ‘Pink Cloud’


Uses of Shrubs – Fruit


Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’

Viburnum opulus

Viburnum nudum

Viburnum davidii


Successful Shrubs – The Bulletproof Bombshells and the Modern Dandies.


Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’

Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’

Rosa glauca – mentioned again in Unsung Heroes – Larger Shrubs

Rosa ‘Penelope’

Rosa ‘Ballerina’

Rosa ‘Lady of the Lake’ David Austin (DA) modern variety bred with health as a major feature unsung bulletproof older varieties and species

Rosa ‘The Lark Ascending’ DA, another modern variety. As beautiful, in my opinion as the Vaughan Williams music is.

Rosa ‘Summer Song’ DA


What should we plant?


List of native shrubs as below with pics of Euonymus europaeus, Corylus avellana and non-native Buddleja davidii. 


UK Native Shrubs and a few small trees


Cornus sanguinea 

Corylus avellana 

Euonymus europaeus 

Hippophae rhamnoides 

Cytisus scoparius 

Ilex aquifolium 

Juniperus communis 

Ligustrum vulgare 

Prunus spinosus 

Rhamnus cathartica 

Rosa caesia 

Rosa agrestis 

Rosa arvensis 

Rosa mollis

Rosa caesia subsp. glauca 

Rosa canina 

Rosa micrantha 

Rosa obtusifolia 

Rosa stylosa 

Rosa tomentosa 

Salix myrsinifolia 

Salix phylicifolia 

Salix purpurea 

Rosa pimpinellifolia 

Rosa rubiginosa 

Rosa sherardii 

Sorbus anglica 

Ruscus aculeatus

Salix herbacea 

Salix lanata 

Salix lapponum 

Salix myrsinites 

Salix repens 

Salix reticulata 

Salix aurita 

Sambucus nigra 

Sorbus leptophylla 

Sorbus leyana 

Sorbus minima 

Viburnum lantana 

Viburnum opulus 

Ulex europaeus 

Ulex gallii


Unsung Heroes – Larger Shrubs


Rosa glauca

Berberis valdiviana

Anisodontea ‘El Rayo’

Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’

Salix purpurea ‘Nancy Saunders’

Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’

Weigela ‘Dart’s Colour Dream’


Unsung Heroes – Medium Sized Shrubs


Abelia x grandiflora

Dichroa febrifuga – not 100% hardy

Mahonia ‘Cabaret’

Corylopsis pauciflora

Dodonea viscosa ‘Purpurea’ – Use a Purple Pittosporum in slightly less sheltered spots

Enkianthus campanulatus

Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’

Ceanothus ‘Cynthia Postan’

Fatsia polycarpa ‘Green Fingers’

Fuchsia magellanica ‘Alba’

Unsung Heroes – Smaller Shrubs


Cistus x skanbergii

Pseudowintera colorata ‘Marjorie Congreve’

Poncirus trifoliata Fuchsia ‘Silver Lining’

Any other Lavandula angustifolia or x intermedia type than Hidcote or Munstead as all too often used. Visit Downderry Lavender Nursery for ideas.

Leucothoe ‘Carinella’

Hebe ‘White Diamond’, pictured partnered with Acaena

Hypericum inodorum Magical Series ‘Flame’, ‘White’ and ‘Beauty’ pictured


Enjoy plant hunting!


Follow me on social media for regular updates, images, plant stories and more

Twitter @iplantsman

Instagram @iplantsman

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Also, if you believe, as I do, that Horticulture needs better representation in Parliament, please consider supporting my campaign to make the UK government install a Minister for Horticulture as part of their Defra department. Both professional and Amateur Horticulture have been ignored for too long! or search on the website for Minister for Horticulture.


Thanks and happy gardening,


Lewis Normand MCIHort FLS

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A Resume of Friday, 15th January 2021 talk from Fergus Garrett of Great Dixter

byRos Maggs of Sandhurst Horticultural Society

Before he died, Christopher Lloyd had set up the Great Dixter Charitable Trust, and because the garden had always been managed sensitively “with a handshake to the wild”, Fergus had been satisfied with the range of diversity and took for granted the range of wildlife that shared the garden - the badgers and butterflies and woodpeckers.  Christopher’s dynamic style embraced the big and bold and it was described as an overblown cottage garden with a dollop of exotica.  However Fergus was aware that the biodiversity could be improved, so stopped spraying the weeds and allowed self-seeders to flourish, in particular the cow parsley, whilst recognising that it needed careful management. The old porous brick and wood of the buildings provided a rich and wide habitat for all sorts of living things. He created a mosaic of meadows just outside the garden, using different meadow mixes and these were managed in varying ways - some were cut once a year, some twice, and some every two years. The thatch from the cuttings was spread over the meadows.  Encouraged by his ecologist wife Amanda, he decided to have a proper biodiversity audit conducted to see what they really had, so they could plan the way forward. 

Fergus invited the British Arachnological Society to visit the garden and after somewhat sniffily declining his offer as in their experience gardens provided little of interest to them, they were persuaded to hold their AGM there. And they were astonished!  They found 35 species of spider just on the compost heap and one rare resident that had only been recorded in three other places in England and another one that had not been recorded in Sussex since 1903.  They were so impressed it made the front page of their magazine and they returned to look for beetles!  


So following this success an audit, supported the Heritage Lottery Fund, was carried out by lead ecologist Andy Phillips who described Great Dixter as “a garden nature reserve” and one of the richest eye-opening sites he had surveyed in 30 years.  The survey found over 2,300 different species, with over 100 different lichen and bees. Several species were naturally endangered and 7 were rare.  They found the long-horned bee, not just in the meadows but in the formal gardens making the most of the long season of succession planting, providing pollen and nectar-rich resources. And as the wildlife web feeds itself, so the diversity increases. The layered planting regime, and the use of umbellifers and alliums and the backbone of the old buildings, has enabled the wide range of insects to grow.


Fergus hopes that the “mosaic system” will be replicated in many other gardens and in city centres too so that living spaces can be created instead of large areas of dead concrete.   He also recommends reading Jennifer Owens book from the 1970’s, called the Ecology of a Garden.


And the excitement continues, as only last week Fergus found a lichen called the Cobalt Crust (terana caerulea), like vivid blue velvet on a twig, and pretty rare, having been first identified in 1779  by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Great Dixter more than ever.