The Society has to thank our Outings’ Secretary, Judy Smith, for choosing one of the first very warm days of the year for its annual Spring outing on April 19 to two beautiful gardens in Shropshire. The bright sunshine and cloudless sky certainly highlighted many of the flowering trees and shrubs. In the morning we visited Wollerton Old Hall Gardens near Market Drayton, described by Chris Beardshaw as “A world-class example of an English Garden.” Covering about four acres, this has been developed by the present owners since the mid 1980’s around a 16th century Hall. With echoes of the Arts & Crafts movement, the garden has been divided by hedges, walls and paths to form a number of separate areas, each with its own name, style and vista. There is much to engage the plant enthusiast, offering a wide range of trees, shrubs and perennials, including collections of clematis, salvias, phlox and roses.

After lunch at Wollerton, the venue for our second visit of the day, Hodnet Hall Gardens, was in contrast a very different experience. Three properties have existed within the 60 acres of grounds: a Norman Castle in the 12th Century, with evidence of the original earthworks; a timber-framed 16th Century Tudor mansion, now demolished, followed by a large Victorian house which was altered and modernised in the 1960’s. The landscaping was started by the present owner’s father, Brigadier Heber-Percy in 1922, who excavated a chain of seven ornamental lakes at different levels which flow along the valley in front of the house. One of the largest water gardens in the country, this watercourse contains an abundance of bog plants and provides a natural habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife. With wide, sweeping lawns and magnificent views the gardens are extensively planted with many species of trees, perennials and colourful acid-loving shrubs. April was the perfect time to see this magnificent display, including the extensive Magnolia Walk. To finish off a perfect day we were treated to tea and delicious home-made cakes.

On May 17 the Society welcomes Richard Baldwin who will present a talk entitled ‘Fruit Selection and Maintenance.’ Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at the Crawford Memorial Hall, Bidford at 7.45 pm. Visitors are very welcome at £3, including refreshments. For further details please ring 01789 268974 or go to