South West Branch Autumn Meeting at Rosemoor 26 October2019


We had a wonderful day in the company of Roy Lancaster, our esteemed guest, and almost 70 members and their guests were in attendance. It was great to see many younger gardeners present as well, and I hope this bodes well for the future of our branch.

After gathering and putting out plants for sale and for show, we had our by now very successful Bring & Tell session, with a record number of members wishing to present and talk about some favourite plant. This is a great success and demonstrates the breadth of knowledge and enthusiasm within our membership. Roy was visibly impressed and said so. He talked about a specimen of Aucuba omeiensis which is growing up beside the wall of his house.

Again, we took advantage of the whole of the Peter Buckley Centre’s two classrooms which gave us plenty of room for the lecture & Bring & Tell session and the display of members’ plants. I must acknowledge the generosity of Rosemoor and their staff in hosting our events for free and special mention must be made of Diana Gilding, Rosemoor Events manager who has always been so very helpful to us.

During the morning, my general plant quiz and Pam Hayward’s specialist Rhododendron quiz baffled and entertained those who took part (some in groups for safety!), and before our Drinks & Nibbles session, we drew the raffle and headed off to lunch.

After lunch, we reconvened for the results of the quizzes, presentation of prizes and a short AGM.

Sarah Chesters, our Treasurer, gave a statement of our current finances which are in good order and we manage to maintain a balance of an excess of £1,000. I am grateful for her work, and for her taking some of the burden of cheque and cash payments from me. She is also, with Ian Gillbard taking over organising the visits for next year.

Pam Hayward does so much for our Branch in sending out emails and notifications to keep us up to date, not to mention all the behind the scenes work that goes into producing our amazing Shows & Competitions. I am always grateful to her. She and sister Sally are compiling a national register of our three genera growing in gardens and this has already produced fascinating results. Members are strongly encouraged to make a note of what plants of our genera are growing in their gardens and sending their list to Pam in whatever format they choose.

After these presentations, Roy gave an illustrated lecture on ‘A Plantsman’s Pleasures’ which was in turn amusing, informative and demonstrated his immense knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, all plants. His plant introductions have been legion and yet he remains such a modest man and it was a privilege to have him come and talk, especially as he is cutting down on his commitments. Time flew by and he had prolonged and well deserved applause at the end.

Many thanks to all of you who provided plants for sale and prizes for the raffle and quizzes; it is very generous and helps the Branch finances greatly.

Our attendees went away enthused and happy, and I am confident that our Branch will go from strength to strength.

Roy sent a card to say how much he had enjoyed the day and how impressed he was at the knowledge shared by, and the enthusiasm of our members, so praise indeed.

John Marston

You can download a copy of this report

Audience for Bring & Tell session
Autumn Meeting Roy signs his 1970s book Travels in Nepal
Roy discussing Nothaphoebe cavaleriei
Roy discussing plant brought by Saul Walker
Roy pays tribute to Len Beer with photo of Rhododendron hodgsonii which he introduced
Roy presenting Aucuba omeiensis

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Patron: HRH The Prince of Wales

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