logo plus RHS

Past Talks Programmes

Speakers in past years have included:


The Yorkshire Arboretum:  Inspiration, Education, Conservation by Dr John Grimshaw from Yorkshire Arboretum Trust

A Tale of Two Gardens by Matthew Wilson

A Passion for Heucheras  by Vicky Fox from Plantagogo

Garden Design by landscape designer Lizzie Tulip  

A Garden through the Seasons by Eddie Harland from Littlethorpe Manor

Winter Salads – Inside and Out by Tony Chalcraft from The Nursery, Knapton Lane, York

The True Cottage Garden by Kim Hurst from The Cottage Herbery, Tenbury Wells  

Foliage is better than Flowers? by Vanessa Cook from Stillingfleet Lodge Garden and Nursery

How to create a Hanging Basket by Chris Small, from Orchard Nursery, York

Daisy Days by Stuart Dixon - we started with a geography lesson on the topography of the River Trent and 18th-century history about the farmhouse where Stuart lives.  In true style, the subject matter covered anything that looked remotely like a daisy, given with passion, flair and enthusiasm and covering the growth habitats, colours and shades of the rainbow, flowering, problems and management.  This was asters, rudbeckia and erigerons - and much, much more.

Speakers and their Talks September 2015 - May 2016

Using Roses in the Garden by Michael Marriott – passionate about plants, Michael joined David Austin Roses in 1985 and quickly found out how wonderful roses could be.  Being now a world authority and rose garden designer, he travels all over the world giving advice on borders, hedges, specimens in pots, climbers and ramblers - and not forgetting the miniatures.  Preparation is everything – a good reliable variety and well-prepared ground.  Michael’s talk was littered with golden nuggets of advice and the Q & A session dealt with many members’ problems.

michael marriott

Geoffrey Smith Memorial Lecture:  A Gardener's Life by Alan Mason - this was our annual appreciation of Geoffrey Smith and Alan was the perfect choice, having been a personal friend and colleague.  Alan’s gardening life started in Tadcaster with his student days at Askham Bryan and his first job as Head Gardener at Bramham Park.  Lots of stories - interspersed by his employment at Harewood House, filming for channel 4, presenting on Calendar, a whizz around Italy and finishing in France - made this a well-delivered, humorous, informative and interesting evening.

stuart dixon Alan Mason 2

Behind the Scenes by Nick Smith, Show Director - this was the story of how the build up to the Harrogate Flower Shows starts weeks in advance.  Originally set in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate, the shows moved to the Great Yorkshire Showground with its ready-made facilities;  90% of the show is on hard standing.  The build - marquees are first, followed by the timber staging, plant nursery structures and floral art.  Outside, a 12-day period is all that is allocated to complete a garden build, whether it be dry stone walls, waterfalls or planting beds, much of it being in a modular form and lifted into place.  Nick’s favourite time to visit? - midnight just before opening!

Nick Smith 2

Hidden Secrets of Beningbrough Hall and Gardens by Bob Mansfield - Bob is a National Trust volunteer and knows his way around blindfold.  This became so obvious when we went off the usual route to find features many visitors never see - unusual trees and plants, signs left by the Victorian garden staff, messages hidden in cupboards.  This talk showed that even regular visitors miss much of what is there to seek out and enjoy.

Beningbrough Hall

York Museum Gardens through the Seasons by Alison Pringle, Gardens Manager - this return visit by Alison dealt with plants and the seasons, starting with Winter - not perhaps the best season with which to start a talk, but it quickly became obvious that this is when the planning, preparation and landscaping is carried out.  A wildlife sanctuary in the middle of the city with 1500 plant species and, in Spring, 7-10,000 summer bedding plants to put out.  A joy to listen to an eloquent, knowledgeable and informative speaker.

Alison Pringle

Auriculas:  their history and cultivation by Robin Graham from the award-winning Drointon Nurseries, near Ripon - a world of alpines, borders, doubles and subsets, followed by pips and paste, gave us an enthralling evening.  Puzzled by these references, there is much more information on the nursery website to be explored at leisure.

Robin Graham

Wicked Plants by Doug Stewart - this talk started with general questions to us and was quickly followed by stringent warnings because it appeared that everything lovely in our gardens could do us harm, cause hallucinations, allergies and all manner of ills.  This talk was full of humour and totally fascinating, covering historical characters, plants that scream when pulled and how close the line is between medicinal plants and those that are anything but.  Common sense is the key!!

Doug-Stewart 2

A Year at Sledmere by Andy Karavics, Head Gardener - the gardens have been redesigned and planted with swathes of colour from bulbs, roses and summer displays of annuals and perennials.  A garden full of wildlife with encouragement of bees and butterflies by selective planting.  An eye opener for our visit later in the summer.

Andy Karavics 1

Autumn/Winter Talks  2016-17 Season


Wednesday 14 September      Great Dixter Past and Present

                                                             An illustrated talk by Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener & Chief Executive

                                                             of Great Dixter Charitable Trust

                                                             Non-members £10


Tuesday 11 October                  This year's Geoffrey Smith Memorial Lecture will be given

                                                             by Matthew Biggs, well-known garden designer, journalist and

                                                             regular panellist on 'Gardeners' Question Time'

                                                             Non-members £7.50


Tuesday 15 November             Wonderful Weeds

                                                             An illustrated talk by Peter Williams, the man who 'greened' Yorkshire's slag heaps


Tuesday 6 December               Winter Gardening & Seasonal Preserves

                                                             A talk by Martin Fish, gardener, broadcaster, journalist and horticultural judge,

                                                             and his wife, Jill


Tuesday 24 January                  A Hardy Planter's Winter Survival Kit

                                                             An illustrated talk by Don Witton


Tuesday 14 February                Growing and Exhibiting Sweet Peas

                                                             An illustrated talk by Darren Myers of Myers Sweet Peas, Wakefield


Tuesday 21 March                     Favourite Gardens of Yorkshire

                                                             An illustrated talk by Michael Myers, a self-confessed p[lantaholic and speaker


Tuesday 11 April                        Gardening at the Front

                                                             Looking at the challenges of the front garden

                                                             by Gail Summerfield of West Shores Nursery


Tuesday 9 May                           Annual General Meeting - followed by

                                                         'An Oasis in the City' - an illustrated talk by Clive Dawson

                                                            from The Friends of York Cemetery