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The Gentian The Newsletter for the Friends of Ness Gardens ISSUE 228 SPRING 2012

Contents ISSUE 228 SPRING 2012


From the Secretary's desk


May Bank Holiday plant sale


Letter from the Director


Outcomes from the AGM


Membership system update and the Friends’ Archive


Volunteers help keep standards high


New website for Ness Gardens


Botanic Artists' exhibition


Shop discount for Friends

12 & 13

Dates for your diary


Friends Sunday Lecture Series


Mysteries among the Azaleas

16 & 17

Spring/summer courses at Ness


Reason to smile when sun comes out

19 & 20

Please support our advertisers

Delightful tulips to be enjoyed in the Gardens

Editor: Keith Cade The Media Centre 7 The Precinct, Bromborough,Wirral CH62 7AD Tel: 0151 343 9100 Fax: 0151 334 0275 Editorial Board: Helen Watters, Kevin Reid, Paul Cook, Barry Fowler, John Tallis Printer:The Print Room Tel 0151 922 8516 Cover picture: A Magnolia sprengeri provides a wonderful foreground to the spring blue sky The Friends of Ness Gardens is a registered charity No 511294.Views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Ness Botanic Gardens or the Friends of Ness Gardens. Material for the next issue should reach the Editor by mid-June 2012. University of Liverpool, Ness Botanic Gardens Tel 0151 353 0123 Fax 0151 353 1004 Website Email

From the Secretary’s Desk

Helen Watters

Whilst many members of the Society are, of course, extremely interested in supporting our aims and thereby the ongoing development of the Gardens, an interest in the 'business' side of the Friends is perhaps not high on the reasons to join. This was perhaps reflected recently with the AGM attended by 64 members and, although within quorum in line with the current Constitution, this represented less than 1% of current membership. This could mean two things: (a) the vast majority of membership is entirely satisfied with how the work of the Society is undertaken, or (b) your Committee is not making the AGM attractive enough for our Friends to want to attend! It is your Society and, whilst your Committee are here to ensure that the business side is undertaken, we do need your input!

Rhododendron blue diamond.

As you will read in this issue and be noticing through your visits to the Gardens, which I hope are often, there are lots of changes taking place over the forthcoming months including the new footpath access which has been assisted through a substantial grant by the Friends; a new catering outlet by the Potting Sheds and revamped Shop and Plant Sales areas, including the launch of new products, many of them Ness-related. And, even better, the trial period of Friends offered a 10% discount on full-price purchases has now been extended permanently! The Queen's Diamond Jubilee is obviously going to be a significant highlight for the country in 2012 (along with some small sporting event over the summer) but the Friends of Ness Gardens are entering our own important anniversary year. Established in 1962, the Friends have provided over ÂŁ2.1 million of grants over the last 50 years with many of the major areas of the Gardens including the Terraces, the original Visitor Centre and significant areas of planting made possible through our support. A number of events are being planned to celebrate this important milestone and further information will be circulated as soon as these are confirmed. We look forward to our many Friends helping us to make 2012 a significant phase in the Society's on-going history.


The Gentian

This year’s plant sale at Ness Gardens will feature, as always, an exciting range of unusual, everyday and exotic plants including bedding, perennial, vegetables, trees and shrubs donated by you! If you have any attractive, healthy plants, whatever species or variety, they would be most welcome.We know from previous years that the greater the choice, the more successful the sales. All monies raised goes to the Friends of Ness to benefit the Gardens. We also have interesting plants and advice from expert gardeners such as Peter Foley from Waddow Lodge Garden and Sion from Station House Dahlias. For many years, Dovecote Nurseries has been generous with their wonderful stock and Hugh McAllister will be on hand to help with advice or queries. Plants, unwanted pots or garden tools can be dropped off at Ness anytime during the first week of May before the sale day. If you have any new ideas about what we should sell or would like to volunteer to help on a stall for an hour or more on the day between 8am and 2pm please get in touch with me. Any help would be most gratefully received. It went wonderfully last year and I know this year will be just as successful! Don’t forget there will be refreshments provided during the day as selling is thirsty work! Some family activity, supported by the Friends, will also be taking place in the Gardens (entry charge will apply for non-Friends). Olwen McLaughlin 0151 639 7199


Letter from the Director

Kevin F. H. Reid

So far 2012 has been largely mild and dry which has been good for visitor numbers in the Gardens and an unseasonal boost for plant sales. Preparations are underway for the main visitor season with many exciting developments which will improve the visitor and Friends experience at Ness alongside improving access both locally and internationally. The internal refurbishment of the Hulme Room has been completed. It looks fantastic and is ready for business with weddings, meetings and family functions – so if you are celebrating something special in 2012 then look no further! Roses will be starting Sunday carvery luncheons in the Hulme Room ahead of the Friends lectures and afternoon tea taken overlooking the garden. Also new for the 2012 season, Roses will be offering drinks, light refreshments and ice cream in the Garden Kiosk from Easter to enjoy alfresco in the heart of the Gardens. In addition, the Bulley Room has been refurbished for our Reaseheath, gardening and hobby courses, while work will start soon on the Mickwell Brow coach toilets and Bulley Courtyard toilets to complete the updating of these much-used facilities. Ness Gardens is to share in 168,000 following a successful INTERREG 4C bid for Knowledge Exchange (KE) activities which will give the Ness team the opportunity to visit gardens within the nine European partner countries to share skills and experience. Our international guests will be using Rake Cottage as a base for their time at the Gardens. In addition, the funding will enable Ness to host three international conferences around climate change, conservation and the tourism economy.

Saxifraga in Alpine House


The Gentian

The new Ness website should be live by the time of publication so check it out on .This is a fantastic asset to the Gardens in enabling Ness to be more visible to the outside world. It is anticipated that the Phase II development will begin in late summer. After some delay, Chester Water and Chester contractors have completed the connecting stretch of path to that installed by Ness in front of Rake and Mickwell Cottages.The path now enters the Herb Garden and will continue through the Ness car park before rejoining the footpath adjacent to the main entrance. The path is already being well-used and, once the re-marking of the car park is completed in April, this new safe access route will serve to reinforce our commitment to sustainability by encouraging visitors to arrive on foot or bicycle. We are indebted to the Friends of Ness Gardens for the funding support to enable this access upgrade. Finally, an array of solar panels has been installed on the Visitor Centre roof and in the garden adjacent to the global warming experiment to help reduce our energy costs – I just hope we get a barbeque summer! We look forward to welcoming you to Ness throughout 2012 (more on page 18).

Caldy open gardens Last year’s 19 June was a glorious sunny day when 10 Caldy village garden enthusiasts opened their gates to raise funds for North West Cancer Research. More than 600 visitors arrived in four hours and helped raise £6000, £1000 more than on the previous year’s record. The gardens, some open for the first time, showed a good mix of style, size and age, offering plenty of ideas to inspire the visitors.They are usually clustered around recommended parking places within the village. A selection of gardens, hopefully including some fresh ones, will open again on Sunday 27 May at 2pm. Posters will be displayed locally in advance with details of ticket availability and prices.


Outcomes from the AGM Thank you to all Friends who attended and contributed to the Annual General Meeting on Saturday 21 January 2012 which was attended by 64 Members. The key points from the Annual Report and outcomes from the meeting are detailed below: ■ A detailed overview of the process of the independent examination of the Society’s accounts for the accounting periods 2008-09 and 2009-10 was given by the Secretary and it was agreed that this had answered a number of the queries which had been raised at the previous AGM. ■ Membership subscription rates had increased on 1 January 2011 (the first time since 2007). These will remain unchanged for 2012 but will be reviewed at the autumn Committee meeting. ■ To 31 July 2011 the Society had 7,397 Members (7,376 the previous reporting period) which is 4,452 memberships (4,433 previously). ■ To 31 July 2011 the Society had confirmed £43,000-worth of grants to the Gardens which was in addition to the £114,412 for general support (80% of subscriptions automatically being paid). The main additional grants included the following: - An extra £10,000 towards the Ken Hulme Student Bursary - £6,000 for four information monitors to go into the Visitor Centre - £8,000 towards the Ness Footpath Scheme to make access to the Gardens safer for those visitors travelling there on foot - £3,500 towards the development of a new Gardens website with dedicated membership pages However, due to the number of projects which had either been reassigned after being awarded, or came under budget when completed, £46,085 was written back to the Society’s funds. ■ The total assets for the Society, as at 31 July 2011, were £131,127 which was a substantial level to hold but was being built up to await confirmation of projects from the Gardens as well as to fund something significant to mark the forthcoming Golden Anniversary of the Friends. ■ The re-election Mrs Ann Hudson and Dr Duncan Shaw was confirmed at the AGM (see page 10 for full details of the Society’s Committee). ■ In recognition of the long-term support given during his role as Chairman 2000–2011 Honorary Membership of the Society was awarded to Dr Anthony (Tony) Mould. Copies of the Minutes of the 2011 AGM are available on request from the Secretary via or Lorna Harper, Membership Administrator, at the Gardens or 6

The Gentian

Membership system update An outline of the process on the discussions for the introduction of a new administration system which had taken place over the past months was given at the AGM by Steve Ferguson and Barry Fowler, with the outcome that the Committee has taken the decision and informed the University, that the proposed system was not ‘fit for purpose’ for the requirements of the Society and that it would not be accepted for the administration of its records. Whilst this was a disappointing situation to be in some 15 months since the start of the project, which had been enthusiastically detailed and received at the last AGM, it was confirmed that no costs had so far been incurred by the Society. It was also noted that some aspects of the proposed system, ie the new membership cards, could be used with an alternative system. New proposals were now being looked into with the Director and his team and it is hoped that a positive outcome could be reported back to the membership in the near future.

Friends’ archive

Helen Watters

When the Friends of Ness Gardens was established in 1962 a regular typed four-page Newsletter detailing seasonal highlights in the Gardens, was an important form of communication for the increasingly growing membership. Whilst undertaking the research for this Golden Anniversary year I have spent quite a bit of time in the Special Archive Collection in the Sydney Jones Library at the University of Liverpool, as well as reading through back issues of Newsletters (in all its various formats) and past Committee papers. However, I have not been able to find Issue No 1 of the Newsletter which is recorded to have been produced in December 1962. Do you have a copy of it? In fact, do you have any potential archival material (past issues of the newsletter, photographs, etc) which you think might be of interest to create as complete an archive of the Society as possible? If so please leave a message for me at the Gardens or contact me at Hacquetia epipactis


Volunteers help keep standards high Fiona Harrison A large disparate group of people work on a regular basis to support the permanent staff at Ness Botanic Gardens. These teams of volunteers make it possible to maintain the 64 acres of gardens to a high standard for the enjoyment of the wider public and as an educational resource at many levels. Who are the people giving their time and energy? Most are local to the Wirral although some travel 30 or more miles from North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire. Some use their leisure time from busy working lives to put in a few hours at Ness but many are retired. What all have in common is a love of gardens and an enthusiasm to make Ness a thriving horticultural showpiece. Visitors to the gardens cannot help but be aware of volunteer gardeners, particularly on Thursday afternoons when groups can be found undertaking various tasks - pruning, weeding, hoeing, etc. When a bigger job presents itself a team will get together, for example, digging out an old juniper bush; working on the water features; planting up the potager. Volunteers are also involved in the Wildflower Meadow where they identify the flowers, butterflies and bees. Others collect seeds and carefully sort, clean, pack and label for Friends. For all roles, there is always an expert on hand to teach new skills and explain horticultural or environmental aspects of the job. Visitors may not be so aware of the numerous people who work front-of-house and behind the scenes as volunteers. The Admissions Desk, and Shop and Plant Sales are all staffed by volunteers who enjoy welcoming visitors and can help them get the most out of their visit by pointing out current highlights and special features to look out for. Volunteers also support the office staff by helping with the production of leaflets, preparing information for coach parties, answering phones, taking reservations for courses and events, etc. Ness, as a university botanical garden, plays an important role in education at many levels and covering all ages and abilities. During term-time Ness hosts a number of school visits looking at trees, plants, the vegetable garden, insects and pond life. At half-term there is a Boredom Buster week with organised children's activities and in the summer holidays a children's Fun Day. Volunteers helping Becky Ford run these sessions enjoy working with the children. For the more mature visitor, the Garden Guides provide an invaluable service, particularly helpful to the coach tour of garden enthusiasts.


The Gentian

Behind the scenes there is an enormous amount of work to be done in the Botany Department. Science and plant recording are the lynchpin of all of the work botanic gardens do. Accurately recording, documenting and labelling plants is the key to this science, and volunteers help with all the many and varied tasks involved. One of the main jobs is helping to find, identify and manage the plant collections in the gardens, and lots of work so far has been done on Camellias and Rhododendrons. Other volunteers help to build up and maintain the database of plants growing at Ness. This database is available on line ( From the information held, plant labels are made by volunteers using a photographic process onto metal plate; a process that is probably unique to the Gardens.Work is also undertaken mounting plant specimens for use in the Herbarium at the Liverpool World Musem. Work in a garden is never finished! So many tasks need so many willing hands! At Ness people from all walks of life can find a place whether their skills are in gardening, communicating with people, making people feel at home, specialist plantsmen, working with children, books or computers. Ness offers us all an opportunity not only to enjoy a beautiful place but to be part of the organisation, making it possible, a place where we can have a pride in achievement of projects with tangible and often dramatic results. Bob recently volunteered and threw himself at many tasks, including the Laburnum Arch, which was in need of a severe haircut. Over many weeks Bob turned up on a Thursday and worked methodically through the Arch pruning out dead, diseased or overcrowded branches. Unfortunately Bob has been unable to volunteer since Christmas due to the changes in the 272 Bus route. Is Bob the only volunteer relying on a hit and miss transport system to get to Ness? Can we help by organising car shares or lifts? Any thoughts and help would be appreciated. More about volunteers in our next edition.

New website for Ness Gardens! Alison Cliffe We are delighted to announce the relaunch of the much-awaited Ness website.The new website will be a shop window for our visitors, 87% of whom visit it before going to the Gardens. There will be moving images, on-line bookings for events/courses and functions, an on-line shop, information about Roses Tea Rooms, and a gallery where you can post pictures. In addition, users will be able to access frequently-asked questions on horticultural subjects while Friends will have special access via their own membership page to ask questions and advice from Ness experts. Social media users can network via Facebook/Twitter/You Tube. 9

Botanical Artists’ exhibition

Ann Hudson

Ness Botanical Artists celebrate their 21st anniversary with an exhibition on 27 June–10 July. Founded in January 1991, they have achieved Royal Horticultural Society medals for Ness Botanic Gardens. (silver medals for Rhododendron Subsection Maddenia in December 2000) followed by the exciting exhibition at BBC Gardeners World Live at the Birmingham Exhibition Centre in 2002 for exhibiting ‘Rare endangered species’ and for the recent Collection of Ilex grown at Ness. Individual artists have been awarded RHS Gold and RCHS scientific medals. The group aims to provide the highest standard of botanical tuition by medal-holders. Courses are often fully-booked early in January with waiting lists. Some of the artists are also members of the Society of Botanical Artists and the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society, making friendships worldwide in their desire to share, enjoy and inspire with their paintings. ■ 20-27 June Exhibition of Botanic Art. Josephine Hague and Vicki Marsh exhibiting botanical illustrations of birch, alder and plants from the Moss Lake project previously exhibited at the Vicoria Gallery Museum, Liverpool.The birch illustrations are for the forthcoming Kew monograph series, Betula by Dr Hugh McAllister. A chance to see high quality botanical illustrations at Ness. Ann’s painting of Rhododendron dalhousiae var.rhabdotum, grown at Ness

Friends of Ness Gardens Committee Members Following the AGM, your Committee members are as follows:



Professor Jon Saunders


Helen Watters


Roger Bickerstaff

Appointed by the University

Professor Malcolm Bennett

Ordinary Members

Steve Ferguson, Ann Hudson, Olwen McLaughlin, Lindsay Price, Dr Duncan Shaw and Dr John Tallis

Co-opted Members

Tracey Crich and Barry Fowler

Editor of The Gentian

Keith Cade

The Gentian

Ness retail revamp Changes are underway within the Gift Shop and Plant Sales ahead of the 2012 season with a view to providing high quality products aimed at an increasingly discerning customer. The aim is to move towards the higher end garden retail offer in order to raise the Gardens’ reputation as a place that sells appropriate Ness souvenirs alongside ‘nice things’ which differ from local garden centre competitors. Iain Cowan (Retail Enterprises Manager) said: ‘The Gift Shop will be centred on four themes – Food, Learning, Art and Craft, and Children and Families.The aim is to bring in more appropriate garden merchandise, including seasonal lines, Ness-specific products, and bespoke items, to create a sense of regular change to attract repeat visits.’ Plant Sales is being reorganised to reflect a reduction in lines in favour of more Ness-specific plants which have been grown by Reaseheath students as our plant propagation partner; alongside local Cheshire growers such as Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage (former BBC Gardner of the Year) and supporting our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint rather than using suppliers from Brighton to Holland. ‘We would ask you to bear with us while we make the transition and please continue to support the Gardens through our retail activity,’ said Iain. New products include a range of RHS-endorsed gardening gloves, Ness-branded lines such as pens, pencils, mugs, jigsaws and fridge magnets, bespoke local arts and crafts including silk scarves, contemporary stained glass and jewellery, along with gardening gifts/toys for younger visitors. The Shop will also stock jams and chutney from the locally renowned Cheshire Chutney Company, as well as a selection of cheese from the Cheshire Cheese Company. Blended tea and a selection of the jams and sauces used in the coffee shop will also be available.

Discount for Friends The 10% discount for Friends of Ness Gardens is now permanently available on presentation of your valid membership card in the Shop and Plant Sales areas.

Swam to Ness. A family fun day about the decline in bees - page 12.


Dates for your diary Please see our website at for further information or call us on 0151 353 0123. To celebrate our 50th anniversary we are planning a range of family activities to take place in the Gardens 11-3pm on Sunday afternoons throughout June to September (please see website for more details).

March Easter Egg Hunt & Big Dig Week 31 March–15 April, 50p per trail

April Up With Lark - An early morning bird watch with the RSPB followed by a bacon sandwich or a vegetarian sausage and tea/coffee. Spaces are limited so please contact 0151 353 0123 to book now. £10 adults, £8 Friends 14 April Rhododendron Society 14th Anniversary Show 14–15 April, Bulley Room,10am–5pm.

May Friends of Ness Gardens Plant Fair 7 May (see page 3). Heswall Photographic Society Exhibition 7–13 May European Fascination of Plants Day18 May – learn about the role plants play in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and other industries.Will involve sustainability-based practical demonstrations, activities, quizzes and tours. Please check website for details

June Henry V, Illyria Outdoor Theatre 8 June £12.50 (adult), £6 (5-16 yrs) gates open 5.30pm, performance 7pm. World Environment Day 9 June. Please check website for details. Swarm to Ness – a family fun day about the decline in bees including guided walks to the beehives, bee hive demonstrations, talks on bees, advice from bee experts on how to look after them in your garden, honey tasting, waggle dancing with Piff Paff, facepainting and children’s activities. Admission to gardens applies, all children are FREE of charge. 19 June


The Gentian

After the Dream 21-22 June – A modern sequel to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hand in Hand theatre production. £8 per person, gates open at 6pm, performance starts at 7pm.

July Children’s Fun Day 25 July. 10am–4.30pm. Admission to garden applies. Some activities may incur a small charge. The Twits, Illyria Outdoor Theatre 28 July, £12.50 (adult), £6 (5-16 yrs) gates open 5.30pm, performance 6.30pm.

August Peter Pan, Off the Ground Theatre 3 and 4 August. All bookings 0151 625 2929 HMS Pinafore, Illyria Outdoor Theatre 26 August. £12.50 (adult), £6 (5-16 yrs), gates open 5.30pm, performance 7pm. Macbeth, Lord Chamberlain’s Men 28 August. £12.50 (adult), £6 (5-16), gates open 5.30pm performance 7pm.

Secret no more It’s the 12th annual opportunity on 13 May (10am-5pm) to view more than 20 hidden gardens in the pleasant conservation village of Oxton, Birkenhead. You will be charmed by the range of gardens on display, all within walking distance of each other - from tiny courtyards to spacious borders and landscaped lawns, these are the creations of everyday gardeners who generously open their gates to raise funds for charity. The Secret Gardens is organised by The Oxton Society with help from local charities who all benefit from the profits. During the day you can also enjoy refreshments in gardens, pubs, cafés and restaurants. There will be plant advice and sales of local plants, live music, strolling actors and musicians and local arts & crafts for sale. Children’s activities include Punch & Judy, fairground organ, pony rides, horse-drawn omnibus, face painting and more. Tickets: £6 in advance or £8 on the day, including free car park, eight-page programme with map of gardens, facilities and events. Accompanied under-18s free. Please see advert on inside frontcover for details of how to buy tickets. 13

Friends Sunday Lecture Series

John Tallis

Autumn 2012 It is a programme of lectures that I hope you will find a little special, with speakers who all come highly recommended: two talks discussing very different aspects of Ness Gardens by local speakers (Peter Cunnington and Tim Baxter), two garden-history talks by nationally-renowned speakers (Sam Youd and Maggie Campbell-Culver), and two talks that should be pure enjoyment (Marian & Chris Goody and Patrick Harding). 16 September

Peter Cunnington. Celebrating 50 years of the Friends of Ness Gardens* Former Curator of Ness Gardens, and a regular speaker over several decades, Peter has personal experience of the services rendered to the Gardens by the Friends.

7 October.

Tim Baxter. A tree trail around Ness Gardens* Celebrating the heritage of rare and unusual trees planted at Ness Gardens over many decades.

21 October.

Sam Youd. Restoration of Kitchen Gardens Based on experience at Tatton Park, where Sam was, until recently, Garden Manager.

4 November

Marian & Chris Goody. Penguins and Polar Bears An audio-visual presentation of adventures in the Antarctic and Arctic.

18 November

Maggie Campbell-Culver. The 17th century horticultural world of John Evelyn* And especially his 'Sylva, a discourse of Forest Trees', published in 1664.

2 December

Patrick Harding. Christmas and its customs What links Christmas and holly, ivy, mistletoe, robins, candles, crackers, mince pies, etc. (* title to be confirmed)

All talks are at 2.30pm but there are special arrangements being planned for Peter Cunnington's talk on 17 September to mark the 50th anniversary of the Society.

Emails please for a chance to win We are gathering Friends' email addresses to keep you better informed and to ultimately reduce paper notifications. To help us please send your email address to . Those who do so by 1 July will be entered into a prize draw and could win two tickets for the Illyria production of The Twits at Ness on 28 July. 14

The Gentian

Mysteries among the Azaleas

Tim Baxter

2011 was a great year for progress on the Ness Holt Azaleas.These azaleas are special to Ness as they were named by Peter Cunnington in the 1990s after towns on the Wirral (such as Spital and Neston). Much of the work in documenting and recording plants in the Gardens is complete, with the final report coming out towards the end of this year. Preliminary results show that Ness still has most of the cultivars, although several still remain unaccounted for. Despite all plants in the Gardens flowering about 3-4 weeks early, many of the ‘late’ flowering azaleas were still in bloom later than almost all others, making them quite special. One exciting development of the year was finding several previously unknown cultivars. These are simply known at the minute by their auditing numbers such as Rhododendron 700, but may prove to be excellent new cultivars, if they are distinct enough plants (see photo). We are also still on the look out for any gardens that may have a Ness Holt Azalea. If you have one, please get in contact with me at the Gardens. Many thanks to those of you who have shown us your plants and brought in photos. ● Thanks to the Friends of Ness Gardens for the grant in support of this project.

Plants and home-made teas! Between now and the end of May, 10 National Gardens Scheme gardens in Wirral - plus many more in neighbouring Cheshire - will welcome visitors. Admission averages £4 for adults, children are usually free, and most gardens offer home-made afternoon teas. For a fabulous display of shrubs and bulbs, head to Neston on 15 April for Briarfield with its four distinct gardens (open 2-6pm). A few days later, on 21 April, there's Poulton Hall in Bebington with three acres to explore, plus a walled garden with literary connections. A visit to Willaston on 6 May offers three gardens for the price of one: Change Hey, covering two acres, the Dutch House with its cottage garden, and the half-acre plantperson's garden of Silverburn. Open 2-5pm. In Meols, there are two suburban NGS gardens with a seaside flavour. Each garden (29 and 31 Forest Road, open 2-6pm) features a revolving summerhouse, plus imaginative landscaping and spring planting. 15

Spring/summer courses at Ness Please refer to the website at for further information or call us on 0151 353 0123. Prices quoted include Friends discount.

April RHS Level 1, Designing with Plants. Fridays - 20 April-25 May, 9.30am-12noon, £45 RHS Level 1,Why Do People Need Plants. Fridays - 20 April-25 May, 1-3.30pm, £45 Soils & Composting 21 April, 10am-3pm, £18 Plant ID for Beginners 28 April, 10am-3pm, £18

May Gardening Club - Practical Guide to Propagating Bulbs 1 May, 10am-12.30pm, £8 Spring Propagation 5 May, 10am-3pm, £18 Beginners Woodcarving with John White 5-6 May, £150 Growing & Cooking with Herbs 12 May, 10am-3pm, £18 RHS Level 1, Right Plant/Right Place 19-20 May, 10am-4pm, £40 Exploring the Plant Kingdom 26 May, 10am-3pm, £18 Herbal Medicine Day with Jesper Launder 27 May, £45

June RHS Level 1, Designing with Plants 2-3 June, 10am-4pm, £40 Gardening Club - Essential Gardening Jobs for the Summer 5 June, 10am-12.30pm, £8 RHS Level 1, Wildlilfe Friendly Gardens. Fridays - 15 June-20 July, 9.30am-12noon, £45 RHS Level 1,The Secret Life of Trees. Fridays - 15 June-20 July, 1-3.30pm, £45 Herbariums 16 June, 10am-3pm, £18 RHS Level 1,Wildlife Friendly Gardens 23-24 June, 10am-4pm, £40 Bees 30 June, 10am-3pm, £18

July Gardening Club - Weeds & How to Defeat Them 3 July, 10am-12.30pm, £8


The Gentian

Summer Pruning 7 July, 10am-3pm, £18 Illustrated Guide to Native Wildflowers 14 July, 10am-3pm, £18 Herbaceous Borders 21 July, 10am-3pm, £18 Identifying Trees 4 August, 10am-3pm, £18 Gardening Club - Practical Guide to Ponds 7 August, 10am-12.30pm, £8 Summer Propagation 11 August, 10am-3pm, £18

Help promote the Friends We are looking to raise our profile and promote the Friends during our 50th anniversary year both within the Gardens and at a variety of garden events, large and small (from local NGS open gardens to the Tatton and Southport Flower Shows). If you would like to help out at the Gardens over the weekend, act as an external representative of Friends at events, or are willing to deliver leaflets to a venue, please send your contact details to and we will send you a list of local events we would like to cover.

Get the buzz! To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wirral Branch of Cheshire Beekeepers Association, there is a one-day meeting in the Lecture Theatre at Ness Gardens on 16 June. Eminent beekeeper Clive de Bruyn will give a talk on ‘The importance of pollen to plants, the environment, bees and humans’ followed by a more light-hearted lecture by Bill Turnbull, BBC newsreader and presenter. Bill is the author of The Bad Beekeepers’ Club and has wide experience of the pleasures and pitfalls of trying to keep bees. The programme for the day is 10.30am - assemble and coffee, 11am Clive de Bruyn talk, 12.30pm lunch, 2.30pm Bill Turnbull, 4pm finish. All are welcome. Admission to the two lectures only, including coffee is by ticket only at £7 each. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. For tickets please contact C. Brabin, Rosewood, Old Hall Lane, Puddington, Neston CH64 5SP.Tel 0151 353 1193. Email


Reason to smile when sun comes out Tracey Crich Recent visitors to Ness may have noticed the array of 42 solar panels on the Visitor Centre roof and 130 panels in an open area of the Gardens near the weather station. Why has this been done? The installation looks set to have a significant impact on energy usage at Ness Gardens.The ground solar PV array and roof solar PV array have a combined forecast annual generation capacity of 47,000 kw hrs; Ness has a total annual consumption of electricity of circa 200,000 kw hrs, so the solar panels will supply about 23% of its total annual consumption. Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity and, in the case of solar panels, it is done directly using photovoltaics (PV) which convert light into electric current using a photoelectric effect (the creation of voltage or electric current in a material from exposure to light). Assemblies of solar cells are used to make solar modules which capture energy from sunlight. Multiple modules assembled together and oriented in one plane are known as a solar panel. The resulting energy created is known as solar power. A sustainable future? The Ness installation is part of a wider programme of solar PV installation across the University's estate; solar PV arrays have also been installed on the Foundation Building (the University's main administration building) and on the roof of the Electrical Engineering building, both in Liverpool.The total installed capacity across the University's three solar PV sites (Ness, Foundation, Engineering) is circa 110,000 kw hrs per annum.

Feeling the heat - solar panels atop the Visitor Centre and near the weather station.


The Gentian

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Tel: Kelsall 01829 751342

Voirrey Crafts... Now under new ownership – crafts for all the family in the heart of the countryside. An inspirational range of embroidery supplies, beautiful patchwork fabrics and many exciting new yarns. Brand new from July a fantastic selection of wooden toys and kids craft activities. Come along and try your hand at quick-dry pottery painting or decorate with Decopatch – all our crafts are available to do in-store at our brand new craft workshop or take away. We also take group bookings for parties. Visit:Voirrey Crafts, Brimstage Hall and Craft Centre, Brimstage Lane,Wirral, CH63 6JA (M53, Exit 4 towards Heswall). 0151 342 3514



for a quality and friendly service

Telephone 0151 353 0003 1-3 Chester Road, Neston









Gentian Spring 2012  

Friends of Ness Gardens seasonal publication

Gentian Spring 2012  

Friends of Ness Gardens seasonal publication