Welcome to the Somerset Group of the Hardy Plant Society

The UK Hardy Plant Society (HPS) was formed in 1957 to foster interest in hardy herbaceous plants on the widest possible scale. The aims of the society are to give its members information about the wealth of both well and little known plants, and to ensure that all worthy plants remain in cultivation and have the widest possible distribution.  In the Somerset Local Group, we provide information and activities at a local level for Hardy Plant Society members to promote the aims of the society.
 
This is accomplished by organising a programme of meetings, visits and publishing a local newsletter.  (Please see the Programme of Events page for full details of forthcoming events.)
 
Membership of the local group is open to anyone who is member of the Hardy Plant Society nationally. You can find details of how to join on the Membership page.
 
This website is maintained by the HPS Somerset Group.
 

Our next event: 
 
Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Coach trip to The Picton Garden & Hanbury Hall







Plant of the Month
Heptacodium miconioides

Photos: Stuart Senior, 1 September 2014 and  19 October 2013

H. miconioides was discovered by Wilson in western Hubei in 1907 but he was only able to gather a single fruit for examination and the plant wasn't introduced.  For at least the past century it has been a rare plant and in China it is now under second class national protection and is known on only nine small sites.  In 1980, after 30 years of closure to the West, China admitted a party of American hortico-botanists and seed was brought back to the USA and these are the source of most of the species in cultivation (although there is a plant in the Hillier Arboretum from seed received in 1993).

After these tentative beginnings it soon made its mark in gardens and received an RHS AGM in 2012.  The plant is very distinctive with pendulous dark green leaves, in-rolled to show paler undersides (see picture below).


 
The flowers (on my specimen, at least) start to appear at the end of August and they usually persist until the first frosts.  The flowers are individually small and are scented: it's related to Lonicera.  After flowering, especially in a warm dry autumn, the enlarged calyx becomes tinged with red.  My specimen was planted three years ago and is now 2m x 2m but conditions have not yet been right for the red calyx.  Last year in New England in October I saw many fine examples: one, at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, is shown below.



There aren't too many autumn-flowering shrubs so this one is especially garden-worthy.



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