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.

Plant of the Month

Hydrangea serrata 'Amagi Amacha'

The dainty 'Mountain Hydrangeas' (Hydrangea serrata) originate in the cool, wooded uplands of central Honshu, the main island of Japan.  Here they grow in variety among H. paniculata and Japanese acers, perhaps with an understorey of Epimedium grandiflorum. They start flowering in late June, the wet season in Japan, and have become part of Japanese culture, featuring as a seasonal indicator in the spare 3-line poetry, Haiku.

About six bear the name 'Amacha'.  'Cha' means 'tea' in any language.  This refers to the ceremonial practice of brewing sweet tea made from the leaves of just those six H. serrata.  Most hydrangeas contain the toxin hydrangin, related to cyanide, which those particular forms do not. Apparently.

On 8 April the birthday of Gautama Buddha is celebrated in temples all over Japan. A small figure of the Buddha is placed in the centre of a lotus flower and anointed with sweet tea made from the Amacha leaves.  The remaining tea is drunk by the celebrants.

But rabbits and deer don't know about plant names.  So if your garden is plagued by the aforesaid pests, try planting a stand of H. serrata and H. macrophylla.  They will steer well clear of them.

Sally Gregson

Sally's book, 'The Plant Lover's Guide to Epimediums', is out now (Timber Press).

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