Hydrangea aspera ‘Hot Chocolate’


Open Garden and HPS Plant Sale

Saturday, 12th June,
Highfield Farm, Goytre

Hello everyone
You may already have it in your diary but we are now delighted to confirm the details. Many of you have told us you’re looking forward to getting out and about again. We hope you can find time to drop into this Open Garden and HPS Plant Sale at any time between 2 and 5 pm on Saturday 12th June at Highfields Farm, Goytre, the home of our members Jenny and Roger Lloyd.
Entrance to the plant sale area will be free-of-charge, including self-service tea and coffee as well as some cakes. Plant sales will be by cash payment only. This will be an opportunity for members to sell their spare plants and we’ll also have two local growers who may be familiar to you from Usk Open Gardens. Ian McDonald who is an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable grower, and Suzanne and Phil George who specialise in the more unusual species. There’ll be lots of choice so we’re sure you’ll be tempted to make room for some more plants in your own garden.
If you’d like to view the beautiful Highfields Farm garden too, there’ll be a £5 charge (donated to the NGS), payable by card or cash at the garden gate. There are over 1200 plant cultivars, with many rarities, densely planted over 2 acres to generate an exuberant display across the seasons. It’s well worth a visit, with something new to see even if you’ve visited before. 
To give us some idea of numbers, please let us know if you plan to come along and whether you’ll be bringing any plants for sale. NB Sorry, no dogs allowed
This time there won’t be a formal booking system with email confirmations from us as there’s plenty of space to spread out and room for parking. If too many people arrive all at once though, please be prepared to wait a short while to get in as social distancing and other Covid safety measures are still required. See the end of this note for directions to Highfields Farm. 
(If, as a member, you’d like to bring plants for sale then proceeds from your own plants will be shared 50/50 between you and the group’s funds. There’s also a simple but particular way of labelling – we’ll send you details the week beforehand.) 

Fewer updates included here this time on online talks but there are a few points which may be of interest: 

  • HPS plant fairs and Zoom talks: see https://www.hardy-plant.org.uk/meet-us-at/plant-fairs and https://www.hardy-plant.org.uk/for-members/zoom-talks
  • Plant Heritage Open Day garden visits and online talks: see https://www.plantheritage.org.uk/events/
  • NGS garden openings: see https://ngs.org.uk/find-a-garden/
  • HPS Monmouthshire Group is also affiliated to the RHS: see https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/  andhttps://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/partner-gardens
  • This year’s Usk Open Gardens will take place on Saturday 26th June: seehttps://ngs.org.uk/view-garden/15056  (nb: advance booking only this year). We’ll have a stand at the Gardeners’ Market there as usual – please drop by to see us. 
  • On Tuesday 6th July, there’ll be a ‘A day of Roses’ featuring Sarah Price and Petals of the Valley at the Garden School at Wyndcliffe Court, the home of one of our members, Sarah Clay. For more details, see https://www.wyndcliffecourt.com/school.html  
  • For your diaries, also coming up from our Monmouthshire HPS group (seehttp://hpsmonmouthshire.co.uk), subject to all the usual caveats and with more detail to follow in a future newsletter:
  • In mid-August, we’re planning a local Summer Tea afternoon for members, their families and friends only.
  • On Saturday 4th September, our meetings/talks will restart in Little Mill Village Hall with the well-known head gardener, garden writer and lecturer Troy Scott Smith on a ‘Tale of three gardens’ (Iford Manor, Bodnant and Sissinghurst).
  • We are just finalising our 2021/22 programme which, while focused on meetings, will include occasional Zoom talks too as these have proved very popular, both locally and with visitors from across the UK. 
  • Next, news on two competitions:
  • The Plant Heritage Threatened Plant of the Year competition (you don’t need to be a PH member to enter) is looking for rare or unusual named cultivars, grown or sold prior to 2005 and not currently available commercially or consistently available from garden centres or nurseries: see https://www.plantheritage.org.uk/conservation/threatened-plant-of-the-year-competition/
  • To be launched on 7th June, the BBC and RHS Big Bee Challenge competition is for children to design a bee friendly garden that will be built by the RHS at an NHS hospital. They are looking for 100s of passionate gardeners to help judge, with each giving at least 4 hours in early July to judge a batch of 50 entries. If you’re interested in being a judge, send an email to bigbeechallenge@bbc.co.uk
  • And last but not least, would you be interested in joining the Hardy Plant Society? For the wider benefits of joining HPS and to join online, see www.hardy-plant.org.uk/whyjoinus If you join/renew, please let us know.  

Well, that’s it for now.We’re looking forward to catching up with a good number of you at Highfields Farm on 12th June. 
JacquiSecretary – Monmouthshire Group, HPS
Directions to Highfields Farm, Star Road, Penperlleni/Goytre NP4 0AA   
If you haven’t visited before then depending on which direction you’re coming from, you can find Star Road either by:

  • turning off the A4042 at the Goytre Arms in Penperlleni/Goytre (that’s a left turn if you’re coming from the Abergavenny direction) and following the road (west) over the railway bridge and out of the village  
  • turning (east) off the B4598 at Chainbridge, a few miles north of Usk (immediately left after the bridge if coming from the Usk direction) and then, after a few hundred yards, turning left at the crossroads and heading up the hill.

Once on Star Road, you’ll see an arrow sign (on the left if coming from Chainbridge) once you reach the lane up to the entrance and parking area. Please do not use the drive with the farm name.

Usk in Bloom

This year’s Usk in Bloom campaign will involve, as the central feature in Twyn Square, a large installation including lots of red Sempervirens in a heart form and dedicated to the NHS. If you have red Sempervirens that you’d like to donate to the campaign, Jan Mundy, one of our members and the secretary for Usk in Bloom, would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact Jan on 07944 616448 or janet.mundy@gmail.com

Gwent NGS Newsletter

List and connections to all of the NGS Glorious Gardens of Gwent open in June here

Plant Heritage

Zoom Talks
A selection of new, open Zoom talks from Plant Heritage. Look out for naturalising native orchids and more gems from Dan Hinckley

Local Visits
Details here

Online – for free!

Garden Masterclass

Noel Kingsbury, a well-known writer on gardening and plant science and Annie Guilfoyle, an award-winning garden designer and director of Creative Landscapes, run Garden Masterclass. They put on regular Zoom webinars (seminars on the web) which are pay-to-view, but also stage, for free, Thursday Garden Chats on Thursdays at 18.00 with the likes of Dan Pearson, Tom Stuart-Smith, Jim Gardiner, Fergus Garrett, James Hitchmough, – find them here


and offer free Public Recordings on their YouTube channel. You can find the details of past presentations here. These include Noel doing his Desert Island Gardens – which include Powis Castle and Dyffryn Fernant



The HPS Monmouthshire Group is for people who love hardy herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees and enjoy sharing their enthusiasm with other likeminded gardeners in the County and beyond.

We are part of a network of 45 local groups throughout the UK which is registered with the National Hardy Plants Society. Our Group is also an Affiliated Society of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).


The President of the HPS is Roy Lancaster and our Ambassadors are Matthew Biggs, Val Bourne, Carol Klein, and Matthew Wilson.

HPS Monmouthshire Group

Talks by experts from around the UK

Private garden visits

Plant Fairs with exhibits and sales by expert growers and nurseries from Wales, The Midlands and The West Country

Plant and seed exchanges and sales from other members

… and a forum for the exchange of ideas, knowledge, experience, tips, advice or just plain enthusiasm, all shared over a relaxing cup of tea, cakes and snacks

We meet at

Little Mill Village Hall,

Berthon Road, Pontypool


Ample Parking

Next Meeting
12th June 2.00pm

Open Garden and Plant Sales

Highfield Farm, Goytre

4th September, 2.30pm

A Tale of Three Gardens

Troy Scott Smith, Head Gardener, Iford Manor Gardens

All the details on the Programme page https://hpsmonmouthshire.co.uk/programme/

To book your place/s and/or to join our mailing list, please reply to this note asap, i.e to monmouthshirehps@gmail.com, including – if you are an HPS member and haven’t told us already – your group name and membership number where known. The talks are not recorded so will not be available if you are unable to attend.