As Publicity Secretary, I am often looking for ways to increase our publicity in the North West – and, of course gain, new members!

In 2011, I visited our lovely Grade I Samlesbury Hall and saw that the main border was in urgent need of TLC. Speaking to the Head Gardener, Ed Speake, he was delighted to get an offer of help from our North West Group. The Committee agreed, and a small group formed that October to look at what we could do. Out came nettles, comfrey, the old ‘montbretia’ and much lemon balm. We pruned, we dug, we divided, especially the Sedum (Herbstfreude Group) ‘Herbstfreude’ AGM to create a flow across the border. This year, the deutzia and weigela have flowered wonderfully, the white hydrangeas appear to have a new lease of life, and the border appears to be a real source of interest to visitors. The large clump of Persicaria microcephala ‘Red Dragon’ looks great in front of the weigela! All of us have been happy to donate plants from our gardens. Samlesbury Hall Trust is pleased with our efforts and happily paid for a small plaque stating that the border is maintained and supported by the Hardy Plant Society – NW Group. Three or four of us regularly turn up on alternate Thursday mornings (dependent on weather) and it proves a social occasion as well. We exchange information on our gardens and learn from each other (see photo opposite, below).

Samlesbury Hall has a stunning black and white exterior - see photo opposite, above – so we have planted Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’ AGM and Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ AGM to echo the black - and have planted more white phlox, Anaphalis triplivernis, and white foxgloves along with a donated Lysimachia ephemerum AGM to light up the border and reflect the white of the building. Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ AGM and a silvery Pulmonaria ‘Majesté’ add additional gleams early in the year. White cosmos and black millet (Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’) are planted in the summer as well. We have kept some of the Alchemilla mollis AGM (there was a debate about this!!) as another flow across the border but it will have to be ‘controlled’ next year!

Box balls echoing the topiary along the front of the Hall provide another link. Two large conifers and a variegated Ilex were kept to give the bed some maturity but we are gently pruning for control – and the variegated holly will be pruned for Christmas decorations for this lovely 14th century Hall – we hope the reputed resident ghost will approve!

Audrey Dawson