For their May meeting, Mickleton Gardening Club welcomed Jack Willgross from Wildegoose Nursery, Shropshire. Talking about perennial violas, Jack described, with humour, the evolution of his business, with his wife, Laura.

Having met at Wisley Horticultural College, they bought the Bouts Viola business in 2011 prior to renting the traditional walled gardens of Millichope House in Shropshire. These were derelict and contained some rare Georgian curvilinear glasshouses which were in a dreadful condition, as illustrated by Jack’s excellent photographic images.

With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Country Houses Association, the glasshouses were restored and after five years the 2 acre site, with far reaching views of Brown Clee hill and beyond, was thriving.

Jack provided details on the botanical background of perennial violas, including the difference between them and pansies and the strengths and the differences between the many varieties. Some amusing anecdotes were given as an aid to remember how some of the plants were named, with advice as to how to use the plants in the garden and after picking. In particular he recommended using viola cornutus beneath his favourite plants with explanations as to why he had chosen them and whether they were scented or vigorous or best grown in pots. Number 1 on the list was viola Josie, for its vigorous, scent and large flowers.

The Club is now keen to go visit the gardens and tea shop at Wildegoose Nursery in the near future. Mickleton Gardening Club members (and invited guests) will meet for their ‘Open Garden’ evening in the village on June 20 (£3 for guests). Maps (to be shown at each garden) will be available at the starting point at the King George’s Hall at 6pm. The evening will conclude at 8pm in the garden of Grey Gables for a social gathering.

The July meeting will be held in King George’s Hall on the 18th when Roger Umpelby will talk on ‘How to love lily beetles and admire slugs.’ (He will need to be convincing!) The competition will be ‘A single rose’. Refreshments will be served from7pm for a 7.30pm start. Visitors are welcome to attend.