All posts by Alison Evans

BPS success at Southport Flower Show

The BPS stand at Southport Flower Show won a Gold Medal again this year. Thank you very much to Michael Hayward who organised it, and to all the helpers who put up, manned, and took down the stand.
Robert Crawford won the Individual Challenge BPS cup for his collection of eight ferns. Alison Evans won the Happiland Trophy for the most 1st prizes in the other fern classes.

Michael is retiring from organising the stand, after doing it for many years. We are in need of volunteers to take over the various tasks that Michael has previously done all on his own. I’m delighted to say that Michael will still be involved in providing plants for the display – and will be around to support the people who take over. It is great fun, and a good way to be involved and learn about ferns.

Brian Russ 27 July 1932 – 10th August 2019

Brian’s son, Colin, has sent the following message to me:

“We are sad to announce that Brian Russ died on Saturday 10th August having been admitted to Southport and Formby General Hospital earlier that day. He had a massive heart attack at 10:20 in the evening and the medical staff were unable to resuscitate him.

He was a long time member of the society (from 1999) and also a life vice president of the Alpine Garden Society.

His funeral will be held on Tuesday 20th August at 10:30am at St Michael’s Church in Aughton, Ormskirk, Lancashire. Family flowers only but any donations to Guide Dogs for the Blind.”

On a personal note, I would like to add that I knew Brian through the Alpine Garden Society, long before we both joined the BPS in 1999. His Alpine Garden Society stand was always next to the BPS stand at Southport Show, where there was a friendly rivalry, and several members of the BPS received some lovely ferns from Brian. He also won the Fern classes in the amateur growers’ competition on several occasions. He will be very much missed.

Working day at Broadbottom Fernery

Two of us met Sue Roberts, Greenspace Officer for Tameside Council, at Lymefield Garden Centre, Broadbottom, 33/996935, for a working day with the volunteers. An enormous amount of work has gone on at the fernery since our visit last September. The area beyond the first part of the fernery has been cleared and landscaped, creating many new planting areas. A new retaining wall on the river side of the plot already looks like it has been there for years, and has some small wall ferns in it. After a tour of the site and some discussion as to what ferns would do well in each section, Henry and Alison got to work planting – the easy part really! We were delighted to see John and Anne Grue, who came for a tour of the fernery and a chat with the volunteers, before joining us in the garden centre café for lunch. After lunch, we planted the remaining ferns, but there are still plenty of spaces to fill. If you have any spare healthy hardy ferns that you could donate to the fernery, please let Mike Canaway know on

Welcome to new BPS Officers!

Last Monday four of us met in Peterborough – Peter Blake (Treasurer), Peter Grimbly (Finance Officer), Ann Robbins (Membership Secretary), Alison Evans (President and retiring Membership Secretary) – to discuss our roles and to see how we can best support each other. Our finance team now have robust and efficient methods of managing our accounts and producing reports. Thank you to Peter Grimbly, who has stepped into the new post of Finance Officer, bringing his Excel skills amongst many others. He and Peter Blake have written their job descriptions, making clear the responsibilities of each, which will make life much easier for their successors in post.

Peter Grimbly, BPS Finance Officer

A big thank-you also to Ann, who has brought her organisational and database skills to the role of Membership Secretary. You will probably remember that it was Ann who organised our very successful stand at Chelsea in 2016 – no mean feat! Ann has already been busy preparing mailing files and sending out reminders. I’m sure that you will give her the same great support as you gave to me as Membership Secretary.

Ann Robbins, Membership Secretary

I’m also delighted to welcome Sophie Walwin, our new Publicity and Communications Officer, who has already made good use of our social media platforms, and is helping us with our promotional material, as well as reviewing our communications with members. Sophie has lots of good ideas about how we can raise the profile of the BPS, and appeal to people of all ages!

Spring Indoor Meeting and AGM 13th April 2019

Our meeting at Harlow Carr was very well attended. The tree ferns in the corner of the room made us feel at home! Thank you to all the speakers who made the day a success – some of them having travelled a long way to be there. Thanks also to Frank Katzer and Sean Barton for the booksales, to Brian and Sue Dockerill for looking after plant sales, and to all those who brought plants, and a big thank you to Michael Hayward who stepped in at the last minute to provide merchandise when Gill and Bryan were unable to attend.
We have some changes of officers – I feel honoured to have been elected President, and will do my best to live up to the challenge. Ann Robbins is taking over as Membership Secretary. Sophie Walwin is taking up the post of Publicity and Communications Officer. Sadly, Ann Haskins is stepping down as Committee Secretary – thank you Ann for all your hard work. We are looking to recruit a new secretary to take minutes – please contact our General Secretary, David Hill, on if you think you could help.

A seriously long watering lance for Churchtown Fernery!

BPS member Brian Kelly saw our article on the Fernery in the Pteridologist, and realised that his un-used extending watering lance would be perfect for reaching those high planting pockets. Brian brought the lance into the Fernery on Monday, and it connects perfectly with our hose. The lance extends to 4.5 metres, so no problem in reaching the top of the arches! Thank you very much, Brian, for this very useful gift. We are currently working to have the Fernery ready for opening to the public on Good Friday – April 19th. The aim is to open from 10 am to 4 pm every day through the Summer.

Update on Southport Fernery

We don’t just have ferns in the Fernery – we have been given a range of flowering plants that are suited to life in the wall pockets – and we have already been enjoying the flowers. The Christmas cactus made a great splash of colour – and looked even better when the weeds had been removed! The Paphiopedilum given to us by Henry Folkard has been in flower for over a month now. Yesterday we were delighted to see the first hybrid Epiphyllum in flower – it is spectacular!

On 6th February we opened the Fernery for some important visitors – Margaret Carney, the CEO of Sefton Council, and Angela White of Sefton Council for Voluntary Service, so that they could see what progress has been made in the Fernery, and how we are helping members of the community. We were also delighted to welcome Lord and Lady Fearn of Southport.

Yesterday we introduced volunteers from the BGCA to the mysteries of propagation from spores. BGCA had their own selection of 20 packets of spores from the BPS Spore Exchange, which were sown by the volunteers. Then a few enthusiasts used some previously collected spores to sow ferns for outside the Fernery.

Rosie and Gary sowing ferns for outdoor use

Finally, we were very grateful that heating had been restored after the failure of the electrical system in the Fernery the previous week. Judging by the new croziers emerging, the ferns were grateful too!

Extreme ferning

Three of us braved the icy weather yesterday to continue the holly fern monitoring on one area of the Fell End Clouds site. Bruce had found around 30 plants on a recce, but we clocked up 47 yesterday. The terrain is a bit challenging, with deep grikes, loose stones, and sharp rocky ridges between. There were a few tense moments but we all survived without major injury! We counted number of fronds (top score 32) and measured the length of the longest frond on each plant (top score 55 cm). We found a sheltered hollow for lunch, and mercifully it wasn’t wet or windy. We were in cloud for most of the morning, but this blew away in the afternoon, and we almost saw some sunshine! We thought that we had marked out all the plants in the morning, but found a further eight in the afternoon, including a juvenile, so a very productive and worthwhile day. There are more areas still to do in this location, so the final total will be well over 50 plants.

Water features in Churchtown Fernery, Southport

Water was an important part of the Victorian fernery, with rather more pools than there are today. Recently there have been problems with the pipework, so that the central fountain did not work very well, and the cascade above the wishing well didn’t work at all. The pool by the central cascade was leaking, so it only retained a small volume of water. Maurice Ashton, with help from Gary Mawdsley, (both volunteers at the fernery), have replaced the old leaking pipes, installed new pumps, and today mended the holes in the bottom of the pool. Looking forward to seeing the pool refilled and the central cascade working again. Gary has cleared the weeds from the cascade, so now we need suitable ferns to put in there.

The central fountain has been mostly cleared of moss and ‘baby tears’. Peter Blake donated Spanish moss, and Michael Hayward has started planting up with Adiantum raddianum that he has been growing.

More holly fern monitoring

The weather forecast for Friday was cold but dry, so six of us met in the car park south of Malham Tarn to re-visit the holly fern colony on limestone pavement nearby. Bruce was able to compare the records with a previous survey – of the 10 known plants, one had disappeared, but we discovered a new one, so there are still 10 plants at this site. Chris and Fred scoured the surrounding pavements but didn’t find any more plants. The monitoring team is now so efficient we had all the recording done by lunch time, so then we did a bit of sight-seeing, taking in the Polystichum x bicknellii growing on the pavement at the top of the cove, then walking back to the car park along the dramatic dry valley. Lots of Polypodiums here, but out of reach, and we didn’t have the famous Yorkshire extra-long snipping device!