How the Group started

"It was early spring of 1986 when a gentleman living in Houghton Conquest, Mid-Beds, visited the Royal Horticultural Society Show at Westminster. He was captivated by the exhibition put on by the Alpine Garden Society and sought permission to set up a group in the Bedfordshire area. By October Jeff Watts had organised the inaugural meeting, which fourteen people attended. This was held at the Wilstead Garden Centre and a committee was elected. The first monthly meeting was held on the 4th of December 1986, when our speaker was Michael Upward, the AGS Secretary. The Group continued to meet at the Garden Centre until March 1988, when it became obvious that more space was needed. It was then we moved to the village hall at Wilstead. A monthly newsletter has been issued since mid 1989."

-Taken from the Members' Handbook of the Alpine Garden Society Bedfordshire Group that was published in the early 1990's. 1986 seems a long time ago and in a couple of years we will be looking forward to our thirtieth anniversary! The Group's membership has steadily increased and we now have around thirty members who rejoin annually and new faces visit us every year. We still meet on the first Monday of the month, excluding January, at the Wilstead Village Hall, which was rebuilt in the past few years and now has facilities to accommodate the hard of hearing. A few things have changed - the newsletter continues to be sent out monthly and gives details of Group meetings, Society news, dates for your diaries etc, but now most of our members receive it by e-mail. Another valuable communication medium is the web-site you're reading now.

Although we encourage our members to join the Alpine Garden Society, it is not necessary to do so in order to join our Group.

We invite a range of speakers to talk to us throughout the year, with past talks including: "Discover the Wild Side of the Altai Mountains", "A Room with a View", "Pakistan, Desoai: A Place of Flowers", "Unfinished Business: Thirty Years on Greensand", "Flower Hunting in Iran", "Alpines through an Artist's Eye" and many more.

Our Members' Evenings have included plant sales, Gardeners' Questions, quizzes and members' slides. Meetings also include a raffle, access to our extensive library, a professional nurseryman and a monthly plant and artistic competition.

The Annual General Meeting is held in October, during which the committee is elected, annual reports are given and presentations take place. Annual membership costs £7.50 for singles, £11.50 for joint membership and £2.00 for students and juniors. There is a monthly capitation fee of £2 and this includes refreshments of tea and biscuits. Visitor's fee is £3 every month. The meetings run from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

Currently our committee consists of eleven dedicated members who meet four times during the year; before and after the show in March and the Annual General Meeting in October. New volunteers are always welcome.

The highlight of our calendar is the annual show, which is also nearing its twenty-fifth year. This always proves to be a great success and is an excellent opportunity for our members to show off their growing prowess. We have national judges at our show and they often comment on the extremely high standard of exhibits on display. Our members boast an extensive knowledge of all things alpine and are more than happy to share their, knowledge, experience and expertise with anyone who asks.