The Society began in March 1955 as the Garden Group of the Adel Community Association, which met in a building in the grounds of the Friends’ Meeting House in New Adel Lane. Two local professional gardeners, Mr. Walter R. Pearson and Mr. Kew, established the group with the aim ‘to help the amateur’. Mr. Pearson was the Superintendent at Lawnswood Crematorium and had trained at the RHS garden at Wisley in Surrey; Mr. Kew owned a rose nursery in Farrar Lane. There was considerable local interest and after meeting as part of the Adel Association for several years the Adel and District Horticultural Society became independent in 1959 and began to gather at the Friends’ Meeting House. This continues to the present day.

Over the years the pattern of activity has hardly changed; monthly meetings during the winter months, usually with a speaker or a quiz evening, and during the summer outings to gardens of interest, including members own gardens. Periodically we have organised joint meetings with other societies.


The first show was held in the autumn of 1955 and in 1961 a spring show was also arranged. The pattern of two shows each year has continued– thanks to a good deal of voluntary commitment and effort – and in 2005 the 50th jubilee was celebrated with a cake ceremonially cut at the show by Mr. Joe Maiden, our President. In 2018 a new Annual Flower and Produce Show will replace the Spring and Autumn Shows.

In the earlier years a scheme was arranged for the bulk purchase of fertiliser which could be shared among members, but the advent and spread of garden centres meant that this was no longer viable. At the present time the Society organises a communal seed and plant order scheme with Thompson and Morgan, which gives members a generous discount.

There have been memorable meetings with Bill Sowerbutts and Geoffrey Smith, both star gardeners of their times and in 1981 ‘Gardener’s Question Time’ was broadcast from Adel with ADHS as the hosts. The BBC, asking for information on the local soil and growing conditions, were told by the Secretary of those days “The soil is universally heavy – a thin layer of acid soil over a deep bed of clay. The old names of Adel Moor, East Moor and Breary Moss remind us of the nature of the land, cold, wet and windy.” She added, “Death from drowning and prostration by gale are fairly common hazards for Adel plants.”

We have enjoyed many instructive visits to a variety of gardens and nurseries, near and far, including watching rhubarb grow by candlelight and a journey to HRH Prince Charles’ garden at Highgrove.
ADHS has competed in many local shows but most consistently it has put an entry into the Leeds Flower Show, held in August each year. Gold medals have been won many times and in 2013 the Society was also awarded the Stanley Hill Cup for the best exhibit in the members’ section.

The Society has been blessed with the unstinting service of many officers and continues to be grateful for the time and energy generously given to organise meetings,shows and outings. Mrs. Sybil Spencer, who with her son Robin created Yorkgate garden, was Chairman for 15 years; the Society still takes pride in her garden now owned by Perennial and open to the public with some of our members as volunteers. Mrs Spencer endowed a lecture which is held in May each year.
In nearly 60 years the Society has had 9 chairmen; Mr.Walter Pearson, Mrs. Sybil Spencer, Mr. Miles Bloodworth,Mr. Gurney Vickers, Mrs.Joan Fawcett, Mr.Geoff Bradbury, Mrs.Jill Dilks and Mary Snodgrass. They have been supported by the many committee members who have served with them and by the encouraging and generous influence of successive Presidents, Mr. H.S.Wainwright, Sir Donald Kaberry, Mr. R.Wainwright,Mr. Joe Maiden and Mr. Martin S Walker.  
One of our members Mr. James Edwards has written a History of the Society from 1955-1986. A copy is in our archive and available for anyone to read.

Leeds is a city with a proud horticultural history and the Adel and District Horticultural Society is pleased to be part of it.

President:            Martin S Walker

Vice Presidents:    Mrs Freda Bradbury Mr G Bradbury

                           Mrs Margaret Denton Dr C Denton

                           Mr Eric Wells

                           Mr Douglas Mansion

                           Mrs Jill Dilks

                           Mrs Sylvia Halliday