Family Music & Real Ale Festival 2017

The 2017 Beerfest will take place on Saturday July 1st at the walled garden in Elford. Gates will open at 12.30pm and the event will extend into the late evening. Music will be provided throughout by local performers and food will be available all day, including a hog roast in the evening. There will be the usual free activities for children and a wide variety of craft beers and ciders will be available as well as other refreshments. More details to follow…..

Bonfire on back burner for 2017

The Trustees of the Elford Hall Garden Project have decided that there will be no bonfire event in 2017. This event has been very popular and its cancellation will disappoint many but the decision has been taken in the light of Health & Safety concerns highlighted during the 2016 event and also in view of the huge amount of work that is required to stage such an event at a time of the year when weather is often inclement and when working days are short. It may well be that the event will be held in 2018 so watch this space.

Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 35 – February 2017

Christmas came and went, the ‘live’ nativity in the stable on Christmas Eve was a great success as usual and the volunteers Christmas lunch in the bothy was well attended and enjoyed by all who were able to attend – with far too much being eaten and drunk.    It was, however, a nice way to end a successful year of hard work at the garden.

January saw the ‘nice’ winter weather continuing but then along came February which brought fog, frost, wind and  rain in rapid succession and this made working outside unpleasant though there is always lots to do at this time of year, preparing for the coming spring.   There seems to be endless pruning to tackle and much manure to spread and all at a time when indoor jobs seem so much more attractive!

Spring is sprung

Light at the end of the tunnel…

The longer days and occasional sunny spells have encouraged the spring bulbs to emerge from their winter slumbers.   A few brave crocuses have appeared but the snowdrops are a delight and bring a smile to the face with their promise of better things to come.   It’s a bit muddy underfoot still but the snowdrops are worth a visit if you need cheering up!   Even in the depths of winter there are nice things to see at the garden.   Below, a frosty misty morning by the river was a delight to Roger and others, who were clearing nettles and busily creating 2 new shrub beds on the river bank.   All of the shrubs planted should flower if they have survived the winter chills and give pleasure for many years.

New riverside shrubbery takes shape

Mike and Darren have been busy shoring up the sides of the ponds in the sensory garden which have collapsed this year; leaves have been raked up (and there have been a lot to rake!) and allotments are being prepared when ground conditions permit.   Thelma has been busy preparing plants for sale in spring and Peter Kennedy – as always – has been industrious in the barn.  

Sue Watton has kept us well fed and watered while somehow managing to garden at the same time and Angela continues to keep tabs on our spending – a seemingly endless task.   People sometimes ask me “Are you doing anything at the garden at the moment?”   I think of the long list of jobs on the noticeboard in the bothy and I smile weakly.   “ We try to keep busy,” is my usual response.  The irony in my voice is often lost!

Rear bedroom transformed








Baby it’s cold outside

For those of us with a more sensitive disposition, the winter is a great time to focus on what needs doing in the house (where it is at least a little warmer!).   The final touches have been put to the rear bedroom which is now a storeroom.   The window was rebuilt and the fire surround painted and the carpet laid to finish the job.   The painters then began work on the final front bedroom.   Steve Eyley has today refitted the rebuilt sash window so that we can now finish painting the final wall.   Roger started tiling the bathroom today – it’s the last upstairs room to be tackled.   Hopefully, this will be well underway before spring is too far advanced.   Pete has also been working on repairs in the bathroom.   Downstairs, there is a little work to be done in the hall and then new floor tiles to be laid.   Once this is done, we can move outside to paint the shabby woodwork which has been neglected for so long.   Elsewhere, Dave has fashioned two beautiful oak doors for the bothy building so that this is now weatherproof.   Just the window frames to make and then we can begin to think about the inside of the buildings and how best to use the 2 rooms.

Above we see the first door already hung and looking fabulous while Dave does the final sanding on the second door.

New Year Volunteers Forum

This annual meeting is always productive.   Our volunteer team always surprises us with their ideas and we now have a long list of things to tackle in 2017.   Some things have already been done – would you believe – but the long list is displayed in the Bothy for you to look at…….

Already done – log splitter purchased, new refrigeration purchased, orchard ladders purchased, new signs made.   Taken on board – redesigning the bothy kitchen to make it easier to keep clean, better seating for the rose garden and hard standing for the area outside the barn.   We’re going to be pretty busy by the sounds of it! Laurence has set up a camera overlooking the wildlife pond which links to a TV screen in the Bothy so the wildlife can be observed in comfort!

For your diary

    • Boules dates will be on the first and third Friday each month from April 7th.   This first one will be a bring and share social in the Bothy with optional boules so if you hope to attend please let Roger know ASAP
    • This years’ Music & Real Ale Festival takes place on Saturday 1st July
    • Friends subscriptions due on April 1st

For the Future

  • We’d really like to have a few more volunteers helping to keep the garden running – particularly people from the village.   Many hands make light work so if you could spare an hour or so from time to time then that would be great.   In addition to gardeners, we would welcome help from people who can handle a bit of book keeping, painting and decorating, light building, cleaning and/or helping with refreshments for volunteers and for visitors.   Contact Roger or Dave for more information.
  • Rooms are available in the house for the use of villagers for meetings etc.  Contact Roger or Dave for more information or contact via the website.
  • The library in the house is still in operation and being enjoyed by many.  It is FREE.
  • The Walled Garden Wailers – still improving, some say – are available to perform FREE (or for a small donation to the Garden Project) for good causes.   Contact Roger for more information

Village Forum coming to a walled garden near you!

When the Elford Hall Garden Project idea began some 10 years ago, the steering group at that time presented their case to a village meeting and this ultimately led to a 10 year plan which is now coming to an end.   The overgrown jungle has been transformed into a lovely community park, the envy of many.   The original objectives have been addressed and mostly they have been achieved or exceeded.   The Trustees now feel that the time is right to move towards a plan for the next 10 years and feel that it is only proper to encourage the village to make its voice heard – after all it’s everyone’s community park!   To this end, the Trustees plan to arrange a number of small meetings in the gardener’s house during the coming months to generate discussion and ideas to help formulate the plan for the next 10 years.   Space within the house will limit numbers at each meeting, but if you would like to be involved in this forum then please contact Dave or Roger for further details and to get your personal invite.

Wishing you all best wishes for a super spring….





Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 34 – November 2016

Since the September newsletter we have been taking advantage of the dry and mild Autumn to continue tidying up the garden and getting it set for Winter.   Much of the time has been devoted to preparing the site for the Bonfire Spectacular and for keeping control of the grass which continues to grow happily.   The apple harvest has been good this year, as has produce from the allotments so we have been keeping the produce table well stocked.

RHS award

Peter and Ann Coggins went to the RHS ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ presentations at Ludlow to represent the Walled Garden Project. We were judged in July and the judges seemed impressed but the result isn’t divulged until presentation day.   Once again we were awarded and ‘outstanding’ level award, much to the delight of Peter & Ann.   The feedback we are given helps direct our efforts for the coming year but, most importantly, it gives a spring to the step of the hard working volunteers.

Outstanding - yet again!
Outstanding – yet again!



November 5th saw the path to the walled garden lit with coloured lights and full of people heading to the bonfire event. Generous donations of wood meant that the 2016 bonfire was an impressive size and this was matched by the brilliant firework display set up by Jason and his team.   This year we had set up an online booking system through the website and the result was a complete sell out, several days before the event took place, which was really great for us.   Quite a lot of money is spent to set up these events so it is a relief to know that people are going to turn up as this helps to cover a lot of our initial expenditure.   The day’s weather proved better than was forecast and the evening was dry and cold – at least until the fire was lit!

We received much praise after the event and the success is down to the efforts of volunteers before, on and after the event.   Families were kept amused by the Wailers and Alun Davies with the Fradley Fiddler, queues of kids had faces painted and the food and drinks were appreciated on the rather chilly evening.


Wall hanging

The village embroidery group are well advanced with their embroidered pictures which will soon be made into a beautiful tapestry of village life which will hang in the front room of the gardener’s house for all to enjoy.   The group intends to continue meeting once the work is completed so that they can work on other ideas. Why not think about joining them?

Path resurfacing

The ‘wheelchair friendly’ path by the river was damaged by machines used during the reconstruction of the boathouse.   Much of this has now been re-surfaced by Darren and his team.   The remainder will be completed over the next few months if weather permits, so that wheelchair users will once again be able to easily circumnavigate the site!

Future plans

Winter is a time of preparation for spring with allotments to dig, manure to add and seeds to sow indoors.   Work will continue (as usual) right through the winter.  We are lucky that there is usually somewhere to find protection from the winter chill.   Outside, there is much pruning to do!  In the house, the final upstairs rooms will be decorated and the hall floor will be tiled.   As the weather improves, we will need to paint parts of the outside of the house where the old paint is flaking off.   In building/large works, we hope to reroof the potting shed and complete the hard standing down as far as the barn.   Dave hopes to complete the remaining doors and windows in the Bothy building.   No rest for the wicked, then!

Boules season end game meal

Bothy Boules bun fight
Bothy Boules bun fight

The boules season came to an end in late September as the evening begin to ‘draw in’ and become cooler.   For the second year, we celebrated the last meeting with a bring and share meal in the Bothy, which was great.   We probably all ate and drank far too much but such was the enjoyment of those that attended that we have determined to start next season with a bring and share evening too, so watch this space!   We may even have a mid season meal too.   Why not?

Shirts & fleeces

A couple of volunteers asked me to investigate the possibility of having shirts made with an appropriate walled garden logo embroidered on.   A local supplier was happy to oblige and over 30 were ordered by delighted volunteers.   “What about a fleece for winter?” I was asked.   Over 20 of these have now been supplied so our volunteers are easily recognisable to visitors (and we all look really professional!)

RHS Award AND new shirts on show!
RHS Award AND new shirts on show!

Cider press

The wonderful apple crop this year was too good to be true.   We borrowed a pulper and a large press and extracted juice from some of our cider apples.   It was gorgeous and amazingly sweet.   We weren’t geared up to sterilize it but it kept for a couple of weeks in my fridge at home.   Can’t wait now for harvest 2017.   I could become an addict!

Cath and Ryan pressing cider apples
Cath and Ryan pressing cider apples

Elford Hall Garden Project goes purple for polio

When I received the email from the RHS announcing their intention to link up with the Rotary Club of Great Britain to promote the idea of planting purple crocuses, it seemed like a good idea for the walled garden to get involved.

The Rotary Club of GB has been raising funds for a long time in an effort to eradicate polio worldwide.   They have met with great success and this years’ Purple for Polio Campaign is an effort to raise the profile of the campaign by planting purple crocuses across the nation. The purple is significant in that it is the colour of the dye they use to mark children’s fingers once they have been immunised.   The cause was well worthy of support – the eradication of polio worldwide is a great aim – and the thought of an annual spring-time reminder of the good work being done seemed too good to miss!

Having talked the idea through with our volunteers, their enthusiasm led to the purchase of 10,000 crocus bulbs with a further 5000 being ordered by our Parish Council.   At the walled garden, we have a line of 18 almond trees planted alongside a path.   We have decided to plant our crocuses in a river weaving around these trees and then wait patiently until spring to see the fruits of our labour!

We linked up with the Tamworth Rotary Club and set a planting date for 17th November.   We approached our local primary school to enlist their support and together we set about the planting.   It was a great community effort with people giving their support happily for such a good cause.   There was plenty of help for the planting and 10,000 bulbs were planted by 11am with the adults digging the holes while the children of class 2 from the Howard School popped the bulbs into the holes.   Perfect team work!   The youngsters were brilliant and really interested in examining the many worms we ‘charmed’ to the surface!

I can’t wait for spring to arrive to see just how well our planting has worked.   We will be installing information boards about the campaign which will re-appear each spring when the bulbs flower and our hope is that one day the purple river will remind everyone about the day when polio was totally eradicated from the planet.

Crocus planting party
Crocus planting party

Jim Riley

Jim & Margaret Riley in happier times
Jim & Margaret Riley in happier times

Those of you who volunteered in the early days of the project will be saddened to hear of the death of Jim Riley.   Jim worked tirelessly for the project until ill health became a problem for him and many of you will remember his dry wit with pleasure.   Sadly, deteriorating health meant that he was unable to continue to work on the project and in recent years life became a great struggle for him and for Margaret, his wife.   As his health made life difficult for him to function as a volunteer, he continued to appear at the garden regularly.   He always said that while he was embarrassed to go out to places, at the walled garden he always felt he was among friends who understood his situation and welcomed him.   What a compliment!.

I well remember his excellent comic timing.   Over lunch, there was always much banter and laughter.   Jim generally kept his counsel during these raucous sessions but as silence fell upon the company, he would interject with a pithy one-liner that would start us all off again.   He was great company and good to work alongside, even as his health and eyesight began to fail!   He will be missed.

Coming up

24th December – live nativity starts at the church at 4pm

14th January AGM 2pm

16th January – Trustees meeting 8pm

21st Jan – Volunteers forum and lunch – noon

July 1st – Music & Real Ale Festival

As well as our website ( we have a facebook page.   Why not have a look at it, like it, and recommend it to your Facebook friends.

Well, that’s all from me folks.  

Happy reading and (if I don’t see you before) enjoy a great Christmas

Best wishes,   Roger.




Elford Hall Garden goes Purple4Polio

A date for your diary – 17th November at 10am

When I received the email from the RHS announcing their intention to link up with the Rotary Club of Great Britain to promote the idea of planting purple crocuses, it seemed like a good idea for the walled garden to get involved.  

The Rotary Club of GB has been raising funds for a long time in an effort to eradicate polio worldwide.   They have met with great success and this years’ Purple for Polio Campaign is an effort to raise the profile of the campaign by planting purple crocuses across the nation.   The purple is significant in that it is the colour of the dye they use to mark children’s fingers once they have been immunised.   The cause is well worthy of support – the eradication of polio worldwide is a great aim – and the chance of an annual spring-time reminder of the good work being done seemed too good to miss!

Having talked the idea through with our volunteers, their enthusiasm led to the purchase of 10,000 crocus bulbs with a further 5000 being ordered by our Parish Council.   At the walled garden, we have a line of 18 almond trees planted alongside a path.   We have decided to plant our crocuses in a river weaving around these trees and then wait patiently until spring to see the fruits of our labour!

COME ALONG AND HELP OUT IN A GOOD CAUSE.   Our chosen planting day will be November 17th (weather permitting) and we hope to start planting at 10am.   It will be great if lots of volunteers, Friends of the Walled Garden and other villagers turn up to help out with the planting.   If you can come along, then a garden fork will be useful!   Many hands make light work so with luck, planting should be done relatively quickly.

Not only will we be supporting a worthy cause but we will be blessed by a display of cheerful colour every spring.


Bonfire brilliance

A big thank you to everyone

What a great night we had at the Bonfire Spectacular last night!   A big thank you to everyone concerned in the build up to the event and to all of you who worked so hard during the evening to help make it yet another successful walled garden event.   Volunteers had worked for 3 weeks to set up the event but it was well worth all of the hard work!.


Too many individuals were involved to list them all but everything seemed to go well.   Angela’s team on the gate and directing disabled parking ensured a steady flow into the walled garden.   David & Lawrie’s raffle team did a great job, making the raffle a success.   Wade’s BBQ team worked tirelessly all evening dealing with the queues of hungry visitors and Sue Watton’s Bothy team kept the hot drinks flowing all evening.   Irene’s face-painting team were rushed off their feet decorating a long line of smiling faces and doing a great job.   In the bar tent, it was a busy evening for Richard’s hard-working team while Lee & Ryan kept the crowds entertained with their music.   A special thank you to Alun Davies and Bob, the Fradley fiddler, for their great live music and for the sterling efforts of the Walled Garden Wailers.   And then came the fireworks…..

As the bonfire began to die down, the sounds of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds welcomed the first of many fireworks in a spectacular display lasting almost 20 minutes.   A big thank you to Jason for organising the display and to Max and Gavin who helped put on the display.   The best ever, I’m sure!

Sunday morning saw many of the volunteers turning out again to begin the clean-up of the site.   Thanks to them too!

And finally, the introduction of a system to allow purchase of tickets via the website allowed us to sell many more tickets before the event got underway so I must thank Angela Cornell who administered this for us.   It was a huge undertaking for her which she ‘managed’ with her customary diligence.

Well done everyone and thank you all VERY much.




Bonfire Tickets selling like hot cakes

Bonfire Spectacular at Elford Hall Gardens on November 5th 2016

Don’t be disappointed!

If you are planning to be at the bonfire on November 5th and HAVE NOT yet bought your tickets, then please don’t delay.   Numbers on sale are restricted by our insurance.

Pre event sales have been very good and as of 9.30 this morning (Tuesday 25th October) there were less than 200 tickets left to sell!!!! In past years, we have sold tickets on the gate but this looks unlikely to happen this year so get your tickets soon.   Don’t be disappointed!

Tickets are still available at Tamworth & Lichfield Tourist Offices, Fradley Post Office and by PayPal on our website ( ).  There are also a few tickets still available through Walled Garden Volunteers.

For your information, any PayPal purchases made over the coming weekend will not be posted out until Monday 31st October.   The last day for using online booking will be Wednesday 2nd November.   After that, we cannot guarantee that the tickets will arrive before the event takes place.

In the unlikely event that there are a few tickets still available on November 5th, you will be able to purchase these on the morning of November 5th from 9.30 till 12.30 at the walled garden.

In the unlikely event of weather conditions forcing us to postpone the event at the last minute, this will be announced on this website and on the Elford Hall Garden Facebook page


Bonfire Spectacular 2016 – November 5th – 5pm start

The annual bonfire spectacular at the walled garden will be taking place on Saturday November 5th this year so make a note on your calendar or diary.   The event will be much the same as for last year’s successful event.   Gates will open at 5pm when food and liquid refreshments will be available and entertainment will be on hand.   The bonfire will be lit around 6.30 (depending on numbers coming into the walled garden) with fireworks following shortly afterwards as the fire begins to die down.   Entertainment will continue until most people have left the site!   There will be the usual Mega Raffle too!

There will be hot and cold drinks on offer.   Burgers and sausages from Peter Coates Butchers, chips, pulled pork/beef rolls and donuts will be available.

We hope to have face painters on hand to decorate children (of all ages!)

As last year, numbers admitted are restricted by insurance limitations so book early to avoid disappointment.   This is a great location for a safe family event.   The spectacular fireworks are set off outside the garden area while the audience is safe inside the walled area and, being enclosed, it is a safe area where children cannot easily wander off.

Ticket prices have been held for yet another year – adults £6, children under 5 are free, other children £3 – and can be purchased below and from local tourist offices and post offices.


Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 33 – September 2016

 Busy times at the gardens

What a busy summer we’ve been having at the walled garden!   Preparations for the Real Ale event meant that we were not able to do all of the work we’d have liked to do on the gardening side of things.   After the clear up, it was all hands to the pump to prepare things for the 2 weddings we have hosted since the festival.   The consequence of that was that some areas of the garden were looking a bit neglected (we thought) then the heat and dry weather of August hit us and we spent valuable volunteering time watering distressed plants!   Needless to say, the ‘weeds’ coped brilliantly with the weather, produced masses of seed and now we have a mountain of weeding to do.   Sometimes, it seems that you just can’t win.

Dig this!

The allotments are looking great this year thanks to a lot of hard work being put in by allotment holders and volunteers on the 2 project allotments.   Soft fruit has done well, as have all manner of vegetables and it has been difficult to keep up with harvesting the crops!   We now have a regular group who visit the produce table to take away the fresh goodies.   The plums were good this year and apple harvest will soon be upon us.

The allotments looking better than ever this year.
The allotments looking better than ever this year.
Here's Reg trying to keep on top of the runner bean harvest ........No chance!!!
Here’s Reg trying to keep on top of the runner bean harvest ……..No chance!!!

If you haven’t yet tasted stuff from the produce table then give it a try – it is fresh, free from chemicals and generally we grow varieties that aren’t normally available in the shops and which are known for their taste.   Shoppers generally leave a donation in the box and their generosity helps to keep the garden running.

Around the Garden

When the Royal Horticultural Society judges came this year they said that they were ‘blown away’ by the progress we’d made in 12 months. This is always nice to hear as we don’t really notice fully our progress because we are here every week.   We will get the results of our judging before the end of the month.   Fingers crossed!

Work inside the house has been put on one side while there is better weather and much to do outside.   The library seems to be operating well and is appreciated by visitors.   It has been nice to see grandparents and their grandchildren enjoying the garden and especially the library. The needlecraft group continue to work on their Elford tapestry and will be delighted if more villagers decide to join them.   Ring Sue on 01827383592 for more information.

Julie hard at work dead-heading the roses.
Julie hard at work dead-heading the roses.
Echium Snowtower attracted a lot of attention from visitors (and the bees!).
Echium Snowtower attracted a lot of attention from visitors (and the bees!).

Right above, we see Julie Cox dead-heading roses in the rose garden – a bit like painting the Forth Bridge!

Above left, is one of our giant Echiums.   These have attracted many questions this year and seed should soon be available if you fancy growing your own. Below left is Thelma’s stumpery which is now looking good and below right is part of the giant’s jungle bed – living up to its name as you can see!   Peter Kennedy, with granddaughter Lara and friend Lily, has undertaken a refurbishment of the Giant’s matchbox now in glorious Technicolor and back in the giant’s garden for all to admire.   Laurence (below) has been making willow fencing to finish off the area around the boathouse.

Thelma's stumpery taking shape.
Thelma’s stumpery taking shape.
The Jungle looking healthy in the sensort garden.
The Jungle looking healthy in the sensort garden.

Laurence - resident willow weaver.

Scarecrows invade Elford

It was that time again and the people of Elford turned out nearly 100 scarecrows for the annual (and highly successful) festival.   Sue Watton worked her magic at the walled garden and produced an army of stuffed specimens to delight visitors.   Right, we see the BFG who settled himself at the entrance to the Giant’s Garden once all of the visitors had gone home and life returned to what passes for normal in Elford! The marquee now houses several scarecrows in an arrangement reminiscent of a doctor’s waiting room.   Say aaaaaarh!   The Walled Garden Wailers even turned out to sing at the Village Hall on the Sunday, thus ensuring a rapid turnover in people occupying the tables at the outdoor café!

The BFG guards the sensory garden these days!

The BFG guards the sensory garden now!

Work has begun on tidying up the area between the barn and the house.   This badly drained area has been improved by the laying of a limestone ‘road’ surface and left over material is now being used to improve the wheelchair friendliness of the path through the woods by the river.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Follow the Yellow Brick Road




Looking forward

Meetings will soon begin to set up the 2016 Bonfire Spectacular which I hope you’ll be attending on Saturday November 5th.   It will be the usual great evening out for the whole family (if the weather gods smile on us).   In a few weeks we’ll also be having a forward planning meeting to look at future plans and needs and I’d welcome your ideas and suggestion about what direction you’d like to see the walled garden moving in and how you think we can improve on what we have already achieved.   We have some ideas already but you can’t have too many good ideas so get in touch!

You may have noticed that our volunteers are now wearing bottle green shirts with the walled garden logo nicely embroidered.   I tried to get Tom Daly to model one for a photo for the newsletter but he was too busy!   If anyone out there would like to buy one for £5 to help promote the garden then please contact me and I’ll see what I can do.

Best wishes, Roger