Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 32 – July 2016


Once again, the weather gods smiled on Elford and the Family Music & Real Ale Festival passed off without interruption and without incident.   Over 70 volunteers turned out to support the day (many thanks to them) and the audience were entertained all day and into the evening by musicians who had given their services free of charge in support of the project.  What heroes!   The amazingly well stocked bar was a hive of activity all day and the BBQ team produced a feast of food to keep everyone well fed up!   Hot drinks and cakes were served from the Bothy and the whole scene was lit up by lovely sunshine and a warm wind.   We’ve heard lots of complimentary comments since the event but it’s important to remember what a great team we have to help make the magic work.

Some of the bar team during a sober moment
Some of the bar team during a sober moment

The event was held inside the walled garden for the first time and many agreed it was a better venue for the day
The event was held inside the walled garden for the first time and many agreed it was a better venue for the day
The musical event was opened with style and confidence by students from St Mary’s, Richard Crosse and Howard Federation Choir. Thank you for the music!    The Fradley Community Choir made their second Festival appearance and sang as well as ever despite the blustery wind.

Festival regulars – the Walled Garden Wailers – battled through early technical problems to entertain the audience with a range of popular songs and newcomers to the Festival, Vintage Rhythms gave us a flavour of high quality jazz music – the first festival jazz but not the last…they’ll be back in 2017!    Pro Tempore entertained the crowd with their usual panache.   Morag & Co gave a polished performance as usual.   How lucky we are to have such talent at our disposal.    Great performances from all of them.

Headline act Brindley-Hunt take to the stage
Headline act Brindley-Hunt take to the stage

Headline act, Brindley-Hunt were superb and had the audience on their feet and dancing!   A big thank you to all of them.

Around the garden

Preparation for the festival and cleaning up after it is a major task but work needs to be kept going around the garden as well – the grass and the weeds just won’t stop growing and we try to keep the garden looking tidy for the many visitors who come around at this time of the year.

The allotment team are keeping up their good work and the produce is now being picked for the produce table.   Sue Watton and her team of helpers look after the many groups who visit during the summer and Dave (mostly) gets to do the guided tour of the garden.   These group visits are the best advertising for the garden.   Visitors spread the word and often come back with friends again and again.

The herbaceous border and the sensory garden are a delight at the moment thanks especially to Sue & Pat and Dorothy’s  raised bed by the boules pitch is a riot of colour.   The rose garden is slowly recovering from the battering it took from the heavy rain storms.

Barbara and Mike are busy behind the house tending the old gardener’s garden and laying new paths.   Thelma’s plant nursery is producing a supply of plants for the produce table and people taking these and the vegetables on offer are generally very generous with their donations to the produce.

The library continues to function well.   It is still filled with books and other goodies available for you to take away and enjoy.

Visit to Attingham Park in Shropshire

Peter Stubbs kindly organised a day out for Friends and volunteers to see the walled gardens at Attingham Park. We were met and given a guided tour by head gardener Katherine Dowd, who was great!   Being National Trust, experienced staff were on hand to uncover details of the history of the garden and the gardeners and a paid staff of professional gardeners meant that the gardens were both beautifully and authentically maintained.   We learned a lot and came back with great ideas to apply here in Elford.   The tour lasted about 2 hours and was extremely thorough, thanks to the knowledgeable Katherine!   As the tour ended, the weather deteriorated to leave us ‘enjoying’ our picnics in a cold, drizzly wind!   Despite that, the day out was excellent and most of us toured the house before we set out for home.   Thanks to Peter for his organising.   All of us agreed that it was a really good experience.   Look out for the next ‘day out’ and come along.

Katherine Dowd discusses the finer points of gardening
Katherine Dowd discusses the finer points of gardening

Needle Art in Action

In the past few weeks, a new village venture has blossomed in the Gardener’s House.   A small group has set itself up initially to produce a fabric wall hanging depicting scenes from the village, showing things like buildings, nature, wildlife, scenery and people by using a variety of needle skills.   The group has met 3 or 4 times to enjoy a social afternoon working together in the house and aim to produce a collage to hang on the wall in the gardener’s house on completion.   They meet again on August 1st at the Gardener’s House at 1.45pm so if you fancy coming to join the group or just to see what they are up to then why not call in on August 1st – there will probably be a cuppa on offer!   Ring Sue Thompson on 01827 383592 for more information.

Needlework group in action
Needlework group in action

Coming soon to a walled garden near you!

We have a busy time at the garden over the next few months with visiting groups and a couple of weddings so volunteers will be hard at work keeping the garden looking tidy.

On Saturday 30th July at around 10.45, the RHS judges will be arriving to assess our progress for the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ award.   Why not come along and meet them?   The award is for Community Activity linked to gardening so the judges will be keen to talk to members of the community about how the walled garden contributes to local life.   Come and have your say!

Next, on August 27th & 28th, the village will be celebrating ‘Scarecrow Weekend’.   Much hard work has gone into making the weekend a success and there will be plenty to see at the walled garden, I’m sure so come along and support.

On September 17th, we have loaned the walled garden to Tamworth Arts who will be running a garden party for the afternoon where talent from the local area will be showcased so expect music, dancing, theatre of all sorts with a fun filled atmosphere.   See local press for details.   The village will benefit by a share of the gate takings and local groups and individuals will be able to approach the Parish Council with ideas about how to spend this unexpected income!

And finally ……. On Saturday November 5th we will be celebrating Guy Fawkes Night with our usual enthusiasm!   In addition to an excellent pyrotechnic display and huge bonfire, there will be food and drink a-plenty.   Tickets will be available soon via the website where you can now purchase via  PayPal.   More details will follow as the date approaches.

So, lots to do as you can see.   Why not get involved?   New volunteers are always welcome, especially on Saturday mornings…..

That’s all from me for now.   Best wishes to you and yours. Roger

Fun in the Sun