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….