Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 36 – May 2017

Spring has well and truly arrived and is fast edging into summer at the Walled Garden.   The grass is beginning to enter its sprinting phase and the ‘weeds’ are looking in great health. The bulk of the spring bulbs are now over, though the bluebells are currently looking fine – so don’t miss your chance to visit and admire them.   The rhododendrons are flowering well in their new position by the river and plants in the herbaceous border and the sensory garden are coming to life after their winter slumbers.   The orchard blossom has been great – and still is on some trees – promising a healthy harvest in a few months time.   The trees are bursting into full leaf now and it’s amazing just how many greens there are in the fresh young leaves.   I love this time of year in the garden – there is so much to see, so it’s a good time for a visit.   It’s a time for blossom and butterflies – already we’ve seen commas, orange tips and brimstones …….

Dates for your Diary

  • April 1st – ‘Friends’ subscriptions due
  • Sunday June 18th – Austin Healey Owners Club rally and judging – all day – a real treat for   all you car enthusiasts.   Why not bring a picnic?
  • Saturday July 1st – Family Music & Real Ale Festival – gates open from 12.30pm
  • August Bank Holiday weekend – Scarecrow Festival on Saturday & Sunday
  • First & third Friday of each month – Boules for all.   Bring a picnic and join in the fun

Winter work comes to an end (I hope!)

As usual, winter has given us the chance to tackle some of the bigger jobs before the need for summer maintenance becomes the order of the day.   New drainage has been laid in front of the barn where winter water seems to enjoy collecting.   Mike (right) and Darren have re-laid the stones around the pool in the sensory garden and Peter is in the process of removing the flaking paint ready for a summer spruce up. Mitzi (below) and Roger have been busy weeding in the sensory garden and Jean, Dorothy and Beryl have tackled the borders inside the walled area.   Peter Stubbs is getting on top of the allotments and Pat has the herbaceous border looking nice already.   Thelma’s plant nursery is looking good and there will soon be plenty of plants on the produce stall!   Behind the house, Barbara & Michael have done a great job on the flower beds – as the next photo on page 3 shows.   Inside the house, Steve and Dave have been rebuilding the sash windows and the bathroom should soon be operational again.   Dave has also done good work in the bothy, making the small kitchen space work more efficiently and making it easier to keep clean.   Everyone is very busy and working hard to keep the gardens looking good for daily and occasional visitors!

Anyone for Boules?

The boules season began with a ‘bring & share’ meal in the bothy and nearly 30 people attended and a great time was had by all on a lovely spring evening.   There was some boules played but match evenings really began on April 21st with another good turnout despite the cool evening!   This augurs well for the season. We meet on the 1st & 3rd Fridays of the month and no experience is necessary – just bring a picnic and join in.

Sewing Bees?

A new ‘club’ has been born in the village! A group of creative enthusiasts (see right) have been working on a wall hanging depicting life in Elford in 2017.   The hanging was unveiled by Dave Watton during April (see below) and now hangs proudly in the Gardener’s house.   You should call in and view it!   It’s really good!!!   Their next project will be to do a Walled Garden alphabet and they are looking for people to join in and help so if you are interested, ring Sue on 383592 for information.

Sue Watton goes over to the dark side…

It’s not just during the day that there are things to see at the garden, as Sue Watton found when she took a night walk. She writes:

“It was dark but mild as Loz and I walked up to the walled garden at 8:00 pm on Saturday 18th March. First to be picked out in the beams of our head torches were woodlice and millipedes crawling up the crevices in the bark of an old lime tree, an invertebrate rush hour.    Pipestral bats flitted in and out trees that line the Avenue with one or two close encounters from those that should have gone to Specsavers. Night crawling worms were out in their hundreds in the grass, bronze bodies swaying in our lights, whilst half their length remained in the soil. Lots of frogs sat motionless in the pond by the Boat House. A perch with a stickleback in its mouth was seen, looking like it had bitten off more than it could chew. A multitude of small fry swam in the entrance to the boat house, oblivious to the pike that that is often to be seen loitering under the staging.

        Walking on to the ponds in the sensory garden, our lights picked out at least six newts coming up for air before diving down once more into the murky depths, panicking the water boatmen on the surface.  A handsome toad stopped us in our tracks. We picked it up and introduced ourselves before letting it go on its way.

      In the field opposite the boat house the call of the peewits was quite beautiful, accompanied by the high pitched whistle from neighbouring teal.   A fox crossing the field behind the Gardener’s House, let out its blood curdling scream to some unseen mate and in the distance badgers could be heard having a bit of a domestic!

        We left them all to it, just amazed at how many wonderful creatures we had seen or heard in less than a one hour stroll, and all in the dark!


Other News in Brief

  • We had a visit from the National Trust in April – they are restoring a walled garden and wanted to pick our brains!   What an accolade!!!
  • On Saturday June 17th we will be visited by the Cheshire Gardens Trust and appear in their glossy magazine – another accolade, I think!   We’re in the same issue as the Imperial Gardens of St Petersburg!
  • On Sunday 18th June the Austin Healey Owners Club are holding their annual gathering at the walled garden
  • FAMILY MUSIC & REAL ALE FESTIVAL – Saturday 1st July. The beer festival will vary slightly from the 2016 success.   This year we will not be selling tickets in advance so get yours on the gate.   There will be the usual wide selection of craft beers and ciders, plenty of hot food and drinks, free games for kids and music from 1pm.   Gates will open at 12.30 so come along and join in the fun.   Tickets will be £6 again, with under 5s free and other children £3
  • Elford Hall Garden Project AppealWE NEED YOUR HELP The Trustees of the Elford Hall Garden Project are looking to enlist help with specific tasks which will shortly need covering at the Walled Garden.   The Trustees are hoping to find people who will be willing to volunteer to undertake these tasks.   Training will be given.   These tasks will not necessarily involve attendance at the walled garden but there will be a small office available if necessary.   We will shortly need:
    1. Book keeper – someone who can manage monies and donations coming into the project and who can pay general bills like utilities and reimburse small purchases and expenses .   There will be a need to reconcile bank and cash accounts.   This would probably involve a meeting with the project chairman once a month
    2. Membership Secretary – someone to process the application forms of new ‘Friends of the Walled Garden’ and to process annual membership fees when they become due each April.   This is a relatively small task during the year with a slightly busier time in April when subs become due.  This post could be combined with Gift Aid secretary.
    3. Gift Aid Secretary – someone to apply online to the HM Revenue & Customs annually for the tax refund in respect of gift aided donations to the project/subscriptions. This can be a once a year job and will involve being registered with HMRC as our representative and could be combined with the post of membership secretary.
    4. Event Cashier – someone to deal with the money side of things at annual fundraising events like the beer festival. This would involve distributing floats for events, dealing with event money on the day and accounting for takings and return of floats.
    5. Treasurer – this person will have oversight of all financial matters and will report to the Trustees at bi-monthly meetings and should have an understanding of accounts and tax

    If you feel that you could help out with any of these tasks then please contact

    Dave Watton on 01827383295 or reply to the website via email