Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 39 – December 2017

A very happy Christmas and a thoroughly prosperous and perfect 2018 to all of our readers

As I write, winter has arrived in Elford with a vengeance and the roads and pavements in Croft Close are,  shall we say, challenging.    I can’t recall snow this side of Christmas for many a year and it has changed the face of the walled garden into a sort of fantasy world, as the photos below show.   Currently, I’m  nice  and warm inside this evening with the Christmas lights twinkling outside and looking very Christmassy!

2017 has been a good year at the Walled Garden.   Volunteer numbers have remained high (even in this cold weather); we were blessed with good weather for the beerfest in July and donations during the year have kept us in a good position financially and ready to face 2018 with a good degree of confidence.   Once again we’ve landed another top award from the Royal Horticultural Society.   On behalf of the Trustees, I’d like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to the project by volunteering, by helping out at the festival, by donating in a variety of ways, by spreading the good news about the garden and by becoming ‘Friends of the Walled Garden’.     We are lucky to get your support, we appreciate it and without it Elford would not have access to this unique garden.   A big thank you to everyone!

Winter Wonderland

Snow  before Christmas is so unusual in Elford and the transformation was magical!   The extremely cold temperatures meant that the snow stayed with us for days!

No work being done today then!

Got an eye for the birds?

With this cold weather about, the bird activity at the boathouse has been brilliant.   This week I’ve seen woodpeckers, great, blue and long tailed tits and nuthatches in addition to our usual robins, sparrows and blackbirds – all after their lunches – and I’ve only stayed watching for a few minutes due to the cold.   Did you know that you can watch these feeders on the TV in the bothy while you enjoy a hot drink (donations appreciated!) – It’s open every day.

Shocking disclosure

It’s nice to be able to do something for everyone in the village – after all, we get such good support from so many of you.    With the proceeds of the Real Ale Festival, we have purchased and installed a defibrillator in the Bothy.   We intend this to be available to everyone who uses the gardens and in the New Year we will be offering CPR and defibrillator training FREE, so if you are interested then watch out for details.   Who knows, you might be just able to save a life!    Next time you are at the garden, have a look in the Bothy kitchen so that you know where it is.   It’s very easy to use – idiot proof, I’d say, so get involved if you can.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

Sue Watton has been busy making the Gardener’s house look ready for Christmas so why not call in a see what she’s done?   It’s a pity that no-one lives there!   She’s also added her festive touch to the Bothy.   Well done, Sue.   It is appreciated.   Everything looks ready for the volunteers ‘bring and share’ lunch on Thursday 21st before we break up for the festivities.    Some of us have already started celebrating.   We had a great night out at the Whittington Arms organised by Julie Cox.   Thanks Julie!

So what’s been happening?
Mike and Darren going round in circles!

Despite the wintry weather, volunteers have been busy.   Around 5000 more crocus bulbs have been planted (donated by Ashby Rotarians). A new paved area has appeared in the centre of the walled garden which will soon house a sundial dedicated to the memory of Jim Riley, one of our first volunteers.   This isn’t quite finished but should be ready for when the sunshine returns!!!   Michael, Darren, Roger and Nathan have been busy with this.   Elsewhere, Dave is working on the oak windows for the Bothy building, Richard has put together our new catering BBQ, Lawrence has finished his pool and is now busy welding stuff together and our Duke of Edinburgh boys have made short work of leaf collecting.   Barbara and Thelma have been busy preparing festive table decorations (there may be some left on the produce table) and Mike is busy block paving the plant nursery area.   Meanwhile, winter allotment preparation is keeping Pete and the 2 Chrisses busy, now the harvesting is all but over.   As you can see – the work never stops here (except when it snows, perhaps).

Catching up with the past!

Here’s an item I couldn’t squeeze into the last newsletter.    We now have a second fish pond thanks to our three D of E boys and Lawrence Watton.   It’s by the boules pitches and when the sun shines, a solar pump will work a small fountain.   Currently, it’s frozen solid, which must be interesting for the fish!

Here’s Lawrence putting in the pond liner.   Obviously it was warmer then than it is today!

If you’ve managed to read this far down the newsletter – well done, and thank you!   When you hear from me next it will be 2018!   My personal good wishes to you and yours for Christmas and 2018.   Don’t forget the Live Nativity at the Walled Garden on Christmas Eve – a magical experience for all.  
Finally, can I repeat my thanks to everyone who has supported us this year.
Best wishes, Roger