Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 43 – December 2018

Christmas Greetings to all of our readers

 At the end of another busy and successful year at the Walled Garden – our 10th year – we’d like to extend our very best wishes to you all for the coming Christmas period and for 2019.   May you and your family receive the gifts of good health and happiness in full measure.

Can I also say a big thank you to all of you who have supported the Walled Garden by becoming ‘Friends of the Walled Garden’ or by helping out with events or donations or by volunteering to help out with the task of maintaining the garden for the benefit of all.   We wouldn’t survive without you all!

Christmas Rose

Weathering the storms

Having been so spoiled by the fabulous summer, we now seem to be paying for it with cold winds and more than enough rain.   We’re only a few weeks into winter and I’m already praying for spring’s arrival.   Winter does have its compensations – the log burner in the bothy is one – and we can always drink tea and chat animatedly about the dog’s breakfast that is Brexit!   But ….. there’s always work to be done and poor weather makes it that bit less enjoyable.   I think I’m getting curmudgeonly in my old age…. It drove me to poetry, as I lent once more wearily upon my overworked leaf rake.

Owed to Autumn!

The autumn leaves look wonderful,  gold hangs from every bough.

A touch of frost, a bit of wind …  look where they’ve gone to now!

In only just a little time,  they’re littering the floor.

And there, they don’t look half as nice as where they were before

“They’re such a mess” say volunteers,  “Let’s rake them all away”.

And so we bend our backs and rake and we do it EVERY DAY!!

It looks quite tidy when we’re done and ‘knocking off’ time’s due.

Next year I’ve got a cunning plan – I’ll spray the trees with glue!

Tubular Bells

Some years ago, we were given a collection of aluminium tubes and craftsman Peter Kennedy has painstakingly turned these into ‘musical instruments’ for visitors to play.   The tubes have been ‘tuned’ (to an extent) by Roger and the erection team (pictured above) has recently finished the installation.   The tubes were originally sourced by volunteer Ted Taylor (currently retired through ill health) and he was delighted to see them finally up and working!

You can help to save lives….

Following the installation of the defibrillator in the Bothy at the walled garden, trustees invited villagers, volunteers and anyone interested to attend training sessions in CPR and use of the defibrillator.   The village now has 4 of these life saving machines and trainer Keith Dawson visited the Village Hall in a bid to raise awareness and confidence and to make a difference.   Over 70 people responded to the invite and 4 sessions were needed to accommodate everyone.   The training was free but Keith runs a local charity called ‘Have a Heart’ which aims to install more public access defibrillators in the Tamworth area and participants donated almost £500 to this worthy cause.

If any of our readers would also like to donate, they can do this on www.tamworthhaveaheart.co.uk .   Keith’s presentation introduced a lot of valuable human biology (which I had largely forgotten) and stressed the importance of CPR in saving lives.   It’s a comfort to know that we now have many locals equipped to make a difference.   Well done and thank you Keith.

Gardener’s World?

Behind the gardener’s house lies a blossoming garden business masterminded by volunteer Thelma Lane.   Thelma’s prowess with plants is well respected by volunteers and currently she is being ably assisted by ‘apprentices’ Naimh and Grace.   Thelma manages to keep the plant table well-stocked throughout the year and is already working towards plants for spring planting. Donations made by visitors who leave with plants, now make an important contribution to project income.   She’s always happy to receive unwanted plants and discarded plant pots so that she can continue her good work.

Plant nursery

Mike & Barbara Sadler work with Thelma at the rear of the house.    Barbara tends and develops what used to be the Head Gardener’s back garden and Michael is masterminding the construction work which is underway to extend the plant nursery area.   What a team they make!   It always amazes me that they each drive around 30 miles for the privilege of volunteering in Elford.   We are so lucky!

Autumn Leaf Patrol

To the right is Isaac Dugas, our latest young recruit on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme, who’s doing a fine job with the leaves as you can see.   We should be inundated with leaf mould in 12 months time (which will keep Thelma and her plant potters very happy!

Isaac ponders the rake’s progress

No time for resting on our laurels…

“So, what’s happening this Autumn and Winter”, I hear you ask!   “Surely, winter is a slack time in the garden?”   Far from it!   Things, especially weeds, continue to grow ALL winter long so our gardeners are trying to keep these In check.   On the allotments there is digging to do, winter crops to tend and manure to spread. Laurence Watton is busy creating a wildlife pool in the raised bed of the Orangery.   There is work to do in the house – finishing off restoring the sash windows and then carpeting the upstairs.   A new dog poo bin has been sited by the main gate (thanks to the Parish Council for setting this up). There are plans to re-roof the potting shed and to complete the raised beds in the plant nursery area.   The main marquee floor has been lifted, levelled and replaced ready for next year.   There will be roses and fruit trees to prune, allotments to tidy up and prepare for next season, plus all of the normal garden maintenance.   There will be much to do, rest assured!

Why not think about coming to join us for a few hours?   We are very short of weekend volunteers these days, so come and give the volunteers some real support!   Bring the family too – make it an event!


Star Baker Barbara!

I can confirm that we have at least one Christmas Angel in the village.   For some weeks now, volunteers have been enjoying a range of totally fabulous ‘calorie free’ (allegedly) cakes baked for us by villager Barbara, and delivered by husband Michael.   They have been much appreciated and have disappeared VERY quickly.   We hope that they will find time to visit the Bothy at a break time when the volunteers will be able to thank them in appropriate manner.   Keep up the good work please, Barbara – we are all enjoying the fruits of your labour very much indeed.

Coming to a walled garden near you…

  • The now famous village LIVE NATIVITY will take place this year on December 23rd at 4pm.   As usual, it will start at St Peter’s Church and process round to the stable at the walled garden if weather permits.   Outdoor clothes and boots are a must!
  • You may have been lucky enough to see the fabulous cars of the UK Austin Healey Owners Club when they met at the walled garden this July.   Good news!   They have decided to make Elford their regular summer meeting venue for the foreseeable future so mark off June 16th on your 2019 calendars.
  • We are planning to replace the one day beer festival with several smaller events in the main marquee in 2019.   The first of these is likely to be a Summer Jazz evening on June 15th.   A mini beerfest is a distinct possibility in early September.   Look out for others and do your best to support them.
  • Tarte au Citroen hopes to be with us next year once the weather improves.   Quality hot drinks and extraordinary cakes will be on sale as usual.   Why not bring a picnic and make it a day out?   Watch out for the start date as the better weather arrives in spring

Well, that’s about it from me for 2018.   Forget Brexit and do have a great time this Christmas.   Remember that spring is only just around the corner – and the bulbs are already beginning to poke their noses out of the soil.

My best wishes to you all,