Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 45 – April 2019

Reg Cornell

It is with much personal sadness that I record the passing of loyal volunteer Reg Cornell after standing up to cancer for 9 years.   Reg never complained about his illness but simply ‘got on with it’.

Reg was one of the original team of volunteers at the walled garden that began work on its transformation 10 years ago. His contribution to the Project was considerable, not just in the day-to-day work he did but also in the lightness of spirit and sense of teamwork that he helped to create.   Reg understood commitment and could never be accused of having a ‘that’ll do’ attitude.   He was a key figure in walled garden events, especially as leader of the marquee erection squad.   He pushed for the construction of boules pitches at the garden and was the driving force behind the Friday evening boules nights enjoyed by so many. He made a point of always being upbeat whilst at the walled garden even when he was feeling ‘down’.   Lunchtimes there, with Reg, were generally lively, noisy and happy occasions and he loved the banter!

He was a committed member of the Walled Garden Wailers and loved to perform both the songs and the jokes.   He loved having an audience to play to and enjoyed being the ‘life and soul of the party’.   He was always able to rise to the occasion even when he was feeling far from cheerful.

Ted Taylor

We were very sad to hear recently that Ted Taylor had passed away, another victim to cancer – he will be much missed.   Ted volunteered at the garden for several years, putting his expertise in electrical work at the disposal of the project until poor health meant that he was forced to cut back his contributions. Ted was responsible for the bulk of electrical work done at the gardens and he gave his time and talents freely at a time when the project was struggling financially.

Ted was a lovely man, a true gentleman, generous with his friendship and with his time and he was always happy when he was at the Walled Garden.   His contribution was immense and his diligence and expertise enabled us to achieve many important things at a time when our funds were low.   Ted’s tubular Bells pictured above were a collaborative effort by Ted, Peter Kennedy and Roger Thompson.   Ted’s achievements will serve as a lasting legacy to his hard work.

During his illness, Ted was occasionally able to visit us at the garden on volunteer days where he was welcomed by all.   I always felt that days at the garden were good days if Ted was around.

New Story Boards

Two years in the preparation, the 3 new story boards have now been successfully installed.   The artwork and information was put together by Dave Warmington and Roger Thompson and the boards were erected by volunteers Darren Lovett and Chris Jauncey – and pretty good they look, I think!

Nice Bloomers, Mrs Wembley!

This is always a lovely time at the garden with new growth in evidence everywhere and new things happening almost every day.   The daffodils are still looking fabulous, tulips and bluebells are on the way and there are more unusual late spring bulbs to be found if you keep your eyes peeled!   See if you can find these glorious hyacinths in the sensory garden – and don’t miss the early flowering clematis (just listen for the sound of the bees).

We are fast approaching blossom time in the orchard.   Elsewhere, the almond trees  flowered well this year, as have the peaches and nectarines.   It’s all happening, so don’t miss out on the spectacle!!!

The downside to all of this new growth, of course, is that the ‘weeds’ seem to grow at 3 times the speed of everything else, apart from the grass, of course!    Above, Roy is labouring to mow the rose garden.   You can barely see him through the forest of bulbs!   At this time of the year our grass needs cutting at least once a week – and we’ve got a lot of grass to cut!   It’s all hands to the pump here for the next several weeks…..   Despite a recent spell in hospital, plant expert Thelma is back on the case and preparing lots of plants for visitors to take away – for a donation, of course!   As a charity, we aim not to ‘sell’ our produce but encourage people towards generosity.   Nothing is priced but we offer guidelines – small pots at £1, medium at £2 and large at £3 – They must be the cheapest plants in the area and all lovingly tended by Thelma!   As the risk of frosts recedes, we will be putting out the tender plants on the sales table but there are already a good range of hardy perennials available so come and take your pick while stocks last.

Elsewhere, our 2 Peters and Christine are busy on the allotments and other gardeners are working hard on the herbaceous border, rose garden, raised bed and the sensory garden.

Out on the tiles…

The last of our roofing projects got underway in March to make the potting shed water-tight. The strong winds made it a bit of a challenge and, as soon as the old roof was removed, needless to say, we had the heaviest rains of the winter!   Dave, Steve & Darren have done the bulk of the work and all we have left to do now is to replace the slates.   Most of the ancient timbers needed removing and some of the brickwork required rebuilding but the job is now coming to its conclusion, making it cosy and dry for Thelma to return to.

Jaws’ now enjoying life in Elford

Laurence Watton has been busy over the winter months – mostly with things involving water.   The Orangery bed was cleared – some task! – and became a large pond with gently moving water falling into the existing smaller pond.   An impressive Koi Carp took up residence and was joined by a small flotilla of goldfish.   We refer to the Koi as ‘Jaws’ and you can get a really close up view of him on the TV in the Bothy as he swims past the underwater camera Laurence has installed.   He definitely isn’t camera shy and will often glare straight down the camera – not a pretty sight!

Fantastic Mr Fox?

Another fine set of teeth was displayed by another visitor to the walled garden in March.   We’re always open to wildlife – no matter how fearsome they might look!

For the birds…

As part of our efforts to attract more birds to the garden, Peter Kennedy has been busy building luxury bird boxes – perfect for the discerning nester.   Also, we’ve noticed that most visitors seem to stick to the limestone paths rather than going ‘off piste’ to explore, so Roger has been installing a series of ‘butterfly walk’ signs around the garden to encourage visitors to be bold.   Next time you visit, why not try to follow the butterflies and find new paths around the site?

What’s coming your way soon…

We’re pleased to announce that Tarte au Citroen will be back on site on for most Sundays this season with their first visit being on 28th April.   Their mission is to keep Elfordians well supplied with fine teas & coffees – and the occasional very naughty cakes.   This year, they will also be bringing afternoon teas which can be booked in advance by text message.    Watch the local press and Village Facebook for more details.

Midsummer madness

Plans are in hand for a mega party in the marquee on Saturday 22nd June – as near as we could get to the Summer Solstice SO PUT THE DATE IN YOUR DIARY and wait for further details as plans are finalised.   It will be a family occasion and will be a bit like a mini summer beerfest – just starting a little later in the day.   Colin, Ursula and Ben are steering this one so it should be a brilliant evening!

Get petanqued up on Friday nights

We plan to start the boules season with the usual ‘bring and share’ meal in the bothy on Saturday 4 May at 7pm.   The playing season will then start in earnest on Friday 10th May from 6.30 onwards.   As usual, bring along a picnic and something to drink and play as much or as little as you like!    Planned boules evenings will then be the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month as follows:

May 10 & 24

June 14 & 28

July 12 & 26

August 9 & 23

September 13 & 27


That’s all from me for now.

Remember to renew your ‘Friends’ membership for 2019