Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 53 – August 2020


Since I last wrote, the Walled Garden has experienced extreme heat and drought conditions followed by thunderstorms and intense rain, then severe winds and now, in midsummer, autumn seems to have arrived already!   All of this has stressed many of the plants we tend – but not the weeds, which seem to thrive in any conditions.   The trees seem to be losing their leaves early this year due to the drought but, in the rose garden, the next flush of flowers is underway.   We have harvested an excellent crop of plums and the apple crop is weighing down the trees – so good news for 2021 cider production.

Currently we are still Corvid19 compliant which means that no access to the house (or the toilets) is permitted for the present.   For volunteers, it means we have to bring our own food and drink.   This is fine for the moment as the weather is generally warm but it will become more of an issue if the restrictions extend into the winter.   It also means that we have to sacrifice our cosy social time in the bothy, which we are all missing.

Busy, busy, busy…..

During this strange time of restrictions, the walled garden has been really busy with visitors.   People have clearly been attracted by the open space and the peace and quiet of the garden and daily numbers of visitors has steadily increased.   It has been rewarding for volunteers to see the fruits of their labours being enjoyed and appreciated by so many.   To have a FREE place to relax within your social bubble has been a bonus to many and as a result, several have become Friends of the Walled Garden or have begun to volunteer.   Great news for the project!

Nature’s Bounty

Currently on the produce stall you will find a range of fresh vegetables grown by our diligent gardeners – all healthy and chemical free.   There are several varieties of beans, potatoes, courgettes and zucchini and other delights.   The last of the soft fruits and the first of the apples are available, plus some late plums and greengages so there is plenty of choice and all for a donation to the project.

On the plant stall you will find a range of hardy perennials and herbs and fairly soon there will be a range of primroses and primulas ready for winter colour.   Thelma, as usual, has been busy, with her green fingers!   She has a small but dedicated team of helpers these days …..

Around the garden…

A lot has been happening around the garden to keep it looking trim and cared for – volunteers are working really hard (as usual).

The 2020 vintage cider is now available for collection and, a first this year, there will be a limited number of bottles of perry made from our own pears.   The perry is a bit stronger than the cider, so be careful if you try it.   Please bring any empty cider and perry bottles back to the barn for recycling for use next year.

Steve and team have already begun the process of turning this year’s apples into next year’s cider.   I’ve tasted some of the pressed apple juice already and it is amazing!   Pressing apples surrounded by hundreds of wasps is really quite interesting!!!

A brand new weather vane now stands proudly above the bothy.   It’s a permanent project reminder of the contribution made to the garden by the much missed Jean Chamberlain.

Stand still for any length of time and you might get painted!   John Shaw has been busy with the brushes, painting and preserving picnic tables, seats, doors – you name it and it’s had the treatment, as you can see below.

Down by the river, Gordon continues to landscape the area by the compost bins.   We must plant some winter bulbs down there soon.   Also tidying up are Sue & Steve Clark (and their grandchildren!) who have set about the brick store area to good effect!

Elsewhere, Loz and Jamie continue to work on relaying the floor of the Orangery.   It’s slow progress but will be worth it when it’s done!   Otherwise, it’s all hands to the pump to keep on top of the rapidly growing grass and ‘weeds’ and to harvest the fruit and veg – now a daily task to keep our produce table full and our apple pressers busy!   There’s always something to do at this time of the year…..

Hopefully, we will be rid of this pesky virus eventually and will be able to get back to normal (whatever that was!).   Till the next time, stay safe, take care and come visit us soon.

Best wishes,  Roger