Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 57 – Spring 2021

 

Welcome to the Walled Garden Spring edition.   The weather has been so sunny of late that I have been putting off spending time at the computer but today is dull and a bit damp so I have no excuse!

Have you been to the garden recently?   No?   Well, now is a good time to visit.   At the moment, the orchard is full of blossom and bees, the tulips are spectacular this year and the bluebells are just starting to come into flower so get your skates on before the show is over!   It’s also good to see the trees beginning to green up with so many spring-fresh shades.   Volunteers, now back on task, are working hard to keep the garden looking nice for your visit – so add us to your ‘to do’ list.

Everyone seems so happy now that lockdown restrictions are relaxing a bit.   Let’s hope that the extra freedom doesn’t backfire on everyone!  The walled garden has been a safe escape during lockdown, so visitor numbers have been higher than usual throughout and it has been nice to hear the happy sound of children enjoying themselves during their Easter holiday.

Around the garden

Volunteering virtually stopped after the Christmas lockdown and, now that everyone is back on site, there has been a lot of catching up to do!    Luckily, we have had a few more volunteers joining us to share the work.   John and Peter have been busy on the outdoor furniture – Pete repairing and John painting.   Thelma and her team have been busy potting up, setting seed and getting plants ready for the sale table.   I’ve been working with a team in the sensory garden generally getting it tidy for the summer.   Christine and Peter’s work is well advanced on the two allotments and Alan has caught up on was needed in the rose garden – all of the pruning and he’s now planting up soft fruits for summer treats!   

Jean and Ron Chamberlain make loads of jams to help us with fund-raising.   Here is their marmalade mountain contribution.   Look closely and you will see Paddington Bear, stripped and ready to get stuck in!    Volunteers always appreciate their contributions and also the many welcome donations of cake to keep us going while we do our socially distanced work.

In the orchard, we now have Rob, a new man to look after our bees and he has introduced several new hives.   Apparently, he likes to give each of his queen bees a name and so one has been named ‘Sue’ after Sue Watton – so good luck to the worker bees!!!

In the barn, work is already advanced with work on this year’s cider – something to look forward to.   The ever-resourceful Loz has built himself a pole lathe and is finding time to become a ‘bodger’ and add yet another skill to his list of accomplishments!

Groundwork

A bigger project has been started in the old tractor shed where a team have dug out the old compacted soil floor with a view to replacing it with something more substantial.    It involved quite a large team.   Gordon, Andy, Mick, Darren and Dave all provided the muscle, as around 30cm of packed earth and brick rubble was removed to reveal an old brick floor. After giving this a protective cover, a block paved floor was added to bring the new floor up to level with the surrounding paths.   We removed the old workbench that had sat in the corner for countless years.   It was crumbling and riddled with woodworm but we aim to restore it as much as we can before returning it to its place.   Once completed, the area will most likely house the restored pony trap which is nearing completion.   Chris is currently working on the leather fittings and then there as just a few final touches and it will be ready to move into place.

Weather watching

The clouds have lifted now and the drizzle has stopped and so shall I!   Our weather is a source of constant interest, isn’t it?   The soil in the sensory garden is dry as dust and we are needing to water plants that are looking a bit limp!   It’s hard to imagine that only a few weeks ago we were facing snow showers and a flooding river here at the gardens.

Here at the Walled Garden project, things are looking really positive.   The garden is quickly coming back to life, butterflies are adding their colour and the noisy birds are adding their contribution too.   It’s probably my favourite time of the year here as the winter blues are being shaken off.   With new volunteers and new ‘Friends of the Walled Garden’ things are looking very healthy.

Why not come down and join the party?   There are plenty of books, jigsaws and plants to be collected for a donation and jams too, of course.   We have a few bottles of cider for sale and there is a limited amount of honey available.   All donations are very much appreciated and important for the future of the garden, particularly since Covid has robbed us of fundraising activities for the past year.   Maybe think about joining us as a volunteer – many hands make light work and every little helps.   You can give it a try without making any commitment and you will find our volunteers a friendly bunch!   You can contact me by email for more details if you are interested in giving it a try.

In the meantime, my best wishes to you all.    Stay safe

Roger