Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 58 – June 2021

Well, here we are almost at the longest day of the year and summer has finally arrived after the unusually wet May.   I used to think I understood our weather but now it’s joined the long list of other things I find confusing!   The virus (or one of several mutated versions of it) is still with us and, although lockdown has been eased to an extent, any further hope of more relaxation is now delayed till late July so still not much light from the end of the tunnel (or Downing Street, as it’s sometimes known!).

Here at the Walled Garden everything is looking green and healthy and growing at an alarming rate.   Currently, the irises are looking fabulous and the raised vine house bed is a riot of colour.  The rose garden is bloom, the vegetable plots are looking tidy and full of promise and, if we can keep on top of the weeds and the rapidly growing grass then I think that visitors will be well impressed by what they see in our

At this time of the year, the garden changes by the day and the recent hot weather means that some of the plants are ‘over’ very quickly if they don’t get the water they need and with volunteers only being on site on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they can go ‘thirsty’ so visit soon (and often) to see them at their best!

Insects are busy everywhere.   We’ve even had a bee ‘swarm’ take up lodgings inside the Gardener’s house in between the floorboards!   Help!!!

Pandemic Progress?

So what’s been going on since the New Year?   Well, a surprising lot really!   Our gardeners have been busy preparing allotments, in the nursery area plants are being prepared for sale and everywhere it has been all hands to the pump to keep on top of mowing and weeding.    The old tractor shed has now been re-floored and Dave has almost finished restoring the ancient workbench that used to live there, ready for its imminent return.   In the barn, Peter is steadily working through his list of repairs and Steve, Carol, Andy and others have been working hard to bottle this year’s cider (which is now on sale).   John Shaw has almost finished his furniture painting marathon and Loz and Jess continue their marathon work on restoring the old Orangery.

Above left  – this year’s cider and perry now on sale and ready for drinking at 2020 prices.  Above right – Dave has almost finished restoring the ancient DIY work bench which we found in the old tractor shed.   Bottom right – Peter Stubbs showing off the first of the season’s broad beans.   Bottom centre – Gordon keeps to the shade and does battle with the long grass.   Bottom left – Alan continues his expert tree training in the sensory garden.

Extra Sensory Activity!

Much tidying up has been done in the sensory garden.   The spring flowers have ended and we are patiently waiting for the spring sown wild flowers and pollinators to appear – but they need rain now!  Roger, Nathan, Darren, Alison, new volunteer Iwan and Duke of Edinburgh’s trainee James and a host of others have done most of the work.   Paths have been tidied, the red bridge and benches all repainted, the pergola re-proofed and the lettering on the marble table has been re-touched.   Pruning, weeding, repairing and tidying completes the list!   I think the results have been worth the effort!

Right  is the marble table after the restoration after much patient painting by James and me.    For no conscious reason, the first 2 words I re-painted were ‘beautiful garden’ – spooky that!      The text is a quote from Oscar Wilde’s ‘Selfish Giant’ tale, which can be read in full on one of the story boards in the sensory garden for those of you who don’t know the story!  What a difference a bit of paint and patience makes!

Above left – Darren’s giving the bridge a much needed lick of paint!

The Plot thickens….

The allotments have been a great source of comfort for many over the last 15 months. We now have 20 plots as a couple of the bigger plots have recently been subdivided. As a result there are about 45 people working the plots and participating in the project.   It’s great to see how the plots have improved over the years as holders hone their skills and knowledge base.   It almost goes without saying that the weather has been strange this year — although gardeners say this about every year! — and our arms are growing longer from carrying watering cans.  It’s great that the allotments can provide a different aspect to the garden experience for visitors and we receive no end of questions from the curious — some we can actually answer!

And now more good news!

The Walled Garden has been a popular retreat for many people during the Pandemic which is great, as it indicates that our efforts are appreciated by many.   As a consequence of this, we have increased the number of ‘Friends of the Walled Garden’ who help to support us by their annual contribution of £20.

Better still, we have gained an extra dozen volunteers to share the work load and this is great news for our aging volunteer family.  Long may this continue!

The almost daily grind?

New for this summer is the appearance of Harley’s Camioncito serving drinks, cake, ice creams etc on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from 11ish till around 3pm so give them your support and enjoy their wares as you relax in the garden.   Their coffee is a bit special !!!   Fussing the dog comes FREE

Coming soon to a walled garden near YOU!

  • The boules season has started and everyone is welcome – and it’s FREE.   Boules can be played at anytime but a group of us meet on some Friday evenings from 6.30ish for social boules. This involves a picnic, a little lubrication to your taste, a lot of laughter and chat and a few games of fun boules. This year’s meeting dates are July 2nd, 16th and 30th; August 13th and 27th and finally September 10th.   Come and give it a try why don’t you?
  • On Tuesday 29th June from 10am we will be putting up the marquee.   Many hands make light work so if you are free to help…….
  • On Friday July 9th at 9.30 we are being judged by the Royal Horticultural Society for their ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition. The judges love talking to visitors and ‘Friends’ when they are judging so, if you are free, why not come along and join in?
  • On Saturday July 10th at 2pm we will be holding a much delayed (due to Covid) AGM outside in the garden. All Friends of the Walled Garden are welcome to attend.
  • On Saturday July 17th at 11am we will be holding our Volunteers forum where we explore how the project might be developed in the future. If ‘Friends’ have any ideas they’d like to promote then this can be done at the AGM OR by emailing your ideas direct to me.

Left – some kind soul introduced some knitted mice to Mr Badger’s house in the Woods.   Nice to have visitors…   Right – amazing blossom on the cider tree – next year’s brew in the making!

That’s about it for this issue.   I hope that it has been an enjoyable read for you .   Don’t forget to note down the dates above and come to the garden again soon

Best wishes,   Roger