Elford Hall Gardens – Newsletter 60 – Winter 2021

So far, the early winter temperatures have stayed pleasantly mild so the trees are still beautifully dressed in their Autumn golds and there are still quite a few brave flowers looking bright and cheerful.   This may change with this week’s forecast of snow!  All seasons have their delights so there is still a lot to admire at the Walled Garden.   There are places where you can sit in the dry and out of the wind when you come to visit.   The library in the Gardener’s House is still open and bursting with books which you can take away to read in a cosy corner at home.   It’s a swap library, so bring a book and take another is the order of the day, but you can also just take away a book if you put a donation in the box!   Remember also that the bothy is always open so you can make yourself a hot drink and possibly find a biscuit or two remembering, of course,  to put your donation in the honesty box!

The roses are still putting on a show in the rose garden.   We have had flowering roses on Christmas Day in past years and hopefully again this year!

There’s a cosy corner at the end of the tractor shed where volunteers (and you) can hide away and enjoy a coffee so there’s no need to be concerned about the weather – not yet, at least!

It’s time to party….

Christmas is approaching quickly and it’s not too late to stock up with a few bottles of Walled Garden Cider for your discerning visitors and family.   There are still a few bottles of the 2021 vintage left so stop by the barn and collect a few.   If you have empty bottles then please recycle them by returning them to the walled garden for use with the 2022 bottling.

Above right, you can see the results of this year’s harvest all stored away waiting for bottling in Spring 2022.

Below, some of the volunteers are taking what I like to think of as a ‘cake break’.   There is seldom a day passes without a supply of completely calorie free cake appearing from somewhere, usually provided by one of the volunteers or by a thoughtful ‘Friend of the Walled Garden’.   Cake is always enthusiastically received by the grateful team, as you might imagine!!!

Ouch! my back hurts…

Autumn and winter work often involves a fair bit of digging in preparation for Spring sowing.   Here, Alan is getting stuck in on one of our allotments.   At least the ground is soft now and the weeds are growing less quickly so it is satisfying work – providing you take a rest occasionally!

The Duke’s legacy lingers on…

So, a big welcome to Harry & Charles (Smith) – two volunteers with Princely names – very appropriate for lads following the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme by helping out at the Gardens.   There’s always plenty to do in the garden at any time of the year and so they have begun the winter job of re-proofing and re-painting our wooden items to help protect them during the next 12 months.

Good work, lads.   Keep at it ‘cos Pete’s got his beady eye on you!

Of course, a lot more has been going on behind the scenes at the garden but I’ve been off work injured for a while so I’m a bit out of touch – so my apologies if I’ve missed anything out or anyone out that deserves  mention.

                     Three wheels on my wagon, I’m still rolling along…..

Michael Connelly, a Friend of the Walled Garden and a regular visitor made the project a very generous and unexpected donation which we wanted to mark by doing something extra special.   After some deliberation, it was decided that the donation could be used to begin restoring the old farm cart that can be seen amongst the cider trees at the edge of the orchard.   The cart is part of village history and is, we think, over 100 years old!   It has been slowly decaying for many years but all of that is about to be reversed!

First, what was left of the wheels had to be removed.   There was one wheel in fairly good order but there wasn’t much that hadn’t fallen away from the other 3.

Back in the barn, the one good wheel became the template for the remaining 3 and it was a very interesting task trying to work out exactly how the original craftsmen had constructed the wheel.

The centre piece of each wheel was a work of art in itself, worthy of display in a gallery!  When it comes to woodworking challenges, you can rely on Dave Watton to be up for the task.   Working out the circumference of each bit of the outer rim took a lot of know-how and endless checking and re-checking of the dimensions before the first cuts in the oak were made.   Thereafter, there would be no going back…

Well, can you see what it is yet?   It’s a bit curvy!   I struggle to cut a straight line with a saw, let alone a curve!

To the right, Dave has laid out the components of the reconstructed wheel to make sure that it looks OK before the gluing begins.   It does look like a wheel, doesn’t it?   It’s taken a good deal of time to get to this point and this is only the first of 4 wheels!

It could be a week or two before he’s finished so it makes a journey to the garden an interesting prospect for visitors.   It’s not every day you can stand and watch an old cart wheel being made (or an old craftsman at work, for that matter!).

Allotments update.

 Winter work is well underway on many of the allotment plots.  Our allotments continue to be an important and integral part of the Garden Project. As some plot subdivision has taken place over the years, there are now 20 plots with in excess of 45 people working on them. All lay out their plots to suit their needs and grow a range of different produce. This all adds variety for the visitors to enjoy. Being on the plots over the last 18 months has been fantastic and has helped many peoples mental and physical health. We are all looking forward to productive next season.

 That’s all from me, folks ……

My best wishes to you all.   I hope that you have enjoyed reading about what’s happening at the walled garden but it’s always better to see it first-hand.   Sunday is always a good day to visit, as Vicky will be there with her fabulous coffees and cakes from 11am to 2.30pm.   If the weather looks iffy, probably it’s best to give her a ring on 07934197351 just to make sure that she’ll be there.   On other days, you’ll just have to make your own drinks in the bothy!

Stay safe and healthy in this run up to Christmas.  Enjoy the festive season (don’t forget to stock up with Walled Garden cider!)

 Roger