Newsletter 31 – May 2016

Welcome to the May newsletter for the walled garden project.   Quite a lot has happened since the last newsletter but first, a little bit about what will be happening on July 2nd.   Once again, the walled garden will echo to the sounds of music and the clink of glasses as the annual Family Music & Real Ale Festival gets underway.   Local performers have again given their services free and the bar will be well stocked with real ales, lagers and ciders for you to try.   We expect to have a minimum of 30 different drinks available plus soft drinks and a range of wines.   We will be serving cream teas all day and there will be a BBQ throughout the festival and an evening hog roast.   There will be FREE games to entertain the children so that parents can relax.   All of this will be available within the safe confines of the beautiful walled garden and there will be enough canvas erected to combat any poor weather the elements might throw at us!   This year, tickets are available from our website (address below) for the first time.

Beer Festival Flier - you can now book through the website.
Beer Festival Flier – you can now book through the website.

Boathouse launch and ‘thank you’ lunch

Work had progressed on the restoration of the old boathouse, converting it into a dual purpose boathouse & wildlife observatory.   Most of the volunteers had some hand in the development but the lion’s share was done by Laurence & Dave Watton.   The results have been amazing.   A good number  turned out for the grand opening and long time patron of the project Matthew Ellis took time out from his campaigning for the Police & Crime Commissioner Elections to address the crowd.   Julie Cox cut the ribbon and a ceremonial launching of a dingy took place, much to everyone’s amusement!

Roger makes some opening remarks
Roger makes some opening remarks
Julie Cox cuts the ribbon and launches the first boat
Julie Cox cuts the ribbon and launches the first boat

The formalities over, those present moved into the marquee for a ‘thank you’ lunch for Friends and volunteers who had supported the project in the last 12 months.   In a lively atmosphere, everyone ate well and enjoyed the musicianship of Alun Davies and the enthusiastic singing of the Walled Garden Wailers.   A good time was had by all.   As usual, everyone was very generous with the food they brought along.   It was an opportunity for the project to show its appreciation to the many people who help out and by their efforts ensure that the project flourishes and remains a village asset.

Song smith Alun Davies puts on a show
Song smith Alun Davies puts on a show

Open House?

Much has been achieved in the house over the winter months.   The two front rooms now look splendid and are fully furnished – one as a library and one as a meeting/tea room.   The library is there for all to use.   Books can be borrowed, swapped or kept for a small donation so top up your holiday reading here!   We have been given so many books that we have had to ask donors to hold back until we find more room or until books have been taken away!   The meeting room is already being used by a needlework group and is now available for all to use.   Speak to one of the volunteers if you have an idea or a need for a room.

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Dave Watton is currently dealing with the plaster board in the hall and once this is plastered, the downstairs will be finished.  There is still work to do upstairs but this will have to wait till the grass stops growing!   The Gardener’s House is beginning to look a bit special.   When the garden was functioning a century or more ago it would have provided fruit, vegetables and flowers for the hall so the head gardener was an important man!

Blessed are the curtain makers

Donations of materials for curtains have been made up and hung in all of the finished rooms thanks to hard work by Sue Watton, Mitzi White and Thelma’s daughter Sharon.   Well done you three.   Sue Thompson has hung pictures in the finished rooms and the arrival of fresh flowers has given the whole house a homely feel.   Most of the furniture has been donated or bought from local charity shops and very little is now needed to complete the job.   A fine transformation indeed!

Everything’s bloomin’ lovely

We’ve had a lovely, if cool, spring and the bulbs have loved it.   Sadly, they are almost all over now and only the bluebells remain in flower but everywhere things are springing into life.   The sensory garden is again beginning to look splendid and the vines are beginning to cling to the new arch structure made by local company Upton Engineering.   Thanks Brand!  The ‘giant’ spade – donated and repaired and repainted by Pete Kennedy and granddaughter Lara, now stands proudly erect at the northern entrance to the sensory garden.

The new vine tunnel in the sensory garden
The new vine tunnel in the sensory garden
 A great display of tulips in the sensory garden
A great display of tulips in the sensory garden

Pat Hill is working hard on the herbaceous border which already looks beautiful and on the allotments Peter Coggins, Peter Stubbs and others are well on top of the work.   In general, I think the allotments as a group look better this year than ever!

Behind the house something is stirring!   Thelma continues to pot up plants and bring them on for the produce table where visitors can take them away for a donation.   Her area has now taken on the look of a small plant nursery and her plants are bringing in useful cash for the project.   Mike & Barbara Sadler joined us as volunteers last year and have since become stalwarts of the project.   They took on the challenge of taming the ground behind the gardener’s house which had been allowed to run a bit wild.

Thelma's plant nursert
Thelma’s plant nursery

Much hard work has transformed the area.   Gone are most of the pernicious weeds and the early flowers are beginning to cheer up the area.   Mike recently undertook to replace the dirt path with block paving using reclaimed bricks.   Almost finished, it is already a great improvement as the photos show.   By the river, Darren has installed the 2 commemorative benches donated by the Morgan family to mark the sad passing of Owen’s mother Paula.   Here are some of the volunteers using the benches for the first time.   These will be perfect places to sit and contemplate river life and to enjoy the acres of wild poppies on the field beyond the river.

Darren putting the finishing touches to Owen's bench
Darren putting the finishing touches to Owen’s bench
Volunteers congregate around the new commemorative benches dedicated to Owen's Mum Paula
Volunteers congregate around the new commemorative benches dedicated to Owen’s Mum Paula

Forthcoming

  • Boules evenings – 27thMay, 10thJune, 24thJune, 8thJuly, 22ndJuly, 5thAugust, 19thAugust, 2nd September, 9thSeptember, 30thSeptember, 21stOctober – end of season bring and share social.
  • July 2nd at from 1pm – Family Music & Real Ale Festival
  • August 27th-28thScarecrow Festival
  • September 17th Tamworth Arts Garden Party.   You may not have heard about this event.   We were approached by Tamworth Arts to be the venue for their annual arts festival which showcases local talent.   There will be music, dancing, theatre and other things going on in a ‘garden party’ atmosphere.   Tamworth Arts will be doing all of the work and providing a bar and food stalls.   The good news for Elford is that 50% of the gate takings will be donated and the walled garden management have decided to turn all of this over to our Parish Council to be used to benefit the village and village groups.   It should be a great afternoon and a real benefit to Elford.

That’s all for now, so best wishes to you all.     Roger