Category: creativity

Poetry resources from Ian MacMillan

Gardens inspire poetry, poetry inspires Gardens.

The urge to be creative during lockdown has been fuelled, happily, by many tv programmes, blogs and online memes. Hopefully the creativity will not be lost as we emerge slowly from our hibernation.

The radio poet Ian Macmillan, the Barnsley Bard, works extensively with arts groups in Yorkshire. Attached is a document (.pdf) with some really useful prompts and exercises to get our poetry going – whatever age we are.

Creative Directions Resource Pack  wearedarts.org.uk

One of the styles of poem popular in victorian times was the ‘Acrostic’ .

We’ve had a go — how about you?

Here is Ian’s

Here is ours

What about …..?

 

 

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volunteer weeding the bean tunnel

Beans and Potatoes – plant, grow, eat and support growers.

Planting and growing beans and potatoes has always meant a lot to us in the Gardens

We try to keep some of the really old varieties going, but we have also wanted to encourage people – especially children – to feel confident about growing their own food.

In February and March schools and family visitors have great fun planting beans and volunteer weeding the bean tunnelwatching them grow; at home or in the Gardens. Many of these beans get planted up in our own gardens to make an annual Bean Tunnel.

Come summer the tunnel is a lush green place to crawl in, explore and peek out to the world. And what a revelation … those long green things hanging down are beans you can eat!

Potatoes

Everyone loves a potato. When we can, we grow some of the oldest varieties from 100 or even 300 years ago – a way of ensuring the biodiversity of our food stock is kept.

But also, potatoes are pretty easy – 1 potato planted, makes a whole plate of chips or mash!

hallmoor students celebrate the harvest

 

 

 

 

We usually have two weekly visiting groups from special schools and colleges: Hallmoor School and Trinity Specialist college. We are missing their input and they are missing their visits to the outdoors here. Our gardeners have been looking after their plot  while they’re away… potatoes and beans doing fine. Let’s hope they can harvest them later in the year.

What you can do

The bean tunnel is partially potted up, so hopefully in the summer people can see that. Why not encourage young ones in your household to plant some beans themselves. When you  visit us later they can compare how tall they have grown. Beans, sunflowers and peas are relatively easy now. Here’s a great ‘how to’  from Cbeebies. https://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/makes/plant-pots?collection=national-gardening-week

 

Even if you are not growing potatoes yourself, you can help the farmers who are.

Good and safe food starts with the growers, but many small growers are struggling to keep up in the current times. Some local organisations have banded together to help. Slow Food Birmingham,  and two of groups we already work with, The Real Junk Food Project and The Active WellBeing Society,   have teamed up for a great project – can you help?

http://slowfoodbirmingham.co.uk/campaigns/?fbclid=IwAR2MmZqEt7m2WjZZ-mBPx4LwYdWRr0X4Dznww3HiVvtX-1sMFwyNP9GORZoThe potato project

Charlie, a farmer north of the city, had a field full of spuds and no prospect of selling them because of the drop in trade in the hospitality sector.

There are 10 tonnes of potatoes

Charlie needs to dig up the potatoes and find new customers fast or let them rot and add to the growing numbers of food that is wasted, before it can be eaten. It’s also important that the growers get a decent price for their work and that the potatoes get to the most vulnerable too.

The organisations above are matching up emergency food needs and the general public.  Click below to see how it works.

Buying, donating, paying forward and receiving spuds… all in one project.

If you can’t participate directly – do spread the word about what we can do to make the future of food security better.

http://slowfoodbirmingham.co.uk/campaigns/?fbclid=IwAR2MmZqEt7m2WjZZ-mBPx4LwYdWRr0X4Dznww3HiVvtX-1sMFwyNP9GORZo

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‘Never was the shade from any plant more dear’…music of the Garden

You can travel the world through the plants in our Gardens. By the early 1700s plants from five* different continents could be found growing in England.

Plants had been gathered and collected over time for their economic potential as crops or medicine, or for their rarefied beauty and shown off by the rich and powerful,or subject to scientific scrutiny.

While the time of the great 19th century plant hunters was still to come, the variety of plants, their very ‘exoticism’ was valued over and above more modest plants which might have been grown and used for centuries.

Today in the Gardens they all mix together, from little ‘weeds’ to flamboyant dragons. We are so used to some, we forget that their origins may be far, far away or from a long time ago.

Re-finding the wonder –  and recognising our luck – that we are so entwined with, and dependent on, other places in the world is perhaps one of the humbling outcomes of the current crisis.

…. And the music?

In 1738 George Frederick Handel premiered his opera, Xerxes, in London.

As with many theatrical productions of the time the ‘idea’ of the countryside was shifting from that ‘uncivilised place’ which is dirty, smelly and dangerous, to being a pastoral idyll, a place of purity and innocence.

Handel – a German composer  who spent most of his life in London – reworked an older Italian song by Cavalli and Bononcini. The opera is about the ancient King of Persia, Xerxes. Here the American countertenor, Christopher Lowrey  sings, in Italian, with a group of musicians playing instruments made variously in Paris, the Netherlands, Florence and Germany.

Like our Garden…a composition made beautiful because the world comes together in it.

Maybe you will like the music too.

 (feel free to donate to the musicians)

By the way, the character is singing the praises of a Plane tree (Platanus orientalis ) – No, I don’t think we  have one ..

*Five continents not 7 in the Gardens. Westerners had not reached Australia by the 1760s, and Antarctica,was a bit harsh

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Memories made real

A volunteer and member of the U3A (university of the third age) Art Class, which takes place in the Gardens, sent us some lovely pictures she has painted during the sessions.

A great way of remembering a time when she, and others, could take their reflective and creative time in the Gardens.

Thanks Anita.

Enjoy…go create! At home – and one day soon- in the Gardens

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Kids and BBC Newsround – good as ever

Just sharing another round up of great things for kids to do.. BBCs Newsround has always been good and our national public broadcaster is really working well in the current situation.

Bug houses, Bee B&Bs, smile stones,  birdfeeders and growing veg are all featured on the current Newsround page… all things our Unplug and Play sessions really encourage.

Until we can welcome you back into the Gardens – why not practice with the Beeb.

I’m looking forward to a set of activities in the Gardens, led by enthusiastic, imaginative and skilled children!

Yes, we can make it happen.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/52009318

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turning stony faces into smiles

Our call out for your SmileStone creations to build ‘social distancing’ markers in the Gardens is beginning to take of… These have been delivered to our gates in the last week. AMAZING

Thank you so much – keep’em coming!

(your creations can be dropped into the flowerpot  at our gate – we’ll use them to make 2m markers- come back and see your creation… when we can open)

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Add a smile(stone) to social distancing

When we re-open the Gardens – whenever that will be – we know that social distancing will be a ‘new normal’ for some while…

from Staff Smiles Stones (by gill )

So, the (still working) team here have been thinking about what that would look like. We want to help people feel safe when they come to visit, and know that others are looking out for their health too. Shops and supermarkets are using yellow floor tape and painted circles…that’s not quite the thing we want to do in our historic Garden.

We’ve come up with a number of ideas and one of them needs your help.

Smile Stones … have you seen them about?

There is a lovely phenomenon of people painting pebbles and leaving them in the environment for people to find, to make them smile, to think and sometimes to collect and pass on. (PS the advice at present during Covid-19 , is NOT to pick them up and move them – just a precaution)

Smile stones are a little piece of everyday sharing and of spreading love.  We already have a few in the Gardens deposited (with permission) by local people.

We think stone and pebble smiles stones would make wonderful social distance markers all around our garden… Every 2 metres a bright little stone hedgehog or ladybird, or perhaps a heart lifting message to keep you going on to the next marker?

If you’d like to take part in helping brighten up our Gardens walking routes we’d love you to start now.

Aldridge smile stones

Below are some facebook pages and other things about how to paint stones.

How to get them to us

We will leave a plant pot attached to the (inner) gates of the Gardens – you can just pop your stones in there, and we’ll keep them ready for when we open (if the pot disappears , just roll your stones under the gate and our gardener will pick them up when she visits..)

Thank you – do pass on this activity to anyone you think might enjoy taking part.

PS … don’t spend money getting fancy paint… do what you can, a coat of clear nail varnish will do the trick –  or any outdoor varnish you have in your diy cupboard – over the top of house paint/kids paint or marker pens will do!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2P3gnRmv7FYlS7YwklbvVHd/how-to-become-a-rock-artist

Facebook has 

https://www.facebook.com/smilestonesbg/

and lots of groups in Erdington, Sutton Coldfield and Staffs — just search

 

 

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Gardening Tips for May

Gardener’s Tips for May

It is now time to give your borders some attention. All the sunshine and showers means the garden should now be at its vibrant best. Remove any faded spring bedding at the end of the month, it’s served you well but it’s time for a change and old bedding can be put in the compost bin to go back on the garden next year as mulch.

Once the risk of frost has passed (what do you think?), plant out summer bedding and ensure it is kept well watered so it can establish.

Ensure any perennial weeds are swiftly removed and hoe off any annual weeds , don’t let them get the chance to flower and seed as this will greatly increase your workload. Tie in any shoots of climbing  plants in your border. Plants like clematis are easier to manage when offshoots are short and young, if you allow them to get too long it’s almost impossible to prise them away from other plants they get tangled up in without snapping.

Hanging baskets

If you want hanging baskets plant them up now and allow them to establish for a few weeks in a frost free space make sure that when you put them out you keep them well watered, pick off the dead flowers and give them a liquid fertiliser feed every few weeks this should keep your hanging baskets flowering throughout the summer. 

Veggy times

You can start to harvest rhubarb this month, twist the stem at the base of the plant but ensure you leave a few stems on each crown.

Don’t strip it bare as the plant needs to be able to feed its own crown.  Continuing with this  theme on the vegetable plot, if you have asparagus ensure that you stop cutting to leave some spears to grow at the end of the month. They produce a lovely ferny foliage which is

needed by the asparagus crown to capture sunlight to replenish its crown for next year. Potatoes that were planted in April  (oh yes they were!) can now be earthed up, by drawing up mounds of soil up around the plant this will help the potatoes create more tubers from the buried stems and increase your crop.

You may have been mowing for a few months now, but it’s time to establish a regular routine. Mowing weekly will ensure you get a denser turf. A denser turf means a better looking lawn and less opportunity for weeds to establish – No don’t be tempted to do it too often because your ‘just want to get out there!’  

For further tips follow the link to view the RHS Gardening Tips for #nationalgardeningweek https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/national-gardening-week/

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https://www.geocaching.com/blog/2018/03/how-to-solve-mystery-caches-also-known-as-puzzle-caches/

Geocaching – treasure hunting with a phone.

We love treasure hunts of all kinds in the Gardens..

We know too that there are lots of other seek and find activities in and around the Gardens, the historic Parkland and the village locally – Pokemon Go of course, Wizards Unite and  our own ‘Mystery Mutts’ Doggy Treasure Hunts.

But how many of you know there are also some ‘geocaches’ around and about? Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting game where participants (Geocachers) use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver (a smart phone! ) or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”) anywhere in the world.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and “treasure,” usually toys or trinkets of little value.

There are over 6000 caches hidden around Birmingham and the National Trust are now recognising that geocaching is great for families to get outside together… so do we.

We’ve been wanting to develop some caching trails for a while- both inside and outside the Gardens – but while we now have the time to think about it, we don’t have the experience..

So …. Calling all geocaching fans and experts. The challenge is to create a geocaching trail for the Gardens (and maybe spreading outwards too). Can you help us out?

What do you think would work? How many caches makes sense on our site? What would our swag items be? Would there be a theme to them all?  Can we make special events for families?

Obviously we cannot get into the Gardens right now, but we’d love to work with you to think about something in summer and autumn…please contact us if you can help… and share with any geocaching chums too

 

“The best thing about it is you will be taken to places of interest and beauty that are on your doorstep that you never even knew existed.”

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