Category: For Families

Cream Tea in a Box …. coming soon

The perfect takeaway food for a socially distanced Garden experience...

Last year’s popular Cream Tea in a carry out box is set to return to the Garden in the next week. Scrumptious locally made scones, oodles of proper Cornish cream and berry jams all ready for you to collect at our Orangery shop and take off to your favourite place around the gardens for your own summer picnic treat.

Just order your Cream Tea in a Box package online and collect it when you come to the Gardens.

The box and nearly all the packaging is made of totally compostable plant based materials – so nothing goes to waste. We are still offering never ending tea/coffee refills – but given current circs. these will be served in a new cup, so please help us by disposing of the packaging in the recycling bins.

With our 10acres of beautiful green space we are the ideal space for your staycation days out… pack a picnic basket, add an order for a Cream Tea in a Box and take a trip to 18th century elegance.

Check the website ticket page HERE

 

 

Share

“Journeys end in family’s meeting, Every wise man’s son doth know”

(to misquote Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night)

There are times when the proximity of the motorway junction is a blessing!

Today 2 families chose the Gardens as a halfway house meeting place to see their grandparents/parents/children/grandchildren for the first time since lockdown.

One family came from west and east to meet here, another from north and south.

Although it was a blustery cool day they all made the best of their much waited for reunion.

(Us in the Gardens’ shed a little tear, we must admit)

 

Share

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 …..?

 

 

Share
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

Share

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

Share

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)

Share

On your doorstep nature..our wildlife survey

Citizen science: we can all make a difference to the world’s knowledge.

These days almost anyone can take part in gathering important information that adds to scientists’ understanding. From this Friday you can help us map some really important nature around the Gardens using a free app for your phone.

In the past we have taken part in things like national Bee Counts and flower surveys. Our colleagues over in Chelmsley Wood (B37 project and the Tribal Community Rangers) have started using this app  iNaturalist from the National Geographic Society.

In May we will be taking part – where we can – at looking and recording the wildlife surrounding our Gardens, over the Parkland, on the church paddock, on Lady Bradfords Gardens (the green common in front of the hotel).  It’s a month long bio-blitz!

Did you know that the Parkland, surrounding the Gardens, hasn’t had much change or disturbance on it for nearly 400 years! So, it’s a really rich place for biodiversity.

All you need to do is:

  • Download the app.
  • Have a look for ‘On your Doorstop’ under projects – and join (not compulsory- but will help them and us with the data )
  • Then on your daily walk around the area, take a snap or two and upload what you see:  plants, insects, animals , birds….
  • At the end of the month Tribal will crunch the data for us – and we’ll share it with everyone.
  • And that’s it… ooh don’t forget to share some of your photos on our facebook/twitter/instagram

Thank you … you will be contributing to human knowledge and science –  that’s a great thing!

Share

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

 

 

Share

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/

Share

Happy Birthday Will Shakespeare

April 23rd is traditionally celebrated as the birth – and death – day of local lad, William Shakespeare.

It is also a saint’s day in the old calendar: St George’s Day.

St George, with his dragon slaying and masterful horseriding is a very popular saint- being a patron saint not just in England, but also Georgia, Ethiopia, Catalonia, Aragon, Valencia, Portugal, Brazil, Bulgaria and …….

Our multinational friends at REEP have yet again provided a whole shelf full of lovely games and puzzles to amuse us and those learning English through Gardening.

There are some lovely games and resources about plants mentioned by Shakespeare. Apparently he mentions 180 …I’ve just counted we have about 86 of the in the Gardens click here to go to their shelf of games 

download some of the games on in pdf or online

REEP-2020-SHAKESPEARE-Decode-Plants, 

Share