Category: Latest News

Land Art Festival days for schools and the public

Richard Shilling – acclaimed environmental Land Artist – will make a welcome return to our green and pleasant land in October.

He and his partner Julia Brooklyn, who specialises in working with children, have agreed to run some special days for schools on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th October.

Using natural materials and responding to the environment the class workshops will release individual and group creativity this Autumn.

Half days or whole school length days are available to book. We welcome schools of any kind and

groups of home educated children to book places.

Suitable for all ages and abilities
£5 per child (group prices by negotiation), ring 0121 749 4100 or email to book

 

Julia and Richard have agreed to stay over until Saturday and to continue the Festival feel of their artist residency on Saturday 27th October.  The Land Art Fesitval day will be a drop in anytime, join in and make art together type event. Let our garden inspire you to explore shapes and places together

Normal Garden Entry fees apply (TBC)

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Vandals, mud and bugs

[update: We are overwhelmed by the positive support and reaction of the public to this act of vandalism in the Gardens. we are grateful to everyone for their good wishes and take heart in knwoing that what we are trying to do pleases so many people.  

We are busy prparng for our big 40s event at present, as soon as that is over we will be planning to invite our wellwishesr to be part of the reconstruction of the spaces – it might take a little planning- but we are really looking forward to involving even mor epeople in the pleasure of our spaces…. Please keep a look out for news of how you can help out… .With heartfelt thanks from the volunteers , staff and Trustees]

(PS Many people have asked how they might contribute financially – if this is something yu want and ware able to do, you can make a contriubtion of any size to our Just Giving page HERE.  All contributions for the next month will go directly on the re-build project… THANKS)

…over the past few months thoughtless and destructive intruders have done some stupid things in the Gardens overnight – all of which has cost our charity and hard working volunteers both money and tears. Over the last 2 nights yet more destructive idiocy has happened. This time it directly affects our visitors too. Last night was even worse.
Our little mud kitchen – much beloved by toddlers and parents was set alight. The ‘bug hotel’ built by volunteers and visitors last year to attract creepy crawlies was also burned. The fences protecting the small bridges by our spinney pond have now been trashed 4 times. Its not just stuff we have built , but nearby trees have been scorched too.
Our charity and volunteers look after these unique Gardens on behalf of us all. What brains and hearts get pleasure out of spoiling things for everyone else? They are the few…we are the many…oh, and our hedgehog cameras are now trained on humans…

 

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Membership 2018

On this form you can become a member of the Gardens and also renew a current membership. When you have completed the form, please click on the link to the online payment page. You can pay by Credit Card or by Paypal (you do not have to have a paypal account ).

Thank you for joining us and helping the Gardens to provide pleasure for all our vistors .

Click the link to purchase your membership HERE

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#wegrowtogether: a guide to companion planting

There’s a lot of wisdom out there amongst professional and amateur gardeners. Much folklore and science knowledge handed down from generation to generation. 

In the post second world war  ‘nuke everything with a chemical’ era, a lot of native knowledge about what grew well with what, was lost and indeed strongly poo-poohed as ‘magic’ and superstition.

Thankfully since then, largely due to the Organic Gardening lobby, a more rational approach and some good scientific studies have been instrumental in making the practice of ‘companion planting’ an accepted practice amongst mainstream gardeners.

In our veg. and herb garden (the Batty Langley), we tend to mix some pre-18th century practices with some modern wisdom. We don’t use chemicals and plant calendula, nasturtiums, borage, comfrey etc plants amongst the vegetables to encourage beneficial insects.

On the Schools plot we have also experimented with ‘Three Sisters’ planting. This is a techniques used primarily by native north american peoples and combines three main agricultural crops winter squash, maize (corn), and climbing beans.

“The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to        climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other  plants use, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent the establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a “living mulch”, creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Corn, beans, and squash contain complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and all eight essential amino acids, allowing most Native American tribes to thrive on a plant-based diet.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Sisters_(agriculture)

There is quite a lot of information out there on the web but we thought we would share a guide made by one of our helpful commercial partners, FirstTunnels.

Click here to be taken to their very comprehensive site

https://www.firsttunnels.co.uk/page/Companion-Planting-Guide

 

 

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Sunday Saunters…special weekend openings for winter wanderings

Sometimes all you want on Sunday afternoon at this time of year is a bit of fresh air and a stretching of the legs.

No kitting up for a long walk in the hills, just a stroll around a green and peaceful place…

This winter we are having a series of special weekend openings at the Gardens with this need in mind. There are five ‘Sunday Saunters’ between the end of January and the beginning of the season in April.

Late Winter and early Spring is also just a fascinating time in our Gardens.. the snowdrops, aconites and hellebores begin to emerge. As the days get longer the birds (and the box hedges!) get more active. Soon our drifts of daffodils begin to shoot up. When we are lucky enough to have some sunshine the low raking light illuminates the walkways and creates intriguing silhouettes.

We like to share these transient treasures, so Sunday opening offers a chance for our busy visitors to have a couple of hours of healthy pootering outdoors.

Of course it’s still a bit parky, so we have opened our 18th century Greenhouse (sometimes known as the Orangery) for people to find shelter and get a cup of warming chocolate.

On some of the days we will also strike up the firepit and indulge in toasted marshmallows and have some simple family crafts too.

 

Here are the dates. Do check back to the events calendar on this site or on Facebook just to make sure.

Sundays, 11am – 3pm

£4 adults, £1 children. Free for Members

 28th January Snowdrops+ RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch and family craft
 4th February Snowdrops
18th February
  4th March Daffs + Elite Tents Wedding Fair on site  (free entry)
18th March Good for Daffs

 

 

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The Strawberry Tree

  The Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo) is a easy tree or shrub to identify, having both flowers and fruit present at the same time. The strawberry (or I think more like lychee) like fruit take up to a year to ripen, so as last year’s fruits turn red, the flowers that will form next year’s fruit start to appear. The fruit is said to be edible, although not very tasty, which may be hinted at in it’s Latin name ‘unedo‘; coming from unum edo ‘I eat one’ – meaning after you have eaten one you wouldn’t want another one? Having not yet tried one I couldn’t say! Which is good news for the birds, leaving plenty of fruit for them to feast on during the colder months.

A member of the Ericaceae family of plants, most commonly known as heather, the flowers bear a strong resemblance to those of heathers, with bell-like downward facing flowers in small clusters.

You may have also seen this plant in a well known Morris & Co. design, used in fabrics and wallpapers where you can clearly see the red fruits and white flowers.

Have a wander down to the Lower Wilderness to have a closer look at these interesting plants..

 

 

 

 

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Volunteering at our Lantern Events 2017

We are looking for willing volunteers to be Stewards and servers of hot chocolate and marshmallows to visitors at our upcoming Lantern Festival!

Here are some descriptions of the roles available (including other roles.)

The Gardens are largely staffed by volunteers and we’re looking forward to putting on this great family oriented series of events this month.

Volunteering will provide practical, rewarding experience of events management and organisation that will look excellent on a CV. Its a great way of giving something to a local community and a great group thing to be involved with. Travel expenses to and from the Gardens are also covered.

Volunteers MUST be available on one or (preferably) more of: Sunday 26th November, Saturday 2nd December, Sunday 10th December, Saturday 16th December as well as a training day, likely the 24th of November but relatively flexible.

There are some indoor roles, but you must also be comfortable working out of doors, working in the dark, directing visitors, and serving drinks. We will provide training , Hi Viz jackets, warming drinks and smiles :-)).

If you are interested please click the google form here http://bit.ly/2AWUaHz   to fill in your details and preferences.

Thank you! Please share with your friends  

Volunteer Teams -Brief role description

Hot chocolate servers and marshmallow toasters
Served from the GreenHouse  3.30pm – 5.45pm  each public day.
Sold on 3 days and given away (tokens) on the last day.
Tasks

·         Serve and take money for hot chocolate (instant)
·         Supervise outdoor firepit (small) and toasting marshmallows
·         Keep a track of supplies, safety and cleanliness
·         Source and tidy marshmallow sticks (twigs and barbecue)
·         Help families toast their own mallows.
·         Clear up during and at end of session

Stewards/site guides
Meet and Greets and Safety

·         Wearing hi viz jackets to welcome and point people in the right direction as the light fades.
·         Stationed at specific points around the garden to ensure people don’t get lost, miss out. etc
·         Able to readjust basic parts of the display if necessary.

Stewards/Gardens Ambassadors (for Stewards who like to talk)

Helping visitors understand what we have to offer as a whole and helping us raise more money
·         Provide info verbally – for the day and other activities
·         Get informal feedback
·         Take emails
·         Talk about memberships, events, activities and volunteering
·         Distribute 2 for 1 and free chocolate tickets as needed

 

Lantern makers and craft helpers   (INDOORS 12.30 -4ish )
·         Help families during the public days to make lanterns, decorate glass jar lanterns and to make twig stars and glitter cones.
·         Prep and tidy up

Site preparation and care (Fridays before the events)

Keeping it all looking pretty and safe -Various types of roles.
·         Checking lights/cables are safe
·         Replacing items and tidying after weather or public has displaced
·         Ensuring the ‘look’ of the installation is maintained (a bit of set dressing naus)
·         Replenishing supplies
·         Cleaning /drying seats etc
·         Making sure signs are in the right place.
·         Rubbish bins replaced etc etc
·         Clear paths, make safe etc
·         Looking after bits of garden – safe from public and safe for public
·         Maintain standard of presentation

Car park duties

Control and management of parking entry and exit, keeping everyone safe with special attention ‘cos of dark
(Training in teams essential)

Click the google form here http://bit.ly/2AWUaHz   to fill in your details and preferences.

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Kale

This week I planted out 40 Kale plants in the Batty Langley vegetable garden that have been quietly growing along in the greenhouse since September. We are trying three varieties, ‘Red Russian’, ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Borecole – Green Curled Dwarf’.

Kale does well over the colder months, so will hopefully add some interest in the garden over the following darker months. As pigeons take a fancy to stripping the foliage off plants in the Brassica family, the precaution of placing net over the kale plants has been necessary to stop them becoming just tattered stems!

I have used two beds to grow the kale in, with 20 plants in each one, and to create a neat formal look the use of a tape measure was implemented to ensure even spacing.

The botanical name for kale is Brassica oleracea var. acephala, ‘Brassica’ being the genus consisting of cabbages, ‘oleracea’ meaning that the plant can be used as a vegetable and ‘acephala’ meaning ‘without a head’, i.e that the plant is loose leafed rather than with a head as many cultivated cabbages have. Kale has a long history as a food crop, being one of the most important green vegetables in Europe up until the end of the Middle Ages.

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New plants from old

At this time of year a lot of plants are starting to go to seed, so it is a good time to go around and collect some of them so we can grow new plants for next year. Some can be sown straight away (as we are doing so in the greenhouses), others can be stored to be sown in the spring. We are also taking cuttings of some of the plants in the garden, and hopefully by next spring we will have lots of lovely plants to sell or plant back out in the garden.

We are trying seeds collected from plants including Alcea (hollyhock), Lychnis (rose campion), Lupin, Astrantia, Galega (Goat’s Rue), Poppy and Phlomis. Some, such as Lychnis, have already germinated, others we are still eagerly awaiting for signs of life! The interesting thing about seeds is the genetic variation that can occur, so often the resulting plants will show some variation from the parent, especially in the case of the hollyhocks, where the colour of the flowers on each plant will be a surprise!

Cuttings taken include Lavender, Rosemary, Jasmine and Philadelphus. These are all semi-ripe cuttings taken from this year’s growth, so the base is firm but with soft growth still on the tips. They are put in pots together, and then when roots start to show at the base of the pot, they will be separated and given their own pot to grow on. Unlike seeds, cuttings create clones of the parent plant, so you know exactly what you are going to get.

We look forward to seeing how our seeds and cuttings do, and in the meantime they have a trusty guardian to keep an eye on them!

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