Category: Latest News

How many species on your doorstep?

Have you been using the inaturalist wildlife spotting app on your walks out and about Castle Bromwich and surrounds?

The On your Doorstep project run by our friends over in B37 has so far gathered 212 different species of plants, insects, animals and birds….

Our Gardener on site has been participating too – although most of the rest of the staff are working from home..

She reports that there are great tits nesting by our office… we often have a nesting pair in the tall pole of our security cameras… I wonder if they’re there this year?

The On Your Doorstep project goes on for another week – and the app continues after that too.  Do download the free app and use it to report your sitings however modest and ordinary – the more we know about all the wildlife around us, the better we will be able to protect it and enjoy it together.

 

Share

Movement for Good funding…just a click away?

Our specialist insurers, Ecclesiastical, aren’t just a financial institution, their charitable purposes are written into their very constitution; a ‘Movement for Good’. This year they are distributing £1million to good causes.  We would love to be one of them.

As a Charitable Trust the Gardens are dependent on visitor income and grants. Closure this spring because of the health crisis means we have already lost 75% of our annual earned income. So we are entering a period of uncertainty and loss (we are not alone in that).
If you can spare just a few minutes to click the link below  you can nominate the Gardens to win a £1,000 grant. Every little helps the Gardens keep going ..for all of us.

The deadline to apply is this Sunday 24th May

All you’ll need to do is type in our details – Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust and our  charity number: 516855
Winners are drawn at random, so the more times a charity is nominated the more chance it has of being selected.
Thank you very much for your support, please also share if you can!
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

‘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

Share

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

Share

Update on opening and covid-19

Thank you for all your kind messages  expressing your support – in varying ways – for the Gardens. 

We are all anxious to know when people will be able to see and explore the Gardens again. As you know there has been a recent change in government approach to dealing with the pandemic. The Gardens continues to take advice, and keep in contact with the authorities as well as our colleagues across the Gardens and Heritage world.

Here is our position and thoughts at present

Protecting the personal health of our staff, volunteers and visitors still comes first.

  • We are nevertheless making plans for how we might open in some kind of phased manner.
  • We need to consider how we can balance good social distancing within the Gardens with the desire of individuals and families to be able to stretch their legs, feel relaxed and generally have a good time.
  • Things may change over time and different approaches may be needed at different times.
  • We know it is unlikely that we will be able to offer exactly the same programme of events and activities as we have done for some time … but we are enjoying the creative thinking we need to prepare for doing lots of good things, differently.
  • Staff and volunteer capacity cannot and will not return quickly to what it was in March – so things inevitably  will move more slowly.

Many organisations like ours – gardens, open spaces, heritage and cultural sites – big and small, are in similar positions and too many already, have had to close permanently.

Although, as an independent charitable business, we have recently been becoming much more self-reliant than previously, without the current financial support from emergency government programmes (and other places), we would probably not survive.

So, not only do we want (dreadfully) to welcome people back to this great space, but we need to earn our income too.

The current Government rules state that although open spaces and public parks are open we, as a ‘gated’ site which normally provides tickets for entry, are not currently in the ‘permitted’  band.

When we are able to admit people

  • Likely to be initially limited to Members only.    This will enable us to keep a contactless entry system in place.
  • When it is possible, we will relax this rule to admit non-members, probably on a pre-booked basis.   So we can manage the number of people entering and leaving the Gardens at any one time.
  • Plans for properly socially distanced, pre-booked events, workshops and activities are still in discussion.  Although we ‘are gutted’ that some of our favourite events this year can’t happen, we are excited by some of the inventive ways we are finding to keep interesting things happening.   

We know we can help people have fun, enjoy the Gardens, stay healthy and help us keep the Gardens afloat. … Please bear with us.

#staysafe

 

Share

3 extra months for Free

Being a Member of the Gardens has always been ‘a worthwhile thing’.

Not only do you get free entry all year round to see and explore the changing seasons in the historic Gardens there is also a raft of other new benefits, like exclusive summer early evening openings, tea/coffee vouchers and day passes to share with family.

This year of course, it’s all gone a little haywire.

We don’t want our members to miss out so, all existing, new and renewing members* will now get 15 months for the same price as their 12 month membership.

A full 3 extra months for free.

We hope this helps you still to get your fill of lovely moments in the Gardens…

By taking out, or keeping your membership, you know also that you really are helping the Gardens grow! The financial contribution memberships make is currently the only trading income we have… so thank you again.

Here is more about our membership schemes…https://www.castlebromwichhallgardens.org.uk/memberships/

*covers renewing during the time we are closed because of covid-19 only

Share

Hedgehog – in the daytime

We’ve some lovely night time footage of our resident hedgehogs (see the footage on previous blog posts). They’re free to roam across all of the different habitats in the Gardens – they like cover, but they also like a bit of mown grass… we have plenty of both.

This week, with so few people in the gardens one of them has been bold enough to come out a foraging in the day time.

We were initially a bit worried. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and seeing one in the daytime can be a sign of a poorly pig.

We looked at here, she looked at us.. We looked again. No longer interested in us, she turned slowly and waddled off into the undergrowth

We think – given she ‘waddled well’ that the one in this picture was probably a female foraging for food or for nesting materials. Given the lively group we’ve seen on the nightcam… we can only hope that our hogs are growing in number.

See here for some advice about hedgehogs in your gardens  https://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/hedgehogs

https://www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk/hedgehog-fact-sheet/

Share

Actinidia kolomikta

It’s out and showing off its chameleon like habits!

This scrambling vine has graced the courtyard for quite a few years. It happily climbs the height of our lovely walls and has a strange habit of changing colour as it grows… white and pink in almost random proportion and then into green. 2 years ago it was hard pruned, lest year’s show was meagre.. but this year!!! And we are not there to see it :-((

Actinidia kolomikta was collected by Charles Maries (a local boy from Hampton Lucy in Warwickshire!) from Sapporo in Japan in 1878… which is why it’s in our courtyard and not in the main Garden – ‘wrong period’ we love the Victorians, but our dates are 1680s -1760s.

Here also is a wonderful drawing by Jeni Neale of the Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists – a big thank you to her for her permission to share the drawing.

 

Share