Category: Wildlife

A Virtual Spring Flower Show

Our Gardens Trust is proud to be an RHS Partner Garden, a supporter of the National Gardens Scheme (and their nursing charities) and of the WGFA (Womens Farm and Gardens Association).

All three organisations are doing imaginative and interesting things while closed to the public. Although most of this years RHS shows either cancelled or postponed, you can’t keep a professional gardener from wanting to show off. So the first virtual flower show of the year is run by from fellow Partner Gardens down in Truro, Cornwall. Our Assistant Gardener Tanya, who also trained in photography, has entered some pictures of the Gardens she has taken over these last three weeks tending the site.

She has entered us into 4 of the ‘classes’. Feast your eyes on our and everyone else’s scrumptious pictures on Gary Long’s (of Trewithen Gardens and Parks and Cornish Professional Gardeners Guild) facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/760964517350697/
You can also find shared posts on our own facebook site here.

We’re told the prizes are virtual and will need to be returned before next year’s show 😊. Cornwall is of course ahead of us climate wise and their photos are stunning … but we give them a good run

Some of Tanya’s views  below:

The classes are:
Class 1 A view of the garden.
Class 2 Woody plant.
Class 3 Herbaceous plants or bulbs planted or in a pot. The whole plant or single flower
Class 4 Wildflowers, the whole plant or single flower, any plant you see growing wild on your exercise route
Class 5 “Extraordinary Times”

We’ll announce who the winners are after Tuesday 14th – wish us luck 🙂

 

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forever young … activities

We had hoped to keep the Gardens open for ‘contactless’  walks and explorations – especially for our younger visitors who like to experience the magic of all the intriguing spaces and easily accessible nature.

Until we can do that again, here are some of the inspirational people and ideas who are now sharing on the web to help keep you and your young ones creative and active at home or in your garden.

Nature Makers,  Art sessions for the very young will resume in the Gardens, hopefully later in the year. Here is Faye online https://www.facebook.com/NatureMakers/,  https://bookwhen.com/naturemakers#focus=ev-sr62-20200410000000

Jessica Hartshorn, a local illustrator and museum person  – some live drawing sessions for you and young people  https://www.facebook.com/jessi.illustrates/

B’Opera,  Yes baby opera! – Singalong and great music making ideas while you’re cooped up. Let’s hope we can see them in the Gardens sometime. https://www.facebook.com/pg/BoperaBabyOpera/videos/?ref=page_internal

Woodland Trust, We love the Woodland Trust and follow their lead in so many things – here are some specials for ‘lockdown nature hunters’. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/03/kids-nature-activities-self-isolation/

Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, our good neighbours in wildlife. some great blogs about nature spotting form your garden and a place to share your photos. https://www.warwickshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/blog

Free downloads from EarlyYearsResources . Like many commercial companies, they are not open at present, but they have made some lovely free downloadable worksheets, play ideas and colouring for those quieter times at home https://www.earlyyearsresources.co.uk/downloadables-c275/minibeasts-c1570

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Monthly Gardener’s Tips

In an effort to provide some #mondaymotivation for you, we will be posting Gardener’s tips the first Monday of each month. To catch us all up, we start with March – check back in with us on Easter Monday for tips for April!

Spring has sprung and warmer days increase garden tasks but it is also time for the cheery daffodil to take centre stage. A true herald of Spring, it is also the national flower of Wales and is often worn on St David’s Day on the 1st of March. In the garden once the daffodils have started to fade remove the developing seed heads, the plant will then put all its energy into replenishing itself rather than trying to reproduce. Also don’t cut off any leaves or tie into bunches, yes the leaves may look a little untidy but they are doing an important job in helping the bulb underground to gain valuable reserves to help with flowering next year.

It is time to cut back winter shrubs. Those plants used for their showy stems such as dogwood can be cut down to the ground to encourage new vibrant growth. A good rule of thumb is to take out a third of the oldest stems. The older stems start to lose their colour and by taking out the older stems you will always have bright newer growth waiting in the wings to take its place. 

It is a good month for planting shallots and onions. If the weather turns slightly warmer you may be able to start to plant early potatoes at the end of the month. You can check the temperature of the soil by using the back of your hand or by noticing the germination of weed seeds. If weeds are germinating then the soil must be getting warmer so hoe them off and start to plant the hardier salads such as radish and beetroot. 

Now the weather is warming up, you can start to reseed any grass areas that show signs of wear, gently scuff the surface you wish to seed and if there are hollows or dips you can add compost to the seed to even out the surface. You may find you need to mow the lawn, wait for the ground to dry out a little and raise your mower blades for the first cut, you don’t want to stress your turf at this time of year by giving it a short cut. 

Birds are nesting now and starting to have families, it’s a good idea to remove peanuts from feeders now as they can choke baby birds. If you want to feed the birds then swap the peanuts for meal worms they are a good choice as they are packed full of protein. 

Join in with the whole family and have a walk locally and see what plants are springing up. This doesn’t have to be in the wilderness – see what plants are poking out of pavements, gardens and window sills. You could always take some photos to practice drawing later on. 

We would love to see your photos! Please feel free to send and share any through to us via email marketingcbhallgardens@gmail.com, or direct via social media and we would love to feature your gardens, nature spotting and creations.

Stay safe from all of us at Castle Bromwich Historic Gardens x

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Unplug and Play

Half Term Family Friendly Activities in the Gardens

Make the most of the warmer weather to get out and about in the open and discover nature.

Self Guided Trails all week 

There’s a caterpillar flower trail for the littl’uns and for everyone, try our ‘invent a plant name‘ to stretch everyone’s creative powers.

3 days of craft activities.

Leaf and plant printing.
Make your own pictures, bunting or gift tags with collected leaves and flowers.
We’ll use 2 techniques. One with paint and one with a hammer (Hapa zome).
suitable for all ages (with adult supervision
12- 3pm, £2 per person (including garden entry).

FREE for Family Friendly Activities Annual Pass holders

Tuesday 28th May
Wednesday 29th May
Friday 31st May

Don’t forget the Gardens open at 11am – Make a day of it

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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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#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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Cyclamen hederifolium

If you take a walk along the top of the Upper Wilderness to the far end and gaze underneath the large Yew tree, you will see the tiny but perfectly formed Cyclamen hederifolium coming into flower. A mixture of pink and white, the tiny flowers appear before the foliage, which as its name suggests is ivy-shaped (‘hederifolium’ coming from the Latin ‘Hedera’ for ivy, ‘folium’ refering to the leave shape). The common name ‘ivy-leaved cyclamen’ is self-explanatory, but its other common name ‘sowbread’ intrigued me. A bit of research concluded that it comes from the fact that ‘The root resembled a loaf and pigs were believed to enjoy eating it’.1  

Cyclamen coils

This plant originates in the Mediterranean, and was introduced into Britain around 1596, so would have been available in the early 18th century when the gardens were at their peak.

After the flowers have been pollinated, the stem coils around to take the seed heads closer to the ground, forming interesting little corkscrews underneath the flowers that you can see if you look closely. The reason they do this is not clear, but a possible theory is that ants may distribute the seeds further from the parent plant. All in all, a very interesting plant that is worth a closer look!

1. Campbell-Culver, M. 2001. Origins of plants: the people and the plants that shaped Britain. London: Headline Book Publishing.

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Unplug and Play – all summer

Five weeks of good value summer fun at the Gardens

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 12- 3.30… it’s Unplug and Play

Crafts, gardening and outdoor exploration. Children and families can enjoy outdoor play and/or craft activities under gentle supervision.

The mud kitchen, maze, dipping pond and some gardening activities available for families to explore any day during summer.  Every week will have a different activity based on something in the Gardens.

Week one 25th, 26th, 27th July    Get up and do

Recycled streamers, making chatterboxes and all things on the move: waving, bending, climbing, crawling flying, rolling , fluttering , creeping.

 Week two, 2nd & 3rd August  Wildlife disguises

Collages from leaves, green man masquerade masks, find the dancers in the trees.

(because of the Dogs Don’t do Ballet performance on Tues 1st – there will be no craft activities. Tickets for the performance £10)

Week three, 8th, 9th 10th August  Make an impression..

Clay hedgehogs, leaf and bark rubbings, flowers and leaf pressed nature medallions

Week four, 15th, 16th 17th August  Festival style! The recycled way.

Make your own flags and bunting from plastic bags, paper and other household things.

NB Thursday 17th is big Family Fun Day 11-3.30

Week five, 22nd 23rd, 24th August  Teddies, picnics, making a picture

Sit and relax with teddy, make a den, explore the wildlife and create some art around the site

 

There’s 10 acres of formal gardens, lawns, holly maze and wilder areas, so lots of places to explore, play and run around whatever is going on.

  • Café and small shop onsite. No need to book.
  • Cost: £2 per person (free for under 5s)
  • £8 for a family day ticket (up to 5 people, maximum of 2 adults)
  • £20 for a family week ticket (up to 5 people, maximum of 2 adults)
  • Free for Family Activity Annual Pass holders (up to 5 people, maximum of 2 adults, including named cardholder) Pass cost £40 and will runs for 12 months.

Contact: 0121 749 4100   Email: admin@cbhgt.org.uk

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