Just a reminder that the Annual Show is tomorrow (13th August) at Colwall Village Hall. We would like to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to enter something, even if its only one category and to encourage as many of you as possible to come along from 2pm onwards to see the entries and who has scooped what prize. Entry price is £2. In addition to the entries there will be the wonderful ice creams that we have come to look forward to, produce and plant stall, tombola, raffle, refreshments and the opportunity to buy your ticket for the Percy Picton Memorial Lecture in October.
In the meantime Sidney and Veronica Benjamin have taken the time to write a review of the recent coach trip to Warwick gardens which is posted below for your enjoyment.
Garden visit to Warwickshire – 14 July 2016
Sidney and Veronica Benjamin
Thirty-two members of the Society went on the first organised garden visit for several years, on what proved to be a fascinating and enjoyable day in Warwickshire. We saw unusual gardens that we would otherwise have been unlikely to visit. On the way we had stopped at Russell’s Garden Centre near Coventry, also the site of John Gillies Rare and Choice Plants and Avondale Nursery, which provided a brief opportunity to buy essential plants.
In the morning we visited The Mill Garden, situated beneath the walls of Warwick Castle, on the banks of the River Avon, where the remains of the medieval bridge provide the ultimate “borrowed landscape”. The garden was started originally in the 1930s by a bank manager, Arthur Measures, who spent some 60 years extending the site and planting it. In recent years it has been tended by the next generation and is now a mature and beautiful example of the cottage garden style, with mixed plantings of shrubs, ornamental trees, perennials and annuals. Paths wind between the beds where there are many excellent examples of well designed colourful planting. And, of course, essential to all garden visits, was the plant sales area, irresistible to several of our members.
In the afternoon we visited Hill Close Gardens, also in Warwick, which, like the Mill Garden, has featured in a number of articles in gardening magazines. Lunch was provided in the extensive comfortable modern buildings and we were then given a fascinating talk about the history of the site. Originally this was constructed in a central city area, as a group of about 30 “detached” (unusually they were not attached to houses) Victorian pleasure gardens, for the use of artisans, shopkeepers and professional people who lived “above the shop” and had no other access to gardens. These were very popular in the mid 19th century, for keeping animals as well as growing vegetables and as pleasure gardens, but by the 1990s they had been neglected and overgrown and were a target for housing development. Local people realised that the gardens were an important part of the city’s heritage, and funds were raised (particularly from English Heritage) to buy and renovate the gardens, which are now listed Grade II*. Work has been carried out, mainly by volunteers overseen by a head gardener, to clear and restore the gardens, which are now cared for by individuals, families or volunteers, preserving their original character and individuality.
The gardens are lushly planted, each in separate styles, and separated by hedges, in keeping with their Victorian origins. Many of the gardens have summer houses, which have been rebuilt in the original materials, each with its individual features, one on two stories, and another furnished with fireplace, rugs and armchairs. Over 60 varieties of original apple trees have been restored, identified and labelled. One garden holds a National Collection of Chrysanthemums. Hill Close also has an excellent plant sales area, with many rarely seen cultivars grown from the garden material, and perhaps it is not necessary to mention that these proved to be irresistible to most of us.
The return coach journey to Colwall provided a welcome opportunity for some members to rest their eyes, whilst others (mainly towards the rear of the coach) socialised rather volubly, and the opportunity to get to know other members of the society was yet another enjoyable aspect of the trip. This was a splendid day out, horticulturally and socially, for which we thank Tim Beaumont and the other organisers.