Category: Latest News

Half Term family activities

February Fun… indoors or out.

The first school holiday of the year and a bit or sun and freshening air makes for lively kids, eager for a run around. As usual we have a week packed full of things to do and places to explore.

Running round the maze will keep them warm, there are still beautiful snowdrops to discover, lanterns and  pom-pom twigs to decorate your spaces, apple birdfeeders to hang up.. and of course there are seeds to plant and take home to watch grow.

Every day an extra craft and loads  of spaces, nooks and magic views for young ones to explore time and again.

Garden opens Monday 20th to Friday 24th,  11am – 3pm
(Activities- 12pm-3pm)

Buy tickets on the door.
Entrance to the Gardens for family activities are £2 per person

(Under 5s Free. children must be accompanied by an adult)
Normal adult entrance £4
Under 5’s are free
Family Day ticket £8 (up to 5 people, include up to 2 adults.)

Volunteers make the welcome work …

We’re full of  Family Fun at half term … Can you help make the best welcome for all to the Gardens?
We are recruiting volunteers to support us deliver fun and friendly craft and outdoor activities next week. (Monday 20th Feb – Friday 24th 11-3.30)
All week children and their grown-ups will explore our 10 acres, discover the mud kitchen, hunt for bugs, make daffodil cards and find signs of spring.
Volunteers can help with everything from showing people round, ensuring signs and maps are ready, showing how to make the crafts. Training and induction is given and you’re always in a team with others.
Our cosy café serves visitors warm drinks and snacks… we always need help there too.
Interested? Contact us for a chat. Phone, message or fill in the form on our website here : volunteer-enquiry form
#wegrowtogether

donkey friend -https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/opening-times

Little Donkey doo’s mulch help ..

They say what goes around comes around, well its certainly true for two local charities.

With 10 acres of ground and over 600 species of plants, it takes a lot of compost to keep our soil healthy and productive. So we are really pleased to be working in partnership with the Donkey Sanctuary in nearby Sutton Coldfield.

Naturally, the donkeys produce a lot of poo… on a daily basis. With limited space on site the Sanctuary needs places where they can ‘recycle’ the recycled donkey food. As well as some very lucky allotment holders, Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens are thrilled to be able make good use of lots of donkey  ‘soil improver’.

Normally we add the fresh, straw laden donkey-doo to our compost heap to rot down into nutrient rich earth to use on the vegetable beds or in potting compost.  At this time of year it can go directly onto some of our Wilderness beds to act as a ‘mulch’; keeping in the warmth, suppressing any weeds that feel like poking their heads above the ground and, eventually, improving the structure of the soil.

Today, volunteers Jack, Roy and John kept themselves warm raking and spreading the new delivery from the Donkey Sanctuary. Thanks folks …. and donkeys  #wegrowtogether

Find out how to visit our donkey friends here The Donkey Sanctuary opening times

 

Join the Gardens… membership makes sense

Our visitors use the Gardens in a myriad of ways.

To walk the dog, have a moment of calm, have a picnic under the blossoms with friends, to get close up to tadpoles, build a den or watch the flowers grow.

We are an independent charitable trust and love to keep the prices low, so we can share the gardens with as many people as possible.

By becoming a Member, you get repeated access to the Gardens at a bargain price and you are helping the Trust to care for these important and wonderful Gardens. Memberships, and donations, all contribute directly to the provision of equipment, plants, events and amenities for the Gardens and visitors. It all helps us to invest in the future.

What do you get for Membership?

  • Free year round entry (when open) to the Gardens, except for Special Events.
  • Free entry to two Special Events (as marked on event publicity).
  • Discounted entry on many other Special Events.
  • Members Spring and Autumn Newsletters (by email. One annual newsletter by post on request.)

Membership Rates for 2017 (January – December)

Individual:  £18
Joint: £30 (2 adults at the same address)
Life:  £170
Joint Life:  £285 (2 adults at the same address)
You can upgrade your membership to Life membership at any point in the year

Membership Options for Families

We run a packed programme of family oriented events and activities throughout the year. With over 40 sessions of drop-in craft, creative and garden activities in school holidays as well as trails and self-led activities at other times.

1. Ordinary Family Membership

Entry to the Gardens only. Participation in structured activities is not included. Activities would be charged for on entry. This membership may be ideal for adults who make only occasional visits with under 16 years olds.
£35: 2 named adults + 2 children under 16
Same conditions apply as individual and joint membership.

2. Family Activities Annual Pass

Free entry to the Gardens all year PLUS free access to over 40 activity sessions for up to 5 people. This membership is ideal for families who like to take part in craft and activity sessions on a couple of, or more, occasions.
 £40:  Up to 5 people, over 5 years old (max. 2 adults).
Conditions apply as above

How to Join

Join online with a credit card (click HERE), or by cheque or cash by post or in person.

Click here to download the membership form (pdf).

 

Apple blossom v. Holly hedge

The Woodland Trust’s latest post on caring for apple trees is great advice. (Find it here: how to prune apple trees in winter)

We’ll be posting the date for our own pruning of fruit espaliers courses shortly, but it’s pruning on a much bigger scale that our gardeners will need to be tackling this coming year.

snow covered orchard https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/2017/01/how-to-prune-apple-trees-in-winter/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=blogs&utm_content=gardening
The Woodlands Trust advice on pruning and caring for apple trees

Last year, both of our two heirloom orchards got a much needed trim and we’re hoping to see much bigger yields as a result.  We did lose one or two trees this year, but there are others nearly ready to replace them.

There’s a bit of a battle looming. The Holly perimeter hedge has not had much attention over the last five years and has grown to 3 times the intended height and breadth.  It is now seriously  overshadowing the Apple and Pear trees in the ‘New Orchard’.

We’ll need to radically trim back this year if we are to expect our magnificent blossoms to shine again.  If you are able to help us (there is nearly  half a kilometre of hedge so, we’re tackling it bit by bit).. … keep checking back here for callouts.

Time for trees

Tree Dressing Day:A tree is not just for Christmas, but for … 

We have over 130 mature trees in the Gardens. Most of which are important enough to have Tree Preservation Orders on them.  Caring for them and keeping them in good shape – literally – is a responsibility we are proud to be able to undertake.

Although it’s financially expensive and time consuming for a small Charity like ours, without the trees framing our views, shielding us from the winds, sheltering our beneficial bugs and birds and yielding us fruit, we would be much poorer in spirit.

This year we’ve been drawn to the custom of Tree Dressing as a way to express our positive relationship with trees …. a little ‘thank you’.

Celebrated in the first weekend of December the custom was revived in 1990 by the group who re-invented Apple Day; Common Ground.

“Trees have long been celebrated for their spiritual significance. The simplicity of tying strips of cloth or yarn to a tree is universal and timeless. The old Celtic custom of tying cloth dipped in water from a holy well to a ‘clootie tree’ echoes the practice in Japan of decorating trees with strips of white paper, or tanzaku, bearing wishes and poems. The twenty-first century trend of ‘yarn bombing’ in Europe and North America transforms the local landscape with bright fabrics and yarns, like the Buddhist tradition of tying ribbons around the trunk or the annual Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan when coloured strings are tied onto trees and plants to call upon the power of nature to protect loved ones.

These deep and diverse cultural associations provide a rich basis for tree festivities across the world. The act of dressing a tree binds us to it and celebrates the unique role that trees have in our local neighbourhoods.”

Some of us went down to visit one of our lovely walnut trees that supplied us with shade during the summer family activities and supported our community art work ‘the knit knot tree’.

With paper lanterns, twig dreamcatchers and wool apples we decorated the tree. A ring of colour on the bare branches.

Why not come and visit it add your own decoration perhaps. So when you are decorating your Christmas tree this year, think about adding one of your decorations to a living tree on your street.

For more information and free  resources about Tree Dressing Day, see here Common Ground  and Charter for Woods, Trees and People

 

 

by Felicity Hallam & Glynis Powell

 

 

 

Flowers from the past

1760 was a long time ago, especially in flower terms.

Plant and garden enthusiasts develop hundreds, if not thousands, of new plant varieties every year. Here at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens we try to grow plants that would have been familiar to the gardeners up till the mid 18th century.

Sometimes, especially with simpler plants and herbs, there has been little change; looking at old drawings and engravings you can easily identify some plants we grow today. Others have been refined and developed far from their origins. Flowerheads are often bred for brighter colours and greater showiness.

Here we try to get a balance between pleasing our 21st century eyes and maintaining a period 17th and 18th century feel.

For our spring displays we have a mix of modern and older daffodils and tulips. This year we are particularly pleased to introduce two stunning early flowers both as it happens, supplied to us by Thomas Etty Esq. of Somerset.

narcissus-poeticus-plenus-alba-odoratus

The narcissus poeticus albus plenus odoratus was probably around before 1590 and sometimes is called the double Pheasants Eye or Gardenia-flowered narcissus. It’s all white (albus) with a full and ‘plentiful’ centre (plenus) and very fragrant (odoratus). We hope you will find it peeping over some of our box hedges on the North Border. On a sunny day you may even smell it  before you see it.

The second reintroduction is of tulipa sylvestris. Thomas Etty describes it as

“Violet scented almond-shaped lemon yellow flowers in mid April. Naturalises well in grass. Said, bywoodland tulip some, to have first travelled to these shores attached upon the roots of grape vines brought from Italy by the Romans.”

Although ‘sylvestris’ suggests a woodland setting, we will plant them on the sloping bank
behind the Holly Walk, alongside the cowslips, primroses and daffodils. Magical!

 

 

2000 bulbs to plant….

It’s that time of year again. Can you help us out?

Tulips were a ‘really big thing’ for our Gardens’ founders. In the 17th century there was even ‘tulipmania’; massive fortunes were won and lost by enthusiasts and tulip traders.

These days we’re a bit more level headed, but we are mad about the beauty of our spring borders.

Many of our lovely ‘daffs’ come back year after year and naturalise in the orchard and img_20160331_194725_26185577776_ograssy banks. But like tulips, they need renewing every now and then.

This year we have over 2,000 tulips, daffodils and narcissi to plant before the cold frost comes.

Can you help us? 

trumpetYou don’t need to be an expert, just come and join us on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings next week and be part of the planting team.  We’ll show you how.

We’ll be planting from 10am – 12.30 . on 29th, 30th November & 1st December. Weather permitting. Warming tea and coffee supplied.  Turn up at 10, or contact us in advance.

Plant the little globes full of flower goodness… stand back and wait for a spectacular spring! 

PS There will be a lot of kneeling and digging with a hand trowel

 

 

Pumpkin cook-up

It’s been an exceptionally good year for our pumpkin and squash crop. 

Some went to enliven Halloween, some have been sold to our visitors.

Traditionally – with the help of volunteers – we then turn them into delicious soup to sell to our customers in the colder months.

This year we’re going a little further. Our volunteers have had a group chopping and cooking session. The surplus soup and spare squashes will now be shared with some other charities.

We love growing these triffid-like plants in our South Kitchen Garden and chuffed that all the effort will not go to waste but will go to provide some warmth and sustenance to others who need a little extra.