Category: Latest News

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.

 

 

Growing the conversation

Social Media Surgeries: As part of our Heritage Lottery Funded programme to become a more self sustaining charity, we are getting to know our neighbours a bit better.

The Gardens are, people often say, a ‘hidden gem’  and a ‘secret treasure’. That is one of our strengths; a green , quiet and peaceful lacuna within an intensely industrialised landscape. Being a bit hidden away and surrounded by gates and walls can nevertheless be a bit forbidding to many. We’ve been working hard to let people know we are here and that,  in fact, we quite like having guests sharing the place.

As well as running more activities and events, for adults and children, we are also inviting our community neighbours, local charities, groups and venues to get into conversation with us. After all, it is people that have always made this great Garden charity work.

We have been working with a group called Podnosh to run Social Media Surgeries. No, its nothing to do with a doctors surgery, they’re hassle free and relaxed sessions where ‘active citizens’ can talk to each other and learn from each other about getting their messages out there and growing their networks…using digital and internet-y things.

Our next surgery is Monday 7th November, from 5- 6.30pm, and we have more starting monthly in February. Our slogan is #wegrowtogether , if you are a local group, charity or are involved in a campaign or social cause, come along, learn, share start the conversation – we’d love to hear.

Podnosh were recently interviewed by a group called Ethos – here is Nick Booth explaining eloquently, why social media surgeries work.

Digital Volunteers wanted at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

We are looking for volunteers who can help us with the digital side of the gardens – helping us promote our regular programme of activities as well as our special events online.

The role of a digital volunteer will include:

  • Creating and scheduling posts for our various social media platforms including; Facebook and Twitter.
  • Assisting in compiling monthly newsletters
  • Compiling and writing copy for the website

We are looking for someone with experience, but depending on your interests, we can tailor the role to you, and work with you to develop your current social media skills.

This will suit volunteers who might have:

  • Excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communications
  • Current experience using social media platforms
  • Ability to work as part of a team and independently
  • Good computer skills
  • Proof reading skills
  • Graphic design knowledge
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Enthusiasm!

Ideally we would be looking for someone willing to develop a long term relationship and is able to commit time each week to help us in this role.

Benefits would include:

  • Access to a great historic garden with a growing event calendar.
  • Experience working with an active charity.
  • Ability to develop skills and learn new ones

If this sounds like something you be interested in fill in our quick form and we’ll be in touch to tell you more.

 

Social Media Surgery at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens

Here at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens we like sharing what we’re up to on our website, facebook page and other social media. We think it’s a great way to connect with our community – and it could be for you too.

That’s why we are hosting the Castle Bromwich Social Media Surgery.

Our staff, volunteers and local partners are offering free social media help to other local voluntary organisations, community groups, charities, clubs and societies in a relaxed, informal setting.

The next surgery is Monday 7th November 5pm  – if you or someone in your group would like to come along they can register via the Social Media  Surgery website.

You can come along for some support, learn with us and then return for more help, or to give some help to someone else yourself. You can come to as many sessions as you’d like.

Current dates include:

We look forward to seeing you here.

It’s a Big Draw day…

Drawing for everyone with Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists

It’s Big Draw month – time for everyone to find their inner artist. The Campaign for Drawing wants everyone to feel the power of taking a line for a walk and making a mark.

This year we are lucky to have our friends from the Birmingham Society of Botanical Artists back again.

How does Autumn change our Gardens? Autumn ‘fills all fruit with ripeness to the core’ – we have a rich store of garden things to record decay and ‘mellow fruitfulness’ :apples, seed pods, gourds and hazel shells in abundance.

Whether you want to come and see the astounding botanical artists at work, or want to have a go drawing a pumpkin, some crisping leaves, seed pods or softening apple…then just drop in.

Suitable for adults and children. All materials supplied.

Normal entrance prices  – donations for materials welcome