The AGM seemed to be upon us before we knew it and last Saturday’s meeting went very well, with a good attendance from the membership. There were many positive reports and reflections on yet another busy and successful year for the Friends. If you were unable to attend and would like a full account you can read the minutes here.
This week has been a particularly busy one. Our new WRAGS horticultural trainee, Alison Airey, was into her second week and is already settling in very well. After a day of pruning and weeding in the Cullen garden on Monday we returned to the walled garden on Tuesday and lifted and divided some garlic chives.
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are one of our favourite herbs at Cressing. With broader leaves than ordinary chives (Allium shoenoprasum) and a mild garlicky rather than oniony taste they can be used in salads or in any of the other ways you would use a leaf onion. Chives have a familiar purple flower produced in spring whereas garlic chives have a starry white flower in late summer, a welcome later flowering herb and great for the insects. Regular division and replanting the clumps prevents them from wandering all over the place, although you need to keep a watch out for unwanted seedlings and weed them out. Both like rich, moist, well drained soil but are tolerant of less perfect conditions and very easy to grow. They make a pretty addition to a herb garden, especially grown in thick clumps.
You can tell how tough and resilient they are by the fact there are wild chives growing at the base of Hadrian’s Wall, thought to be a Roman relic, and existing there happily for two thousand years.
Thursday was a very busy day as we played host to another group of volunteers from County Hall, this time the team from Democratic Services. They volunteered in the gardens for the morning and then held their team meeting in the conference room in the afternoon. It was a wonderful day and we were amazed at the amount of work achieved in so short a space of time. Just goes to show, if we had an extra 20 people every day we would have no trouble getting everything done!
One group helped Pete cutting the car park hedges, clearing up all the brutally thorny clippings and taking them up to the fire site for the bonfire.
Another group were in the walled garden with Alison pruning back all the hedge germander (Teucrium x lucidrys) and cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus) in the knot garden and forecourt.
Yet another group were in the Cullen garden and surrounding meadow, with Jane, weeding and trimming the hedges.
There was a bit of shock for the two raking the meadow grass when they came across a leftover from last year’s Spooky Fun event in the form of a plastic half torso ghoul and an abandoned plastic hand buried in the long grass! Not what you expect when given the task of raking mown grass, but undeterred, the ghoul was adopted by the group and accompanied them to the team meeting in the afternoon!
The final group helped Paul and Kathy in the Community Garden, managing to plant all the onion sets and weed all the beds ready for sowing next week. What a workforce.
They were a tremendous help and so friendly and enthusiastic, we would welcome them back anytime.
With such a large group of people to organise I am indebted to our fantastic team of volunteers and colleagues who supervised, helped out and generally made it a smooth and well organised day. A big thank you to them all.
With the warm temperatures and sunshine of recent days, growth is beginning to pick up apace and each day brings new delights in the garden. This week the flowering prizes go to the following star plants:
Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)
Mandrake (Mandragora autumnalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Plant sales are now in full swing. We have had large deliveries of garden perennials and herbs and still have some of our spring bulbs for sale. Call in if you are passing and take home some inspiration for your own garden. Prices remain fixed at £2 per plant this year, with a 25% discount for members of the Friends Group.