Winter 2015

Welcome to our first newsletter of 2015 & we hope that you all had a very good Christmas and New Year. Although winter drives many of us indoors, life in the gardens at Cressing has continued; the workshops proved very popular, new plantings have added interest to the site, improvements began in the gardener’s shelter area in the walled garden, the website is still developing and the Friends held their second quiz last week.

Now of course, we are looking forward to spring and summer as the gardens begin to burst into life.  We have more workshops planned for this year, a trip to the Gardens of Easton Lodge and our AGM in March after which Malcolm Bryan an expert on the local 17th century naturalist John Ray will give a talk.

 Hedge Planting

In February part of the boundary between the B1018 and Cressing was replanted with 200 mixed native plants. Staff and

garden volunteers were helped by Emma Brogden, the Living Landscapes co-ordinator of the Essex Wildlife Trust.

EWT also donated a barn owl box which will be installed in the cart lodge. Let’s hope there will soon be a barn owl swooping around the site. The intention is for EWT to return in a couple of years to lay the hedge – more volunteers welcome!

Developments in the gardens

After the dead apple tree beside the back gate was removed, the whole area has had a face lift: Gravel edging boards were installed by Paula and Rebecca and the Mid Essex Mind group helped to spread 3 tonnes of pea shingle to replace the unsightly roadstone.  The plan is to make new fencing from either chestnut – to match the gardener’s shelter – or willow.

Meanwhile, Rebecca is about to get creative with the purchase of 15 hazel poles from Andy Basham of Coppice Designs in Saffron Walden so that she can make wigwams for bottle gourds.

New Plantings – Trees & Shrubs

One of the sad things about gardening is that plants do die, and when it is an established tree, a large hole can be left in the garden. Over the last few years in the walled garden, honey fungus has finished off a number of the trees that were there before the gardens were replanted; a pear trained up the wall behind the garages, an apple beside the back gate and many of you will remember the demise of the large walnut in the far corner. This winter the largest tree in the walled garden orchard was cut down as it had died – when the gardens were replanted it was planned to remove this tree once the new plantings were established – and the dead apple tree beside the gate was finally felled before it became dangerous.  However, gaps left by the trees can open up new opportunities – as described below in ‘Developments in the Gardens’.

Outside the visitor centre a medieval Costard apple tree was planted this winter to replace one that died. So now two trees stand sentinel on either side of the entrance.

The Friends have also paid for two new trees for the walled garden, a quince and morello cherry, both of which will be planted in the flowery mead.

A number of shrubs have also been purchased with Friends’ money:

  • Paeonia officinalis (European or common peony) which was a popular plant in the Tudor period and new to our garden. It will flower in late spring.
  • Clematis flammula (fragrant virgin’s bower or old man’s beard) for the gardeners’ shelter area.
  • Clematis ‘Perle d’Azur’, a beautiful light blue clematis, to be grown up against the well house.
  • A grape vine for the walled garden.


In addition, Mid Essex Mind who were maintaining the Cullen garden for us last year, have kindly said that they will be donating a selection of trees or roses for the garden.


“Very good presenters and facilities. A great morning”

“Excellent course. Definitely recommend”

“Relaxed atmosphere. Great fun and I produced something I can use!”

“Clear and concise instructions, and friendly tutor and atmosphere”

“Very friendly, beautiful location”

Well, what great comments for the two Christmas wreath making workshops with Jo Hammond – one of which was the Christmas gathering for a group of Education Rangers.  Both took place in the festively decorated custodian’s house with vintage tea & cake served by Paula.

Profits from these workshops have been used to pay for the construction of two traditional wicker beehives. These will be displayed in the garden alongside our modern ones so that visitors can see how bees would have been kept in the past; one of our members, Elphin Watkin, is making a beehive shelter to protect these new hives from the elements.

For the two apple pruning workshops held in January, again the feedback was entirely positive (“A perfect introduction to fruit tree pruning”. “The hands on nature of the course and having such a variety of size and shape of tree to work on was invaluable’’). Apple expert Anna Baldwin ran through the theory of fruit tree pruning, demonstrated in the walled garden orchard and then participants were let loose in our jubilee orchard with a range of pruning tools. I for one shall be keeping a close eye on my rather challenging tree in the future!

Anna is a member of the East of England Apples and Orchards Project (EEAOP) and we have plans for an apple day with Anna and EEAOP on 4th October.  Initial ideas for the day include apple identification, competitions such as the longest apple peel & the best apple pie and various stalls (cider maker, jam and chutney, herbal teas) as well as representatives from EEAOP, the Essex Wildlife Trust & Lathcoat’s farm to give help and advice. All suggestions and offers of help will be welcome; further news on this will be in the summer newsletter and in emails.

Through the summer we have arranged the following workshops, details will follow by email, but do contact one of us before that if you want to book for one or find out more:

  • Willow workshop to create obelisks/plant supports (12 April)
  • Pests and diseases in the garden (9 May)
  • Creating a flower basket in willow (6 June)
  • Herb workshops (9 July and 8 November)
  • Flower arranging and growing cut flowers (27 September)


Do have a look at our website which has some new pages; a gallery, information about the history of the building on site and a plant list for the walled garden.  Planned is a dedicated page for workshops, keep your eyes peeled!

Dates for your diary

  • 7th March: Essex Gardens Trust lecture on Green Architecture at Writtle College. Details from Michelle Freeman on 01206 560557 or
  • 20th March: Our AGM in the Visitor Centre at 7.30pm (refreshments available from 7). Please note, it is NOT on 25th March as I put in the last newsletter. Malcolm Bryan (formerly chair of the John Ray Trust and author of a biography of John Ray) will be speaking on the local naturalist at 8pm.
  • 12th May: Friends’ trip to the gardens of Easton Lodge. Meet at Easton Lodge at 6pm. There will be a tour and refreshments. On 9th June, we will host a return visit for their volunteers with tours of the barns and gardens.

Thanks and Reminders!

Thank you all for supporting the Friends of Cressing Gardens and to our loyal band of volunteers who help with so many of our activities.  The money raised through Friends membership and activities is helping to keep the gardens look so good and to improve them all the time. A separate newsletter will be sent out with details of activities at Cressing and for which we need help (principally plant sales – it’s fun and was really worth doing last year!)

If you haven’t re-joined yet, please do. A new form is not necessary, just send your subs and a note of who you are, to: Jane Palmer, Old Wills, Little Tey Road, Feering, Essex, CO5 9RP.

Further news and events will be advertised through our email list and in the next newsletter. I do try to send information out to everybody, but of course postage is not cheap. If you have an email address and are not on the Friends’ email list, please let me know. Do keep up to date by using our website and our Facebook page.

Further thanks must go to Kevin and Lynette Bowers-Flint who were the quiz masters at this year’s quiz. It was a really successful evening and raised £250 for the Friends. Well done to the winning team.

Contact Details





Facebook: Look for the ‘Cressing Temple Garden Friends Group’


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