Categories
autumn autumn colours climbing plants colours flowering bulbs fruit and veg garden photography gardening gardens gardens open to the public grow your own hardy perennials Herefordshire irises kitchen gardens light light quality National Trust poppies roses The National Trust walled gardens walled kitchen gardens

Croft Castle Month by Month – October

October was a month made special by a bright, colourful Indian Summer. It made our tenth monthly visit to the gardens at Croft Castle special. Without realising it we had chosen the week when the property were putting on a Halloween trail for the children. The trail sheet encouraged the youngsters to search for clues, so naturally we had to do the same.

2015 10 26_6952-1 2015 10 26_6951-1 2015 10 26_6945-1 2015 10 26_6876-1

The first change we noticed on this visit was how autumn had taken over the garden, with most trees changing their green cloak to one of yellow.

2015 10 26_6843-1 2015 10 26_6845-1 2015 10 26_6849-12015 10 26_6855-1

The first border we pass on our way to the walled garden is the long mixed border alongside the drive.

2015 10 26_6853-1 2015 10 26_6857-12015 10 26_6852-1 2015 10 26_6851-1

We reached the walled garden which is the best part of the grounds, wondering what changes we would find there. Even though some borders were being cleared there was plenty left to attract my camera lens, whole borders of interest …………

2015 10 26_6858-1 2015 10 26_6859-1 2015 10 26_6860-1 2015 10 26_6869-1

………… and plenty of single plants still looking full of colour.

2015 10 26_6862-1 2015 10 26_6871-1 2015 10 26_6872-12015 10 26_6867-1 2015 10 26_6882-12015 10 26_6883-1 2015 10 26_6884-12015 10 26_6888-1 2015 10 26_6890-1

We were amazed by the simple beauty of these Japanese Anemone flowers which had just dropped their petals.

2015 10 26_6865-1 2015 10 26_6864-1

Plants can find their own niche however inappropriate it may seem to us. This bright red poppy chose a spot close to equally blue fencing.

2015 10 26_6875-1

When we made our first of this year’s monthly visits to Croft Castle we found an unfinished insect hotel, bearing the label “unfinished project”. We looked forward to its completion each month but nothing changed, but on our October visit we noticed it was finished at last.

2015 10 26_6900-1 2015 10 26_6898-1 2015 10 26_6894-12015 10 26_6893-1 2015 10 26_6896-1

We didn’t expect to see much colour in the Rose Garden but we were pleasantly surprised by delicately scented Rose blooms and the supporting cast of perennials.

2015 10 26_6906-1 2015 10 26_6908-12015 10 26_6912-1 2015 10 26_6913-1 2015 10 26_6914-1

The veggie beds were still providing late season crops with leeks looking particularly tasty. On the old apple trees clumps of Mistletoe had found a home.

2015 10 26_6881-1 2015 10 26_6915-12015 10 26_6916-1 2015 10 26_6917-1 2015 10 26_6918-1 2015 10 26_6919_edited-1-1

We found this extra bright colour combination which lit up the whole walled garden.

2015 10 26_6923-1

Another Halloween activity for the children was to find big pumpkins hidden around the gardens. Naturally the children in us tempted us to find them too.

2015 10 26_6856-1 2015 10 26_6921-12015 10 26_6948-1 2015 10 26_6947-1

As the seasons move on towards the year’s end signs of plants closing down have appeared. Seed heads are so beautiful at this time of year. They look even better if touched by the hand of Jack Frost.

2015 10 26_6941-1 2015 10 26_6942-1 2015 10 26_6940-1

Our next visit will be the penultimate visit of the year. By then the effects of autumnal weather will cover the garden.

 

 

Categories
allotments community gardening garden buildings Shropshire

Celebrating Autumn at the Allotment

As many of you will already know we celebrate every season at our allotments, Bowbrook Allotment Community, so recently it was the turn of Autumn which we linked with Halloween. We want to make children aware of the seasons, how each is different, how they are part of a cycle and we want to emphasize seasonality. This is easy on an allotment site where we harvest fresh fruit and veg all year round . It is also the time of year when we cut our wildflower meadows. This is a job done by families or small groups and once they are cut it takes a while to get used to their short hair cuts. We are sowing the semi-parasitic wildflower, Yellow Rattle, in some of our meadows. This useful little plant is an attractive yellow flowered native plant which parasitises on the roots of the tougher species of grasses which means there is less competition for our wild flowers.

At our Autumn Celebration we invited members to take part in a competition to decorate their sheds following the theme of Halloween. Our judge enjoyed the experience even though it was a long job.

2015 11 01_7010 2015 11 01_7011 2015 11 01_7012 2015 11 01_7014 2015 11 01_7017 2015 11 01_7018 2015 11 01_7021 2015 11 01_7023 2015 11 01_69952015 11 01_7024 2015 11 01_70002015 11 01_6996 2015 11 01_6997 2015 11 01_7055

One couple and their daughter decorated their plot and spread the ghosts across into the nearby tree. It looked great!

2015 11 01_7006 2015 11 01_7005

Our tea committee were in attendance providing hot drinks and cakes. They even decorated their tea shop. One of the committee, Tracy, made toffee apples using apples from our community orchards. These proved most popular. Once it got dark we lit the barbeque and we all cooked our food on it We also lit our fire pits so we had the inviting aromas of wood smoke and BBQ cooking.

2015 11 01_7031 2015 11 01_6991

2015 11 01_7029 2015 11 01_69802015 11 01_6973 2015 11 01_6984

This year we decided to invite everyone, children and adults to dress up in appropriate gear. Jude and I joined in as a witch and Dracula which upset some of the youngest children who didn’t like us looking like that. The first picture below shows us in our costumes.

2015 11 01_7032 2015 11 01_6978 2015 11 01_6998

We held a competition for carved pumpkin lanterns and both children and adults took part. Liz, a committee member, organised fun games for the youngsters, which as always were very popular and played with the sound of laughter.

2015 11 01_7008 2015 11 01_7034 2015 11 01_6975 2015 11 01_6977 2015 11 01_6976 2015 11 01_6981  2015 11 01_6982 2015 11 01_6990

When Darkness fell we lit the lamps, lit the candles in the pumpkin lanterns and took off for a walk around the site with the lit pumpkin lanterns to show the way. The children loved walking in the dark with their lanterns and visiting all the spooky sheds lit up. Some adults stayed to enjoy coffees around the fire pits.

2015 11 01_7040 2015 11 01_70392015 11 01_7041 2015 11 01_70422015 11 01_7047 2015 11 01_70532015 11 01_7036 2015 11 01_7002 2015 11 01_7046    2015 11 01_7057 2015 11 01_7058 2015 11 01_7062 2015 11 01_7065 2015 11 01_7067

And a great time was had by all! Lots of members during the evening asked when our next celebration was. It will be our Winter/Christmas Celebrations. That will be a future post.

 

 

Categories
architecture buildings photography recycling townscapes Yorkshire

Haworth – Village of the Brontes – Part Two

Welcome back to Haworth, the village of the Brontes, where you find us just about to enter the church, in whose parsonage the family of writers lived. As we walked the gently sloping roadway to the church and parsonage we passed another interesting, eccentric shop. Haworth seemed to attract such places. The church itself was a tall, bulky building and very imposing – not an attractive building at all. But visitors are attracted to it for its Bronte links.

2014 11 01_7055 2014 11 01_7062 2014 11 01_70822014 11 01_7120 2014 11 01_7117

Throughout the church interior we discovered links with the Brontes, which was not always easy in the gloomy interior. Light is always strange inside churches and you feel uncomfortable using a flash. Check out these plaques, old photos and documents.

2014 11 01_7118 2014 11 01_71192014 11 01_7113 2014 11 01_7115

2014 11 01_7111 2014 11 01_7112

2014 11 01_7114 2014 11 01_7116

 

Almost opposite the church was the school in which Charlotte Bronte taught. It was a very short journey to work!

2014 11 01_7063 2014 11 01_7064

The tall stone wall surrounding the churchyard was covered in mosses. Close up some patches looked like pictures of earth from the air.

2014 11 01_7065 2014 11 01_7066 2014 11 01_7067

The parsonage frontage looks straight at the church and was built on a high piece of land so looked most imposing.

2014 11 01_7070 2014 11 01_7083

2014 11 01_7068 2014 11 01_7069

Beyond the Parsonage a narrow footpath took us up to the edge of the moors which influenced so much of the Bronte family writings. Styles and gateways on this track were extremely narrow and walkers had to squeeze through. They were also of strange designs which we had never seen before. The walls alongside the track as it passed the last few village dwellings presented me with the chance to take a few texture shots. In places the path was made of flat stones sunk into the grass.

2014 11 01_7071 2014 11 01_7074 2014 11 01_7077 2014 11 01_7078  2014 11 01_7080 2014 11 01_7081

2014 11 01_7079

We returned to the village centre and took the gentle stroll down the Main Street, with its eclectic mix of shops many displaying art and crafts. We soon discovered we were visiting soon after the village had celebrated the day the Tour de France cycle race came and the day after it had celebrated Halloween. Spot the recycled cycles and the spooky happenings.

2014 11 01_7092 2014 11 01_7085

2014 11 01_7090 2014 11 01_7095

2014 11 01_7094 2014 11 01_7093  2014 11 01_7091 2014 11 01_7089 2014 11 01_7088 2014 11 01_7087 2014 11 01_7086 2014 11 01_7096

2014 11 01_7098 2014 11 01_7097 2014 11 01_7099 2014 11 01_7100 2014 11 01_7101 2014 11 01_7102 2014 11 01_7103 2014 11 01_7104 2014 11 01_7105 2014 11 01_7106

2014 11 01_7107 2014 11 01_7108 2014 11 01_7109

As we left the village to start our long journey home we made a diversion over the moors to take a short wander in the footsteps of the Bronte family. It was easy to see how its isolation and atmosphere provided such inspiration.

2014 11 01_7121 2014 11 01_7122 2014 11 01_7124 2014 11 01_7126 2014 11 01_7127 2014 11 01_7128

 

Categories
architecture buildings Church architecture photography Yorkshire

Haworth – Village of the Brontes – Part One

We spent a midweek break in Yorkshire this autumn, combining a return visit to the RHS Garden Harlow Carr, with a return to Saltaire and a first visit to the village of the Brontes, Haworth. A busy few days full of interest, enjoyment and variety.

First I shall share with you our visit to Haworth a village up on the moors of Yorkshire. The village and the moors are closely linked to the well-known and much loved family of writers, the Brontes. We found the village after miles of travelling high in the moorland on roads with regular steep climbs and descents. The road began to drop steeply as we approached the village and signposts indicated a car park on the edge of the village. We parked up in a car park hidden in woodland and from there a footpath took us into the very heart of the village.

Haworth is a beautiful place! A village with a strong community feel to it and a centre for creativity where many artists and craftspersons live, work and display their work. To add to the enjoyment of Haworth we discovered that Halloween was due to be celebrated fully. We also discovered that the village has some most excellent coffee houses!

The path took us down below the village’s allotments where the hens entertained us with their contented clucking as we passed unnoticed. We passed the back of the church and entered the very heart of the village, the Square.

2014 11 01_7019 2014 11 01_70182014 11 01_7020 2014 11 01_7022

Small businesses clustered around the Square welcoming visitors. You can see how the street drops steeply away from the Square. We decided that the number of coffee shops reflected the steepness of this hill – visitors need lots of places to stop and rest!

2014 11 01_7023 2014 11 01_70242014 11 01_7025 2014 11 01_7026

We soon realised that this village had a real sense of community feeling accompanied by an equal sense of pride with a gentle humour running through. Just look at the path gardens under the front windows of these cottages complete with seats. A great place to share your thoughts with neighbours, greet visitors with a friendly smile and watch the life of the village going by. Nearby this little humorous figure enjoyed life in another front garden.

2014 11 01_7027 2014 11 01_70282014 11 01_7044

There were frequent reminders too of the place that the Brontes hold in the hearts of the villagers.

2014 11 01_7030

We followed part of the village trail that encompassed the places most relevant to the life of the Bronte family. We had to walk to the edge of the village to find the starting point where we began with a look at the Sun Inn where in the mid-19th century turn pike tolls would have been collected, and then close by we found the schoolroom which was linked to the West Lane Methodist Chapel which has since been demolished. Behind this schoolroom, which is now the meeting place for the Methodist congregation, we found the old graveyard which afforded wide spreading views over the valley.

2014 11 01_7032 2014 11 01_70312014 11 01_7033 2014 11 01_7034

Close by was the rival West Lane Baptist Chapel which had an extensive school room added at the rear. It seemed amazing that this little village huddled in a valley bottom supported several chapels and a church. It reflects the life style of the time, when employers expected their workers to attend their chosen place of worship in order to keep their jobs. Some believed it would keep them out of the inns and public houses.

The second photo below shows a strange arrangement of old gate post ornamentation now displayed atop a garden wall.

2014 11 01_7035 2014 11 01_7037

A short walk down the street back towards the heart of the village we found this beautiful and very old building, Townend Farm with its attached barn. These were built in the 17th century but still retained much of the original features including the most beautiful windows.

2014 11 01_7040 2014 11 01_7038 2014 11 01_7039 2014 11 01_7042

We next found a row of back-to-back workers cottages, and we could tell from the relatively large area of upstairs windows that some sort of weaving must have gone on here. The terraces also had basement dwellings below the street level.

2014 11 01_7043 2014 11 01_7045 2014 11 01_7046

The trail leaflet took us back to the centre where we stopped to look at the interesting array of shops. The Tourist Information Centre was housed in this strange thin building squeezed in a small space between two streets as they merged. The building has a short tower and pyramidal roof which was added when it changed from being the “Mechanics’ Institute” to the “Yorkshire Penny Bank”. The square here sits at the base of the wide steps leading up to the church. The village stocks are still in place outside what were once the post office and a temperance hotel. This teetotal hotel was supported by Patrick Bronte whereas rather ironically Branwell Bronte preferred the building opposite, The Old White Lion Inn.

2014 11 01_7055 2014 11 01_7047

2014 11 01_7048 2014 11 01_7049 2014 11 01_7050 2014 11 01_7052

2014 11 01_7051  2014 11 01_7053 2014 11 01_7054  2014 11 01_7057 2014 11 01_7058 2014 11 01_7059

The Main Street led us out of the square as it dropped away steeply. We took a detour to the church before embarking on the downhill climb to discover the delights of that street. Part 2 of my Bronte posts will see us visiting the church and the Main Street.

2014 11 01_7056

 

Categories
allotments community gardening Shrewsbury Shropshire

Three Crazy Days at the Allotments – Part 3

Part three of our crazy days at the allotments series of posts and we found ourselves back on site at 9:30  clearing up from our Halloween celebrations the night before and getting ready for our “Learn the Ropes” morning.

Arriving at the allotment site the morning following our Halloween celebrations, we were all exhausted but we had another activity day planned for the members. The site had a definite “morning after” look to it. Rather bedraggled and tired like us. Notice how long the shadows are in the pictures.

The rain had lashed down all night and the wind had howled around our communal huts. We had been so lucky with the weather the evening before, with not a drop of rain to spoil our fun. The area which was a hive of activity the night before looked deserted as we cleared up ready for the arrival of members who were attending our “Learn the Ropes” session and a “Walk and Talk” session around the site. We had a busy half hour but we were ready and raring to go.

2014 10 20_5935 2014 10 20_5936 2014 10 20_5937 2014 10 20_5938

We got all the machinery out for Michael to demonstrate with and got the bacon sizzling away on our gas rings just as the first members arrived. Tea and coffee were ready for serving to keep everyone warm. We even had a few minutes to treat ourselves to a quick coffee before our members arrived.

2014 10 24_6407 2014 10 20_5947

2014 10 20_5939 2014 10 20_5940 2014 10 20_5941 2014 10 20_5942

As members gathered around Michael bacon butties and hot drinks were served. Everyone was keen to see Michael demonstrate how the lawn mowers, strimmers and rotovators work and teach everyone how to use them safely and properly.

2014 10 20_5943 2014 10 20_5944 2014 10 20_5945 2014 10 20_5946

This is what being a community garden is all about. In the photos below we have three generations of one family coming along to our activities. They had been at our Halloween Day and returned to our “Learn the Ropes” session the following morning. Phil on the left has an allotment on our site and he has brought along his daughter and grand-daughter.

2014 10 20_5948 2014 10 24_6335

We had a good morning but we were glad to pack up and make our way home after our three very busy days at the allotments.

The day ended with the dismantling of the gazebos which had served us so well. When the last one was down a voice came from inside. “Help. I am still in here!” We had left Michael inside when we lowered the frame and canvas. He was in there to make sure the frame folded up properly. He had just spent the morning demonstrating our equipment to members and then we shut him up inside a gazebo! Still, it was good to end with a laugh.

 

2014 10 20_5949

Categories
allotments community gardening Shrewsbury Shropshire

Three Crazy Days at the Allotments – Part 2

Welcome back to part two of my “Three Crazy Days at the Allotments” series of posts and in this one we are celebrating Halloween. We do this every year as it is a good excuse to have a BBQ, make our sheds look weird and to get together socially before the weather changes.

This year we decided to hold competitions for preserves, the weirdest vegetables, the best carved pumpkin lanterns and also invited members to decorate their sheds so that we could find one suitable to be hailed “The Spookiest Shed”. We set the afternoon and evening going with games for the children.

2014 10 24_6360 2014 10 24_6357 2014 10 24_6445 2014 10 24_6453 2014 10 24_6497 2014 10 24_6337

Our members had been so busy beforehand and the judges had a hard time selecting winners in all the competitions. The photos below shows the table where members dropped off their entries into the preserves and weird veggies competitions.

2014 10 20_5951 2014 10 24_6408

The competitions were judged as the BBQ was warming up. In the first photo one of our members, who likes to be known as Mrs Anna, is judging the Pumpkin Lantern competition. As you can see there were some very imaginative ideas. To her left is one of our youngest allotment members Edward, who danced his way through the afternoon but found a few moments to help our judge out. He did have to stop now and again for a rest and an occasional snooze. Pumpkins appeared all over the site – one member even decorated her compost heap with lots of small pumpkins. And of course Mrs Anna was appropriately dressed as one when she carried out her judging.

2014 10 20_5952 edward

2014 10 24_6503 2014 10 24_6389-1

2014 10 24_6383 2014 10 24_6384 2014 10 24_6385 2014 10 20_5957

The tea shop awaited its first customers, as in the background members can be seen arriving. The communal huts were decorated to welcome everyone. As well as all the children who dressed up many adults joined in. It took a long time for us to work out who the ghost was!

2014 10 20_5953 2014 10 20_5954

2014 10 20_5960 2014 10 24_6348

I went round for a quick look at the Spooky Sheds while it was still just about light, to find so many different ideas.

2014 10 20_5955 2014 10 20_5956 2014 10 20_5958 2014 10 20_5959 2014 10 20_5962

2014 10 20_5963 2014 10 20_5967

2014 10 20_5966 2014 10 20_5974

2014 10 24_6415 2014 10 24_6349

2014 10 24_6412

The winning shed was this one which was decorated around every side of the shed itself, across the bench and down the plot to where the skeleton was rising out of the ground. On another plot a hand with one finger missing was rising from a plant pot.

2014 10 20_5980 2014 10 20_5978

2014 10 20_5979 2014 10 20_5968

One plot holder managed to co-ordinate her decoration with the berries of the Firethorn climbing up her shed. In another shed we found a witch had set up home!

2014 10 20_5973 2014 10 20_5972

As with all our seasonal celebrations we found time for a BBQ. As the light continued to fade we “sparked up” our seasonal lamps. Glowing skulls!

2014 10 20_5961 2014 10 20_5985

2014 10 20_5986 2014 10 20_5989

Some members took the chance to get dressed for the occasion. Here is Liz, our youngest committee member and Wendy who is one of our founder members.

2014 10 20_5993 2014 10 20_5996

Wendy has formed our tea committee with her neighbouring plot holder Dee and we can see them here enjoying their BBQ while taking a break from their tea and coffee making duties.

wendy 2014 10 20_5991

As the light faded, the children were getting increasingly excited in anticipation of the usual finale to out Halloween celebrations, our walkabout with our pumpkin lanterns. We trailed around the site looking at all the decorated sheds. One plot holder had even left a big tray of sweets on the bench for the wanderers. We were joined on our walk by real bats flying about our heads.

2014 10 20_6002 2014 10 20_6003 2014 10 20_6006 2014 10 20_6007

So one day we were celebrating the success of Shrewsbury in the Britain in Bloom awards and our essential role in it and the next we were letting our hair down and celebrating Halloween. Crazy lot really! It just shows how much fun gardening can be.

In the third and final post in this series about our allotments we found ourselves back there on day 3 and back in work mode.

Categories
allotments autumn community gardening diy garden buildings garden wildlife gardening gardens Land Art natural pest control recycling Shrewsbury wildlife

Pumpkins, a BBQ and Homes for Wildlife

At the end of October we held our first ever family oriented working party social day at our allotments, Bowbrook Allotment Community. It was a great success even though the whole day was spent in wellies and waterproofs. The ground beneath our feet was saturated and occasional showers got us from above, but neither distracted us from our aims of the day.

We started just after one o’clock when a photographer from the local newspaper came to take some shots of families working together on our “Homes for Wildlife” projects and one of our most recent award, the RHS Britain in Bloom “National Award of Distinction” which we were awarded for our community involvement.

First task was to make some birdboxes and Wren Pouches. All the materials were collected together by one of our picnic benches and tools readied.  It was heartening to see children, their parents and grandparents working together creating these nest boxes. Three generations together!

2013 10 27_4572 2013 10 27_4580

2013 10 27_4590 2013 10 27_4598

2013 10 27_4622 2013 10 27_4599

We made some hanging bug shelters too, created from broken flower pots, driftwood and bits of bark.

2013 10 27_4579

We wished also to make a couple of bug hotels, a small one along the fenceline and our most ambitious yet a 6 ft high creepy crawly cottage both based on recycled wooden pallets. We began with a stack of pallets and a collection of natural objects collected by allotment holders, sticks, old garden canes, stones, fir cones etc.

2013 10 27_4565 2013 10 27_4567 2013 10 27_4569

The “cottage” soon began to take shape as pallets were stacked and fixed together to give the basic structure.

2013 10 27_4571  2013 10 27_4577

2013 10 27_4581 2013 10 27_4584

2013 10 27_4585 2013 10 27_4586

2013 10 27_4587 2013 10 27_4589

2013 10 27_4588   2013 10 27_4591

2013 10 27_4594 2013 10 27_4593

2013 10 27_4597

All we have to do now is choose a name for our new insect home. We have challenged the youngsters from the allotments, our Roots and Shoots group, to choose a suitable one. So far we have a few ideas – “Minibeast Manor”, “Bugtique Hotel” and “Minibeast Metropolis”. The difficulty will be how to decide!

The smaller insect hotel was made from five pallets and again filled with objects that would provide shelter for wildlife. We finished it off with a stone pile, the perfect home for beetles.

2013 10 27_4582 2013 10 27_4583

2013 10 27_4595 2013 10 27_4596

2013 10 27_4578

The final jobs before our BBQ was to plant lots of acorns, sweet chestnuts and hazel nuts to grow on and plant in our hedgerows and to plant up a whole sack of daffodil bulbs alongside the paths in our meadows.

2013 10 27_4600 2013 10 27_4616

The BBQ brought us all back together and once darkness fell we lit our pumpkin lanterns. And we even found time for Jude to do some face painting.

2013 10 27_4618 2013 10 27_4619 2013 10 27_4617 2013 10 27_4627 2013 10 27_4628

As we enjoyed the BBQ the light disappeared and we prepared ourselves for the Twilight Walk, when we wandered around the site with lit pumpkins to light our way in search of sheds decorated as Spooky Sheds.

2013 10 27_4624   2013 10 27_4626 2013 10 27_4623

2013 10 27_4615 2013 10 27_4613 2013 10 27_4612 2013 10 27_4611 2013 10 27_4610 2013 10 27_4609 2013 10 27_4608 2013 10 27_4607 2013 10 27_4606 2013 10 27_4605 2013 10 27_4604 2013 10 27_4602

And as the night fell we disappeared into the gloom with our pumpkins to guide our way.

2013 10 27_4629 2013 10 27_4630