The Stroud Potato Day is to be held in Merrywalks on Saturday 4th February when Transition Stroud and Down to Earth will have over 20 varieties of seed potato on sale. The potatoes are supplied by Dundry Nurseries located near Cheltenham who have 100 varieties should you need more choice.
It’s early December as I write this, and the list of gardening tasks due for completion this month is dwindling as I tick them off. Clearing the pond was a major task and took the best part of 3 days, and fortunately I didn’t fall in. There remains some duck weed on the surface, so I might well take up Deb’s suggestion to remove any ice after a frosty night, as this traps the weed, making its removal simple and effective.
Now is a good time to prune vines, apple and pear trees, wisteria, climbing roses and acers. Stone-centred fruiting trees such as plum and cherry, and small step-over apple trees are best pruned in the summer. And while the secateurs are to hand, look for some suitable Christmas decoration for the honeysuckle wreath made last month.
The last weekend in September saw the flower bed in the front garden cleared, dug over and compost added, and planted up with Monarda, Crocosmia, Alstroemeria, Salvia, Lobelia and several grasses, as the starter plants for a hot bed. A few more will be added from elsewhere in the garden over the next few days, including Crocosmia Lucifer, but those mentioned were in pots and desperate for freedom. There has been a good deal of rain since planting them out, which will have helped them to become established.
The existence of a church at Minchinhampton can be traced back to at least the time of the Domesday book of 1086, however much of the Norman church was swept away with the 1842 rebuilding of the church, and the earliest surviving fabric is the 14th century tower, crossing and transepts. Aside from the building fabric there are several medieval survivals -the effigies of the Ansleys, a floor tile bearing their coat of arms, and fragments of wall painting; often overlooked however are a small group of medieval memorials known as cross-slabs.
Alan Titchmarsh once wrote that we would not tolerate a riot in any other area of life so why tolerate it in our gardens. I am not so sure. Nature has a way of rendering acceptable colour combinations that we would not be seen dead wearing. Allowing self-seeding plants to flourish among carefully chosen planting schemes lends an informality to a bed that could otherwise appear contrived or formal. In addition they help to keep the colour going from one season to the next. In our garden stachys, pot marigolds, poppies, champion, evening primrose and many others fill in the gaps, and Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi) provide their beautiful orange seed cases in the autumn, which eventually dissolve into filigree cages. From time to time these 'weeds' create stunning effects for which we are pleased to take credit, even though they are purely accidental.
Here’s a novelty – I’m writing this outside in the garden! The weather has finally warmed up, so let’s hope this is the start of a pleasant summer. The plant growth which had been held back by the low temperatures is catching up fast, and on the positive side, the strawberries (in the greenhouse) and rhubarb look great, but the cold and wet Spring has not agreed with the Gladiolus murielea which appear to have rotted. These were in a pot which should have been kept under cover until the shoots first appeared.
Like many aspects of the Church of England, deaneries have a long and varied history. The first mention of a Rural Dean (now more often known as Area Dean) was in the time of Edward the Confessor and the role seems to have been to support the bishop by supervising the clergy in a particular part of the diocese.
In the Autumn, the local squirrel digs a neat hole in the lawn to bury each hazel nut, carefully covers it and pats down the grass. But digging them up in the Spring-time is a different matter, leaving a hole, loose grass clumps and the tell-tale shell halves. I suppose it’s quite impressive that he relocates them again after several months (except those that sprout into trees), which seems to be a combination of spatial awareness and memory plus good scent detection.
We are very fortunate to be getting a curate from 19 June, and very fortunate that curate is to be Deborah Curram, who comes bringing so much experience with her. She will be with us for 3 1/2 days per week, and I am looking forward to welcoming her and working with her in this parish. However, it seems worth our talking about what a curate is and isn't before she gets here, so that we all have the right expectations.
I am delighted to be taking up the role of Assistant Curate in the Parish of Minchinhampton with Box, starting after my ordination as deacon at Gloucester Cathedral on 19 June. I hope to see some of you at that celebration, but if not, then on the following Sunday, 26 June in both churches.
This year’s display of daffodils and narcissi started very early and has continued in spectacular fashion ever since. To ensure a good show again next year, remove the spent flower heads but leave the greenery and apply a general purpose fertilizer around the roots, encouraging the bulbs to develop. Overcrowded clumps could be lifted and divided.