The Sunday Eucharist on 9th August with its focus on the Mother’s Union set me thinking of the history of the M.U. in this parish. The Diocesan handbook’s “Story of the first 100 years”, tells me that Minchinhampton was the first recorded branch to open (1889) in the whole diocese of Gloucester. Mary Sumner had founded the movement in 1876 and this is commemorated in our Lady Chapel by kneelers worked under Audrey Waton’s supervision in 1976. Of the early leaders, there is no record, unless old parish magazines still exist to reveal them. I do know, though, that Gladys Beale’s mother was a leader – probably in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Saturday 12th September dawned wet and miserable, but it brightened during the morning for which everyone associated with all the events going on in the town that day was relieved. My involvement was with the Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show, which follows on 6 days after the Stroud & District Chrysanthemum Society hold their annual Chrysanthemum and Dahlia Show in the Scout Hut on Dr. Brown’s Road.
We had an excellent display of blossom on the apple trees in April, and whilst the crop has been thinned out a couple of times during the growing season, I can’t bring myself to do this adequately, so I’ve had to introduce a support for one over-loaded branch on the James Grieve, which is on a MM106 semi-dwarfing root stock.
Anthriscus sylvestris, cow parsley, also known as deadman’s oatmeal, keks, wild chervil, wild beaked parsley, mother die, and Queen Anne’s lace, amongst many others, has flowered spectacularly during May and June. The fields and hedgerows have been covered in frothy cream seas of umbellifer flowers. The inclosure at the top of Old Common was filled to the brim with foaming flowerheads such that from a distance it could have been mistaken for a hot tub. Well, maybe not.
The proliferation of this plant has been associated with the way in which verges are cut and the clippings left in place, providing nutrients for the next years’ growth, which suits cow parsley, but few of the other wild flowers.
The ‘Open Gardens’ event at the end of May was considered successful, when around 300 visitors enjoyed some well-presented and interesting gardens whilst braving the cool wind. The Bird of Paradise, strelitzia, must have heard all my curses and threats, and produced a flower the day before the event, the first time in about 7 years.
Another unusual plant was the Arisaema, with its flower spike.
In the fruit garden, thin out potentially heavy crops of apples, pears and plums, and enjoy the strawberries and gooseberries. Pinch out sideshoots on cordon tomatoes and tie in new growth. Pick beans and mangetout peas and keep up serial planting of lettuce and other salad crops.
The Show Schedules for the Minchinhampton Gardening Club produce show are now available, with interesting classes for everyone. Check it out!
With the risk of frost over for another season, tender varieties can now be planted out. Courgettes, squashes, celery, outdoor tomatoes and bedding plants are ready to welcome the gentle June weather with a smile.
I took a risk with the dahlia tubers by planting them out rather early, but the forecast looked safe, and the tubs they were in were needed for tomatoes in the greenhouse. I can always cover the delicate shoots if a frost is forecast.
An edited version of the tribute given by Revd Helen Bailey at Jim's funeral service on behalf of his family, with thanks also to Minchinhampton choir members for their contributions.
Jim was born on 24th August 1928. He lived in Bethnal Green with parents James and Hilda, and brother Norman. He went to the local school, passing the 11 plus, but then the family was evacuated to Forest Green, a year later moving to Minchinhampton to stay with an auntie at the Blue Boys Corner. His father eventually bought a house at Lightpill around 1942.
It is immensely satisfying to take an hour at the end of a full day of gardening to relax and enjoy the scents, sounds and sights as the light fades. Watching the bees heading home, and the blackbirds staking out their territory with their rich tones; and why don't they bottle the scent of newly mown grass?
It's early March as I write this article, and Spring has definitely sprung for some of the garden inhabitants – the pond has been invaded by a frenzy of frogs. Somehow, I can't imagine toads behaving quite so boisterously. The birds have been collecting nesting material, and a few bees have been seen taking advantage of the pulmonaria, (lungwort) flowers, an early supply of nectar.
With more hours of daylight and an occasional warm day, it's very easy to get carried away and waste effort by sowing seeds outside into soil that is too cold and wet for successful germination. So it is important to provide shelter for the early plantings, using coldframe, cloche or fleece, or by starting them off in trays in the greenhouse or windowsill.
Many of you may remember that last year Gladys Beale, age 106 and a faithful servant of the Lord, died. She will be remembered by many with fondness for her commanding presence and loyalty to this church. We celebrated her 105th birthday in church with a wonderful cake and at that age she treated us to a small speech! Gladys regularly attended church each Sunday and sat in her pew and you were soon told if you were in her place. After all you could not expect her to change after so many years of sitting in the same pew. She also attended the Wednesday 11 a.m Book of Common Prayer Service which she so loved. She did make us smile when she would say "I've just been collected by one of my young men," as they ensured she was safely bundled into the car. Upon arriving at the lychgate, with the help of a guiding arm, she would walk up the path and through the church! How many of us will be able to do that at her age. It amused many of us including her young men who were all in their 80s! After the service she would sit for coffee and managed a biscuit or two or three! She claimed her success for living so long was a good appetite and of course her tipple before supper! She always invited people to afternoon tea where she would proceed to tell us so many interesting stories and also eat most of the tea. I will remember her with fondness as I know so many of us do. She was after all a very formidable lady and a true disciple of Christ.
I have been asked to write a few words about William Vick, baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton in l707 and who lived and worked in Bristol as a very successful wine merchant.
I don't travel by train very often, but a recent journey left me contemplating perspectives in both time and distance. Distant trees and buildings drifted across the window, whilst closer objects rushed past.
Gardens may be viewed similarly, with the flamboyance of May and June a distant memory, leaving only the rattling seed heads and rustling stalks to decorate the winter beds, but this time of the year does offer the chance to move things around to create fresh summer combinations, and as an incentive, it's a good time to plant bare root roses, consult the catalogues and select this year's potatoes.