Springtime – a capricious season. But enough about the weather, - on to plants, seeds and events. The country market will be holding its annual sale of bedding plants from 9am 'til noon on Saturday 18th May under the Market House. And if you miss out on the veg seedlings, or if you have too many, the Minchinhampton Allotment holders are having a seed and seedling swap and 'bring and share' picnic on the allotment field from noon 'til 2 on Sunday 19th May. Here's a chance to pick up a marrow plant, from which great things may be expected, and a chance to practice your baking, sweet potato muffins, pear and ginger cake, courgette chocolate cake, etc., ready for the domestic science section of the Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show in September.
On April 7th this year we can all celebrate a hundred years of the National Trust taking over from H.G.Ricardo, the Lord of the Manor's rights in the soil of the unenclosed land we all know as Minchinhampton Common. I say, celebrate, because it was not a smooth or fully supported purchase in 1913 and even A.T. Playne in his fine history of Minchinhampton and Avening written at the time makes it clear.
The winter has continued well into March, with snow flurries as I write this. The low temperatures and ice on the pond have restricted activities: the frogs, as well as those of the heron, and any outdoor planting, other than moving or splitting dormant perennials. Some snowdrops were lifted from the garden into pots, temporarily, to be planted elsewhere whilst still in leaf.
I drove home along a dry lane one evening recently, and was able to avoid the potholes more effectively - though I'm pleased to say that some have been patched. More usually the large puddles on the road side reflect the headlights, creating phantoms which flicker through the hedgerows, keeping pace with the car, and looking worryingly like deer dancing and leaping along the roadside verge.
When I left School, my father having been a career Army Officer, I went to read Civil Engineering at Leeds as an Army Cadetship Officer. This meant a short course at Sandhurst Military Academy before university, regular attendance of the Officer Training Corps and a period with my ‘sponsoring unit’ (the Royal Engineers) during the long vacations while up; and then a return to Sandhurst for the main part of the officer training after university.
Wanton damage to the orchid house and plants at Kew, followed a couple of weeks later by an arson attack on the nearby refreshment pavilion, a hundred years ago, (February 1913) was known as the Outrage at Kew, the aim being publicity for the suffrage movement. Olive Wharry and Lilian Lenton were subsequently sent to prison. I’d like to think that since then, we have made some progress along the road to enlightenment, both politically, and in terms of our understanding of how to grow and propagate orchidaceae.
Feeding the garden wildlife at this time of year is to be encouraged, and as well as putting out seed and suet for the birds, in feeders or on tables, out of the reach of cats, it is worth considering planting a few items that will support both birds and insects in the longer term over the winter months. Birds are attracted to berry-bearing plants such as holly, cotoneaster, pyracantha and skimmia, and crab apple, rowan, hawthorn and honeysuckle. Leaving seed heads on thistles and sunflowers also provides a food source.
As things quieten down in the garden pond with the lower temperatures, the autumn months are a good time to work without disturbing the wildlife too much. So I’ve had the water lilies out for a pruning. It’s probably 3 or 4 years since they were last cut back and re-potted, and this summer they were fairly choked. This time though, I’ve put the root cuttings back into the pots with no soil, and simply weighted them with a few rocks.
Alan Vaughan all at sea
I spent most of my teenage years in Minchinhampton and couldn't wait to get away from the place, mainly because of the peace and quiet. Out there in non-Minchinhampton land, everyone of my generation seemed to having a great time. Rock 'n Roll had been invented and was settling in for the duration, the cinema and TV showed images of lifestyles unheard of in the Old Common and Butt Street. I didn't actually run away to sea, my parents insisted that I should obtain some sort of qualification and then run away to sea. The least taxing of the seagoing activities on offer seemed to be in communications as a Marine Radio Officer. I had found the wireless vaguely interesting both as a means of entertainment and as a technical enigma, so I spent some college time becoming qualified in this very narrow field of endeavour. What worried me more than anything during my training, no one ever asked me if I could swim . I couldn't swim and have never learned. The realisation soon dawned that the Radio Officer was expected to remain with the Captain, clutching a buoyant transmitter, if and when the ship went down, so the ability to swim was zero priority.
A short time since, a man in a state of semi-intoxication went into a public house at Minchinhampton, and announced that the Rev._______ who had a field of turnips in the neighbourhood, had kindly given the whole of the crop to the poor of the parish. The tidings were received with joy, and the health of the charitable minister was drunk amid the loudest acclamations; and on the following Monday the field was crowded at break of day by men, women and children, who worked with wondrous perseverances in digging up and conveying home the turnips. About ten o' clock the worthy clergyman was observed to approach the field in great haste, followed by his servant, both of them on horseback armed with large whips. The poor peasantry wished to receive this minister of charity with a cheer expressive of their gratitude; but no sooner had he arrived than he began storming at his industrious neighbours in no measured terms, and before they could recover from their surprise both he and his servant commenced driving them out of the field. The confusion which reigned for some time was indescribable, the poor deluded people scrambling over walls and gates to escape. At last the equestrians were left sole possessors of the field of battle, which was literally strewed with hats, knives, and implements of husbandry, used by the flying foe to abstract the turnips from their mother earth. But although victorious, and in possession of the field, they were, alas in possession of very few turnips, nearly the whole of which remained in the hands of the enemy. As many of the offenders as could be recognized were summoned before the Magistrate of the district, when the matter being explained as a hoax, they were dismissed with a fine of 1s. each, for the damage done, and the worthy clergyman, much to his credit, joined in the laugh which had thus been created at the expense of his turnips. – County Chronicle.
The history of the butcher's shop on The Cross, probably starts in the late 1600s. The first confirmed date we have is 1718 with the butchers shop and slaughter house having been left in the will of one Thomas Hill to his son in law, indicating that the business was already established by that time.
This is my first opportunity since the Minchinhampton Gardening Club Show, held on 8th September, to thank all those who contributed in any way to the show’s success. I have to admit to a few sleepless nights before the entry forms were due, but the total number of entries, 315, spread across 70 classes, was wonderful. The exhibits made a lovely display in the school hall, treating us to scents, not least the cakes, vibrant effervescent colours, and a buzz of activity during the day, so thank you.