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Christmas festivities, tree pruning, seed selection & a Happy New Year

We wrapped up our year here in the Garden with some very creative and enjoyable festive wreath-making workshops and a delicious Christmas lunch that impressively catered for around thirty or so of our regular members. A huge thank you to all who made these events so successful and enjoyable, and to everyone else who has helped and supported the Garden throughout the past year. It really is a community effort, and relies on every one of you to create the magic and fun that we all appreciate so very much!

Christmas lunch

Looking forward in the Garden, an immediate job that will soon be taken in hand as January begins is the pruning of the woodland hazel and ash trees, and our large willow. The hazel is ideal for coppicing, a technique that cuts trees and shrubs to ground level, causing new shoots to grow rapidly from the base. Whereas the ash and willow will be pollarded, by pruning them to the main stem or trunk, thereby controlling the height of the main stem itself. The work is done every few years and will allow light back into the woodland in particular, which in turn will benefit the flowering of imminent spring bulbs such as snowdrops and winter aconites. The cut materials will provide poles for plant supports around the garden and some of the willow will no doubt find its way into future wreaths. On this note, we are preparing to plant a willow bed behind our main cabin to specifically supply us with weaving materials for basket making in the years ahead.

Wreath-making workshop

Another task that arises as the year gets underway is choosing which particular plants to cultivate. This year we're keen to sow more heritage (or ‘heirloom’) seed varieties because of the benefits they offer. They are so called because they come from a plant that has been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and saved because its qualities are considered valuable, often for more than a hundred years. Importantly, they preserve genetic diversity in crops, which promotes resilience against pests and diseases. They can also boast distinct flavours and nutritional qualities, which enhance the cooking experience and provide potentially unique health benefits. Plus, growing them keeps alive and connects people to the agricultural history and cultural heritage associated with specific regions and communities. And lastly, because they're open-pollinated naturally by birds, insects, wind, or human hands they can in turn be shared through seed swaps that help growers be more self-sufficient and maintain a sustainable seed supply. All things to bear in mind when selecting your next packet of pumpkin or tomato seeds for an early spring sowing.

Finally, we'd all like to wish you a very happy and healthy gardening year ahead in 2024. We very much hope you'll be able to join us on our open days and look forward to seeing you when you next pop in, anytime on weekdays between 10 am and 3 pm.

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