Cheslyn Hay Open Gardens Day

Sunday dawned as Saturday had finished. Warm and cheerful.

Up to the Pinfold lane entrance to set up for the Cheslyn Hay Open Gardens Day. This is a one-day local event which raises money for the charity decided on by the organisers. Our allotments was part of the set-up for the first time last year; a pioneering venture on both parts. Unfortunately the weather was poor and the directions to the allotments given in the programme were misleading.

This year … quite the opposite!

We joined the impressive list: 

Dorset House, 68 Station Street – Plants will be on sale

76 Station Street – a beautiful garden with a modern flair that shows the owners personality

79 Station Street – come and enjoy home-made cake and tea and soak up the lovely Victorian Cottage Garden

119 Station Street – a stunning garden which goes on and one and on…

16 Rosemary Road – a chance to see ducks as well as some unusual plants

Cheslyn Hay Community Allotments, Pinfold Lane – come and take a peek at Cheslyn Hay’s best kept secret.

This year it had been decided by the powers-that-be that money would go to Katherine House Hospice in nearby Stafford.


The allotments shop was open, as usual, the gates flung wide and a steady stream of visitors, some with programmes bought at other gardens, some starting their tour with us (programmes allow entry to all properties on the day).

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Visitors were, by turn, intrigued, amazed, encouraging and appreciative; and commented on the friendly atmosphere and community spirit on the site.

We added names to the waiting list and a few cottage gardeners. And gave guided tours. Among the main attractions on this walk was the beehive … and, in fact when I was doing the walk I was actually standing right by the thing but could neither hear it nor see it: a credit to the beekeepers – and the bees of course.

At one point a swarm of bees passed overhead and we were all concerned that the swarm had come from the hive and unable to remember the ‘phone number!

A couple of our plotholders, who had never been to the other gardens before did the tour this year, encouraged they said by the fact that the allotments were taking part.

One of our last visitors was a lady from the hospice who came to thank us for our efforts on their behalf. This was a really unexpected and lovely touch. Some larger charities could learn a lot from such a simple gesture!

At the end of the long day, the barrow was taken apart: it has been widely complimented and well-christened.

I expect it will be out again for the barbecue on 2nd July.

Until then, there are weeds to pull and crops to pick: never seen so many broad beans and strawberries!

Never a dull moment when you’ve got an allotment.

Thanks to the behind-the scenes organisers of the day, to everybody who came to support the allotments, to our members for their support and best wishes to everyone involved with Katherine House Hospice.

Image: allotment photos (editor)



Summer Solstice/Support Staffordshire Event

The longest day dawned: the start of a long weekend.

The debut of the “market barrow” I bodged up out of an old gas barbecue and some timbers. It’s collapsible and we wedged it into the car and set off for Perton. Sun hot and high in the sky. Outside position … and the pieces went together reasonably smoothly (though some bolts needed the gentle encouragement of a cobbler’s hammer). The idea to create this barrow came to me while we were at the Co-op A.G.M. I had been making plans to use scavenged bike wheels on a wooden frame, but about to put the barbecue on Freecycle I saw the opportunity. Et voila:


 This event was to celebrate the work of Support Staffordshire, formerly SSCVA, and bring together community organisations. As such it worked; although perhaps a little short on genuine Joe Public visitors. Both S.SC.V.A. and Support Staffordshire have been superb in supporting our efforts: fund raising and the community voice forums, so we were delighted to be invited and happy to play a part.

The event was opened by local M.P. Gavin Williamson, with a witty self-deprecating speech and a fanfare from another group represented.

We handed out free seeds, business cards, ur A4 calendar of events and chatted to other stall holders and visitors. There was  skittles game set up next to us and on the other side a young woman representing Age Concern. While across form us were the “Perton Wildlife Group”. Spectacularly both of their volunteers missed the amazing sight of a hedgehog carrying a young one (what are baby hedgehogs called? hoglets?) across the gateway from shrubbery to shrubbery.

The M.P came by and spent quite some time talking to us on the stand; having his photo taken – a true public christening for the barrow! (Thanks to William Hanford/Gavin Williamson for the following picture.)


During the day we collected contact details, advice and began to prepare for the Cheslyn Hay Open Gardens on the next day.

Later certificates were awarded to volunteers without whom – as Mr Williamson put it – “so much good work would go undone”. This speech of his was first class: respectful, humble and giving the feeling that he was very much aware of the locality and the characteristics of the many organisations represented.

And, taking the barrow to pieces we left: tired but satisfied. With the good feedback and appreciation shown.



Anyone for Tea?


June? Flaming June?


You’re climbing into the car with threatening grey skies and messages of doom from the yesterday’s TV weather forecasts burned in your brain. You put off cancelling today’s planned event until today – thinking, just hoping that the poor weather will be gone – or part of something imagined.

Up at the community area and the others are there. Everybody’s smart phone seems to be giving a different local weather forecast. Mine says 90% chance of rain between 12 and 1 and 405 and less after that, Somebody else’s says the opposite …

But it’s about determination, and we are all about that.

“Let’s go for it!” 

The green and white gazebo – big enough to hold a Harrier jump jet, by the way – is erected; even though we may have some of the poles in, er … not quite the right places we can jam the cover on. No sooner done than: rain. Heavy! But we are dry. And there’s three hours before the event is due to start. Somebody finds the season’s first ripe strawberry; just the one mind you.

The new shed is christened. It’s sturdier, got a good floor, smells of new planed wood and will be ideal for preparing the sandwiches and tea. We MacGyver a roof for a washing up area.


Back at 2.30. Its warmer; in fact hot under the gazebo. The sky is blue. Gas burners set up. Kettles on. Bread being spread. The custom-built A-frame board is popped up outside to possibly attract “passing trade”.  Well, you just never know.



Twenty minutes later: people have turned up, are siting at tables chatting. The beekeepers who donated eggs. A man and his wife who live opposite the site, “just popped in to take a look …” and they’re glad they did. A cottage gardener. Family members. A big, friendly sun shines down on the community actions going on in the community area. Close to the raised beds (coming along nicely) this is the product of a lot of hard work which, when things like this are going on, was all worthwhile.


Heading home later: tired but satisfied, we’re all glad we didn’t call it off. Now what will the weather be like for the Cosford Airshow tomorrow?

What to do in June – 2


Reading back on last years’ post about what to do in June, you would have thought that I would have learned from my mistakes of not planting too many seeds due to running out of space.  No such luck!  If anything, I have even more trouble with space now as I have transplants for my sister’s new plot too!  

Any way, now that the weather is warming up, most plants can be placed outside but keep the fleece handy for a few more weeks yet just incase.  Us UK gardeners know only too well that frost can rear its’ head in late June!

Jobs to do………in June

  • Keep the hoe busy to get on top of the weeds.  Hoeing on a sunny day makes it easy as the weeds will die in the heat of the sun.
  • Continue to save water where you can.  The warmer weather will mean that…

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