Home News Gardeners' Newsletter - Winter 2023-24

15 Jan 2024 Volunteer News

Gardeners’ Newsletter - Winter 2023-24

When I started to write this, it was Autumn, and now the New Year has arrived I cannot believe how fast 2023 has flown by, and it feels like last Christmas/New Year was not that long ago! I’m sure most of us would agree with how grim and concerning the world is continuing to be at the moment. Firstly, the uncertainty of COVID-19 followed by restrictions and the toll it took on many people, also the unease and tension all over the world and now the conflicts and current crisis in the Middle East and not forgetting Ukraine. It is a very sad time.
We all must have hope and pray at this time of year, especially for the world to come to its senses and learn to live in harmony!

Back to the Garden...

We have had Summer’s last hurrah before the mists and mellow fruitfulness of Autumn followed by such a wet, wet, wet, winter. Now we’re putting the garden to bed as we hang up our boots for the winter season. Autumn had been such a fabulous season and my all-time favourite, though some would disagree! (particularly Geoff). One looks back at what has gone before and what has to look forward to...

Now this last season in the garden for the gardeners, is a time of reflection and have a good look back to evaluate what has worked well and what has not, where we can improve and what is to get rid of.It’s been a difficult year for our team, and the only one in my time when we have had a lack of volunteer gardeners on such a regular basis, due to illness and/or absence for other reasons. This has put a strain on those who have remained gardening, and just as I hoped we would have a full attendance returning, the weather took hold once again with so much rain, which prevented the usual activity in the garden from going ahead. Now, well into the Winter break, giving the gardeners time to think about the future, our need for more volunteers and a consensus on how we manage, maintain, and improve our lovely garden (Adverts have been placed to address the former, so maybe we will have a few more gardeners in the team as we head into the Spring of 2024).


So, what has been a success?

The Cutting Patch – our no-dig new border - a different approach as to how we create and propagate new growth into the flower beds and borders. This area was primarily a cutting patch to assist the florists in creating interesting arrangements within the hospice and for the patients’ rooms.

It was also an opportunity for staff, visitors, and volunteers to ‘pick their own’. As an idea, the cutting patch was an overwhelming success and produced masses of annual flowers and grasses. It was simply lovely to drive up to the staff car park, turning the corner to see the vibrancy of colourful tall annuals strutting their stuff. Hopefully, 2024 will be bigger and better, so watch out for the dahlias, chrysanthemums and helenium’s as we introduce some perennials too.

The two entrance annual borders look stunningly beautiful, carrying on well into the Autumn. Further winter planting will take us through to Spring, and the gardening team are currently choosing annuals to create another outstanding display for the summer season.

The vegetable garden is providing Chef Matthew with brassicas, tomatoes, potatoes, and sprouts and is still giving.
In the compost area, the shredder has been put to some good use, enhancing our speedy compost production. Our never-ending supply of leaves should give us some healthy mulch to spread around the garden.

The Logs - requiring huge efforts from the boys with the sawing, splitting and bagging – all successfully sold!

The Plant Stall – an eye-catching idea at the entrance with several successful plant sales enhancing income for the hospice. It is unclear now how much money our plant stall has raised, but I’m sure it is doing well and was worth doing. Our plan is to continue to add to it through the seasons this year.

The Pond - Creating our cascade of waterfalls into the pond has been a huge success and a wonderful addition to the garden. It has brought a lovely gentle movement and looks amazing.
We are eager to get planting in the months ahead. There will be much more colour and interest. Still much to do with preparing the ground, it will be an exciting project. The Duck House remains an overwhelming success, being home to numerous ducklings.

Not forgetting our amazing architectural Obelisks. More wonderful expertly made gems of woodwork from our resident Master Craftsman, Martin Dixon.

Furthermore, we’d like to extend a huge amount of thanks to the fundraising team, who have been hugely successful in providing virtually all the raw materials for the cascade. The actual work was carried out by Creative Waterspaces, headed by Simon, and we think he did a super job. We hope to have him back to help with cleansing and the essential but also difficult maintenance of our pond, and as a highly skilled professional, he will do us proud.

In other news...

We opened our garden to the Denby Dale and Skelmanthorpe Arm of the U3A. It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, so much so, they have asked if they can come back in 2024. - Watch this space.

We supported the fundraising team with their Garden opening, which was a huge success, with perhaps another garden opening happening again this year.

With so much going on in the garden, we will not be ready for close inspection for the entry into Yorkshire in Bloom or indeed, the NGS this year. This will be put on hold until 2025 when we will be in better shape and ready. The gardening team decided to curtail new projects going into 2024, allowing us to concentrate on the general day to day tasks and the maintenance across the gardens, as well as the new planting of patients’ planters, and just when I say that there are plans now in place to extend the kitchen garden also.

Our stance on no wastage and recycling meant that all the culled trees around the site, some that were felled, some that fell, were sawn up into logs for sale at £5 a bag. Good deal. (Even better deal when they were sold off at half price!!!)

The Patient’s planters are all being renewed along with the decking. The gardeners will hopefully be recycling any of the good wood from the existing planters into raised beds as well as creating new fences around the kitchen garden. The soil will be re-used in the garden and come back into the planters, with some added to the borders. Ultimately, all will go back into the garden and be recycled.

All the waste flowers from the Floristry Room come into the garden for composting. These are perfect for composting.

Plants from the patients’ planters, where possible, have been saved and potted, and some have been sold. Inevitably, there will have to be new plants purchased upon completion of this project.

Now it is time for rest and reflection and look forward to the warmth of the sun making a glorious return!!!
Best wishes for a super year ahead in the garden
Linda Roberts