The Friends of Haddon Wood

Everything interesting we can think of about Alhampton's community woodland. To leave a comment on a post, click on its title and scroll down…


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Final community planting day! Saturday 22 November

So it’s finally arrived – the very last planting of the native broadleaves, delayed until now because of construction of the pond.  There are around 200 left, all heeled in at the end of the March planting by Gert in his garden (did you spot them on open gardens day?  Bet you didn’t!)  They’re alders and willows, so they’re appropriate for round the pond which is where we’ll be planting – on the eastern and southern perimeter at the bottom of the bank up to the pond (if you use our site maps, the pond is in field 4 and the plan showing the pond needs updating as the pond is further north and east than shown).

If you’d like to come along and help, please bring a spade as we don’t have many spares!  If you haven’t done this before, no previous experience required as there’ll be someone to show you exactly what to do. In fact, please find either Gert or Nick for a planting demo. Join us and you can tell your children and grandchildren that you were part of the creation of our fantastic wood.

If you need to drive, please park in the Castle Cary Rugby Club car park (BA7 7PF).  Turn right as you walk out and use the pedestrian gate into the wood across the road on your left as you walk away from Castle Cary.  Follow the hedgerow which runs alongside the road and you’ll find us.

Hope to see you there!

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Alhampton Open Gardens – How it went

Where to start, really – so much went incredibly well. Whoever arranged the weather did a perfect job; the tea & cakes were outstanding, and the people were all friendly, smiling and just plain nice.

2014-06-07 18.08.58jIn case you couldn’t make it, here’s a flavour of what you missed. In this tiny village of 65 odd houses, we have some outstanding, nationally-known gardeners as well as some incredible gardens you’d not otherwise see. The contrast between the formal, intimate garden around Highbridge House and The exuberant, lush mix of flower fruit and food at IMG_0807Meadowside couldn’t have been greater. In between you could visit the beautifully designed and maintained Bridge House, Alham House’s very individual garden with the house seeming to grow out of it, and Canada House with its quirks, foibles and (I love this) special seating area for a glass of wine with friends in the evening!

2014-06-07 19.12.38If you’re not already regretting missing it, let me tell you about a few more things you could’ve seen. The classic garden at Ashley House, the huge open natural space bordered by 2014-06-07 18.08.58dthe River Alham at The Mill House where you could also have sampled some truly great cakes and dainty sandwiches and seen the fascinating hydro-turbine, explained by experts who bring to life a brilliant way of generating power from a natural resource. On from there you’d have found Homeacres where Charles Dowding produces more food than you’d think possible, and all by avoiding digging. And a final contrast in the truly child-friendly White Chimneys, where the children (sorry girls I know teenage is here/beckoning) were dragooned (sorry, volunteered!) to bake, along with a host of other willing helpers, to provide yet another extraordinary spread.

2014-06-07 18.08.58fThree hours disappeared in a flash. Never have so many people said how much they enjoyed open gardens, and very pleasingly that includes those who let us all troop through and have a good look around. Huge thanks to them, it was brilliant. There are two more things to be said about the day – the first is massive thanks to the people who did all the other work that isn’t always much recognised (though again, this year moreso than ever before). That means Louisa’s stint at the pub selling programmes (I know, I know, she didn’t have a glass of wine till quarter to five!); Ronnie for sitting outside Highbridge House for three hours (by my reckoning you didn’t wait quite as long as Louisa for, shall we say, refreshment!), bakers who supplied wonderful cakes (I don’t know who they all were, so forgive me for the omissions, but I can mention Clemmie, Mags, Emily and Holly), really good-looking posters and programmes Tony, putting up signs Nell, Rose and Tony for a great photographic exhibition of Haddon Wood in the tin chapel (still there for a short while if you’re interested) and of course the Alhampton Inn, without whose space for parking and ticket sales we’d be a bit stumped.

And for those of you whose interest is in Haddon Wood rather than gardens, here comes the really good bit. We took £560 in ticket sales, and with amazing sales of tea and cake, and Gert’s plants and tools (I’m still curious as to what you were selling to make that much!), plus very generous donations, our total proceeds for Haddon will be £1000. Wow. Seriously.

These are my snatched shots, mostly taken during the Gardeners’ preview – hence the angle of the sun and weird exposures …or at least that’s my excuse. For the more professional approach, see Heather’s pictures under the main Gallery tab at the top of the page…tr3planter


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Not another thistle…

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Half of us started below Mary’s bench…

…but there is.  And another thousand or so.  And probably a lot more.  Despite the efforts of those hardy Friends who turned out on the beautiful, sunny and rather warm morning of Sunday 18 May to pull as many as possible (and we pulled a lot) there are still way too many.  Despite the intrepid brush-cutting by the Jacob’s Lane gate, there are still too many.

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…and half the team worked by Rose’s Gate…

So here’s the thing: if every time someone walked the wood they pulled ten, after 100 walks there’d be a thousand fewer.  So that’s the challenge – remember your gloves, and pull just 10 thistles the next time you walk the wood.  The smaller ones pull easily.  You don’t have to take them anywhere; you don’t have to leave the path as there are loads alongside the paths, just leave them on the path where you pull them and either someone will pick them up or they’ll get mown when Mark does his next cut.

That’s it – a gardening glove gauntlet has been thrown down!  I wonder if anything’ll happen…