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…


Our first beehive has arrived!

The wait is over – see  Rose’s brilliant photos below of our new wild bee hive. As of yesterday it’s sitting in state at the top of the hill in F4.

The pictures speak for themselves really, but they show Matt Somerville, his daughter Beth and her boyfriend Spencer working to assemble and install the hive. We haven’t been able to put signs up yet, but please give it a wide berth for the moment – particularly because with this fine weather we may be lucky and see a swarm take up residence over the next week or so.

The body of the hive is made of larch, the legs are sweet chestnut, both of which are the best woods for the job. The hackle (thatched roof) is sewn on and is insulated with straw, the hive has been primed by Matt with some pieces of old comb, and rubbed with lemon grass oil and resin from old hives to attract new bees. If you’d like to know more, look at Matt’s website It’s fascinating stuff – bees are extraordinary.

This is the first of two hives we’re putting in the wood. The timing of the second will depend on Matt, who, like so many of us, has had work turned upside down by you-know-what, so we’re letting him come back with the second when he can.

Isn’t it great to have something good to celebrate!

Rather than the public event we had wanted this to be, the hive raising was attended only by Hil and Rose who supplied this post, observing all relevant social distancing constraints

NB Please note we’ve been advised by a local beekeeper that it’d be aswas to stay at least 30 feet from the hive, because Some colonies can be extremely defensive and as their provenance isn’t known, they could be pussycats or tigers. Temperament can also change without warning. Passing this on in the interests of high bees and people.

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Alhampton Open Gardens 18 June 2017

With any luck we’ll have good weather for the Open Gardens this Sunday, 18th June.

Alhampton_Open_Gardens_2017_in_aid_of_Haddon_Wood.jpgThis year there’ll actually be nine for you to see for your £5 entry fee (one has had to drop out for personal reasons) including Charles Dowding’s famous organic veg and Gert Schley’s organic everything – both back by popular demand – and a potpourri(!) of others from Paul Nicholls’ classically immaculate garden to Jinny and Stephen Wessel’s wonderful, free-flowing mixed borders and endless variety of spaces.

Our usual delicious teas, with something to suit most dietary requirements, will be available at a couple of locations along the route – why not sample both?!

Free, attended parking will be in the Chapel field off the first bend in No Through Road (look on your satnav for BA4 6PZ)). Incidentally this is the best access point, via the orchard – on this day at least – for the wood itself if you want to have a picnic on one of our two benches, or have the energy to take a stroll and see how it’s coming along.

£5 entry tickets will be at the Tin Chapel, by the entrance to the car park.

Gardens Open from 1.00pm – 5.00pm

Proceeds in aid of Haddon Wood.

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A date for your diaries!

It’s that time again – Alhampton Open Gardens is coming up fast – come and look around this year’s selection on Sunday 12th June, see how Haddon Wood is progressing, check out the photographic display in the Chapel and then recover with a cup of tea and piece of cake.

Parking this year will be in the Orchard field behind the Chapel in No Through Road and tickets (including map), available this year from the Chapel itself. BA4 6PZ.

Open Gardens poster 2016

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7th June 2015 – a date for your diary!

Open gardens poster 2015It doesn’t seem all that long since the last Open Gardens day in Alhampton – particularly, no doubt, to the hard working people allowing us to invade their privacy – but here we are again! Gert Schley and Charles Dowding are opening again, but to ring the changes and spread the load, the others are all different from last year.

With parking and tickets at The Alhampton Innn, by kind permission of the landlords (sat nav – BA4 6PY), we have 10 gardens to see for only £5, plus our ever popular teas. What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?


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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Open Gardens – Sunday, 8th June, 2014

Just a week to go… Spread the word – and cross all fingers for good weather at BA4 6PY!

OG Poster 2014Nine gardens this year, including in No Through Road – by popular demand – Gert Schley’s lovely garden, which proclaims his lifelong experience of and love for everything horticultural in every leaf and twig, at the same time demonstrating how organic principals can supply a feast for both body and soul. Next to him is Charles Dowding’s prolific no-dig, organic vegetable garden – a true educational experience and if that’s all too much to digest, you’ll be able to get tea and cake across the road at White Chimneys to sustain you.

At the other end of the village and new this year, are Mill House (another tea and cake stop!) with its hydro turbine – that some of you may have seen before, but worth another look – and just over the bridge on the Ditcheat road, our local celebrity racing trainer is generously allowing us a snoop too – though the sensible man will be absent himself.

Between the two extremes are another five individual and contrasting gardens, each and every one worth a look and a little envy.


….STOP PRESS…. I’m told that Gert will be selling both plants and surplus garden tools too!


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Planting, Stage 2 – the Community day…

So, the second – and final – stage of planting is underway.

It doesn’t seem that long since the first planting in March, but a world away in terms of planting conditions. I’m glad we didn’t know then how long it would be before we could ditch hats, scarves and gloves and one of the latest Springs on record arrived.This time around it was overcast, but the ground was soft and damp – and a lot warmer, so, hopefully, a good start for these trees.

Keinton Mandeville Primary School started us off on Thursday 14th November, followed by Oaklands Community School the next day and they made a great start between them. Saturday was the open community planting day and it was grim and grey – the sort of day when you might think sensible people would find better things to do inside, maybe by the fire – and really we had no way of knowing how many would turn out. A fantastic 50 did, though and an amazing selection of cakes – thanks to Hil, Liddy, Jessica and Margie – kept us going, so by the end of the session we’d got about 850 whips in the ground. All that despite Network Rail’s (seemingly) endless closure of the A371 between Castle Cary and Haddon Wood too.

This only leaves about 5,650 to go – thank goodness for the contractors who are finishing the job during the course of this week …and for Rose, who took proper pictures.


Alhampton Open Gardens – June 2013

In response to the request for photographs of the Alhampton Open Garden day, here are a few I took on my walk around the village. Apologies if your garden is not in the gallery, but the lovely hospitality received in each garden meant I did not have time to take more pictures! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Heather and I’m a freelance Garden Photographer, probably more well known for living in the house with ‘the big dog in the window’! Pictures are still in the process of being captioned and will be updated shortly. Hope you enjoy the pictures, any queries, please contact me by email.

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Alhampton Open Gardens…

Just a short post because this first fund-raiser for the FHW shouldn’t go unrecognised …though you’ll have to take my word for how great everything looked because I was too dim to take any pictures. Have you got any?

954767_10151935037768574_1586628669_nFor the first time in recent history the Open Gardens day was run separately from Alhampton’s village fête (on Saturday, 20th July)  this year, because in previous years people have said they hadn’t enough time to get round them all.

This year Hil Harrison suggested that the money raised be put towards the extras that local people want to be included in Haddon Wood – the wild flower meadow, wildlife pond and orchard – and managed to persuade 11 gardeners to open their gardens on Sunday of the late May Bank Holiday.

Whether it was because The Woodland Trust had been on BBC Somerset Radio talking about the wood before the first planting, or because it was a Bank Holiday, or because of the barbecue on offer at the pub, or the weather, or even because Charles Dowding agreed to open his new organic, no-dig garden, there was a fantastic turnout.

Despite the cold spring putting things back at least three weeks, the day itself was sunny, the gardens all looked fantastic, Rose’s photographic exhibition in the tin chapel was much admired and we raised £723! A great achievement for such a small village. I can’t help wondering how many people only came because two of the gardens were offering tea and cake though….

I discovered afterwards that we had a professional garden photographer in our midst  – see  Heather’s pictures below…

In response to the request for photographs of the Alhampton Open Garden day, here are a few I took on my walk around the village. Apologies if your garden is not in the gallery, but the lovely hospitality received in each garden meant I did not have time to take more pictures! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Heather and I’m a freelance Garden Photographer, probably more well known for living in the house with ‘the big dog in the window’! Pictures are still in the process of being captioned and will be updated shortly. Hope you enjoy the pictures, any queries, please contact me by email.