The interest in the Church garden seems to be ‘blooming’ at the moment and so I have decided to complete an update on a more regular basis, perhaps every 4 months.


April began with the addition of 2 new hanging baskets in the front car park, kindly funded by the Church.  These add a welcome splash of colour on entry to the car park and are filling out beautifully.


I have added a few extra plants to the large pots at the front of the Church which are also doing well.  Watering has been made much easier in the car park as a whole due to a water butt being kindly installed by Bob and paid for from Church funds.  This means I no longer have to trail through the Church from the flower room to fetch water, so I am very grateful indeed.


I was busy planting a variety of seeds in the greenhouse at my allotment both for the Plant Sale and for use in the Church garden.  Cosmos and aster were very successful and have provided a colourful show in the front and rear gardens of the Church.  Lots of dead heading to be done, but it is very much worth it!


I had the good fortune to be given 4 old hinged packing cases along with some scaffolding boards and thought I would re-design the vegetable garden to incorporate them.  I set about adding some organic material to the soil initially and placed the packing cases.  A family friend built a new bed for the runner beans with the scaffolding boards and I began to search for some topsoil. I discovered a lady in Avonmouth who wanted excess topsoil taken away so after 2 trips and 29 bags later, I sifted the topsoil into the beds.  I still needed a little more so ended up buying another 10 bags from a market garden in Tickenham.  I also created a new path between the runner bean bed and the front vegetable bed using a membrane and gravel, replacing old slippery boards.


I was also given a huge wooden box in which I have planted carrots and parsnips as a trial for this year. Carrots will be pulled and tried shortly and, if successful will be grown again next year.


The new vegetable beds are now planted with runner beans, broad beans, lettuce, beetroot, radish, summer cabbage, cauliflower, red cabbage, dwarf beans and squash. The Hazel wigwam is supporting butterbeans this year which I will leave until September to harvest.  I will then pod them, dry them and put on the vegetable table as dried butterbeans for use in stews, casseroles and soups during the winter months.


Some new additions have been made to the perennial bed, some courtesy of the Plant Sale in May and some which I have purchased. Amongst the plants have been a lovely pink thistle, especially for Beryl and 2 perennial lilies for Gladys, rudbeckia, lobelia, penstomen, astranta major, phlox, lady’s mantle, sedum, lavender and hollyhock.


The alpine garden was beginning to look a little forlorn so I decided to tidy it up and buy some new plants.  I also bought some pea shingle and, after planting, added a generous layer of shingle to brighten up the area but, also to keep the foliage off of the soil.  Some pieces of Welsh slate that Bob bought back from Snowdonia have also come in handy to add a little character to the area.


You may remember that back at the beginning of last year I began to clear and plant the public car park next to the Church.This project has gone from strength to strength and been very generously funded by Westbury in Bloom to the tune of £120 this year to date, added to by kind donations of plants from members of the congregation and the public who see me working there on a regular basis. I have added to the beds by planting a mixture of drought tolerant and colourful plants which are all now maturing extremely well but, I feel that the 2 beds either side of the damson tree and the budleia, are very different.


I added rocks to the steeper of the 2 beds to stop the earth washing down on to the path when it rained.  The first addition of 5 large rocks were donated by Richard and Elizabeth Lathwood but, whilst setting them into the soil, a local lady called Kate asked if I would like some more – her neighbour had some he wanted removed.  So I went along and picked them up and added them to the collection which, I think, dramatically enhances the bed.


During this time, Sue Boyd from Westbury in Bloom, was keeping a ‘watchful eye’ and suggested that the car park beds could be added to the RHS Neighbourhood Award competition. Sue invited me to the judging on July 8th to talk about what had been accomplished etc!  So I did turn up and spoke to the RHS judge and 2 Bristol City Council judges about how it had all started, the funding and public interest etc.  I was amazed when the RHS judge commented on the ‘absolutely magical planting’ in the car park beds and await the feedback of the Westbury Village bid in September.


Sue also requested that the Church Garden should be entered into the Bristol in Bloom Community Garden competition.  The aplication has been sent in and we await the judging!


So, all in all, it has been a very busy 4 months! Planting, weeding, dead heading, watering, picking, competitions!


But, best of all is the wonderful feedback and comments from the many people who use the Church and the members of the public who use the car park. Just to know that all the hard work is appreciated and admired is wonderful.  When it seems that every part of my body is aching at the end of a long day gardening, I can still smile.


Hazel Burston





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