Tuesday, 3 May 2011

April or August?

How strange it's been to enjoy a summer-like sun while the birds are still singing their spring songs.  I abandoned my parched garden and headed to Cowcross Street for the 2nd AGT management meeting of the year.  It was good to hear from our Publicity Officer, Steffie Shields, that the Yearbook has been so well received, particularly by people who previously knew nothing about Garden Trusts.  When someone asks about the Trusts it can be difficult to precis what we are about.  The Yearbook gives a good flavour of the myriad of things that are going on.  I've reserved a few copies to take to the next quarterly GreenLINK meeting.

The AGT signed up as a member of GreenLINK towards the end of last year.  It's an organisation that brings together representatives from all kinds of green spaces - everything from historic gardens to urban parks, from wetlands to cemeteries and churchyards.  We all agree that green spaces are vital for a healthy society.  With so many cuts in funding, sharing information and speaking with one voice will help us all.

NorthCourt Manor

GreenLINK is hosted by GreenSpace.  If you'd like to know more about it, have a look at their website http://www.green-space.org.uk/ and click on GreenLINK. You could also look at their link to 'Love Parks Week' - running from 23-31 July - when GreenSpace aim to get 1 million people out and into the parks.  As 82% of our parks are working with a reduced budget, we need to show how much we value them.

Reading about it made me curious to find out more about my local park - a welcome expanse of green in a heavily populated suburb of Reading. Apparently, its wide open spaces were created from an old rubbish tip.There's a small area of woodland stretching along one side. According to the local district council website it's a patch of ancient woodland, coppiced to encourage wild flowers. It's been carpeted with them since the first primroses unfolded a couple of months ago.  At the moment, I'm enjoying a mass of bluebells and stitchwort when I'm out with my dogs. I wonder how many people in the area even know that it's there?

I was working on the Isle of Wight during the hot weather and stayed at Northcourt Manor in Shorwell.  Those of you who came to the AGM and conference in October will remember John and Christine Harrison's Jacobean Manor with its magical gardens which were brought to their picturesque peak in the 18th century by Elizabeth Bull. They look just as good in spring as they did last autumn. If you are on the Isle of Wight at the end of August, they're open on Sunday 28th for NGS. They also provide an excellent B&B for groups or individuals. This year's AGM and conference, 'Power Gardening,' will be hosted by Oxfordshire Gardens Trust, in Oxford, from 2-4 September.

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