Showing posts from September, 2017

Trees at Colesbourne Park

The fabulous leaves of the Oregon maple, Acer macrophyllum Colesbourne Park, about 20 minutes from me by car, is known for its snowdrops, and a visit to Colesbourne to see them in flower, and perhaps buy a choice variety for the garden, is one of the few things I can think of that makes February bearable. Colesbourne is featured in my book, Secret Gardens of the Cotswolds , and I've visited several times since then, but I've never been at this time of the year. However, this year owner Sir Henry Elwes has decided to open the arboretum to the public , so I was invited for a private tour with Sir Henry and his head gardener, Arthur Cole, who trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. The reason Colesbourne has such a wonderful collection of snowdrops is down to the current owner's great-grandfather, Henry John Elwes, who was an eminent botanist and plant collector. It is said that if Kew didn't know the answer to a query, they would write to Colesbourn

Jam, Jerusalem ... and bunting!

This summer, my local Women's Institute (WI) celebrated its 100th birthday by unveiling its centenary bunting in the village hall. It has all been made by local members, and a lot of it is  beautifully embroidered, or uses an imaginative range of techniques including applique and freestyle quilting. I'm a member of my local WI, and when I tell people this, they often respond with snorts of laughter, or blank looks, depending on their age and nationality.  The WI is often seen as a comedy stereotype in Britain, regarded as the domain of women in pearls and twin sets, busily making jam, baking cakes and generally bossing people around. Famously, the WI's "theme tune" is Sir Hubert Parry's setting of William Blake's poem, Jerusalem, which was adopted eight years after the WI was founded in 1915. Jerusalem , of course, is a wonderful hymn but we should remember that for the WI the lines: "Till we have built Jerusalem In England's green and plea