November Newsletter

Welcome to our November Newsletter. We have articles from members – Elaine Baker and Tracy Lillington – from the National Trust’s Katherine Alker, Garden & Outdoors Manager for South Worcestershire, our Chairman’s Blog, recipes and propogation notes.

Love gardens? You’ll love this month’s edition!

We would love to hear from other members too, for the December newsletter.   Please send in your contributions, in an email attachment, by November 20th to

Helena Kent. Club Secretary

My grandparents’ garden      

Many of us have a collection of family photos, showing great uncle Jim or your grandparents’ wedding or a studio portrait taken in the 1880s of a relative whose name has been long forgotten. But how closely do you look at the background of these photos either for clues as to when the photo was taken or as a comment on social history, or as in this case, how garden designs and tastes have changed over the years?

My grandparents lived in the same house from 1926 to 1981, and we have numerous photos taken in the garden. I’ve picked out three, all taken in approximately the same spot, to show how taste and circumstance impacted the planting.

The first photo is my Mum, taken in 1930 when she was 18 months old. Note the rocking swan, not a rocking horse! The border is full of perennials, possibly lupins and delphiniums to the right, perhaps a cistus on the left. At the front there are some bedding plants. It’s hard to tell in black and white, but perhaps marigolds, petunias, or bachelor’s buttons, all of which were popular bedding plants in the 1920s. The trellis is a distinctive feature, separating the upper part of the garden from that closer to the house. At the time the photo was taken it hides the kennels and run where my great uncle kept his prize-winning German Shepherd dogs. It later became a tennis court.

The next photo was taken in early 1945 and shows my grandmother, mother (then 16) and her younger siblings Chris and Liz.

The trellis is still in place, but the beds are bare, possibly dug over ready for spring planting. The upper garden was converted into an allotment and hen pens as part of my grandparents’ war effort. My grandfather was not a gardener! He had the best of intentions, but only managed to grow potatoes with any success as his contribution to “Dig for Victory”. The hens were more successful. Any bird that no longer laid eggs, “gone leet” in Lancashire dialect, could be traded at the local pub or appear on their own table for Sunday lunch.

The third photo was taken on 23 July 1966, I’m to be a bridesmaid at Liz’s wedding later that day. The trellis has gone, replaced by large posts that support climbing roses and creating a large border. The bed is dotted with large white quartz stones to form a rockery, and planted with bedding plants including pansies, impatiens and nicotiana, plus a cistus. The wartime allotment has been converted into a lawn. In the background are more pansies and dianthus. It is still work in progress, if you look carefully you can see a stack of empty flowerpots behind the far-right post.

The planting schemes altered over the years in line with changing tastes and circumstances. The 1966 planting scheme remained with the addition of perennials and more roses until the house was sold in 1981.

It’s nearly 40 years since my grandparents lived in the house. I know that the lawn where we all had our photos taken is now under a conservatory, and it is unlikely that any of my grandparents’ plants still survive. But I sometimes wonder what the garden looks like today.

Many thanks to George Rees whose plant knowledge helped identify some of the plants.

Elaine Baker

Hello from a newcomer

I am both a new club member and also new to Malvern. I managed just one club meeting before lockdown. I think it was March, it was the one with the chap with the vegetables – remember? lt was in pre-covid days when we were all allowed to squeeze into one room, bump elbows, share pens……

Since then life has been a little different, although we all seem to agree on one thing – if you have a garden then the last few months have probably been much easier for you. Monty tells us this every Friday (so it must be right) but various surveys etc always seem to confirm it.

This is so true for us. Last Christmas my husband and I moved from London to a six acre plot on Castlemorton Common.  Recently retired, we wanted to be able to fill our days working outside so our new place suited us ‘to a T’ as it’s just a series of fields with lots of trees, waiting to be turned into a beautiful garden…..

It was tough in the beginning. We had all that rain and much of the garden was waterlogged. Then the animals started to make themselves known.  Muntjac, moles and foxes.  Even worse…… bunnies. Then the lambs started jumping over the cattle grid. Cattle got through fencing. So was this why we inherited virtually no plants in the garden? I was no longer optimistic about being able to create a beautiful garden from these muddy fields.

But then March arrived. I started sowing seeds. There is something so special about growing seeds; I absolutely love it.

The weather started to improve and we had that fantastic spring. The once dilapidated greenhouse was repaired and soon filled with seed trays and seedlings. Loads of rubbish was removed in numerous skips; mulch and compost were delivered. We started clearing the fields of brambles and thistles. We have laid industrial sized rolls of black plastic everywhere, hoping that all the weeds underneath will magically disappear by next year. The lambs got too chubby to jump over the cattle grid and the cows now gaze longingly at the garden over the newly built stock proof fencing.  Yes, at last, we are beginning to feel more like Tom and Barbara.

My plan was to grow almost everything by seed/cuttings and plant them out as very young plants. Those pesky rabbits put paid to that idea. We did try to catch them in cages. But all we managed to catch was Fred the pheasant who has trained me to give him sunflower seeds every time he visits the garden. The cages have now gone as my husband got fed up with rescuing Fred (who was equally unhappy).  Growing all the plants from seed was probably a crazy idea anyway and would have taken far too long. Very fortunately, as a member of this gardening club, I got to know the lovely Lucy Bannister and have bought numerous more mature plants from her at bargain prices, all in support of St Richard’s Hospice.

Having such a big garden made me realise I needed to brush up on some practical skills. So I recently enrolled on the RHS Level II Practical Horticulture course at Pershore College. lt’s early days but I think l’m going to really enjoy it. As part of the year long course you get your own little allotment to look after and grow vegetables on throughout the year. The College itself offers a huge array of courses (not all related to gardening) so it might be an idea to pick up one of their brochures if you are thinking of starting a new hobby over winter.

For inspiration for our new garden we visited a few of the NGS gardens over the summer. (Wasn’t it lovely when you could get a cup of tea and a slice of cake whilst walking around? Hopefully next year). We went to many but one that really stands out is a beautiful seven acre garden, Moors Meadow in Bromyard, Herefordshire. lt is absolutely packed with unusual plants and has so many different areas to explore. I recommend a visit if you haven’t already been (or check out the website).

So I have started to build a collection of plants for the garden and have ideas for how I want it to look…..but I’m not sure how to go about achieving this look. With little money for a garden designer but with lots of time on my side, I decided to enrol on a garden design course at the Cotswold Gardening School. By the end of the ten week course I should have a high level plan for the whole garden and a detailed plan and planting scheme for a small area within it. I’m not sure yet how well I will manage this but I will be giving it my best shot and I’m having fun doing it. I’ll be happy to let you know how I get on if anyone else is interested in doing something similar in their garden.

So we are now entering winter, with its limited gardening time and of course, all the uncertainties that this wretched disease brings. If you are anything like me, you may be looking ahead with a little trepidation. I’m hoping to beat the winter/virus blues by keeping busy with my new projects. I’ve also stopped watching the news! That’s a really big help. And I’m going to explore the hills when weather permits to try to keep my fitness levels up. I’ve downloaded the ‘Malvern Walks’ app which has lots of lovely walks, many that are circular, all easy to follow. I highly recommend it.

I feel so fortunate that we moved to Malvern when we did. How lucky are we that we all live in such a beautiful place? 

Tracey Lillington

Propagation Notes November

from Rachel Salisbury

I am trying to make these notes relevant to the month in which you receive them, so this time we’re going to be taking hardwood cuttings. These can be taken from a wide range of shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen, but the methods are slightly different.

Deciduous shrubs

Choose wood of the current season’s growth, ideally about pencil thickness.  Many of the shoots you select will be quite long and it’s fine to make several cuttings out of one shoot.  Cut the stem into lengths of about 30cm, cutting just below a node for the base of the cutting and then trimming the remaining piece to just above a node.

Insert cuttings to at least a third of their length into pots of gritty compost and leave outside.  Alternatively they can be inserted straight into garden soil (add grit if it’s very sticky).  Leave until new growth is showing next year, then pot up into a compost containing nutrients and grow on for a year before planting out in the garden.  

Plants to try – Forsythia, Willow (both very easy), Weigela, Deutzia, Buddleia, Cornus

Evergreens, including conifers

Take the top section of shoots of this year’s growth, about 10 – 15cm in length. If the top is still soft, pinch it out, leaving yourself with a woody stem. Strip off the lower leaves/needles for approx 5cm to give you bare stem to insert into compost.  Place in trays or pots of gritty compost (low nutrient) or even pure sand.  Water well and place in a cold frame or unheated glasshouse.  Ensure cuttings do not dry out, but they should need very little watering during the winter.  Leave until late spring then check for rooting – a gentle tug will meet with resistance if rooting has occurred.  Pot up into a good potting compost and grow on for a year before planting out into the garden.

Plants to try – Evergreen Viburnum, Myrtle, Skimmia, Thuja, Cupressus.

The above are the simplest methods. Some plants need a bit more refinement and we’ll come to those later.

Deciduous hardwood cuttings can be taken throughout the winter until about mid February, Evergreens are better done early in the winter and definitely this side of Christmas.

NB some plants will never root whatever you do!!  They simply do not have the right chemistry/physiology to do so.  Others have very specific requirements.  We’ll look at some of those later, but for the time being just have a go and remember there’s no such thing as failure. It’s all a learning process.

I look forward to hearing about your successes and failures next spring and if you have any questions, feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to help.

Pumpkin Pie (a thoroughly good recipe!)
Recipe from Hilary

For the pastry



  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. If using a shop bought sweet crust pastry case, use one that is 23cm/9in diameter and 4cm/1½in deep. If using your own pastry, roll it out and use it to line a 23cm/9in pie plate (not loose bottomed). Bake the pastry case blind for 20 minutes.
  3. To make the filling, place the pumpkin chunks on a baking tray, cover with foil and roast until tender. This will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your pumpkin. Press the cooked pumpkin in a coarse sieve and to extract any excess water. Set aside to cool before blending in a food processor, or mashing by hand to a pureé.
  4. Lightly whisk the eggs and extra yolk together in a large bowl.
  5. Place the sugar, spices and the cream in a pan, bring to simmering point, giving it a whisk to mix everything together. Then pour it over the eggs and whisk it again briefly.
    Now add the pumpkin pureé, still whisking to combine everything thoroughly.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Pour the filling into your pastry case and bake for 35-40 minutes, by which time it will puff up round the edges but still feel slightly wobbly in the centre.
  7. Remove the pie from the oven and place the tin on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or chilled (stored loosely covered in foil in the fridge) with some chilled créme fraïche or whipped cream.

The Firs, Elgar’s Birthplace

From Guest Contributor Katherine Alker, Garden & Outdoors Manager, S  Worcs

Unlike Croome, The Firs, Elgar’s Birthplace in Lower Broadheath, remains closed to the public for the time being due to the Covid-19 crisis. Throughout this year though the place has been well cared for by gardener Dawne, who has been onsite to carry out essential security and maintenance tasks, as well as keeping the garden looking beautiful. She has also taken the opportunity to tackle some large-scale jobs which would not have been possible if the place had been open.

In the birthplace cottage garden, Rosa ‘Arthur Bell’ has been blooming for several months; it’s a beautiful deep yellow flower. ‘Arthur Bell’ was bred by Sam McGredy, in Northern Ireland in 1964. The new cultivar was named for the Scottish whisky manufacturer, Arthur Kinmond Bell (1868—1942). Many of Sam McGredy IV’s rose varieties are named after alcoholic drinks. ‘Arthur Bell’ is a cross between ‘Cläre Grammerstorf’ and ‘Piccadilly’, and is classed as a modern floribunda rose.

Dawne made the most of the place being closed this year and removed several huge viburnum shrubs that had become very overgrown in the cottage garden. By cutting them right back she opened up an area that she could plant with some herbaceous perennials such as heuchera, penstemons and geraniums which would provide some good colour and nectar for pollinators too. This area, known now as ‘the mount’, is filling out nicely and we hope that visitors will enjoy it next year when we re-open.

Another large job was to open-up the view of the Malvern Hills from the statue of Elgar at the bottom of the garden by reducing the thick hawthorn hedge down to waist height. Dawne made room to add a second bench to the area and some climbing roses behind it, so when visitors sit there in future they will have a fantastic view and smell a gorgeous scent too. During his final illness in 1933, Elgar hummed the Cello Concerto’s first theme to his friend Billy Reed and said, “If ever after I’m dead you hear someone whistling this tune on the Malvern Hills, don’t be alarmed. It’s only me.”

We hope to re-open The Firs in 2021. Please keep an eye on our website for any news.

Chairman’s Blog

We drove past one of the churches in the Link recently and they had a banner celebrating harvest. It is certainly the time of the year in the garden when crops stop ripening and it is time to harvest what we have grown.

Over the last few weeks we have harvested the last of our tomatoes from the greenhouse. They have been a bit disappointing this year, with a smaller crop than usual but enough to make it worthwhile.

We always grow Sungold but this year added Sunchocola, a small reddish / chocolate brown tomato. It has a very good flavour and texture and we will grow it again.

As for our cucumber – not a success. We normally get at least 4 fruit but the lockdown plant from Waitrose (grafted and twice as expensive) only gave one cucumber. We will go back to Femspot from Laylocks !

The apple trees have been reasonably productive. We have 6 small trees, with a selection of varieties. Each year two seem to produce far more fruit than the others, but which two varies. Trying to get to the apples before the wasps and magpies is an annual battle. At least we are wildlife friendly.

We have grown gourds at the top of the garden for several years. They are great fun, as it is a mixed pack and you don’t know what you will get at the end. The vines grow up the fence and the fruits are hidden under the leaves, so it is always fun to see the result. Although we have slightly fewer gourds than last year there is a good mix.

When we lived in Maryland and Virginia it was common to see displays of pumpkins and Indian corn (like sweetcorn, but with multicoloured seeds) in many front yards as we come up to Halloween. We also grew some Indian corn this year. I particularly like the one with the red leaves.

Our last harvest job is the grape vine. We can get four or five large plastic trugs of grapes – they are not quite sweet enough to eat and never quite enough for a Château Rosebank !

I hope you have had success in your gardens this year, and enjoy planning for next year.


October Newsletter

Now Autumn is well and truly upon us, we can certainly look forward to ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’. John Keats’ poem ‘To Autumn’ was first published exactly two hundred years ago, in 1820. To quote Keats again, ‘To bend with apples the moss’d cottage trees, And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core’. Some things thankfully have not changed! This year we have had a bumper crop of pears from the one pear tree in our garden and apples from the allotment. With that in mind Hilary has again suggested some mouth watering recipes to make the most of the harvest, in her Swedish Apple Cake recipe and an online link to a pear almond cake recipe. This newsletter’s theme appears to be about changes, changes in the seasons, changes in the garden, changes through history and in our lives today. Rachel and Fay, our very own gardening gurus have produced articles related to Autumnal activities and seasonal colour in the garden. Mary has sent in a painting, which she did before lockdown, ‘Spring in the Malvern Hills’. Now we need an Autumn one, Mary. We also have a guest contributor, Phil Woodhead, manager of the Link Nurseries at Powick, who writes about changes at his place of work. David, the Club’s Chair, starts the ball rolling with an account of his own historical finds in his Leigh Sinton garden, in David Baker’s Blog.

What Have you Found when Digging in your Garden?

From David Baker

Our cottage was probably built around 1780, based on deeds, parish records and its construction. It is a “black and white”, although you wouldn’t know from the outside. It has an exposed timber frame in one internal wall. As time went on the amount of timber used was reduced to save money. Our house has relatively narrow timbers, making it a late example. Black and white house construction ended when brick house building took over in rural Worcestershire in ~1800. We know that the garden was used as a small holding and at one time there were henhouses, pig sties and a cider mill. Sadly the cider mill was derelict by the 1910 “Little Doomsday” survey of all houses. I think the pigsties were in use for quite a bit longer, but now form part of the summer patio we use for the barbecue. When we moved in the garden needed quite a bit of work. We needed to make better
use of the large vegetable patch that was full of weed and decided to create a cottage garden with eight beds separated by gravel paths and edged with old brick and tiles found in a heap in a corner. It has worked well, as you can see. As we dug down 6-8 inches to create the paths we removed a fair amount of topsoil, which now forms a raised area where we grow rhubarb and annual squashes. That much was part of the plan. What we didn’t expect to find was a significant amount of broken china and pottery. I know that municipal rubbish collection was limited and people burned their waste, but the quantities were quite large. The mystery was solved by talking to our neighbours. The lady who owned the house before us was very keen on buying antique china at auction and liked to take a chance on low priced lots. Some of them were real bargains. Many were not, and apparently she used to smash the rejects with a hammer! We know where the rubbish ended up. We also found
some old jars and bottles – our favourite is an old marmite jar which has very thick glass and a slightly different shape to the modern ones. And some toy cars, which some child lost in the 1960s.

We also found the evidence of pipe smoking over many years. The most common things found are pieces of clay pipe stem. They are the 18 th  and 19 th  century equivalent of cigarette butts. Apparently the tars in tobacco block the small hole in the stem, and so the smoker has to break off the end. The pipe stems were long enough to allow this to be done quite a few times. When the stem is too short the bowl was then discarded too. As you can imagine, there are many more bits of stem than bowls in the garden, but we have found some of each.

The newer pipes look like this:
If you look closely you can see Broseley on the stem. Broseley is near Telford, and there is still a clay pipe museum there. It is well worth a visit, as it is a “time capsule” museum – when it went out of business they locked the door, walked away and left a treasure trove. Clay pipes were made there for years. This one is typical of later ones made using presses. Tobacco was cheap, the bowl is quite large. They probably date from about 1860.  

We have found two very old ones:
These are very much smaller- tobacco was expensive and the bowl reflects that. They could be as early as 1650. So who was smoking and gardening in Leigh Sinton then? The Royal Oak three doors up from us has cruck beams and dates from that period. I imagine farm workers having a drink and puffing on their pipes then throwing the old ones in our garden !  Next time you are digging your garden look closely at what you find. It may be a ring pull from a coke can, or buried treasure.

Changes in the Seasons
Autumn and Winter Colour by Fay Grist

Where to start?…
Let’s start with shrubs. Dogwoods come into their own as their leaves fall, leaving stems of apricot, yellow, red, black or green. Mine are under planted with Hellebores and Snowdrops with mini daffs at the front. Euonymous with yellow, white or green variegated leaves are semi evergreen and can lighten shady corners. Callicarpa or Beautyberry changes from a rather dull bush to a mass of purple berries on bare stems. Ghost bramble, for the brave, plant at back against a dark background, where it gets some sun, 10ft height. Rosa glauca Evergreens: Pyracantha. Garrya elliptica/ Silk Tassel bush. Hollies, variegated varieties, preferably female bushes for the berries. Ivies, you love them or hate them but they give colour and nectar for bees and food for birds in Autumn and Winter. Small trees: Crab apples. Trees for bark(if you have space): Silver Birch or Prunus serrula/ Birchbark Cherry
Grasses: If you like hazy browns, gold, fawn then try grasses. They look lovely with the winter sun
shining through. Try plants with different seed heads. I have Heavy Metal, Frosted Curls, Hair
grass, glauca and Red Rooster (subject to change). Echinacea, Verbena bonariensis and Phlomis also
seem happy here so far. Pots: Winter heathers, Violas, Ophiopogon/Black mondo grass and Heucheras under planted with spring bulbs. You could also use small evergreens in the centre, depending on size of container.

Do we have room for some bloomin’ good jokes?
‘A friend perfected his garden flower beds through a process of trowel and error.’
‘What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
Pumpkin pi.’

Apparently not!

Propagation Notes

from Rachel Salisbury

I was going to make this a one off article on autumn propagation but I decided that it
was becoming too long, and too complicated and that nobody would bother to read it!
So my intention now (so long as the editor approves), is to produce propagation notes
each month with a few suggestions as to which plants to try. On the basis that we all
have to start somewhere, I make no apology for the fact that some of this will be very
basic to some of you. More challenging suggestions will follow!

Just a few general observations before we start:-
Propagation falls into two main types – Seed and Vegetative. There are pros and cons
for each, but put simply 1) if you propagate vegetatively, the offspring will be genetically identical to the parent plant. If you use seeds, the progeny will be variable (except in the case of commercially
produced seed where pollination has been controlled). 2) Generally vegetative propagation results in smaller numbers of progeny 3) Some plants, particularly hybrids, do not produce viable seed. Others will not produce seed under UK climatic conditions. 4) Some plants will only propagate by seed. These include annuals but also some perennial plants and trees.

Propagation tasks for October

  1. Division.
    The simplest form of vegetative propagation suitable for herbaceous perennials
    which bulk up by gradually forming bigger and bigger clumps. Plants of this type should
    be divided about every three years to maintain their vigour. Lift the entire clump and
    gently tease apart. Each piece should come away with some root attached – for tougher
    plants you will need to use a knife. If you are just replanting, there is no need to break
    up into individual pieces. Simply split it into a few new clumps taken from the outside of
    the old one. Throw the centre (oldest) part on the compost heap. If you want to produce
    a lot of plants, then you can take individual pieces and pot them up into a low nutrient
    compost. This is important at this time of year as the plants will not make much growth
    before next year and excess nutrients will encourage bacterial growth. They may also
    encourage soft growth before winter sets in, which will make the plants more
    susceptible to frost damage. Feeding can begin in spring next year. The plants can be
    left outside without protection. Plants which can be propagated in this way in the
    autumn are most of the earlier flowering perennials, eg Alchemilla mollis, Cephalaria
    gigantea, hardy geraniums, violets, and lots more!
  2. Softwood cuttings
    It’s getting a bit late for these now and I’ll say more about them at a later date.
    However, if you have plants that are not reliably hardy, you might consider taking some
    cuttings and overwintering them with protection (frost free), just in case the parent plant
    doesn’t survive. Penstemons and Osteospermum are obvious candidates from the
    garden borders, and Pelargoniums from your pot plants.
    Choose non-flowering shoots from the current season’s growth. Using the upper
    section of the shoot, reduce the length to about 8cm, cutting immediately below a node
    (the point where the leaves come out of the stem). Trim off the lower leaves so that you
    have a clean piece of stem to insert into the compost. Use a low nutrient compost
    mixed 50:50 with horticultural grit (or perlite if you prefer). Depending on numbers, you
    can use pots or seed trays. Once the cuttings are inserted, water gently and put in a
    propagator. The main purpose of this is to stop the cuttings from drying out. If you have
    a heated one, that’s perfect, but it’s not essential. Heat will simply speed things up a bit
    and also makes things a bit more tricky when it comes to hardening off the rooted
    It’s worth noting that Pelargoniums don’t like a damp atmosphere and I usually leave
    them uncovered. The old gardeners used to take the cuttings and leave them out
    overnight on the potting shed bench before completing the process! Whatever you
    decide, I would advise that you don’t keep them in with other cuttings that like a bit more
    moisture. By late January you should have some rooted cuttings that you can pot up and
    gradually harden off ready for planting out in May.

I hope you’ll all have a go at division and softwood cuttings. Let me know how you get on and if you have any questions, feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to help.

Swedish Apple Cake
Recipe from Hilary

Grind cardamom seeds for this cake in a pestle and mortar with a little granulated sugar, which acts as an abrasive.

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Serves: 8
– 150g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
– 175g soft light-brown sugar
– 50g marzipan, broken into little chunks
– 3 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
– ½ tsp almond extract
– 4 tart apples, such as Granny Smith
– 175g plain flour
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 75g ground almonds
– Seeds from 8 cardamom pods, ground
– 2 tbsp milk, if needed
– 2 tbsp granulated sugar
– 6 tbsp apple or quince jelly or apricot jam, to glaze, or icing sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/170C fan/gas mark 5. Butter and line the base of a 23cm
    spring form cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar together until pale and fluffy, then beat in the
    marzipan. The marzipan should break down. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well
    after each addition, then add the almond extract.
  3. Peel, core and chop two of the apples and add them to the mixture.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt, and add the ground almonds
    and cardamom. Fold this into the batter, adding it in three lots. The mixture shouldn’t
    be too stiff. If it is, add the milk.
  5. Peel the other apples, halve, core and cut them into slim wedges. Toss with the
    granulated sugar.
  6. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the apple wedges on top in
    concentric circles. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of
    the cake comes out clean. Cover the top with foil if it starts to get too dark.
  7. Cool the cake for about 15 minutes then run a knife between the edge of the cake and the
    inside of the tin, and unclasp the spring. Remove it and carefully remove the base and
    the paper. Slide the cake on to a plate and leave to cool completely.
  8. You can either glaze the cake or sift some icing sugar over the top. If you want to glaze it,
    put the jam or jelly in a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water and heat until it has melted. If
    you’re using apricot jam, you need to sieve it to get the bits of skin out. Brush this over
    the top of the cake and leave to set.

Changes at Link Nurseries

From Guest Contributor, Phil Woodhead

Link Nurseries has been operating as a therapeutic horticultural centre for many years. It is in the grounds of the old Powick Psychiatric Hospital and was previously run by the NHS. In August 2016 the site was taken over by the Warwickshire Colleges Group, who had previously be providing some
horticultural training for people attending the centre. Phil Woodhead was appointed as the new manager and with the help of existing friends of the Nursery, he established a new therapeutic regime. The main activity is the Well Bean Gardening Club, where each member has their own ‘square foot’ garden to grow their own choice of vegetables, fruit or flowers. All seeds and tools
are provided, together with instruction and guidance, as well as developing a friendly and supportive atmosphere for members to work in. Then, as with so much of our lives, this all came to a stop in March. Phil and his apprentice James have continued to work throughout lockdown and slowly, as things eased, the volunteer team started to return. The Well Bean Gardening Club plots had all become overgrown and surrounded by weeds, and production of the vegetables and flowers that we grow for sale suffered under the very hot weather and limited people- power to manage the
crops. In July, when Garden Centres were allowed to open again, Link Nurseries, in conjunction with the Plant Centre and Garden Centre at Pershore College, got going again. We have a reasonable range of seasonal plants and shrubs, not in the quantity of some of the large Garden Centres, but also include some interesting varieties of well-known plants. Each plant we sell contributes to the funding of the Well Bean Gardening Club, which is focussed on supporting our community through providing opportunities for growth and well-being, to improve mental and physical health through a
range of activities for amateur or keen gardeners looking to grow vegetables/cut flowers and get involved in the horticultural side of the Nursery. We have just started to re-open the Club, at the moment with very limited numbers, but as the position with regards to students at the WCG sites becomes clearer, we hope we will be able to increase capacity and open the Club to new members.
There is also a new exciting growing project to which we are hoping to attract new volunteers. We are starting our own small commercial growing project that will produce a small range of crops and products which can be sold through Link to compliment some of the products we retail at present and to generate some income to help the therapeutic activities at the Link This project will have a slightly different focus to the Well Bean Gardening Club as the activities will be seasonally programmed and structured to provide an insight to commercial plant production, develop skills and promote team working. The growing project is open to all, but to start with we are looking for a small team of 3 or 4 volunteers who can kick start and oversee the first crops to be grown. The crops will all be small and simple to grow and all instructions and support will be given. The role of the small team is primary to communicate to everybody how the crop is growing and organise any timing of activities and crop checks etc. Most of the crops on the planner will require daily monitoring which may include weekends. This is likely to be a quick look to see if watering is required during the warmer periods, so would take maybe 10-20 minute per crop. This is very important that it is done as we know that one extra unchecked sunny day can wipe out a crop of young plants and in this case could be the whole crop in the programme. Basically a small team will be in control of the crop throughout its production. This is a whole Link activity which is hopefully will help develop some new skills and team working so there will be plenty of help and support around. The first crop we thought we would try this with is Primula ‘Crescendo’. A reliable hardy Polyanthus, which is distinguished from a bedding primrose by the bright coloured flowers appearing on a flower stem. It is commonly used in autumn and early spring bedding displays.
A great plant for seasonal tubs or at the front of a garden border. The plants form a rosette of leaves in the autumn and the flowering stalk starts to grow in early spring. The height of flowering is around 10cm. ‘Crescendo’ is the most reliable form and great to grow. We could use it for sales of spring baskets and Mothers Day posies. If this sounds like something you would be interested in
please contact us at the Link for more details. ( or 01905 831881). We are
always looking for more volunteers, particularly for this project and for working alongside the members of the Well Bean Gardening Club.

We are open for commercial sales of plants, shrubs, compost and we are still selling seasonal fruit and vegetables, eggs and juices and about to stock milk.

Our opening times are: Tuesday – Saturday from 10.00am until 4.00pm.

Phil Woodhead
Link Nurseries Horticultural Therapy Centre

By Anemone Mouse

It was on a crisp, sparkly morning,
When, out of the corner of my eye,
I glimpsed a thread of gossamer
Subtly flying by.

Was it from a faery’s wing,
Revealed to my sight
Or just a strand of spider’s silk,
Encaptured by the light?

I still believe in faeries,
However incongruous that may seem!
It’s way past Midsummer
And ‘life is but a dream.’

We’re living in uncertain times.

Don’t tell me to ‘get real!’
I’m wearing a three-layered mask.
Life is just surreal!

In Spring, I tended my garden,
Bees pollinated apples and pears,
In Autumn, I reaped the fruits of my labour,
Best and worst of years!

With the Harvest gathered in,
Now’s the time to ponder,
What the future holds for us,
In the wide, blue yonder.