We are preparing to do our annual willow chop, pollarding last year’s growth, which encourages new straight and colourful stems in the coming year. Not only does this keep the plants looking interesting, but it provides a useful resource for crafts and reproducing willow. Willow is very easy to grow by just inserting a stem into the ground (12 inches is a useful depth guide) and keeping moist whilst establishing.
If you are looking for resources to plant willow in your garden or on your land, or would like to try basket making, sculpture making, build a living willow sculpture or make a fedge (a living fence hedge hybrid), we may be able to help.
Usually we like to have a sociable session for willow cutting, but this year we will offer the opportunity to come and cut willow for your use in accordance with government COVID-19 guidelines. With permission, you are welcome to keep what you cut. Please contact us for more information.
Having worked in the areas of sustainable living, organic gardening, small scale organic farming, sustainable land management, community and social projects, and dabbling in rural crafts, I have been thinking about the scope for crossover between projects and individuals and the value of skills and knowledge sharing. Pollinate is the result of this.
The idea is to network and collaborate for mutual benefit – assisting other people and
projects, whilst learning from others; sharing skills, knowledge and experience.
I will focus on local connections in the Surrey and surrounding areas, but will travel further as appropriate.
If you would like to link on this, please don’t hesitate to contact me, Andy Holdaway, at:
We are very pleased that Steve Scott, who first came to The Garden House for an orchard pruning session, has been able to develop his interest in green woodworking to run sessions here for the Surrey Group of The Association of Pole Lathe Turners and Green Woodworkers. Themes for meetings have included making spoons, stools, and peg boards, and using tools such as a foot operated bodging lathe. There has been some overlap with our Wednesday Workshop with the Wednesday team making log ‘benches’ for the woodworkers; and Skillway of Godalming have also made a shaving horse which adds to our covered work area resources.
Dates are as and when works for the group, but are roughly quartlerly.
For further information, please email Steve: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s not very often that we have seen much snow in recent years, but it does look good! If you have not been to The Garden House for a long time, you may like to see how it looks as a winter wonderland!
Wishing you all well and we hope to see friends, visitors, volunteers and participants safe and sound soon.
After a pause on volunteer activity in the spring, we managed to restart activities with Covid measures in place in the summer. There was a greater focus on the garden this year and we produced crops for volunteers and local people, sending some of our harvest to The Community Store – providing food for people in need, in Godalming.
The Workshop Workshop participants made the most of the chance to gather between lockdowns for activities such as willow weaving, garden chair rebuilding and an innovative cable tidying system made out of wood . Activities have been paused for the second lockdown (Nov. 2020) and will resume as soon as appropriate.
The Orchard Having had a slow start to orchard establishment with dense soil needing to be loosened, our sandy soil needing enhancing – done with rotted stable bedding and manure, and an irrigation system being installed, all back in the winter of 2018/19, this year saw an improved performance in fruit production and tree growth. We had some fine looking apples and resultant happy volunteers, families, friends, visitors and locals!
The Woodland pond has been looking great in the autumn sun. We have been working on extending the ditch leading in to the pond (ongoing work) but the pond itself is maturing nicely. The ditch is now dug out and ready for lining, with undulations to retain water, but we are trying to put work schemes together to complement each other, so we are lifting mulch mats from around trees which are now being outgrown and using them as underlay for the ditch liner. Thank you to The Growth Team at Surrey Choices, Halow, and Thursday Pop-in volunteers for your help in creating the new water feature – it’s going to be great!
Bluebell planting In a patch of our new woodland, we have just planted 1000 bluebells hyacinthoides non-scripta and are hoping for successful establishment. This should add a new visual feast to Aprils for years to come!
The Stumpery Earlier in the year, St. Joseph’s Specialist Trust started work on creating a stumpery adjacent to the new woodland bluebell area. This is to add interest, encouraging invertebrates and to add to habitat diversity. The stumpery has since been finished and the ferns planted look well.
Photography Anyone? So often, I walk around The Garden House estate and think how lovely it is looking these days. This afternoon, in the autumn sunshine I took some photographs. Wouldn’t it be good, I thought, to have a photography group here – sharing the hobby, skills, near misses and successes! If this would be of interest, please contact us to register your interest and we’ll see what can be done!
In these very strange times of Covid-19 lockdown The Garden House has been very quiet, but we can share some of the hidden gems and seasonal sights that you have been missing. For example, the orchard has been looking magical!
The orchard in the evening at the end of April 2020
A honey bee at work on the apple blossom
Since the lockdown has been in effect, we have put extra effort into making the garden as productive as possible and have been donating fresh produce to local people in these difficult times.
Lettuce ‘Winter Density’ with ‘Salad Bowl’ starting to come through for succession
Seeds growing in module trays on capillary matting. With limited bought compost, we have been successfully using about 2/3 homemade compost with 1/3 proprietary compost on top. This has worked well to reduce the amount of weeds coming through from our homemade unsterilised compost – reducing problems of seedling identification and competition for nutrients
Salad crop – Lettuce ‘Winter Density’, Red Mustard and Mizuna
Radish crop sown by volunteers
Garlic looking strong in April 2020
Radishes ‘Prinz Rotin’ (red) and ‘Ping Pong’ (white)
The clear skies, due to lack of aircraft, have been glorious!
Sky over the estate clear of aircraft contrails during the Covid-19 lockdown
Around the estate, numerous flowers and shrubs have been cheerfully blooming.
Stitchwort growing wild in the woodland
Gorse in flower
Perennial wallflowers and forget-me-nots
As we were recently asked to create some kind of digital communication by one of our partner organisations for their clients, it led to a video diary being produced. Now that we have made one, maybe more will come!
We are keen to support local people who would like the opportunity to learn and share skills and who generally like ‘tinkering in sheds’. This might involve making things, crafting, repairing things, up-cycling, and, of course, involve the odd cup of tea and chat! We have a lovely workspace in which we welcome both men and women. Sessions run on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.. Please contact us for more information.
There is a national charity called UK Men’s Sheds Association which will give you a wider idea of the type of things that people have been doing on this theme across the country. http://menssheds.org.uk
We have found that some people are enjoying helping in the garden during our workshop sessions, so there has been some overlap of activity.
Thursdays are a day to come and visit The Garden House, whether to take part in tasks or for other activities, such as the Buggy Walk.
In order to bring together the various people who have been helping and are interested in helping at The Garden House, we have now created the “Thursday Pop-In”. This will start from 10am, usually every week, dependent on holidays etc. We will start with a morning session, but if you choose to stay on, or can only come later, that will be fine. We are aiming to meet various needs, abilities and availabilities.
Tasks will combine people’s interests with seasonal activities to help The Garden House estate continue on its quest for combining a wildlife habitat with a place for people to enjoy.
Activities will be spread across the estate, involving the development of the garden, establishing and maintaining the pond area, and supporting the new woodland and orchard. We hope we can find ways for you to build a connection with The Garden House and for you to benefit in multiple ways, be that learning new skills, having your own project here, learning from our environment, taking away produce, making friends and most importantly, enjoying the experience!
If you would like to have some time during these Thursday Pop-in sessions to just enjoy the estate and not take part in group activities, then that is also fine. Please talk through how you would like the sessions to work for you and let us know if you are planning to join us, so that we can look out for you.
Over the last few years many people have helped to build up the estate for the benefit of local people to enjoy and to support the wildlife that resides here and passes through. Having been busy with initial development work to create the features on site, the woodland, the orchard, the pond and the garden, we are now working to spread the word that we are here and would like to make contact with people who could use and benefit from the site, whether able bodied, disabled, people looking for somewhere to recuperate, reskill; students, craftspeople, artists, retirees, or people trying to make a livelihood in the rural economy.
Please contact us about ideas and thoughts that you may have for activities here. You may be interested in our new garden or have ideas that will fit in with what we have already created, such as using willow for crafts or fruit for making pies or cider…
Playing on the wood chip
Hannah and Marina take a buggy walk with Sue and Ben.
With increasing numbers of people coming to take part in activities at The Garden House, we will always be grateful for offers of unwanted tools that might be useful around the site, whether forks, spades, wheelbarrows, a rake, a hand-cart, etc., Even if tools are not in great condition, mending them might be an activity that someone would enjoy.
Please contact us, if you are able to help. Many thanks!