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Thames Valley: Glorious Gardens

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With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

Stowe

(near Buckingham, MK18 5EQ)
Cyclamen and aconites abound this year in Easter shades of purple and yellow and there’s the promise of bright bluebells after 125,000 were planted in October. The bell-shaped blooms of the Snakeshead fritillary will be bowing their heads in April-May after 200,000 were planted in a swathe around the property – set to form one of the few Snakeshead fritillary meadows in the country.

 

Cliveden

(near Maidenhead, SL1 8NS)
The six-acre parterre is bursting at the seams with 21,000 spring bedding plants filling the 16 central triangular beds. Elsewhere, 11,000 polyanthus will create a carpet of colour combining with the box hedging and topiary of this unique garden. The oriental inspired water garden is awash with dusky pink of flowering blossom and creamy-white magnolias forming stunning reflections in the water.

Basildon Park

(near Reading, RG8 9NR)
Yellow is the predominant colour at Basildon with the grounds sprayed with buttercups and daffodils. Choose one of the four paths to walk and admire violets, cowslip, cherry blossom and primroses. Further on you’ll find a sea of bluebells leaving you spoilt for choice when it comes to taking photographs.

 

The Vyne

(near Basingstoke, RG24 9HL)
The wild garden is where it’s at for The Vyne this season – from bright yellow aconites under trees to boughs of soft pink cherry blossom on the trees. Pastel blue takes over next month with star-shaped blooms of camassias and of course, plenty of bluebells to charm you too.

 

Waddesdon

(near Aylesbury, HP18 0JH)
The garden is beginning to wake from its winter sleep and colour is creeping into the spring displays. Nearly 40,000 plants will be used to recreate the Victorian splendour of yesteryear. Each area has its own colour scheme – the parterre will be blue, white and pink; the avenue will be bathed in delicate shades of yellow and white, planted in the shape of a star.

 

Nuffield Place

(near Henley, RG9 5RY)
The perfect spot for a peaceful spring stroll surrounded by herbaceous borders with spring bulbs breaking through and light mauve wisteria around the house. Foxgloves are starting to appear in the woodland, attracting insects and a hard-standing path means everyone can admire the bluebells.

hughendon

(near High Wycombe, HP14 4LA)
Visitors here will be able to wander through the handkerchief-like blooms of magnolia, frost permitting, admist the purple pink hues of dog tooth violets, blue forget me knots and bright pink of the Judas tree. Later in spring expect to see grape-like hyacinth while the walled garden will be brimming with the smells of cherry, apple, redcurrants and gooseberries.

 

Greys Court

(near Henley, RG9 4PG)
The woodland floor as been cleared ready for spring with thousands of bulbs being planted to form a blue carpet along the path to Spinney Wood to admire the daffodils, cowslips and irises. Follow the nut tree walk to the maze to enjoy a patchwork of colour with bulbs planted in a quilt-like fashion. Wander around the walled garden to find hyacinths under the 130-year-old wisteria and watch cherry blossom fall on the paths.

 

Harcourt Arboretum

(Nuneham Courtenay, OX44 9PX)
The arboretum is part of the University of Oxford which has now grown to 130 acres and is part of the Botanic Garden. The oldest part, the Pinetum and Serpentine Ride is soon to be awash with the dramatic colours of rhododendrons and azaleas while a walk in the native woodland will showcase the different types of woodland in the UK and will be carpeted with bluebells in April and May.

 

Kelmscott Manor Gardens

(near Lechlade, GL7 3HJ)
The arts and crafts garden is well worth a wander round when you’re visiting the house. The front garden is laid out from the drawing of the frontispiece in a William Morris book, the original owner, while the back is dominated by a mulberry tree which is just under 100 years old. A small orchard and a large meadow are delightful places to enjoy a spring stroll.

 

Buscot Park

(near Faringdon, SN7 8BU)
The pleasure gardens here are just that – a pleasure and time should be taken to enjoy them. The red brick walls of the original kitchen garden shelter the Four Seasons garden, resplendent with spring blooms. Woodland walks lead to a fine water garden while the front of the house features a carriage drive through mature woodland.

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our London and Surrey gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield

London: Glorious Gardens

Round & About

Round and About

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

savill gardens

(Englefield Green, TW20 0UJ)
Everything is coming to life, pay a visit to daffodil valley in The Valley Gardens and Spring Wood at the Savill Garden and marvel at the magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Birds are nesting so watch out for fledglings as they start to take flight. You may even be lucky enough to see young deer taking their first steps in Deer Park too.

 

Cliveden

(near Maidenhead, SL1 8NS)
The six-acre parterre is bursting at the seams with 21,000 spring bedding plants filling the 16 central triangular beds. Elsewhere, 11,000 polyanthus will create a carpet of colour combining with the box hedging and topiary of this unique garden. The oriental inspired water garden is awash with dusky pink of flowering blossom and creamy-white magnolias forming stunning reflections in the water.

Basildon Park

(near Reading, RG8 9NR)
Yellow is the predominant colour at Basildon with the grounds sprayed with buttercups and daffodils. Choose one of the four paths to walk and admire violets, cowslip, cherry blossom and primroses. Further on you’ll find a sea of bluebells leaving you spoilt for choice when it comes to taking photographs.

 

runnymede & ankerwycke

(near Old Windsor, SL4 2JL)
As nature awakens, a flush of new life spreads over the historic hills and waters of Runnymede. Riverside willows are the first to put on their springtime greenery. Blackthorn blossom helps create a sense of new life all along the riverside.Spring arrives in the form of ancient woodland flowers. Patches of bluebells, lesser celandines, dog’s mercury and wood anemones create a magical atmosphere in the protected woodland.

 

dorneywood garden

(near Burnham, SL1 8PY)
1930s-style garden, with herbaceous borders, cottage garden and lily pond. Dorneywood is traditionally the country residence of a senior member of the Government and was given to the National Trust. The house re-opens in April. Booking essential if you wish to visit. Email dorneywood@nationaltrust.org.uk

 

claremont

(near Esher, KT10 9JG)
Spring offers the chance to stroll through corridors of rhododendrons, feed tiny goslings, and make the most of the longer days, spot swathes of these regal purple flowers springing up throughout the garden. Take a stroll along the lake and up past the ha-ha wall during April to witness the seasonal display of bluebells at it’s very best.
Swathes of daffodils first herald the new season, with camellias, cherries, azaleas and rhododendrons soon following suit.

hatchlands park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RT)
From blossom to bluebells, the grounds here are coming out of their winter hibernation and as with other properties are awash with yellows and blues. The woodland hedgerows are lit up with blackthorn blossom while later in the spring expect to see the wildflower meadow in full bloom just as the bluebell wood is going over.

 

clandon park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RQ)
As the rebuilding process continues after the devastating fire in April 2015, visitors can enjoy the magnificent sight of the park in springtime with the grounds carpeted in yellow. A pictorial trail will guide you through the garden, using historic images to take you through the years comparing past and present perspectives.

 

Polesden lacey

(near Dorking, RH5 6BD)
Prepare to be greeted by delicate white snowdrops, trumpet-like daffodils in all shades of yellow, orange and cream and bluebells at Polesden Lacey and the wider estate. Enjoy walks surrounded by colour whatever the weather.

 

old waterfield

(Ascot, SL5 7LJ)
Operating as part of the National Open Garden Scheme, this house is set in 4 acres between Ascot Heath and Windsor Great Park. Open from 1st April to 31st October, the garden has been developed and extended over the past few years and offers herbaceous borders, meadow with specimen trees, large vegetable garden, orchard and mixed hedging. Vistors are welcome by arrangement for groups of 10 to 25. Admission £4.50 adults, children free. For more information contact the owner Catherine Stevenson at catherine.stevenson@oldwaterfield.com

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our Thames Valley and Surrey gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield

Surrey: Glorious Gardens

Round & About

Round and About

With spring bursting into life, there can be no better time to get out and enjoy what’s on offer in some of the finest gardens you’re ever likely to see.

Polesden lacey

(near Dorking, RH5 6BD)
Prepare to be greeted by delicate white snowdrops, trumpet-like daffodils in all shades of yellow, orange and cream and bluebells at Polesden Lacey and the wider estate. Enjoy walks surrounded by colour whatever the weather.

 

hatchlands park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RT)
From blossom to bluebells, the grounds here are coming out of their winter hibernation and as with other properties are awash with yellows and blues. The woodland hedgerows are lit up with blackthorn blossom while later in the spring expect to see the wildflower meadow in full bloom just as the bluebell wood is going over.

Winkworth arboretum

(Godalming, GU8 4AD)
This is a true paradise for garden lovers as the arboretum really comes to life in spring with magnolia blooms joining cherry blossom and drifts of bluebells. If you’re visiting in April, the azalea walk is a mass of colour along the path to the boathouse overlooking the lake.

 

clandon park

(near Guildford, GU4 7RQ)
As the rebuilding process continues after the devastating fire in April 2015, visitors can enjoy the magnificent sight of the park in springtime with the grounds carpeted in yellow. A pictorial trail will guide you through the garden, using historic images to take you through the years comparing past and present perspectives.

 

leith hill

(near Dorking, RH5 6LU)
Rhododendron Wood will be alight with azaleas as well as rhododendrons, expect to see bush after bush of the big showy flowers. The rare, pink flowers are a sign spring is here. Other specimens will be showing their colours from April through to June. The hour-long Rhododendron Wood walk is an easy pathway through the colourful surroundings.

 

RHS garden wisley

(Woking, GU23 6QB)
Colour builds daily at Wisley, yellow daffodils and pale pink cherry blossom are already providing the perfect backdrop for a walk in the gardens. Carpets of crocuses will brighten up even the chilliest of days and the bright pinks and reds of the banks of camellias are sure to catch your eye on the hill. The top terrace will be lit up with 15,000 tulips in pink, purple, yellow and lilac.

ramster gardens

(Chiddingfold, GU8 4SN)
Opening in spring from 16th March, you can discover more than 25 acres of woodland, lake views and hillside, filled with colour. The gardens are known for their rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias as well as many rare and unusual trees and flowering shrubs.

 

painshill

(Cobham, KT11 1JE)
All the lengthy preparation for spring has paid off and the gardens at Painshill are now waking up to swathes of snowdrops, dazzling daffodils and beautiful bluebells. As with many of the gardens featured, Painshill will be offering afternoon tea for Mother’s Day. Enjoy this in the 18th century walled garden amid seasonal colours as you tuck into finger sandwiches, mini scones, cakes and tea or Prosecco.

 

savill gardens

(Englefield Green, TW20 0UJ)
Everything is coming to life, pay a visit to daffodil valley in The Valley Gardens and Spring Wood at the Savill Garden and marvel at the magnolias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Birds are nesting so watch out for fledglings as they start to take flight. You may even be lucky enough to see young deer taking their first steps in Deer Park too.

 

petworth

(West Sussex, GU28 9LR)
In the spring meadows of the Pleasure Grounds you can expect to see snowdrops, cyclamen as well as bluebells, daffodils, and Snake Head Fritillary popping up through the next few months.Tulips will be one of the stars of the show throughout the grounds with thier distinctive bell-shaped heads popping up a variety of colours.

 

gilbert white house

(Selbourne, GU34 3JH )
Visitors to this secret Hampshire garden can marvel at the quirky features, glorious vistas and creative planting which are delightful whatever the season or weather but spring really is spectacular! Starting off with snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in March, cherry blossom in April and a sumptuous wildflower meadow in May, they are the perfect complement to the hahas, herb garden, kitchen garden and six quarters.

Pictures: National Trust

Have a look at our London and Thames Valley gardens if you’re thinking of going further afield.

RHS:Dig For Victory

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Round and About

Share photographs of Second World War vegetable plots with the RHS Dig for Victory campaign.

This year marks the 80th year since the outbreak of the Second World War and the Royal Horticultural Society is asking people to submit pictures of wartime vegetable gardens remembering the Dig for Victory campaign. 

The RHS is compiling material for exhibitions at four of its gardens across the country including RHS Wisley near Woking.  

The displays will include material and wartime propaganda that inspired people to grow more food and to help supplement the allocation from their ration books, it will also include photos of families’ own gardens and allotments. 

When war broke out in 1939, the RHS began working with the Ministry of Agriculture on the Dig for Victory campaign. Advice was given out via leaflets and exhibition packs touring the towns and villages across the country and included guides on how to cultivate vegetables all year round, storing of produce and making a compost heap. 

Shortages meant veg plots had to be created in unlikely places such as those made by employees at Wolsey Motors in Birmingham. Staff there made cloches out of scarp car windscreens for an allotment at the factory. 

By 1943 it’s thought around 55% of households were growing fruit and veg and their efforts helped contribute to the nation’s health. 

Fiona Davison, head of libraries and collections at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “RHS information and advice helped get a nation growing at a time when food supplies were at an historic low. Many are likely to recall parents and relatives turning previously unloved plots into efficient and prolific green spaces. 

“We’re asking the public to share those pictures and memories with us so we can celebrate the contribution of gardening to our wartime history.” 

Dig for Victory will be on display at RHS Wisley from 14th October to 17th November. There will also be displays at Rosemoor in Great Torrington, Devon; Hyde Hall in Chelmsford, Essex and Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

  Send photographs and any additional information for the exhibit to libraryenquirieslondon@rhs.org.uk 

Newbury Civic Awards

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Picture credit: Colin Lewis.  From left, last year’s winners Sandra Goodyear, Ellouise Greenall and Wendy Berkeley with last year’s Mayor David Fenn and town crier Brian Sylvester

It’s time to nominate who you think deserves to win a Newbury Town Council Civic Award 2019.

If you think someone deserves to be praised for their good work and contribution to the local community in Newbury now is the time to speak up about it. 

The town council has launched its annual civic awards and wants to hear from you with your nominations – but you’ll need to be quick, nominations must be submitted by Friday, 8th March. 

The categories are: 

Newbury Town Civic Award – now in its 22nd year 

Young Person’s Civic Award – now in its 11th year 

Newbury Town Business Civic Award – the second year 

Mayor of Newbury, councillor Margo Payne says: “Nominating someone for the civic awards is a wonderful way to thank them for the work they do. 

“We probably all know someone who volunteers or goes the extra mile for a neighbour, and while they don’t expect recognition it is an opportunity to let them know they are appreciated.” 

Leader of the council, cllr Adrian Edwards is particularly hoping to garner entries for the business category, now in its second year. 

He says: “After the successful launch of the Newbury Town Business Civic Award last year, we are hoping for even more applications in this category this year. 

“We now need you to tell us who deserves to be recognised for making a significant contribution to our community.” 

Last year’s winners, pictured, were Sandra Goodyear, Ellouise Greenall and Wendy Berkeley from Empire Café. 

Sandra was honoured for her service to the girlguides, the pre-schools learning alliance and CRUSE.  

Ellouise received her award for being a good neighbour – helping a sick neighbour and looking after the young children of a neighbour and helping with shopping and other chores for elderly neighbours. 

Wendy who runs Empire Café in Cheap Street, was given her award for the assistance, care and concern shown to members of the community. 

But you’ll need to be quick – nominations must be submitted by Friday, 8th March and winners will be presented with their awards on Monday, 18th March.

  Nomination forms are available from the website at www.newbury.gov.uk or paper copies can be collected from the Town Hall or call the council on 01635 35486. 

Neighbouring Thatcham Town Council will be presenting its civic awards on Monday, 11th March. Each year a maximum of three gold awards are given to individuals or groups in recognition of the work they do for the benefit of the community. Nominations are now closed but we’ll tell you about the winners later in March. 

Thames Valley Hospitality Awards

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Round and About

Picture credit: Dijana Capan, DVision Images
Picture caption: Organisers Marc Allridge and Hilary Scott

 

Nominate your favourites for 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards.

The 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards are open for nominations celebrating excellence and outstanding staff in the sector. From hotels to B&Bs, bars to restaurants, it’s time to share who you think deserves to be honoured. 

In addition to last year’s categories, there are three new ones – Achiever of the Year, Wedding Venue of the Year and Outside Caterer of the Year. This is the second year of the awards and the organisers are delighted to be building on the success of last year. 

Co-organiser Marc Allridge of Cherubs Floral Design said they were very excited about the new categories. He added: “We would love people from managers to brides to nominate in the Wedding Venue of the Year category. And we want to hear form all those caterers who work away behind the scenes and often don’t get recognised for their efforts – winning Outside Caterer of the Year would fix that. 

“We also want to see lots of entries in Achiever of the Year – this is for a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine in the trade.” 

The gala awards dinner this year is being held at the De Vere Wokefield Estate on Sunday, 28th April and hosted by leading chef Daniel Galmiche. Fellow organiser Hilary Scott encouraged entries for this year, saying: “We had so many entries in our first year it was amazing. I hope that we can get more this year now we are a bit better known. And remember if you missed out last year you can enter again.” 

This year’s categories are: 

Hotel of the Year sponsored by TVHA 

Independent Hotel of Year sponsored by Newsquest Berkshire 

Bar of the Year  sponsor Matthew Clark 

​Restaurant of the Year 

Hotel Manager of the Year sponsored by Cream Design 

​Front of house star sponsored by H&D Food Solutions 

Back of house star sponsored by Cherubs Floral Design 

Warm welcome  

Best breakfast 

Apprentice of the Year 

Three new categories for 2019: 

Achiever of the Year – a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine 

​Wedding Venue of the Year – in a competitive market who stands out for their venue, service and professionalism 

Outside Caterer of the Year – in a growing market, we want to find the best 

  For full details and to nominate visit www.tvhawards.co.uk and don’t forget to share with us who you are nominating and why!

Ronald McDonald House

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Round and About

Martin Keown kicks off building with twins, Finley and Billy Kearns, and mum and dad, Laura and Robert.

Former Arsenal and England star Martin Keown has helped kick off building at the new accommodation for families with seriously ill children in Oxford. 

The footballer from Oxford broke ground at the new 62-bedroom Ronald McDonald House on the John Radcliffe Hospital site on Wednesday, 6th February. The house will provide families with free accommodation while their children are being treated to save them having to go to and from the hospital. 

Among those at the ceremony were two-year-old twins Finley and Billy Kearns, whose parents Laura and Robert spent more than four months at the current house after the twins were born prematurely. Billy needed surgery to reverse a stoma. The £14million facility is due to open in summer next year with 62 en-suite bedrooms and communal living facilities, including kitchens, lounges, playrooms, laundry rooms and a garden. 

The current 17-bedroom house has experienced a rise in demand over the last 15 years and while last year it accommodated 600 families, it had to turn a further 300 away. 

Ronald McDonald House Charities has raised £9million, Oxford Hospitals Charity has added £2.5million, Children with Cancer UK is donating more than £280,000 and McDonald’s employees and customers has raised £1.5million. A further £1million is still needed to fit and furnish the house and the charity is looking to the local community to help them in this fundraising effort, as well as for volunteers to help get the house ready and provide support.

CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Jon Howard said last week they were delighted to begin the expansion work. Thanking all those who have helped, he added: “We know from research it is beneficial for the health of family members and their child to keep them close together, and that comfortable and supportive accommodation nearby is a key enabler in this process.” 

Head of the paediatric psychology department Dr Karen Steinhardt with the range of services available at Oxford, families are increasingly travelling from further afield for treatment. She said: “This new accommodation at Ronald McDonald House Oxford will allow more families to be close by in the hospital grounds. 

“It will allow them to get more rest and sleep, eat properly and lead as normal a life as possible ad importantly, feel able to make the best decisions about their child’s health.” 

The new building will be open to families with children being cared for at Oxford Children’s Hospital as well as Children’s Critical Care and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the John Radcliffe site. 

Picture credit: Richard Cave

  Read more about the Ronald McDonald House Charity

Birthday HuMP: Hurst Morris People

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Help Hurst Morris People (HuMP) celebrate their 30th birthday with a barn dance on Saturday, 2nd March and more…

Great live music from Chris, Patsy and friends and an easy-to-follow caller Howard Ballard are key ingredients for a night of celebration.

The barn dance will take place at Hurst Village Hall in School Road from 7.30pm (doors open at 7.15pm) and everyone is asked to take along a plate of finger food to share – and your own drink. HuMP will supply tea, coffee, squash – and a birthday cake! Tickets sold out quickly last year so do buy yours soon; they’re £7.50, with under-12s free; to buy please email contact@hump.org.uk
There’s also a May Day celebration, on Sunday, 28th April, from noon at Hurst Village Hall. A maypole dance expert will show everyone easy dances to join in and you can take your own picnic. HuMP and other visiting morris dancers will perform and invite everyone to join in with a simple dance. Tea, coffee and light refreshments will be on sale and entry is free.

HuMP’s 2019 charity is Hurst’s own inspiring good cause, registered charity Just Around the Corner in Forest Road. More than 100 young people aged between six and 25 use JAC’s services every week. They are referred by Wokingham and Bracknell schools, social services, parents and by self-referral.

Underwater wonders

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Round and About

Journey deep into the ocean with Blue Planet II – Live in Concert – a feast for your eyes and ears…

The wonders and mysteries of our oceans will once again be centre stage when Blue Planet II – Live in Concert comes to London’s O2 Arena offering a visual, audio and spectacular concert experience.

Due to popular demand, an additional matinee show has been added to the diary and Blue Planet II – Live in Concert will share showstopping moments from the BAFTA award-winning BBC One series.

The natural wonders of our blue planet will be highlighted in breath-taking detail, projected on to a giant 4k Ultra HD LED screen all to the accompaniment of the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
The concert, which will be hosted by BBC presenter Anita Rani, will feature such memorable moments from the TV series as the crab and eel rock pool chase and the sea lion tuna hunt.

And Anita admits she can’t wait to part of it, she says: “The penny hasn’t quite dropped that I’m hosting it because I will be standing there in front of 12,000 people at The O2 and all the various arenas that we’re going to and holding the show together. It’s such an honour to be asked to do this show.”

To be precise, Blue Planet II was more than a show on TV she adds, calling it a moment of television history. “If you watched it, and loved it, then you cannot afford to miss this live tour because it’s a fully immersive experience.

“You’ll be able to see those iconic moments – surfing dolphins on a huge screen with an 80-piece live orchestra playing that incredible soundtrack by Hans Zimmer,” she enthuses.

But Blue Planet II goes further than even that, showing the power of TV and the way in which it changed people’s attitudes towards single-use plastic. Anita adds: “It made us aware of the damage we are doing to our beautiful planet and our oceans.”

During the filming of Blue Planet II, crews embarked on 125 expeditions, travelled to 39 countries and spent more than 6,000 hours of deep sea diving armed with the latest state-of-the-art equipment.

She is full of praise for the four years it took to film the show saying it “opened our eyes to an alien world”, adding: “It was the talking point for everybody at work the next day. It tells you something about humanity, it tells you something about our planet. It’s something that is embedded, it’s not like watching an entertainment show that is fun and entertaining, watching Blue Planet II hasn’t left me. Those scenes are with us forever.”

Join the voyage of discovery and enjoy an experience like no other with Blue Planet II – Live in Concert on Sunday, 17th March, at 3pm.