Tag Archive: st.peter’s church

To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

Having finally completed this years work at the local church I can now turn my full attention to Old School Garden. But I’ve been feeling a bit tired and lacking strength recently, perhaps a hang over from the chest infection I couldn’t seem to get rid of, or that and all the physical efforts at St. Peter’s?

The restructuring of the Kitchen Garden is progressing, albeit rather slowly. I’ve completed the boxing in of the oil tank, and in the last couple of days have dug up the remaining old raspberry plants and cleared away a site and replanted the blackberry bush….this will now be positioned to run along the edge of the wood on our northern boundary.

I’ve also laid the remaining slabs at the rear where the new shed will go (I’ve made a start on cutting the wood for the base and frame for this, but I’m thinking it may be the Spring before this is completed). I’ve also repositioned the compost bins so that they take up less space in the working areas of the garden.

The ‘great leaf collection’ has begun too..a job that seems never-ending as the last trees to lose their leaves (usually the oaks) continue to shed their golden foliage.

The western boundary has been fully cleared and there are just a few bits and pieces of wood etc. that need tidying up, this will open up the edge of the garden to more light so opening up new planting possibilities.

I hope that if the weather is kind, I might get the trellis work relocated in the next month or two, which will also enable me to prepare the old raspberry bed for a new planting of potatoes in April.

My input at the local High School continues and even though the lunchtime sessions are short we manage to get a reasonable amount of things done. Last week  I  joined two lads in constructing a low raised bed which will expand the planting possibilities at the Allotment Project.

I’m still doing about a day a week at Blickling Hall, and am conscious I haven’t posted much about this of later. needless to say there is a lot or repetition as the seasonal jobs roll around. I’m looking forward to visit the gardens nearer Christmas, having seen the enormous effort being put in to lighting up the grounds- it should look spectacular.

I’ve run my two shredders over the Grow organisation as I think they will make better use of them than me, and it wa pleasing to see that the project is really taking off now that it has a steady set of staff and a good number of volunteers and participants on its ‘green therapy’ sessions.

As you were there you know how successful our Remembrance Day event at the church was, with nearly 300 people attending and wide range of activities and features. You can see photos a report and also an ITV Anglia News item on this on my sister site www.haveringland.wordpress.com. Having realigned a few of the trees in the ‘Avenue of Remembrance’ the setting of the church is much improved and the ornamental pears ‘Chanticleer’ have begun to turn a cockscomb red as their name suggests.

Well Walter, as the days shorten and the weather worsens I guess it will soon be time to curtail my gardening activities, but hopefully we will still have some days when- if other activities allow- we can get out and continue the restructuring of the Kitchen garden so that its ready for the finishing off in the spring.

I hope that you and Ferdy are getting prepared for Christmas. we visit my mother in Law shortly in devon for a few days and after that we will be into December and the preparations can seriously begin!

Old School Gardener














To Walter de Grasse

Dear Walter,

It’s been a busy month, but not much has been going on in Old School Garden.

though I’ve planted out onions and sowed Broad Beans as well as some hardy annuals, scarified and fertilised the main lawn areas, I can’t claim to have moved on much on the home patch. Still, today I plan to spend a good time putting up fencing to hide the oil tank and possibly also laying the final slabs where the new shed is going. And hopefully I can at long last make a start on that this week, before the bad weather sets in. Despite a cold start today we’ve had things quite mild here recently and it looks like the rest of the week is also going to warm up a bit.

I spent a couple of short sessions over at the local High School Allotment project helping to cut out grass and weeds from around the orchard trees, and I hope to get back there to help in the next couple of weeks. It will be good to get the orchard into some kind of managed state.

Well, having said what I haven’t been doing at home, I can move on to report some major progress over at the local church, where you’ll recall I and others are gradually taking the churchyard and surroundings into more active management, including the churchyard itself as a meadow habitat.

Over the last three weekends (plus a surprise session on Saturday) the ‘Community Payback Team’ have been over to help us tackle some major projects. These are people who have broken the law in some way and have been sentenced to giving time back to the community for free. They, plus a few local volunteers, have put in a tremendous effort and the result is a transformation of the church surroundings. Here are some pictures which illustrate the key achievements, including planting an ‘Avenue of Remembrance’ to commemorate the closure of RAF Swannington (Haveringland) 70 years ago in November, the cutting and raking off of the churchyard, clearing the ‘French Drain’ that surrounds the church walls, strimming the perimeter of the church and the nearby access road and car park, planting many narcissus bulbs (donated by local businesses) and plenty more.

I have been very impressed with the effort and good-natured attitudes of those who have helped us and we have achieved so much more than I was expecting. Things look very promising for the major Remembrance Day service on Saturday 11th November; and I’m especially pleased that you and Ferdy can join us.

Old School Gardener














Reggie’s Beans

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful picture of our friends’ son Reggie. Last Harvest time he came along to see me on my stall at the Harvest Festival event at the local church, where children (and adults) could sow a Broad Bean seed to take home in a pot, nurture on the windowsill and plant out in late autumn…here’s the result! (I must say it’s rather more impressive than my own efforts). Well done Reggie!

Old School Gardener


imagesOn Saturday a group of about a dozen volunteers set about transforming the space around my local church, St. Peter’s Church, Haveringland; from a wildlife friendly, but rather dishevelled churchyard into the first stage of creating a more ‘managed’ space.

The newly established ‘Friends of Haveringland Parish Church’ arranged the event following a visit from Norfolk Wildlife Trust who gave us some very helpful advice, and my own efforts at producing a Management Plan for the churchyard. The overall aims of this are to achieve a space which is a balance of:

  1. Accessibility to recent graves

  2. A place for reflection and calm

  3. Wildlife friendly

  4. Prevents deterioration of the church building and grounds

  5. Low maintenance

  6. Easy accessibility to the Church (and some surrounds to church?) for wheelchair users

The overall layout features:

  • Blocks of ‘meadow’ (major perennial weeds dug out, strimmed annually and raked off) surrounded by regularly close mown paths.

  • Areas of regularly close mown grass around recent graves and close to the Church; possibly including seating and ‘photo opportunity’ spaces.

  • Perimeter trees (firs) pruned from ground to above churchyard wall height, and an entrance avenue maintained to it’s established crown height.

  • Other major deciduous trees pruned to raise crowns; elders and hawthorns removed.

  • Regular removal of invasive ivy, grass and weeds on perimeter walls and next to church walls (drainage trench).

A few days before the event, this is what the place looked like.

Our first ‘Groundforce Day’ focused on strimming and mowing the rough grass and then raking the cuttings off to avoid fertilising the soil (so as to encourage wildflowers to thrive and spread), removing thistles, Ragwort and sapling trees from poor locations and trimming back trees along the front wall of the churchyard to open up the churchyard to the outside and to improve views out to the surrounding fields. One of our team also made a start on weeding the pebble drainage trench surrounding the church walls- a painstaking job. Here’s a layout plan that will guide our work.

st. peters planWe made good progress until ‘rain stopped play’ around 3pm, by which time the strimming was done, most of the cuttings had been raked away, some of the ‘weed thugs’ removed and the front row of trees trimmed to provide great views in and out of the churchyard. We also planted our sign showing we are members of the Churchyard Conservation Scheme run by Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Norwich Diocese…

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HUGE thanks to Deborah (refreshments), Gisela, Andre (and for the cakes too), Andrew, Brian, David, Fred, Les, Neil, Norman, and Richard (and Nancy for the delicious lemon drizzle cake).

…and also thanks to Peter Richardson and Dick Rowse for the loan of two special strimmers!

Here’s to Haveringland Groundforce Day #2 (date to be confirmed, but probably mid October- watch this website)! We will finish off the weeding round the church walls and tackle the ivy on the churchyard walls.

For now, the Church looks ready for the special Harvest Festival event this Sunday, 11th September when a vintage tractor run, the Aylsham Band, children’s activities, standing steam engines, refreshments (and toilet facilities), and an informal Harvest Service (hopefully outside) will be on offer- please come and visit us from 2.30-pm to 5pm (St. Peter’s is set in fields just off of the Haveringland Road, between Cawston and Felthorpe).

Old School Gardener

Capture 2Capture 1Source: http://www.pressreader.com/bookmark/b8qNx4jmHxCAhI015mRv-vCye14JtGorv_vxoSDPCUM1/

Some of the volunteers who helped to t idy up the Church Yard on Saturday

Some of the volunteers who helped to tidy up the Church Yard on Saturday

I’ve written before about our local church, St. Peter’s, Haveringland, or ‘The Church in the Fields’. On Saturday I helped tidy up the church yard, which doesn’t have any regular care or attention, particularly since services here now occur only once a month. 

About twenty willing volunteers strimmed (or ‘Whipper – snipped‘ as I believe it’s called in Australia!), raked, weeded and (my own contribution) removed ivy from the church yard walls. In about two hours I managed to clear one wall (see picture below); fortunately there’s only one more that needs the same attention – I will return to finish it soon.

The wall cleaned of its Ivy- and, inadvertently a mouse nest too...

The wall cleaned of its Ivy- and, inadvertently a mouse nest too…

Some years ago an enthusiastic parishioner planted a number of Yews and other conifers around the church yard, and I remember at the time this caused a bit of controversy, as some people (my wife and I included) thought a ‘softer’, more naturalistic  approach to the planting (with wild flowers etc.) might be more appropriate. Well, I must say, 10 plus years on and these trees do add some interest to the church yard and were probably a realistic planting option, giving some shelter to the space and taking into account the limited community/church interest in looking after the area since.

On Saturday I was approached by the (relatively new) local priest who asked if I’d be interested in producing a Management Plan for the church yard. He suggested mown paths through wild flower areas and access to some of the more recent graves, based on a mix of twice yearly maintenance input from contractors, along with periodic voluntary effort like the session on Saturday. I was pleased to hear of his ideas and obvious commitment to keeping the place in good shape and so I agreed to help.

So, watch this space as this new project unfolds and I get to research and develop planting ideas around wild flower meadows (and maybe a couple of areas of self -reliant shrubs and perennials?).

I’d be pleased to hear from anyone with experience or knowledge on this subject – especially with regards to church yards!

Old School Gardener

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