The Friends are pleased to announce that Caversham Court Gardens has won the Green Flag awards again this year. This is the ninth year the gardens have won these awards.  

The Green Flag award is awarded to parks and green spaces that are welcoming, healthy, safe and secure and are well maintained.  Green Heritage Site status aims to promote the value of and best practices in the care and upkeep of historic sites.

Britain in Bloom judges are to visit the gardens on 24 and 31 July as part of Reading's entry in the regional and national competitions.  The judges will view the gardens including recent improvements such as the stumpery and the annual summer bedding displays.  Also included is the work of local children who with the Friends Jenny Stephen's supervision have decorated a wheelbarrow with flowering plants donated by the Friends and by the Ways and Means charity which man the garden's Tea Kiosk in rotation with others.  Hester Casey contributed 'under-gardener Fred' who oversaw the planting.

The Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards, with Britain in Bloom judges viewing the floral work of schoolchildren and volunteers from the Friends whilst judging Reading in the 'city' class of the national competition.

Volunteer Party
Volunteers met on the evening of 31 July for an informal party in the Gardens organised by Hester Casey.  Guest of honour was Rodney Oliver who was a trustee of the Gazebo Trust responsible for saving that building.  The renovated gazebo is a much loved feature of the gardens.  Rodney described the valuable work done by the trust to ensure its preservation.  Our gazebo is the only one on the River Thames that provides public access.

Stories by the Riverside
Sunday 19 August, 2.00 to 4.30 p.m.

Drop in to the gardens for an afternoon of reading and stories with Get Reading reading, and creative crafts with Hester Casey and Jenny Stephen of the Friends. Activities are suitable for children of up to 11 years of age.  The charity run Tea Kiosk will be open for hot and cold drinks and home-made cakes.

Friends 2018 Summer Party
Sunday 2 September, 2.00 to 5.00 p.m.

The Friends of Reading Abbey, Friends of Reading Museum and The Friends of Caversham Court Gardens hold their summer party on the first Sunday of September. Come and join us in the newly restored Reading Abbey Ruins. An afternoon of family fun, live music, refreshments and much more.

First Sundays of the Month

Sunday 5 August

Volunteers will be at the Gardens from 2.30 to 4.30 p.m. on each of the above dates to talk to visitors about Caversham Court Gardens and the work of the Friends.  They will also offer informal guided tours of the Gardens.

Heritage Open Days
Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, 2.00 to 5.00 p.m.

Take a tour of the historic gardens and fine specimen trees and visit the listed 17th Century summer house to see an exhibition about Extraordinary Women of Caversham.

Guided tours of the beautiful gardens and the listed 17th Century summer house give a unique glimpse of the history of the house that once stood on this site, of the families who lived here and the history of Caversham and its links with Reading, across the Thames.

Sensory tours for visually or hearing impaired people are available on request, led by experienced guides from the Friends of Caversham Court Gardens.  An exhibition about some of the extraordinary women of Caversham will be open to view.  The charity-run Tea Kiosk will be open on site.

Britain in Bloom
Sunday 22 July and Sunday 29 July, 2.00 to 4.00 p.m. (Planting activity for children, up to 11 years old)

Join the Friends planting up a wheelbarrow in the vinery ready for this years Britain in Bloom competition.  Under-gardener Fred will need some help. Reading has been entered for two categories of Britain in Bloom, competing in both regional and national categories.  The Friends are making their contribution by funding a fine show of summer bedding plants in the vinery.  The coleus and begonias now occupying the vinery bed provide a hot splash of colour.

We are also inviting local children to create an installation on a gardening theme in the vinery.  The vaults at the back of the vinery were used by the gardeners in Victorian times to store gardening equipment and the area also housed the boiler for the vinery.  

Jenny Stephen of the Friends will be on hand on both dates to guide the young gardeners.  No booking necessary.  Just turn up between 2.00 and 4.00 p.m. on either of the above dates.  If you have your own trowel and gardening gloves, bring them along.  All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Star Plants of the Month

In the dry, hot weather of early July the most striking colours at Caversham Court are in the Gallery Garden with its multi-coloured mix of aromatic plants so attractive to bees and other insects.  Look for the orange-red shoots of Berberis, the purple flowering heads of lavender (var. Hidcote), grey-green foliage of Ballota, and the bright yellow flowers of cotton lavender (Santolina).  All these plants are at their peak in July providing a canvas of bright colours reminiscent of an Impressionist painting.

As July comes to an end and we enter August the handsome Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora (Styphnolobium) japonica) near the vinery is in luxuriant flower.  Look for the masses of yellow-white pea-like flowers hanging in the foliage (see below).  The leaves are 15 to 20 cm long and consist of 7-17 leaflets and are similar to those of false acacia (Robinia pseudo- acacia). 

The Japanese Pagoda Tree is a native of China and is widely grown in Japan. The first one was introduced into the UK from China over 250 years ago and can still be seen in Kew Gardens. The flowers and fruit are used in Chinese herbal medicine while the buds were used for dyeing silk yellow. It appears that climatic conditions have especially favoured flowering of this species in 2018 and there are other examples locally bowed down by luxuriant masses of the slightly fragrant flowers.  Enjoy them before they are replaced in autumn by long grey seed pods.

The following events are scheduled in the gardens over the next few months:-

Canine Capers - Fun Dog Show
Saturday 11 August at 1.00 p.m.
The Ways and Means Trust (one of the organisations which run the Tea Kiosk) are holding their annual fun dog show at the gardens.  Registration for the show will be from 11 a.m. on Saturday 11 August, the show beginning at 1.00 p.m.  There will be several classes to enter from 'most handsome male', 'prettiest chick' to 'best trick or paw shake'. The event is sponsored by 'The Veterinary Centre, Henley and Twyford', 'Pete's Pet Pad' and 'The Pet Barn'

Cult Screens - Open Air Cinema
Cult Screens cinema screenings are back in the gardens this summer.
Check their website for details:-



Talk at the 2018 AGM

Friends filled the large function room at Reading Canoe Club on 26 April for the 2018 AGM and to hear an illustrated talk by garden historian Kate Felus.  Based on her book, The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden the speaker revealed the story of how great landscapes were used in the eighteenth century.  The smooth turf of the parkland provided opportunities for thrilling bouts of carriage driving, the lake enabled fishing and boating with some creating mock sea battles with real canons.  Eye-catchers, often on high ground, were used for eating, drinking, afternoon naps and illicit liaisons.  The talk was both entertaining and lavishly illustrated.

Christmas Carols at Caversham Court Gardens

The choir of St Peter's Church led the singing for an evening of traditional Christmas carols in Caversham Court Gardens on 18 December.  Members of the Reading Central Salvation Army Band joined us for an enjoyable evening of festive music.  The event was organised by one of our volunteers Linda Humphreys-Evans, the evening MC.

We were delighted to welcome 600 people to the floodlit gardens and thank them for their donations to the gardens.  Thanks also for the support of Phillip Baker Property, Purple Turtle, Lax Events and Reading Borough Council.