As Christmas approaches there are three events scheduled for December:-

* A Christmas Tree Sale at the Gardens (8 December)

* St Peter's Church Christmas Market in the Church (8 December)

* The Christmas Carols Service at the Gardens (17 December).

Further details of these three events and the date of our AGM in April are provided below the Newsflash


Recently Hester Casey has produced this attractive arrangement of flowers and seed heads in the undercroft of the gazebo.  It provides a welcome focus.


Christmas Tree Sale, Caversham Court Gardens
Saturday 8 December, 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

Christmas trees and much else will be on sale in the Gardens. The trees are naturally grown Scots pine harvested as part of the management of local heathland.  Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Fairtrade will have stalls selling cards and gifts.  Local honey and beeswax can also be purchased from Reading and District Beekeepers and there will also be a range of small gifts and stocking fillers from Dave Jackson, the Stick Smith.

While you are in the area why not also visit -

St Peter's Church Christmas Market
Saturday 8 December, in the Church, 10.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

Refreshments will be available and you might find some early Christmas presents.  This year the church will be supporting the Indonesia Tsunami Appeal. 

Christmas Carols at Caversham Court Gardens
Monday 17 December, gardens open from 6.15 p.m., carol service starts at 7.30 p.m.

The Salvation Army band and St Peter's Church choir will lead the singing in the floodlit gardens which will be open from 6.15 p.m. for mulled wine and mince pies from the Tea Kiosk. The bells of St Peter's Church will ring from 7.15 p.m. Singing of carols is to start at 7.30 p.m.  All are welcome for this community event.

Friends A.G.M., 2019
Wednesday 24 April 2019

The A.G.M. will be held at Reading Canoe Club, The Warren, Caversham.  Details of the speaker and programme are to follow.


Green Flag Award

The Friends are pleased to announce that Caversham Court Gardens has won the Green Flag and Green Heritage Site 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

Reading won a silver gilt award in the Thames and Chilterns Region competition of Britain in Bloom. Reading also won a silver gilt award in the 'city' class of the national competition this year. The class was won by Aberdeen whilst the overall title Champion of Champions was secured by the city of Truro. 

The Friends contributed to Reading's entry in both competitions by funding the superb border of coleus and begonias in the vinery and by running a project for children who planted up an old wheelbarrow. The judges were impressed with the vinery and the stumpery funded by the Friends as well as the children's efforts when they were judging the gardens in the summer.

Heritage Open  Days

This years theme focussed on suffragettes to mark the century of women gaining the vote.  Volunteer guides offered guided tours of the gardens on 8 and 9 of September and, in the gazebo, displayed a small exhibit about 'Inspirational Women of Caversham'.  This exhibition has recently been on display in Caversham Library.




Volunteers 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.


Friends Summer Party

Three Friends groups held their summer party in Reading Abbey Ruins on Sunday 2 September.  The event was organised by the Friends of Reading Abbey, the Friends of Reading Museum and the Friends of Caversham Court Gardens.  The party was held in the Dormitory area of the newly conserved Abbey Ruins under clear blue skies. The event was opened by the Mayor of Reading, Councillor Debs Edwards and featured refreshments and family activities to the accompaniment of live music from the Pangbourne Silver Band, the Shinfield Shambles Morris Group and the Rock Choir.  The afternoon was a great success and enjoyed by a large crowd.

The Strawberry Tree

As autumn frosts and winds strip leaves off many trees in the garden an exception is the Strawberry Tree.  A lovely small specimen can be found on the left hand side of the terrace path as one walks westwards. It is called the strawberry tree because it produces stalked fruit which ripen to a red colour and are said to resemble strawberries. Currently you can see drooping clusters of ivory to pink bell-shaped flowers (see above) that provide insects with a welcome source of nectar at this time of year.

The Strawberry Tree is a native of the Mediterranean area but is also common in southern Eire.  We believe it was introduced to the U.K. in the 16th Century.  It is a fairly uncommon tree in England but the specimen in our gardens replaces an earlier one visible in a photograph taken in 1909.

The Latin name for the tree is Arbutus unedo which derives from a Latin term unedo which means 'I eat one only' because of the unpleasant taste of the fruit.  Popular on the Iberian Peninsula, the fruits are reputed to make good jam, and in Portugal they are used to make a liqueur.  The tree also appears on the coat of arms of the city of Madrid where a bear is depicted stretching for fruit from its canopy.  The image below shows the hard mature fruit about 2 cm in diameter.  Quite a sight in a season favouring  production.

Also at this time of year the lavender bank takes up a different hue with the dark reddish brown leaved Berberis the focus of attention as in this image captured recently by our chairman, Vickie Abel.