Beanpole Day
Saturday 21 April, 10 a.m to 3.00 p.m.
Come along to the gardens to find reasonably priced plants for sale -    vegetable and ornamental plants grown by local charitable organisations.  Also beanpoles, pea sticks and plant supports.  There will be an opportunity to learn about bee friendly and wildlife gardening.  Kids will be entertained with several activities whilst you can watch timber product demonstrations or take part in a guided walk. The local charity Ways and Means will have a stall and the Tea Kiosk will be open for refreshments.

Annual General Meeting
Reading Canoe Club, The Warren, Caversham
RG4 7TH.
Wednesday 26 April, 7.00 p.m for 7.30 p.m.

The briefest possible AGM will be followed by an illustrated talk by garden historian Kate Felus.  Based on her book, The Secret Life of the Georgian Garden, Kate Felus will reveal the previously untold story of how great landscapes were used in the eighteenth century.  The smooth turf of the parkland provided for thrilling carriage driving in the Georgian equivalent of the Ferrari, the lake gave opportunities for fishing and boating (including mock sea battles with real canons) and eye-catchers provided places for eating and drinking, afternoon naps and illicit liaisons.

The book has been widely reviewed; writing in The Times Adrian Tinniswood called it '...a pioneering work and an important addition to the literature of the country house.  More than that it is a thoroughly entertaining read'.  In the FT Weekend, Robin Lane Fox wrote that 'it was 'exceptionally enjoyable, written with style and humour and packed with little known sources, including 71 unusual illustrations'.

Dr Kate Felus is a garden historian.  In her freelance consultancy she has researched and written restoration plans for a wide range of designed landscapes from Elizabethan water gardens to Edwardian seaside parks.  Kate is an experienced public speaker and her talks are laced with the same lavish illustrations and entertaining detail as the book. l/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

The lovely star shaped mainly blue flowers of Chionodoxa are now visible in the grass near the old mulberry tree in Mulberry Court. The common name for this bulbous perennial is glory-of-the-snow  which reflects its natural habit of flowering in high alpine areas when snow melts in the spring.  Occasional flowers can also be pink or white. Chionodoxa is closely related to Scilla.  A very welcome sight after recent cold and wet weather!

Also of interest is a deciduous bush planted some years ago in memory of local campaigner Molly Casey.  The plant has been identified as Stachyurus praecox, a native of Japan.  It can be seen in the border behind the wooden seat at the top of the Gallery Garden.  Praecox means early flowering and signifies that the species comes into flower during the winter and early spring.  The chain of delicate yellow bell-like flowers (see below) appear on bare stems before the new seasons leaves emerge.  This is the first year that many volunteers remember seeing the flowers at Caversham Court. When dormant the plant could easily be confused with Cornus.  The closely related Stachyurus chinensis, from China, is currently on sale in a Berkshire garden centre.  The two species produce unusual chains of flowers and a colourful start to the flowering season.

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

The Getting Reading reading team are joining the Friends for another afternoon of stories and crafts for young book-lovers.  Further details will follow.


Reading Tree Wardens Book Launch

May Day saw the successful out-of-doors book launch of The Shady Side of Town. Reading's Trees (Two Rivers Press) by Adrian Lawson (author)and Geoff Sawers (illustrator).  They and Reading Tree Wardens, working in partnership, extended an invitation to a choice of morning walks around Reading followed by a picnic and tree related events in the gardens in the afternoon. The event was well supported both for the walks and for the visit to the gardens.

Storytelling in Caversham Court Garden

The Friends got together with Get Reading, Reading for an afternoon of storytelling and creative crafts as part of the Reading Children's Festival.  Children were able to explore the beautiful riverside gardens on a trail featuring their favourite storybook characters.  Storyteller Anne Latto narrated tales of wonder in the mysterious undercroft overlooking the river.  There were books to read and stories to hear on the river bank and under the trees.  The children made enchanting birds in the vinery with Hester and joined Jenny weaving magic around the mulberry tree!  The Tea Kiosk served hot and cold drinks and home-made cake


Talk at the 2017 AGM

Friends filled the large function room at Reading Canoe Club on 26 March for the 2017 AGM and to hear our guest speaker Travis Elborough deliver an interesting talk entitled 'A Walk in the Park'.  The illustrated talk provided a fascinating social history of parks. It extended from their medieval life as royal hunting grounds and private estates to todays public spaces teeming with activity. 
The talk was based on the book 'A Walk in the Park' seen here with the author. 

Travis' book has been widely praised by critics and is due for re-issue in paperback form later this year.

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.