Events

SEE BELOW AN UPDATE ON EVENTS SCHEDULED IN THE GARDENS OR BEING ORGANISED BY THE FRIENDS FOR APRIL, ALL OF WHICH HAVE BEEN POSTPONED OR CANCELLED.  

THE GARDENS REMAIN OPEN SUBJECT TO RBC STAFF BEING AVAILABLE TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE FACILITY. THE FRIENDS HOPE THAT THE GARDENS WILL PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO EXERCISE WHILST OBSERVING GOVERNMENT ADVICE ON SOCIAL DISTANCING.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TEA KIOSK IS NOT OPEN.


EASTER TRAIL
Saturday 11 April
CANCELLED due to Government advice on coronavirus.

ECONET BEAN POLE DAY
Saturday 19 April
CANCELLED

SPRING TALK AND AGM
Wednesday 22 April
POSTPONED 

FOR THOSE WHO ARE UNABLE TO VISIT WE INTEND POSTING IMAGES OF THE GARDENS ESPECIALLY OF PLANTS CURRENTLY IN BLOOM.




One of our most unusual and rare plants is in bloom now in front of the perimeter wall and behind the bench at the top end of the Gallery Garden.  The plant is called Early Stachyurus (Stachyurus praecox), not the easiest names to remember.  We have seen the plant blooming in early spring before but weather conditions seem to have especially favoured it in 2020. This species is a native of Japan. It is a spreading deciduous shrub growing to 4 metres tall by 3 metres wide. Pendant, bell-shaped primrose yellow coloured flowers are borne on naked arching branches in early spring.  They are followed by small leaves which colour pink or red before falling in autumn.
We are fortunate to have this interesting shrub.  It was purchased with a donation from the family of well known Caversham resident and campaigner, the late Molly Casey (mother of our current treasure Hester) and planted in Molly's memory.  These images were captured by Vickie Abel.  The cat seems to be enjoying the spring sunshine!

At present, the daffodils are in bloom on the bank leading to the main lawn and the compact magnolia tree (Magnolia x soulangeana) is now producing its crop of large white pink-stained flowers.  These stand erect initially but petals spread out with age hence the common name of the species, Saucer Magnolia.  The tree in the garden is over 80 years old.

The aged and leaning black mulberry (Morus nigra) near the entrance gates is still largely dormant as yet but if you look across the fence designed to protect the tree you will see a large number of light blue flowers of Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) which blooms each spring irrespective of whether snow has fallen or not.  Chionodoxa is a native of western Turkey but its bulbs are increasingly popular in the UK yielding attractive early season colour.  It is closely related to the darker blue flowered common Scilla.












                                                                       Flowers of Magnolia soulangeana

During the last few days (6 April) the weekend sunshine has encouraged the white tulips to unfurl in the Western Border.


Additionaly the Snowy Mespilus (Amelanchier) is in heavy bloom.  You can see this small erect tree beyond the Tea Kiosk and the lower path near the river bank.  The tree is currently showing a profusion of small star shaped flowers.  The leaves are coppery pink at first turning yellowish green then orange and crimson in autumn.  The edible dark red berries ripen to a purple-black in the autumn.

Thanks again to Vickie Abel for keeping us all up to date with her photographs from the Gardens. 
                                                                            

                                                                             RECENT NEWS

We are sad to report that Reading Borough Council have had to fell one of the signature elms near the Rectory this week.  It was one of two common limes near our entrance gates which have borne huge clusters of mistletoe in their upper reaches.  The tree had to be felled because it was causing damage to the perimeter wall.  We understand that the diocese will be replacing it with a small leaved lime tree in that area.  We will keep you posted on the planting.  Small leaved limes are relatively uncommon these days but were originally the dominant lime species. They suffered from over competition in woodlands and slowness to reproduce so have been replaced in most situations by the common hybrid lime.  





REINSTATEMENT OF THE HOUSE FOOTPRINT

We are delighted that relaying of the house footprint was completed in December.  Limestone from Vraca (Vratsa), Bulgaria, has been used to outline the main 'rooms' of the Victorian house, with composite concrete around the entrance area.  A new feature is that oak has been used to mark doorways, whereas the thresholds were previously delineated in the same stone as the walls showing the 19th century mansion.



CHRISTMAS CAROLS IN CAVERSHAM COURT GARDENS

A successful carol service was held in St Peter's Church on 16 December,  Because of a forecast of heavy rain showers the service had to be transferred from the gardens to the church this year.  St Peter's was full to capacity with some 40 people unable to enter but who followed the service gathered around the porch.  The service was compered by Simon Thomas and the singing led by the choir of St Peter's Church and the band of the local Salvation Army.  We are grateful to the rector of St Peter's for hosting the evening, to Linda Humphreys-Evans for organising the event and to tea kiosk volunteers for supplying mulled wine and mince pies for those attending.  Thank you also to the several sponsors of the evening whose support was detailed in the carol booklet and is greatly appreciated.

CADRA PANEL ON WILLIAM MARSHAL

CADRA have commissioned and recently installed an illustrated panel about William Marshal on the viewing platform of Caversham Bridge.  The panel looks towards Dean's Farm where his home was thought to be and where he died on 14 May 1204.

Marshal (the Earl of Pembroke) was lord of the manor of Caversham.  He is reported to have given the land between the churchyard and the river (which includes the current gardens) to the Augustinian Notley Abbey in the 12th Century.  He had a reputation as Englands greatest knight and served five sovereigns, ruling the country as regent to the young King Henry III.  As regent he was responsible for ensuring the survival of Magna Carta after King John's death.

More information is available on www.cadra.org.uk


PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION

The Friends held a photography competition earlier this year to celebrate 10 years since the refurbished gardens opened in the summer of 2009. We invited all our visitors to submit pictures which capture the spirit of the gardens through the seasons.  

To see some of the best entries and the winner - see Photography Competition.

MADE IN CAVERSHAM FUNDRAISING CROQUET DAY
Sunday 2 June
A successful fundraising day was held in the Gardens organised by 'Made in Caversham'
The event was well supported by visitors, the 'Friends' and by members of the Caversham Croquet Club. Those who participated enjoyed this tactical battle of mallet, hoops and balls re-creating a game which would have been played on the lawns of Caversham Court in its Victorian heyday.  The afternoon was enhanced by some lively music from the Abbey jazz Trio and tea and cakes available from the ever popular tea kiosk.






CHILDRENS CRAFT AFTERNOON
Sunday 1 September

Some 20 children joined volunteers led by our treasurer Hester to create a colourful collage for the garden inspired by its flowers.  A great time was had by all and the impressive end product had an important message for us 'Flowers need bees and bees need flowers


SCHOOL VISITS
This year we have enjoyed educational visits from local schools which have used the gardens as a link to their studies of issues such as global warming, local history and architecture.

Pupils from Caversham Primary School enjoyed two days of visits in the summer to consider the importance of our trees in mitigating the effects of aerial pollution and some of the harmful effects of climate change.

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More recently children from St Martin's Catholic Primary School, Caversham visited to enjoy a session with Gemma Solanellas designed as a practical approach to learn and have fun through heritage with hands on activities.  The pupils
enjoyed hearing about the gardens and their buildings, past and present, and were encouraged to observe, draw and erect a model from cards showing architectural features of the 17th century gazebo.