Garden News

This video gives a flavour of the gardens


We said farewell to the ailing Bhutan pine next to the Tea Kiosk on 11 February. The image above shows the trunk partially felled on that day. A replacement tree (see above) of the same species was planted on Good Friday with the assistance of Reading Tree Wardens..

Tree wardens and members of the Friends have been helping to spread the bark chippings from the felled Bhutan pine. The chippings have been spread under the family yew and other trees in the gardens which are currently showing stress due to climate change and soil conditions. The image above shows wood chippings being spread around the Black Walnut tree.

Information on Bhutan pine is provided below

The sketch of our Bhutan pine (above) was done by Hester Casey in 2020 and reminds of the now felled tree The bark chippings from the old Bhutan pine have been used as a mulch for some of the other trees in the gardens which are currently showing signs of stress due to climate change and soil conditions.

The Bhutan pine (Pinus wallichiana) is a coniferous evergreen tree native to the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountains, from eastern Afganhistan east across northern Pakistan and north west India to Yunnan in south west China. It grows in mountain valleys at altitudes of 1800 to 4300 m, reaching 30 to 50 m in height.

An important timber tree in the Himalayas, it is harvested on a commercial basis from both wild stands and plantations, producing high-quality, durable timber used in local carpentry and for making tea boxes. The Bhutan pine also has a range of traditional uses for food (pine nuts) and medicine (for example turpentine, used to cure respiratory problems). Used as firewood locally, it produces a lot of smoke because it is very resinous.

The latin name comes from Dr Nathaniel Wallich (1786-1854), who was born in Copenhagen but spent many years exploring the botany of northern India and nearby areas. He introduced the seeds of this pine to England in 1827 and it became a fashionable specimen tree with its long needles and huge banana-shaped cones. Our tree was probably planted in the second half of the 19th century.


The Tea Kiosk re-opens (18 May)

Reading Borough Council have been making the necessary repairs to the Tea Kiosk. It is planed to re-open on Wednesday 18 May so that volunteers from several local charities can resume serving their popular hot drinks and home-made cakes. The Tea Kiosk will be open each week on WEDNESDAY to SUNDAY inclusive.

Reading Amateur Regatta welcome Dusseldorf crews (11 & 12 June)

This years Reading Amateur Regatta will take place on 11 and 12 June. Visiting international crews will include those from Dusseldorf who will be taking part in special challenge races on the Saturday and Sunday as well as regular races.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Reading-Dusseldorf Association, which was set up after the Second World War by Reading Mayor Phoebe Cusden. The anniversary celebrations will include an exchange of civic delegations in June, exhibitions in Reading Museum and the Stadmuseum, Dusseldorf and a special Reading-Dusseldorf 75 years of friendship photo competition. During the regatta, there will be a presentation for the Dusseldorf crews in Caversham Court Gardens on the Saturday afternoon.

The Reading Amateur Regatta is this year celebrating its own 180th anniversary. Back in the 19th century, prize-giving ceremonies were held on the lawns of the gardens (the house then known as The Old Rectory). In 1870, for example, local newspapers reported that silver presentation cups donated by Reading industrialists were filled with champagne from the cellars of the Simonds family of bankers and brewers, who owned the estate at the time.

Gifts to the Dusseldorf crews will include copies of 'Caversham Court Gardens, A Heritage Guide' as a souvenir of their visit to Caversham and Reading.

For more information about the regatta go to The Reading Dusseldrf Association is at

The Long Wall

Cliveden Conservation are starting a survey of the Long Wall along The Warren on the western edge of the allotments. This forms the perimeter of St Peters Conservation Area. Often described as a heated wall, this has puzzled the Friends for a very long time, since none of the many experts we have consulted can suggest how it worked. We welcome this opportunity for Cliveden Conservation to undertake a full survey of the wall and, with luck, reveal its secrets

Please note that there will be no parking alongside the wall on WEDNESDAY 23 FEBRUARY.

Caversham Court Timeline

Ever since the major project to reinterpret the history of Caversham Court which resulted in the refurbishment of 2009, members of the Friends have been researching the history of the houses that stood on the site and the families that lived in them over the centuries. Historian Gill Clark has put together a timeline of this l;atest research. This has been lodged with the Berkshire Records Office and will be available for all to consult. Read more about this important contribution to local history in the HISTORY/FRIENDS STUDY section of this website.

New Video Filming

The Friends are working with Reading College to produce a series of short videos with audio commentary to display major features of the gardens. The videos will enable visitors to learn more of the garden either before visiting or when on site.

Filming by students on a media studies course began in mid-October 2020 with a gimbal funded by the Friends using money received in memory of long time supporter and committee member Mike Eggleton.

The gimbal is a pivoted support that allows rotation of a camera. The students are directed by their lecturer Adam Goldstein. We are grateful to Amanda Cropper for her part in facilitating this project.

Restrictions imposed during the pandemic have delayed the project which will continue when it is permitted to do so.


Volunteers are able to offer illustrated talks on the history of Caversham Court Gardens and of the families who have lived in houses on the site over the centuries. If you are interested in booking a speaker please contact The Friends on