Garden News

Our new video is here:

VISIT OF READING MAYOR

We were delighted to welcome the Mayor of Reading Councillor David Stevens and Mrs Stevens to the gardens on 2 May. They joined us to celebrate the re-opening of the Tea Kiosk and to meet volunteers and visitors on a walk around the gardens.

A NEW TREE

Our rowan (mountain ash) on the main lawn died and has now been replaced by a ginkgo or maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba). There is a further, more mature ginkgo in St Peters churchyard. The ginko is the only surviving member of a group of plants dating back to before the dinosaurs. Its distinctive leaves are often found as fossils in rocks hence its other name, the 'fossil tree'. The ginko was first introduced to England from China in the early 18th Century. It is very resilient to pests and diseases and some claim that its long tap root enabled it to survive the blast of an atomic bomb dropped on Japan in 1945.

We thank Dave Kenny and his fellow Reading Tree Wardens for their assistance.

The new tree has established well. The leaves are unique amongst seed plants being fan-shaped with veins radiating out into the leaf blade. During the autumn the foliage has a striking saffron yellow colour.


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 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.

Media students Kamilla and Ben filming at the gardens.

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

We appreciate the sketches below, the first two received from local artist Mary Phelan showing visitors relaxing in summer sunshine in the gardens. The third is a sketch of our Bhutan Pine by Hester Casey.

THE BHUTAN PINE

The Bhutan pine, one of our favourite trees in the garden, has been showing signs of stress for at least a year or so. The canopy has become thinner this year with some branches showing marked deterioration following the recent prolonged period of dry weather. It is not the only tree suffering under these conditions, the neighbouring tulip tree on the lawn and the black walnut also show worrying signs of stress as are some of the younger trees nearer the river bank. Our concerns have been conveyed to Reading Borough Council. We have proposed that the Bhutan pine should be watered, mulched and the area around it fenced off to prevent further soil compaction due to footfall. In the interim, we appreciate the efforts of Will, our gardener, and several volunteers for watering the worst affected trees in the garden and hope that we might see significant rainfall to assist in this process.

We are sad to report that the Diocese have had to fell one of the signature limes near the Rectory. 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. The Diocese has now replaced the felled tree with a small leaved lime (see below). 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.

ILLUSTRATED TALKS

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.