Newsletter Autumn 2021

The days are getting shorter, but we have autumn colour to look forward to in the gardens and in Sr Peter's churchyard, too. Look out for the buttery-yellow foliage on the Black Walnut, gold on the Tulip Tree and shocking pink on the Liquidamber. If you are wondering where those trees are, take a peek at The Tree Trail recently updated and located on the Publications page of this website.

As we look forward to autumn colour, though, some of our trees continue to give cause for concern. R.B.C. tree surveyor Jack Nicholls-Sames fears the Bhutan Pine outside the Tea Kiosk cannot be saved, but he may look at reducing the heavy limbs in the interim. Pollarding to extend the life of the lime trees around the entrance is planned, and one of the Ash trees needs attention. Reading Canoe Club has applied to fell the ailing Weeping Willow on the river bank. This Willow is a very important landscape feature, visible from Caversham Bridge and beyond, and helps to screen the club building, which detracts from the view of the Caversham Court gazebo on the bank. If felling is the only safe course of action, we would like to see a semi-mature Willow planted in its place as soon as possible. The two trees on Church Road which were demolished by a vehicle opposite to the entrance to the gardens will be replaced this autumn.

Heritage Open Days were a great success again this year, with six tours over the two afternoons of 11 and 12 September. We are very grateful to R.B.C. and all allotment holders for allowing us to take tours of the old kitchen garden, now the allotments. This year's theme of Edible England fitted very well with information about the history of Caversham Court's kitchen garden and a display of some of the fruits and vegetables that would have been grown there at various times in the past. Our plant scientist, volunteer John Evans told visitors about his experimental growing medieval vegetables such as skirret and salsify, quite a different experience from browsing the veg section at Waitrose. Visitors also enjoyed the novelty of returning to the gardens through the undercroft of the gazebo.

Stable Block We await with some trepidation the results of the sale/lease of the Caversham Court Stable Block. The deadline for submissions was 17 September.

Dates for your diary

Halloween, 30-31 October (dawn to dusk) This year Caversham Court will be part of the Caversham Halloween Trail! Adults and children alike should prepare to be spooked as you walk around the gardens on both days: ghouls, witches and mad monks will be waiting for you, to say nothing of giant spiders. You'll be safe in the Tea Kiosk, though, which will be open for restorative hot chocolate and tasty themed treats. The gardens will close at dusk as usual, you won't be left in the dark! Our Tresurer Hester Casey is also a textile artist and is crafting the displays with mainly recycled materials.

Christmas Tree Sale, Saturday 4 December (9.30 to 12.00) Econet will be in the gardens selling Christmas trees and decorations, the Tea Kiosk will have hot drinks and Christmas fare and we hope to have some Christmas music to start the festive season.

Christmas Carols. Unfortunately, the Friends are unable to hold the Christmas Carols in the gardens this year: let's hope we can do so in 2022.

The gardens will be open throughout the Christmas and New Year period except for Christmas Day.

Jubilee Celebrations. Something to look forward to in 2022! The Queen will be celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in June 2022 with the late May Bank Holiday and an extra Bank Holiday on Friday 3 June - making a long weekend from the Thursday to the Sunday (2-5 June). Caversham Court Gardens and the Forbury gardens over in Reading will be marking the Jubilee in style. Look out for platinum and purple planting - and lots of red, white and blue, of course. Plans are still under wraps at the moment but make sure to put the dates in your diary for next year.

Vickie Abel

Chair, Friends of Caversham Court Gardens