Sunday, 9 February 2020

February 1st 2020

Last saturday 1st February was our first chance to all meet together this year to start preparing the Rose Garden for the Spring. As usual, we gathered at 10am and discussed which jobs we wanted to carry out.

Our secretary Peter had already spent lots of hours tidying the top shrub beds either side of the rose arches, so he continued with that. Our Membership secretary Linda and her sister Pauline started painting the front of our gardeners' shed, as they have planned a lovely floral design to brighten it up. Sian and Dave worked hard clearing common cornus from the centre of a shrub bed, which had got out of hand and was taking over.  A couple of us tackled some of the brambles and nettles which were starting to appear in the long border, as well as potting up a few ground covering perennials.  Weeding was carried out by the side of the shed with a view to creating a nursery bed for growing on small plants.

Another job carried out was to reinforce the shrubs alongside the entrance from Storeton Road, whilst also pulling out lots of encroaching ivy.  Many people seem to have created a makeshift path, cutting across the shrub bed when they should be using the formal paths provided.  As we had planted bulbs, we were keen to make sure this cut through was no longer an option.  It only takes a few minutes longer to walk around the path!

Paths were brushed, more work was done in and around the shed and more wood and sticks were added to the Bug Hotel. 
To warm us up, Sarah made hot drinks for us all, with shortbread biscuits to keep us going.  It was lovely to come together and get so much done in only a couple of hours.  As the saying goes, "many hands make light work!"

There were lots of signs that Spring is just around the corner.  The snowdrops are poking their heads above ground and beginning to open.  Hellebores in the long border are looking stunning in shades of pink and cream. Crocus flowers are starting to appear on the top lawn by the Memorial stone.

If you want to help as one of our volunteers, we would be delighted to have your company.  You can do as much or as little as you feel up to, and there is always friendly chat as we work.  Hot drinks are provided too.  Come along and join the team. We meet ( weather permitting) every Monday morning at 10am and also the first Saturday morning of each month at 10am.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Christmas Grotto 2019

After all the hard work put in during the year by the two Johns, we decided to make full use of the shed to celebrate the festive season with the Arno community.  This was the first time we have been able to organise an event like a christmas grotto, so we were keen to make it a wonderful celebration to end 2019.

Posters were made and social media used to let everyone in the local area know that Santa would be visiting our Arno.  All preparations were made to tidy up around the shed and our membership secretary Linda Atkinson, assisted by her sister Pauline created a wonderful secret grotto in one side of the shed, as well as elf outfits. Linda, also helped by our Chairperson Annette Capper, organised the event and allocated duties to other Committee members so that everything was ready. We were also selling home made jams which Brenda had kindly brought, ideal last minute gifts!

Saturday 14th December started very cold with quite a breeze. We gathered at 8.30am to set up the gazebo, decorate outside the shed and set up the tables and chairs. We had brought our home-made or shop bought cakes, gingerbread men, mince pies  and bottles of mulled wine.  Tea urns were used to warm the mulled wine and boil water for teas and coffees. Christmas music began to play and Santa arrived to take his seat.  We even had a basket full of bagged up dog treats for the many dog walkers who regularly exercise their pooches in the Arno and on the Oxton Fields.

We were delighted that so many people came along to support us.  Lots of dog walkers came to partake of the mulled wine and their dogs were looking smart in their Christmas coats. The star of the show was even giving a piggy back to his own mini santa toy.  Our elves were walking around handing out the dog treats and letting people know what was going on.

Lots of children were brought along to meet Santa, and were given a chocolate treat and a satsuma.  After visiting Santa in his grotto they joined us under the gazebo for soft drinks and gingerbread men.
It was lovely to be able to gather so many people in our community together at this festive time of the year. 


At midday we started to clear away and dismantle the gazebo.  We felt that it had been a success. The sale of the jams had raised £68 and altogether, including donations in our snowman basket, £200 had been taken in just two hours. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone who came along to support us and have been spurred on to plan more community events in 2020.  Watch this space!

Sunday, 8 December 2019

December Litter Pick 2019

On Saturday 7th December we met at the bottom of Duck Pond Lane to start our last litter pick of the year.  Litter pickers, gloves and plastic bags were trundled down in a wheelbarrow ready to be collected by volunteers at 10am.

Our Chairperson  Annette Capper
Everyone spread out across the Oxton Fields, up the paths through to the Rose Garden and around the Quarry area.  There were particular spots which were littered with lots of empty drink cans and glass bottles.  Around the edges of the Quarry and where the remains of the Sundial are situated seem to be especially prone to litter being thrown into the undergrowth.

Some strange items always seem to turn up, no matter what time of year we do the litter pick.  This time, we unearthed an old fire extinguisher, section of air ducting as well as a children's sledge.

After just over an hour, all the volunteers met for a photgraph or two and hot drinks and mince pies.
These regular litter picks are a vital part of the work the Friends group carries out.  Without these events, there would be so much more rubbish, spoiling the beautiful green spaces that we should treasure and enjoy as a community, as well as posing a danger to wildlife. 

If you feel you would like to take part in our next litter pick, follow us on Facebook or read our Notice Boards whenever you are passing.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

In Memory of Jim Fryer.

On Saturday 23rd November 2019, members of our Friends group gathered on the Oxton Fields to plant a tree in memory of our dear friend Jim Fryer.  He was one of the founding members of our Friends group way back in 2007 and a true gentleman.

Jim sadly passed away earlier this year on the 5th January and we had decided, after discussion with his widow Val, that planting a tree would be a fitting and lasting tribute to her late husband.  Naturally we had to wait until November to plant a bare root tree, and a suitable spot was chosen, visible from Val's kitchen window.  We purchased a native mountain ash ( Rowan) tree, which will look beautiful, not cast a huge shadow, and will produce red berries to feed the wildlife.

A few of us prepared the planting hole before Val, their two sons, and grandchildren arrived.  Our chair Annette Capper said a few words about our memories of Jim. His family poured some of Jim's ashes into the planting hole before the tree was positioned. Val did the honours, shovelling in the first few spadefuls of earth, followed by one of Jim's sons and grandchildren.

Then we finished the planting and completed the task by staking the tree to protect it for the first few years.  Finally, we stood together for some photographs to commemorate the occasion.

Fully grown Sorbus Aucuparia

We look forward to watching Jim's tree grow and develop in the years to come.  I'm sure Val will keep a watchful eye on it from her window.  His grandchildren, we hope, will return when they have grown up, to tell their own families about the significance of this particular tree on the Oxton Fields.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Recycling Hanging Baskets 2019

Every Summer, Oxton village is adorned with beautiful hanging baskets of flowers.  These are planted up and cared for by Dovecote Nursery of Station Road, Burton, until they go up in the village at the beginning of June.  This year, Oxton village won a gold from the RHS Britain in Bloom Awards in the village category. 

Since the Friends have created composting bays at the top of the long border, we have started to empty these baskets in early November.  Despite some of their contents still flowering, Christmas is just around the corner  and soon it will be the annual switching on of the Christmas lights.

On Saturday 9th November, some members of the Oxton Society brought along all the baskets.  Many of our Committee members, along with extra volunteers, worked to sort and empty the baskets into our compost heaps.  Apart from the moss lining, all is added to the heaps to rot down for future use in the Rose Garden.


The wire baskets can then be returned to Dovecote Nursery to be reused for next year's display. This is a wonderful way for us to recycle so that everyone benefits.  During the year the Friends have been using a rotary seive to create perfect compost, which we use when we are planting perennials and shrubs around the Rose Garden, or potting up plants for sale to raise funds for the Friends group.

Thank you to everyone who turned out on Saturday.  It was a fantastic team effort.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

RHS North West in Bloom Award 2019

Back in the Summer, I posted about the RHS judges coming to visit our Rose Garden on the 23rd July. This was part of their North West in Bloom awards.  In 2018 we achieved level 4 out of a possible 5, which classed us as 'thriving'.

It is with great delight that I can announce that this year we did even better and were awarded level 5, outstanding.  We are so pleased that our efforts have been recognised, as our volunteers work so hard to make the Rose Garden as pleasant a green space for the public as possible.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Rose Planting November 2019

As scheduled, we gathered in the Rose Garden at 10am on Saturday the 2nd November.  It started cloudy with rain forecast for later so we had to work quickly to plant the 160 bare root rose bushes .

The plan was to fill in gaps that were evident in the rose beds.  Obviously some beds needed only a few new rose bushes, whereas other beds were almost empty.  This year, the varieties of rose were selected to match in with the colours and heights already in.  There were Arthur bell, a yellow rose which has already proven to do well, Super Trouper, Pride and Prejudice, Ruby 40th Anniversary and finally Chandos Beauty.

Super Trouper

Pride and Prejudice
Ruby 40th Anniversary
Chandos Beauty
Arthur Bell
Despite England Rugby Team playing that morning in the World Cup Final, which we sadly lost against South Africa, we still had quite a few volunteers arrive, armed with their gloves and spades.  Each rose had its roots dipped in a solution of wallpaper paste and Rootgrow,  a mycorrhizal fungi in powdered form which helps the plants establish faster.  We worked well as a team, some digging holes, some dipping and handing out the rose bushes.  After a short tea/coffee break in our new Gardeners' shed, we continued planting until just past midday , at which time it was raining heavily.  We packed up and agreed to finish planting the remaining bushes on the following Monday.

Monday morning was cold but bright and some of us met up around10am. By noon all 160 rose bushes had been successfully planted.  Hopefully next June  everyone will be able to enjoy the scent and sight of all the rose beds in full bloom.

A huge thank you to all those who braved the cold and wet to help us.