With fifteen acres of gardens and grounds, and a limited gardening budget, Springhead’s volunteer ‘Garden Gang’ has always been valued. With more volunteers coming on board, and a new ‘Winter Wednesdays’ group working in the North Orchard, volunteers are now making even more of a difference. The sessions are also much valued by the volunteers as a chance to get outdoors, get some exercise and get together with other people.
Under the leadership of Nicky Chattaway, the Garden Gang meets every Wednesday in the ornamental gardens, doing different jobs through the seasons from weeding and pruning, to planting bulbs, clearing ditches and creating ‘dead hedges’ from cut brash. Some have been coming many years, like Dick Stainer, pictured below left, who became a regular volunteer about 12 years ago when his first task was to try and stop badgers coming in through the hedges. He enjoys the satisfaction of working outside with other people and explains that ‘it works because the group we’ve got gets on well together and seems to be effective’.
The recently-formed ‘Winter Wednesdays’ group (main picture) has been giving a new lease of life to the North Orchard at Springhead. This Autumn, some of the large poplar trees which were shredding branches, and were a potential risk to visitors as well as damaging the orchard’s fruit trees, were felled and reduced in height. As a result, Catherine Simmonds, the co-ordinator of Springhead’s Productive Gardens Project, has been able to begin restoration of the orchard with the help of the new volunteers. In just three weeks, the group has created dead hedges and habitat piles with dead wood, and restored the pond. ‘We’re all enjoying seeing the orchard come to life again. We’re at the beginning and there’s lots to do, but its fun working together. By next spring and summer the area will be perfect for forest schools activities with visiting school groups.’