November was mild and planting continued into the raised beds. We begged and borrowed vegetable plug plants to fill the raised beds after harvesting all the vegetables in October to allow work to be carried out. Onions, broccoli (thanks to GL. Erskine), and lettuce were transplanted this month and are now covered with fleece to protect from frost. Vegetables transplanted in October are looking healthy and broad beans continue to grow. We have continued to sow lettuce, coriander, dill and parsley to ensure a succession of plants to harvest for Su Casa and the SRUC poultry shop, also sweet peas and Victoria Cross poppies to overwinter under glass. Honesty planted last month has been pricked out to ensure a good supply for next year, and the little violas in hanging baskets add a splash of colour to the terrace wall.
The garden looked good for our Remembrance service, many veterans, volunteers and visitors from ISS gathered together to pay respect to those lost in conflict and to members of Gardening Leave who have passed away. Padre Jim led the service.
There was excitement this month with a visit from a film crew from British Forces News, veterans, staff, ISS and volunteers were involved in this production and the short film produced gave an insight into the work carried out at Gardening Leave and is available to view on our home page. Woodwork continues in the Stovehouse, wishing wells, wheelbarrows and butterfly houses are proving very popular and a Bavarian-style Santa and Christmas tree were swiftly translated into a template. The finished products are lovely and in high demand.
In the kitchen we have been busy making jams and chutneys, in particular, redcurrant and rosemary jelly, spicy apple chutney and cranberry sauce are proving very popular. Staff, volunteers and veterans have attended Christmas fayres at Pinwherry, Kincase Primary and Annbank church guild where woodwork, jams, plants, Christmas cards and notelets from Amicus Botanicus are all good sellers. Not forgetting our weekly donation from the poultry shop to whom we are very grateful.
This month also Pamela and a team of veterans and volunteers went to help Dobbies build Santa’s grotto, great fun was had by all and the photos taken showed this to be a very successful and worthwhile contribution from all involved. Dobbies subsequently donated tools to Gardening Leave and the opportunity to bag pack in the store over several weekends. Thanks to Pamela and her team, Dobbies, and their customers who donated over £500.Unbelievably, there were yet more visitors to the garden. Fern, the Wish Fairy from the Ayrshire Post, was pictured alongside Staff and veterans. A reporter and photographer from the Guardian spent a day in the garden, and published an article in the Observer featuring pictures and interviews with veterans. This marked the launch of their Christmas appeal for mental health charities one of which is Gardening Leave. Alan gave a tour of the garden and a presentation to a group of young people from Auchinleck academywho are involved in the Youth in Philanthropy project and have chosen Gardening Leave as their charity.
Donations continue to roll in this month, we received tools for restoration, more soft fruit, winter bedding from Dobbies, ceramic pots, gardening gloves, geranium cuttings, seeds and sandpaper, leaf mould and phormiums from South Ayrshire Council and Christmas gateaux. We would like to thank everyone who helped us out this month.
Preparations are ongoing in the bothy to restore it to its former glory. Volunteers, veterans and staff have been working around the clock plastering, painting and cleaning to transform the building into a suitable headquarters for management and free up some much needed space in the original Gardening Leave building.
Continuing into December we are busy making up table decorations for Prestwick Bowling Club, Christmas wreaths, logs for the farm shop and a hamper that was raffled at the poultry shop. Colin and Hugh helped organise the raffle, sold tickets and the winning tickets were drawn on Wednesday. We held our Christmas dinner in the Stovehouse early in December for all staff, veterans and volunteers that could make it. The dinner was enjoyed by all thanks to Sallie for her incredible calm in the kitchen and prior planning by Victoria and Pam. Thanks to all the volunteers and veterans who helped with preparations and donations of puddings – we were so spoilt for choice and unable to move afterwards!
As this goes to press we have just received a generous donation of £100 from Prestwick Bowling Club for the table decorations and bags of Christmas goodies. Many thanks to Mr & Mrs Clark from Prestwick indoor bowling club.
Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas and New Year.
Victoria and Pamela