October 2014Weather wise, last month was just beautiful and we tried to make the most of it out and about in the garden. Lots of clearing out and organising has been going on, as well as painting wooden beds and planters, cutting back and tying in our raspberries and lots more. We’ve harvested the last of our potatoes now and these have been dried and stored in sacks in the shed. Our veterans have been very busy cooking and preserving our produce. We’ve had a lovely crop of tomatoes, peas and beans, cucumbers, courgettes and rhubarb as well as lots of herbs and we have been continuing to supply the hospital kitchen with a regular delivery of freshly harvested produce. With all our harvests we’ve been making chutneys, pickled beetroot, hedgerow jelly, piccalilli and jams. Two successful sales, one at Hewlett Packard and our fortnightly table across at the hospital have shown just how popular our goodies are, we’ve sold almost everything we’ve been making which is lovely. Also successful, our bird feeders and mobiles sold well – the mobiles are made from scraps of leftover wood and salvaged lengths of piping, a triumph of recycling salvaged and waste materials.
One of our main events for the month was the installation of the long-awaited fire door between our work/kitchen area and our woodwork workshop. This means that we can use both areas more efficiently and safely and also we don’t have to walk around the outside of the building when the veterans are using the workshop. Installed only recently, it’s been well used each day since then and seems to have had the added benefit of making the combined area more sociable.
Our winter preparations have started with cutting back and tidying beds and pots – which means the compost bins are filling up a treat. Our hanging baskets are being transformed with winter planting and bulbs are being planted for some spring colour. Seed sowing is continuing with sprouting broccoli, choi sum and leeks. Our onions and garlic have been started off in trays too.
This week, the veterans have been tackling some bigger jobs and we now have a brilliant path winding through the new shady wildlife garden. It has been a huge amount of work clearing out and planning this area which was the site of one of the polytunnels which, you may remember, was unfortunately damaged beyond repair last winter. They took great care to ensure the path is wheelchair friendly so that everyone can use it to access that whole new area. Lots of discussion and planning is going on – we will keep you posted. The beds on either side are being prepared and the first lot of plants have gone in. All the work is starting to pay off as it is looking fantastic.
We’ve had yet more new referrals to our Glasgow site which is very positive for us. As part of their initial visit to Gardening Leave, veterans are given a short tour around our site which provides them with the opportunity to see the variety of projects we have going on around the garden and to meet other veterans who are out and about working with staff and volunteers. This initial visit also reinforces the message that they don’t have to be a budding Alan Titchmarsh or Carol Klein – we also do woodwork, crafts and cooking amongst other things. And not forgetting another vital part of our day they get to join us at teatime or lunchtime around the table where the veterans can catch up with each other and talk through all sorts of issues – good and bad. As they all come in on different days, they also like to chat through what’s been happening in the garden since their last visit and also what we have planned for that day and beyond.
As with every organisation which relies heavily on their volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to do a fraction of what we do with our veterans if it wasn’t for our brilliant volunteers. Some will man the kitchen, others do our morning pick-ups collecting veterans and again at the end of the day, some prefer to work in the garden or work in the kitchen – it doesn’t really matter. Giving up their own time to come to the garden is invaluable to us so a huge thank you to all of you. On that note, we said a sad farewell to two of our longer standing volunteers Mrs Sandy and Sandy Gillon. Thanks to both of you for devoting so much of your time over the years to the guys and work that we do here in the garden, thanks especially to Mrs Sandy for keeping that rockery under control and to Sandy G. for introducing us to piccalilli, which we just can’t stop making!!!
Keep the harvests coming and enjoy Autumn, Karen and Wendy