July 2019

Summer is a busy time for the Challis Trust, with June and July being the peak months for visitors to the house and garden. We have hosted a number of gardening clubs and history societies, given presentations and tours of the garden and museum, and provided refreshments. These visits are very popular, judging by the favourable comments received. New visitors are invariably surprised by the size and variety in the garden, and impressed also by the exhibits in the house.

The garden team has been very active in recent weeks, keeping up with mowing, weeding, pruning and deadheading. After the dry start to the season, which held back growth, the heavy rainfall in June led to a surge of growth and flowering. It has been hard work keeping up with everything but, on the other hand, there’s been less watering to do. Despite the slow start, the herbaceous beds are lush and very colourful now. The bee border and wildflower meadow are especially good this year, full of flowers – a firm favourite with visitors. A wide range of bumblebees, butterflies and other insects can be seen.

It was pleasing to present the garden to a high standard for Sawston Open Gardens, to participate in the National Garden Scheme (NGS) event on Sunday 7th July. Our thanks to the garden volunteers who made a special effort to prepare the garden for the day, which attracted a hundred and fifty visitors. There were two other participating gardens this year, both in Mill Lane, and many people also visited the two artists’ studios that were open on the same afternoon (for Cambridge Open Studios). So plenty for visitors to see – combined with the good weather, it was a successful afternoon.

Open Gardens raised £955 for the NGS, to be distributed to the nursing and caring charities they support, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK, Carers’ Trust and the Queen’s Nursing Institute, among others. The Challis Trust is pleased to support these worthy causes by opening the garden to raise money. It would be good to see more Sawston gardens joining the scheme. If anyone is interested in opening their garden in 2020, please contact Mike Redshaw on 01223 834511.

There are no public events scheduled for August, but needless to say, we are very pleased to see people in the garden on our regular opening times (see page 23). At this time of the year, there are many plants and some fresh produce for sale, including root vegetables, beans and courgettes, with plums, damsons and apples to follow in August and September. In addition, Andy Jackson continues to produce large volumes of jams, relishes and chutneys. Our early summer honey has sold out but we expect to have more for sale in the coming period. Do drop in to see what’s on offer. Remember too that the house and museum are open every Tuesday morning to look around.

The Challis Horticultural Show is coming up on Saturday 7th September. We would love to see more people entering produce, flowers and handicrafts in the show, especially in the children’s sections. Schedules are available now from the Mary Challis Garden or from the dispenser at the main gate, or can be downloaded from our website, www.challistrust.org.uk. If you are interested in entering the domestic classes, please note there are some new classes this year, following set recipe: more of a challenge for experienced cooks and a level playing field for judging. If you grow stuff, bake, make things or take photos, there is something for everyone to get involved with. If you haven’t participated before, please do give it a try.

The Apple Day is brought forward to Saturday 28th September, earlier than last year. We hope the timing is optimal for the main apple harvest. Unfortunately, there are few apples on our own trees this year, most likely due to late frosts damaging the flowers and young fruit. We may well put out an appeal nearer the time for people to donate apples for pressing and juicing. If you would like to process your own apples, please bring them along on Apple Day and join in the fun. There will be plenty of other apple-related activities for children and adults alike.

Work continues apace in the house, sorting through and cataloguing the collection of archives and artefacts. It seems we have a large collection of clay pipes and assorted bottles. If you have specialist knowledge on either subject, please contact us to help identify and select pieces for display. We plan to hold an exhibition on co-operative societies in Sawston. We would like to have samples of ‘old’ money to put on display – farthings, coppers, threepenny pieces, shillings, half-crowns, and so on. If you have a collection or could loan some coins for the exhibition, please contact us. Mike Redshaw SS

Published in the June–July 2019 issue of Sawston Scene