January 2019

It’s always good to reflect on the year past at the start of a new year. Last year proved to be a busy one. We held ten public events during the course of the year and hosted twelve booked visits and private functions (from garden clubs, horticultural societies, Brownies and other village groups). The garden team are becoming increasingly adept and efficient at putting up and taking down the marquee, party tents and gazebos used on these occasions! Our thanks to everyone who supported these events, and of course to the many volunteers that help in the garden, stewarding at events or serving refreshments. We could still use more help to ensure we can continue to hold regular events and maintain the garden to a good standard. If you are interested, please contact us or drop into the garden on one of our regular open mornings to see what we do.
The schedule of events for 2019 is shown on the inside cover of this issue. Do please make a note of these in your diaries. All events will be advertised in the Sawston Scene Diary. This year is the tenth anniversary of the formal opening of the garden, so we plan to have a special Anniversary Fete this year. Look out for details in due course.
Further good progress was made last year to our infrastructure and buildings. In the garden, internal footpaths were resurfaced, bore-hole equipment replaced and the ‘pink shed’ demolished. Repairs to the car park were carried out and essential maintenance undertaken on our neighbouring property, greatly improving the integrity and appearance of the passageway to the car park. Many thanks, as ever, to our builders Ray and Graham for their support and skilled workmanship.
The final phase of interior work was completed in the Challis house, allowing us to transfer the village archives from the Parish Council office and to formally open the Challis Museum and Archives. This is an important milestone for the trust and a great asset for the local community. If you haven’t been already, do drop in on a Tuesday morning to have a look at the permanent exhibition rooms and perhaps to browse the library and archives. Anyone wishing to do more serious research on Sawston village history can arrange to visit the archives on a Saturday morning by appointment.
The major project for 2019 is to construct a replacement building where the ‘pink shed’ stood. This is primarily to accommodate a garden museum where we can display old gardening equipment and associated artefacts.
Gardening work is on schedule. The herbaceous beds and individual shrubs have been weeded, cut back, pruned and mulched to give them a good start for the forthcoming season. We are currently focused on reducing heavy growth of ivy in parts of the garden and removing unwanted Prunus suckers. Hard work, but certainly keeps us warm on cold mornings! A few more sycamores will be removed this winter, to reduce excessive shade, allowing ground flora and under-storey shrubs to flourish. A start will also be made on remedial work to shorten overhanging walnut branches in one area.
At the time of writing in mid-January, the unseasonably mild weather is encouraging early displays of spring flowers. Snowdrops, aconites and the odd crocus are already showing and will continue to flower through February and March. Hopefully, there will be a true wintry cold spell to hold back the spring growth and help suppress garden pests, especially slugs and aphids. In the winter/spring walk, Mahonias, sweet box (Sarcococca confusa), shrub honeysuckle (Lonicera) and Viburnum fragrans give off wonderful fragrances on sunny mornings. The bright red, yellow, orange and green stems of the dogwoods are showing well and set off the under-planted spring bulbs. Well worth a stroll around in the coming months. Mike Redshaw

Published in February–March 2019 Sawston Scene