10 October 2021: A special opening of Sian’s garden for CABAHS members, a lovely chance to catch up and £251 raised for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice.
A selection of photos of Ruth & Matthew’s beautiful garden ‘The Gatehouse’. CABAHS members attended a lovely open evening, wandering around their garden recently, with donations in aid of the Hospice.
We received a lovely letter of appreciation from Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, when we sent them £950 raised at our recent Charlton House plant sale. They looked back over the last 17 years and sent us this certificate showing how much we have raised in total for them. Well done everyone!
The rainiest May for years, wet volunteers still working away. (They come for the Lotus biscuits at half time…). The gravel garden looks rather good in the rain actually. But for heaven’s sake when is that Alianthus (Tree of Heaven) going to come into leaf? It’s almost as slow as the Mulberry.
Bird bath being used, and our lovely Cotinus (Smoke Bush) is coming out.
Sunday 30 May
Our Plant Sale and Community Day was a great success – all those pleas were answered and the sun did come out. Thank you so much to everyone who donated plants or gave their time on the day to help. This was the biggest plant sale CABAHS has ever held, and has raised over £950 for the Hospice, plus more funds to continue the garden revival.
At the AGM a year ago, I nervously stood in front of the packed Long Gallery at Charlton House and gave a talk about the Old Pond Garden walled garden.
The Society has been meeting once a month at Charlton House for over 30 years, and yet a large proportion of our members (myself included until a couple of months prior to that) had no idea the walled gardens existed. Local Charlton members knew of course, but our membership is drawn from a wide area of South East London, so this was news for many of them.
We proposed that a volunteer scheme should be set up to help renovate and maintain the gardens, since the RBG gardeners were too stretched to do more than trim and mow. We had the support of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, and with their help had applied for some funding from the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund.
But it was a bit of a leap of faith- CABAHS has only ventured into volunteering once in its history, back in the 1990’s, when members helped run the garden and greenhouse at Greenwich Hospital. So in February we launched the volunteer scheme in the garden, on the weekend of Storm Dennis, with our carefully prepared flyers flying about everywhere, and everyone taking a quick look at the garden and running for cover (and coffee and cakes) in the House. But apart from the weather it was a success as we had 34 interested people sign up on the spot.
The volunteers started work very enthusiastically on a lovely sunny Sunday in late February, tackling the early weeds and brimming with ideas of what should stay, go or could be donated from their own gardens. So many discussions about what is a weed, whether the giant Phormiums should be kept, and whether forget-me-nots are invasive! We developed an Old Pond Garden committee, to administer and run the scheme (and deal with the interesting Health & Safety issues– eg don’t eat the plants). Volunteer sessions were very well attended, even as the nastier weather set in, and a tea and homemade cake routine developed alongside the weeding.
While enjoying our time in the garden, of course world events were catching up with us and we had to close the scheme on March 21st as the first Covid-19 Lockdown hit.
During that first Lockdown, the weather decided to become unseasonably hot, which was nice for all of us stuck at home, but totally fried the primroses and snowdrops we had planted in the garden. Behind the scenes, the Old Pond Garden committee carried on planning. Melanie and Kay filmed a 2 minute clip of the garden for the Greenwich & Bexley Hospice Open Gardens, which raised our profile tremendously and helped with funding for the Hospice.
June 30th and we were back on track! But by now we had even more volunteers, and they included local garden designer Jason Carty. The very professional and lovely planting plan that Jason came up with was quickly adopted and the Volunteers set to with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
After the March-June shortages of compost and seeds, it was great to be able to swap plants again, and the garden became a useful exchange point. We had to add antiseptic hand gel to our Health & Safety rules, but most gardeners wear gloves anyway and we learned all about the importance of hand cream after a grubby planting session! Homemade cakes were replaced with cellophane wrapped biscuits, and work carried on.
By August the garden beds were clear enough to be able to hold a Plant Sale with all plants grown and donated by members (THANK YOU!). There were also displays of the gardens in past times and our plans for the future. The public turned up in droves and we sold out by 2pm. Even the Mayor of Greenwich visited just in time to pick up the last of the plants, and we made over £1,000, for the garden fund and Hospice.
Other creative achievements: Some volunteers cut the remaining lavender in the garden, to dry, and other volunteers made bespoke CABAHS Charlton House Lavender Bags (applying for copyright!) for sale. The old cherry tree stump was dug up, after Herculean effort from David, and made into a wildlife area for the Stag Beetle larvae we disturbed. A leaf store was built, in readiness for Autumn leaf fall, to recycle the goodness back into the garden. A “Grand Designs Luxury Shelter” has been built, unbelievably from old building hoardings though you would never guess, and is now hidden in one corner of the garden. With coat hooks for volunteers’ coats, so practical!
In September we received £6,000 funding from Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund, a huge boost for our planting plans. The committee negotiated a 50% trade discount with Provender Nurseries and went on a shopping spree.
In October we took delivery of a new bench seat, to commemorate CABAHS 70th Anniversary, kindly funded by members subscriptions. We also received interest and some practical help from students from the University of Greenwich Landscape Architecture department. By November the second Lockdown had hit, but this time the weather was being more normal and plants were becoming dormant anyway. We got back to work in December, and carried on planting in the mild weather. There was a wonderful surprise from the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, who awarded us £500 to buy some special plants for the garden (big thank you Melanie for applying!). In the week before Christmas, volunteers fashioned stylish wreath decorations forthe gates from leaves and berries from the garden itself and a socially distanced mince-pie-fest, courtesy Charlton Bakehouse, concluded the year.
January came and brought the Third Lockdown, but the garden is coping fine with two local volunteers a week popping in to check it over. The tree surgeon Amber Treecare paid a longawaited visit in the first week in February to give the garden a haircut. So much better and lighter, with a lot of overgrown Pyracantha removed and the ivy trimmed to the top of the walls. You can see the House properly again!
As we await the vaccine roll out, lots of virtual planning has been going on, with a new application for funds to extend the Volunteer scheme into the Long Borders garden in 2021. We hope to include the fabulous ancient Mulberry Tree enclosure in our care too, keeping it weed and rubbish free. Such a lot to look forward to and be grateful for.
See you in the garden soon, more volunteers always welcome!
Grateful thanks to all our Volunteers, and the Old Pond Garden committee: Vija, Terry, Kay, Angela, Mandy, Melanie, Juli and Jason. Also to Tracy, Edward and the staff at Charlton House.
Thank you to everyone who donated plants, or helped set up or bought plants, we raised an amazing £1,070 from the day! If you had to queue, we do apologise, but we are also pleased that it was so popular! We had sold out by 2pm. Half the funds will go towards the walled garden restoration, and half will be donated to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice. Thank you again!
Photos of our 70th Anniversary and 1st Online SPRING SHOW 2020 winners
Our President, Sir Nicolas Bevan says, “I am greatly impressed by the quality of entries to our virtual Spring Show and I congratulate all those who sent in their photographs. At this time of anxiety and sadness our gardens can be a source of consolation and diversion and provide an outlet for our energies. I encourage all our members to carry on gardening and I look forward to the time when we can meet together again.”
The winner of Best in Show photograph is 10A, sent in by Faith. Congratulations! Here it is:
Close runners up were 9F, the tea cup display by Ann H, followed by 4D the stripy camellia by Peter S, and 2D, the white tulips by Anastasia.
We have submitted Faith’s lovely photo to the Horti-Aid Gardening competition being run by the Perennial charity, to be judged by Alan Titchmarsh, Jim Buttress & others.
CABAHS has traditionally helped to support Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice over many years. Usually, we donate two months of our Plant Sales Table proceeds to the Hospice but this year we invited donations through this page, in celebration of successfully holding our first online Spring Show.
Since 2008, CABAHS has contributed the income from June & July’s monthly meeting plant sales to the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice in Abbey Wood. From 1999 to 2008 CABAHS had a plant stall at the Hospice Fun Day on Bostall Heath. Ron, our present CABAHS Treasurer, was one of the original Trustees and played a significant role in its development. Ron has written a book, well worth reading, entitled “A Cottage in the Woods : Greenwich & Bexley Cottage Hospital” (1994) about its history and the challenges, trials and tribulations it faced in its early days.
As Chair of a local GP practice Patients Participation Group, I recently arranged for two of its staff to come and give a talk to our members, followed soon after by a visit by our members to the Hospice itself. Having an academic Medical Anthropology background, including an interest in older people’s health, like our members I was extremely impressed. I thought CABAHS members might like to know how their donations are spent and some further information about what it does nowadays and the services it provides.
The project was launched in 1985 by Pat Jeavons and Don Sturrock. The site, on two acres of land, was given to them by the Coop for £1. The Hospice took its first patients in 1994. For the general public, hospices tend to have a negative image as a place where you go to die. But hospices have moved on a long way from their early days. Nowadays, whilst the Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice retains a small number of beds for end of life, the majority stay no more than two weeks. Much of its work is in the community delivering palliative and respite care for people with long term terminal illnesses, their carers and families in their own homes, in care homes, at the hospice day hospice and in hospital. It offers a holistic approach that goes beyond physical needs, offering spiritual, social and psychological care. Where possible it aims to provide care as early as possible in a patient’s terminal illness, so that better knowing the patient’s needs and circumstances, it can provide the necessary support and so make their life and end of life easier. This makes it more likely the patient is able to die at home, which is often their preferred choice. The Hospice also provides support and training for health professionals so they can deliver high quality, individualised and co-ordinated care to the terminally ill.
At the moment the Hospice cares for over 2,500 patients a year. It provides care for those aged eighteen and over, mainly cancer patients. About 10% of its Greenwich patients are referred by their GPs, but most are referred by a Palliative Care Unit which it now runs at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich. The Hospice also runs a Day Hospice three days a week where patients can go to discuss their problems and get help. There is also a café and separate eating area for carers.
The free, wide-ranging services and support it provides are costly. For example, it employs approximately 180 staff. Only a third of the Hospice’s income comes from the NHS. It is very dependent on retail sales, legacies and voluntary donations. So if any of you are feeling generous, you can donate knowing that it is for a very good cause and the money is well spent.
Hospice: 185 Bostall Hill, SE2 0GB 0208 312 2244
Fundraising: 0208 319 9230 communityhospice.org.uk