Stony Stratford in Bloom 2012 Second Half

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14 December 2012

Planting and wreath-making fun at the Community Links After-School Christmas activity session

Asked by Helen Havens, who runs the Fullers Slade and Galley Hill Community Links Group, if Stony Stratford in Bloom would be prepared to offer an activity for the children at the After-School Christmas Activity session on 14 December at the Watling Way Centre, Stony Stratford in Bloom was delighted to oblige. Val Geddes and Judy Deveson helped the children to plant primroses in pots, which they could then proudly present to their Mums and Dads as an early Christmas present, and Theresa Wedderburn had brought along sticks and greenery and creative magic for a wreathe-making session – both of which had proved so popular last year at the Rowens Centre. All three volunteers enjoyed seeing the pleasure on the faces of the children as they potted up and put together their attractive wreathes to decorate their houses this Christmas.

Stony Stratford in Bloom is very grateful to Homebase, who kindly part-sponsored the primroses, which provided a potted plant with instant colour for an attractive Christmas present for parents.

6 December 2012

Launching Stony Stratford in Bloom as an autonomous group

On Friday, 7 December 2012 the Stony Stratford in Bloom Committee met to launch itself as an independent group with a constitution and a bank account. A few months ago Town Council officers, councillors and Stony Stratford in Bloom representatives discussed the idea of a changed relationship between the two institutions. The Town Council and Stony Stratford in Bloom will continue to work in partnership – with the Town Council paying for the contents of the planters in the town, and the watering contract, with Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers providing advice and labour on planting them up; and Stony Stratford in Bloom operating as an independent group raising funds to pay for the maintenance of the community beds that they have created around the town, and continuing with their twice-weekly working parties to keep these beds in a flourishing state throughout the year. Of course, Stony Stratford in Bloom will continue with its other activities too – the gardening sessions at the schools, the AHA photographic competition, the Golden Garden awards and the Bluebell Party with the Children’s Centre.

At the 7 December meeting the following officers were elected:

  • Chair and Acting Secretary: Judy Deveson
  • Joint Vice-Chairs: Ray Cobley and Pat Kyd
  • Horticultural Manager: Mary Sarre
  • Joint Treasurers: Mary Robinson and Jan Brunwin
  • Auditor: Ross Ellens
  • Events Organisers: Anne Emel and Mary Robinson
  • Schools Rota Organiser: Pat Thurling

Planting the Inaugural Oak in the Bluebell Wood at the top of London Road on 8 December 2012Other members of the committee include: Louise Reidy, Kathy Luff, Brenda Dunlop, Robin Kyd and Gill Williams.

As Phil Sarre has kindly donated an oak sapling, the group decided to plant it in the Bluebell Wood at the most recent working party there, and to regard it as the group’s inaugural oak!.

1 December 2012

Christmas Lights Switch-On Day:
A chance to publicize Stony Stratford in Bloom and to sell calendars

Stony Stratford in Bloom always enjoys being part of that wonderful institution – Stony Stratford Christmas Lights Switch-On Day. Saturday, 1 December was a cold day for the volunteers on the table, but this didn’t diminish their enthusiasm for publicizing Stony Stratford in Bloom projects in the town, and selling the beautiful Stony Stratford Calendars produced by the Stony Stratford Business Association. (The Business Association kindly allows Stony Stratford in Bloom to take the commission on each calendar sold, so we were fundraising too! A number of generous people gave donations to Stony Stratford in Bloom in the course of the day as well.) This year the winner of the AHA Photographic Competition, Gary True, had his winning entry, a delightful picture of the tulips on Wolverton Road planted by Sue Bryant and Karen Parker, featured in the calendar.

26 November 2012

Calcutta Brasserie provides a beautiful setting and a delicious meal for another wonderful fund-raising event

Over 140 tickets were sold for the Stony Stratford in Bloom fund-raiser at Calcutta Brasserie on Monday, 26 November – over forty more than last year, which was our first such fund-raising event. Obviously, the word has got round! As a result, when taken together with the very successful raffle, Stony Stratford in Bloom has raised £900 for making Stony Stratford even more beautiful. The hot buffet provided by Calcutta Brasserie was mouthwateringly delicious, and everyone said what a fabulous time they’d had.

24 November 2012

Flowering cherry to bloom in memory of Sheila Plater

On Saturday, 24 November family, friends, Stony Stratford in Bloom Volutneers and Stony Open Gardeners came together on Wolverton Road to honour the memory of a very special person. As we come towards the tenth anniversary of that first inspirational Stony Open Gardens that Sheila Plater organized for her friend Lin, the Stony in Bloom Committee decided that they wanted to honour her for all the energy and flair she put into that amazingly successful event. Her tragic death so soon afterwards led her daughters and close friends to organize another hugely successful Stony Open Gardens as a tribute to her – and the vast number of gardeners and visitors who took part is testimony to the deep affection she inspired in so many people. These two Open Gardens events then established a tradition of Stony Open Garden weekends in the town, which have continued to enrich community life and have stimulated a love of things horticultural that Stony Stratford in Bloom has been able to draw on so fruitfully. More importantly, they have supported the essential work of Willen Hospice, which has brought immeasurable comfort to so many local people. Liz Gifford, the current Chair of Stony Open Gardens, gave a short address, highlighting how inspirational Sheila had been, and dedicating the flowering cherry tree to Sheila’s memory. After the tree had been planted Sheila’s grandchildren planted crocuses around the base.

A plaque has been inscribed so passers-by in future years will be aware of what she achieved. Her legacy will be continued next year (2013) with the fifth Stony Open Gardens.

21 November 2012

Mulching Madness – and other working parties

On Wednesday, 21 November, as the rain hurled itself down, and four Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers’ wellies squelched in the mud, they heaved large forkfuls of green mulch from an enormous bag into wheelbarrows and wobbled over to spread it in the Brownie Bed by Queen Eleanor School and the two other pocket gardens on Galley Hill that are part of the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ project. The remaining mulch was bagged up for other beds and another volunteer brought his trailer along to pick up these sacks. As large drops of water dripped off their hair into their eyes, and their clothes got utterly drenched and mulch-strewn, they were encouraged by the sympathetic smiles from the occasional passer by. A kind resident offered a sweet to one volunteer, but the prospect of removing sodden gloves to accept it was so unappealing, that the volunteer decided to forgo the pleasure – though with grateful thanks for the thought! When the task was finally done, all the volunteers felt very virtuous and it was definitely satisfying to view the enriched beds. Never has a hot shower felt so good as it did after that wet work-party!

There have been many other working parties this autumn, of course, and with two each week it has been possible for Stony Stratford in Bloom to keep an eye on the growing number of beds and make them ready for their winter sleep. We’ve been weeding the native hedge at the edge of the Bluebell Wood, and slashing the brambles to keep the paths free; weeding and edging the FS bed on Slade Lane, which looks so much more impressive with the permanent planting that’s now flourishing.

Residents from King George’s Crescent were leafleted to let them know about the working party there to prune and tidy; and there have been a number of working parties to thin, prune and weed at the London Road ‘Sensory Garden’, and the ‘Four Seasons’ Garden on Calverton Road. Further along Calverton Road towards the town the lavender hedge needed a good trim, and the new beds on the corner of Calverton Road and Ousebank Way required attention too. A new project for the autumn has been the preparation of the border along the fence near the mini-roundabout here and the planting of a number of attractive shrubs.

We’re lucky that a local resident who is also a Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteer has been looking after the new beds near the Ousebank Way play area, and these are maturing nicely.

After the autumn school sessions at St Mary & St Giles were over, Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers got together to dig over the larger beds ready for winter vegetables that the children had grown from seed in the polytunnel, and they tidied up the polytunnel.

And Autumn’s the time to beautify the entrances to the town with a blitz on the beds around each Millennium Stone.

7 November 2012

A new ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ group for the north end of the High Street

For some time Mary Robinson and Robin Nicholls have been working together to beautify the northern entrance to the High Street by clearing the great tangle of brambles under the bridge by the Millennium Stone, removing stray shopping trolleys and bottles and cans, planting a delightful border beside the wall, and tending the eye-catching little flower bed around the Millennium Stone.

Recently, however, they have decided to apply to the Royal Hortricultural Society to create an ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ group and have further exciting plans for this part of the town. When a major working party on the Queen Eleanor Garden is needed then, of course, a larger Stony Stratford in Bloom group descends to help – but in between times, Mary, Robin, Ron Cox and Dawn Hughes keep an eye on the weeds and prune the eglantine rose and hawthorn hedge and keep the grass neatly mown.

On 7 November Mary, Robin, Mike Cooper and Ray Cobley planted more of the ancient fruit trees in the miniature orchard in the grass behind the Queen Eleanor Garden. These trees were chosen by Stony Stratford in Bloom as they were all growing in the thirteenth century at the time of Queen Eleanor. There are Blandurel apples, Caldecotte pears, Aylesbury prunes, greengages, quince and mulberry – a mouth-watering collection to commemorate the town’s heritage!

Another exciting idea they had was to excavate a pond under the bridge – and helped by sponsorship in kind from Kevin O'Brien, this has now been achieved. The group intends to landscape the pond and grow wetland and pond plants. It’s definitely worth a stroll up the High Street to check on all that they’re achieving in this part of the town.

14 October 2012

Apple Day Fun

Stony Stratford in Bloom stall At Apple DayThe Town Council’s Apple Day celebration was blessed with cheerful sunny weather. Lots of people came to enjoy themselves and to experience ‘everything about apples’ in Mortimer Park, the community orchard site by the Riverside. Many local groups manned stalls to publicise their work or sell their handicrafts, and at their stall Stony Stratford in Bloom was able to show off the several Royal Horticultural Society’s Britain In Bloom Regional awards won this year, including Best Small Town 2012. A photographic display of Stony Stratford in Bloom’s work around the town attracted many visitors and congratulations. The day was a great success, with lots of fun and games for children and adults alike.

Morris Dancing at the Apple DayVisitors admiring the photo display at the SSIB stall at the Apple Day

13 October 2012

Thinning the tangle of trees at York House ready for the Big Tree Plant

There was a huge turnout from all the varied groups involved in the York House Community Gardens on Saturday, 13 October as they came together to clear the tangle of dead trees and brambles beyond the garden plots. The aim was to prepare the area for planting the 25 fruit trees that York House will be getting from Stony Stratford’s successful Big Tree Plant bid.

As these pictures show, there was an enormous task confronting the enthusiastic volunteers as they sawed and lopped and dragged logs and branches and brambles to the bonfire in the centre. Those logs that could be used by those with log-burners at home were put aside, and the rest was piled on the carefully monitored fire.

The operation was organised by Alain Welch, who originally put in the bid for EcoMind funding to set up the community gardens, while Sue, from MK Mind, provided coffee and tea and then a delcious barabecue for the hungry and hardworking volunteers.

Young and old, WI members, Mind and Headway clients, Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers and York House Trustees and volunteers all rolled up their sleeves and set to work - and what a vast amount was achieved in one strenuous day! Everyone agreed that it was also a great deal of fun.

7 October 2012

Summer–winter changeover

October again, and in the Stony Stratford in Bloom calendar that means the ‘Changeover’ to winter plants in our town containers. On Sunday, 7 October, two teams were to be seen around town: Ray Cobley and his team equipped with long ladders took down all the hanging baskets, barrier planters and three-tier planters and transported them to the nursery in Winslow (Blooming Marvellous Plants). Alex Ballance was also out and about with her van collecting the empties for transport.

But all the red geraniums and the begonias were not dumped! The ‘floral team’ busily lifted them and wheeled them to our stall on the High Street for our Great End of Season PLANT GIVEAWAY managed by Theresa Kelleher and Theresa Wedderburn. This attracted a great deal of attention, with armfuls of blooms walking away with grateful passers-by. Many were kind enough to pop a coin or two in our collecting box.


That was not all … We then proceeded to our community bed at York House to lift and box up our stock of winter plants: grasses, Vinca, Euonymus, Heuchera, etc. ready for planting the next day.

On Monday, 8 October Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers, joined by Alex from Blooming Marvellous nursery, sorted and planted up each of the permanent planters: the Market Square ‘petal’ (1 and 6 from Anne's second album), the promenade and octagon (no 7) planters and lastly the roundabout on Wolverton Road.

These displays of hardy foliage plants will remain over winter and spring, when bulbs will appear – so look out for that burst of colour!


And in late May we ‘changeover’ again to next summer’s show … and the Royal Horticultural Society have informed us that next year’s theme will be ‘Herbs and Edibles’ — Lots of food for thought!

19 September 2012

Third time Gold Award winners in the Britain in Bloom competition!

We are delighted to announce that Stony Stratford in Bloom has won a Gold Award and the Thames and Chilterns Britain in Bloom Small Town Trophy for the third year running. At the Awards Ceremony in Aylesbury on Wednesday, 19 September five Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers felt very proud as they collected the trophy and the Gold Award certificate. There were also ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ certificates for the York House Community Gardens (for the second time) and the Galley Hill Neighbourhood project led by Louise Reidy. In addition, Queen Eleanor School gained a Mark Mattock Commended certificate for its gardening sessions run by Fiona Collins. Judy Deveson ‘was stunned and delighted’ to be awarded the Thames and Chilterns Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community. Judy has led the Stony Stratford in Bloom Group with infectious energy and enthusiasm since the outset, and the Award is greatly deserved.

Describing Stony Stratford as a ‘beautiful market town’, the judges observed that Stony Stratford is ‘going from strength to strength’. In their introduction they noted that, ‘The In-Bloom group reaches out to the whole community, and with such support it’s no surprise that the intitiatives and ideas come to fruition. The sustainable displays show imagination and thoughtful planting and complement the bedding displays in the centre of the town. It is wonderful to see that the local heritage is being preserved with the Queen Eleanor Flowerbed and the interpretive boards throughout the town. The improvements to Galley Hill show vision and deserve recognition as they are helping to reach out to a new part of Stony Stratford.’

The judges also singled out as ‘almost perfect’ the Four Seasons Garden at the junction of Calverton Road and Augustus Road, designed by volunteer Mary Sarre, and praised the support of Blooming Marvellous Nurseries in helping to achieve the marvellous result.

Other aspects of the town praised were:

  • Ancell Trust Sports ground
  • Nature Reserve
  • High Street SSBA baskets
  • Brownie bed outside Queen Eleanor School (which they said had developed into ‘a little oasis of colour’)
  • Clailey Court bed, Galley Hill, and the FS bed, Fullers Slade
  • Bluebell Wood
  • Litter-free and weed free pavements and roads
  • Enthusiasm of King George’s Crescent residents
  • Refurbished War Memormial on Horsefair Green and the refurbished memorial cross in the London Road Cemetery

So that’s why Stony Stratford in Bloom gained the Gold Award and won the Small Town Trophy! The victory provides a great morale boost to the Stony Stratford in Bloom group, who have been touched by the congratulations of so many residents when they heard the results. As the judges noted – a sense of civic pride is evident throughout the parish, and ‘the community participation in Stony Stratford would be the envy of most towns’.

23 July 2012

Sunshine and flowers for the Fullers Slade Fun Day

Once again the annual Fullers Slade Fun Day was a great success – and the day was made glorious by the unexpected appearance of the sun, which shone down obligingly on all the children and parents who were having fun. The organisers, Niki Chapman, Helen Havens and Carly Cooper, were delighted by the turn-out, and smiling faces of the children said it all.

Theresa Wedderburn arranged a wonderful miniature garden activity, as she did last year, and the children enthusiastically took part. She was helped by Kathy Luff, Linda Cambourne Paynter and Geraldine West.

19 July 2012

Don’t they look lovely!

The wild flowers that Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers planted in April to launch the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wild About Wild Flowers campaign are now blooming brightly in Mortimer Park, where the Town Council is planning to create a community orchard. The deep blue of the cornflowers, the dazzling white of the tall daisies and the deep red of the poppies mingle with the soft green of the barley we planted at the same time. Take a stroll along the river to Mortimer Park and the wild flowers provide a feast for the eyes.

17 July 2012

Community Awards

Stony Stratford Town Council has honoured Joan Mehrtens by awarding her a special Jubilee Community Prize for all her work with the London Road Allotments, the Community Association, the Harvest Show and Church Gardens.

Mary Sarre was given the Community Award for all her work for Stony Stratford in Bloom. Congratulations to both of them!



14 July 2012

Golden Garden Awards Presentation

Residents whose gardens had gained a Golden Garden Award prize or certificate were invited to a celebration of their achievement on Saturday, 14 July 2012 at Stony Stratford Library at 11 am. Prizes were once again sponsored by Michael George of Acorn Nurseries, Emberton, and Rob Gifford, Chair of the Town Council, handed out prizes and certificates on behalf of Stony Stratford in Bloom.

Winners of Golden Garden awards with the sposor Michael George of Acorn Nurseries

This year’s winners were: first prize to Colin and Moira Hinson from Claremont Avenue; second prize to Katherine Bull and Stephen Ratcliffe from London Road; and third prize to Margaret and Gerry Gill from Breton. A special prize for creative gardening was awarded to Karen Parker from Wolverton Road.

In addition, many Golden Garden Certificates were awarded.

12 July 2012

Enjoying a bug count at St Mary & St Giles School

There’s nothing like finding a bug or two or three for generating lots of excitement and interest. In the last gardening session of the year, the children of St Mary & St Giles School had lots of fun finding and recording all the different insects that they’d found.

The Royal Horticultural Society is encouraging everyone to take part in bug counts as there are fears that climate change is diminishing numbers of some species, so the pupils of St Mary & St Giles School are part of a much wider national survey.

And, of course, the children also love picking the soft fruit that’s ripening just now – raspberries and strawberries are great favourites – and healthy too!


9 July 2012

Judging the Golden Gardens

The Stony Stratford in Bloom judging team viewed a wonderful succession of front gardens, some entered by the owners, some nominated by neighbours.

The gardens were very varied in style, size and aspect and were judged on the impact on the neighbourhood and on passers-by, the overall design and use of space, choice and suitability of plants, hard landscaping, and maintenance.

There was a very high standard and all those receiving prizes or certificates are to be congratulated.

Third prize winner is 5 Breton, an open courtyard garden filled with well-maintained containers of very colourful annuals and perennials, set off by evergreen shrubs and cordylines. This eye-catching display has excellent floral impact.

Second prize is awarded to 43 London Road, a border garden that screens a parking place. A good choice of shrubs, perennials and grasses gives all-year interest and colour delights passers-by and adds impact to the entrance to York House.

First prize goes to 27 Claremont Avenue, a large open garden with a central lawn, and borders well designed with a tightly packed display of shrubs, colourful perennials and violas, set off by wonderful light-catching grasses giving a terrific ‘wow’ factor for passers-by.

A special prize goes to 87 Wolverton Road for the most creative front garden. In a very small space clematis, scented sweet peas, honeysuckle and roses adorn the well-designed enclosure and give pleasure to the passer-by. On looking into the garden, one sees an array of unusual boxes and containers filled with plants, and every bit of space has interest.

All the gardens receiving certificates are winners. Everyone in Stony Stratford, and visitors to the town, are grateful to the owners of all these beautiful gardens for their improving our neighbourhood, and making us smile.

3 July 2012

Regional Britain in Bloom judges seemed enthusiastic about what they saw on 3 July …

But we won’t know for sure what their verdict was until 19 September 2012 at a ceremony in Aylesbury.

As always, in the run-up to the 3 July Britain in Bloom judging day, Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers were out and about doing the last-minute weeding and pruning and scrubbing and polishing on the night before and in the early morning. On Saturday the residents of Stony Stratford town, Galley Hill and Fullers Slade joined Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers to wash the street furniture and pull out stray dandelions from the gutters. The colour theme this year is gold for the Olympics, and many passers-by have congratulated Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers on the eye-catching, fiery blooms resplendent in the planters and baskets throughout the town.

First stop of the judges’ tour was the Queen Eleanor Garden at the North end of the High Street, opened by Mike Brown of Prebendal Manor last autumn. Part of the tour was by car, and part on foot, so we could show as many of our projects to the judges as possible. There was the bird hide in the nature reserve to see; Queen Eleanor and St Mary & St Giles Schools; the Ancell Trust Sports Ground; two ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ projects – one at Galley Hill and the York House Community Gardens. And there was more – the Bluebell Wood, the beautiful sensory gardens on London Road and Calverton Road, and the refurbished Horsefair Green Memorial. The final part of the tour involved a walk through the Market Square, Church Street, with the stunning church gardens, and a look at the High St, vibrant with its bunting and floral baskets and planters. After a photo opportunity outside the church, the tour was concluded, and judges, sponsors and volunteers gathered at the Calcutta Brasserie, as the management had kindly offered to provide tea and coffee.

Fingers crossed for a good result this year!

Here is the route the judges took:

To see what we did earlier in 2012 go to Stony Stratford in Bloom 2012 First Half.

To see what we did in 2011 go to Stony Stratford in Bloom 2011, to see what we did in 2010 go to Stony Stratford in Bloom 2010 and to see what we did in 2009 go to Stony Stratford in Bloom 2009.

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