Garden News - Petersfield Physic Garden

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Spring Plant Sales
After successful trials last year it has been decided to hold spring plant sales on the last Tueday of three successive months starting in March. As before, and as a further inducement, cakes and coffee will be served either in the Exhibition Hall or if the weather allows in the Garden during the morning.
Bedales Seat
The curved seat in the corner of the Physic Garden with its vista down the entire length of the Garden is beginning to show its age. It has been repaired on several occassions but recently it started to fall apart. Urgent action was needed and Petersfield Forge was called in. It created and installed two braces which have averted disaster and provided a temporary  solution.
Storm Damage

Fortunately storm Brendan did not wreak havoc in the Physic Garden. However, there was a fair amount of tidying up to do as a result of the strong wind and heavy rain. Here volunteer gardener Fred can be seen testing out the tripod ladder whist smoothing the ruffled feathers of one of the Cupressus sempervirens trees in the topiary walk.
The Potted Box Family
Gardeners go Green
Gardeners have been given exciting new workwear in the form of green fleeces - two styles,one sleeveless,the other for chillier mortals with full length sleeves. Each bears the Physic Garden logo, adapted by Jenny Hill, of the orchid Goodyera repens. This plant is named after the local botanist John Goodyer.
Although the Physic Garden is only a few steps from the High Street its entrance is often passed unnoticed. In order to attract attention and make the driveway more appealing and in keeping with the 17th century style the terracotta pots iniative has been extended. Three pots have been sunk into the gravel behind the lefthand gatepost. These have been planted with small Box bushes (Buxus sempervirens). Box is a native shade tolerant evergreen plant which will grow in the toughest of positions. As our plants grow they will be clipped into shape.  Box is very popular for low hedges and topiary work. More examples of this, which is typical of the period, can be seen in the Garden itself.
Happy to Chat Bench
The Physic Garden has followed the example of many towns throughout Britain and indeed the World by installing a 'Happy to Chat' Bench.
The sign reads: “The 'Happy to Chat' Bench: Sit Here If You Don't Mind Someone Stopping To Say Hello.” For people who feel isolated in their daily lives, the bench is an opportunity to make a connection with someone new. It also gives people who want to help the lonely members of their community a way to do so. Lets hope it works here.
The bench will have two positions.-sunny for the winter and shady for the summer.

Look for a Book
Visitors  may now expect to find carefully wrapped books concealed in the Garden in addition to the colourful Rocks which have provided valuble booty for the treasure hunters. Explicit instructions on 'What to do next' are provided as shown by Iliana (aged 7).
This complements well with our successful Summer Programme of 'Books and Blooms'
Celebrity Visitor

A not infrequent visitor to the Garden is a well known Petersfield celebrity called Tigs (pictured on the left). Tigs, an important looking ginger cat, is often seen strutting about the Town. He has his own Facebook page with 1400 plus followers, has been starred on Meridian Tonight and has had a feature on Radio Solent.
Our resident Robin however, does not claim to be one of his fans!

Pictures by John Wade-Palmer
Work on redecorating the Exhibition Hall, Kitchen and Washroom has now been completed and looks fresh and clean in Jasmine White
Find that herb
Help with herb recognition is now available in the Garden. Laminated sheets featuring a selection of plants to be found cultivated in the herb beds have been prepared. Photos to help with identification, a map to help with location and a brief monograph is provided for the choosen herbs.
The sheets may be found in boxes, made by Paul Barton, one located in the front archway and the other  in the herbgarden. Please return the sheets after use.
Helen's Pot

Another memory of the joyous sound of Helen's laughter has just been added to the Physic Garden in the shape of a large beautiful earthenware pot.

This was presented by her family and now stands close to the rose arch on the East wall of the garden. It will be planted with seasonal flowers and will always contain a rosemary bush.

Helen was a much loved enthusiastic gardener who leant her expertise to the Garden for seven years until her untimely death in 2014. An apple tree, now well established was planted earlier in her memory.
June Plant Sale
The third in the series of Tuesday morning plant sales was held as planned in somewhat indifferent weather. The event was quieter than previous sales but £100 was raised for Garden funds.
Painters' Visit

On a sunny Tuesday in June members of Rowlands Castle Painting Society visited the Garden. One of their members allowed us to copy the impressions he took away with him.

A watercolour sketch of Petersfield Physic Garden by Bob Payne

New Plant Sales Bench

With more interest developing for propagation in the Garden plant sales have taken off. The old sales bench just was not big enough to take all the new merchandise. Hence master craftsman and gardener Paul Barton got busy and has produced this smart new bench.
May Plant Sale
An eager shopper arrives with an empty bag to fill choosing from the large variety of plants available at the May plant sale. Early sunshine encouraged the erection of the gazebo which later provided shelter from much needed rain. However, the morning was rated a success. Refreshments were appreciated, plants were purchased and the event raised £155 for Garden funds.
April Plant Sale
Sunshine was welcomed at the first of the season's plant sales. A number of eager gardening enthusiasts welcomed the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of plants many of which had been raised in the Garden.Tea and cakes were an additional draw and were being served in the exhibition hall to exhausted shoppers. The sale was very successful and raised a sum of over £200 to help maintain the Garden as a free attraction.
Terracotta Pots Initiative
In a new initiative Pauline and Sarah are making a feature of planted terracotta plants to add colour to the Garden. In C17 gardens, container-pots were often arranged in symmetrical patterns in parterres, placed on walls or set along terraces. These were often planted with imported exotic half hardy plants which could be moved into orangeries during the winter. We are awaiting the return of our lemon trees which have been over wintering in a conservatory.

New Trellis

On two of the coldest days this winter two valiant volunteers undertook to replace the rotten trellis work behind the walnut tree. The results may be seen in the photograph. The new fence, which is attractive in itself is also sufficiently robust to make an effective screen for the Hotbins behind. There are currently no plans to replant the vines on the trellis but these may be replaced with planted pots.
The Garden reopened - Monday, February 4th
When the Garden reopened  visitors were able to experience the newly resurfaced paths and enjoy the colourful spring flowers which carpeted the orchard. Snowdrops, crocuses and aconites were all doing their very best to dispel the winter blues. Hidden Rock hunters could also have been in luck as the photo demonstrates.
Progress on the Paths

Work on the paths is well under way. The top layer of the old paths is scraped off and removed leaving a solid base. Two inches of new gravel is then spead over this firm foundation. The gravel is then compressed making a raised centre to allow drainage.
Once finished it is suggested that the paths should be allowed to cure giving the clay mixture time to set. The Garden will therefore remain closed after the contractors have left to allow this process to complete.
Hellebore Drawing

Sometimes in dull moments when there are no visitors the garden stewards find that time can go slowly.

Not so for Pauline Elkins. In spare moments she applies her drawing talents to committing plants and flowers from the Garden to paper. She usually has her sketch pad and pencil to hand and is always eager to record a huge variety of interesting subjects.

Pauline's skills are demonstrated in the charming picture of the Hellebore which she created using a large number of coloured pencils.

She is hoping to exhibit some of her work at the Autumn show of Petersfield Arts and Crafts in the Physic Garden.
Broken Urn
One May morning gardeners were greeted by this sad sight. An urn which had stood by the back gate for many years was found shattered with no known explanation. The urn which was a gift to the Garden was made by Whichford Pottery and was a copy of that designed for the National Trust for Ham House near London. It was based on existing stone gate finials dating from about 1680 and was the sort of exuberant design which would have been appearing in English gardens at the time.
The tale thankfully has a happy ending as the Physic Garden is fortunate in having a very gifted volunteer in Paul who was able to collect all the broken pieces together and restore the urn to its former state.
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