Jaguar Land Rover project

Jaguar Land Rover chose the Garden for their Business in the Community project, and spent 5 days at the Garden to complete a new Bird Viewing Hide and wildlife friendly area.  The area selected is between the North Pond and the recently restored Mirror Pond.  They brought a team of 17 enthusiastic employees and two excellent team leaders.

The site they worked on was initially overgrown with tall herbs and brash, which they strimmed  and tidied up efficiently.  The strimming work carried on all week in other areas of the Garden. The teams also stacked the brash to make new habitat piles in the area.  One of the advantages of the site chosen, is that there is a large holly hedge nearby, which provides a refuge for the small woodland birds to retreat to after feeding.

Whilst they were waiting for the materials for the bird viewing hides to be ordered, the team kindly took on a wide range of other jobs in the Garden, which helped us immensely.  These included a major project in the Batty Langley Kitchen Garden, edging and weeding round borders, and planting out late summer vegetables such as squashes, and pumpkins.  They also lifted three borders of box hedging in the Lower Wilderness area, as part of our programme to improve access to viewing the snowdrop & hellebore collection in the deciduous borders, and helped to prepare the Dahlia border in the Best Garden.  On the final day the bird hides were put in place, complete with feeders,  and a new compost viewing area with a Perspex screen was constructed.  This should help children and families to observe the insects, invertebrates, amphibians and small mammals, which will hopefully start to use this habitat in the future.


 Bird viewing Hide, showing the bird viewing windows,
set at different heights, for adults, children & disabled visitors
New compost viewing habitat, with Perspex screen
for youngsters and visitors to observe the wildlife making
use of these areas in the Garden
The Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust is very grateful to Jaguar Land Rover for all the excellent  work carried out to achieve this  project, which will in time become a great new feature in the Garden, as the birds & wildlife start to make use of this habitat and the feeding stations.
We also appreciated all the additional work in the Garden which the team carried out, throughout their project at the Garden.
Chris Hitchcock
Head Gardener


Later flowering heritage daffodils

We planted a selection of these heritage daffodils last autumn, in a shady area of the Garden to allow them to increase undisturbed. The previous blog on heritage daffodils illustrated a few of the earlier flowering ones.

Here is a few photos of the later flowering historic daffodils, which were planted out in a raised bed in this 17th/18th Century formal Walled Garden.


Narcissus radiiflorus var. radiiflorus
Narcissus radiiflorus var. Poetarum
(On the left, as you view the photo)
Narcissus radiiflorus var. radiflorus G strain
(On the right side of this raised bed)
I have also added an additional photo of one  our later flowering heritage daffodils:
Narcissus White Lady


Spring daffodil display

The Gardens currently has an excellent display of daffodils, including Narcissus Trena at the front of our main herbaceous border (My Lady's Border).  We also have a good flowering of daffodils on the North Wall Border including Narcissus Wheal Coates and Narcissus Andrew's Choice (illustrated below)

A new addition to our daffodil collection this season has been the introduction of heritage daffodils.  These have been sourced from various specialist supplies, with the aim of linking in with our project to grow on period correct plants in the Garden.  Our historic daffodils currently in flower include Narcissus Lady Margaret Boscawen, Narcissus Colleen Bawn, and Narcissus Barri Conspicuus, (which is illustrated below). A full list of our daffodils will be available to visitors to our Garden.




Virgin Media Group Working Party

A Virgin Media (Birmingham) Group visited the Garden on Friday 21st February, as part of their Community Project support contribution.  This enthusiastic team took part in coppicing Hazels in our coppice area.  These were cut right back to near ground level, and graded into pea sticks, flower stakes and bean poles for use in the Kitchen Garden and Herbaceous Borders this season.

The hazel trees will soon regrow, within 2-3 years, and then can be coppiced again on a 5-7 year rotation.  Removing the dense shrub cover in the coppice area, also encourages the spread of woodland wildflowers, such as bluebells, wild daffodils, winter aconites and anemones.

They also planted shrubs in the Upper Wilderness borders as part of the restoration of the 18th Century tiered linear planting scheme in this area.

Thank you Virgin Media and Sustain who organised the day, for a very good day's work in this heritage garden.  We look forward to welcoming another two groups from Virgin Media in March 2014 to continue the Upper Wilderness project.


Selected snowdrops at the Garden

We are gradually developing a collection of snowdrops at the Garden, in addition to the widespread planting of naturalised snowdrops such as Galanthus nivalis and Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno'.  The collection of snowdrops have been planted out in raised beds, and in the future they will be gradually introduced into the deciduous borders in the Lower Wilderness, where they will combine well with our mass plantings of Helleborus x hybridus, Cyclamen coum, and Eranthis hyemalis.

Here is a selection of some of our snowdrops in the raised beds, which you can see if you visit the garden at our next Snowdrop & Hellebore day on Sunday 16th February, 11.00am - 3.00pm, all welcome.

Galanthus plicatus 'Augustus'
Broad pleated leaves with attractive plump well rounded flowers
Increases well

         Galanthus elwesii 'Grumpy'
                    A popular snowdrop with the inner markings resembling a face

Galanthus 'Merlin'
A very attractive variety with inner petals totally green

We look forward to welcoming you to the Garden to view our extensive planting of hellebores, and our increasing range of snowdrops



Christmas Event 2013.

Our Christmas event came earlier than usual this year, so it was great to see it so well supported by our visitors. We were once again honoured with the presence (presents?) of Father Christmas (known to some as Santa Claus) who passed around some early gifts to our younger visitors. 

Here was the day’s itinerary: 


Adding to the Christmas spirit (with voices as warm and comforting as a glass of mulled wine) were the Castle Bromwich Singers. Here is a modest video of one of the songs, complete with an impromptu electronic introduction. Apologies if you noticed the sound going in and out of sync - I hope it doesn’t detract too much (I’ve asked Santa for a Class 10 SDHC Card for next year!). 

The performance was held in our Visitors Centre, where delicious seasonal food and drink was served by our very busy kitchen volunteers.


Of course Christmas at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens would not be complete without the annual Christmas Mummer’s Play, performed as always by the splendid and resplendent Brummagem Mummers who wasted no time in taking their usual liberties (in all respects). 

The sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the troupe bear an uncanny resemblance to the Glorishears of Brummagem. Ten house points to anyone who spotted this. Anyway, here are some photographs of the play: 

Once again the West Midlands Woodturners became Santa's elves for the day. Here’s a quick look at some of the lovely items that they produced.

A new dimension to our Christmas Celebrations was added by The Flux Dance Theatre, who put on a show to help raise funds for Cancer Research. A fantastic job they did too. Believe me, it’s no easy matter to dance on short damp grass and stay upright, yet alone to be as graceful as these young ladies: 

Our craft stalls were very busy, with lots of goodies along with more creative activities for the youngsters: 

But as usual the real star in all of this was the Gardens themselves, quietly sparkling with seasonal sights, colours, sounds, and smells:

So once again our Christmas Event was a memorable afternoon of seasonal fun. We’re beginning to make a habit of this aren't we? 

Thanks to all of our visitors for their support, and to the volunteers and staff who make the whole thing possible. 

So all that’s left for us is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and peaceful New Year. 

By the way - if you must make a new year’s resolution - how about becoming a volunteer? Click here for details.

 Creative Commons Licence
The video and photographs were taken by Graham High and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

So that's the end of my final event blog report for CBHGT. It's been great fun - Thank you all. G.


End of Season Garden photos

 In October, the gardens staff were involved with hedge cutting the perimeter hedges in the North Garden and the formal parterre in this area, which is a restoration of the original Beighton prospect dating back to 1726.  I took this view of the North Garden from a Henchman platform and ladder to give a perspective of the layout.  Originally the area was designed to have been viewed from the Castle Bromwich Hall, via the windows above the North Courtyard.
North Garden Parterre
The Maltese Cross parterre illustrated below is planted out in box hedging and was restored by the Trust to illustrate this intricate and formal style of box hedging.  The aim is to grow herbs and annuals in the raised beds in the centre of the borders.
Maltese Cross Parterre
The Garden has a good range of autumn colour.  This tree Juglans nigra (Black Walnut) is in our New Orchard area (outside the Walled Garden).  It was introduced to the UK in 1634 from E.N America, and is now a well established tree in our orchard, with good autumn colour.
Juglans nigra
Chris Hitchcock
November 2013