Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens - Snowdrop and Hellebore Festival Feb 2015

Instead of a long drawn-out blog post about our Snowdrop and Hellebore Festival. I have made an HQ video featuring some of the highlights from the second day of the festival, which took place on 15th February 2015. I hope it will be enjoyed as a nice souvenir of our first 2015 event.

Many thanks to our supporters, and all our visitors
during the two days of the Festival.

Hope to see you again soon!

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Snowdrop and Hellebore Festival - Saturday 7th and Sunday 15th February

Hello, and welcome to the 2015 season to all of our fans, followers, visitors, volunteers, and staff! 

We hope it's not too late to wish each and every one of you a very happy 2015!

Although this blog together with our Facebook and Twitter pages have been quiet for the past few weeks, things have been very busy here at the Gardens. We've been busy tweaking this, changing that, and coming to terms with the fundamental dichotomies of the other, so to speak...

We hope you'll notice and enjoy the differences. What are these diferences I hear you ask? Well come and visit us and you'll find out!

Normally at this time of year we kick things off with our Snowdrop and Hellebore event - this gets our year off to a gentle and pretty start, and let's be honest it never hurts to find out more about these undrerrated and fascinating plants. 

This year starts off a little differently this time around though; Instead of a Snowdrop and Hellebore Event, we are holding a SNOWDROP AND HELLEBORE FESTIVAL which is run over two weekend dates. What's more this Festival is recommended by none other than the Royal Horticultural Society

Needless to say we are pretty excited by this endorsement. Fame at last! 

The Festival will be held on Saturday 7th and Sunday 15th February 2015 - from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Our Snowdrops and Hellebores are (as we speak) getting their glad-rags on in order to meet their discerning public, and no doubt will be resplendent in their unique wonderful gorgeousness in the lower wilderness in plenty of time for the Festival. The lower wilderness garden is a lovely place to visit at this time of year anyway - very atmospheric with the winter colours and all - but I digress.

On the Festival days not only will you have these beautiful complex and amazing plants to look at and study, but there will also be a talk going into much greater depth on the plants for those who want to know much more about them. 

The talk will be given by garden expert David Howell at 11:30, with a guided walk thrown in afterwards. How much extra does this cost? Nothing - as it's included in your admission price. Amazing! 

David Howell enthusing our visitors
If weather permits, why not bring along a sketchbook and pencil? 

In addition to the above you can visit our indoor winter shrub and bulb display, get some refreshments from our cafe (hey -  that rhymes!), and / or buy and take home Snowdrops, Cyclamens and Aconites to plant in your very own garden.

We can't say fairer than that can we? 

Here are the full admission details:

Adults £3-50; Children £1-00;

RHS Members £2-50;   
CBHGT Members -  Free Admission (Yep, members of the Gardens Trust get in to lots of events free throughout the year - so why not join us? Contact Sue on 0121 749 4100 - or become a member when you visit us!)  
Dogs are allowed in the Gardens provided they are well behaved and kept on leads.

Free car parking throughout to all our vsitors - Bargain!
To whet your appetite, here are some photgraphs from our previous Snowdrop and Hellebore events. This event promises to be more spectacular still. Enjoy!










We reckon this is going to be a brillant start to a brilliant new year for the Gardens, so please come along and share it with us!

Our contact details are below for those who wish to find out more about this, and any of  our activities. VOLUNTEERS ALWAYS WELCOME!

We can also be found on Twitter @cbhallgardens, Facebook, and on our official site www.cbght.org.uk

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Christmas Fun for 2014 Starts at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens!

Christmas starts at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on Sunday 30th November 2014 with a great event for all the family. There will be a cornucopia of Christmas fun and festive frolics taking place in the splendour of our beautiful garden surroundings!

After much negotiation with his elvish agents, Santa Claus has agreed to take time out from his very busy schedule to meet and give early gifts to Children at his grotto! Come and say hello before he has to fly off!

Those feeling the bite of the cooler weather will be warmed by seasonal refreshments available at our cafe, where there will also be a traditional music and Christmas carol recital.

Staying with tradition, the Brummagem Mummers will be making their annual visit to the gardens to perform their Seasonal Mummer' play. This year they will be presenting a brand new production featuring Robin Hood. You read it here first!

Some favourite regular characters will still be featured, but in addition there will be new ones for you to get to know:

Robin Hood - our hero
Arthur - our villain (a bit of a wimp!)
Little John
A rather tipsy Maid Marian
A mysterious Warrior
Jolly Jack the Sailor (how did he end up in the forest?)
Some Merry Men
The good doctor (who is also a vet)
and finally, Dobbin the Horse!

As always you will be invited to cheer and boo the players (in more or less the right places!).

For those with an eye for a hand-crafted bargain, there will be stalls selling hand-made limited edition Christmas decorations and Jewellery. Any of these individually crafted items will grace any home, or make wonderful stocking-fillers. 

You can also take part in our tombola draw, and buy some of our festive holly to give your home a unique decorative touch this holiday season.

Full details of the event and our special holiday admission prices are available from our website events page


We're looking forward to celebrating the start of the happy holiday season with you!
We'll be posting up a sneak preview of some of the great hand crafted seasonal jewelry on our Twitter and Facebook sites very soon. There will also be a live Twitter feed from the event covering things as they go, and trying to persuade any last-minute waverers to come over and join in the fun. As for our prices, well you can get sixteen guests into our event for the average price of one adult and one child's admission to the Magical Journey, and they're not the only ones with bespoke designers!


Free Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Wallpaper for your PC!

For a limited period only, here is a free Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens wallpaper picture for your PC! 

This particular one marks our Apple Weekend Event on 4th - 5th October 2014.

To download the picture, click on it below in order to see the full high-definition photograph. Then right click on it and select 'Save Picture As' or 'Save Image As' (or whatever the equivalent is on your browser - sorry, there are so many variations out there it's impossible to be definitive). 

You can then save the picture anywhere you like and use it as background wallpaper for your desktop as per your operating system instructions.

This picture takes up valuable space on this blog, so it won't be available for long: Grab it while you can!

Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens - September 2014

This picture is licenced for non-commercial use only.

Please note you download this photograph at your own risk. Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens Trust accepts no liability for any problems with your computer arising as a result of downloading this photograph.

If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of this picture for your computer, it is recommended that you obtain specialist advice before downloading.

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Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens - September 2014 by Graham High is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



No it’s not a weekend of Beatles music (not a bad idea though), nor is it a celebration of various new and nifty electronic gadgets... 

Apple day is in fact an annual celebration held in the UK every October, and although it seems like a tradition dating way back to the dark ages’ (the era when people chased cheeses down a hill, chucked annoying people into peat-bogs, and watched ‘Opportunity Knocks’), this celebration actually got off the ground as recently as 1990. It was an idea by the charity and lobby group Common Ground.

Common Ground wanted to create a celebration to promote 'British distinctiveness', so they settled on the humble old British apple; Yes that crunchy thing that keeps the doctor away. The apple is a symbol to Common Ground of local foods, and their impact on community and landscape. In fact, one of Common Ground's posters stated 'The apple you eat is the landscape you create'. Deep.

Anyway, here at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens we use our old (very old) apple varieties during apple celebration days in order to mark our substantial harvest at this time of the year, and to check if our visitors' taste-buds are still working. Can you appreciate real apples after spending years munching polished, blemish-free, watery, tasteless supermarket dross?  Are you tired of eating apple pies with spray-on green wallpaper paste inside? Then come to our Apple Weekend and sample some real flavour.

You may not know this, but us folks at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens were born rebels, so instead of having one Apple Day, we're having an APPLE WEEKEND on Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th October. What's more visitors who buy a ticket on Saturday can also come back on Sunday at no extra cost. Is there no end to this madness?


Here's what's happening:


On Saturday there's a contemplative sedate feel to things (unlike the rather severe 'Static Displays Only' announcement on our notices and posters): Visitors can have a darn good look around our gardens to absorb the history, colour, and beauty of this hidden gem of a place. You might even get shown around if you ask one of our friendly volunteers! 

Our Green House will be displaying loads of heritage variety apples from our own and other orchards, and a tame garden expert will be on hand to explain how they are cultivated.

There's time to pause and reflect on such evocative apple variety names as: Colonel Vaughan, Cornish Aromatic, Golden Pippin, Nonpareil, Margil, Catshead, Calville D Hiver, Crimson Queening, Old Pearmain, and Coeur De Boeuf.

Not to be outdone, our heritage vegetables (ranging from the 18th to early 20th Centuries) will also be showing themselves off. These things are packed with flavour too, and what's more you'll all have a chance to buy some of these wonders for own kitchen creations!

Visitors who like things livelier (or have visited on Saturday and want to get another visit in at no extra cost) will love what's happening on Sunday.


First off, we'll be pressing some of our apples into juice so that you can sample their fine flavour at first hand. They'll also be lots of old-fashioned garden activities will be played on the Archery Lawn. The list of names alone turns back the clock: snap apple, apple printing, an apple themed hunt (for the kids) and willow crown making.

We’ll also be selling home-made pies and cakes busting with such flavour and quality that Mr. Kipling will go home weeping.  Yes, these fine comestibles will be made using our apples as the main ingredient!

If you enjoy choreography with your fruit, then the fabulous Glorishears of Brummagem will perform Molly Dancing at certain set times throughout the day. By the way did you know that an ex-Lady Mayoress of Birmingham is a long time member of this troupe? Isn’t the internet wonderful?!

Those you are who are regular visitors to Castle Bromwich will know that wild birds of prey patrol the local skyline ensuring that the local rodent population stays in constant terror.  It’s not easy getting to see birds of prey at very close quarters though (unless you are a mouse with milliseconds left to live), but on Sunday you’ll be able to do just that as we’re playing host to a falconry exhibition. 

These birds are magnificent examples of native wildlife, and are well worth the price of admission just to see and discover more about these amazing creatures.

We have more: The amazingly talented West Midlands Woodturners will be turning (sorry) up and dropping the jaws of all visitors with their skill, whilst those who want some more wildlife can visit our local beekeeper for the latest on what’s happening to our native bee population. This is a subject that should concern us all.

Speaking of concern (especially to the adults), our almost traditional longest apple peel competition will be held as usual. All adults can enter, but be warned - The standard is high -  the competition lethal - so you'd better whip out your peeler and start practising!

Our Apple Weekend has something for everyone, and you owe it to yourself to come and see this palace of horticultural splendours. Full details are available from here.

You'll be so thrilled you may have to be restrained! 

Do you have some spare time to help us out over the weekend as a volunteer? Then please do so! Contact us for full details. Free bar of gold bullion for every volunteer – sorry did I say gold bullion? I meant a resounding heart-felt thank you and possibly a free cuppa.

See you there!
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Text and photographs by Graham High 2014. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.


Jaguar Land Rover project II

Following on from our previous post on the Jaguar Land Rover project, the completed Bird-hide and wildlife area (so kindly constructed for us by JLR's team of volunteers) was officially opened on 24th July 2014.

The honours were undertaken by Joe McNamara, Chair of the Group and Lean Manufacturing Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, who followed up the proceedings with an additional financial donation for bird-feeder seed. There will be some very heavy birds flying around the area soon as we rapidly develop into an avian fine-dining establishment!

Joe added his voice to the gratitude that we all felt for the dedicated JLR volunteer team's efforts to enhance the quality of life in our local community.

Additional thanks must also go to Signarama for donating the lovely full colour wildlife guides dotted about the area. These fantastic efforts and achievements will be put to good use both for our visitor and educational programmes.

Joe McNamara and some of the JLR Volunteers pictured by our new Bird-hide 
presenting members of the CBHG team with bird feed-fund finance!

The exterior of our fantastic new Bird-hide.

You will be able to spot them soon!

The birdie restaurant as viewed through a slot in our new hide.

Our newly planted wildlife garden-area.

...and again!

Whilst all the was fuss was going on, our Moorhens remained signally unimpressed!

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Text by Graham High and photographs by Yvonne and Graham High - 2014. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.


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