St Mark's Mansfield

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Dutch Gold

Here’s a ray of sunshine to brighten the gloom of approaching winter.   It’s rose Dutch Gold blooming in the memorial garden on a late November day – a wonderful plant with dark green leathery foliage apparently bred in Wisbech, Lincolnshire and named Dutch Gold because it won a gold medal in the Hague.

Dutch connections …….  Antoinette Lucassen, one of our St Mark’s choir members has roots in the Netherlands and has shown a keen interest in the development of the community garden.   Peter Bounford, past member of our Boys’ Brigade and serving team, currently lives in the Hague and is still in touch with his group of ex-BB friends, Joe Gallagher, James Elliot, Martin Jackson and Richard Turner .   He has been transporting large bags of compost by bicycle to the small paved backyard of his flat in order to fill raised beds in which to grow vegetables and flowers!

Our church family is much more than the group of people who meet on a Sunday morning.   We all have links and influences beyond the church walls and our extended family is rich and organic in its transformations.   Each week we pray “We thank you that when we were still far off, you met us in your Son and brought us home”…….. “May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life, we who drink his cup bring life to others, we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world”

This rose may seem small and insignificant but it’s a real gem shining out like a beacon in our church garden.



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Medlar harvest


Who’s this man meddling at St Mark’s on a Monday morning?!

Picking the medlarsThis morning, 6th November, the air feels distinctly chilly despite bright sunshine.  Sheila, John and I decide it’s time to harvest the medlars before the weather gets too frosty.   The medlar tree, variety Nottingham, was one of the first planted by Keith when we started the Community Garden.   Closely related to apples, medlars are unusual in that they have to be stored for many weeks to ripen or ‘blet’ before they can be eaten raw or used to make a perfumed amber jelly for game and other meats.   A bit of a speciality!

Autumn is a magical time in the garden.   The fruit has fallen, the flowers are fading and all appears to be death and dying.  But wait!   Dig in the compost heap and you’ll find hundreds of worms are busy converting this year’s green waste into rich, friable compost to mulch next year’s crops.   Look for the buds already forming on the bare branches of spring-flowering shrubs and listen out for the plans that are being hatched in preparation for another year in the garden.   At the end of Gillian Clarke’s poem Burning Nettles she says,   “Fire, Buried in flower-heads, makes Bright ritual of decay, Transubstantiates the green leaf to fertility.”

We tipped the ashes from Sunday’s bonfire onto the compost heap.   The cycle of Death and Resurrection is at the heart of our gardening.   At dawn on Easter Day each year we meet in the garden to kindle the new fire and carry the Light of Christ into the dark Church.   For me this is the most symbolic and moving moment of the Christian year.