St Mark's Mansfield


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December’s Green and Wild Musings from Isobel

Beyond the bare soilDecember’s Green and Wild Musings from Isobel

At this time of year, as autumn slips into winter, I sometimes feel as if I’m entering a dark tunnel, but beyond the bare soil and branches I know that spring is just biding its time and there will soon be new growth. This December some flowers are way ahead of themselves. The winter honeysuckle is already blooming and just needs a mild day to surprise us with its fragrance and primroses are out in the meadow.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel!

A couple of weeks ago, Sheila and I visited an inspirational community gardening project at the Oasis Centre in Worksop. Pastor Steve Williams apologised for the apparent lack of flowers and produce. “But we’re gardeners,” we said, “we can see beyond the bare soil!” Our time there was really fruitful. We plan to collaborate in the future and came away with a lot of new ideas.

 

 

At a recent Under‐Fives session, we enjoyed garden crafts with the youngsters. Helichrysum (or strawflower) are generous plants that provide beautiful dried flowerheads. With a lollystick stem, pipe cleaner leaves and playdough soil the children made lovely pots to take home. The sunflowers that stood sentinel round the garden in the summer are also productive plants and the dried flowers are full of seeds to feed the birds and to save for next year’s planting. We enjoyed popping out the stripy seeds and filling bird feeders made from recycled drinks cartons.

 

 

 

 

There is never a dead time in the garden. Life just goes underground for a bit, storing up its energy to be reawakened by the warmth of the sun. One of our plans is to make a wildlife pond from an old sink or barrel. You can be sure that once it’s in place it will be seething with life in next to no time. Watch this space!!

 

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Outstanding Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

St Marks win national gardening accolade

 

A community gardening project which began in 2011 in a wild meadow at St Mark’s Church in Mansfield has culminated in an ‘outstanding’ award from the Royal Horticultural Society.
The Green and Wild Group were presented with the award in the East Midlands in Bloom ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ competition for the fourth time, and they can be seen here proudly displaying it, with vicar, the Revd James Curry.

(taken from the Southwell and Nottingham website)


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Outstanding!

Pictured at Newark Town Hall yesterday: Isobel and Sheila with Matt and Peter from Pleasley Community Orchard all receiving awards

 Hot off the press ………………… 

Green and Wild, St Mark’s Community gardeners, have received another Level 5 ‘Outstanding’ award at the Royal Horticultural Society’s East Midlands in Bloom ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ presentation in Newark.   The judges have been very impressed this year with the way we’ve involved children and young people in our garden project.

It was suggested that having now achieved this level for four years in a row we could be up for a special nomination if we surpass ourselves next year.

Well done everyone!   All hands to the spade!


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Standing up for ‘Green and Wild’

Watch this space for the result of the RHS East Midlands in Bloom presentations coming up on 1st November at Newark Town Hall.   You will remember that this year’s target has been to gain more than 90 marks for our Community Garden efforts.   Fingers crossed!

The display of pumpkins and marrows, overseen by our friendly scarecrow (Fr. James has named him or her, Mark/ Marcia, as we’re not quite sure of the sex) at the Harvest Festival last week was magnificent!   If anyone fancies making soup or pumpkin pie to share, please let Isobel or Sheila know.

There’s just under a week left for people to write to Mansfield District Council to protest against the proposed access
road off Quarry Lane to the Gregory Quarry development.   Although it’s very easy to feel we have no power to make a difference, I believe very strongly that this is something we should oppose, not only from the traffic congestion problem but far more for the future of our Nature Reserve.    The more people who bother to write, the more our voice will be heard.   An excellent letter in the Chad this week puts the argument against the new road very eloquently.

To comment/object (Ref: 2017/0575/OUT) by 18 October 2017, please email: pbc@mansfield.gov.uk

or write to Head of Planning, Mansfield District Council, Civic Centre, Mansfield NG19 7BH.

Please share this information as widely as possible.

Walking beside our River Maun, the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins ring in my ears and although I can’t articulate exactly what this poem means, I know it’s about my place in creation and my relationship with the Creator.   This green space is a special place:
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
                                           Gerard Manley Hopkins


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Pumpkin picking

As I fill another barrow-load of topsoil to build up the raised beds and borders ready for another year of growing in the Community Garden at St Mark’s, I  wonder why on earth I’m doing it.   Let’s face it, I’ve got my own garden at home and even an allotment, which should be more than enough to satisfy my passion for gardening!

After the service last Sunday (even before refreshments), Wyatt Leigh and Isabel joined me in the garden to cut the pumpkins, all fourteen of them!   Wyatt Leigh has watched the progress of his two pumpkins right from sowing the seeds, to planting them out, watering and proudly watching them grow.   Now he’s harvesting them and looking forward to carving them as Halloween lanterns, hopefully saving some seed to dry for next year and maybe even making soup or pumpkin pie for bonfire night.

That’s why we do it!  We’re passionate about inspiring young people to engage in the whole cycle of life that makes the seasons turn and feeds and sustains us.

On Tuesday, Wilf and Esme from the Under Fives Group toddled over to the garden with Mums and Grannies to pick runner bean pods for drying so they could save the beans to sow next year.   The look of wonder on their faces as they popped open the bean cases to discover the shiny seeds inside and as they stood at the door of the greenhouse to cradle one of the beautiful orange pumpkins, was a real joy.

That’s why we do it!   It’s about caring and nurturing, about  giving and receiving gifts, about trusting and being rooted in a God who is faithful and will not let us down.   That’s a good enough reason for me.

 

 

 

 

 


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Community Garden Goodies

As August wends its way and summer moves into autumn, I must record the joys of the community garden through these last sunny weeks.   “We’ve not had much of a summer” is always the cry, usually based on the bank holiday weather, but we certainly couldn’t complain this August.   Baking temperatures brought out the barbeques and blessed late summer celebrations.   As I took inspiration from a beautiful cut flower garden, ‘Wild in the Country’ in Eyam, Derbyshire on Bank Holiday Saturday, I floated on a cloud of wellbeing!

On our doorstep at St Mark’s the garden is ripening.   “Where’s that come from!” someone remarked, as a large pumpkin poked out from the undergrowth.   We’ll have a fine display for October 8th when we celebrate our Harvest Festival.   See how many pumpkins you can spot before we pick them in late September.   Incidentally I’ve discovered from one of our African friends that the leaves of the pumpkin are a great delicacy and very nutritious.

The brightly coloured ‘Bishop’ and ‘Bishop’s Children’ dahlias have been lovely, their flowers set against dark foliage.      Most of us think of big showy dahlias but these little beauties prove that the simplest things can have a huge impact.

There have already been some good windfall apples from the four espaliers, Jonagold, Katy, James Grieve and Charles Ross.   They’re fine if you cut out the protein (slugs and woodlice) and I’ve used several (apples that is!) in blackberry and apple cake, one of which was shared with Pam and Phil Bishop in Liverpool.

Our young people planted a lot of courgettes along with the pumpkins and now we have GIANT marrows!   The runner beans planted by the Under-Fives are also going strong.   It’s a shame the youngsters aren’t around to reap the rewards but maybe when they return next week they can open the pods and pick out the bulging pink seeds to dry for next year’s sowing.      We plan to let the children empty the seed heads from love-in-a-mist and other annuals as well as picking the papery everlasting helichrysum to decorate the tables in the hall over winter.   The garden is always full of hope.

Talking of hope, it would be good to make the driveway look a bit tidier before 25 September so maybe we could have a Big Weed as well as a Big Clean.   Any volunteers will be welcomed with open arms.  Sheila and I are in the garden each Monday 9.30-11.30am.   Do come and  join us!


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Don’t give up!

On Tuesday, Sheila, Su, Abigail, John O’Leary and I welcomed RHS assessors Jenni and Steve to the Community Garden.   Over tea and courgette cake (a great hit!) we described the progress that had been made in the last year and found ourselves glowing with pride as we realised how far we’ve come.   Steve took lots of photos, loving the sunflowers and also the pollinators hard at work in the flower beds and wild meadow.  Everything looked beautiful on such a glorious day.

I think Jenni and Steve were genuinely impressed.   Jenni is involved in the RHS schools gardening project and was very keen to hear about links with our Under Fives, Young Lions and Boys’ Brigade.   It would be lovely to forge a connection with our parish Primary Schools, High Oakham and Sutton Road and to invite them to come and learn about composting, seed sowing and the growing of fruit and vegetables.

We also discussed funding and possibly being part of Mansfield’s ‘In Bloom’ efforts and we came away buzzing with ideas and plans for the future.

“Don’t give up!” they said, and we won’t for as long as our knees hold us up and our hands can grip a trowel.   Let’s hope that some of the seeds we’ve sown in the minds of our young people mean that we can eventually hand over the spade to the next generation of gardeners and that the community garden at St Mark’s will continue to flourish for years to come.

We await the outcome at the awards presentation in September!   Fingers crossed we’ll top 90 marks this year!