The Christmas period is now upon us and during this time, having dressed the trees that adorn the shop premises and liaised with the contractors regarding the town’s Christmas lights, we take this opportunity to give ourselves a short break from going out twice a week to tend the beds and do various housekeeping jobs. The break isn’t for long though because come 2nd January we’ll be back out taking all the lights OFF the trees again and putting them in to store for Christmas 2020!!
At this time of year we also like to take the opportunity to thank EVERYONE who has financially supported us over the past year. We thank Tetbury Town Council not only for their financial support but for their much needed practical assistance for which on occasions, we’d be totally lost without! Many thanks also go to the Feoffees of Tetbury, St Marys’ Parochial Church Council, The Rotary Club of the South Cotswolds and Tetbury Upton Parish Council for their generous donations. Also to the many residents and traders who have supported us by buying one or more of our hanging baskets and or a Christmas tree as well. A special word of thanks must go to the Tetbury Civic Society which, after 50 years of existence, has sadly had to fold due to the lack of active members. We were truly honoured to learn that Tetbury in Bloom was chosen, along with three other organisations within the town, to receive an equal share of the monies left in the Tetbury Civic Society bank account. Our share has already been used to purchase the Spring bulbs needed to supplement those already in the flower beds around the town.
Without the financial support we receive, we wouldn’t be able to continue the work we do in making the town look as good as we can for the benefit of everyone and we thank everyone very much indeed.
There isn’t a January edition of the Tetbury Advertiser so by the time I write again for the February edition, the Spring flowering season will just be starting with the appearance of hellebores, snowdrops, cyclamen and early flowering crocuses - something we can all look forward to!
Until then, from everyone on the Tetbury in Bloom team, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!
Tree on The Chipping
Despite having our work sessions interrupted by all the heavy rain during October, we did manage to strip out all the bedding plants, plant over 2,500 spring bulbs and generally get the beds ready for the winter months to come.
We also managed to give the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial bed an earlier and more drastic makeover than we first planned. All the pink phlox has now been removed (which will find new homes in other locations), leaving the lower growing mauve variety dotted throughout the bed. We also added in several more hardy fuchsias, erodium and dianthus to create an overall planting theme to compliment the thirty seven ‘Princess Diana’ roses that were planted following her tragic death in 1997.
During November we will be carrying out various maintenance jobs, one of which will be to wash and disinfect the empty hanging baskets that we have received back from those of you that bought them earlier this year. For each basket we don’t receive back, Tetbury in Bloom now has to pay £6.00 to replace it, so their return is much appreciated as it allows us to keep their cost down each year.
Come the last week in November, we’ll be having a break from planting and tending beds and turning our attention to CHRISTMAS! Keeping to our aim of making the town look attractive all year round, we’ll be swapping flowers for Christmas lights by organising the supply of, and putting all the lights on the trees that adorn the shop premises. We’ll also be organising the installation of the lights on the lamp posts and the five large trees that are situated around the town centre. They’ll be going up during the week commencing 25th November in time for the Switch On event which is taking place on the evening of Friday 6th December.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial bed in the Spring time
The summer season is well and truly coming to an end and if we haven’t started already, we’ll very soon be stripping out all the annual bedding plants and in their place, replenishing the bulbs, ready for next year’s spring display.
The roundabout project is almost complete, but like all gardening, it’s quite possible that things won’t necessarily grow to plan. If that proves to be the case, we will tweak it as it develops. This will not only ensure that the roundabout looks its best, with more colour throughout the year, but it will allow us to maintain the improved visibility for those crossing the London Road from and to the Highfield housing development.
Last year we gave the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial bed a new look but that hasn’t quite worked to plan, so we’ll be giving that a bit of tweak before next year’s season gets underway.
I’m happy to say that the formal beds in St Marys’ churchyard which we redesigned last year, HAS worked! We’re very pleased with those and with the removal of the old diseased yew trees along the main path, it has opened up the churchyard allowing a lot more light to reach the beds.
With October arriving, it’s also the time of year when the hanging baskets will be finishing – if they haven’t finished already! A reminder for those of you who supported us by buying our hanging baskets earlier this year, please contact me on 504213, or email me on to arrange collection of the empty container(s) when you’ve finished with them. If you still have any from previous years, then we’d like those too please! They will all be washed and disinfected ready for use again next year. Every ‘lost’ basket, costs us £6.00 to replace, so not only is it good to recycle them, it also keeps their overall cost down. The profit we make from each basket goes directly into the funds needed to keep the town looking as attractive as we can possibly make it, which we know, from the number of lovely comments we receive, is much appreciated by many residents, traders and visitors alike. Thank you all for your support.
One of our Summer begonia baskets
We’ve had a very busy summer, not only deadheading and maintaining our flower displays, but the extended period of warm dry weather in July meant that we needed to water the beds and troughs on a regular basis. Happily, our efforts paid off as everything did extremely well. We also made progress with the unexpected project on the roundabout that I mentioned in my previous article.
During the first half of July, with much needed and greatly appreciated help from the Town Council ground staff, we managed to dig out by hand, all the large shrubs from the middle of the roundabout, which instantly gave improved visibility for people trying to cross the London Road to and from the Highfield housing development. It also created a much lighter look to the overall planting scheme. The fact that there were already established box bushes planted around the central tree, meant that we weren’t left with a totally empty space, although it did leave several huge patches of bare soil. Over the remaining half of July and throughout August we continued to prepare the entire star shaped bed ready for us to add in later this month, a number of carefully chosen and well placed plants, including more spring flowering bulbs.
The design and planting of the roundabout has always been greatly admired and received national recognition in 2013 in a two page centre spread feature in the gardening section of the Daily Telegraph and shortly after in a BBC production of ‘The Great British Garden Revival’.
Knowing how much the look of the roundabout is appreciated by residents and visitors alike, our intention is to keep it looking its very best throughout the entire year. It’s just part of our overall aim to make Tetbury one of the most attractive small towns in the Cotswolds, for the benefit of everyone.
Removing the large shrubs from the centre of the London Road roundabout to improve visibility when crossing the road
There is no Tetbury Advertiser in August
Having finished planting the town’s summer displays, our focus now is to keep them looking their best. Until September/October we’ll be working on a two week maintenance rota, visiting each of the beds and containers every other week. For this purpose we divide the town into four sections....
1) The ten troughs in Market Place and at the front of the Market Hall; the six tubs on the Chipping Steps; the trough in the Chipping Car Park and the one at the Chipping public toilets; the two beds and six tubs in London Road ‘gardens’, opposite Combers Mead. Also Anniversary Gardens which is located in Eccles Court which runs between The Ferns and The Chippings.
2) The frontage of Old Coombe House in New Church Street which we took on as a project in 2007 and have continued maintaining ever since; The front and side beds at The Dolphins Hall; the troughs at the gates of St Saviours church; the fire station bed; the Library; the Twizzle bed which is adjacent to the footpath that runs from the Library to Long Street; the bed and small trough on The Knapp.
3) The bed adjacent to the road at the hospital; the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial bed on The Green; the Remembrance Garden, ten beds and four containers in St Marys’ Churchyard; the nine tubs adjacent to the Old Brewery Lane car park and the beds outside the West Street public toilets for which, in 2007 and 2008, we won the British Toilet Association Award for the ‘Best Dressed Toilet’!!
4) The bed at the entrance to the Priory Industrial Estate in London Road; the two beds at the Tesco filling station; the bed at Braybrooke Close and the large roundabout on London Road which in reality is six very large beds.
In 2006 when we first planted the roundabout, there were no houses and almost no pedestrians needing to cross the London Road in that area. Thirteen years later the situation has changed dramatically. Crossing London Road by the roundabout, which at present is still 40mph, is proving difficult for residents of the new housing estates, especially if crossing with children and pushchairs. Reducing the speed limit and improving the crossing will take time, but to improve visibility in almost an instant, during July, together with the Town Council ground staff, we will be taking out all the large shrubs from the central area. We will then replant in a less dense fashion, making crossing the road a much easier task and giving the roundabout a new look.
The London Road roundabout, Summer 2009
With June arriving we’re now working headlong into our busiest time of the year when every Tuesday and Thursday this month we’ll be out both morning AND evening preparing and then planting all the beds and troughs throughout the town. In addition, at the beginning of the month, we’ll also be taking delivery of one hundred and fifty five hanging baskets. Twenty five of those will be used to decorate the town centre lampposts complimenting those on the Market House which are supplied and erected by the Feoffees. The remaining one hundred and thirty will be delivered by us to the different shops and residents that have supported us by buying them as one of our fund raising initiatives. The profit raised from the sale of these will go directly into Tetbury in Bloom funds and will allow us to continue our work of making the town look as attractive as possible, all year long.
Over one thousand bedding plants will be added to the different beds and containers to give that extra splash of colour throughout the summer months and we’ll be using our usual vibrant colour schemes which compliment the shrubs and perennials used in the different locations.
Very early on during our fourteen years of existence, we learnt that with municipal planting the aim is to create a big WOW factor and something that people will notice from a distance, especially if driving past at 30mph!.
We also learnt the need to use plants that are reliable, easy to maintain and are happy to withstand a certain amount of ‘neglect’, bearing in mind that we can’t nurture them all on a daily or even weekly basis as we would in our own gardens. Above all else they need to be drought resistant and not wilt at the first sign of having insufficient water. All the different types of plants that we use now have been tried and tested over time and have ticked all the right boxes!
Planting up the Market Place Troughs
With May arriving, the spring display is almost over and we’ve spent the past few weeks visiting the beds and deadheading the daffodils and tulips in an effort to keep everything looking as neat and tidy as possible. Unfortunately, with the bulb leaves now having to be left to die back naturally to allow the goodness to be reabsorbed for next year’s display, the next few weeks will look anything but neat and tidy! On a plus note, the perennials have started to fill the beds with fresh new growth and the early flowering shrubs and those that produce colourful new foliage, are coming into their own.
Although the beds won’t necessarily look their best this month, at least it won’t be long before 4th June arrives and we start planting the summer displays. This will be our 14th summer season and the planting schedule has now become a well practiced operation with everyone on the team coming out each Tuesday and Thursday evening, throughout the month of June, to plant the 33 beds and a total of 42 tubs and troughs that we tend throughout the town.
All we’re hoping for is that we don’t have to contend with the same challenging conditions that we had last year!! Having finished planting all the summer bedding plants at the end of last June, because they hadn’t had time to establish themselves before the longest, hottest, driest few weeks for the past few decades arrived, we then had the relentless and almost desperate task of trying to keep them all alive.
Our efforts did pay off though and it highlighted the advantages of our sustainable mixed planting style of using shrubs and long flowering perennials to form the mainstay of the beds. Apart from having to water the newly planted bedding geraniums and antirrhinums, the amount of water actually required to keep the other plants alive was minimal and once the ‘normal’ British summer conditions returned, everything made up for lost time and thrived.
Tulips in the Braybrooke Close bed
Whilst working in St Marys’ churchyard last month, it suddenly struck me that it is exactly ten years ago that we started our project to improve its appearance and over that time, we’ve spent literally hundreds of man-hours doing our best to make it looked loved and cared for.
At this time of year thousands of self-seeded primroses, growing amongst the grass, come into flower and look absolutely beautiful. Very early on in the project we extended this naturally occurring spring display by adding hundreds of snow drops and cyclamen under several of the trees and clumps of daffodils and bluebells in amongst the gravestones.
The six formal beds that we created alongside the main paths, add to the overall spring display from February onwards with a mixture of crocus and daffodils. This month the tulips start coming into flower, the colours of which have been chosen to complement the red leafed trees and stone-work of the church building itself.
Other beds and planted areas have been created using either formal or informal schemes. Amongst them is the semi evergreen woodland style fern bed at the north east corner of the church building which has brought life to an otherwise dark, dank and empty area. Snow drops, crocus and narcissi, followed by lily of the valley, form part of the spring display here.
A few steps further on at the rear of the church is a memorial bed, created in 2011, to commemorate Canon Michael Sherwood, the vicar of St Marys’ between 1961 and 1986 and also Derek Bowsher, a much respected churchwarden. This has proved to be one of our most simple but successful planting schemes, using different coloured heuchera, golden euonymus and evergreen ferns. It hardly needs spring flowers to make it more colourful, but for good measure, we’ve added in Tete a Tete dwarf daffodils.
Over the years we’ve experienced a huge amount of pleasure and satisfaction from working in the churchyard, making it a place for people to enjoy, whether visiting the church, taking a walk, or just sitting quietly on one of the several benches we have supplied. For more information about all the work we have carried out in the churchyard, or anywhere else in the town, visit our website and go to the ‘What We Do’ section.
Tulip Display in St Marys’ Churchyard
Despite the recent cold weather, we’ve still managed to get out twice nearly every week, to tend the beds and catch up on maintenance jobs - clearing leaves, tree debris, weeding and cutting back dead growth, ready for the appearance of thousands of spring bulbs that we’ve planted over the years.
Throughout the town, for at least nine months of the year, we’ve made it so there’s always something in flower to complement the colourful foliage shrubs that make up the framework of the displays. Starting in early February with the snowdrops , hellebores and cyclamen, they quickly give way to primroses and crocus. Then come the daffodils which are followed by tulips and alliums. During the summer months, long flowering perennials, bolstered by seasonal bedding take over and towards the end of the year, the late flowering fuchsias and penstemons come into their own by flowering right through to the first frosts in November.
Our sole aim has always been to make the town look as attractive as possible, whether we do it by way of flowers or more recently, Christmas lights. Although we don’t compete any more, we still follow the philosophy of RHS Britain in Bloom which is to make the town look cared for and a place where people can be proud to live, work and visit.
If you’d like to support us, we are still taking orders for hanging baskets which will arrive during the first week of June and delivered to your door by arrangement. This is one of our main fund raising initiatives, the profits from which allow us to continue making Tetbury one of the most attractive small towns in the region. Having read John Light’s article, of 24th January, in the Wilts and Glos Standard, it appears we are managing to achieve our aim. He writes how impressed he always is by our baskets and especially the look of the London Road roundabout, favourably comparing us with Wotton Under Edge and Stonehouse. For more details of how to order our baskets, look out for our advert in this month’s Tetbury Advertiser, or visit our website at
Display of early flowering crocus in one of the London Road beds
In December, after 12 years of being members of Tetbury in Bloom, Liz and Kevin Farnham retired from the organisation. It goes without saying that they will be greatly missed – Liz, in her ‘Publicity’ role, having written every one of our Tetbury Advertiser articles since the end of 2006 and Kevin, in his role as our IT expert, photographer and webmaster. We thank them both very much indeed for their input and support over all that time.
The current Tetbury in Bloom organisation was formed in March 2005 and there are still 4 founder members involved today – myself - I’ve led the team since 2008, organising the twice weekly work parties and designing the flower displays. My husband, Stephen Hirst, who is a town councillor, was the Mayor during those early years and he actually instigated its formation. Each summer he takes on the role of watering the lamppost baskets. Mel Maslin is our long standing Treasurer & together with Ian, her husband, who is also a current town councillor, they both remain much involved especially during the summer planting season.
For the first 7 years everyone involved worked relentlessly hard competing in the regional and national ‘In Bloom’ competitions. We were finalists in the national Britain in Bloom campaigns of 2009 and 2011 and achieved our 5th Gold award and were declared Overall Winner in the regional competition of 2010. Although we no longer compete, doing it all for pleasure now, our work over the years has helped make Tetbury become one of the most attractive small towns in the South Cotswolds.
With Liz and Kevin retiring, we are now just 11 members strong and of that number, up to 8 of us go out twice a week to tend the flower displays. With February arriving we are already looking toward the summer and taking orders for hanging baskets again! You can choose easy-care, trailing begonias in pink, red and apricot shades OR a colourful mix of vibrant trailing geraniums. They will be delivered to your door by arrangement during the first week in June. Details can be found in our adjacent advertisement or on our website Profits raised go toward ‘In Bloom’ projects. If you purchased our hanging baskets last summer and still have the empty containers, we’d really appreciate their return as soon as possible please, so we can re-use them for this year. Please give me a call on 504213 to arrange collection.
The Tetbury in Bloom team, February 2019, with all 11 members