Monday, 29 June 2009

Blooming Towns!

I moved to Budleigh Salterton in East Devon partly in search of the acidic soil which had eluded me during my working life. I now feel that I live in the Garden of Eden, although ericaceous plants are I what I enjoy growing rather than apples.

Pictured, left, a red rhododendron with a beetle. Both unidentified.

One day I’ll learn about proper pruning of apple trees and how to deal with canker disease and codling moths. But for the moment I’m just thrilled to see the wonderful flowers of my camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons as they spread throughout the garden, to be followed later in the year by blue hydrangeas. I even managed to take layer cuttings of rhododendrons in my first year here. Right: Evergreen azaleas at their most showy in a woodland setting of the garden

So I was excited to learn that Cape Cod is also blessed with acidic soil: another link to be blogged. They have interesting pebbles as well, though they call them “rocks’ over there. I thought Budleigh’s pebbles were unique, but no, we’re not the only…

Blue hydrangeas surround the pool at Brewster by the Sea

Anyway the most important thing is that Brewster’s gardeners are just as keen as Budleigh’s. We both benefit from maritime climates, though the Cape Cod season comes a bit later than ours. And growing camellias outdoors there is definitely a risky business compared with Devon because of the chillier spring.

Pictured, right, a Camellia japonica ‘Warrior’ from Otter Valley Nurseries

At this time of the year both towns are blooming, both with flowers and with gardening clubs. Brewster in Bloom started off as a flower festival to celebrate the arrival of the daffodils, but seems to have mutated into a general colourful celebration of everything in the town.

Budleigh in Bloom is one of the various gardening clubs and societies which flourish in our town. It operates solely with volunteer members and donations or sponsorship.

Left: Flowering containers planted by Budleigh in Bloom line the brook which runs along the town's Fore Street.

Pat Prew is one of the club’s keenest gardeners and is proud of its achievements. “The national body of Britain in Bloom have awarded us with a gold award in our category of the small towns in the South West for the last two years,” she told me a few weeks ago. “This is one of the busiest times of the year for us now, planting out the containers with the summer plants.” Starting at the brook in Fore Street, she and her team have so far done the library and telephone exchange troughs, the three tier planters outside the public hall, and the flower beds on the Green.

Pictured, right, a Budleigh in Bloom flowering container at the entrance to the town on East Budleigh Road

Some new hayloft planters have been put on the Public Hall wall to replace the old ones which were well past their best, and the boat on the East Budleigh Road which greets travellers to the town has also been planted up. The boat was donated to Budleigh in Bloom by its previous owner, known as Digger Rogers, and is a colourful spectacle for most of the year.

One major project which the Budleigh in Bloom team are keen to tackle is the neglected area on Fore Street Hill.

“We’re waiting until we have the physical labour to do this – most of us committee are females,” explained Pat. “We thought that we would need more muscle power and so are in the queue waiting for funds to be allocated with the Community Payback workers. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long. When the work starts we want to clear all the brambles and weeds, still retaining the wild plant effect and also plant a couple of shrubs to attract the butterflies, bees and other useful insects.”

In Brewster it’s the Garden Club which has taken on the civic duty of beautifying the town. Its mission, as stated on the website, is “to stimulate the love for, and knowledge of, gardening, to promote the protection of natural beauty and wildlife of the community, and to cooperate with the town agencies in order to beautify the roadsides and other public places in Brewster.”

The Club’s first meeting was in October 1954 and by May of the following year the membership quota of 40 had already been reached.

Members tend over 20 small gardens scattered throughout the town. These include the islands on Route 6A, which they aim to keep blooming, weeded and mulched, as well as at the Senior Center, Drummer Boy Park and Millstone Road at Underpass Road and at “the egg”, by the Brewster Store.

To encourage others in the town to match their high standards, the Garden Club makes an award annually to a business or residence on the main roads of Brewster that maintains a lovely garden or landscaped area. The 2008 Brewster Beautification award was presented to the Handcraft House, located on 6A, owned by Jeff and Eileen Smith

Pictured opposite (left to right) are Sheila Garran, President of the Brewster Garden Club, Jeff and Eileen Smith, owners of the Handcraft House, and Jane Wick, Chair of the Horticultural Committee

The 2007 Beautification Award was presented to Ruth and Cliff Manchester, owners of The Bramble Inn

Pictured (l-r): Ruth and Cliff Manchester, Sheila Garran, Maryanne Vetrano and Louise Crane

Brewster’s Garden Club members are keen fund-raisers. The Club's cookbook, A Taste of Brewster, containing members’ favourite recipes continues to be in great demand. A plant/bake sale took place on 9 May. The Club raised $3,000 to be used for civic projects in the town and for the $2,000 scholarship they give to a Brewster resident each year. That is impressive.

The Garden Club's first ever Educational Grant was recently awarded to Brewster’s Eddy Elementary School

Pictured are (l-r): Maureen Perri, Garden Club Liaison; teacher aids Rebecca McVickar and Debora Bergstrom, and President Sheila Garran.

On 3 June the Club had its annual luncheon at the Academy Ocean Grill in Orleans when President Sheila Garran gave the gavel to incoming president Gerry Emmert.

Club meetings start up the first Wednesday in October. The club website, gives more information and details of membership. I am indebted to the webmaster for permission to reproduce photos.

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