Alderman's Green Free Methodist Church

Church Garden

Update – May 2024

The seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how” (Mark 4:27)

Following my last update, spring did indeed arrive (although not with as much warmth as we may perhaps have wished!).  The spring season is now seeing all the perennials bursting forth with their fresh, vibrant green leaves and all the many tiny seeds that were dormant in the wildflower part of the garden are now germinating.  If you read The Parable of the Growing Seed in Mark 4:26-29, to use the analogy, the garden plants are at the ‘tender stalk’ stage.

The early spring bulbs have now completed their cycle and the summer flowers are preparing to take centre stage.  There have been additions this year in the form of foxgloves, donated by one of our church members.  Planted last autumn, I am pleased to say these are looking strong and healthy with flower stalks forming.  Once these have flowered and seeded, I look forward to plenty more of these self-perpetuating plants next year.

The garden continues to evolve and my plan this year is to introduce one or two more perennials with a few specially selected annuals to fill the gaps and provide some colourful blooms for the church.

Gardens do take time to establish.  The gardener needs to be patient and prepared to make changes constantly, as well as accepting a few failures and plant casualties along the way.  Unlike what the celebrity TV garden make-over ‘experts’ would have you believe, gardens don’t suddenly reach maturity overnight and neither will the garden stay looking good without regular maintenance, adaptation and nurturing – the clients (clearly with more money than sense) will soon find out!!

As always I am looking forward to further developments in the garden and especially to seeing the flowers later on.  In the meantime, here are some photos of how it is now looking, still mainly green, but poised …………… and just waiting.


Update – Winter 2023/24

See amid the winter’s snow” (Edward Caswall 1814-78)

Of all the Christmas carols, ‘See amid the winter’s snow’ is my favourite of all (though not sung often enough in my opinion!).  When I captured the picture of the garden in December, even with just a light dusting of snow, that is the carol that came into my mind first and foremost – but remember, spring is coming.

Winter-time means a period of dormancy for the garden, the cutting and die-back of foliage and the year’s growth.  It is also a time of rest for the gardener.

However, whilst the perennial plants have just gone underground for now, seeds  from the previous season have fallen and are quietly establishing, waiting for the right time to put on a show – remember, spring is coming.

So, whilst we may yet have more bleak weather, in a few short months winter will pass and spring will arrive.

In the meantime I have planted bulbs, planning which cutting flowers I am going to sow and setting out my framework for planting.  I also intend to add more cornflowers which, I understand, symbolise hope and unity.

I am looking forward to another year in the garden and especially to seeing fresh, green growth and the renewed hope that springtime always brings.


Update – Autumn 2023

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” (To Autumn by John Keats)

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons.  This time of the year sees the flourishing of everything that has been planted and nurtured since spring and the colours are a kaleidoscope for the eyes.

The church garden has now completed a full year.  Right at the start of this project I set myself a brief to produce cutting flowers that could be used occasionally for the church table – I am pleased to say that target has been achieved and, additionally, members of the church have been given flowers to take home and enjoy.  I am really encouraged to also report that interest amongst the congregation has also grown steadily throughout the year.

It’s amazing to think that a tiny seed sown 6 months ago could produce such beautiful flowers – just think, a towering sunflower with its’ big cheerful face, from something so small.

We are about to celebrate Harvest.  Whilst we may take pride in thinking that it’s all down to our own endeavours, whether growing flowers or fruit and veg, that alone has produced results, but let us take time to be grateful and remember as we sing a familiar harvest hymn, “that all good gifts are sent from heaven above”.

Soon we will be winding down to winter and the garden will be dormant but I will be taking the time to review what has worked best, or not as well as I’d hoped, and already I have ideas for next year.

Below is a selection of photos, showcasing some of the flowers and plants, including vase displays.


Update – Summer 2023

2 Corinthian 9:6 – “Remember that the person who sows few seeds will have a small crop; the one who sows many seeds will have a large crop”.

It is now early summer and the formal part of the garden is taking shape.  This year is the first season and has developed greatly since I started this project almost a year ago.  I am continuing to fill the space with as many varieties of plants as possible – some providing ground cover and others producing longer stems for cutting, a few of which have already been used in one or two flower arrangements in the church.

The wildflower garden that I sowed alongside the church has been particularly pleasing and is now colourful and alive with a diversity of insects, feasting on the wild flower nectar.  I have also scattered foxglove, cornflower and poppy seeds to the mix for an even greater range next spring and summer.

I’m continuing to enjoy creating the garden, including the weeding and the removal of the ‘potato legacy ‘of the previous plot holder!  However, these are small inconveniences compared to the promise of what’s to come and what has been produced already.

Attached are a few photographs of the project, to date.  More pictures to follow in early autumn when, I trust, flowers such as dahlias, gladioli, golden rod, verbena and gaillardia will be in full bloom.

I am encouraged that a few people from the Friday café have taken an interest in the garden and also grateful for those who have willingly provided me with plants.


Update - Spring 2023

Since making a start last autumn to cultivate the church garden, work and planning have continued over the winter and some results are now evident.  Plants have established themselves and early spring bulbs have produced a display, with tulips to follow.

The long section, alongside the church itself, has now been dug.  Brambles, nettles and other roots have been removed and - i have been ably helped and encouraged in this process by Neil, my beautiful assistant!  The long area has now been raked over and planted with wildflower seed, for butterflies, bees and pollinators, along with the creation of a compost heap for other bio-diverse wildlife and insects.

A raised bed in a very dark corner is ready for planting with shade-loving plants (eg. Japanese white anemone; helebores and yellow-leaf hostas), all of which will serve to fill the space and illuminate what many would consider a hopeless spot - but i believe if we sow in faith, even in the darkest corner, beauty and light can shine.

The continuing plan is to plant dahlias, zinnias and gladioli, with the purpose of providing blooms and stems for cutting (for the church table).  I am excited by this project so please watch this space for a further update and photos as the garden and wildflower area develops over the next few months.  In the meantime, attached are some photos showing progress to date.


Ocober 2022

Since the start of 2022 I took on the role of organising the church flower rota ......... considered a mundane task by some but really it's a privilege because flowers are things of beauty and bring a lot of pleasure to many.

At the rear and side of our church is an area of land that some may not even realise is there.  When our Minister left in the summer and vacated the garden, I had an idea to cultivate part of the now unused plot and develop a cutting flower garden - the purpose being not to replace the current rota arrangement but to seasonally supplement where appropriate, for the enjoyment of church members and visitors alike.  My project started in August, along with some construction input from Neil.  It has been hard work at times but am now at the stage where plants can be planted and around 120 spring bulbs are already in the ground.

This project has demonstrated to me that, when we work for the greater good, our wants are gladly and generously supplied.  Some people have donated cuttings and seeds and my neighbour unexpectedly offered me an unwanted hardly-used water butt and stand, even as I was wondering where I might source a cheap one.

Here are a few photos of progress to date and watch this space for a further update in the new year.  In the meantime, we'll just have to wait and see what pops up out of God's good earth in the spring.  (1 Corinthians 3: 6-9 and Proverbs 3:9)


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