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Keeping the gates open

wildgardengatesOpposite Shipton Court there is a pair of wrought iron gates opening onto the Lime Avenue and leading down to the Wild Garden. I am sure many of you have walked down there or taken children to feed the ducks, but how often do you reflect on what it takes to keep those gates open to all?
We acquired the Wild Garden in 2010 and since then have been following our Management Plan to keep the balance between Wild and Garden while maintaining the formality of the Avenue and Ponds.
The ha-ha wall along the cricket ground has been rebuilt and repaired plus a hedge planted along the new junior cricket ground. The various gaps in the lime avenue have been replanted with 18 new limes kindly sponsored by members of the community. The canals and Round Pond have been dredged, the dams and stonework repaired, and leaks for the most part blocked. The main paths have been resurfaced with wood chip and gravel and the general rubbish collected and removed. This year we are working on the Upper Pond. Initially we are concentrating on repairing the dam wall and rebuilding the sluiceway. We will also install a buggie bridge over the sluiceway near the Cedar of Lebanon and improve the access path to this area.
All this has been done with volunteers from our local villages. We have a regular weekly session where around eight to 10 of us do the major restoration jobs, and two or three major working parties each year, the last one attracting 30 participants.
We support a Forest School in the Garden, introducing the younger generation to learning experiences in a woodland environment; we have also hosted parties for the WI, circular walks for the Oxford Tree Club and Oxfordshire Garden Trust while the Wychwood Cubs have put up 12 nest boxes all of which have been regularly used.
Our long-term challenge is ensuring that what we have now survives into the future. It costs about £6,000 a year to maintain the Garden and carry out any necessary safety work on the trees. Our 130 members provide both the financial support to run the Wild Garden, and the involvement at the AGM, and as Trustees in determining its future. As so many of our community use the Garden, it would certainly be good to have more members.
So if you are already a member, heartfelt thanks for your support; maybe you can also persuade a friend to join. If you are not a member and enjoy walking in the garden, then do consider becoming a member and helping us to keep the gates open for the next generation. For further information contact 0845 8056804,

Mike Watson