A record of wildlife in my garden and various trips to the Warwickshire countryside and occasionally further afield.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."
From "Auguries of Innocence"
by William Blake
Monday, 10 February 2020
Snowdrop Weekend at Hill Close Gardens
The weekend before last we drove to Warwick to visit the Snowdrop Event at Hill Close Gardens which I visited for the first time last May.
Hill Close Gardens (or the hidden gardens of Warwick) are a rare example of Victorian detached gardens used by residents of the town who lived above their premises in Warwick town centre and had no room in their small backyards to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers. The gardens date back to the mid 1840's when the owner of Hill Close divided his land into 32 plots and rented them out. Over time the plots were bought by the people who were using them. 16 plots of the original 32 survive until the present day.
The gardens were cultivated until after World War 2 when Warwick District Council started buying up the plots so that they could use the land for housing development and a local Committee was formed to try and fight this. Research revealed the importance of the gardens and the development was thankfully cancelled. A trust was set up to save the gardens for the future and restore them.
If you would like to read more of the history of the gardens and see them in May please see my post here
Timothy came along - sitting in the car and looking forward to the snowdrops :)
Snowdrops by the entrance
Plants for sale and I did buy a snowdrop as we left.
There was a lovely table display and floral arrangements in the Visitor Centre
A walk round the gardens
This is all that is left of a boiler system used to produce pig swill. Pigs were kept on some of the plots in the Second World War and into the 1950's.
As well as Snowdrops there were Primroses, Crocuses, Aconites and Hellebores.
Inside one of the summer houses
The Potting Shed still in use today
Before leaving we had a cup of tea and cake (Pear and Ginger) in the Visitor Centre.
I felt a bit guilty about the cake but, having finally plucked up the courage to read the healthy eating guide from the doctors, I was pleased to note you can have the occasional piece of homemade cake. I've stocked up on ryvitas, cottage cheese, dried fruits, low fat yogurts, malt loaf and olive oil spread and managed to cut chocolate and biscuits out of my diet (for now!!). I'm also cutting down on butter and cheese which is the hardest thing to do.
I also discovered an old recipe which I've been making on and off for nearly 40 years for a picnic fruit loaf which contains no fat.
I've given the recipe below as it really is delicious.
Picnic Fruit Loaf
Makes 2 1lb loaves
450g mixed dried fruit
225g soft light brown sugar
300 ml warm tea (no milk!!!)
2 tablespoons marmalade
450g self raising flour
Soak mixed dried fruit with light brown soft sugar in warm tea overnight. (I actually leave it now for at least 24 hours so the fruit plumps up)
Next day (or the day after) stir in egg, marmalade and SR flour. Mix thoroughly. Edit - sorry should have mentioned preheat oven to Gas Mark 3.
Place in 2 1lb load tins (450g) base lined and greased and bake for between 1.5 hours to 1.75 hours. I check after 45 minutes and if the top is browning too much cover the top loosely with foil.
When skewer comes out clean they are cooked.
Cool in tins before turning out.
They freeze well wrapped in foil and will keep up to 4 months.
Slice and butter (or the dreaded olive oil spread!).
All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumic FZ330 bridge camera
(D left his camera in the car)
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.