Room 101

Today I have been in Room 101, literally. I have been working at the hospice now for just over a year. Each year we have to do some mandatory training (ie H+S, manual handling, data protection etc). The time had come for me to redo mine. So I went to a room with a computer and started the online training. I laughed out loud when I looked down at the phone and saw that I was in Room 101 (Room 101 being the torture chamber used in George Orwell’s 1984). Mandatory training, very important as it is, can seem somewhat tortuous, especially on a sunny day!

Room 101

I feel that I am also in a slight metaphorical Room 101. Over the last few days my back has been getting increasingly stiff and more sore, a fear that all gardeners dread. By lunchtime I decided that it was best to stop working and rest up for the next few days, in the hope that the pain will ease off. I am also being referred to a back rehab clinic.

It is now just over two weeks since the Garden Opening. For a few days afterwards I was exhausted. We had a quick debrief afterwards, and were very pleased with how the day went. We have decided to open again next year, this time a bit earlier. So on July 15th 2018, Wigan and Leigh Hospice will be open again to the public.

Last week suddenly went very autumnal. The leaves were dropping off the trees quicker than I could clear them. Is it me, or are they falling earlier this year than in recent years? Mushrooms have also started appearing in the lawns. Mushrooms, and fungi in general, remind me of autumn conditions – cool and damp. The mushrooms in question are called Bay Bolete.

Bay Bolete

The Imleria badia (syn. Boletus badius), as it is officially known, is bay brown (chestnut) in colour and grows up to 15cm in diameter. On the underside they do not have gills, but rather pores. And despite being named ‘badius’, they are actually edible, although I haven’t dared harvest them to give to the kitchen to cook up, just in case I have mis-identified them! They are mild tasting, and according to one website they smell “mushroomy”!

Another highlight of the garden this week are the kaffir lilies – Schizostylis ‘pink princess’.

Schizostylis 'pink princess'

They are so pretty and delicate, and a real treat to see in flower, in a month which can feel a bit depressing as the days start to get shorter, cooler and more damp.

Hopefully I’ll be back in work next week, as there is plenty to do, and not just picking up leaves!

“Bring Me Sunshine”!

Continuing the theme of song titles, I decided to give today’s blog the title of “Give Me Sunshine”!

Today was the big day – we opened the hospice gardens for the first time as part of the National Garden Scheme. I’ve been looking at the weather forecast all week… and it’s not been good, to say the least! Rain, rain and more rain, with the odd scattering of heavy showers. I’ve been singing/praying “Bring Me Sunshine” for the last couple of days, and although it wasn’t very sunny, it didn’t rain very much at all, just a couple of short showers.

I think that the forecast might have affected our numbers a bit, but I was delighted that 96 people came to have a look around. Many of these people were local and had never visited the hospice before. And it was thumbs up all round. We raised £246 for NGS and nearly £400 for the hospice.

Visitors for Open Day

We are definitely going to open again next year, but maybe a little earlier in the season.

A big thank you to all who helped out and made this such a success.

It’s The Final Countdown…

That wretched 1986 song by Europe, The Final Countdown, has been going round and round in my head as I’ve been doing my final preparations for the NGS garden opening (click here to find info). I’ve had help from various volunteers, including 4 wonderful women from Wigan Council, who have slaved all day, as well as the regular volunteers coming in twice this week to make sure that everything is ready.

The final countdown

Dead heading

I don’t want to give too much away by showing photos, but I think that the gardens are looking great. I am so pleased with them, I just hope that the weather is ok on Sunday. So if you are able to, please pop down to Wigan and Leigh Hospice to have a good look around. See you there!

P.S. Gardens are open from 10am till 4pm Sunday 10th Sept. @ Wigan and Leigh Hospice, Kildare Street, Wigan WN2 3HZ