Chris Russell, social secretary had planned some brilliant outings for the year and the first coach trip arranged for us was to Biddulph Grange at Stoke on May 17.We saw the amazing Victorian house and the garden which was a survival from 19th Century created by James Bateman who had collected hundreds of special and unusual plants from his global journeys around the world.We moved on during the afternoon to Little Moreton Hall a magnificent Iconic Tudor Manor House first built over 500 years ago in 1504-1508, situated 4 miles South West of Congleton Cheshire.

The moated half-timbered Manor House is now a National Trust Property and a Grade 1 listed building. The latticed windows contain 30,000 leaded panes with squares, rectangles, lozenges, circles and triangular shapes..We were lucky to step back in time and marvel at the delights of this picture book house. The house has an Historic Long Gallery, Great Hall, Cobbled Courtyard, Chapel, Elizabethan Murals and the whole Timber Framed Buildings are embellished with Carvings.

There was a manicured Knot Garden based on a design from 1670. There were traditional fruit trees in the orchard mainly apples, pears, mediars and quince.

The speaker on May 20 was Mick Poultney a keen gardener from Colley Gate who had a strong Black Country accent. His subject was “Raised Beds”

and he was very enthusiastic to share his tips and experience with us all. His pictures showed us how he used palettes and planks to create some robust raised beds. He emphasised the importance of the preparations and said he lined the 4ft beds on both sides. He uses stable manure, spent hops, soil from mole hills, seaweed mixed with his compost The soil is all important and “ Better brew/ better root.” He advised us to use 100% Bio Stimulant to enrich the soil.

He had used wood chippings on all his surrounding paths. His neighbours have been very impressed with his endeavours and results with his vegetables and have taken his advice and built raised beds themselves.

On mat 31 several members travelled to Bretforton in the Vale of Evesham for the wonderful Village Open Gardens. The picturesque village is well known for the Cotswold stone cottages with their mullioned windows, the renowned Fleece Inn now owned by the National Trust, St Leonard’s 13th Century Church a Grade 1 listed building and Bretforton Manor House.

All the proceeds made on the day will be donated to St Richard’s Hospice which provides care and support for cancer patients and their families and the Evesham All Saints Food.

Roger and Chris Russell have organized the Astley Village Open Gardens for June 27/28 and the beneficiaries from the proceeds made will go towards Charities including Marie Curie, MacMillan Cancer, Queens Nursing Institute, Hospice UK and Parkinsons UK.

Donations to Charities are so useful and recently Mike Jones out Treasurer was pleased to say we had already donated £150 to Parkinsons and £50 to Dementia UK in 2015.

On July 5-July 9 there is a holiday to Harrogate and gardens of Yorkshire.On July 25 there is a summer social with a comedian and a vocalist. Ticket only.