Daphne Ledward, Garden Planner, Gardener, Author and Broadcaster



Spalding Guardian Gardening 17 May 2012

Maybe it’s the weather we’ve had recently that doesn’t feel in the least like the approach of early summer, but the realisation that the Diamond Jubilee weekend is only about two weeks away came as a shock to me at the weekend.

One of the events Surfleet is putting on for the community is a Teddy Bears’ Picnic, and the obvious place to hold this is at the Patch, where there are over five acres to run about in and picnic (‘if you go down to the woods today, and all that’). The trees have grown up nicely and it is an ideal place to bring teddies for a picnic, assuming it warms up, that is, although it is several degrees warmer in the wood as it is so sheltered. Of course, the Jubilee celebrations would be this year, when we haven’t been able to cut the grass for weeks, and the vegetable garden is a good month behind, so we took advantage of the sunshine on Saturday and Sunday and made a start on a massive spruce-up.

I hadn’t realised how long the kitchen garden part of the Patch been suffering from drought till I took stock of the weeds. I thought weeds there were a thing of the past, as a gentle hoeing was all that’s been need for years to keep the soil clear, but it was obviously shortage of water and not good maintenance that had brought this about, as once I set to, I discovered weed seedlings I hadn’t seen for eons, and that didn’t include the lush, green covering where we’d spread the horse manure. Of course, the unceasing wind has made it impossible to spray, so most of Sunday was spent on my hands and knees, pulling out every blade of grass and oats that engulfed my newly-planted strawberries (what a nice surprise to find them again and see how much they’d grown!). Most of the other areas can be hoed; a good time to remember the principles of hoeing, that the hoe should be as sharp as a razor and the weeds must be chopped off where they emerge from the ground – not hoed up by the roots, as if the showery spells continue, they will soon reattach themselves and regrow. Timing is everything, of course, as if the Patch looks spick and span too soon, it will be as bad again by Saturday, 2nd of June, the day of the picnic. But, as they say, it’ll no doubt be all right on the night, or day, in this case.

For those of you who want to give your teddies an airing (those of you who haven’t got one are still welcome to come and picnic), the event is from 12 midday to 3pm at The Patch, Surfleet Cheal, PE11 4JF, and there will be competitions to keep you busy and a prize for the best dressed teddy. Hot and cold drinks are available and Laddies Ice cream will be there. There is no age limit, either to visitors or teddies – one of my teddies is around seventy years old and he’ll be coming with me! – and well behaved dogs on leads are welcome (please clean up after them, though).

The Jubilee Teddy Bears Picnic is free (donations, to be divided between Surfleet Church and Fen Bank Greyhound Sanctuary, if you’ve enjoyed yourselves). All we want now is a warm, still, sunny day – surely not too much to ask!

See you there.

Daphne Ledward

This piece originally appeared in the Spalding Guardian