Open Gardens 2015

Coggeshall Hidden Gardens 2015Open Gardens 2015

In previous years West Bergholt Gardeners have opened their gardens to the public in aid of charity, most recently in 2014 where well over £3,000 was raised for teenage cancer charities.  This year the organizers are taking a break, hopefully to be back reinvigorated next year, but for those still hoping to visit local gardens and get some ideas, we have recently received details of another similar event:

Coggeshall Hidden Gardens 2015

Sunday, 7 June 2:00 PM To 6:00 PM

This year Coggeshall is opening its garden gates so that you can visit walled gardens, kitchen gardens, tiny gardens, gardens that will delight and inspire you. There’s lots to do and see for young and old alike. Follow the children’s trail, visit the plant stall, enjoy a delicious home-made tea – a perfect afternoon out for the whole family! For more information visit the website at

If You Can’t Make Coggeshall

There are some 23 Villages/Parishes running Open Gardens in Essex this year, a small sample includes some relatively local:

  • Walton-on-the Naze – 27th & 28th June – Various gardens open in Walton-on-the-Naze for the benefit of Walton in Bloom. Come and spend a wonderful day by the sea. Refreshments, tombola, raffle, plant sales and crafts for sale.  –
  • Chappel & Wakes Colne – 7th June – About 12 beautiful gardens open in and around the Essex Colne Valley. Lovely garden location for refreshments.
  • Earls Colne – 21st June – A number of gardens will be open to visit, all within easy walking distance with garden trail for the young ones. St. Andrews church and tower will be open for views across the beautiful Colne valley. Refreshments on sale.
  • Tollesbury – 27th & 28th June – Over twenty gardens will be open, from small courtyard gardens to larger gardens, from community gardens to gardens as yet unseen by the public.
  • Pebmarsh – 7th June – This Trail includes a variety of gardens. Snipelands is a stunning two-acre garden in a peaceful setting, on the outskirts of Pebmarsh, at 10 Mill Lane are mature shrubs, herbaceous borders, and a fern garden under trees whilst Matson Lodge is a 1½ acre garden developed for wildlife.

There are more listed at the Open Gardens website.


Hillhouse Bluebells 2015

Hillhouse Bluebells 2015 FlyerHillhouse Bluebells 2015

Friends of Hillhouse Wood (in conjunction with the Woodland Trust) once again invite you to attend their annual Bluebell Open Day, timed to catch the Bluebells at their best, on Saturday 25th April 2015.  Having achieved major media credits in the past few years with The Times (April 2013) saying it was:

A superb springtime wood with a flood of bluebells enhanced by the light created by coppicing of hazels.  If you’re lucky, you’ll hear blackbirds and nightingales.

… in an article featuring 30  of the best wild days out in Spring, The Telegraph this year saying:

One of the Top Ten spots to see bluebells in the UK

and then, the BBC featuring the bluebell woods in the BBC2’s show “Great British Garden Revival”, it is really worth a visit.

As ever, Steve Hallam will lead the guided walk, starting at 2pm (weather permitting) from the Old Church to see the bluebells and other spring flowers, butterflies and spring bird life, perhaps including early nightingales.

Maps, nature trail guides and flora and fauna guides can be collected from the Friends’ Information Point at St Mary’s Old Church.  Refreshments will be available from the Friends of St Mary’s Old Church.

Vacant Allotments

Gardener in Allotments
Why not come & join us – there are vacant allotments!

Vacant Allotments – Grow Your Own

As a new growing year approaches a small number of plots have become available to let to village residents.  The standard price is £16 per year for up to a 5 rod plot with concessions for those over 60, and starter plots are available.

The benefits of joining over eighty other village residents are:

  • Reduce weekly household costs by growing your own fruit and vegetables.
  • Enjoy organically produced produce.
  • Benefit from West Bergholt fresh air and exercise.
  • Make new friends and enjoy the company of fellow plot holders.
  • (See more below)

The downsides are:

  • The battle against the weather and pests.
  • The need for a regular commitment of a few hours a week.

For further details you can visit the Association’s webpage on this site or contact Terry Claydon by phone 01206 242124/07902332085 or email [antibot mailto=”[email protected]”].

Support is available through a “buddies” scheme for those with limited experience in growing fruit and vegetables.

Further Benefits of Allotment Gardening

The National Allotment Society adds more, for example:

  • 30 minutes of gardening can burn around 150 calories, this is teh same as low impact aerobics,
  • 15 minutes (fair skinned) to 90 minutes (darker-skinned) a day can build levels of Vitamin D,
  • creates a wildlife habitat maintaining biodiversity.

Colne & Blackwater Estuaries

Blackwater Marine Conservation Zone
Blackwater Marine Conservation Zone

The impact of challenges facing the Blackwater and Colne estuaries now and in the future.

Graham Underwood, Professor of Marine and Freshwater Biology at the University of Essex, is speaking in West Mersea on 20th January on the subject of ‘The ecology and future challenges to the Blackwater and Colne estuaries’.

The estuaries, which are a significant feature of the Essex coastline, have been extensively studied over the past 40 years. The talk will summarise the current state of the ecology of these important coastal habitats, and consider the impact of ongoing environmental changes such as climate change on their future functioning.

Professor Underwood has himself been researching this part of our coast for the past 23 years.  He is an expert on coastal and shallow marine systems and has undertaken research on rivers, seas and lakes from the tropics to the frozen oceans. He has been a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Panel for Marine Conservation Zones which recommended the designation of the Blackwater-Colne estuaries as a MCZ. He also sits on various boards of the Natural Environment Research Council and is currently a member of the Environment Agency’s Regional Flood and Coastal Committee. Professor Underwood is Executive Dean of Science and Health at Essex University.

Chair of the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), Professor Andy Blowers, who will chair the meeting, said:  ‘We are delighted to bring Graham Underwood to Mersea to enlighten us on the present and future state of our rivers and the challenges they face. One of our major concerns has been to protect the marine environment from the threats posed by nuclear reactors and radioactive waste especially in an era of sea level rise and warming inevitably resulting from climate change’.

The meeting will be held at the Museum, High Street, West Mersea at 7.30pm.  (Entry £3 including refreshments.)

Trees for Years 2015

Blossom of the Bird Cherry – one of the varieties on offer

Trees for Years 2015

Colchester Borough Council have 2015 free trees and fruit bushes to give away as the popular annual Trees for Years initiative returns for the ninth year in a row.

The free plants are available to Colchester Borough residents, community groups and parish councils. Residents can collect up to three plants per household and up to 15 per community group, school or parish council.

This year’s initiative includes a variety of fruit bushes, decorative shrubs and trees to help create a greener Colchester for all.  Species available this year are:

  • Raspberry Canes
  • Gooseberry Bush
  • Acer campestre – Field Maple
  • Betulapendula – Silver Birch
  • Cornusalba ‘Siberica’ – Red Stem Dogwood
  • Cornusstolonifera ‘Flaviramea’ – Yellow Stem Dogwood
  • Blackcurrant Canes
  • Forsythia x intermedia ‘Spectabilis’
  • Prunuspadus – Bird Cherry
  • Corylusavellana – Hazel Cob Nut

The 2015 bare root trees and fruit bushes will be available on a first come first served basis.

Cultivation guidance will be available so that trees can be selected, taking into account the ultimate size and form of mature trees.

People collecting trees need to bring their own bags to put them in.

Trees must be planted on private property. Postcodes will be recorded to monitor the distribution.

The event, which is funded through sponsorship by officeis takes place on Saturday 7 February, from 10am to 1pm, in the car park of Colchester Borough Council’s offices at Rowan House, in Sheepen Road, Colchester.


Essex Energy Switch – 2014/15

Essex Energy SwitchEssex Energy Switch – 2014/15

Essex County Council are running another Energy Switch auction in 2015, register interest now and share the savings that they hope to achieve for residents:

Earlier this year thousands of households and businesses signed up to participate in the Essex Energy Switch. It helped many people reduce their gas and electricity bills at a time of rising energy prices – with an average saving of £200 per year. Essex County Council are now offering residents another chance to make sizeable savings on their gas and electricity bills.

You have from 3rd December 2014 until 2nd February 2015 to register your interest (without any obligation) at It is a completely free, easy, safe and secure way to cut your energy bill without wasting valuable time endlessly comparing prices on comparison sites.

Once everybody has registered their interest an auction will take place on 3rd February 2015. The auction works by getting energy companies to bid against each other to offer the lowest rate for gas and electricity contracts.  On 13th February 2015 you will receive an email containing a new gas and electricity offer, valid for one month.  This offer will be calculated using your existing energy usage and costs.

Please be aware that if you have recently changed supplier, the savings may not be as big as for those who haven’t proactively managed their energy supplier.  Only when you receive the offer will you need to decide whether or not to accept.

Cllr. Kevin BentleyCouncillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Infrastructure, Waste & Recycling and Member for Stanway and Pyefleet on Essex County Council said:

This year we hope that even more residents will benefit from making the switch and to achieve this I urge you to play your part in making residents in your area aware of the Essex Energy Switch whenever you are able to do so.

This is a fantastic opportunity to help householders and SMEs to save money without obligation in a safe, secure and proven manner. I hope that we can all work together to make this a success for residents, businesses and Essex as a whole.

rcce-oil-schemeIf you are not connected to a gas main then Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) has an Oil Buying Scheme for domestic heating oil. It brings communities together to make the most of joint buying power so that significant savings can be made when purchasing oil.  RCCE work with a national network of similar schemes in many other counties.  If you would like to know more about the scheme and the potential saving for households, businesses and community organisations please visit:


As winter takes hold

Get ready for winterAs winter takes hold

Autumn is nearly over and winter taking it’s grip, it is, then, perhaps timely to think about the prospects for snow especially since some papers are already forecasting serious drops in temperature with increased prospects for snow, for example, on 3rd December the Daily Mail (online) was saying:

Get set for coldest day of the year: Arctic blast set to sweep across Britain by the weekend with temperatures plunging to -5C.

As ever our village Snow Patrol volunteers will be preparing for serious snowfalls, but all can do their part in helping clear paths & footways.   The Government publishes guidance about clearing snow outside your property, pathways to your property or public spaces, this guidance (see link below) says that there is no law stopping you from doing this.

The advice confirms that despite some media reports to the contrary, it is extremely unlikely that someone who has attempted to clear snow in a careful manner will be sued or held legally responsible if someone slips or falls on ice or snow at their property. People should not be deterred from performing a socially responsible act, such as clearing a path of snow, by the fear that someone may subsequently get injured slipping on the path.

Though the person clearing the snow does have responsibilities when doing the job, mainly to ensure that they are not making the area more dangerous, it is important to note that those walking on snow and ice have responsibilities themselves. A common sense approach is encouraged as is community involvement.

Useful links

As well as HMG’s guidance on snow clearance, the Met Office also runs a useful website on behalf of the government that hosts a wealth of useful information:

Driving advice with floods

Creating a bow wave like this could damage your vehicle and be inconsiderate of other road users

Floods are not fun if you get it wrong

In light of recent torrential downpours and localised flooding, Essex Police has the following advice/cautions to offer:

Floods & Standing Water

Only drive through water if you know that it’s not too deep, i.e. no deeper than 25cm (10 inches).

Drive slowly and steadily to avoid creating a bow wave.

Allow oncoming traffic to pass first and test your brakes as soon as you can after leaving the water.

Don’t driving through fast-moving water, such as at a flooded bridge approach – your car could easily be swept away.

Watch out for standing water, trying to avoid it if you can, and adjust your speed to the conditions.

  • Driving fast through standing water is dangerous; tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control in what’s known as ‘aquaplaning’. If you do experience aquaplaning, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip.
  • Driving fast through standing water is inconsiderate. Driving through water at speeds above a slow crawl can result in water being thrown on to pavements, soaking pedestrians or cyclists. You could face a fine if caught driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.
  • Driving fast through standing water can cause expensive damage. The air intake on many cars is low down at the front of the engine bay and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage.
  • As you drive slowly through standing water, use a low gear so the engine revs are higher; water in the exhaust could otherwise damage the catalytic convertor.



Who’s been carping?

The latest Village News is now on-line along with all archive copies of both the Village Bulletin and News, one update was of particular interest & it seemed worth picking out for the news-feed:

Maintaining Open Spaces in the Village

The Queen's HeadThe open areas in the village, Poors Land, the Heath, Orpen Hall Field and the allotments have had their annual hedge cutting and bracken clearing.

The ponds in the village at Queen’s Head, Lexden Road and Hall Road will have their autumn tidy-up in November. The Parish Council employs the services of The Conservation Volunteers from Essex.

We were surprised to see that someone had donated a large Koi carp to the Queen’s Head Pond. This is not ideal as the carp will make short work of a lot of the wild life in the pond.

Anyone who would like to have a Koi carp for an ornamental garden pond would be welcome to get in touch, please call Jenny on 240792.

Well done to the few – litter pick

Some of the Litter Pick team
Litter PIckers October 2014

Litter Pick – 15 Sacks Collected

The litter pick held on Saturday morning 18th October was  successful. 15 black bags of rubbish were collected!!!

The turnout of volunteers was a bit disappointing, if more residents had come forward to help we could have had an even cleaner and tidier village. Many thanks to the following volunteers:-

  • Ros Stone,
  • Jill and Mike Poole,
  • Ron Birkin,
  • Dave and Louise Seager,
  • Diana Woodgate,
  • Gunter Klaphake,
  • Jenny Church,
  • Murray Harlow,
  • Rachel Howard and daughter Francesca aged 10, and
  • Sarah White, who lives in Turner Rise but works in the village.

Well done to all and many thanks for their support.

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