The volunteer gardeners who do wonderful work maintaining the Tŷ Hafan gardens have been very busy over the past year, completing lots of new projects alongside many hours of planting, weeding and watering.
20 gardeners come to Tŷ Hafan, volunteering their time and skills on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends. They are Alistair, Jon, Caroline, Kaye, Brian, Kieron, Charlie, Monica, Darren, Paul, Helene, Roz, Jane, Ruth, Jenny, Tracy, Jess, Terry, John and Victoria.
The gardeners’ friend and artist, Carol, also visits the gardens regularly to capture the beauty of the grounds in paint. Carol’s art has been used for greetings cards to raise money for Tŷ Hafan.
Gardening projects in 2023
The volunteer gardeners have kindly shared the projects they’ve been working on. Here are just some of the activities that have been keeping the gardeners busy this year!
Along the coastal boundary, a wildflower verge is being nurtured from the gate to the beach. The gardeners sowed yellow rattle and wildflower seeds in March and, after they flowered in the summer, the ground was scarified and mowed to prepare for another sowing of more yellow rattle seeds. More wildflower seeds will be sown in the springtime next year.
The compost bins have been moved and the gardeners have built new ones. The compost is created using a regular delivery of donated guinea pig poo, mowed grass, pruned and dead headed plants, leaves, shredded paper and card.
The stone wall at the front entrance has been rebuilt and the fences along the drive have been repaired and repainted.
A new dead hedge
Even in the winter months, there is always plenty to do in the gardens. This year, the gardeners created another dead hedge along the boundary near the coastal path. As well as being a useful repository for garden waste, it gives wildlife privacy, security and a habitat.
The garden room
To the delight our the Play Therapists, two of the gardeners gave their garden room a makeover. They now enjoy the quiet space surrounded by the beauty of the sensory garden.
New watering equipment
Of course, during the hot summer months, there was a considerable amount of watering needed to keep the plants nourished and flourishing. In the warm weather, the gardeners bought additional hosepipes and extensions so that they could water across the far reaches of the gardens.
Bung us a Bulb
The recent Bung us a Bulb campaign generated the 15,000 bulb donations that the gardeners were aiming for – and many more! The campaign, which was promoted on social media, through Tŷ Hafan shops and by word of mouth, drew support from far afield.
New and refreshed flower beds
New bedding areas have been created across the gardens, too.
Near the Tŷ Hafan Head Office, corporate volunteers helped to clear and re-plant a bed. It’s now a flourishing hot bed of yellow, red and orange!
A path has been cleared in front of Head Office to allow maintenance access to the building and a path made from natural materials runs from there to the road. A rockery has been built by the entrance to the hospice and new plants have been introduced.
As well as creating new beds, our volunteer gardeners have been keeping our existing flower beds in tip top condition.
They’ve given the the flowerbed near our family bedrooms, which was overgrown, a new whole new lease of life. They cleared the wayward shrubs and the few plants struggling to survive moved to a new home. The ground was covered with garden membrane and small pebbles, and a selection of new plants have now been introduced. Now, as well as looking fabulous, this area is lower maintenance.
Also, the large plum slate area in front of the bedrooms where a small rockery has been established to add colour and interest, and a new pathway that runs from the turning circle through to the sensory garden that has been made from natural materials.
There has been plenty of planting and redesign in other areas of the garden, too!
The Hebe shrubs and Russian sage that were taking over the memorial beds and herbaceous borders have been removed and replanted with fragrant roses and a selection of other perennials, such as alstroemeria and phlox.
A new fragrant rambling rose has been planted to wind its way around the bandstand in the Forest School area and a large donation of geum and peonies donated by St Fagan’s gardeners has been a welcome addition to the gardens.
Dogwood has been planted around a tree near the viewpoint with a view to training it to become a low hedge. Willow edging has been created around the dogwood to protect the shrubs and the base of the tree when the grass is strimmed.
Troughs that were planted with begonias for the summer have been re-planted with wallflowers and tete a tete daffodils for the coming spring. New pots have been introduced and planted with tulip bulbs and winter pansies.
Beds around the car park have been revived and planted, and the gardeners were delighted that the wild Spiranthus Spiralis orchid raised its head again during the summer.
As well as being busy gardening, the gardeners find time to take time out.
When the lavender was flowering, the gardeners showed our Play Therapists how to make lavender wands and spent time sowing seeds with them.
During the bulb planting marathon in October, a number of Tŷ Hafan staff members helped with planting bulbs. Ben, from the Supporter Care Team, said: “What a great bit of gardening! My shoes were still white after it too. Bin bags do the job!”
The gardeners are ever resourceful when it comes to fundraising for the upkeep of the gardens.
This year, the tehy held a plant sale in June. They raised £2,000 by selling plants, crafts, preserves, tea and cakes, greetings cards and the gardeners’ own recipe book!
They have also sold perseveres and their recipe book in the hospice reception and have sold their recipe book in the Cowbridge and Penarth Tŷ Hafan shops.
Carol Bartlett held an exhibition of her artwork in Penylan’s Waterloo Tea Rooms to raise money for Tŷ Hafan.
Work is underway to build a new shed for the gardeners. It’s being built following a fundraising campaign in 2022 by the Clive Arms Pub in Penarth, and patrons from the pub are building the shed!
The gardeners have made useful links with the wider community which has generated some wonderful donations and offers of help and expert advice. The much appreciated received donations this year include:
- Over 15,000 spring bulbs following the gardeners Bung us a Bulb Campaign
- Time, energy and enthusiasm given by Octopus Energy, East Cardiff and Cowbridge Rotary clubs to help plant the bulbs
- Labour from Crane ChemPharma and Lloyds Bank
- Willow advice from Mel Bastier
- Plants and bulbs from Pugh’s Garden Centre
- Deliveries of mulch from JV Tree Services, Harri Trotman and Dutch Garden Centre
- The loan of a shredder/chipper FOC and motorised path moss remover from Forest Park and Garden in Treforest
- 800kg chippings and 800kg plum slate from Jewsons Builders
- A eucalyptus tree from Michael Sheen’s production company
- A bird palace from Paul Bartlett, Llantwit Major
- A planter and bird houses from Tim Savage, Barry
- Garden tools from Noel and Pam Jenkinson, Barry
- Garden tools from the Welsh Education Partnership (WEPCo)
- A Wendy house from Jeff Britten
- Paddington Bear cushions for the Play Therapists’ garden room donated by resident artist Carol Bartlett.
Moving into 2024
As always, the gardeners already have plans for the coming year!
Having been a huge success over the past two years, there are plans to run the plant sale again in 2024 and there are already offers of plants from the Head Gardener at St Fagan’s Museum.
Juliet, Head Gardener from St Fagan’s Museum, has been invited to visit our gardens again in the spring. She is a wealth of information and provides invaluable support.
Following the donation of 4,000 purple crocus bulbs for the Bung Us A Bulb campaign, the gardeners will be giving talks to Cowbridge and East Cardiff Rotary Clubs in the spring.
Gardeners, thank you for keeping our gardens looking amazing for families and staff. Your work is truly wonderful and we can’t wait to see what next year brings.