A month in the Burial Ground: January 2022

Well behaved dogs allowed

Susan Tomes writes …. Last Sunday was a beautiful bright day, especially welcome after a long period of gloomy damp weather. Alfie and I had arranged to meet Claire at the burial ground. It was the first visit for her puppy Eppie, a 5-month old border terrier, and we wondered how the dogs would get on together. More importantly, could we work without being too disturbed by them?

Luckily (for most of the time) they just chased each other round and round or played with a plant pot which meant that Claire was able to take photos while I split and then replanted some white pulmonarias (Sissinghurst) in what we have named the white ‘peace border.

Winter borders

Claire’s photos from this month contrast dramatically with the ones I took exactly a year ago. Hers show an amazing amount of colour and plant growth for January. Primroses and snowdrops are making an appearance but more bizarrely we still have a rose and a salvia flowering from last summer. The mahonia is looking at its best with its bright red leaves and heavily scented yellow flowers.

Seed heads from last year provide sustenance and shelter for wildlife and have a beauty of their own in the low winter sunshine, casting interesting shadows on the mellow Bath stone.

Spending so much time outside this last 12 months has meant facing full on the stark reality of climate change. The seasons seem to all blur into one and the rain has been completely unpredictable. The pictures that I took in January 2021 show the whole burial ground completely covered in snow.

I realised during the mont- long drought in April/May 2021 when we were frantically replanting the borders that I was foolishly fighting, rather than working with, the natural world and the resilience that can be found within it. I have learnt to let the natural world take the lead, and I hope that as a result we have created more naturalistic borders that while still wildlife-friendly are lower-maintenance and less formal. I am however relieved that the burial ground will have its own water supply from March rather than continuing to rely upon our neighbours.

Amazing coincidence?

Lesley Knight who lives near the burial ground has been helping me with weeding the borders. After walking past the burial ground one Sunday when the door was opened, she popped in and loved the space so much that she offered to help maintain the garden. Coincidentally she came across the memorial stone of Pricilla Hannah Gurney (who died in 1828) and realised that they might be related. Lesley is descended from the same branch of the Fry family as Elizabeth Fry, who was a cousin of Pricilla Hannah. Lesley is fortunate to have been given a wonderful old book by her great aunt which recounts her family‘s history and includes a description of Pricilla Hannah.

Join us!

If you would like to help out in the burial ground like Lesley why not come along either to one of our monthly Saturday working parties from 11-2 pm or on a Tuesday afternoon (from the 1st March). The proposed dates for the working parties are listed below but do check out with Susan first (via the Bath Quaker email) before turning up because – (as I wrote before) the weather can be unpredictable!

Saturday work parties in the burial ground (11am to 2pm)

Bring a picnic!

12th March 

16th April – to include painting the shed and toilet if weather conditions favourable.

14th May – tidying the flower borders

16th July – tidying the flower borders

13th August – tidying the wildflower patch

3rd September – preparing for the Open Day

22nd October – preparing for winter.

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