March news from the Burial Ground

Susan Tomes and Claire Marrack write: As we write warm Spring sunshine has arrived, following a month of relentless rain. Despite the inclement weather much has been achieved in the Burial Ground during March, with long-term projects finally coming to fruition.

The Burial Ground was closed for much of the month while our Friend Rowena constructed the new shelter. She has done a wonderful job. The shelter looks beautiful and is crafted to a very high standard from Douglas Fir. She has also built a new flat stone path to enable easy access to the shelter from the gate. Over the next few months we plan to plant climbing plants to grow up the sides of the shelter.

Once Rowena had confirmed that it was safe to return to the Burial Ground, Susan and Ruth spent an afternoon there joined by a small group from Grow for Life (a Christian-based local charity providing therapeutic gardening sessions for individuals impacted by depression, loneliness and anxiety). Their session leader, Neil, had drawn us a lovely design incorporating the old Quaker memorial stones that had been moved from their previous location in the border to make space for the shelter. The team placed a semi circle of these memorial stones, interspersed with wild flowers and quaking grass, around the benches on the open flat area of grass in front of the large memorial tablet. We now have a very lovely space for meetings for worship (when it’s not raining). The next step is to add some of the slices of Paulownia trunk to use as small seats or tables.

Grow for Life have had gardening sessions at the Burial Ground twice a year since lockdown ended. They have weeded the borders, sewn seeds, planted shrubs and flowers, helped get out the roots from the laurel hedge affected by honey fungus, trimmed back the ivy from the walls and extended the wildflower patch. It’s not all hard work as their visits are always a good opportunity for outreach, while working amicably together or chatting during a refreshment break. This time Ruth and Susan answered questions about why we are Quakers and whether Quakers and Buddhists have the same beliefs. Ruth was also asked for the recipe of the fantastic courgette cake she made them! We do not pay Grow for Life for their hard work because they are not a Quaker charity. However, we did purchase some seedlings that Neil has grown on the charity’s behalf. Individual Friends can  donate to Grow for Life here.

Susan will be laying down her role as Burial Ground Steward in May. We wish to thank her (and Nick) for her endless hard work, vision and inspiration in transforming the Burial Ground into a place of beauty and tranquillity.

Friends are always welcome to visit the Burial Ground at any time, and now that we have a shelter, the weather should no longer be a deterrent! Ben and his garden assistants will continue to come on a regular basis. We would also welcome volunteers to help with various gardening activities and to share time together. Our next session is planned for Tuesday 18th April.

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