Blooming great prize for Caversham Court GardensBy Linda Fort
October 05, 2010
A garden in Caversham with its crinkle-crankle wall has been hailed as the best blooming council park in the region.
The Thames and Chiltern regional finals of Britain in Bloom were held in Amersham in Buckinghamshire last Thursday and Caversham Court Gardens received the top award.
Reading won the city category at the event receiving a Royal Horticultural Society silver-gilt medal – however it was the only entry in that category from across the region.
Caversham Court Gardens was also awarded a Green Flag, the national standard for parks, earlier this year. The gardens were restored last year thanks to a £1.2 million Heritage Lottery grant.
The historic gardens on the north bank of the River Thames began as a medieval religious settlement.
Later it was the site of Caversham Court House, which was demolished in the last century.
The restoration took the form of an imaginative recreation of the garden with the 19th century gazebo and causeway restored to their former glory. One of the most unusual features of the garden is the undulating crinkle-crankle retaining wall which towers over the allotment site within the garden walls.
New features include a terrace which marks out the footings of all the buildings which have previously existed on the site, with signs explaining the history to visitors to the garden.
Caversham schoolchildren have contributed to the garden features with ceramic fish which decorate a new water feature next to the site of the former hothouse.
The medieval beer cellars – once buried – have been opened up to allow public access.
Since the restoration, the gardens have become a venue for community activities.
The kiosk is manned at weekends during the summer by local charities which can raise their own funds while supplying refreshments to garden visitors.
And the Friends of Caversham Court run regular guided walks.
New flowerbeds have been planted to reflect different periods in the garden’s history and the causeway has been inset with a timeline which picks out major events since the garden was created.
Parks development manager Dr Carolyn Jenkins said: “I’m thrilled and it is recognition for all the hard work the whole team has put in, especially the head gardener.
“The team were out in force on the day the judges came round and so were the Friends of Caversham Court whose contribution has also been very important. It is wonderful news.”
Chairman of Reading in Bloom, Councillor Jeanette Skeats said: “It was a very emotional moment for me because I was chairman of the trustees of the Gazebo Trust which made the original Lottery bid.
“So it means a great deal to have gone on the journey. I never dreamt that one day I would be picking up an award for Caversham Court Gardens.”
She added: “It is a tribute to everyone who has worked so hard and the silver gilt award is a tribute to all the teams in Reading, the BID, the Streetcare teams, the parks department and everyone involved.”