Spring is just around the Corner!
This time of year Christians celebrate Candlemas, remembering St Luke’s story that the elderly Simeon said that the Baby Jesus would be the “light of the world”. Americans call February 2nd “Groundhog day” because traditionally if the groundhog comes out then winter is over. Both traditions celebrate the end of winter cold and darkness and the coming of the light – days are getting noticeably longer and the first signs of Spring appearing. Already snowdrops, crocuses, aconites and snowflakes are out at the sheltered east end of the churchyard, and even a few brave daffodils. It’s worth braving the damp to have a look!
You may have felt that not much was happening about improving the churchyard in recent months, but just as the bulbs have been growing quietly in the earth quite a bit has been going on behind the scenes and you will see the results of this soon.
Pollarding Irish Yews.
Some of these trees which are preventing light reaching the ground and damaging other trees have been pollarded (cut off at a height of 1.5 to 2 metres). They look rather strange now but in a couple of years they will be nice small bushes. This will encourage biodiversity and improve sight lines, making it easier to see the church and improving security in remoter areas.
Renovation of the Garden of Remembrance (to the West of the Church)
The holly trees behind the Garden have also been pollarded to stop leaves falling on the area, allow more rain and light to reach the plants and to promote new growth lower down. Again they look bare at present but new growth will soon start to emerge.
In the next couple of weeks we will mark out boundaries for the enlarged flower beds prior to digging them out and replanting them between now and Easter. We already have a lot of promises of plants for these beds, but if you would like to donate something from your garden please let us know; ground cover plants and things which can thrive in dry shade will be particularly welcome. The Rotary has donated crocus bulbs which have already been planted in the area.
Although most of the material from the pollarding has been removed some of the logs have been kept in the churchyard to use as log piles. As these decompose they form a rich habitat for insects, in turn supporting birds and other animals, and sometimes produce beautiful fungi. Some are already in appropriate places; others will need to be moved to their final position once the weather has dried out a bit. If you fancy some nice aerobic exercise to tone up your muscles after a locked down winter get in touch!
Details and maps of graves and burials of ashes, ecological surveys and the management strategy have now been uploaded to the parish website – https://www.ststephenscanterbury.net/churchyard/
We are collecting historical information and that too will be uploaded later this year. If you know the history of anyone buried in the churchyard do let us know.
An MSc student from UKC has been so interested by our project that she plans to do her dissertation on it. She may be in touch to get your views over the next few months.
Adopt a Grave
Plans to launch this scheme last year had to be shelved due to the pandemic, but if circumstances allow we hope that to start it this Spring. More about this later.
Do you want to get involved?
A huge thank you to those who have given so generously of their money and their time to make all this possible. if you would like to help make more happen you can donate at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/14420. Offers of time for creating log- piles, preparing for Adopt a Grave and general post- winter clean up and also of plants for the Garden of Remembrance are very welcome too.
To volunteer, or if you have any comments or suggestions, or if you would like to know more please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter D Toon