Caring for God's Acre
Thanks to Caring for God's Acre I had a lovely trip to Wales this week. Caring for God's Acre is a charity promoting sensitive and helpful ways of looking after burial grounds, which includes establishing and managing wildflower meadow areas. This is where I came in; they very kindly asked me to give a short spiel at their conference at the National Botanical Gardens on getting meadow areas started. The quality of the (other!) speakers was excellent, and the first point of writing this blog is to recommend Caring for God's Acre as a hugely well organized and impressive organization, punching way over their weight. Burial grounds are an important ecological as much as an under-used community resource, and Caring for God's Acre seem up to the task of sorting that out. Anyway, it gave me a great excuse to saunter over the border and visit a couple of my favourite suppliers en route, as well as enjoy an overnighter in Llandeilo. First stop was saxophone playing head nurseryman Lew in the Gower. Lew knows his business. He's the kind of bloke you might expect to find shooting arrows at the French or playing hooker for Llanelli, but in actuality he knows everything there is to know about British aquatic plants. Cool, as he'd say. Next stop was to the equally remarkable John Shipton of Shipton Bulbs. John is the son of an explorer and a great wanderer himself, but in between trips to exotic locations he grows native woodland plants with his daughter Astra on his beautiful smallholding in Carmarthenshire. This is a remote part of the realm as far from my experience as it is outside my Satnav's! The puckish John looked like a woodland sprite in the gathering evening gloom. Thence to Frontas in Llandeilo, and after a sound sleep a sumptuous full cooked. From Llandeilo a short hop and a skip to the National Botanical Gardens, which were an unexpected delight. Why on earth hadn't I heard of them? Glasshouses, walled gardens, bee gardens, bog gardens, wild gardens, Japanese gardens, apothecaries' gardens, boulder gardens, sculpture gardens, wild gardens... the plants were breath-taking. And in the middle of all this was the Caring for God's Acre conference. Sometimes I love my job.