I am writing this in April and true to form we have been experiencing refreshing April showers and in the churchyard an increase in Badger activity! They love to forage at night for slugs and worms with their strong claws and sensitive noses, so please be careful that you do not disappear into the many badger potholes that litter the churchyard and its footpaths.

As the Springtime progresses and nature moves into the fruitful season of summer, we hope for a mix of warm summer sunshine and gentle rain. This mix, rather than extreme weather swings, is much appreciated by those tending crops or flower beds, and also those whose water butts are nearly empty!

Managed Cutting of Churchyard Grassland.

In the churchyard, there is a diversity of Spring and Summer flowers and grasses that have now had an opportunity to flower and seed and as such, have provided a rich environment for insects, butterflies and small mammals.

In our conservation area the managed cutting regime for our Spring and Summer Flowering Grassland, means the churchyard should be cut during June, the grass removed, and then continue to be cut every 3 to 4 weeks throughout July, August and September. This type of cutting regime should discourage the build-up of course grasses and invasive species and be of benefit to the perennial plants and flowers.

The Churchyard’s On-Going Maintenance.

Our Churchyard Working Party continues to be supported by a small valiant band of faithful volunteers to whom we are exceedingly grateful. They tackle the unrelenting task of tidying overgrown borders and pathways with enthusiasm and good humour despite the uphill struggle of advancing years, aching backs and creaking knees! Please feel free to support this group, we always need more volunteers of any age and we endeavour to make it fun……even if it is raining!!

Churchyard Boundary Hedges       

We are pleased to report that though we have lost some, the majority of about 315 hedge saplings that we planted over the last few years have established themselves from within their plastic protective spirals. We have a mix of Silver Birch, Cherry, Hazel, Rowan, Osier and Hawthorn. These will, once established, provide a hedge of all year-round colour. Some, particularly along the North boundary are beginning to race away, so we need to cut them to maintain a 1 metre height that makes them easier to maintain. If you have a penchant for shears or loppers we need to know!

In conjunction with our neighbour at the bottom of the churchyard, we hope to landscape and plant another hedge-line on the east boundary by the end of the year.

Churchyard Mapping

Thanks to the dedication of Bill and Rose Stanley over many years, work on the Churchyard Mapping Project is now nearing completion. I feel really encouraged by the progress that has been made. We are nearing the point where we have a useable working map that will prove to be a valuable asset for the church, funeral directors, our local Freshwater and Totland Archive Group, the island Family History Society, individual family researchers and the community as a whole. Thank you, Bill and Rose, for your on-going work.

Church Hall Work

A regular grass cutting routine has now been implemented at the Church Hall. The Church Hall site is strimmed 4 times a year in March, May July and September.

Work is continuing to clear the small storage shed (behind the Church Hall) of rubbish so that the shed can eventually be taken down.


Memorial Transcription Work

Saturday 15th June and Saturday 22nd June

The churchyard map may well be nearing completion, but we are way behind on transcribing the churchyard memorials; an on-going task that will take many years to complete. We are grateful to all our volunteers for the many hours spent in the churchyard, transcribing the memorial information from the memorials onto proformas for uploading onto our website burials database. Please let us know if you would like to help with this or just turn up at 9.30 on these days.

Churchyard Clear-Up Days – Saturday 15th June and Saturday 22ndJune.

The volunteer’s main tasks on these days will be to weed and water the hedge saplings and to clear and burn the rubbish piles left from our previous clear-up sessions. For those that prefer less strenuous work there is tidying the Church and Annexe front and side borders and to clear the bindweed from the Camellias at the church North windows. The churchyard also needs to be cleared of branches and twigs to remove trip hazards and keep the churchyard looking neat and tidy.  We still have two more bird boxes to site before next year! So much work to be done and so little time. (a spiritual parallel there I think!).

Churchyard volunteers can come and go as you wish, but work commences at 9 a.m. and finishes at 12.00.  Refreshments will be served in the church annexe.

If you are interested and would like further details, contact Robin Gosden on 754110 or e-mail: robin.gosden@talktalk.net or just turn up! Look forward to seeing you there.