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AGS Events: New Garden at Ramsbottom Civic Hall

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Started by: john dower

Go to latest contribution by Anne Marise GIBSON, 18 May 2011, 12:32. Go to bottom of this page.

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Contribution from john dower 31 October 2010, 14:14top / bottom of page


Some time ago Ramsbottom Civic Hall, the long time meeting venue of the AGS East Lancs Group, was to be sold and redeveloped. However, a dedicated group known as the ?Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall? put pressure on the council to retain the venue and raised sufficient funds in addition to effect a substantial renovation of the building.

Part of the improvement was to be the development of a garden area comprising a substantial raised bed some 75feet long by 12 feet wide along the end of the building, an area which will be the main entrance to the hall once all work is completed.

It was thought that groups who meet in the hall may wish to be involved, and as one of the prime movers on the Friends committee is also on the committee of the East Lancs Group, he approached me as to whether the garden would perhaps be suited in part to the planting of alpines.

The obvious answer was ?yes? and, having been responsible for the creation of AGS gardens at Tatton Park in the past, I was asked to take on the job of outlining what could be achieved. The group were delighted to be offered support from the Hendry Fund towards the cost of the ?alpines? element and, after substantial discussion with Bury Council, they finally offered the necessary funds for the work to proceed.

The general plan was to create a garden which would not only require minimum maintenance but would afford a pleasing backdrop, with year round colour, for the functions proposed at the hall such as weddings etc., and to provide a lasting celebration of alpines and the East Lancs Group. It was also important (as it was with Tatton) that group members should be involved in the layout, provision of plants and planting so as to feel it was ?their? garden.

It was all a bit of a rush. The council gave the nod to the funding just 42 days ahead of the proposed official opening. At this point I wish to recognise the effort on the part of the council employees who got involved and without whose help we would have struggled to meet the deadline. They not only cleared the site of weeds and rubbish they also helped secure suitable sources of stone, and used council trucks to collect them. They then became totally involved in the placement of rocks and planting.

Thanks are due also to Marshalls in Edenfield, who gave us a tour of their quarries and then allowed us to collect whatever stone we wished from around their operation. This meant our friends from the council could make a selection of stones exactly suited to the purpose.

Plants in particular required many miles of travel to acquire bulbs, shrubs, conifers and other plants of a size and in variety suited to such a project and which would provide at least some semblance of an immediate impact.

At an East Lancs meeting on 11th October the project was outlined to the members, and volunteers invited to carry out the plan. In total fourteen people committed to the time and effort required. My thanks to John Holden, Michael & Margaret Ryan, Ron & Hilary Price, Colin Lomax, Carol Kellet, Rhiannon Hughes, Cliff Booker, Brian Smethurst, Eddie & Nica Jones (who brought the pies!) and Clare my wife.

The story of the first day is best told by the pictures, with everyone enjoying a great group day together.

The second day was exactly the same, with the exception that the gate and railings celebrating the AGS and the East Lancs Group were now in place. The gate and railings are a donation to the project from a group member. Our own Cliff Booker undertook to paint in the AGS logo and the whole picture suddenly came to life. Thanks Cliff.

Once the area had been mulched with bark around the shrubs, and 10mm Staffordshire Pink chippings in the alpines area, we all stood back to admire what can only be described as a good start.

There is a further area to be developed, and a great many more alpines to be planted, possibly with crevice outcrops or tufa. The whole project should provide opportunities to introduce the idea of growing alpines to a much wider public as well as advertising the Alpine Garden Society and the East Lancs Group, and providing the possibility of many more good days out for a long time to come.

John Dower October 2010

Before we start
Before we start

Contribution from Cliff Booker 31 October 2010, 16:07top / bottom of page
Congratulations and many thanks to John & Clare Dower

There has been a startling and grievous omission from this excellent report Mr Dower - and that concerns the time, planning, dedication, enterprise, effort and design flair that you and your lovely wife have brought to this extremely worthwhile project. The East Lancashire Group are so fortunate to include you both in our list of members. We salute your efforts and dedication to this and many other projects.

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 01 November 2010, 19:08top / bottom of page

Great job. Congratulations to all involved. Really good bit of public relations, community involvement and environmental how do you all feel about helping get my garden under control!

Contribution from john dower 01 November 2010, 20:58top / bottom of page

Fetch it to Rammie Martin and we will have a go.


Contribution from Colin Dolding 01 November 2010, 22:25top / bottom of page

Well done John, Clare and hardworking team. Thank you also for bringing this project to our attention through the forum. Congratulations!

Contribution from Margaret Young 02 November 2010, 22:01top / bottom of page
Well done to you all!

It is no secret that those East Lancs Folk are a clever and resourceful bunch and by, jove, doesn't this super project just prove that? Quite apart from a worthwhile effort to be involved in the retention of the civic amenity of the hall the Group's concerted effort to get this garden done and dusted in superfast time and to have it so prominently positioned to be an on-going reminder to all who see it of the East Lancs Group is really impressive. Whata marvellous example of what can be achieved by hard work and application by a dedicated bunch of friends. Well done!

Contribution from David Nicholson 04 November 2010, 19:13top / bottom of page

Well I'll go to Rammy Baths. What a magnificent job. Nice to see some Lancies will do somat for nowt!!

Contribution from john dower 04 November 2010, 22:15top / bottom of page

Cheeky beggar!

I think you are getting confused with Yorkies David.

(But thanks anyway.)


Contribution from Cliff Booker 25 March 2011, 18:25top / bottom of page
Ramsbottom Civic Hall Garden

We were passing the Civic Hall at Ramsbottom today and decided to take a peek through the wrought iron gates to see how the AGS East Lancashire Group Garden was progressing.

Many of the hundreds of bulbs were in full flower and shrubs and dot plants were beginning to show colour.

It will be interesting to see the garden at closer quarters when we visit the hall for our next Group Meeting (our mini-show) on 11th May.

In image number three you will make out my shadow as I poke my lens through the protective cast iron gates.

The garden is beautiful and will be developed gradually over the years to come.

Ramsbottom Civic Hall Garden

Contribution from Martin Rogerson 26 March 2011, 15:42top / bottom of page

Looks brilliant Cliff, all that work by the group was worthwhile. Hope the public appreciate it.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 26 March 2011, 17:37top / bottom of page
Ramsbottom Civic Hall Garden

Many thanks Martin.

An amendment to my previous post. Our next Group Meeting at the hall (which is our Mini-Show and Social Evening) is on Monday 11th April (and NOT Monday 11th May as I stated). Our meeting on Monday 9th May features a very appealing lecture entitled:- 'A World of Colour in the Alpine Garden' by Group Member; Shelagh Smethurst from Bury.

Contribution from Margaret Young 28 March 2011, 18:50top / bottom of page
terrific progress.....

My goodness! What a difference a few short months make- the garden is settling down beautifully. The colour and form is already a delight in less than half a year!

The East Lancs Group has a good deal to be proud of with this project....the passers-by a lovely garden to enjoy and the Group a lasting "advert".

Lovely to see the progress in the Spring sunshine, thank you.

Contribution from Cliff Booker 10 May 2011, 21:47top / bottom of page

It was the final Group meeting of our 2010-2011 season on Monday 9th May (Shelagh Smethurst presented an excellent lecture entitled 'A World of Colour in the Alpine Garden') and we had a few brief sun-drenched moments to view the East Lancashire Group garden at our lovely venue at Ramsbottom Civic Hall. The bright setting sun filtered through the drifts of dazzling colour and I managed to grab ten images before the lecture began.

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