Tongham in Bloom

Tongham entered the Parish in Bloom South and South East competition this year . . . .

. . . . it was a strange year to start, as we had no flower baskets and no judges – we had to send in photographs and descriptions of our lovely village. But we achieved a Silver Award, which the Parish Council are all delighted about, and intend to enter again in 2021. This time, hopefully it will be under more normal circumstances!

SILVER AWARD

Tongham has entered the Guildford in Bloom competition for the first time . . .

Community participation: Tongham is a green, leafy village surrounded by farmland, with a very good community ‘feel’. The Parish Council organises hanging baskets every summer (sadly, not this year for obvious reasons!) and large brick planters, which we have an annual contract with a local gardening firm to take care of. We also have a large planter outside the row of shops in the village centre; the local shop-keepers have donated plants from their stock and planted this up, and also take care of watering it for us. Next year we are intending to install troughs on the safety barriers at the crossing point. We also have a fully-utilised allotment garden in Spoil Lane, we have over 80 plots and a very keen bunch of holders, who share plants, seeds and so forth, and hold coffee mornings, annual bonfires and so on. We also have a recreation ground with two play areas, an outdoor gym, the community centre, playing fields and a wild wood. Our local church, St Paul’s, has a large and pleasant graveyard which is very accessible to public use – and much respected by the villagers. The Vicar, Revd Claire Holt, has planted vegetables which will be available for any who want or need them in due course.

However one of our main jewels is the Tongham Woods, located in a former orchard site. These are administered by a community group called the TWIGs – Tongham Wood Improvement Group – who meet monthly to care for the woods, planting, pruning, path work – you name it. The woods have ‘cared for’ areas and also many areas which are wild, providing a habitat for many birds, insects and small mammals. One of the access routes to the woods comes via Tongham Moors, which is a small patch of land with shrubs and grasses, lots of wildflowers – and very little else! This provides another haven for wildlife.

Our local gardeners are very keen and many are green-fingered, making Tongham a really pleasant place to live.

Environment: Much of the Tongham Wood area is given over to wild woods with many paths meandering through them, an orchard with apples, pears and cherry trees, a ditch which runs alongside the busy A331 which has a fence and many trees and shrubs on both sides – including wild blackberries – to provide a sound barrier for the village (and security for wildlife and dogs, given the proximity the A331), a large open circle where there is a picnic bench which is used mainly by dog owners – and in the Spring, there is a profusion of wild garlic, bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, crocuses and of course wild flowers. The area is fantastic for insects and bees, and of course birds. Foxes too, and rabbits and squirrels. This area has been utilised by the entire village, it seems, during Lockdown as a good place for fresh air and exercise. The profusion of paths makes it easy to avoid contact and keep social distance. In the autumn, the fruit is available for the villagers to pick; we have at least one local who makes his own cider using apples from the wood! The village also has many verges which are trimmed lightly, and many which are left for the use of insects. The Moors area, as mentioned above, has a swath cut through it once or twice a year to allow access and otherwise is left as nature intends – and needs! The local verges are also permitted to grow freely and only cut as needed.

Horticulture: well, as explained above, we do not have our usual beautiful hanging baskets, but the village lends itself to allowing many people to roam the various woods and paths freely and safely, and to enjoy a stroll past the many beautiful gardens. The next area we will concentrate on is The Moors, our ‘wild’ area; this area used to have a small wooden play area which has now fallen into disrepair. The Council hopes, with community help from the Tongham Care Group among others, to provide a play area again, while leaving the area’s meadow feel unchanged.

The allotments of course provide plenty of fruit and veg – not to mention honey, as a couple of the holders have hives, and eggs – from some very happy chickens.