Our January newsletter

Happy New Year to you all.

Review of 2016

Whilst we expected 2016 to be a difficult year, due to the Market Place regeneration, in fact it was a very positive year for the group. For those of you whose tubs kept shifting as the work progressed, I can only thank you for your good will and hope that it will be easier next year.

We had a successful plant sale in May, and our income was supplemented by being chosen as the “Good Cause” for the Chamber of Commerce raffle. This raised £637 – thanks to those who sourced raffle prizes and those who sold tickets on the night.


Our Open Gardens event in July raised £2460 in one afternoon. We donated £1000 to Cirencester Open Air Pool, £450 to Cirencester Society of Friends (who provided all the refreshments) and once we had paid for expenses of printing etc we banked about £900 for Phoenix Gardeners.

In September, the Abbey Grounds won a prize in the Front Garden Festival for the best public display, and with that came a £100 Dobbies voucher. One of our members won the best window box/street display and also donated her £100 voucher.




One negative note: we continue to suffer vandalism of some of the tubs. These seem to be those larger tubs which are on public thoroughfares leading out of the town centre.  We have tried to remedy the damage within a few hours of being notifited of the problem, and generally have kept the areas affected looking tidy.  It is especially gratifying that we have had support from local residents in helping to sweep up the soil, but disappointing that one tub in particular has suffered repeated damage.  The planting of prickly hollies has not deterred people, and so we may need a new strategy for 2017.


We now have a website: phoenixgardeners https://phoenixgardeners.co.uk  Please look at it.  It may not yet appear at the top of your search list as there are other Phoenix Gardeners (such as the group in Phoenix Arizona), but if you search for Phoenix Gardeners Cirencester, it should be easier to find.  And if everyone clicks on the site regularly, it will move up the search engines priorities and so be the Phoenix Gardener site of choice.

Plans for 2017

Abbey 900: The town will celebrate the 900th Anniversary of the founding of St Mary’s Abbey.  We have decided to support this festival by planting the tubs and hanging baskets in the Abbey 900 colours which are shades of mauve, burgundy and grey.

The Market Place regeneration is now almost finished and we are in discussions with Cirencester Town Council about where new tubs might go. The good news is that there will be some in the Market Place and in addition there will be more hanging baskets (we had no hanging baskets last year due to the works).

Once more we are grateful to Deer Park School for bringing on the 2000 plants we use. They order the plug plants for us and tend them until we plant out in mid-May.  However, we have to pot on the plug plants so if anyone can spare two hours (or more)to help pot on the plug plants in March (dates to be agreed with the school) then please let Meg know.  Our potting on sessions are often jolly events, as we jostle each other in the poly tunnel, with lots of laughter and chatting.  Its a good way to spend a spring morning.

We shall be holding another plant sale in late May and would encourage you now to start propagating or sowing or dividing whatever you can.  The plant sale is our one annual event to raise money and our profile in the town.

We intend to spend some of the money raised last year on two major items. We hope to buy Plant Savers (i.e. water retaining devices) for all the tubs and troughs which don’t have them.  This will ease the burden of watering. If you have a trough or tub which does not have a Plant Saver then please let Meg know and we shall arrange for them to be installed when we plant up the summer bedding in May.  

We will also buy some new water-retaining hanging baskets to enhance the Market Place.

Finally the £100 award from the Front Garden Festival will be spent on plants for the main flower bed in the Abbey Grounds, which won its award despite the only contributions to its plants being donations from other peoples gardens.

We are welcoming two new members this year, Pauline Farman and Dusty Bownman but we have also lost members who have moved, or moved on to other projects, so we can always use more hands, so please invite your friends to join in.


We routinely give talks to local groups, so if you know of any that are interested let Meg know.

Other projects 

Park Community Group/Phoenix Gardeners have been awarded a small grant by Cirencester Town Council to plant up the raised flower beds in Brewery Court (alongside the former Bramleys fruit and veg shop) to try and make this very neglected and shabby part of town look more attractive. The grant from the Town Council is small and will not cover the cost of buying all plants plus the bark mulch that will be needed, hence we are asking for donations of any plants  that people no-longer need in their gardens. Helena Griffith (a Phoenix Gardener as well as a local landscape designer) has worked out a planting plan.  Details of help required either with providing plants or with helping with clearing and planting are set out below.

The types of plants Helena has suggested are:-

  • Perenials – berginias (elephants ears); heucheras; alchemillia mollis; sedums (ice plant or similar); penstemons; nepeta(cat mint); geranium; astrantia
  • Grasses – luzula; carex; pennistemon
  • Shrubs – rosemary; hydranea (mop-head); cornus (dogwood); cotinus (smokebush); verbena (bonariensis type)

However, this list is not exclusive, so if you have any plants you are able to  donate that you think will be suitable  please let Alison Horrocks know.It is anticipated that the work will require 3/4 sessions to complete and the following dates have been  identified early in 2017:-

  • Sunday 22nd January – weed and dig beds
  • Sunday 5th February – plant up donared plants
  • Sunday 19th February – plant up bought plants
  • Sunday 5th March – lay bark mulch

All sessions will run from 10.00 am to 12.30pm.. If you will be able to come along and join in a working group, again, please let Alison Horrocks (horbox@hotmail.com) know. Alison will email again prior to each session to remind people that they are taking place but at this time of year whether sessions can go-ahead or not may be dependent on weather conditions. 

Cirencester in Bloom

You may have seen the announcement in the Wilts and Glos Standard or in Cirencester Scene, but there is now a plan to launch “Cirencester in Bloom”. I am attaching the letter from Geoff Carr in full below, but the important date to note is Thursday January 26th at 7.30 pm when a preliminary meeting will be held at Bingham House. 

Please come to the launch of Cirencester in Bloom 2017 on Thursday 26th January at 7.30pm in Bingham House, Dyer Street. Because you entered the Front Garden Festival last year you have already shown your interest in horticulture and civic pride and your willingness to get involved in a local, horticultural project.  I know from my experience of organising last year’s Front Garden Festival that without your support Cirencester in Bloom simply won’t be the fabulous horticultural treat that Cirencester deserves.

There will be lots to discuss at the launch meeting but there are two crucial objectives for the evening. Firstly, we’ll be inviting people to form a working group that will go on to organise Cirencester in Bloom 2017; secondly we’ll be inviting one or more individuals to put themselves forward as lead coordinator(s) for Cirencester in Bloom 2017. We want to improve on last year’s event and it would be really useful if you could have a think about the things you consider to be its strengths and those things that need improving, removing or adding. Any comments would be gratefully received; you can either call me (Geoff Carr), email me or wait until the meeting on the 26th of January.

Please spread the word to family and friends and bring them along too if you’d like to help Cirencester really start to bloom in 2017!

If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me: geoff_carr@hotmail.com or 07719 896039.

Dates for your diary

Sundays 22nd January/5th and 19th February and 12th March – help Park Community Group replant the Brewery Car Park

Thursday 26th January : preliminary meeting for Cirencester in Bloom

Mid March : dates to be agreed – pot on the plug plants at Deer Park School

Mid May – planting out of the summer bedding around the town

Late May – plant sale

All in all a busy time ahead. Best wishes and thanks for your support

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