Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Saturday 17 January 2015

Old Twelfth Night, Windmill Style!

Drink can lanterns on the pear tree

What a fab afternoon of celebration at Windmill today! The day started very icy, so we were greeted with an amazing display of ice-crystal ferns in the kitchen when we arrived!

Nature adds it's own decorations!

Making popcorn and toast on the fire

This year, because of the date, we decided to combine a celebration of the Lohri Festival with the Old Twelfth Night tradition of wassailing our fruit trees. This meant we still enjoyed wonderful Punjabi food (thank you to Prakash and her family for the delicious curry and also to Steven who provided yummy pakoras for the late comers), Punjabi style and other style drumming, and eating popcorn and ravri around the fire, but we added the twist of wassailing and a few Twelfth Night traditions. If you'd like to know more about the traditions of Lohri - check the info here - but it is essentially a changing of the year, and looks forward to the indian wheat harvest, as well as being a celebration of the life of the Robin Hood of the Punjab, Dulla Bhatti (find out more about this extraordinary man here). 

Drumming around the fire

Pete and his amazing drum box
Wassailing is a tradition which dates back to Anglo Saxon times, which is where the term comes from – waes hael meaning “good health” – and is a pre-Christian tradition that gradually evolved into carolling, and the tradition we are continuing today of wassailing our fruit trees. Wassailing fruit trees was especially popular in the South and West of England, but this may be linked to these areas having a lot of large orchards. The tradition, sometimes called “howling” involves lots of variations, but the main themes are:

- Spilling apple juice or cider onto the tree roots
- Hanging toast (sometimes soaked in cider) in the branches of the tree
- Calling on the tree, with a rhyme, chant or song, to have a good crop in the coming year – sometimes under threat of being dug up or cut down if it doesn’t!
- Making noise around the trees – (maybe to wake them up or to scare away evil things?)

We had a go at all of these, and it worked rather nicely, with everyone enjoying a communal "wassail" of the apple tree, then the pear, and finally our Victoria plum (though some lovely students from NTU did a quick "free-lance" wassail of the other trees in the orchard after we'd finished).
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The apple tree gets first treatment

It was great to see so many happy folk, and thanks to all the volunteers who helped to make it work, especially Prakash and her family, Steven, Pete for the drumming, Kathy for all her help, especially drum-wrangling, Ash for sawing wood, Rowan for fire-tending and his Jo staff display, Jeremy for the photography, and washing up, Joyce for helping with the lanterns and mince pies, Mark sorting out the popcorn and Matt and Carla for great help with the tidying up.

Rowan with the Jo Staff

Here are the wassailing chants we used - just of a few of many we could have chosen.

Apple Tree Wassail
Apple tree, apple tree, we all come to wassail thee,
Bear this year and next year to bloom and to blow,

Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sack fulls,

And a little heap under the stairs – hurrah!

Pear and Plum Tree Wassail
Wassail the trees that they may bear
Many a plum and many a pear
For more or less fruits they will bring

As you do give them wassailing.

So we wish you all good health for the coming year, like our trees. Wassail!

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  1. Waes hael, Windmillers!!

    What's up with the font size, Tracey? It's really, really small on Firefox/Windows7....


    1. Have fixed text. Not sure how I made it so tiny!