Last year when ABC Wednesday was back at S, I promised You Ask, We Answer would provide a guide to UK gardening events for 2009. At the time I thought I'd just highlight the quirky like the sprout festival Anna had found, but on doing some research, I thought it would be good to include all manner of things which you might be interested in hearing about or even attending. I found the list got ever larger, so I've divided it into a monthly guide.
Although it's winter and our gardening activities are severely curtailed, there's still plenty of events to highlight this month:
Gardeners' Question Time - 9th January onwards. Not really an event, but a new time to note. The new broadcast day changes from Sunday to Friday afternoon at 3pm, with a full repeat (not shortened like today's will be) on Sundays at 2pm. It looks like the content's undergoing a revamp, as we're promised a weekly rant from one of the panellists!
Whittlesea Straw Bear Festival - it was customary for this farming community near Peterborough to dress one of their number in straw and parade him round the town the Tuesday after Plough Monday (which is the first Monday after Twelfth Night). The festival was revived in 1980 and is 9-11th January this year. The website has some interesting pictures of the event dating back to 1900.
Wassailing - traditionally takes place on 17th January, the old Twelfth Night *. Wassailing is an ancient ritual (probably with pagan roots) performed to ensure apple trees fruit well in the autumn. It differs from place to place, but it usually involves pouring cider onto the tree's roots, banging anything to hand to make a noise and shots fired through the branches to ward off evil spirits. Warm cider is drunk and toast soaked in cider is placed in the branches for the robin and Wassail songs are sung. 'Wassail' is from the Anglo-Saxon 'waes haeil', to be in good health. Details of wassailing events across the country can be found here - note that some of them happen before January 17th.
RHS Question Time Online - 20th January. A chance for you to ask your burning questions about the RHS and where it's headed. You don't have to be a member to take part, but you do have to register. I'm posting separately about this event at the weekend.
Potato Days - started over a decade ago by Garden Organic who were worried our heritage potato varieties might die out, potato days have become a popular January event. The weekend of the 24/25 January is the 'official' date for this year, but many events can be found on other dates and locations too. I'm delighted a local event will be held in Malmesbury on January 31st, which Threadspider and I hope to attend, so consequently I'm also hoping to post separately about our adventures. Note that Garden Organic's day on the 24th January is for members only and the public day is on the 25th.
RSPB Garden Birdwatch - 24-25th January. A must-do event in my view and in the comfort of your own home. Grab a cuppa and spend an hour watching and recording which of our feathered friends visit your garden. Here's the results of my survey last year. The RSPB website has full details and you can send in your results online.
* = I think (but I haven't found confirmation) this is referring to the change from the Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752, when an adjustment of 11 days was made in September, Thus our current Twelfth Night (6th January) + 11 days = 17th January. The other big change was January 1st replaced March 25th as New Year's Day, but the former date is still preserved in our calendar as a starting day as 6th April is the start of our tax year (25th March + 11 days = April 5th, adjusted by an extra day from 1800 to give the current start to our fiscal year).
I hope you get to enjoy an event for January. Do let me know if I've left anything out, or of any you think are worthy of including in future YAWA listings. Otherwise Waes haeil everyone and see you next month!