The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

Raking and Mulching

The work of clearing and tidying for autumn has now begun, and on Sunday morning two dozen wonderful individuals headed over to Sun Rising to help out with the tasks.

The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

The Volunteers for the Woodland Burial Areas, August 2017

It was the woodland burial areas that we were focusing on.  All the grasses and flowers had been strimmed through the week, and the job was to rake up the hay and use it to mulch around the saplings.  As you can see (below), we had one volunteer who did most of the important work all by himself …

Showing everyone how to do it ...

Showing everyone how to do it …

Thank you to each and every one who came, not just for the great work accomplished, but for wonderful conversation, support and care, the delicious lunch shared and everything else that made the day so hugely worthwhile.

Next week we’ll be doing the meadow burial areas, and the wildflower meadow itself will be cut as soon as we have three days of clear dry weather ahead.

The Roll of Remembrance 2017

Roll of Remembrance

Every two years here at Sun Rising we have our Roll of Remembrance.  This is beautiful occasion when the names of all those buried, and all those remembered with a plaque or tree, are read aloud.  This year, with the harp playing in the background, there were nearly 800 names, every one an individual whose name evokes a flood of memories.  It was a glorious sunny day, with a whisper of a breeze, and the tea stall was laded with cakes, cordials and tea.

The Roll of Remembrance 2017

The Roll of Remembrance 2017

I’d like to thank everyone who attended, everyone who contributed – our readers and harpist, those who donated cakes, those who served at the tea stall and helped with parking, those who sold cards and calendars, those who helped set up and take down, and of course all those who brought along their good selves to listen, watch and add to the peaceful, supportive, respectful community of the day.

We raised almost £350 in aid of The Friends just from the teas!

Robin amidst Lichen

Events for 2017

Our events for 2017 are just starting to take form.  We’ve posted a page here for you to pop some dates into your diary!   https://sunrising.co.uk/about/activitydays.html

You’ll see a couple of Nature Watch days this year, and a Moth Night in August.  We have our annual Open Day in June, and this year there’ll be Roll of Remembrance too, when the names of all who are buried here are read aloud.

Dates and further information will continue to develop, and full details will be given in our March newsletter in a month’s time.  Let us know if you’ve any queries.

Robin amidst Lichen

Robin amidst Lichen

Carolling at Sun Rising

Carols and Friends

Committing to an outdoor event at any time of year is a risk, but to organise one for mid winter is what, I think, we might call typical English madness.  We have had carolling events in biting cold, and streaming rain, on Sunday last we were blessed with a chilly day which was calm and dry.  As a result, a good many ventured out to join us; we estimate 180 – 200 people came on the day.

Carolling at Sun Rising

Carolling at Sun Rising

Thank you so much to Rebecca Knight and Leamington-based choir, Morning Chorus, who led the singing, and to everyone who lent their voices to the mix.  Thank you too to everyone who contributed to the raffle, tombola and refreshments stall, and to everyone who bought tickets (we had plenty of lovely prizes), mulled wine, cake and mince pies.  We raised over £600 all told for The Friends of Sun Rising.

We shall be open on Christmas Day, with tea, coffee and nibbles from 10 am until 12.30 or so, for those with a loved one laid to rest at Sun Rising, who may feel in need of a little warmth on what can be a very difficult day.

Wildflower Bales

Hay Making

The wildflower meadow was mown this year using a small tractor and lovely local farmer and his very beautiful collie.  Sitting in the tractor cab, whenever they reached the end and backed up to turn and head down the row, the dog would bark at the reversing wheel as if with deep indignation, as if it were a misbehaving sheep heading in the wrong direction …

Spreading, drying and baling the hay was done over last week, with the bales going off to Redwings Horse Sanctuary (website) nearby.

Wildflower Bales

Wildflower Bales

The wildflower meadow is not the only part of the site that is cut, of course, and over the last two weeks we’ve been cutting and raking seeding grass and wildflowers from woodland and meadow areas around Sun Rising.  On Saturday we had a wonderful collection of volunteers to help us – thank you to each and every one of them!

There was raking and mulching the trees with the grasses, and spreading the wildflower hay over meadow graves and grassy areas.  It was a lovely clear day of blue skies and passing clouds, and the breeze not only helped keep the workers cool but aided with spreading the seeding wildflowers as well …

Spreading Hay

Spreading Hay

The Hay Cut, with Sunflowers by a Memorial Tree

The Hay Cut

There are occasions over the course of a year, managing a nature reserve and natural burial ground, that push against my instincts.  But the development of a nature reserve is about management: however much I would like to do so, we aren’t rewilding.

For rewilding to be of real value (i.e. letting an area revert to its own natural state), you need more than 16 acres, you need time, and you need it not to be a natural burial ground.  Here at Sun Rising, if we were to do nothing, the land would quickly become a tussocky scrub of blackthorn, hogweed, dock and thistle.  The sycamore, ash and birch seedlings would creep in after a while, and given a little longer, it would turn into a tatty sort of woodland.  In fifty years, it would no doubt be wonderful, but it would just be woodland, and very few of our families with loved ones laid to rest here would thank us for the difficult decades in between …

As a nature reserve, rather than rewilding, we are creating, and nurturing, different habitats in order to maximise biodiversity, providing a haven for as wide a range of local flora and fauna as we can.  Furthermore, we are doing that gently, sensibly, in order to ensure that each step of the way, its future is sustainable.  That takes management.

The Hay Cut, with Sunflowers by a Memorial Tree

The Hay Cut, with Sunflowers by a Memorial Tree

And one of the hardest moments of the year is when the main area of grassland is cut for hay.  The diversity of grasses is improving, with meadow barley, crested dogstail, bents, yorkshire fog, cocks foot, bromes, meadow-grasses, sweet vernal grass, false oat-grass, timothy, rye, and probably more.  The sky larks have nested and fledged, but there are very many other creatures living and breeding in grasses that are now up to 5 foot tall.  But if we didn’t mow, the heavy seedheads would encourage the stems to fall in the rain, it would mat and rot, increasing the soil fertility, and …

So we cut the grass.  In fact, it was cut on Sunday, and will be turned, then baled over the next few days.  I am still holding my breath, but the stubble will green again and new grass starts to grow, and slowly I’ll start to breathe again.

Anniversary Cake

Jazz in the Roundhouse

On Saturday 18 June, we held our annual Open Day at Sun Rising, but this was a special one, marking our tenth anniversary.

It was a beautiful, warm, dry day (if rather cloudy), and around 150 attended, to meander about the burial ground and nature reserve, to visit loved ones laid to rest, but also to sit and absorb the jazz.  The Hot Tone Rhythm Boys from Wiltshire gave us a few hours of beautiful mellow traditional jazz.  Have a listen …

The refreshments stall was bedecked with strawberries, cakes and scones for cream teas.  The raffle had some fabulous prizes, and everywhere there were folk with smaller prizes won on the tombola.  Almost everything was donated, and totting up the takings afterwards it looks as if we have raised over £1000 for The Friends of Sun Rising.

Anniversary Cake

Anniversary Cake with thanks to the family who donated it

Thank you to everyone who came, every volunteer who helped out, everyone who gave a prize or something for the tea stall, and thank you to the band for a beautiful sound!

Open Day and Smooth Jazz poster

Open Day and Smooth Jazz

A note for your diary …. On Saturday 18 June, we shall be holding our annual open day, but this year – to celebrate our tenth anniversary – we have the Hot Tone Rhythm Boys, a professional jazz trio, who will give us a couple of hours of wonderful mellow jazz.

Open Day and Smooth Jazz poster

Open Day and Smooth Jazz poster

At the Open Day, 11 am – 3 pm, there will be staff and volunteers on hand if you would like a tour of the natural burial ground and nature reserve, or you would be free to meander at your own pace, then come and ask questions.  There will also be an opportunity to sit down and talk through ideas, concerns and wishes with regard to funerals, for yourself or a loved one, looking at affordable, personal, graceful funerals.

At 3 pm, we then have the Hot Tone Rhythm Boys playing in the roundhouse, and families are welcome to bring chairs or rugs, sit on benches or wander, while the smooth jazz lifts what we hope will be a lovely summer’s afternoon.

There will be a tea stall, with teas, coffee, cordials, and cream teas with scones, jam and clotted cream, and maybe even strawberries.  We have a raffle on the day, with an amazing first prize : a 3 course meal for 4 at The Castle Inn, Edge Hill, including drinks, to the value of £200.  There are other great raffle prizes, and a tombola too.  There’s even a scavenger hunt for the children, with a prize for everyone who completes the course.  And it’s all in aid of The Friends of Sun Rising.

Do come and join us.  Or call if you have any queries.

Growing Memorial Trees

Bulb Planting

On Sunday we had our annual bulb planting day at Sun Rising, and what a beautiful warm autumn day we were given.  It was calm, with barely a bluster of wind, and some sixty people drifted through over the course of two or three hours, planting over a twelve hundred bulbs, on and around graves, around the pond, along pathways and beneath memorial trees.  Let’s hope a good number come through, lifting our hearts at the other side of winter.

Meanwhile, the leaf colours are still getting richer.

Growing Memorial Trees

Growing Memorial Trees

Hedgehog Street Photo

Hedgehogs

I’m sorry that we won’t make this great event on 21 November in Telford, but next year we are planning on comprehensive hedgehog surveying at Sun Rising throughout the spring, summer and autumn.  Do let us know if you are interested in getting involved.

Hedgehog Street Photo

Hedgehog Street

Event : http://www.hedgehogstreet.org/data/The_Day_of_the_Hedgehog/hogcon15.jpg