Members among the snowdrops at Camerton Court, early 2017 (photo: Anne Hills)

The Trust holds regular visits and meetings to inform our members. Guests are always welcome to attend and join us in visits to some parks and gardens not normally open to the public.

Booking is required for these visits so we can cater for the numbers attending. Please use the booking forms linked from each event and you will receive further details and confirmation of your place.

Advanced booking for future AGT events is advised, but late booking can always be accepted if space on the event allows.

E-mail our Events Coordinator, Peter Hills for more information about Avon Gardens Trust Events

Events for 2017

Wednesday 2 August, 4pm

Annual General Meeting at The Pavilions

The Trust’s AGM will be held at The Pavilions, the headquarters of Computershare. Their premises are the former regional headquarters of the Central Electricity Generating Board on Bedminster Down on the outskirts of Bristol. This iconic building, designed in the mid-seventies, received a Grade II listing from Historic England in 2015.

In that year, 14 post-war office buildings were listed by Historic England (then English Heritage) to ensure that they would not inadvertently be demolished. The Pavilions, was one of four buildings designated as a new addition to the National Heritage List for England that was designed by architects, Arup & Associates. Their inclusion was based on how the architecture of these buildings responded to radical changes in the workplace following the end of World War II as they all demonstrate how the open-plan offices for computer-led work came about. Additionally, they also show how architects responded to the need for attractive spaces with ingenuity and an understanding of human requirements.

The Pavilions was built between 1975 and 1978 as an environmentally-friendly ‘campus style’ office building and is as an early example of green building standards. This is illustrated by the fact that it was originally built with a swimming pool which was used to help cool computing equipment. Although the pool is no longer in use, many of the original energy-saving features are still used, such as the building’s ‘hollow deck’ which stores cold night air used to cool the building during the day.

At the planning stage, one of the main design principles for the building was that the structure’s visual impact on the surrounding landscape should be minimal. Because the site was located on the high ridge of Bedminster Down overlooking Bristol, this resulted in the construction of a low profile building that followed the contours of the existing landscape as well as aiming for complete integration between building and site.

The landscape work included the creation of an ‘invisible’ car park, the introduction of a continuous perimeter plant box to soften the link between the building and its landscape, and an extensive planting scheme both outside and inside the building. The seven linked pavilions that form the building each have a central courtyard. Built-in plant boxes are an integral part of the design and help to further strengthen the link. There are also ‘internal hedges’ with single species planting as well as planted features around the main circulation and reception areas.

After the AGM, members and guests will be taken on a guided tour which will include the social areas at the rear of the building where the former dining room, bar area and swimming pool all survive remarkably intact. The building even had its own war bunker, as its unusual design apparently made it a potential target for Soviet missiles during the Cold War!

Admission to the AGM is free, but the cost of the tour and refreshments, including a donation to Change A Life, Computershare’s chosen charity, £6 for members, £8 for guests.

Please book using the form here by 28 July

The Pavilions, Bridgwater Road, Bristol BS99 6ZZ map

More about The Pavilions: at Parks & Gardens UK here; at Historic England here; the article in our Autumn 2015 Bulletin here (page 16)

Part of the moth-balled swimming pool

From the back of building showing the allotments,
with Ashton Court in the distance

Saturday 21 October, 2pm

Autumn Colours at South Kelding

South Kelding in Upton Cheyney is a young 7 acre garden set on a hillside with stunning panoramic views from its upper levels. There are herbaceous and shrub beds, prairie-style scree beds, orchard, native copses and a small arboretum grouped by continents. Beyond the arboretum lie a large wildlife pond and a boundary stream which runs through woodland featuring shade and moisture-loving plants.

On moving to Upton Cheyney in 2004 Barry and Wendy Smale became the proud owners of 3 fields and a house, soon to be demolished and replaced with a modern, more efficient and sustainable home. During the build some of the native tree copses were planted and the arboretum started. Flower beds were added around the new house and a long curving shrub bed planted to screen the (then rather ugly) machinery shed and storage yard beyond. Our orchard was planted next, one bitterly cold December day with snow lying on the ground! We then extended the copses in the central area of the garden, introducing dogwoods, white-stemmed birches and ginkgos for autumn and winter interest and a circle of Sorbus torminalis underplanted with blue camassias for late spring. In the lower field trees were continually added to the arboretum which, despite the best efforts of grazing sheep and escapee cows, is now flourishing. The occasional ‘must-have’ addition still appears so that this area has something of interest throughout the year, be it bark, blossom, flowers or leaf texture and shape.

Beyond the arboretum lies a large wildlife pond whose banks are covered in primroses in Spring, with yellow flag iris and white waterlilies to follow. Our boundary stream runs beside the pond and into the small woodland area, whose development has been a more recent project. What started out as an exploration of an apparent leak from the pond led to the wholesale clearance of brambles, nettles and self-sown trees, resulting in a second, smaller pond surrounded by candelabra primulas, astilbes, rodgersias and other moisture-loving plants, many different ferns, winter hellebores, aquilegias, foxgloves and a dell of ornamental shrubs. Moving on through the wood are a selection of shade-tolerant shrubs such as hydrangeas, sarcococca, hollies, elders and sorbarias. In late winter the whole area is covered in snowdrops.

Back up at the top of the hill another recent venture has been the addition of a rill-style reflective pool outside the main living room of the house, and a series of scree beds along the upper slopes featuring ornamental grasses, echinaceas, sedums, geraniums, euphorbias, asphodels, bergenias, nepeta and achilleas.

Autumn colour features in the red and yellow-stemmed dogwoods, spindle copses, acers, rowans and liquidambers, with the white, pink and coppery textured bark of different birch tree species providing an attractive contrast to the changing leaf colours. Up by the house the bergenias, echinaceas and sedums in the scree beds offset the waving flowerheads and stems of Miscanthus and Stipa grasses.

Cost of the tour including refreshments is £8 for members, £10 for guests.

Please book using the form here by 16 October

South Kelding at the NGS website here

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