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Milestones and noteworthy events at Sheffield Botanical Gardens
Green Flag Award 2009

Again this year Sheffield Botanical Gardens has been awarded the Green Flag Award along with a record number of other locations in the Sheffield area – Sheffield Botanical Gardens, Cholera Monument Grounds, Clay Wood at Norfolk Park, Ecclesall Woods, Firth Heritage Park, Norfolk Heritage Park, the Peace Gardens, the Winter Garden, Tinsley Green, Weston Park and Wheata Woods at Grenoside. The criteria are that locations have to be welcoming and well maintained with the support and the involvement of the local community.

Green Flag Award Logo

6th Annual Art in the Gardens, 5th and 6th September 2009

The 6th Annual Art in the Gardens drew crowds of around 10,000 over the weekend including the preview night on Friday 4th September. The event is organised by the Sheffield City Council Parks Woodlands and Countryside Department outdoor events team together with organiser Sharon Gill and teams of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Sheffield and many other organisations and sponsors Hallam FM. Thanks are due to all volunteers who helped with the show.

After a rainy week the weather cleared for the weekend and Howard Simpson the Sheffield City Council Assistant Outdoor Events Officer said… "We thought it was the best year yet and the quality of the work was the highest we have had, the sculpture work along the lawns in front of the pavilions was fabulous". This year the layout of the show was changed with the stage and the children's events at the Thompson Road end of the Gardens. More than 2,000 works of art were on display under canvas, and there was an art and craft marquee, photography marquee, children’s events and entertainment on the stage from the Fade to Black band, Pete McKee band, a fashion show by Hope and Glory and many other artistes.

Ian Turner, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Curator said… "It all went very smoothly. Events like this attract people and get the Gardens known to a wider audience."

The celebrity this year was Lisa Gallagher, BBC Look North weather presenter and she chose a painting by Martin Beal of Dronfield as the winner of the celebrity portrait competition. The prizes were presented by Councillor Graham Oxley, Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

Lisa Gallagher with some of the portraits © Adrian Richardson, 2009
Lisa Gallagher with some of the portraits
Floodlit pavilions on the preview evening © Adrian Richardson, 2009
Floodlit pavilions on the preview evening

General view of the show © Adrian Richardson, 2009
General view of the show

Hope and Glory Fashion Show © Adrian Richardson, 2009
Hope and Glory Fashion Show

Pete McKee Band © Adrian Richardson, 2009
Pete McKee Band

The Pantaloon Theatre Company, August 6th to 9th 2009

The Pantaloon Theatre Company returned to the Gardens this year with their production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet on the afternoons of the 6th to 9th August. The weather was splendid and large crowds enjoyed the performances which were held at the Thompson Road end of the Gardens.

The Pantaloons, with their cast of five, specialise in making Shakespeare enjoyable to everyone from little children who enjoy the fat suits and bright colours, to teenagers who are studying Shakespeare and see new life breathed into it. This most original touring company have become very successful with their fresh approach, touring around the country as it would have been in the 1600's. The performances are free but the donations into the buckets at the end show the Pantaloons how much their work was appreciated.

Pantaloon Theatre Company 2009 - Emma © Meg Jullien, 2009

Pantaloon Theatre Company 2009 - Emma © Meg Jullien, 2009

Heartbreak Productions 2009
Shakespeare's "As You Like It", 15th to 28th June
Jane Austen's "Emma", 23rd to 26th July
Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows", 29th July to 1st August

Heartbreak returned to the Gardens for the tenth year for another very successful season. Despite the rain at times the audiences enjoyed the productions which were very different in character.

As You Like It was set in the Swinging Sixties and Peter Mimmack, Heartbreak's Artistic Director, said

"there are two very distinct worlds in As You Like It. We are creating an environment where the Avengers meet Woodstock, or Scandal meets Hair, to define the iconic imagery of the Sixties and really bring home the oppressive nature of the court against the spirited freedom of the forest"

This was a vibrant and exciting performance.

Emma was an elegant production in the classic style, performed with the usual Heartbreak verve. The costumes and acting were splendid. They waltzed their way in their posh frocks through picnics in this classic regency tale. Dance and live music made for a delightful evening.

The Wind in the Willows was a new adaptation and audiences were welcomed into a setting of late Edwardian flying machines with wild woods, high jinks and ill advised modes of transport rivalling the Keystone Cops, all with enthusiastic audience participation.

Altogether a most successful season and the large audiences enjoyed three very varied productions in spite of the occasional bad weather.

Heartbreak Productions 2009 - Emma © Meg Jullien, 2009

Heartbreak Productions 2009 - Emma © Meg Jullien, 2009

British Shakespeare Company
Midsummer Night's Dream on the 17th and 18th August and
Much Ado About Nothing on the 19th August

The British Shakespeare Company, with its actor-manager Robert J Williamson, this year performed for the first time in the Gardens. They hope to make this the first of many visits. The company was founded 16 years ago by Robert J Williamson. The cast of sixteen players, in beautiful traditional costumes, acted on an open stage on the east lawn to large and appreciative audiences. The weather was kind for their visit.

The cast included several well known TV actors – Louise Lytton from East Enders and the Bill, Gabriel Thomson from My Family and Steven Blakeley from Heartbeat. The tour opened at Kingston in June touring the country via Dublin and Norway, and they left directly from Sheffield to Prague. The company had been performing for three weeks at the Leeds Shakespeare Festival at Kirkstall Abbey Cloisters before coming on to the Gardens. The three performances were memorable for superb acting and costumes.

British Shakespeare Company 17th to 19th August 2009 - Midsummer Nights Dream © Meg Jullien, 2009

British Shakespeare Company 17th to 19th August 2009 - Midsummer Nights Dream © Meg Jullien, 2009

British Shakespeare Company 17th to 19th August 2009 - Midsummer Nights Dream © Meg Jullien, 2009

FOBS' 25th Birthday Party, Wednesday 8th July 2009

These celebrations, together with the formal opening of a new a part of the Robert Marnock Garden, took place in that garden on Wednesday 8th July this year. The weather was perfect - a most unexpected state of affairs in this sodden summer. The Lord Mayor, Cllr Graham Oxley, officiated, thanking FOBS for 25 years of support for the Gardens, and cut a ribbon to open the new garden section. He then planted a tree (Stewartia monodelpha) to mark the occasion. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Scriven presented a certificate of thanks to FOBS and the Director of Parks and Countryside, Mrs Mary Bagley, added her thanks. She also organised a group photograph, which was duly taken - with some difficulty because of the numbers - by the Cabinet Member for Open Spaces, Cllr Shaffaq Mohammed.

After these formalities, the crowd of one hundred plus fell on the buffet lunch, laid out under the essential protective gazebos. FOBS bought the savouries and drinks, and individual FOBS members produced a wonderful array of desserts.

The garden itself was looking very good after weeks of clearing and titivating by Gardens staff and FOBS volunteers. The new area had been completed just before the party, to a layout produced by the Curator, Mr Ian Turner; this had been derived from the designs of several FOBS members - Jean Dykes, Chris Hibberd, Margaret Johnson, Peter Settle-Bamber and Miriam Stayte. The result is an attractive paved area, suitable for small meetings, family gatherings, picnics, etc. Eventually a circular seat will be installed. While the paving was undertaken (beautifully) by a contractor, the construction for the "living walls" (planted with Peter's sempervivums), small paths and demonstration roof plantings was all done by the Gardens staff. They used materials from on site, and worked like Trojans to produce the very attractive features now on view. Plantings were obviously very new, but were already establishing well, particularly a fine collection of penstemons donated by FOBS member Janet Gears.

Completion of the Robert Marnock Garden has been made possible by a most generous bequest from Mrs Eileen Brightmore, for which we are very grateful.

All in all, this was a lovely occasion, and it is worth repeating that the sun shone....

Sue Kohler (Chairman, FOBS)

FOBS 25th Birthday Party 9th July 2009 - Opening Robert Marnock Garden © Meg Jullien, 2009

FOBS 25th Birthday Party 9th July 2009 - Group Picture © Shaffaq Mohammed, 2009

FOBS 25th Birthday Party 9th July 2009 - Refreshments © Meg Jullien, 2009

FOBS 25th Birthday Party 9th July 2009 - Mayor planting tree © Meg Jullien, 2009

FOBS 25th Birthday Party 9th July 2009 © Meg Jullien, 2009

Music in the Gardens Charity Concerts, 1st to 4th July 2009

For the fourth year running Music in the Gardens was a great success – Jazz on the 1st and 2nd July, Big Band Sound on the 3rd July and Classical on the 4th July. More than 7,500 people enjoyed the events over the four nights with the Big Band Sound being the most popular. The weather for the most part was kind and the crowds, with their chairs and picnics, listened to the music on the east lawn in the warm evening sunshine.

The organisers were the Rotary Club of Sheffield with co-operation from other Rotary Club members at Vulcan and Hallam. The events were organised in association with the Sheffield Botanical Gardens staff, the Sheffield City Council Events team, the Gatehouse Giftshop and all the artists and sponsors. The Rotary Club is most grateful for all the help, support and encouragement it has received in staging these events. The main charities to benefit from the profits made are Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, Shelterbox Trust, Sheffield Carers Centre, Shepherd Wheel Restoration and some funds will also go to the Sheffield Botanical Gardens Trust and Rotary Charities.

The Jazz evening featured the Dizzy Club, The Impressions and the Dark Side of the Lounge, the Big Band Sound evening featured Carmen Ghia and the Hotrods and the Keith Peters Big Band and the Classical evening featured the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ewa Strusinska, the deputy conductor of the Halle orchestra, and Highly Strung, a group of talented young string players from High Storrs, King Edward VII, Silverdale and Tapton Secondary Schools directed by Martin Cropper. There was a full bar service, exceptional hot and cold food, fresh coffee and ice cream.

The event will be staged again next year in July.

Music in the Gardens Charity Concerts 1st to 4th July 2009 - Jazz in the Gardens © Meg Jullien, 2009

Music in the Gardens Charity Concerts 1st to 4th July 2009 - Jazz in the Gardens © Meg Jullien, 2009

RSPB Aren't Birds Brilliant!

The Sheffield Botanical Gardens "Aren't Birds Brilliant!" RSPB Event took place on Saturday 17th January 2009 and the following 5 Sundays (January 18th and 25th and February 1st, 8th and 25th). Each event ran from 11 am until 3pm at the Demonstration Centre, Thompson Road end of the Gardens.

The RSPB set up telescopes at a suitable point at the Thompson Road end of the Gardens where good views of birds could be obtained.

A RSPB member of staff ran the events supported by volunteers and other staff from the regional office. Staff from both the Sheffield Botanical Gardens and the Sheffield Parks and Countryside Service were also in attendance.

Members of the public were engaged as they walked by or came over to the telescopes and were shown any birds that were in view. There was a display and information in the Demonstration Centre and simple hints and tips were available about gardening and bird feeding that people could adopt to make a real difference to the environment. The event was very popular with the public and is likely to be repeated in future years.

RSPB Event 18th January 2009 © Meg Jullien, 2009

RSPB Event 18th January 2009 © Meg Jullien, 2009

A Real Magical Christmas 13th and 14th December 2008

Despite the wet weather for the first day of the event causing poor attendance, the crowds flocked to the Gardens on the Sunday, and an estimated 12,000 people in total enjoyed the spectacle over the weekend. This is the third year the event has been held in the Gardens and the display and lighting effects were even more dazzling this year.

The event is organised by the Rotary Club of Sheffield in conjunction with Sheffield City Council in aid of the Sheffield Children's Hospital and Rotary Charities. Sponsors included Real Radio and other local businesses.

The attractions included Father Christmas and his workshop "with two reindeer and sled, fantastic lighting effects amongst the trees, the fountain and the floodlit pavilions, Crafts stalls, a display by St. Thomas' Church in the Bear Pit, Sheffield University Medic's Choir, Steel City Sax, Ashdell Preparatory School choir, brass quartet and free rides for children supplied by local showground operator William Percival, and many food and drink stalls around the Gardens.

"This event encourages people from all over Sheffield to come to the Gardens, many of them for the first time, and I think it was an eye-opener for many of them" said Kevin Cheetham, Sheffield City Council Parks and Countryside Events Manager. (Quote from Sheffield Telegraph 19th December 2008)
A real magical Christmas © Meg Jullien, 2008

A real magical Christmas - Carol Singing © Meg Jullien, 2008

A real magical Christmas - Reindeer © Meg Jullien, 2008

A real magical Christmas - Fountain © Meg Jullien, 2008

A real magical Christmas - Santa © Meg Jullien, 2008


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