Enjoy Our Outdoor Spaces

Yellow Flowers

Summer is here and the gardens at Blyth Grove are in full bloom.

The orchard is green and welcoming, the perfect spot to relax. The Straw family loved their garden, and were keen to make the most of their outdoor spaces. The orchard and garden must have been havens of peace away from busy days in the shop. William senior in particular was a keen plantsman and would have relished the chance to flex his green fingers.

The family grew flowers, fruit and vegetables. Both the front and back gardens of No. 7 Blyth Grove would have been colourful, and no doubt Florence enjoyed a supply of cut flowers for the parlour. Fruit and vegetables for the kitchen would have come from the orchard and their allotment near Dunstan Crescent in the town. William Straw Jnr grew auriculas which he housed in a ‘auricula theatre’ – a range of stepped shelves which showed off the flowers to their best advantage. Walter developed an interest in cacti and succulents and his collection filled the greenhouse at Number 7. Today, the greenhouse is a modern replica, but the plants inside are the descendants of Walter’s originals. We propagate the cacti for the shop – so you can take away a genuine Straw’s souvenir of your visit.

Seed packets in the collection at Mr Straw's House
Seed packets
Seed packets in the collection at Mr Straw's House

During the Second World War the allotments and orchard would have come into their own, as rationing began to bite and the national campaign to ‘Dig For Victory’ was rolled out across the country. Those families fortunate enough to have space to grow fruit and vegetables would have been able to supplement their weekly rations, and even more fortunate were those who owned chickens or even a pig. Our display this year, ‘The Straws on the Homefront’, picks up this theme – come and see how the family embraced the self- sufficiency message of the war years.

If you buy one of our raffle tickets, you will be helping to bring the orchard back to its former glory. We know what types of fruit trees were planted from a plan drawn up by William junior, and our fundraising effort this year will help us to replace those that have been lost over the years. We are also planning to restore the cold frame, introducing some interpretation into the outdoor spaces so our visitors can get a sense of how the family used the garden and orchard.

There are many reasons for a visit to Mr Straw’s this summer – so why not come along and discover our outside spaces!