Thank you Ray March 1, 2020

Ray Bowers

When John Gale retired as our Volunteer Beekeeper, Ray Bowers and Sam Walker took on the mantle, tending our bees, running beekeeping courses and the Honey Show. Ray has stepped down from his role here at the Gardens.  We hugely appreciate his enthusiasm and friendly disposition  – tackling live radio interviews, managing the Honey Show and, alongside Sam, producing honey made by the Martineau Gardens’ bees. All the best to Ray.

Photocredits: Nos 1,4: Lynsay Smith; 2: Felicity McCabe and 3: S Hill-Daniel


Joyce Rimmer March 1, 2020

Snowdrops in the Courtyard Garden

The Gardens are waking up again with the approach of the new season. People keep these Gardens going, there are so many who share their time, knowledge and support with us and so it is with sadness we learned of the passing of Joyce Rimmer, a much-loved supporter of Martineau Gardens for many years.

Caroline Hutton (former Director of Martineau Gardens) said:
Joyce  provided us with the beginning of how to communicate with funders and supporters about what Martineau Gardens did with our volunteers.  It was radical and authentic.  She spent time with the volunteers, watched how the staff behaved and listened to what the volunteers said.  She wrote in a professional, yet immediate way which shared the quality of what was happening.  There were no forms, no attempt to struggle through the difficulties of how words mean different things depending on the context, your tone or accent.  We sent the report to funders for as meany years as we could.  
The history of Martineau Gardens is peppered with people who used their intelligence, skills and empathy for the benefit of the land and the people connected with it.  Thank you Joyce.
Stewart Holmes (Therapeutic Horticulturalist for Martineau Gardens) said:
‘One of the most gentle people I’ve ever met, gentle but quietly knowledgeable – she knew what was going on, she knew how this place worked, she was very intuitive about what happened here and understood the value of what we did’


Published in March 2020 in The Guardian,  is an obituary to Joyce Rimmer, written by Rachel Baird. Click here to read this in full:

Moth news February 2, 2020

Thanks to the dedication of our wildlife volunteers, Brian and Andrew Martineau Gardens has an impressive list of moth species identified—the total now stands at 398 – almost 400! We normally find at least ten new species each year, so we should easily reach 400 this year.


Lending a hand December 11, 2019

A team of community spirited staff from Avinson Young spent a full day at Martineau Gardens recently, volunteering their time, as part of their Day of Giving. The team worked hard indoors and outdoors helping to spruce up the Gardens. They painted the Pavilion interior, chipped wood and then refurbished woodland paths with the chippings and a huge amount of hardcore was barrowed into the keder house, our new growing space in the Pavilion Garden.

We appreciate all the hard work and the friendliness of them team who spent the day with us.

There are a range of ways your company can make an impact in our local community though supporting Martineau Gardens, we welcome partnerships. Click here to find out more.

Festive opening December 5, 2019

Season greetings to all!

Martineau Gardens is open Monday to Saturday from 10am until 4pm (closed bank holidays) – over the Festive Period our seasonal opening ours are as follows:

Friday 20 December 2019, closing at 4pm and re-opening on Monday 6 January 2020.

We wish all our supporters, visitors and volunteers a very Happy New Year.

Beautiful fungi December 4, 2019


The wet weather has brought out plenty of fungi this Autumn. A beautiful photograph of Upright coral fungus (Ramaria stricta) taken by Wildlife Recorder Andrew Curran is displayed here.


Sleeping out to bring hope and raise funds November 25, 2019

A courageous band of children (from the Woodcraft Youth movement) aged 10 – 12 years old slept out until midnight at Martineau Gardens, braving the elements of a wintery night to raise awareness and funds for two charities: Martineau Gardens and St Basils. The group built cardboard box shelters, (equipped with their sleeping bags), and talked about the issues of homelesness and what it feels like to have a home, whilst cooking food on a campfire.  At time of writing, the children and their families and friends have already raised £521 including gift-aid collections – please do consider boosting the impact of what they have achieved so far, by donating to this short 3 week appeal.

Donate to the sleeping out appeal:

Martineau Gardens is hosting the joint appeal, through its on-line donation platform, LocalGiving to raise money for both Martineau Gardens and St Basils.

Please donate on-line to the appeal here to ensure that the money goes direct to this specific appeal: www.



If you would prefer to donate in person by cash or cheque, please mark you donation very clearly as ‘Sleep Out’ Appeal

The appeal fund will stay open until Thursday 12 December 2019.

**Please note: donations made to this appeal will be split directly between the two charities (including gift-aid collections).  **

About Martineau Gardens and St Basils

Here at Martineau Gardens we aim to provide a safe and welcoming space which enables adults, young people and children to connect with nature and improve their wellbeing. Our preventative work also supports socially isolated and vulnerable people, through gardening and more, to help people feel good about themselves. Sometimes, having somewhere to go, that feels like ‘home’, can give hope to someone feeling desperate and lonely.   Find out more about what we do through Therapeutic Horticulture here at Martineau Gardens.

St Basil’s is one of the largest organisations working with young people who are homeless or at risk in the country and is the largest regional organisation of its kind. You can find out more about St Basil’s here.


Co-op Pay Out Celebrations November 25, 2019

Celebrations have been underway in November 2019 around the Big Co-op Payout – Martineau Gardens has received just over £7,000 thanks to the support of Co-op members and staff at  supporting stores. The funds received contribute towards delivering our therapeutic horticulture placements which includes vulnerable adults with mental health issues and learning disabilities.

Our thanks to Co-op members and our supporters who have chosen us, when shopping in our supporting stores.

Watch this short film to enjoy staff and volunteers from Martineau Gardens receiving some unexpected visitors and a very nice surprise!

The celebrations continued across the weekend at the four local shops who have been supporting Martineau Gardens in 2019. Kim (from Martineau Gardens), spent the afternoon at the Edgbaston store, with shop manager Josh Dredge and the Edgbaston Co-op team handing out flyers, selling Martineau Gardens plants and enjoying a slice of the celebratory cake.   Meanwhile, in Moseley, former Director and supporter of the Gardens, Caroline Hutton, headed to  the Moseley  Co op to receive a cheque,  about the good work that goes on here at the Gardens.

Co-op is also supporting Martineau Gardens through the continuation of the Local Community Fund into 2020 – look out for an update on how you can support us through this fund coming soon.





Mass Planting for World Mental Health Day October 2, 2019

Celebrating Volunteers – thank you!

World Mental Health Day is Thursday 10 October 2019. On this day Martineau Gardens volunteers and staff are undertaking a mass planting of the new garden area behind the Pavilion. We’re providing lunch for our volunteers as a  thank you to celebrate the efforts of all our volunteers who work hard all year round to keep these Gardens a beautiful and tranquil place to visit.

Crocus, snowdrops, aconites and other bulbs, as well as scilla and young trees and perennials, will be planted into the newly created beds. There will be spring bedding plants going into the troughs. Plants from the courtyard garden will be lifted and divided bringing in some mature foliage and autumn colour.

Gill Milburn, Director for Martineau Gardens said: “Bulbs are a symbol of new growth. Planting bulbs during the dormant months gives us something to look forward to, for  when the warmer weather returns. For some volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture project, gardening together, week in, week out can be a lifeline that gives purpose to one’s life.”

Martineau Gardens provides a safe and welcoming space for the people of Birmingham and beyond to connect with nature and improve their wellbeing.

World Mental Health Day aims to promote mental health and create awareness about the issues associated with mental illness – here at Martineau Gardens, we work all year to support adults and young people living with mental health issues.

Our thanks to

The on-going development of this new garden space and the continuation of the Therapeutic Horticulture Project would not have been possible without funding from Charitable Trusts and the long-term support of our corporate partners:

Jo Malone London    Nicholls Brimble Bhol Solicitors   Co-op

We are also extremely grateful to local and national businesses who have generously supplied us with expertise and materials, including:




Does it ever get too much for you? The theme for this year’s Mental Health Day is suicide prevention.  If you’re affected by the issues connected with the theme for World Mental Health Day, there is 24 hour help available, from the Samaritans:


Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Email: [email protected]

The Samaritans provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.

Caroline Starr has retired August 8, 2019

On Caroline’s last day, we held a celebratory tea party. Pictured above, staff, former staff, trustee and volunteers with Caroline during the event.

“If we can encourage young people to look after the planet, hopefully some of the damage that we have inadvertently contributed to can be rectified before it’s too late.”            Caroline Starr

Since 1987, Caroline Starr has been here at Martineau Gardens, inspiring Birmingham school children with her passion for nature.

Caroline has had a long association with Martineau Gardens. Her first role was as a gardener (1987) and she became the teaching assistant for the Martineau Environmental Studies Centre in 1991, where she taught for a number of years until its closure.  She returned to Martineau Gardens in 2015, as a new education programme was introduced with Juliette Green (Education Officer), and has been our Educational Tour Guide since then.

Circa 2001, Caroline (far right) weeding flower beds near the Tai Chi Lawn


Pictured above, Caroline at work in the Gardens  explaining pollination to school children during ‘Signs of Spring’ tours

Our thanks to the National Association of Environmental Education and Juliette Green who published Caroline Starr’s fascinating insight into the developments in Environmental Education at Martineau Gardens. An extract follows.

She writes of her early memories of the animals that once lived here, when the Gardens were known as the Environmental Study Centre: “My main roles were to take small groups around the gardens and to help look after the animals. I managed the poultry — several ex-battery hens, ducks, two quail and an arthritic turkey. I also helped with the goats and sheep (once being involved in delivering a breach lamb!); handled, cleaned and fed the indoor animals — a tortoise, grass snakes, bearded dragons, an axolotl, chinchillas, jerds (a large tunnelling gerbil), giant millipedes, African land snails, three types of stick insect and several different species of bird.”

Caroline taught until 1997 when Birmingham City Council’s funding for the Teaching Centre ended.  The transition of Martineau Gardens as a Community Garden began.  A coalition of  former staff, supporters (including our former Patron Mollie Martineau and her husband Denis Martineau), and Friends of the Earth came together to keep the centre open. Caroline played an active role in the continuation of the Gardens. From this, the Community Garden was formed and Caroline Hutton (former Director) joined the organisation.

Caroline Starr explains her return to the Gardens in 2015: “I got involved again with Martineau Gardens … after attending the AGM. Once I heard that school groups were returning on a regular basis, I couldn’t resist! My main role now is to lead tours of the Gardens, where the children are provided with the experience of tasting some of our homegrown produce. I am often elated by their responses when they taste something they wouldn’t normally try — “You can eat more plants than I expected!” wrote one child on their evaluation form — and the vocabulary this draws out of them.”

In the article, Caroline writes of the importance of delivering Environmental Education:

“I believe that it is essential for children to know where their food comes from. Some of their misconceptions are really shocking: once when a child told me, “My mum grows peas on the balcony… in the freezer”. I always try to encourage teachers to try growing food crops with the children back at school; when children grow their own food, they are always keen to eat it, and it is a great way of introducing them to vegetables.

Environmental education is so important. During their visits to places like Martineau Gardens, children are introduced to the wonder of nature, and how it keeps going whatever the weather. The continuing cycle of growth and change that makes sense to me seems magical to children. If we can encourage young people to look after the planet, hopefully some of the damage that we have inadvertently contributed to can be rectified before it’s too late.”

Read Caroline’s article in full here (Environmental Education, NAEE, vol 118 – page 11)

We thank Caroline for her contribution to Martineau Gardens.

Staff at Martineau Gardens, past and present – spanning 22 years (from L to R: Caroline Hutton (former Director), Caroline Starr (Education Tour Guide) Stewart Holmes (Therapeutic Horticulturalist) and Gill Milburn (Director)