school garden

school garden

Monday, 2 November 2015

"It is better to be slapped with the truth...

than be kissed with a lie"

A Russian proverb

With the Jurassic viewing deck completed the group have returned to gardening.  It was decided to revamp a couple of the beds as they had not been looked at for many years.  The original 'bee bed' has been completely stripped and the plants divided and potted up to overwinter in a holding bed.  The old bed will be dug over several times.  The original plants will be placed elsewhere and it is envisaged that the bed will have a short lavender hedge around the edge and the inside filled with other similar insect loving plants.

The old 'bee bed' being cleared

Globe Artichokes divided and potted up

Around the garden a lot of flowers and colour is still in evidence.  Sunday was a balmy 19C in the garden.  Lots of insects were still on the wing including a Ruddy Darter dragonfly, several Buff-tailed Bumble-bees, a Tree Bumblebee and many hoverflies.  Red Admiral, Painted lady and Speckled Wood butterflies were also noted.

The moth trap was run a few nights last week.  Although getting near the end of the season it is always worth running on a calm night.  Our efforts paid off and we trapped a good moth- the Oak Rustic. A newcomer in Dorset since 2006 having moved from the Channel Islands.  it is thought to be now breeding in the Weymouth area and the foodplant of the larvae is Evergreen Oak-  we have plenty in the grounds! 

The moth trap

Oak Rustic

Angle Shades

Scarce Bordered Straw- an migrant species

In the bird garden a small net was put up and again efforts were rewarded.  A surperb male Firecrest was trapped and ringed- a real jewel of a bird.  Weighing in at just 5 grams these birds migrate large distances.

Male Firecrest

Detail of the head

The flower beds still show off colour

Cosmos flowers

Geranium 'Rozanne'

Lithops in the greenhouse

Periwinkle- a lovely pastel blue flower

The cacti have been replanted and look better for it!

New staging in the greenhouse has given us more room to bring on plants for next Spring

With mild weather forecast for a little longer the flowers and insects should still be present in the garden.  Finally a date for your diaries.  The School Carol service held yearly in the garden will be on Sunday December 6th.  Time and further details nearer the event.  It is hoped that our good friends from Highclere House will join us again for what is a lovely evening.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

"Do not bargain for fish..

.. which are still in the water"

An Indian proverb

Work has proceeded well with the Jurassic Garden lookout and the project is almost finished.  The steps were completed on the weekend.

The handrail fixings are very secure.  The bolt ends have been cut off and tidied up so that no sharp edges are presented.

Around the garden wildlife abounds.  On Sunday 5 species of butterflies were recorded- Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Red Admiral and Painted Lady.  On the flowers plenty of hover flies and bees still are visible and a very large White-tailed queen bumble bee was noted.

A keen observer noticed a very strange sight in the helpers flower bed.  Not the most attractive of caterpillar the Elephant Hawk moth avoids predation by looking very scarey!

Elephant Hawk moth caterpillar

In the bird garden a mist net was put up and thirty birds were trapped and ringed over the weekend.  Mostly Chiffchaffs on their way back to West Africa but a Coal Tit and a Goldfinch were pleasant surprises.

The colourful Goldfinch wing

A young Goldfinch- without the bright red head feathers

Coal Tit

Several new plants have been positioned in the Garden.  Two Honey Bushes- which have very attractive green/grey and shaped leaves are in the bed which buffers up to the Jurassic Garden

Honey Bush
The Gingers have flowered this summer and the spikes are now slowly dying but they were spectacular with a very sweet scent

Flowering Ginger plant

Flower detail
The Tetrapanax tree is now reaching for the sky!

Beautiful 'Gaura' flowers in the grass garden

Spectacular detail of one of the late flowering grasses
The aptly named  'Chain fern'
A very large Spider- awaiting identification

Impressive large fangs!

Again the evening sky saw the Garden Group staring West.  After a busy weekend in the garden Mother Nature provided a perfect backdrop as the day closed.

A fitting end to the day

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

"The jealous are troublesome to others,

but a torment to themselves"

William Penn

The past two weeks have seen a lot of progress with the Jurassic Garden viewing platform.  After the floor had been secured and fixed the front pickets were secured.

First stage the cross members are positioned

Finally the pickets are fixed
The pickets were fixed just off the floor level to assist with ventilation and drying of the wood.

The design and format of the back of the observation post took a while but the group settled again on pickets.  Thirty five 1.8m pickets were sourced from Dorchester Timber and after painting, they were also set in place.

The rearmost pickets are painted and positioned

The decking planks have been treated to extend their life
The final job will be the steps into the lookout.  It is hoped to start this coming weekend.  The timber and tools are all ready.  We just need some good weather!

Elsewhere in the garden the greenhouse has been cleared and the tomato plants taken out.  It was a poor year for tomatoes and it seems that we were not alone!   A bit of reshuffling within and tidying up has taken place.  As the night temperatures drop the succulent plants have been returned to the shelter and relative warmth of the greenhouse.

The Morning Glory continues to flower and there are just a few cucumbers left to ripen.

The Morning Glory

With the cooler weather spiders are retreating and the inside of the greenhouse is a good place to set up home.  There are a lot of webs visible.  This spider had recently caught a Speckled Wood butterfly.

Spider with butterfly

Outside  Autumn is slowly approaching but the sunny days still bring out a lot of insects.  The 'bee beds' have done well this year and the Aster plants were covered with bees and hoverflies last weekend.

The colourful bee beds
At the HQ shed the Kiwi plant has excelled.  It has formed flowers for many years but this year has produced fruits and they seem to be doing well.  Literature suggests leaving them on the plant for a while longer yet.

Kiwi Fruits

The appearance of fungi is also a sign on the approach of autumn and these magnificent 'boletus' mushrooms appeared just out the garden on the grass.  They look like 'penny bun' mushrooms- so called for their similarity when freshly emerged to baked buns!

Boletus  Mushrooms
The bee houses which we put up around the garden are slowly being used.  Close inspection here shows that leaf cutter bees have moved in and laid eggs in the drilled out holes.  Pollen is stored in with the egg and then the entrance sealed with chewed leaved and small fragments of leaf which can clearly be seen.

The bees have moved in!
Hopefully the Jurassic lookout will be finished this coming weekend and then the group can start gardening proper again and begin to tidy up and get everything shipshape for the winter.  There will be much to do.  Help is always appreciated. Please leave your name in the school office if you would like to join us.  Your contact details will be passed on.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day.

 Teach him how to fish and he will eat forever."

An old Chinese proverb.

The garden group have been busy working on the Jurassic viewing platform. The flooring has now been installed and the next step is to shape the edging and start the construction of the sides and the access ladder.

The frame all ready

Some very large bolts!

Tools of the trade

The outside workshop

The decking  floor completed

Garden group helpers testing the new floor

Starting to make good

This part of the garden will be off limits for the time being until the project is finished.

Around the garden there is still much interest

The Morning Glory in flower in the greenhouse.

The Sweet corn patch - lots of cobs this year

Agastache- self sown from last year. Bees love this plant

The Ginger is about to flower

The Canna is still flowering and the Bananas are thriving

Our tallest sunflower this year!
Inbetween the construction work and  gardening there is always time for a bit of wildlife spotting.  Recent sightings have included the following

Hoverfly which mimics a Hornet
This was at first thought to be a real Hornet which was about to enter and attack the wasp nest at the back of the World War 2 garden shelter.  On closer inspection it was a  species of hoverfly which mimics the Hornet.  It has similar ambitions!  It sits outside the wasp nest then sneaks in and lays it eggs.  The young hoverfly larvae probably feed on the detritus at the bottom of the nest.

A Sycamore moth caterpillar. 

Female Southern Hawker egg laying at the pond edge

Longhorn Beetle- possibly the Musk beetle found on Willow

The garden group welcomes new pupils to the school this term and hope that they will get a chance to look at and explore the environmental garden before too long.