school garden

school garden

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

"Will you walk into my parlour.....

said the spider to the fly?

The opening line from Mary Howitt's delightful and deep meaningful poem.  The Spider and the Fly is well worth a read!

Following on the Pitcher plants have been active lately catching a lot of prey items- possibly before they shut down for the winter months. A couple of visits to the greenhouse over the weekend revealed wasps, large bluebottle flies and smaller winged insects all falling victim to the allure of these plants.  Once they land on the slippery sides of the trumpet there is no going back!

The stunning colour of the Pitcher plant

Wasp in trouble!

Bluebottle fly about to get into trouble!

The final construction of the Jurassic Garden was also completed.  The nest area and the nest itself was adjusted and fixed.  A membrane was laid down to prevent weeds from poking through.  It is hoped to get the first delivery of stone in during the next week.

Four pictures of the completed nest area with the membrane down ready for the stone material. The large area of earth will be built up with topsoil ready for the planting of ferns and suitable 'Jurassic' plants next Spring.  We are hoping to make the planting as interesting as possible.

Colour still survives in the garden.  A few Calendulas are still in flower and there are plenty of fungi about including the delightful Sulphur Tuft.

Sulphur Tuft mushrooms

Calendula - still flowering!

A recent avian visitor to the garden has been a Yellow-browed Warbler.  These small rare birds occur annually at this time of the year from the Siberian taiga forests.  They are very small and have a distinctive and plaintive call. We found this picture from the internet.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Finally it is intended to once again hold a carol service in the school garden following on from last years great success. The provisional date is December 6th.  More details later.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

"In the practice of tolerance.....

one's enemy is the best teacher"

The Dalai Llama

First the weather for October was very interesting.  The tail end of Hurricane Gonzala swept across Southern Britain during the latter part of the month.  The following graphs from our weather station show the picture. Click on each graph to enlarge.

The rainfall figures- a lot of red!

Outside temperatures took a dip mid-month but recovered

The wind peaked at 14metres/sec (about 31mph)
Back in the garden, the bad weather over the weekend restricted activity but the final construction stage in the Jurassic area was pegged down ready to fix and secure.  The nest area itself took a while to shape properly but with a bit of maths and elbow grease it all fell into place.  The next stage then will be the delivery of the material to fill the area and make good before the final layer is positioned to finish the path areas off properly

The overall view across the Jurassic area

A few vegetables remain in the garden.  The curly kale is still growing well.  It is a good contender for next year again as the pigeons do not seem to touch it.  Perhaps they are not familiar with the leaves!  Also a few turnips remain and a single Swiss Chard plant.

The curly kale

The last of the turnips

Colourful Swiss Chard

The Jay continues to frequent the garden and has now found the bird feeding area.  They are colourful birds and members of the Crow family.  They usually fly off long before you get close to them and show their white rump as they disappear into the trees.

The handsome Jay
The Echiums which we transplanted a few weeks ago are growing well.

Hopefully the ground will dry sufficiently by the weekend to enable the final construction in the Jurassic area to the be completed.  We finish off with a plea.  The garden group need some topsoil to build up the growing areas in the Jurassic garden.  If any readers know of any topsoil which is going (for free) please contact the school office. Thanks!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

NO WIND......


A Chinese proverb

For the past few weeks Grey Wagtails have been regularly visiting the school pond.  They have a much longer tail than the usual Pied Wagtail and have a lemon yellow colour on the underparts.  They were watched over the weekend walking over the lily pads catching insects flying across the water and dipping into the water to catch prey in the water itself.

The very handsome Grey Wagtail
Work proceeded in the Jurassic garden and the final short lengths of path were linked up with the nest area.

The only construction left to do now is the actual nest site itself and then the remaining aggregate can be delivered and the site finished properly with the compactor to make the surface weatherproof and level.  Then we can move on and landscape the growing areas ready for planting.

The paper bark Birch Tree
The paper bark Birch tree is undergoing the annual peeling when the old layer of thin bark is discarded as the tree grows ever bigger. It is a beautiful tree and the white bark is stunning in the winter light

These magnificent Boletus mushrooms have appeared by the school gates.  Some of them are quite edible and favoured on the Continent.  They often grow to the size of a dinner plate.

Holm Oak acorns
The Jay has been a busy bird.  There are lots of acorns buried or half buried around the garden. These were found with just a sycamore leaf covering them.  Perhaps the bird left in a hurry hoping that nobody would spot them!

A female Goldcrest

A picture of the head
The Goldcrest was caught and ringed in the bird garden.  The female has a yellow stripe and the male has an orange strip within the yellow.  These tiny birds weigh just 5 gms!  They need to find a lot of spiders to survive.

The Venus Fly-trap
The Venus Fly-trap has managed to secure a meal.  The closed leaf looks very formidable. No escape for the poor victim!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Never give a sword.....

.. to a man who can't dance.

Attributed to Confucius.

Work continues on the Jurassic garden.  This last weekend  attention was given to the nest area and the short paths which will link up the whole garden once finished.  Creating a good  egg shape took time but after a lot of measuring and re-measuring the edging boards were finally secured to the fixing posts after checking the levels. 

Taking shape

The required shape at last!

The two yellow posts were the datum points for checking levels

During the work a few large bright green frogs were disturbed but they were safely relocated to the pond.

A large healthy frog

Something caught our eyes during a tea break.  A large orange spider appeared on one of the path edging boards.  It looked very formidable but was just a large female specimen of the  Garden Orb Spider Araneus diadematus. The spider is a very skilled web builder. The males are much smaller and approach the female with caution.  Often they become the next meal!

Araneus diadematus

Some gardening was also done and one of the Bird Cherry trees along the woodland walk was moved to a better position.  The tree had hardly grown compared to the one alongside it.  Perhaps too much shade had inhibited growth.  It is now enjoying plenty of light on the edge of the shrubby area behind the World War 2 garden

The repositioned Bird Cherry tree

A small group of colourful  blue-green mushrooms were spotted growing out of the bark chip mulch.  They could well be Stropharia aeruginosa or the Verdigris Agaric.  They will be revisited during the week and the species hopefully then confirmed. If they are Verdigris Agaric they are NOT to be eaten!

Bees are still active in the garden and Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies were on the wing all weekend.  A single Migrant Hawker dragonfly was seen and several late Swallows flew overhead on their way to South Africa-a journey of some six thousand miles!

A busy insect!

Colour still floods into the garden as October slides into November

At the end of the afternoon a mist net was set and we picked up where we left off at the end of last winter.  Studying some of the local birds and their movements.  In late afternoon a lot of birds move through the school garden on their way to roost sites.  The garden holds a large roost of over one hundred Greenfinchs.  However we managed to catch and ring a few Long-tailed tits.  These small birds will often travel considerable distances so we are happy to continue contributing to the study of our avian friends.

A delightful bird- the Long-tailed Tit

Staring at the camera!
Finally, possibly the largest Turnip we have ever grown was unearthed. It may be large but will go well diced up and put in a good beef stew in the slow cooker!

Work will continue on the Jurassic project in readiness for the next delivery of material.  Once the construction has been finished off we can concentrate on the planting up.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Adopt the pace of nature:

...her secret is patience.

A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson

It was with some trepidation that we awaited the arrival of sixteen tons of material to start the final stages of the ammonite shell in the Jurassic garden.  Our friends from Portland Stone arrived bang on time on thursday with the order.  The lorry looked huge but the driver proved very skillful and turned the lorry and reversed it into the the small 3m gap in the garden fence.

16 tons of material!
The garden group worked hard over the weekend and with the help of a few other friends managed to wheel barrow the material and compact it down into the ammonite shell.

Jamie wheels the first barrow load!

The first section to be completed

Taking shape!

The compactor was very busy over the weekend

The compactor, hired from Eagle Plant on the Granby Industrial Estate,  helped to pack the material ready for the top layer of finer material which, weather  permitting, will be delivered next weekend.  The ammonite shell project has taken a lot of hours to construct but we feel that we are nearly there.  Following on then will be sourcing some top soil and start planting up with suitable species to give that Jurassic feel to the garden.