school garden

school garden

Sunday, 18 January 2015

'Fear the wolf in front

 and the tiger behind'

A Chinese saying.

With the fine weather continuing the Garden Group have continued work catching up with outstanding jobs. One outstanding job was to create a small fence panel at the entrance- hopefully hiding the immediate view of the Jurassic garden.  With tall planting behind it will help screen the view.  The last bits of the old swimming pool fence were stripped down and reformed to create this panel.  This means that we have managed to upcycle the entire old fence and with just a few 4 inch posts left - which we will use in the compost area upgrade shortly.

the old swimming pool gates

Salvaging the uprights

Just enough for the new panel!
The fence panel was quickly put together and before long was positioned by the entrance gate


Work then moved to the 'pencil' fence at the herb garden.  With the concrete set the section was replaced and all looked good once again

The refurbished 'pencil' fence

 The recent storm force winds which hit the south coast took their toll on the greenhouse.  The morning after revealed that 10 of the laminate sheets had been blown out. Eight of the sheets were found nearby but two were missing.  Once the eight had been repositioned a search was made for the other two.  They were found over the wall and collected later that same day.  The greenhouse is now complete again and we have run  some strong wires along it to hopefully prevent the sheets flying away again

The 40 mph gusts around midnight can be seen

The missing roof panel

They they are!

Wires to hopefully strengthen the laminate sheets

It is that time of year again.  The first daffodil was out fully this year on the 12th January

Our first Daffodil for 2015!

With the flowers tempting Spring so were the birds. The Blue Tits were busy and the female was spotted checking out the nestbox

Anybody in?

Just testing the entrance hole
Great Tits were busy too and two males were establishing territory while the female was seen trying out the damaged bat boxes. Our plants are also doing well.

Tea plants are developing lateral buds

A colourful Winter Pansy

Our Banana Plants

We now await a fine dry weekend for the final delivery of stone to make good the paths.  The cold frame can then be delivered and set in position - all ready for the Spring planting!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Watch your character...

-it becomes your destiny.

A quote from Lao Tze- a philosopher and poet of ancient China

The last weekend saw the garden group start to make good damage, wear and tear over the past season in the garden.  High on the list was the fence post by the main summer house alongside the herb garden.  However once the damaged post had been replaced it became evident that a second post also needing replacing. Luckily we have a good supply of suitable fence posts which we upcycled from the old school swimming pool fence.

The posts were allowed to set hard in the postcrete for a week. The pencils will be replaced next weekend and that will be one job off the list!

Elsewhere in the garden a casual look at the bat boxes revealed that the Great Spotted Woodpecker has been busy sharpening his beak!  Holes have been chipped away in both of the boxes- probably as the bird was seeking out beetle larvae or similar in the only way which it knows how too.  The boxes can possibly be repaired with a new front sections replacing the damaged ones

The damaged bat boxes! 

The colourful ammonites
The colourful ammonites made by the children over a year ago have been put back out into the Jurassic area.  Time is taking its' toll on the wonderful creations and so we decided to put them back out in the garden from the store and let them finish their days overlooking the new garden area

The stump from the old viburnum alongside the green shed was also dug out at last. It put up quite a fight but eventually gave in when a large axe was produced.  The size-able stump will be fed to our shredder later and the recycled chips used on the garden

The cleared area
A new area for garden development
At present we are thinking of building a 'stumpery' here which will contain a few smaller ferns and other suitable plants.  By keeping things low we will be able to show off the magnificent wall which in itself is quite a feature of the garden.

The winter progresses and we have gone past the shortest day which gives us a few minutes more daylight each day now.  There is still a lot of interest as the detail from the grass below shows and also the fruiting berries from the stinking iris which provide some colour at this time of the year

Sunsets feature regularly on our garden blog.  Here is another.  Quite different to those dramatic skies we had a few weeks ago

For stargazers who read the blog look out for Comet Lovejoy which is visible at the moment.  From about 20.30 hrs look for it to the right of Orion.  Check the internet for more details instructions. You will of course need a good clear sky!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

"To ask is no sin...

To be refused is no calamity"

A Russian proverb

The airspace above the garden  is usually taken by large airliners flying to and from the Caribbean and South American destinations.  However this strange craft was observed recently hovering over the Jurassic Garden. It stayed briefly and then disappeared.  Later the owner provided us with some aerial photographs of our latest project taken by the drone.

photograph courtsey of JJ Studios

photograph courtesy of JJ Studios
The pictures show clearly the ammonite shape and provided us with a quite different view of the garden.

Some winter flowering pansies have been planted to brighten up the garden  but there is till a lot of colour remaining.

 Alongside the greenhouse the ground has been prepared and a new area designated for the cold frame kindly donated by the Dorset Gardens Trust. The cold frame will be assembled and positioned in the New Year.  The sheltered area by the green house was deemed the best location for this.

Two plastic planks left over made a good shape

Once the membrane had been laid to stop the weeds from coming through some spare limestone chippings were put inside and the cold frame base made good. The cold frame will be a useful asset to the garden enabling young plants to be hardened off once taken out of the greenhouse.

The greenhouse has become a holding bay for many plants which will remain there now until the Spring.  Then they will be planted in the Jurassic Garden.  We have been kindly given a good range of magnificent plants including some very large ferns

Ferns and Banana plants


Various large leaved plants

The insectivorous plants are shutting down for the winter period.
Sweet pea seeds have been planted and will remain in the greenhouse for the time being.  They should start growing soon and will be stopped to keep then tight and bushy ready for planting out in the Spring.

Finally insects are still on the wing even this late into December.  Buff-tailed bumble bees are still regularly observed and both Red Admiral and Peacock butterflies have been seen recently.  An ichneumon wasp was seen apparently drinking from rain spots on a car!

Ichneumon wasp
These insects are a tricky group to sort out and a microscope is needed to key out the species concerned.

The school breaks up on friday for the Christmas holidays. We take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

"It is better to have less thunder in the mouth....

and more lightning in the hand"

An Apache Indian saying from North America

The third load of aggregate has been delivered by Portland Stone and now been put into position which has finally completed the paths in the Jurassic area.  This means that over the past few weeks the garden group has wheel-barrowed  some 34 tons of aggregate.  There is just one more 5 ton load to be delivered.  This will be a much smaller grade of stone to finish off  and make good the surface.

The third load!

Spreading it out

Almost there

Finished at last!

View from the gate

The completed Ammonite shaped path

The fine weather continues although with a few colder nights.  In the garden several butterflies have been observed -both Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell have been seen flying and basking in the sunshine.  Buff-tailed bumble-bees are still on the wing and have been seen all week.

Buff-tailed Bumble-bee

Flowers still hang on even in the first week of December.  Begonias, marigolds, echiums and Cupid's Dart are all still in bloom.

Cupid's Dart

On Saturday the garden held host to the Holy Trinity Church Carol Service.  The school welcomed some 100 adults and children.  We especially welcomed our friends from Highclere House who braved the (not too chilly) evening.  The gardens were floodlit and hot chocolate was provided for those attending.  The school choir led the singing and we thank Mrs de Chazel for arranging the songs and encouraging participation.

Welcoming hot chocolate

Tea lights picked out the paths

A reflection in the school pond

Carol singers around the willow classroom

The colourful scene  along the wall

The Sycamore trees bathed in colour

Another shot of the Sycamore trees and the full moon rising

A dramatic shot

The next task for the garden group is to prepare the area ready for the cold frame which has been kindly donated by the Dorset Gardens Trust. Work will now proceed with this project and hopefully the chosen site will be ready by Christmas. The finishing of the Jurassic paths will be completed early in the new year which will give the aggregate time to settle properly.