Monday, 7 July 2014

A wonderful afternoon

"He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger"


The weather was kind to us on our afternoon garden open day. We enjoyed a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon.  The school recorder group and the choir performed on the wonderful stage that is the pond dipping platform.  A place for live music if ever there was one.

There were many games about the grounds of the garden which were busy for most of the afternoon.

Refreshments were available on the school drive selling tea, coffee, squash and home made cakes.

Around the garden our visitors commented on the colours and vast array of plants.

The helpers bed
Large blue gladioli

Geranium 'Rozanne'

The pink dwarf geranium bed

Lilies on the pond

New to science!
Pitcher plants in the greenhouse

Turnip patch

White Onions

Mange tout

Finally a huge thank you to all the helpers, without who we could not have functioned and also a huge thank you to the Friends of Holy Trinity for their help and support.  We made £252 on the day which will be used in the Jurassic Garden.  Now that the land has been cleared we hope after the NGS weekend to continue with the project laying the Ammonite shaped path and infilling with a suitable medium from Portland Quarries.

If you missed the Open day do not fear! The NGS weekend is Saturday July 19th and Sunday July 20th.  All are welcome.  This prestigious event raises funds for charity and we look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Garden open day

A quick blog update to confirm that the school garden open day will be this coming Saturday July 5th from 14.00 to 16.30.  There will be plenty of games to challenge visitors and refreshments.

A very pastel shaded Penstemon

The more traditional shade of Penstemon
 Bees are very fond of Penstemon flowers.  They can often be seen landing on the lip of the flower and walking in to collect the pollen

This flower appeared in the greenhouse today- one of the gourds

The bloom of a dinosaur gourd- now flowering in the greenhouse

Members of the garden group will be on hand to answer questions and we hope our visitors enjoy the experience.  The main reason for the open day is of course funds.  We are desperate to continue with the Jurassic Garden.  The next stage will be laying out and putting down the ammonite shaped path.  We have the path edging material but funds will be needed for the infill and then to start planting up with large ferns and other suitable plants.

The pond is looking good at the moment and we are trying to keep on top of the wretched algae which has appeared. As soon as it is removed it returns by the next day.

The school pond
Finishing on a natural history thread.  This quite large excavation was spotted this afternoon. It has been made by one of the mining bees. The insect could be seen sat just inside the structure but could not be tempted out for identification.  It is probably one of the Andrena sp.

Lastly another parastic bee was spotted yesterday around the vegetable beds.  It awaits identification.  It was watching other small bees waiting to move in when the chance arose.

The parasitic bee- which resembles a wasp!

We look forward to welcoming you on Saturday.  The weather forecast is good.  There is much to see and enjoy in the garden and we hope that your generosity will help us move forward with the Jurassic phase of the school garden.

Once again  Saturday July 5th  from 14.00 to 16.30

Thursday, 26 June 2014

At last......!

In what can only be described as a 'blogflash' the very  latest good news is that on tuesday Henry arrived at 8.00am with his digger and has now prepared the ground ready for the garden group to proceed with the Jurassic Garden project.

The ground was first raked and we now have a large pile of 'stuff' to get rid of but most of it is of an organic nature so we can compost a lot of it down.  The larger pieces will be taken to the green skip at the recycling centre as we cannot really handle them.

The machine did in five hours what the garden group would have taken weeks to do. There is a little bit of work to finish off and then we can mark out and start the ammonite shaped path.  We already have the path edging and posts- made from recycled plastic

The Jurassic Garden will not happen over night. There is still a lot of manual work to be done and of course we need funds to purchase the expensive large ferns,shrubs etc fitting for such a garden.

More reason to visit us then on July 5th when the garden is open.  Final details later

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The bigger picture...

Over the weekend the garden group discovered some very interesting insects. A couple of them were new to our ever growing list.  All were found close to the HQ building where the hive of activity this weekend was the very industrious sight of small black mining bees digging up sand from between the bricks.  These excavations were not made by ants but by small black bees.  These small bees were very busy digging into the sand between the bricks where the females would have laid an egg. The bee would then fly off for a few sorties gathering pollen which it stored in the hole underground for the larva to feed on once the egg had hatched.

Excavated sand between the bricks

 Bee excavating hole in the sand

Close up of one of the mining sp.bee

Hopefully we can identify this species from close up photographs. There are several small black mining bees. Andrena, Halictus and Lasioglossum are all small ground nesting bee families

At that point we can move onto the next insect.  A Nomad bee - a cleptoparasite- which preys on ground nesting bees.  This insect Nomada goodeniana waits close by and watches the female bee as she digs the burrow and lays her egg. Then while the bee is off foraging for pollen to store underground this nomad bee nips in quick and lays her egg.  A sort of cuckoo!  The nomad larva has a ready supply of pollen handy collected by somebody else!

Nomada goodeniana- a cleptoparasite bee

The next insect was most likely Ectemnius cavifrons. This is a wasp which preys on hoverflies.  There were plenty of hoverflies around the HQ shed.  It was first spotted flying around one of the apple trees then settled on the kiwi plant.  It was a much larger insect than the previous Nomad bee. It was eventually tracked down and caught while trying to enter a small hole in the wooden structure of the HQ shed. The pictures below are from the internet.  We hope to have our own pictures in the next few days and will publish them.

Ectemnius cavifrons- a hunting wasp

Ectemnius cavifrons- hunting wasp.

Just another example of the wonderful world in which we live in.  Attention to detail and acute observation with an awareness of our surroundings reveals a lot. There is much to learn. Even in the world of insects - and these are quite small insects- there is so much interest.


"Weeds are flowers too, when you get to know them"

a quote from Eyore, Winnie-the-Pooh.  A.A.Milne

The garden group celebrated the longest day on Saturday with a timely BBQ. Our weekend entomologist cooked for us and made a splendid job. With Rosemary clippings  thrown onto the hot coals the food tasted wonderful. It is hoped that this summer the weather will be kinder and allow more BBQs in this magnificent setting

On the following day though we turned to the jobs in hand.  A lot was done in what proved to be a very hot day.  The temperature in the greenhouse at midday with both doors open and the roof vents was +33C.  The tea plants and the rice plants are enjoying the heat and growing well.

The first job was to tidy the tool shed and by the time we had finished it looked ready for another six months

The tidy tool shed

Around the garden things are growing fast.  There are still a few class beds which have not been planted up though.  Hopefully they will be within the next week or so.

General view towards the Orchard

The hanging baskets have been positioned now- Begonia 'Inferno'

The Runner Beans are growing fast with plenty of flowers
A walk around at the end of the day revealed a splendid array of flowers which were looked at in detail

Californian Poppy

Californian Poppy in detail

Passion flower

The bed of Thyme

A showy clematis

A more delicate clematis- resembling the native ones found in Europe


The final job of the day was to tidy the summer house or garden HQ as we call it.  As the weather looked good for the next week we decided to put out some of the pupils craft objects from last year which we have kept under cover over winter.

In fine weather  the newly installed windmills were enjoying the gentle breeze.  As we left the Aeolian wind pipes started to play.  A productive weekend for the garden group

Windmill enjoying the light breeze
As a footnote and reminder the Garden Open Day will be July 5th. More details nearer the day. Offers of help are welcome and can be left in the school office.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught"

Oscar Wilde

This weekend the garden group has been busy tidying up and slowly getting the garden ready for the Open Day (more later) and the National Garden Scheme Open days on July 19th and 20th.

The recent spell of warm weather has brought a lot of the plants on and they have made considerable growth.  The vegetables in particular have made a lot of progress.

The Mange tout are flowering well now and the first of the the crop has appeared
Mange Tout have to be picked hard once the pods start forming.  The harder you pick them the more you get.  The taste is fantastic when freshly picked - even when eaten raw! 

The Broad Beans have been attacked by Blackfly but a fine spray of soapy water should help

The James Grieve apple tree in the WW2 garden has plenty of fruit this year

The potato crop is just starting to flower.
The un-mown patches of long grass are paying off and insect life has increased considerably.  Not only it is environmentally more friendly, the sea of flowering grass heads looks amazing in the evening light.

The sea of flowering grasses in the pond area
Plenty of butterflies have been seen over the weekend and the third record of the Rose Chafer.  The bright emerald green beetle whirring around crash landing into the humus rich soil.

The Rose Chafer
The insect was watched as it dug into the ground and laid eggs in the compost

Common Blue (male)

Red Admiral

Speckled Wood
The school garden has a good population of Speckled Wood butterflies.  They favour the area around the willow classroom which offers the dappled shade which they like

Finally a mention that it is intended to open the School garden on July 5th from 14.00-16.30.  More details later but it is hoped that refreshments will be served and a range of games set up in and around the school grounds for all to enjoy.  Watch this space!