Saturday, 12 April 2014


“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”


The garden group met early this morning to take advantage of the good weather. The first job was to empty a compost bin and distribute the contents on the runner bean bed.  The compost was dug into  a trench under the soil.  This will help retain moisture later in the year and help the plants grow steadily and also help to beans to set- providing the bees have done their work first!

Our own compost!

An hour later- the canes are up and the seeds sown

In the other corner  the Memory Garden was given a make over after the storms of February when the blackboard was damaged and the the strings holding the pegs to the hanging sticks were frayed badly.

In the greenhouse the rice plants were pricked out and placed in our paddy field.  We grew rice two years ago with great success. We are hoping to repeat this success this year. 

The paddy field

Alongside the rice we potted on our five tea bushes.  These were grown from seeds in the propagator and are related to Camelias.  We hope that after spending the first year in the greenhouse we can plant them out into the garden and they will grow into decent bushes.  The idea of picking our own tea sounds good!

The five tea plants

Close up of the tea plant

We are watching the pitcher plants which have flowering stems on them.  One flower is almost fully open.  A strange looking flower which is hard to photograph

The pitcher plant flower from underneath!
The Amelanchier is in flower.  It has delicate white flowers which unfortunately do not last very long.


Several artificial bee nests were installed. 7mm diameter straws will hopefully  entice the bees to nest- probably the red mason bee Osmia rufa. These bees nest successfully in the small bamboos which have put up for them.  Smaller tubes made  from reed stems will be erected shortly for smaller species of bees.

Artificial bee nest site

Colour is still prevalent in the garden as the wall flowers go past their best and the summer flowers start to appear

Finally as the garden group finished for the day with a mug of tea the coastguard helicopter made a few low passes over the garden. Perhaps they had heard that the kettle was on!

The coastguard helicopter

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Spring at last!

" Unless a tree has borne blossoms in Spring you will vainly look for fruit on it in Autumn!

A quote from Walter Scott.

Walking around the garden this afternoon in the sunshine it would have been easy to forget the battering which we took in February. The birds were singing and around every corner there was a sign of re-birth.

The pear tree is covered with blossom this year

The apple tree has responded well to the good prune we gave it!

 In the greenhouse things are moving as well.  The potatoes are ready to plant out this coming weekend and the agastache and ageratum seedlings have matured. The flowers on the pitcher plants continue to develop and we are waiting to see the results!

In the World War 2 garden the broad beans are growing well. The potatoes will be planted in the bed alongside them.

The one insect that we cannot do without is the bumble bee.  Both red tailed and buff tailed bumble bees were busy.  This red tailed bumble bee was spotted on the borage flowers.

Returning to the opening quote from Walter Scott.  We have blossom on the fruit trees so we eagerly await the fruit in the Autumn!  The garden group will be active over the weekend catching upon a few jobs.  The main one will be emptying the compost bins and digging what we can to enrich the ground with our own compost.

Finally the echiums are stretching out and reaching for the sky. It will not be long before they are covered in small blue flowers and covered in bees

Spring at last!
Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn.

Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The new screens are completed

On sunday the garden group dismantled the last two remaining old hazel hurdles and replaced them with the new reed screens. The screens are fairly simple to construct but getting the battens level and pleasing to the eye is most important.  Once in situ the reeds are dropped down between the two holding battens. There is a technique to this.  Two bundles are positioned in their normal position and then the third is positioned upside down.  This maintains the thickness of the screen from top to bottom and also stops the reed from leaning to one side. Once packed tightly the battens are nailed and screwed firmly together holding the reeds in place.  Finally a hedge cutter is run along the top of the reeds to get a good finish.

All ready to start
The battens are in place

The finished piece- click to enlarge picture

A lovely natural screen!

Working with reed produces a lot of debris. Four wheelbarrow loads of off cuts and broken reed were taken to the compost area

One of four wheelbarrow loads of off-cuts

In the greenhouse it appears that the pitcher plants might be going to produce flowers. Strange growth spurts have appeared in recent days.  Some of the plants are now big enough to split and divide and plant up again giving us more plants.

We await to see what nature has to show us.  It will certainly be worth waiting for.

Finally the rhubarb crown was moved recently from out of the old tractor tyre where it had been for the past five years or so.  It was considered that not enough light reached the plant and it did not really produce a great deal of rhubarb stems.  The plant was moved and split and the crowns covered with  large plant pots to force and encourage growth.  The plants are now doing very well.

Friday, 21 March 2014

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success"

We title this blog post with a quote from Henry Ford.

The school garden group works in a similar fashion.  Members of the garden group (small as it is) are from all walks of life with a similar vision.  That vision maintains a passion for the environment, education, creation  and enjoyment.  Those four topics bind the group closely together and the empathy and creativity between individuals has since September 2008 turned the garden into what it is now.

This year the big challenge for the group is the construction of the Jurassic Garden. We are fortunate in having a template to work from kindly produced by our friends at Kingston Maurward College.  The Jurassic garden will test the group considerably and offer many challenges.  However the project took a large step forward this week with brick  rubble moved into place which will form the base of the ammonite shaped path.

About the garden things are moving.  Class2P has kick started things and their potatoes have been planted.

Class 2P - first off the mark!

In one of the daffodils a snail was spotted hiding. It looks as if it had been eating several of the petals first before it decided to try to hide. Several bumblebees were also noted in the daffodil flowers- buff tailed and red tailed bumblebees were actively feeding from one flower to another.

Snail trying to hide in the daffodil

The last two hazel hurdles which arrived with the garden in 2008 have finally started to fall apart.  It is intended to replace them with a reed screen as we did before.  However these will be much lower to allow more light into the growing area.  The reed was kindly donated by our friends at  Abbotsbury Swannery.  It is hoped that the new reed screens will be completed in the next day or two.

Reed and battens ready for the new screens

Proof that there is beauty in everything.  A casual glance to the skies at the end of the day revealed this amazing cloud formation. Nature cannot be beaten for continually producing beauty and form.

Finally while sorting out the clematis and jasmine plants on the pergola an old friend was discovered covered in grass and debris from the two storms back in February.

Our frog wind vane lives on after a clean up and quick refurbishment!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Things are buzzing.......!

This last weekend got off to a good start with a new bee species identified in the garden. It was a mining bee and one of the earliest to emerge in the Spring.  It is called Andrena clerkella and is seen usually around sallow which is flowering now in the garden at the outside classroom. 

The black facial hairs help with the identification of this species.  An attractive bee of which we shall probably see more of over the next week or so.  A second record for the garden of Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) was made as it fed in one of the Daffodil flowers.  By the size of the insect it was a queen.  Also a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee was seen resting on the grass.

Tree Bumblebee

Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee
In the pond lots of water boatmen were enjoying the fine weather and a couple of pond skaters.  The net was removed as the winter has hopefully passed and the huge amount of frog spawn was clearly visible.  Already the 'full stops' are becoming 'commas'. 

Masses of frog spawn on the pond edge

The tadpoles are developing already

The daffodils are hanging on in the fine weather and the crocuses are probably at their best now.  They will soon be gone!  The bees are enjoying them though while they are still there

Work continued in the greenhouse and hopefully during the week the first load of brick rubble can be broken up and put into the base of the Jurassic garden.

The ever present Herring Gulls - now paired up and looking for nesting sites kept a close eye on us.