school garden

school garden

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. 

Monday, 17 August 2015

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling,

but in rising every time we fall". 


The garden group were delighted to hear at the Dorset Wildlife Trust event held recently at Sherborne that they won first prize in the 2015 Wildlife friendly and Community garden section.

Along with the certificate were many garden 'goodies' including bird feeders and a variety of seeds which we can sow next Spring.  The event was supported by the Gardens Group.

Despite being the school holidays the garden group continues to meet and work in the garden.  There is always something to be done.  The flower bed alongside the eco-loo is now becoming well established and just last week the 'Ligularia dentata' burst into flower.  A plant much favoured by slugs but they seem to have missed our plant!

Ligularia dentata

Magnificent foliage and flowers
The Persicaria is also flowering well and much favoured by bees


At the back of the Jurassic garden work has proceeded with the viewing platform.  The first job was to erect the main poles which will hold the frame and finished construction

The landscape poles in position

Attention to detail- perfectly upright!
The next stage was to fit supports for the basic frame around the poles.  These were fastened by large bolts 200mm long and secured with nylock nuts and a locking nut to ensure stability.

The poles all in position

The bolted supports

Starting the frame

The frame just about finished
Next weekend the group will proceed with the build by  finishing cutting  the last few frame pieces and getting ready to put down a floor.

It is of course not all gardening and on several  warm evenings  the moth trap was set. The lamp is lit all night long and at early morning the trap is checked.  On the first run we had a good catch.  Many moths are very colourful and decorative.  The smaller moths are a little tricky to identify but will eventually be keyed out.

Common Emerald

Jersey Tiger

Elephant Hawk Moth

Garden Tiger

Grey Dagger

Small Bloodvein

Marbled Green

Bees also continue to figure in the school garden and we are still finding new species.  The is one is a female Hairy-footed Flower Bee!

Hairy-footed flower Bee
The first batch of engraved fossils have arrived and once the Jurassic viewing platform has been completed  they will be installed in the garden around the main ammonite shaped path.   These beautiful pieces were made by local man Phil Anslow

As the summer fades and autumn approaches the vegetables are now at their prime and the harvest has been particularly good.  The carrots though have been a disaster!  Apparently we are not alone and carrots generally this year have been poor.  The crop of Desiree potatoes- lovely red skinned and yellow fleshed- has been very good.

Orange beetroots, courgettes, carrots and turnips

Borlotti beans- a first for the garden and a good crop
It is hoped to get most of the viewing platform finished before the end of term but that depends on weather and availability of materials. One of the main jobs in late autumn/early winter  will be a big tidy up and clean out of the pond which although looks good with all the vegetation does needs cutting back or else it will completely fill the the pond if we are not careful.