school garden

school garden

Monday, 27 March 2017

"Real knowledge is to know the extent

of one's ignorance"


The fine weather over the weekend meant that a lot of outstanding jobs in the garden could be executed.  One of the jobs was the rebuilding of the raised bed in the church funded area of the garden.  The old wooden retaining posts had come to the end of their days and need replacing urgently before the bed collapsed. This area is the only place in the garden where we record the Lesser Stag Beetle.

The old rotten posts are removed for recycling

Half way through the renovation

The finished raised bed with new posts

The bee and butterfly beds also received a lot of attention.  Tidying up, weeding and replanting all took place over the weekend

Over the weekend several species of bee were recorded- buff-tailed, white-tailed and red-tailed bumble bees, andrena clarkella and the handsome Tawny Mining -bee Andrena fulva.  A couple of early wasps were also noted and Peacock and Small Tortoishell butterflies.

Andrena clarkella

Red-tailed Bumble bee

White-tailed Bumble bee

Work started on the willow classroom which has an annual haircut at this time of year to help regain the original shape.   Many of the smaller whips were bundled and put in a bucket to root as infill when the repair work starts in earnest next month.  Larger lengths of willow will be sourced from nearby Abbotsbury Swannery.
Th willow cuttings
Cutting back to shape

At least three pairs of Robins have territories which abut in the garden.  One pair is nesting behind the sheds just over the wall.  They are all very confiding and are always keen to spot garden volunteers as they know that there will be a good chance of an easy meal

One of our friendly Robins
With Spring now well underway the Blue Tits and Great Tits are sorting out who moves into which nest box.  The Blue tits have staked their original claim.  They have nested in here for four years now.  The Great tits have settled for the box by the sheds.

The female Blue tit checking things out!
 In the tropical bed the Melianthus is flowering.  This magnificent lush plant enjoys the sunny position here and is covered with pendulous purple flowers

Melianthus major

The banana plants are making strong growth after the winter months
Many of the early spring flowers are now going over.  This year we have had stunning displays of daffodils and crocus.  The small iris reticulata were the best for several years but alas they do not last long!

Crocus and daffodils

A crocus ring

iris reticulata

Minature tete-a-tetes

The Rheum palmatum is growing well.
 As Sunday drew to a close white whisps of cloud appeared to end what had been a very constructive and busy weekend.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

"An ounce of practice..

is worth more than a ton of preaching"


The weather warmed up considerably over the weekend and allowed some work to continue in the garden.  The enhancement and repair work for the willow classroom continued with a start being made on shredding the smaller branches.  The shredded bark has been distributed in the woodland walk to improve the path through there.

The warmer weather has triggered the frogs!  A slight change in water temperature and they come from nowhere and start laying frogspawn.   This year we have more than ever before which means that our pond and garden are in a very healthy state and frogs are surviving to return to their native pond.  A lot of pictures of the frogs but they have a magnetic appeal about them splashing and croaking in the pond.

In the greenhouse the crassulas are flowering well now.  we have waited a couple of years for this event.  The small, simple delicate flowers are pleasing to the eye

The sundew plants and venus fly traps are also awakening from the winter shutdown

Elsewhere Spring is in the air.  The Corsican Hellabore is in flower and nearby a lot of Pulmonaria is in flower.  This plant produces early flowers for bees.  There are few other options available for the bees at this time of year

On a Calendula flower an Angle Shades moth caterpillar was basking in the sunshine

Daffodils, yellow and blue crocuses are now flowering and the few bees and hoverflies on the wing were visiting them on Saturday afternoon.  Also seen was a Peacock and a Small Tortoisehell butterfly

Finally our Echium russula plants are doing well in the cold frame.  These will be transplanted out later and the bees will enjoy them

Monday, 16 January 2017

"Speak well of others..

not of their faults"


A gap in the weekend weather allowed a couple of hours in the garden to continue tidying up.  Work commenced on cutting up the field maple branches.  These have been separated into brash , small timber and bigger timber.  The lengths of timber will eventually be stacked in the woodland walk to make a bug hotel.  The brash, which is an important part of forestry in general, will be shredded and the chippings put back into the garden around the raised beds.  Nothing will be wasted.

All sorted. The brash to one side and the lengths of timber

Already with the removal of the field maples it was noted that the late afternoon winter sun was touching the willow classroom which means that in Spring and Summer the classroom will get all day sunshine which will  help the structure to recover.

Late afternoon sun hitting the willow classroom
Elsewhere general tidying was undertaken by garden volunteers.  There are a lot of leaves to take off of the beds and allow light to hit the many bulbs which are just poking above the ground.  As mentioned the daffodils are on the verge of bursting into flower.  The cold snap has put them back a little but the first should be in flower next weekend.

Daffodils waiting to burst open!

The periwinkle is flowering.  These lovely pastel blue flowers are a delight to the eye in the winter months.

Periwinkle flower (Vinca)

Nearby the Corsican Hellabore is about to flower.  There strange plants produce curious clusters of flowers.  This year once the flowering period is over the plant will be cut back to promote new growth from the centre.

As the day finished and the sun set in the west the grass garden came into its' own.  Backlit from the sun these grasses looked resplendent

The fading sunlight through the grass garden

There is always much to be done in the garden and as Winter slowly becomes Spring work in the garden  increases and the group always welcome new faces.  If you would like to volunteer and help manage this wonderful education asset to the school please get in touch with the office.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

"Nothing ever goes away..

until it has taught us what we need to know"

Pema Chodian

An American Tibetan Buddhist Nun

The garden has been ticking over during the Christmas and New Year festivities.  The soil has been too wet to work without causing damage so tidying up here and there, routine maintenance and repairing has been the order of the day.  There are still a lot of flowers out and have been over the New Year.

Geranium 'Rozanne' is still in flower much to the pleasure of the few bees still about

Bright Calendula's

Even Strawberries are flowering and forming!

The last of the raspberries- the blackbirds haven't found them yet!

The peanut butter plant is thriving in the shelter of banana plants and gingers

Colourful 'Salvia' still flowering in profusion

Attractive seed head of the ginger giving some winter interest

Plenty of interest in the grass garden

The grass garden

Iris reticulata appearing under the paper bark birch tree

In the Jurassic garden the chain ferns are slowing increasing in size.  By next summer they should look spectacular.  The name is derived from the delicate marking on the fronds

Chain Fern

One of the tit nest boxes had been destroyed by a Great-spotted Woodpecker who enlarged the hole looking for food inside.  They will often take young chicks from a box in the breeding season.  A new front has been made for the box and then re-positioned.

The damaged front to the nest box

All made good and ready for 2017!

Over the past two years the willow classroom has slowly been dying off on one corner of the structure.  This is because the Field Maples which were planted prior to the willow classroom have now grown so large and tall that they are starving the willow of light for photosynthesis of the leaves and also taking ground water away which willow thrives on.  These Field Maples have been cut down and then fresh Willow can be sourced, rooted and planted to replace to dead area.  The Field Maples trunks will be coppiced at ground level to encourage new growth but this will now be kept at a reasonable height to avoid further damage to the classroom.

The smaller sticks and branches will be fed into our shredder and used on the garden and the larger branches will be sawn into sensible lengths and positioned in the woodland walk to create a wildlife hotel which beetles will favour.  Nothing will be wasted or removed from the garden!

The first stage of managing the Field Maples

Nearby the Hazel has produced catkins

The first Hazel catkins of the year.

Finally in the shelter of the garden amongst the woodland walk the daffodils are about to burst into flower.  This is always a high point of the year in the school garden.  Hopefully the next blog update will feature daffodils in flower!