school garden

school garden

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Shed Glorious Shed

We don't just have a shed in the school garden we have a glorious, deluxe, first class shed. Of course we didn't choose the shed and neither did we pay for it, that would have been far beyond our means. But we were given it as part of the Dorset Cereals Hampton Court 2008 Best in Show Garden.

You can't really see the shed in this photo but if you look very carefully you can see the green bit below that white bit and that is the living sedum roof (common name Stonecrop) of the shed.
The shed is constructed of oak so will therefore be around long after the rest of us are dust. It came with a built in desk and two long benches. It is very deluxe in the sense that it has its own electricity supply from a small solar panel and wind turbine that feeds into a car battery under the desk. The battery can power the light in the event that anyone should be in the garden in the dark. It can also boil a very small kettle in about half an hour.
The sedum roof came in a roll like a carpet and was laid like a carpet. This week I took a ladder to look at the roof and assess the condition. As you will see from the photos there is some loss of plants but they have re-established themselves between the paving stones at ground level. I have a plan for how we can repair the bald patches which is part of another planned project.
The shed

Patchy in places but still living

The sedum colonising the paving

I am unable to exactly identify this sedum but this link at wikipedia gives lots of details of the species.
The sedum roof really does work as a form of insulation and our shed is lovely and cool in the summer and nice and cosy in the winter.

Lots of teaching resources and garden information

Monday, 20 June 2011

Busy as a bee!

This morning when the temperature was much warmer than in recent days there were a lot of bees foraging in the school garden. On Mr Galloway's class patch of red poppies there were many bumble bees and honey bees all busy collecting pollen. In the photograph below you can see the pollen sack on the bumble bee absolutely bursting with pollen collected during its' visit to the school garden.

The pollen sack is clearly visible on this photograph- the grey  bulge on the leg

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Going Batty!

Last evening we put up two bat boxes on the large Sycamore tree in the school garden. We are hoping that some of the bats which have been seen flying around the garden in the evenings will spot them and move in. The school has been kindly loaned a bat detector by the local RSPB team so on the next warm evening we will pop up to the garden at dusk and try to identify the bats as they fly about hoovering up the moths.

The RSPB Reserve Manager has offered to give us a bat talk so we might take up his kind offer soon

The Bat Detector

The Bat Boxes

In the greenhouse this morning our gourd plants were in flower.The plants are now growing very fast -several inches every day- and they are creeping across the net in the roof of the greenhouse.

The gourd in flower
And finally for today. Those pigeons are back. They have moved on from the peas and now they have found the cabbage plants. For some reason they have not yet found the brussel sprout plants. Let us hope it stays that way!

The pigeon beak marks on one of the cabbage plants

Saturday, 18 June 2011

An Angel Arrived

Sometime over the last couple of days an Angel has arrived in the garden. I have no idea who brought her but she is sitting under a tree in the memory corner, reading a book. A most apt place for her and I hope she likes it there and decides to stay.

An Angel

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Rose Chafer

Recently Pete and I were buzzed by a quite large exotic looking  irridescent green 'thing' which whizzed around our heads several times and then crash landed into one of the garden beds. First impressions were something like a Egyptian Scarab beetle but we managed to catch the insect and put it into a small pot for  identification. It was found to be a Rose Chafer. This is a very local species found only along the South coast of Britain , but widely across Europe. The larvae behave like earthworms creating compost from vegetable matter as they move around under the soil. All in all a useful species to have around.

Rose Chafer larvae

 The Rose Chafer

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Greenhouse Update

The last few warm days have seen temperatures in the greenhouse stay in the 30's even with the doors open. This has had an amazing effect on the plants inside. The papyrus was transplanted into three monster flower pots last week and it has doubled in size and is now throwing up flowering spikes. The gourds seem to grow  in front of your eyes. They have now reached the roof of the greenhouse and will soon need to be trained along the supporting mesh, The rice plants have been re-potted this morning. Small cucumbers are forming and the tomatoes are just showing.

The rice plants in their new pots

The papyrus and the new flowering spikes

The overnight rain has worked wonders on the sweetcorn plants and they are starting to fill out and reach upwards. The Gardening Club are trialing four different sorts of sweetcorn this year. They are growing the usual yellow cobbed variety, and also a purple cobbed variety which has links to the Hopi Indians in North America. The other two varieties on trial are the small cobs you see in the supermarkets in cling film (usually alongside a handful of mange tout) and actual popping corn.If the latter is successful we may be able to make our own popcorn up in the garden one afternoon later in the year.

The Gardening Club's sweetcorn plants

Saturday, 4 June 2011

P is for pigeon - and peas

Whilst walking up the school path earlier 17 wood pigeons flew off from the classroom plots. On inspection it appeared that they had stripped the pea plants back to the stalks and taken a liking for the small beetroot plants by nipping off the leaves from the stem. Those naughty pigeons!

Wood Pigeon looking for more peas

The willow classroom was covered with lots of immature ladybirds. They were munching on the large amounts of both greenfly and blackfly which have taken up refuge there. The picture below shows one creeping up on an unsuspecting greenfly. Hopefully these young ladybirds will find their way to the broad beans in the World War 2 garden where there are plenty of blackfly to feed on!

Immature ladybird creeping up on a greenfly (click to enlarge)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Pond News

The warm weather during May has woken up life in the school pond. Two pairs of frogs laid lots of frogspawn earlier and the tadpoles are now growing fast with many having grown small legs ready to leave the pond very soon.

young frog swimming across the pond

 However the most exciting news is that we have discovered lots of breeding dragonflies and damselflies. The nymph stages of these were seen in early Spring either walking across the bottom of the pond liner or positioned on a plant stem, waiting for prey. These nymphs will eat just about anything which they find or swims by - even a small tadpole. They have large spring-loaded jaws!

Damselfly nymph

Once the nymphs are ready to leave the pond they climb up a suitable plant stem which emerges from the water. This is often done in the early morning. Then the wonderful process of metamorphosis takes place - when a beautiful coloured insect emerges from the dull brown casing. As the insect emerges fluids are pumped into the wings to stretch them until they are perfectrly formed and then the same fluid is taken back into the body to extend the abdomen

an empty dragonfly nymph case (Click to enlarge)

The insects then bask in the sun for a while on the stem of the plant until they are ready to fly. The transformation is truely amazing.

Click to enlarge pictures of the dragonfly

 A recent pond dipping exercise found several very small newts and lots of Water Boatmen
 which were very evident rushing up to the pond surface to collect a bubble of air and then diving back down to the bottom of the pond.

A young Water Boatman-  you can easily see the oars!