school garden

school garden

Sunday, 16 December 2012

(Almost) End of term update

A quiet week in the garden with job list made for the start of next term.  One of the first jobs will be the creation of a reed screen around the compost bins.

The posts and battens have been sourced and our friends from Abbotsbury Swannery will deliver twelve bundles of cut reeds to us at the start of the new term. A reed screen will look natural in the garden and should last several years before we replace the reeds.  The degradation of the reeds will depend on the weather.  Talking of the weather here is the previous weeks data



02-Dec SUN 2.7 10.2 4.4 5.8 Cyclonic 0.6 1016
03-Dec MON 5.7 11.6 5.1 9.5 NW 0.6 1009
04-Dec TUES 3.1 9.1 4.8 7.1 NW/NE 1.2 1005
05-Dec WEDS 1.5 6.4 3.4 8.2 NNW O.3 1013
06-Dec  THUR -1.1 7.8 6.5 13.3 SW 0.3 1012
07-Dec FRI 3.3 9.7 7.5 10.5 W/NW 9.6 1014
08-Dec SAT 4.7 11.1 4.4 5.4 W/SW 0 1025

Work has also started on the Aeolian Wind Organ.  Inspired by this magnificent spectacle on the cliff top at Portland during the Harmonic Fields Exposition at the end of the Olympics we are going to create a smaller scale wind organ in the garden.  The slots are cut in the bamboo and the edges filed to 45 degrees. As the wind passes over the slots a beautiful gentle note is emitted. Only heard if the ear is positioned near to the bamboo.

Little wildlife in the garden today except a cloud of Woodpigeons which took off on arrival. They have made short work of what was left of the purple sprouting plants.

Finally the last weeks weather

09-Dec SUN 5.5 9.1 3.4 6.1 cyclonic 0 1021
10-Dec MON 0.8 8.9 3.1 5.1 N/NW 0 1024
11-Dec TUES -0.2 6.4 1.4 3.1 N/NE 0 1026
12-Dec WEDS 0.4 7.2 4.4 7.1 SE 0 1012
13-Dec THURS 2.25 7.5 3.1 5.4 cyclonic 0 998
14-Dec FRI 6.9 11 6.8 9.9 SE 10.5 992
15-Dec SAT 8.8 11.9 5.1 9.2 SW 0.6 990

Some weather statistics before we close;

Over the last month the rainfall reading is 503mm.  The strongest wind recorded was  23.5 mph and the strongest gust of wind was 37.4 mph. The lowest temperature at the school garden recorded was -1.2C and the highest temperature was +16C. The lowest windchill factor was -4.6C.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

A garden first.................

Today was a good day for a little pond management cutting back around the edges and removing the leaves which had crept in under our net.  Other water plants were thinned in order to keep the pond open and more valuable to wildlife rather than a mass of tangled weeds and roots. During the work 5 frogs were found under the frog house and a single pond skater was enjoying the sunshine as it skitted about the pond surface.

With still conditions prevailing a net was put up in the bird garden with the hope of catching and ringing some.  The best bird caught was a female Firecrest, a new bird on the garden list, but a couple of Goldcrests were also caught and some Long-tailed tits, Blue Tits and a Chaffinch.  A male Sparrowhawk continued to visit the garden in late afternoon which put an end to the ringing. The Firecrest weighed 5.2 gms which is about the same as a bank credit card!


Firecrest -click once on picture to enlarge

Long-tailed Tit



Pond after a tidy-up!

Our second weather review of the previous week.  Temperatures dropped at the end of the week but very little rain and the wind eased considerably.


25-Nov   SUN 12.1 8.8 8.2 12.6 SE 4.2 1009
26-Nov   MON 9.5 6.2 4.8 6.5 SW 1.2 995
27-Nov   TUES 9.2 6 5.8 9.9 NWW 1.5 1008
28-Nov   WEDS 7.5 3.5 4.4 8.5 N 2.7 1012
29-Nov   THURS 9.1 0.7 2.7 3.4 N 0 1010
30-Nov   FRI 8.3 0.1 0.7 1.4 NW 0 1011
01-Dec   SAT 10.1 2.4 2.7 3.4 NWW 0 1014

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Number crunching...

The first report from our weather station can be displayed


    DATE    DAY
18-Nov    SUN   13 4.4m/s 5.8m/s     SE 2.4mm 1008
19-Nov    MON   12.8 6.5m/s 9.9m/s     SE 0.3mm 1001
20-Nov    TUES   13.6 7.1m/s 10.5m/s     S/SE 46.8mm 1001
21-Nov    WEDS   13.2 5.1m/s 8.2m/s     S/SE 46mm 1007
22-Nov    THUR   13.3 7.8m/s 14.6m/s     SE 29.4mm 1005
23-Nov    FRI   13.9 4.4m/s 6.1m/s     SW 0.6mm 1008
24-Nov    SAT   12.7 7.1m/s 10.2m/s     SE 28.5mm 1007

If you remember Tuesday and Wednesday were downpours all day and kick started the serious flooding across South West Britain.

Yesterday the raspberry canes were planted in what was the old strawberry bed. In the greenhouse the sweet pea seeds were planted to give them a head start again ready for planting out in the Spring.

On the very last of the Ivy flowers the last few Ivy Colletes  bees were making the most of the weather (and the flowers). But with the flowers all but over it was evident from the not-so-bulging pollen sacks that the year was nearly over for these bees.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

(Almost) A perfect pair...

Today the garden volunteers braved the heavy downpours and blustery wind to relocate the second palm tree and plant it alongside the other in the garden.  For the time being we have finished tampering with the skyline!

The new palm trees have given definition to the main garden entrance, and although the Jurassic Garden is still at planning stage, when it is completed these trees will lead visitors,staff and children away from the Jurassic area and into the garden proper.

After fine tuning over the first week or so the weather station was downloaded today at the end of the first week proper. The radio transmitter from the weather station sends regular signals to the base unit and these are recorded  in 30 minute intervals. After a week there is a lot of data to sift through!  We are quickly learning how to interpret the data.  Initially  looking at the wind data over the last week two significant peaks were noted.  On the 22nd November the wind gusted at  24mph in the late afternoon.  However on the 25th November at 6am  the wind gusted at 32mph from the SW.

We have lots of numbers to look at and hope to produce a weekly review of the weather at Holy Trinity Environmental Garden.

Friday, 23 November 2012

That changing sky line.......

Once again the garden volunteers have been tampering with the skyline over the school garden.  It all started last sunday when we were offered two mature palm trees for the school garden. The following pictures highlight the journey of the first tree.

This afternoon the tree was planted at the entrance to the garden.  It is hoped that over the weekend the second tree can be transported and planted.

Whilst on the subject of trees the 'paper bark' birch trees which adorn the entrance to the Memory Garden are looking magnificent.

In the harsh light of Winter the almost tissue thin white bark purports a harsh contrast to the brown and grey colours  left in the garden.

Finally as the day came to a close one of the local  Robins burst forth into song in the Sycamore tree above our heads.  This melancholic winter song has replaced the happy song of summer. Reminding us that it is a long hard road for the next few months!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Weather the weather.....

The English are known for their obsession with the weather.  Indeed Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying that "conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative". That may be so but for many of us it is day to day conversation and those with hobbies and interests in the weather we cannot leave the topic alone.

Throwing caution to the wind on sunday the garden volunteers installed a full blown weather station.  The data collected will be of use to individuals but also hopefully to the school as the collected data can be 'number crunched' into graphs and charts. Working with  figures is great for education. Master figures and you have the world at your feet.

A new feature on the skyline

A closer look as you walk up the path will reveal the weather station

Inside the main shed is the display screen.  Staff and pupils are welcome to look at the screen and take daily notes if they wish.  Please though do not touch or move the display screen as it is quite fragile. All the data will be downloaded each week and the information then made available to the school if teachers would like to use the data  as a tool to aid, and further, education.

We started this topic with a quote, so we will finish with another quote, about the weather.  Mark Twain commented that "Climate is what we expect but weather is what we get"


A lot of people decry Ivy but in the right place it is of great value especially at this time of year.  It provides some of the last flowers of the year and many insects can often be found on a sunny day making the most of this.  Yesterday the Ivy flowers about the school garden were covered in bees and hoverflies.  The prominent bee though was the Ivy Colletes (Colletes hederae).  This is a solitary, mining bee which occurs along the coast in Southern England and across Europe.  The females are a little larger than the males.  They look a little wasp like but they are certainly bees.  They were very busy as they have to seal the egg chambers which are underground with a pollen/honey mix for the emerging adult next August or September. 

The beauty of digital cameras is that you do not waste a roll of film just to get a couple of half decent pictures.  Many pictures were taken but only three were considered for the blog


In all the pictures the pollen sacs ( the bulging yellow things which look like bicycle panniers) can be seen to be very full indicating the importance of this plant.  The insect has orange brown hairs on the thorax.  The striped body could give an immediate impression of a wasp.

Honey bees were also in evidence and several Hoverflies including the Dronefly, as it is called, Eristalis tenex.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

They must have been listening....

Having mentioned in the last blog that the Living Stones would soon be flowering it was quite remarkable this morning to glance at  them whilst tidying the greenhouse and there they were

Living Stones about to flower

A glance around the garden showed the leaves on many plants turning as Autumn is calling them to sleep for the Winter

 Autumn often tests the artists pallette

Wildlife is hanging on. A Migrant Hawker dragonfly was flitting about under the Sycamore trees for a while, a Red Admiral butterfly was plying the Ivy flowers along the boundary fence and a few Wasps were busy on the last remaining flowering heads of the cabbage plants.  On the bird front a new species for the garden- Brambling-  was noted. They replace the Chaffinch in the far north. They are orange rather than pink and when they fly away from you reveal a white rump.  The numbers which visit depend on the success or failure of the Beech mast crop.

There have been  large numbers of Jays about this Autumn - indeed three in the school grounds at the end of last week.  These are Continental birds which have left due to the Acorn crop failure.there.  Flocks of them were seen at coastal locations and in Britanny, France similar large numbers were seen two weeks ago.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Up the garden path!

Today whilst dodging the afternoon showers the path to the eco-loo was constructed. At 1pm our friends from Doonan's delivered the dry mix and it was then a bit of a rush to get the path laid.  The shuttering and hardcore had already been positioned so on paper it would not take long to make good.  It seems a long time since we were at this stage

But at last we are now at this stage

A smaller path was also laid connecting the garden to the Garden Club beds

A busy day with the compost bins successfully moved away from the entrance and some general tidying up. The class beds are clear and ready for 2013 and our locally made compost has been distributed on some of the beds with more to follow.

At the close of day an interesting insect was noted on the roof of one of the cars.  An Oak Bush-cricket.  Usually seen indoors on the wall of the living room in the summer, as they are nocturnal, and often fly into a room where the light has been on and the window open.

Oak Bush-cricket

It will soon be time to start overwintering the Pitcher Plants and those Living Stones should soon be in flower.
A timely reminder that summer may be hanging on  was the fact that a Red Admiral butterfly was seen this afternoon in the garden.

Monday, 17 September 2012

A sneaky preview.....

Over the last weekend a big push was made to get the new eco-loo in the school garden up to scratch and ready to hand over.  Internal fixings were sourced and secured and a solar powered internal light was fitted for those darker moments.

It was decided to 'stain' the wood shiplap a pleasant shade of green.  The second coat was applied this afternoon and weather permitting the third and final coat will be applied tomorrow.

The water butt is now the seventh  we have installed in the school garden. Hopefully they will help us with the collection of rain water and put us in a more eco-friendlly light reducing the need to resort to a hose pipe.

During sunday afternoon there were good numbers of Migrant Hawker dragonflies quartering over the garden feeding on the large number of gnats sheltering in the warmer air and thermals around the trees. These dragonflies are very agile and almost stand on their head when they stop and turn and chase a  gnat.  In the sky when large numbers are feeding and displaying the scene becomes a ballet dance as the insects perform intricate manoevures of twists and turns.  A delight to the eye.

These dragonflies should and can survive well into November if the weather is not too harsh.  However a sign of autumn approaching was the Robin-  who has now changed his delightlful summer song to a more mournful ditty. Watch the temperatures tumble now.....

Sunday, 9 September 2012

We have been here before!

The squirrels are back. They seem to be enjoying a two course meal at the moment.

First find a sunflower,  Climb up it until it falls over and then bite the flowering head off

Carry the seed head to the willow classroom and start to eat

 Discover that it is easier to eat at the table


Main Course;
Return to the garden and climb up  a sweet corn plant until it snaps off and remove the cob

Carry to willow classroom and find another table

Wandering around the garden yesterday it was a delight to see so many bees and butterflies about. Hoverflies were also in abundance and several species were seen.  The warm weather has brought an influx of migrant insects from France and Red Admiral butterlies were everywhere favouring the buddleia bushes in the bird garden.  Of more interest though was the dozens of Silver Y moths in the garden nectaring from the flowers.  They are a little cryptic when resting!

Finally a close up of a small jewel of an insect which often gets bad press! A  Bluebottle fly. A real jewel in the crown

A new term now and new faces and more opportunities in the garden

Monday, 13 August 2012

August garden update

It is a little ironic that the school garden comes into bloom when the children are away on holiday.  However all is going well except that the badgers have found the ripened barley and stripped the ears of their seed.  Pigeons too are taking advantage of the lack of human prescence.

Wildlife continues to abound. On sunday afternoon  at one time there were 4 Migrant Hawkers and 2 Emperor Dragpnflies.  In the air at the same time were 3 colourful Jersey Tiger moths and a male Sparrowhawk flew fast and low through the garden clutching a prey item- male Sparrowhawks take smaller birds as prey rather than the larger prey taken by the female. This way both birds never go hungry as they do not chase the same size prey!

A busy bumble bee
The garden club Union Jack finally makes good!

Spot the dragonfly larva case!

For those wondering how the Eco-loo is developing, the construction is going well and the inside has been decorated and many of the fittings installed.. We are, we hope, still on time to deliver for the start of next term. (Subject to contractual small print)

Sunday, 22 July 2012

This Saturday and Sunday the school garden was open to the public as part of the National Garden Scheme which has charitable status.  Over the weekend we had about 120 visitors but the maths is yet to be finalised. The pupils,teachers and volunteers worked hard to make sure that we put on our best display.  All the visitors enjoyed the garden and had nothing but good comments to make about it.  As a tribute to the pupils and their teachers this blog entry shows just colour and interest  from the class beds and garden club beds.

We have quoted from Kipling before but unashamedly the entire poem is laid out below. A wonderful baseline for us all.  The quality of life laid out bare. 


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

With the start now of the school summer holidays we hope and wish that all staff, pupils and garden volunteers have a pleasant break and have a chance to  enjoy the sun and some rest and relaxation.  The blog will tick over during the holidays.