school garden

school garden

Saturday, 31 March 2012

That passage of time....

This week the Living Stones have started to celebrate the end  of the Winter and the forthcoming Spring.  A close look at them reveals that the plants are growing new leaves from within.  The new leaves slowy take the water stored in the old leaves and then form new themselves with this stored water. A clever process!

As the old leaves  slowly shrivel they become eventually paper thin. At this point they can be removed and we can start watering the plants again after the long dry winter months.  We will have to wait a few more months though before we see the flowers

Leaving the greenhouse and walking back to the pond something very fast darted across the garden. It was a Humming Bird Hawk-moth.  They rarely stop still long enough to photograph but this one co-operated and perched on an Ivy leaf and basked in the late sunshine for a few minutes.

The Humming Bird Hawk Moth- at full zoom!

A casual look into the pond revealed the first Whirligig Beetles of the year

Whirligig Beetles - resting

After the Easter Holidays the garden should start taking on a new dimension with the class plantings in the raised bed taking shape and other exciting things planned for the School open day in June and the NGS open Weekend in July.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Insects aplenty

Libellula depressa  dragonfly nymph

Late saturday afternoon whilst carrying out a few small jobs around the pond the almost final stage of a Libellula depressa (Broad-bodied Chaser) dragonfly nymph was found scuttling about on the pond edge. It was photographed on the safe hands of our  young weekend entomologist.  The nymphs look very mean and they are. They will eat anything at this stage and the spring loaded jaws ensure that not much is missed. I expect it has noticed the recent abundance of small tadpoles.  The nymph should crawl out of the pond in mid-May and over a few hours metamorphosis will take place and this somewhat ugly creature will turn into a beautiful dragonfly.

Earlier that morning three species of butterly were seen in the garden. These pictures are from the internet.

A male Brimstone butterlfy

A Peacock butterfly

A Comma butterfly

The Comma was a new species on the list since it was started two years ago.

With warm weather set to continue this week more insects should be appearing in the garden. We will keep our eyes open!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Don't tell the pigeons!

We have recently planted out the first of what we hope will be many sweet pea plants for the Spring and Summer.  The seeds were planted before Christmas in the greenhouse to give us a head start with some early flowers. Pigeons are very partial to stripping the young  leaves so hopefully the plants will get away and quickly grow before the pigeons have a chance to dine on them. Sparrows will also eat them but although Sparrows use the nearby feeders they are reluctant to leave the cover of the ivy covered fence.

We have grown 'old fashioned' varieties which have the best scent and possibly the best flowers.

The newly planted Sweet Peas

In the pond things are moving rapidly.  The frogspawn from a few weeks ago is already hatching and the very small tadpoles are emerging and taking their first meal from the jelly which surrounded them.  At the end of this week the tadpoles from the frogspawn which  we took and kept in a bucket for safety will be returned to the pond.

The tadpoles hatching in the bucket

Close up of the small tadpoles

On the garden side of things several changes.

Spot the difference?

Three new raised beds have been constructed to make sure each class has a growing bed.  At the entrance to the garden the compost bins have also been sorted out into a more regimental fashion to make it easier to put stuff in them and later shovel stuff out. Nearby the wooden bin is a holding bay for the more woody bits and pieces which may need to go through the shredder rather than be put  directly ito  the compost bins. Please note!

The compost bin area
The daffodils are possibly looking their best now. They are best enjoyed sat on or propped up against  the old tree stump and watch as the heads dance about in the breeze.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

William Wordsworth

The woodland walk

The pixies have gone quiet again.  The vegetation is slowly hiding their domain in the woodland walk.  They like it that way. Discreet but ever present. We hope that they will behave this year especially on the NGS Garden Open Days in July. Time will tell!